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Live Well on Less Than You Think: The New York Times Guide to Achieving Your Financial Freedom Paperback


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Live Well on Less Than You Think: The New York Times Guide to Achieving Your Financial Freedom + Retire on Less Than You Think, Revised Edition: The New York Times Guide to Planning Your Financial Future
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1st edition (December 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805077251
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805077254
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,509,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brock’s new title is something of a prequel to his previous book, Retire on Less Than You Think. Throughout this sensible guide to budget control, Brock’s mantra is "cutting expenses increases income," and he provides a wealth of suggestions for how to do so. He begins with a look at some Generation X couples, using their experiences to reflect on generational differences in saving and spending tactics; subsequent chapters give advice that members of any of the three main generations could use, beginning with cutting bad debt. Other subjects include home location, insurance policies, education costs, car payments, credit cards and retirement funds. For each topic, Brock illustrates his recommendations by applying them to hypothetical families and showing their huge savings; he also includes many tables and statistics drawn from official sources and other guidebooks, such as changes in home values across the country. Brock’s is a voice of reason and moderation, especially in such issues as health insurance and Social Security, where so many writers get shrill. His style is informal and accessible, with many interviews with financial advisors and professionals in other fields, as well as with everyday people. He emphasizes that his advice does not mean reducing quality of life, but rather resisting "mindless consumerism," being disciplined and informed, and making meaningful savings. Anyone who doesn’t have a large fortune is likely to find his level-headed approach refreshing and useful.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In a quiet, understated manner, Brock (Retire on Less Than You Think) concentrates on anecdotes and individual and family case histories to demonstrate his points. Cut your expenses to increase your income. Don't jeopardize your retirement to send your kids to college. Figure out which insurance you need and which you don't. His advice includes predictions of job trends, comparisons of metropolitan living costs, and auto depreciation factors. His use of revealing statistics and conversational prose reinforces the fact that Americans are not known as savers but could very well reverse their fortunes by using his techniques. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Much of his advice is common sense and not mindblowingly original.
J. Ma
I highly recommend this book for everyone and should be bought in conjunction with his other book "Retire on Less Than You Think".
Derrick C. Saraceni
Only helpful if you know next to nothing about living below your means and the importance of not having credit card debt.
Kristin C

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By C. S. Clarke on January 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I've seen on financial management for the average person. It is clear, simple, practical and completely workable. It is relevant to anyone, from the guy starting a first job out of high school to a retiring couple with a good income from a pension plan. It works for the well-off, the middle-class, and the "blue collar" worker.

This is not typical general advice about how to budget and save (zzzzz). This is specific, useful information and advice on the practicalities of credit, debt, home ownership, Social Security, car buying/leasing, education's relationship to career placement and earnings, insurance, banking, and choices in where to live and work to best suit your lifestyle. Some individual chapters are worth the price of the book all by themselves.

Not only does the author tell exact how-tos, but he also teaches how to think about money and managing it.

Another big plus: the author includes many references and URLs for further self-education and self-improvement in financial matters.

I'm buying more copies as gifts for friends and relatives.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Steve Burns TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book would be a great gift for a graduating senior from high school or college, but is of little use to some one who has been managing their personal finances for years. He discusses debt,insurance,education,car payments,credit cards, and retirement.If you understand that you should avoid credit card debt, stay away from car payments, not buy gimmick insurance, and max out your 401K contribution you do not need this book. I suggest "Financial Peace" or "Total Money Makeover" both from Dave Ramesay to really it more in depth and to get your money's worth.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Erika Mitchell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is a guide to getting your financial house in order for young and middle-aged adults. Brock begins with a chapter on generational attitudes towards money. According to his observations, Baby Boomers tended to be spoiled, so they have had rather irresponsible money habits, running up big debts and not preparing adequately for retirement. Generation X'ers, on the other hand, have a more realistic view on money and jobs, and so they seem to borrow relatively less and save relatively more than the Boomers. Whether or not these stereotypes hold water remains to be seen, and like any stereotypes, there are obviously multitudes of exceptions. Nevertheless, the interviews and statistics that Brock presents in the opening chapter are interesting.

The remainder of the book contains a laundry list of actions people can take in order to maximize their standard of living within the income they usually earn. Brock includes chapters on types of debt, financial implications of choosing where to live, the value of economizing on small purchases, types of insurance policies to carry or avoid, the value of minimizing higher education expenses, the financial advantages of buying used rather than new cars, how to choose credit cards, and how one's fixed expenses may change after retirement. At the end of the book is a short chapter in which Brock works out a hypothetical example of how one couple's standard of living can be increased by following each of the suggestions in the book. There is also a short list of Web resources and an index.

Brock concludes with the simple statements: "Cutting expenses increases income. You can live well on less than you think." While these statements are laudable, Brock's interpretation differs from what you might find in a book about simplicity.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Lucky on January 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Brock scores anther big hit. The data he provides on salaries versus cost of living around the country are invaluabnle. Required reading for anyone who wants to lower his or her anxiety level about spending and saving. The chapter on how little things add up is especially enlightening, and the chapter on education costs is a real eye opener.
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37 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Kevin S. Hamilton on April 17, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Look, If you have a bachelor's degree and don't know at least 75% of what's in this book, you need to go back to school. Most of this stuff is everyday knowledge to those of us who care about our money. This book is for those who finally woke up one day and said, "I need to start saving but I don't know how". The book basically says, analyze your needs, don't overspend, don't buy a new car (vs used), don't have credit card debt, save b/c you can't count on social security, and live in a lost cost area (Iowa). That's it. I just told you the whole book. Net: If you know nothing, get it, its worth it for $6, but me personally? I wasted my money.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Ma on June 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a younger person (in her late twenties) who is interested in securing her financial future and looking to increase her financial knowledge, I found this book to be lacking in several ways. While many financial books offer similar advice, they often offer new perspectives, Fred Brock seems to just repeat and mirror concepts from other books as well as his previous book. If you have read more than one other volume on financial advice, then you will find yourself a little bored. Much of his advice is common sense and not mindblowingly original. He stresses similar money-saving concepts as the "latte factor" and extends it to apply to soda, lunch, clothes, etc. He stresses the obvious - if you don't consume as much, you save more.

My biggest criticism of the book would be that Brock is too narrow with his advice. That is to say, his thesis that certain areas of the country offer more bang for your buck and will give you a more improved lifestyle for the money, all seem to be to be an attempt to justify his own move from an urban area to a rural one. He devotes many charts to displaying how families in San Francisco or New York are worse off than those in less urban areas. While I agree with this in theory, he doesn't take into account the cultural benefits from living in such areas. As someone who has always lived in an urban city, I know of course that my income would stretch farther elsewhere, but for me that does not outweigh an urban lifestyle.

Much of Brock's arguments can be condensed into a smaller volume, most probably an essay. He stretches many of his arguements so that they bleed into each chapter, albeit perhaps to pound in the point to the reader. All that being said, although not completely unhelpful, there are many other books on the market that would be of more help to most Americans than this one. I found this volume to be sadly disappointing and not as helpful as expected from the team of Brock and the NYTimes.
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