Customer Reviews: 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget
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on May 15, 2009
I was flipping through this book at Barnes yesterday while waiting for my girlfriend to finish buying a gift for her friend's birthday. The book is basically a bunch of individual lists and howtos -- how to buy wine, 23 common interview questions, etc. By the time my girlfriend was ready to go, I was still reading the article on how to shop for wine, so I brought the book home. Couldn't put it down the rest of the night! I read through the entire budget travel section since we're planning for a trip this summer. And the article on how to open a roth IRA is going to come in handy. I've been thinking about opening one for the last few months and I think I'm going to do it next week. This book is full of tips for a wide range of financial topics. I highly recommended for anyone looking to get more out of their money.
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on January 25, 2010
Technically, my one-star rating is incorrect: when a book has no useful content whatsoever, it should be zero stars. Alas, such option is unavailable, so I'll have to make do with this...

I had high hopes for this book - I really did. It's written by a group of personal finance experts and it's got nothing but rave reviews on Amazon (I hope I won't be the sole dissenter) - what could possibly go wrong? Like most other projects put together by a committee, it feels raw and incomplete. To give you a basic idea, this is the kind of book that would have been useful 20 years ago, before the advent of the Internet. Every single tip listed in this book can be found with Google in less than a minute. Because of the space constraint (10,001 tips and only 346 pages), most of the tips get just one brief paragraph.

I'm a dedicated bachelor, I don't plan on getting married or having kids, I don't like to cook (other than the easiest dishes - pasta and boiled eggs), I have neither a car nor a garage, my landlord does all the "home improvement" in my house for free, and I don't buy into this pointless, feel-good "green living" fad. Because of all of the above, none of the tips in this book apply to me. Evidently, "living large" means keeping old rags all over your house instead of using paper towels, and giving your friend a measuring cup or a coloring book with crayons on his or her birthday. (I'm not making this up!) The sections on investing and money managing were marginally interesting, but like I said, one can find the same information (and more of it!) online in less than a minute.

Finally, the book is rather poorly edited. There is an overabundance of typos ("a tore-up baseball cap"), downright ridiculous errors that should have been caught by proofreaders ("$11 dollars"), constantly-changing pronouns (using either "he" or "she" throughout a section when referring to a person who is presumably not a hermaphrodite) and poor editing (references to wrong page numbers, etc.).

To summarize, the book has no original tips, it's over-hyped, can be replaced by Google (it saves time *and* money! haha) and, to be honest, is somewhat of an insult to one's intelligence. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody except for the people who spent their whole lives in coma and don't have access to Google, or those strange individuals who want to know what Linsey Knerl (one of the writers) wears to bed, where she hides her money (spoiler alert: in her tampon box - and no, I am not making this up), and how cold her toilet seat is in the morning. I refuse to believe that people who produced this rubbish got paid for their efforts (and I'm using the word "efforts" very, very loosely). Learn from my mistake and don't buy this book. If you're dead-set on reading it, get it from a library - but don't spend your hard-earned money.
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on October 23, 2012
The title of this book is misleading. The content is not focused on saving money and being frugal, but is a hodge-podge of advice in list format on a variety of topics.

There are very long passages and chapters that are not related to living "large on a small budget" in any way. Some of these were enjoyable reading (e.g., how to select wine; various recipes), but only because these are topics *I* personally enjoy. Other tangents I could have done without (e.g., a list of places to hide your cash around the house; how to know if you need to fire your financial adviser; saving time by cooking meals in advance; organizing one's closet/kitchen/garage, etc.).

The format of the book is a mess. This book is literally one list after another, each written by a different person, each with its own formatting. There is no rhyme or reason applied to the order in which lists appear. For example: One chapter on finance starts off with lists relating to investing, then salary negotiation, then saving for retirement, then... back to an introductory explanation of investing?!

There is also a LOT of repeated information throughout the book, another sign that the lists included were not edited properly. How many times do I need to read that it's okay to use cheap wine for sangria and mulling, or that I should make my own perfume and air-freshener out of alcohol and scented oils?

There were also many repeated references to bartering and bargaining throughout the book. I supposed these would work if you are shopping at a) your local mom & pop shop, or b) outside of the United States, where bargaining is expected. Somehow, I don't think Target or Macy's would go for either of these tactics.

Many of the suggestions in the book (the ones that actually address saving money--about half?) are ridiculous, outdated, or just useless. For example, did you know that:

-eBay and CraigsList are great places to save money by buying items for cheap?!

-keeping your government job will help you maintain financial stability?! (Especially if you work at the US Post Office, according to this book... PUBLISHED IN 2009!)

-working in Africa as part of the Peace Corp for two years lets you "see the world for free"?! (Hmm, isn't that what the Army says as well?)

-a used house or a used car is cheaper than buying new?!

-when you're traveling, buy groceries instead of going out to eat!

-you should pay off your debt, buy in bulk, and live within your means!

You get the idea.

There are a lot of cooking / eating-at-home recommendations that include expensive ingredients in this book. For example, in the section about food, there is a comment about using nuts in salad (perhaps the money-saving aspect of this chapter is that it's cheaper to eat at home, even if you make something as "fancy" as salad with nuts?). The book provides some suggestions for nuts to use, and PINE NUTS are listed. Last time I checked, PINE NUTS ARE $25 PER POUND.

So... Why didn't this book instead make suggestions for replacing pine nuts with a less expensive nut when making your own pesto sauce? There were a lot of suggestions, like this one, that just made no sense, and should have been (re)considered from a truly budget-friendly point of view.

My suggestion is that this book be HEAVILY edited and revised (at least a third should be deleted), completely reformatted, and then renamed "10,001 Life Tips to Save You Time, Money, and Stress!"

Then I would give it four stars, I'm sure :)
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on August 6, 2011
As if the name weren't a giveaway, this book is better described a compendium of loosely categorized listicles. The Kindle version is priced where it scratches the same itch as say, an "US Weekly," but is a bit more edifying. You'll definitely find a couple obvious tips you haven't gotten around to doing that will offset the cost of the purchase. For me, it was auditing my cell usage and scaling back on my data and texting plans. Don't have a Kindle? iPhad users: there's an app for that.

3 stars for 3 shortcomings
* Focus is on affordable splurges rather than savings. A lot of these tips can actually increase your cost of living if you were living simply. Not one chapter in, I found myself navigating to eBay to shop for a breadmaker. Wait, I'm on a no-carb diet and the last time I made bread was for a 2nd grade art project. Ditto fresh herb ice cubes.
* Organization could be tighter. Since this book isn't targeting a specific demographic (i.e. renters, singles, families, etc.) you have to scroll through a lot of off-topic lists. Instead of putting Wine articles next to Beer articles, they are separated by several features on bulk cooking. Fun & Entertainment was particularly unfocused, careening through dating, wedding planning, kids birthday parties, gift wrapping, and only then landing on the more general topic of weaning oneself off TV.
* Try Too Hard Humorous tone. I like a well-placed witty crack as much as the next girl, but some of these authors wasted valuable time and space in the process and weren't even funny. The 21 uses for beer list is a great case in point. I'm not sure that filling a bathtub with 2 kegs of beer to bathe in is all that frugal. I'm also not sure that convincing the object of your affection to drink her/himself into oblivion to achieve "Movie Star Good Looks" is that practical. For me, a quick overview of a topic like micro-brewing would have been more appropriate.

If you're looking for serious references on this topic, these are worthwhile and Kindle-ready:
* Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence
* The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City
* Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World
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on May 13, 2009
This isn't like your regular advice book that's broken down in neat categories with a nice flow. There's over a dozen writers and is really a compilation of lots of articles. They're grouped together into general categories, but finding anything specific is difficult. However, it's the kind of book that if you had a few minutes here or there to spare, it's nice to have around. The tips are sometimes a little outrageous, like using a barn door for a table top (where would I find one of those anyway). But there are actually lots of useful tips that caught me by surprise. Like zipping up clothes before throwing them in the washer to prevent snagging on other clothes.
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on May 2, 2009
I didn't expect much for $10 bucks but was floored by the extensive amount of information covered by this 350 page book. The tips are great in that most of them are easy to execute and applicable to everyone. You can pick up the book, browse through a few sections, and immediately apply the new wisdom in your life.

The sections on finance, travel, and entertainment are exceptional. Tips like how to get the best airfare, lower cell phone bills, reduce your mortgage, etc. can save you money right away. If you like books that get straight to the tips without long intros and boring personal anecdotes, this is the book for you.

I take away a star for the gaudy use of glossy paper for the book. For a book about frugality and being "savvy", wouldn't it be more fitting to print this on recycle paper? There's even a green living section in this book, ironically. Have to admit the colorful design kept my interest, but the tips themselves are good enough for that. No need for the fancy paper.
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on May 8, 2009
10,001 Ways is a gateway to frugality. What do I mean by that? It isn't a hardcore frugality book focusing on brown bagging lunch for your entire life. Instead, it is a kinder, gentler, introduction to the idea of living within your means. Some of the other finance books provide outrageous (and depressing) ideas so difficult to follow that you might give up immediately. All the tips here are fun and easy to follow.

If you've missed a couple of mortgage payments and creditors are knocking down your door, this book isn't for you. You need something a lot more drastic.

This book is perfect for young people just starting out in life. The fun and breezy writing is engaging, and the tips are offered without judgment or condescension. The cooking tips will be especially useful for college students living on their own for the first time.

I will be giving this book away as a graduation present for years to come. This is a gift that keeps on giving.
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on May 12, 2009
This is a giant encyclopedia of how to save money. It covers everything you want to know - like the best time to buy airfare, where to hide your money, and how to make organic homemade beauty supplies. It also covers some stuff I rather not know - like how to conserve toilet paper or how to score free food with flirting.

Overall the content is a bit disorganized. I guess that's comes with the territory when you have so many tips. This book is based on a fairly popular consumer blog called Wise Bread. I'm a fan of the blog's folksy approach to finance and enjoy getting to know each blogger's quirks and personal backgrounds. Sadly this edition of the book is mostly focused on tips and doesn't really go too much into each blogger's personal stories and why they are so frugal, which in my opinion is one of the best reasons to follow the blog.

Bottom line: Regular Wise readers might be a bit disappointed since this book doesn't reveal additional personal stories of the Wise Bread bloggers. But if you are just looking for lots of great, fun tips to save money this is a great buy.
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on May 13, 2009
I am pleasantly surprised at the number of truly helpful and creative tips on saving money. They deliver on their promise that they won't tell us to scrimp and save by simply not spending money. This isn't like the other self-help money management/personal finance books where they try to psychoanalyze you. Sometimes I just want to have some fun, and that involves spending money. This book helps you find ways to have fun, but save money at the same time. It's more of a spend smartly rather than spend less philosophy, which is what I live by. I give it one less star because I don't think the writing is very polished.
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on May 13, 2009
Frugality has a bad name because people always think it is about cutting corners and pinching pennies, but this book puts a positive spin on getting the most out of the money you do have. The section on "50 Ways to Get the Most Out of Health Care" is by itself worth thousands of dollars in savings. The resource section at the end of the book is excellent too. I found a couple useful sites I'd never heard of before.
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