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The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live Better Hardcover – December 22, 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

America's mad romance with consumer debt is finally on the decline, and Farrell, economics editor for public radio's Marketplace Money, guides readers to a healthier relationship with their finances. Personal finance is more than just money, he points out; it's about deciding how to live a good life, figuring out what you really cherish and value, then putting your money behind those goals and beliefs—and how living environmentally conscious is a natural outgrowth (and happy consequence) of living within your means. He examines the evolution of consumer debt and moves on to offer concrete advice on dealing with risk and debt, putting savings aside for investing, college, retirement, charitable giving—and realizing if and when you have enough. With an emphasis on changing the way we live to make the most of what we have and promoting moderation, Farrell provides a solid and encouraging high-level overview of individual financial health. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“America's mad romance with consumer debt is finally on the decline, and Farrell, economics editor for public radio's "Marketplace Money", guides readers to a healthier relationship with their finances… With an emphasis on changing the way we live to make the most of what we have and promoting moderation, Farrell provides a solid and encouraging high-level overview of individual financial health.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A how-to for people who say the Great Recession has made them want to change.” ―Star Tribune

“[Farrell is] eager to restore fiscal conservatism to its proper, vaunted role. Being thrifty has become a badge of honor…Farrell is so enthusiastic in his mission to promote a more sensible lifestyle that he makes the reader want to burn a credit card.” ―Time

“This book offers age-old advice on budgeting, saving, investing, renting vs. buying a home, and other financial basics. Farrell's advice comes wrapped in a message about financially and ecologically sustainable living that is particularly welcome in tough times.” ―SmartMoney

“Here's the good news: Being frugal is not synonymous with being cheap. Buy the good bike, the low-energy-use appliance; they're better made and will last longer. Just don't be reckless, with your life or your habitat. The New Frugality includes tips on college savings plans, shared home equity, home insurance, investing, borrowing and retirement.” ―Los Angeles Times

“[The New Frugality] is full of information about how to manage money wisely…The book has a lot to like, including the storytelling style and such tips on saving and sustainability as to share books with friends.” ―Washington Post

“In Farrell's new book The New Frugality, he presents a number of ways for moving forward in our slumpy economy without totally going broke. Not only does Farrell point out the ways in which we can be frugal, he discusses the ways in which global climate change affects us and concludes that frugality and "going green" can and should go hand in hand. Purchasing things that are affordable AND sustainable, Farrell argues, is the key.” ―SFist

“Chris Farrell helps define the new frugality--and how it can be enriching.” ―Minnesota Monthly

“A guide to creating a healthier relationship with your money…The author provides concrete advice on dealing with risk and debt, putting savings aside for investing, college, retirement, charitable giving--and realizing if and when you have enough.” ―Time.com

“[The New Frugality] will help you spend less and save more…This book is filled with anecdotes, historical insights, resources and common sense, all of which are designed to teach you how to wisely spend your money while saving for the future.” ―The Arizona Republic

“Chris Farrell provides practical guidance about how to manage personal finances. In a nutshell, which is a great disservice to the author, Farrell -- who hosts a radio show on NPR-- advocates implementing a margin of safety in investing and a return to the frugality that many of us grew up with…the world would be a better place if more people followed his common sense advice.” ―Star Ledger

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; 1 edition (December 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596916605
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596916609
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,917,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm listening to the audio-book I thankfully borrowed from my library. While there are some good common sense ideas I will apply, for the most part, this book is for the upper middle class. These earnings and savings numbers used as examples are insurmountable for me. 90% of what I'm hearing doesn't apply to me and leaves me with a sense of hopelessness and depression. Also I can thoroughly agree with many of the reviews here that this is one long radio show. For those who make six figures and have for a long time, they probably already know the majority of this stuff, though the cost of checking it out for them is a mere pittance.
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Format: Hardcover
No one should pay $24 for this kind of "how to" book. This is recycled radio talk, and barely edited at that. It's disturbing that someone who advocates thoughtful purchasing should offer this to consumers.
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Format: Paperback
If you are looking for simple guidance to a simple lifestyle of living and investment, then this is the book to read.

What I found useful in this book:

1. The background of American Dream and how debts play its role.

2. The concept on "Margin of Safety".Warren Buffet buys Washington Post because the market valued it for USD80 million, whereas he calculated the assets to worth USD400 million.

3. The broader definition of managing risk - considering the consequences of each choice we face.

4. Simplicity means knowing yourself. There is no one size fits all investment or style of living.

5. Remember the concept of opportunity cost - even when buying and reading a book; the value of time spent reading the book and alternate use of that time.

6. Do not just think of driving less but get rid of that car and use public transportation.

7. Life insurance is crucial to protect your loved ones financially from your untimely death. Once your kids have left the family, you probably won't need much life insurance-if any. Buy 6-8 times family income when you have a family with 2 children.

8. Stick to plain-vanilla financing. Sounds boring but it generates more return. You can't beat the market.

9. Divide your funds into 2 pots: one pot in broad-based equity index funds, domestic and international, and the other pot in fixed income security. The fixed income portion of your portfolio should equal your age. If you are thirty years old, fixed-income securities should be 30% of your portfolio.

10. Be creative about how you want to retire.
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Format: Paperback
There have been hard economic times in the past. People had to learn to live on less and be content with what they had. But then...the good times came back, and we gradually went back to our spendthrift, wasteful ways.

Chris Farrell thinks this time will be different. He believes that this recent economic turmoil may be the beginning of "The New Frugality." Paying off debt and living within our means will be "in". Making a large down payment on a home, and having an emergency savings account will be standard procedure.

Maybe you believe that, maybe you don't. But either way, this book is helpful. Farrell covers similar territory to other money books (budgeting, borrowing, investing, saving for college, retirement funding, charitable giving, etc), but since it was recently published in 2010, this is one of the most up to date ones I've read. And instead of focusing on "cheap" solutions, he focuses on sustainability. For instance, buy the low energy appliance even though it costs a bit more, buy the expensive coat so it lasts for the next 20 years, instead of buying multiple cheap coats, etc. He also stresses doing what you love, even if that means a lower paycheck.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in improving their finances, and living a simpler, sustainable lifestyle.
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Format: Paperback
For the financially literate there's probably nothing unique in this book. Perhaps that's why I like it. While I consider myself relatively intelligent (who doesn't see herself that way?), at time finance baffles me, at least beyond the absolute basics of compound interest and credits and debits. In particular, the nuances of investing and insurance confound me. Chris Farrell's The New Frugality clarified and demystified the management of personal finances.

Mr. Farrell offers 7 basic guidelines called The New Frugality Rules: keep it simple, pay yourself first, invest in yourself, worry about the downside, borrow rarely and wisely, give back, and think big. See, there's nothing totally new there. But the author offers insight into each of these rules and various areas of personal finance. I won't give that insight here because, well, read the book.

There are plenty of call-out boxes that list resources and specific information like tools for budgeting, calculating retirement and calculating the benefits of renting versus buying. Mr. Farrell often offers several options, understanding that the best plan isn't one-size-fits-all but rather a blend of ideas and tools that suits one's particular life circumstances and personality.

I find a number of the book's topics to be immediately useful such as buying a car, planning for college expenses, saving for retirement, life insurance, and home refinance. I'll admit there are a few sections that may have still flown over my head. I'll return to those sections for greater understanding in the coming weeks and months.

I appreciate the writing style of this book. It's as if Mr. Farrell is in the room telling me a story, blending facts and history with real life accounts of contemporary people.
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