Review: 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget

Every other Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book.

10,001If you’ve been reading The Simple Dollar for a while, you’ll know that I’m a fan of WiseBread. It’s a “group” personal finance blog with a small pack of contributing writers, some of which I quite like (like Philip Brewer).

10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget is something of a compilation of the “best” of Wise Bread, along with contributions from several other top personal finance bloggers (myself included – my contribution to the book was Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Personal Finance, which appears on pages 199 to 205). Most of the contributions are lists of frugal ideas or other personal finance concepts, each of them actionable – the titular “10,001” comes from a liberal accounting of these tips.

The book itself comes off much like a thick magazine – glossy pages and lots of relatively short, independent articles with specific action tips.

Thus, instead of a full-on review, I just picked out ten of my favorite pieces from the book, tried to find the originals online, and offer my thoughts on them. If you like these ten pieces, you’ll likely enjoy the rest of the book.

12 Affordable Ingredients that Add Gourmet Flair to any Meal
Contributed by Linsey Knerl
This is really an awesome list of ingredients to have on hand to make more upscale meals at home on the fly. We usually have most of these things on hand, but often we grow our own substitutes for these – for example, instead of shallots, we have green onions from our own garden.

Eight Natural Ways to Make Water More Flavorful
Contributed by Xin Lu
Water is the ideal beverage – it’s practically free and it quenches your thirst. The only problem for many people is that it’s bland and boring – so people skip water and drink sodas or coffee or other beverages. If you’re trying to cut other beverages out of your diet for health and financial reasons, try some of these great tactics to kick boring water up a notch.

Make Your Clothes Last Longer (without spending big)
Contributed by Andrea Dickson
I basically tend to wear my clothes until they’re ready to fall apart – ask my wife; sometimes, she’s not impressed with that at all. These tips do a great job of extending the lifespan of clothes, whether you choose to wear them that long or not.

25 Great Gifts for $5 or Less
Contributed by Julie Rains
I find that pretty much anything homemade, if done with thought and care, can make a great gift but not cost you too much in terms of money. For example, I can make homemade dry pasta and homemade pasta sauce quite inexpensively, package them well, and it becomes a really cool gift for someone.

10 Ways to Simplify Your Budget
Contributed by Leo Babauta
Many people fail at budgeting because they make it way too complicated. The end result? They simply don’t follow through with it – it becomes a dead document that means nothing at all. Leo has some really good tips for making a budget actually work in the sonc

10 Ways for College Students to Eat for Free
Contributed by Margaret Garcia-Couch
College can be tough. You’re trying to get by on pennies without racking up any more debt than you have to, and many students do this by eating cheaper. However, college has a big advantage – you can often eat for free if you plan ahead and know what you’re doing. I wish I had done things like this more often.

How to Find Savings in Every Room
Contributed by Myscha Theriault
I like tips like these. They’re simple, apply to almost everyone, and just work without too much effort or thought. I believe that many people are turned off from frugality because their first taste of it is some tip that looks like a giant time investment and without experiencing how useful frugality can be, they don’t think it’s worth it (for good reason). That’s why the best frugality tips for beginners are really simple ones, particularly ones with big bang for the buck. Why do you think I talk about light bulbs all the time?

21 Great Uses for Beer
Contributed by Paul Michael
I often have really cheap beer in the fridge for various purposes (mostly because some of my guests seem to actually prefer Natural Light to a great craft beer – to each his own, I guess). Sometimes, though, I pop open a can – but not to drink it. I use it for other things, like beer batter or flavoring rice.

How to Have a Frugal Vacation and Still Treat Yourself
Contributed by Nora Dunn
My favorite advice for a cheap vacation is to stay with friends and family. Choose destinations where you already know people, then call them up and let them know you’re thinking of a vacation there. You might just find yourself with free housing and a very hospitable host. Of course, you should always return the favor when this comes up!

55 Ways I Saved (or Considered Saving) Time and Money Planning my Wedding
Contributed by Sarah Winfrey
A wedding can be a gigantic money suck – that’s why there are lots of lists of tips on how to save money on weddings. This is one of the most complete ones I’ve ever seen. My attitude is this: a wedding is about people, not about stuff. Don’t blow exorbitant amounts on stuff.

Is 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget Worth Reading?
Did you find the articles above worthwhile? Does the idea of a magazine-format book seem appealing to you – a bunch of unrelated articles on money-saving topics? If you’re saying yes to both, you’ll probably find 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget very worthwhile.

I’ll be honest, though. I’ve been a long-time reader of Wise Bread and some of the other blogs touched on in the book and I found that I’d already read most of the book. It had a very, very familiar tone for me. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile, it just means that the best audience for this book is people who have never read Wise Bread (or other personal finance blogs) too much.

10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget has great content. I look at it as a knock-’em-dead issue of a great personal finance magazine. If that’s up your alley, check this one out.

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