on August 6, 2003
It's not true, as another reviewer suggested, that Dummies books can only be expected to be of use to beginners in a topic. I've been online for years and still got something out of Internet for Dummies. I've used Ebay quite a bit and still got something out of Ebay for Dummies.
In reading Frugal Living, however, I kept noticing glaring omissions that would have been so easy to include if Ms. Taylor-Hough would move into the 21st century. She mentions library booksales as a source for cheap books but doesn't include the website that lists virtually all upcoming library booksales throughout the country. (In fact, she mentions libraries several times but never suggests taking advantage of the free programs for kids and adults that most libraries offer.) She does not mention Amazon or any other online sources for inexpensive used books.
She doesn't mention using the library for free internet access. She doesn't mention how to find inexpensive computer equipment or cheap internet services providers to use at home.
She mentions pulling out traditional games to play with the family, and buying them at yard sales. But what if you've lost the rules or buy one where they're missing? There are websites where you can get the official rules if you've lost them, but she doesn't mention this.
She doesn't mention the existance of online coupon codes, getting grocery coupons from manufacturer and other websites, or online price comparison tools. She mentions saving on restaurant meals by drinking only water, but doesn't mention how you can get deeply-discounted restaurant gift certificates on Ebay.
She discusses cooking; no websites. Stain removal; no websites. In a budgeting section she mentions no websites about budgets, just one for a charity she apparently wishes to promote. There are good websites on virtually every topic she covers, and she only mentions a few.
The worst omission concerns mortgages. We are living in an era of record-low mortgage rates and she only gives one short paragraph to refinancing. All she says is to ask your banker or mortgage company for details. No hint that online mortgage-payment calculators, mortgage comparison tools, or general advice are available online at all--let alone references to specific websites. We are in the midst of refinancing and if all goes through we will be saving $300 a month. You'd have to work very hard at traditional "frugal living" to match a savings like this, yet the author glances right over it.
There is the outline of a good book here, but as it stands it could have been written in the 1980's. Frugal Living has come a long way since The Tightwad Gazette, but from this book you wouldn't know it.
on July 13, 2004
Just a quick reminder for all of those reviewers who seem to have forgotten this one little fact: "FOR DUMMIES" books are written for self-proclaimed "Dummies" ... people who know nothing about a given topic, but want to learn the basics.
For example, when I wanted a basic book on birdwatching (because I knew NOTHING about the topic but wanted to get a good, solid start with basic, accurate information) ... I bought "Birdwatching For Dummies". When my teenage daughter needed help with her classes in Algebra and Biology ... I bought her copies of "Algebra For Dummies" and "Biology For Dummies".
These "FOR DUMMIES" books have a particular place in the book market ... they're written for BEGINNERS -- people who know absolutely NOTHING about a topic. "Frugal Living For Dummies" accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do ... it provides a basic introduction and simple framework for people unfamiliar with frugal living basics.
Keep in mind when reading reviews of this book that say things like, "It barely scratches the surface of frugal living," that this book is part of the trademarked "FOR DUMMIES(R)" series ... it's a book that's obviously NOT written to people who've been living frugally their entire adult lives and already know a-thousand-and-one ways to recycle styrofoam meat trays.
If you're a long-time frugal person, buy a copy of "Frugal Living For Dummies" as a gift for your spendthrift friends ... but if you've read every frugal book on the market, you'll honestly be happier just sitting around hugging your Tightwad Gazette books.
REMEMBER: Don't buy a "For Dummies" book on ANY topic if you're not looking for a simple overview of the absolute BASICS! I just hate seeing people bash a perfectly good book just because they don't "get" the purpose of the book. Silly, silly people. What are they thinking?
But ... if you're brand new to frugal living and are looking for a basic introductory overview, then THIS, my friend, is YOUR book! If you have a sense of humor, can laugh at yourself a bit, and need a simple introduction to frugality, run -- don't walk! -- to the "Buy Now" button on this webpage. You won't be disappointed!
on July 8, 2004
Frugal living is such a broad topic that one really can't expect all advice offered to apply to them; however, this book was evidently aimed at people living in at least moderatly large cities, and with families. It is also much more oriented toward the homeowner as opposed to the apartment dweller.
Even granting that, it is not really a worthwhile book. Some of the information is questionable; much of it that is really valid is so basic it's really below even common sense level (buy generic brands...duh!).
The book is in several parts, each of which I will review independtly.
Part one is about the adjustment to frugal living. It's really a mixed bag. I don't have kids, and my fiancee and I agree on the budget and goals, so most of the tips on how to cope with combative family members are lost on me. However, most of it is incredibly basic: catalog your expenses. Catalog your income. Decide what your priorities are. The one decent section is where she talks about how to maintain a positive outlook after the shift to being a cheapskate. Suggestions include a log of good things in ones life, and ideas of that nature. Still basic, but a step up from the other sections of Part 1.
The rest of the book is based on saving in differing areas: saving on groceries and food, saving on education, saving on clothing, saving on furniture, etc.
These sections really aren't all that great. For the grocery/food section, a large percentage of her ideas depend on having a lot of freezer space; the buying in bulk (esp. of perishables), the cooperative cooking (wherein a group gets together one day week, everyone cooks a full meal per group member; you freeze the meal and eat later). Probably at least half of the possibly good ideas dictate a chest freezer. If you want to impliment most of them, you might need two chest freezers. For those of us in apartments or small houses, that ain't happening. Lots of the other advice on foodstuffs is at best simplistic: buy generic brands. Buy (and freeze) massive amounts of stuff on sale. Duh. Buy stuff on clearance.
As for her advice on saving money on clothes, furniture, etc. most of it boils down to buy it second hand. The problem here is that many smaller towns don't have any decent second hand shops, and are frequently short on garage sales. I currently live in a town of maybe 10,000 people. I doubt that there are full million people within a 2 hour radius or better. We simply don't have the number of people to support the type of second hand market she's apparently used to having. If you live in or near a decently sized city, it's potentially good advice. However, one needs to be carefull, as searching high and low for clothing and furniture can actually wind up being expensive in terms of transportation, time, etc. Also, for people who have odd dimensions, second hand shops for clothes don't work too well. I have a hard enough time finding shirts that fit a short, thick torso with long arms as is. There's also the problem of quality. She mentions this in her book, and says to keep an eye out for the "gold nuggets", but in my experince, pawnshops don't have enough of those for it to be relaible.
Most of her advice on budgeting for kids and family stuff is beyond my reach; I've never had kids, and I'm not yet married. However, she fails to mention many good ideas for cheap recreation--memberships to zoos and gardens typically pay for themselves after a few visits. The National Park service sells annual passes for parks and refugess. Most states sell annual park passes. All of these are good cheap recreation, which my family used while I was growning up. None of them are mentioned.
Also, her idea of fun sounds odd, at least. She metions scheduling tours of resturants, factories,a nd the like as a fun family outing...I'd rather have a root canal than tour a factory or resturant (after working them...).
The advice on how to save for college and whatnot is sound enough, but basic: consider a two year school for the first year of college. Take AP and CLEP test, etc.
For those of us without families...well, at least 1/2 this book is about family expenses (education, proms, etc.). For those of use who live in rural settings...well, this book seems to written for a house owning city dweller, who can actually get to a good second hand market and keep two or so chest freezers in thier home. Even for those people, the info is so incredibly basic it's really laughable. I mean, c'mon, buy generic brands. Watch the sales. Prioritize your budget. Ya think?
on March 27, 2003
Whatever your reason for wanting to save money (job loss,
suddenly single-income, another child on the way, rising
college tuition costs), arm yourself with Frugal Living for
Dummies for super saving success.
This book details so much more than coupon-clipping. Some
of the chapter topics include ideas for frugal family fun,
thrifty cooking tips, ways to cut utility bills, setting a
budget and lots of inexpensive gift ideas. And that's just
the beginning! Frugal Living also provides icons in the
margins that alert readers to important reminders, tips,
super savers, special warnings, great ideas and handy
Each section is jam-packed with cost-cutting ideas for baby
showers, back-to-school needs, dinner parties, gift giving,
auto maintenance, home cleaning, dining out, laundry,
family trips.... Basically, Deborah Taylor-Hough offers
money-saving solutions for every aspect of your life.
Frugal Living for Dummies is an essential reference for
your family collection. This book will make a practical and
thoughtful gift for young couples just starting their lives
together, college students on their own for the first time,
single-income families, new parents, and anyone who needs
proven ways for cutting costs while keeping their sanity.
A must-have guidebook for the novice penny pincher as well
as the seasoned dollar stretcher.
on March 9, 2003
Congratulations, Deborah Taylor-Hough, on another book well done! Simplicity, frugality, good old-fashioned common-sense. It's all there in one very easy read.
There are two things about this book I'm most impressed with. First, this book tackles the solid, time-honored principles associated with frugal living head on. The author knows first-hand the information generations of reckless spenders need to develop new habits and consolidates these time honored ideas really well. Second, Deborah's honesty and enthusiasm for simplicity is contagious. Who knows? I may even give make-ahead cookery another try!
If you're looking for quick fixes, frugal fads, or the latest and greatest ideas on how to live cheaply without having to sacrifice or change your spending habits, I can promise you there is a lot of junk out there to read which will continue to amaze you and amuse me. But, dearly beloved fellow dummie, if you want to know what works-- read this book. You'll be glad you did!
on March 8, 2003
Wow what a triumph, frugal living for dummies delivers common sense ideas that everyone could employ in their own lives.It allows you to pick and choose the bits that suit your situation and bypass any that are not applicable to your own circumstances,thus giving a flexible approach to the idea of saving money whilst living life to the full, without a sense of restriction or a feeling of doing without.
The book takes you step by step through the mine field of eliminating credit card debt and the like to show us a new life without the constant worry of mounting obligations that can not be met each month.For me this was truly an inspiring read and in my opinion worthy of a place on anyone's book shelf who wants to be free of the constraints of monthly out goings which exceed their income.
Remember a tight budget does not mean living without any luxuries
just prioritising the money available to be able to live life to the full within your own means.
on June 19, 2003
I turn to Dummies books when I want a lighthearted, basic intro to topics I know nothing about. Like other Dummies books, Frugal Living for Dummies is written for beginners, for newbies, for people not afraid to laugh at themselves or jokingly admit they are sort of a dummy when it comes to the subject matter of the book. This book is not directed at an audience of black-belt frugal folk. It is a humorous, basic intro for people new to the practical steps of living well on limited means. If you have never worried about tightening your budget belt before but have unexpectedly found yourself drowning in one of these scenarios (losing a job, deciding to have a stay-at-home parent, recovering from exessive debt, struggling to survive after a messy divorce), then this book would probably be the perfect life-line. I think it would also make a good gift from a frugal person to their spendthrift friends. It is arranged in topical, easy-to-use chapters.
on January 10, 2004
This book has ideas such as play a board game with your family instead of going out, cancel cable, do anything that is free, not frugal, and then has the gall to give you tips on eating at a fancy restaurant (go during off hours). There is a difference between being frugal and being a MISER! That is why they call it miser. Being Frugal is a state in which one is conscious of his/her expenses and gets the best quality that their money can buy, be it Target or Saks, because of the longterm investment. This book is about either not having any money in the first place and having to survive, or having a whole bunch of money but wanting to take it with you. It describes no method, nor does it give any kind of roadmap to where frugal living will get you. It should either be called "For Dummiest dummies" or "Existing for Dummies." If you do not believe me, go to the library and borrow it.
on February 23, 2003
Like many "for dummies" guides, this book lacks the specifity that readers of this genre want. The advice is either too obvious (turn down your thermostat, get generic prescription drugs, shop at second-hand stores, etc.--the "planned leftover ideas" on page 80 seems like a joke!), too general, or seem like re-hashed ideas from other books. There is also no explanation of how much you can save by implementing each idea--some people may not want to change their habits too save a few pennies, and others may be shocked at just how expensive cold cereal is compared to other options, for example. None of that is found in this book. The book also lacks any philosophy, ideology or principle (such as advocacy of living simply, rejection of consumerism, etc.) and therefore fails to inspire. Years ago I read the "Tightwad Gazette" and based on my recollection, would recommend it over this book strongly.
on March 8, 2003
This book is absolutely, hands down one of Deborah Taylor Hough's best books. It is not just a run of the mill book on frugal living. It definitely surpasses ones that have been written recently. I have found "new" ways to save money in this book. Books written recently seem to just "go over" what others have written, but Deborah covers more facets of frugal living. This one is definitely a keeper in my frugal library. This would be a perfect gift for a couple just starting out, or a college graduate. Or for anyone that just wants to learn how to save more money, which in these times is essential. But, don't stop at this book of Deborah Taylor Hough's, read her others, such as Frozen Assets which is defintely a time saving book as well as a frugal book to keep you from ordering out on busy day!!!! Thanks Deborah for writing a great book!!!!!