Updated on 03.02.07

America’s Cheapest Family: Buy or Don’t Buy?

Trent Hamm

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.

I picked this book up and reviewed it because, well, there simply aren’t very many good books out there specifically focusing on frugal topics. In fact, only one other comes to mind, and I’ve been planning on reviewing that one during this 52 Books series since the beginning.

This is definitely a “starter’s guide to frugality.” Once you’ve been doing things frugally for a while, many of the tips within will seem somewhat automatic. The reason is that frugality is a mindset, and once you’ve really understood and applied that mindset, most of these ideas are almost automatic.

That being said, if the idea of living more frugally appeals to you but you are having difficulty getting started, this book is for you. Almost all of the ideas are simple, most are really effective, and taken as a whole they subtly shift your mind to a frugal mindset, which will reveal many, many more ideas as you move through life.

On the other hand, if frugality seems like a waste to you or you’re already living really cheap, this book isn’t going to do much at all for you. This book targets those people in the middle who are open to the idea but don’t really know how to start and need a bit of a push to get going. If you’re not interested, this book will seem silly; if you’ve already got a sweat-stained copy of The Tightwad Gazette, this book will seem overly simple.

I found it to be an interesting read and I can respect that it would have been a real eye-opener a year or so ago when I was first committing myself to living more frugally.

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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  1. I think your points are very valid and sensible –but is the book realy worth buying -didn’t you just hit the main points and aren’t they the same points in all of these books? Just asking as you seem to be the expert on this. Plus shopping only monthly seems extreme to me –no fresh fruit or veg–Gracey

  2. Diana Freeman says:

    Recently, I have been researching books about frugality. “America’s Cheapest Family” was amoung the list of books I checked out for research from the Friendswood Public Library. I am trying to keep a list of the books I read so I can find them quickly if I want to read them again.

    Another book on the subject worth reading is “Cut Your Bills in Half” by the editors of Rodale Books; Copyright 1989. If you recall, frugality was necessary back in the eighties. The national economy is like a roller coaster.

    “Thrifty” by Marjorie Harris; copyright 2010; published by the House of Anansi Press Inc. There is a lengthy chapter about frugal gardening. If I recall correctly, Marjorie Harris is an editor for a well known gardening margazine. Sorry, I cannot remember the name of the magazine at this time.

    These books contain detailed information about saving money and living the frugal life style. With the economy going down hill, it is wise to learn the art of frugal spending and finding ways of lowering the cost of everyday expenses.

    Keep up the great work!

    Diana Freeman

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