America’s Cheapest Family: Overview

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America's Cheapest FamilyI have a soft spot for books on frugality, so when I spotted America’s Cheapest Family on the new releases shelf at my local bookstore, I had to read it. Are there a lot of good ideas inside for how to reduce your financial footprint, or is it a bunch of self-promotion and hot air? This week, I’m going to dig into this book and find out whether it’s worth your time.

The full title of this book is actually America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams, an overly wordy title that does actually get the point of the book across pretty clearly. In a nutshell, it’s a lifestyle guide to frugal living, one that I was happy to see come out because there simply aren’t that many strong books on frugality.

Right off the bat, the entire purpose of the book is laid bare, as it gives you three principles for getting you right on the money:

Avoid debt like the plague Debt means that you take your hard earned money and just hand it to someone else in exchange for nothing but instant gratification. Rather than using credit to buy things, you should save up the cash and let the interest work in your favor, not in the favor of some banker willing to lend you money – and take back even more money.

Live below your means This book believes strongly in the concept of the written budget, something I’m not wholly sold on. However, I do agree that you should spend less than you take in every month, and the greater the difference between the two numbers, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

Embrace the thrifty lifestyle The authors pitch living thrifty as being like a game, one in which savings in time and in money are the prize. Every time you can do something that saves you money or time, you’re winning, even if it seems like a pain to get started. I agree: that kind of attitude will win some serious rewards over the long run.

The book is divided into fifteen chapters, so for each of the next three days, I’ll cover five chapters, then on Friday, I’ll give a “buy or don’t buy” recommendation for this book.

America’s Cheapest Family is the seventeenth of fifty-two books in The Simple Dollar’s series 52 Personal Finance Books in 52 Weeks.

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