This post is a cross-post from my general frugal blog, Frugally Blonde. I am posting it here as well because I thought that even though it is not a Catholic book, many of you would be interested in it. Crystal is an amazing Christian woman whose blog has greatly influenced the way I look at money, as well as taught me may deal-finding strategies. I hope you enjoy this review.
I rarely purchase new books for myself, but reading The Money Saving Mom's Budgetwas a no-brainer for me. I have been following Crystal Paine's blog, Money Saving Mom, since the summer of 2008. Through Money Saving Mom, I discovered "modern" couponing and the frugal blog world, and I have been a devoted follower every since. So when I learned several months ago that she was publishing a book, I knew that that this would be one title for which I would not wait. As it turned out, Crystal was kind enough to give many bloggers, including myself, a free advance reader copy, so I was able to check it out early.
I read every personal finance article that I can get my hands on, and I have read a number of books about saving money. With all the frugal blogs out there now, there is also a wealth of information on saving money on the internet. Therefore, I thought I would approach this review from the perspective of what sets this book apart - why it is different from others and why is it worth reading.
First of all, one of the main reasons that I love Crystal's blog applies to her book as well - it is extreme. I mean this in a good way, not that she never spends money and advises reusing paper plates! Rather, I mean that she goes further than other budgeting or money saving articles and books. I can't count the number of articles I've read that purport to save you hundreds of dollars a month, but are filled with advice like, "stop buying your daily latte and brew your own coffee." While this is not bad advice, it is not very applicable to someone who is not buying $4 lattes and is already frugal but is looking for ways to go further and really stretch a small budget.
Crystal's book, like her blog, does go further. Whether it's explaining advanced couponing techniques or the "drugstore game" or advocating a cash-only budget, her advice is challenging and life-changing. This is not to say that the tips are only for hard-core "frugalistas." On the contrary, most of the tips are simple. Some tips are certainly ones that I have read before, but some are unique or have a unique spin to them. Also, the book's advice is very up to date for our internet-based deal finding world, including many websites and web-based deal finding strategies.
The other main aspect that sets Crystal's book apart from other money-saving books is that it not merely a collection of money-saving tips; it advocates a lifestyle and a philosophy. That is why her book about saving money includes chapters on goal-setting and even decluttering. For Crystal, living a frugal lifestyle is not merely about making money go as far as possible, it is about a worldview that puts money in it's proper place and puts you in charge of your money. Her final chapter on contentment is really the most important chapter of the book. Without this crucial aspect of frugality, no money saving strategy will ever be enough.
Finally, a tidbit that is not part of the book itself but shows how truly Crystal lives the principles of the book, especially the last on contentment, is that Crystal is donating the entire proceeds of the book to charity. I encourage you to read her beautiful post here. I was so struck by her words on why she gave it away, "we already have more than plenty."
The Money Saving Mom's Budgetis reduced to just $8.40 on Amazon right now. At that price, you could buy one for yourself and some to give as gifts. The book would be an especially great gift for a young married coupon or for a college student or graduate. Anyone who is able to start out their adult life living these principles will have a huge advantage over their peers.
Whether you yourself are just starting out or not - whether you are looking to start saving money or are an experienced budget-er in your own right - I think this book has something to offer everyone. It is a chance to be inspired and re-focused on managing your money and taking control of your finances and your life.
I received an advance reader copy of this book to review, but I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions are my own. The link to the book is my Amazon affiliate link.