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178 of 188 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be prepared to save real money using these tips!, July 5, 2007
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This review is from: America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams (Paperback)
What takes courage, commitment, creativity, idealism, faith, and the help of others? And isn't homeschooling? Choosing to live a frugal lifestyle, especially during the good economic times.
The biggest negative about this book - use it and you'll soon realize that not everyone cares to be smart about how they spend their money. It could be an elderly parent on a fixed income who says, "I'm not /that/ desperate," when you tell them how to save $20 a month on their AOL bill. A sibling who thinks coupon clipping is only for lonely housewives who need something to do while watching soap operas between loads of laundry. Or maybe a good friend who swears their current method for teaching their children responsible money habits works perfectly fine, but admits they rarely remember to actually use it with their kids. When faced with these people, its best to avoid asking for the $240 per year in AOL savings, fast food coupons, and money their kids may very well waste themselves "forgetting" to pay their own bills, as they learned from mom and dad forgetting to pay them during their childhoods.
Don't panic - this is not an all or nothing book that will force you to live on ramon and peanut butter just to pay off bills as early as possible. Every helpful chapter ends with three options: Timid Mouse for those wishing to start slowly, Wise Owl for those ready to make more of a commitment to frugality, and Amazing Ant for those eager to stop wasting their money needlessly and wanting to change now. Nor do you have to read this as a start to finish system with each chapter requiring you've read and implemented the previous chapters. Instead, you can start where you wish to dive in and bounce around as your interests and needs dictate.
Our family has enjoyed many benefits already from the tips given to the reader by Steve and Annette Economides. Yes, that is their real last name. The day after my copy arrived, it paid for itself in a single grocery tip regarding lunchmeat. We used the money we saved the first month on medical expenses to buy new bedroom furniture. Think clipping coupons is a waste of time for just a few pennies? We didn't change our eating habits or purchases a bit, yet with coupon savings, we financed not one but two vacations to San Diego, complete with annual passes to Sea World, the Wild Animal Park, and the Zoo for the whole family.
Throughout the book, the Economides' children chime in with their thoughts on the ideas and, more importantly, their implementation is a real homeschooling household. With that in mind, here is what our son thinks of our new lifestyle.
I like the kid's paycheck. I get money for doing stuff like cleaning animal cages, feeding the cats, and even exercise. It's helping me save up to buy a used X-Box.

Living a frugal lifestyle isn't about depriving yourself, it's about keeping as much of your money in your hands as possible. This book is full of tips to help you do just that as painlessly as possible.
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Initial post: Sep 29, 2009 7:18:36 PM PDT
S. N. D. says:
Oh, my God yes! It certainly does involve bucking convention and does require courage. I am a single 59 year old woman who lives in the cottage her grandfather built 90 years ago. Why not? My taxes are a fraction of my neighbors, because of the age and size of the house. I don't need something big to impress people that don't float my boat. It allows me to easily live frugally. I presently save 25% of my pretax income. By reading books such as this, I have gleaned enough tips from books such as these to realize I can increase that I will be able to increase my savings rate to 33%. I just had a new roof put on the house, the fascia boards wrapped and new slotted gutters put up, not on a home equity loan, but with carefully saved money. The gutters ($650) might as well have been free: I saved the money on disposal of the roofing ($650) by packing it in contractor's bags and hauling all 2500 pounds of it it to the landfill my little 5'3" self in my pickup truck in little 40 lb. parcels! (Yes. I drive a pickup truck and don't care who likes it. I am not a dumb redneck: I have a Master's Degree in science.) My friends have always made fun of me for buying 3-for-$10 teeshirts out of bins--- and then wearing them inside out to paint, so I could still wear 'em to a barbeque. And for using coffee filters over and over until they fall apart. And for using CFL bulbs and having a powerstrip on my microwave so I can shut off the LED lights in it, at least until they realized my bill has dropped $10 a month. One friend wondered why I washed my miniblinds--- why didn't I just throw 'em out because they're cheap. (Not as cheap as I am...) I can cut my own hair so well, you can't tell I cut my own hair :-) I learned how to repair and maintain stuff at home. I did have an advantage: I grew up dirt poor and had to learn to do many things just to get by. But---frugality allowed me to get an education. I learned to wear things out-- not throw them out because I was sick of them or they were "so last year". Now I don't "have to" do things like that, but I still do. If we don't learn to wear things out, soon there will be no more new stuff- just rags and junk. One of my friends stopped laughing at me when she lost her job. "Oh, my God" she said. "Teach me how to be YOU." I don't feel deprived: just SMART. I DO enjoy life and consider myself a happy person, because my life is on a even a keel a person could possibly make it. Take courage. This is getting to be a popular attitude, and it won't go away quickly in the present environment.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2010 5:03:15 AM PDT
[One of my friends stopped laughing at me when she lost her job. "Oh, my God" she said. "Teach me how to be YOU."]

I bet your friend was quite grateful when she finally tuned in to what you do and why you do it. :)

Unfortunately, up until the last couple of years, thrifty people were considered to be "odd ducks" in a country that's all about conspicuous consumption. Our economy, after all, is 70% consumer spending, which seems to indicate that we are not a nation of savers anymore.

[I don't feel deprived: just SMART.]

Spot-on. If you treat saving money like a game, you don't miss a lot of the doo-dads that other people have grown accustomed to buying. The thing is, it's one thing to grow -up- that way, quite another to have it suddenly forced upon you through economic hardship. People like your friend have had to learn the hard way, and I can only imagine how much of a shock it must be.

The flip side, of course, is that controlling your money usually means that you're controlling your time, too, and time is your most valuable asset. It's sad to look around and see how many people believe that having "stuff" is the key to happiness, but it's not like that at all.

Anyway, I love reading stories like yours. It's refreshing that some folks, at least, "got it" about frugality and money before the current depression acted as a rude awakening for 9/10 of the population. My own folks grew up during the original Great D, and while I confess that I actively resented some of their cost-cutting ways growing up, I'm now enormously grateful I wasn't raised any other way. I got so good, in fact, that my dad accused -me- of being a cheapskate. Talk about the student teaching the teacher! :)

Keep up the good work!
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