About · Press · Contact · Write For Us · Top Personal Finance Blogs
Featured In:

Book Giveaway! Be Thrifty: How To Live Better With Less Book Review

By Kira Botkin

Cover of the book "Be Thrifty"Tightwads everywhere try to show each other up on how much their organic garden has grown, hipsters dress exclusively in charity-shop finds, and it’s practically “New York cool” to make your own pickles. But for most people, these frugal activities are just a small corner of their lives, with the rest of their lives displaying a significantly less disciplined financial lifestyle. So how does one begin to learn how to live a truly thrifty life?

The new book Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less by Pia Catton and Califia Suntree is a compendium of useful tips, stories, and recipes for everything from repairing flea-market lamps to hosting a low-budget, high-class cocktail party. In a way, the advice offered in this book reminds me of another book I love, Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During The Great Depression. For this Depression kid, frugality was simply the way things were done, without fuss or hand-wringing; Be Thrifty has much of the same tone – “This is a perfectly acceptable way to live your life, and no apologies are needed.” Being thrifty isn’t about sitting home in the dark wearing every sweater you own, smug in the knowledge of how many expensive gadgets you’re not buying. Being thrifty is about living your life in a meaningful and thoughtful way, looking at everything you buy and use and making it worth the cost. And the Depression maxim “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” could practically have been the chapter titles of this book!

In Be Thrifty, I particularly liked the section on food and cooking. This is an area that I have serious trouble with, for the most part because I’m a terrible cook and approach all recipes as chemical formulas that must be done precisely or the kitchen will explode. Nonsense, say the authors! Every morsel of food has multiple uses, and if you don’t have a use for it right now, freeze it or transform it into something else. I’m ashamed to say that it never occurred to me until reading this book that vegetable stock was made by boiling a bunch of vegetables. Shame on me. They suggest saving all the leftover bits, those carrot peels, the short center celery stalks, the zucchini ends, and putting them into a gallon ziplock bag so that you have vegetables galore when you’re in need of stock. Later on in the food chapter, they also provide a number of very useful suggestions for staples that all frugal cooks should keep on hand (beans, for one, get a Lifetime Achievement Award!) and provide recipes for these staples to give you some great ideas to start you off.

Much of the book also focuses on living simply. While some parts seemed a little over the top (if I need a new lampshade, it seems easier and cheaper to get one at a garage sale than to hot-glue one myself), the most useful parts of the book give you roadmaps to thriftiness that you can apply to your own life.

Of everything the book encourages, I think living more simply is the most valuable lesson you’ll learn from reading this book. Be Thrifty espouses the value of planning ahead, being prepared, and looking for alternatives. The subtitle is “How To Live Better With Less,” and it achieves this goal by advocating for a more down-to-earth, less fussy style of eating, dressing, entertaining, and existing within the modern world without bowing to the endless demands of a consumer-based culture. It’s not so much about making do with less, but about saying, “how is spending more making my life better?” Often times, the answer is that it is not making your life better.

Readers, we have a present for you! The publisher graciously sent along an extra copy, so we’re going to be giving it away to one lucky reader. To throw your hat in the ring for a chance at a free copy, please submit a comment with your best thrifty tip or advice. We’ll collect responses and choose a winner randomly from among the comments made. Get your comments in by the end of the week! This is a great read and will no doubt help you improve your financial lifestyle!

Kira Botkin
Kira is a longtime blogger and serial entrepreneur who enjoys gardening, garage sales, and finding stray animals. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, where football is a distinct season, and by day runs a research study for people with multiple sclerosis. She hopes that the MoneyCrashers team can help you achieve your goals and live a great life.

Related Articles

Comments

  • Kim

    Sounds like an interesting book. My best frugal tip is: keep coupons with you – grocery, restaurant, etc. and use them as appropriate.

  • Rebecca

    I would love to win the book. My favorite tip is to menu plan. It cuts down on all the trips to the grocery store. I always end up buying more then I should at the store.

  • http://mocove.blogspot.com Stephanie

    That sounds like a great book! My favorite frugal tip when I was a single mom of school-age kids: Visit fire stations’ open houses – they usually have a pancake breakfast and great fire safety demos.
    Another tip that helped with food costs is participating in SHARE and AngelFood programs. Google to find local groups.

  • Jane

    My tip: Do a little math and find out your “hourly wage” for doing something thrifty: savings/hour spent. For me, a lot of the common advice saves me way too little to bother with for the time it takes, while other ideas pay off much more than I would have expected. This technique helps me to prioritize my frugal ways!

  • Ladam8518

    My tip: always ask for a discount, especially on large purchases, you never know when a manager/sales person is willing to give up a small profit to increase sales numbers or if there are any unadvertised discounts available.

  • Nate

    My tip is never keep cash in my wallet. It is much harder to spend “a few bucks” when you don’t have it readily available. It makes me think about each purchase.

    • Megan

      That’s funny, my tip was that I always keep cash, because I find it much harder to part with than the swipe of a card…

  • Olivia

    When the kids were little, the challenge was to have an over the top birthday party for under $20. First the boys picked their theme. Pirates, mad scientists, knight and princesses, constuction, military, Hawaii, Italy….We found games and activites on line and at the library, made pinatas from cut and folded poster board or newspaper paper mache, baked and decorated the cake with the appropriate theme, stockpiled soda and ice cream when on sale, printed out big letters onto the backs of colored advertising flyers to string into “banners” , hung dollar store ballons from light fixture, sewed costumes from stuff in thrift stores discount bins, and on occassion made props from large cardboard boxes.

    Though exhausting, I kind of miss those days now that they’re into more sedate “grown up” celebrations.

  • Jen

    Use bank card & credit card points/rewards for holiday gift shopping.

  • Kristy

    My best tip is to get enough sleep and not overschedule yourself. Tiredness and stress weakens your willpower and often leads you to pick more “convenient” (ie, expensive) solutions.

  • Debra

    Don’t wait to buy something until you run out. If you stock up on items when they’re on sale, you can have significant savings and reduce headaches and unnecessary trips to the store.

  • Heather H

    Only buy things that are on sale and always use coupons (on those things that you already want to buy).

  • Laura

    Before going grocery shopping, review the store ads, buy what’s on sale only, along with utilizing both store coupons and manufacturer coupons combined with the sale prices, and stock up on sale items while using multiple coupons for those items. Use internet coupon sites to search for coupons for items you need. Subscribe to All You magazine as it has tons of coupons each month that more than make up for the price of the subscription. Well worth it!

  • Liz

    I’m not much of a reader, but I think I would enjoy this book- I’m always looking for ways to save money! My tip is to plan your menu for the week before going shopping, so you know exactly what you need and don’t spend extra on things you don’t need.

  • peggy

    My frugal tip is get creative with leftovers- they don’t always have to go into meatloaf. If you take home part of your gigantic restaurant steak, cut it in thin slices and add to stirfry or wrap it up as a fajita. Or my favorite solution is to scramble eggs with leftovers to make a hearty omlette.

  • maria

    Best thrifty tip is make you meal plans around what you already have in the fridge before it spoils and use all leftovers.

  • sandra jensen

    Have a really good experience as a customer? Send an “at a boy” email or make a phone call to the parent company, they very often send coupons for a huge discount or free meal and you get to praise a hard working employee who hopefully gets rewarded also.

  • Heather Dykeman

    Now, here is a great givaway I definitely want to win.
    My frugal tip is a little about saving money, and a little about making money as well.

    I look at all of my junk mail as valuable. Yes, really, I do.

    Those 10% or 20% off Coupons that come in your mailbox for Lowes, home Depot, JCP, and a host of other chain big box stores? Check out ebay…..

    You can actually sell them for a couple of bucks and make a profit off of your junk mail.

    And for my saving money tip:
    I keep a big box in the garage for plastic, cardboard, paper towel rolls etc, and when my boys get bored, we haul out the box and make “cities” for their matchox cars. They love to use tape, markers and string to construct huge towns out of all the leftover recycles. They have spent more time doing this than with all of the toys we have ever purchased for them.

    And one more great tip…. 2 liter soda bottles and tennis balls make a really fun game of bowling on a rainy day….

  • http://www.wealthyimmigrant.com/ Wealthy Immigrant

    Read blogs by moms and extreme savers – they’ve helped me to save money.

  • lola malone

    grocery stores tend to rotate their sale items. if there’s something you buy weekly but notice that it’s on sale one bimonthly, stock up. you can purchase lots of non perishable items this way.

  • http://talkthrifty.blogspot.com/ Betsy Bargain

    I would love to win this book. I consider myself to be pretty frugal, but there’s always something new to learn. My best thrifty tip is to buy everything you can secondhand. I buy clothes, books, gifts, housewares, craft supplies, everything I can at yard sales, church rummage sales, and thrift stores. Also, don’t forget about freecycle.org both to give away unwanted items, and get things you need for free.

  • http://www.thefatdollar.com Patti

    My best frugal tip is to plan grocery purchases and meals so that there is no need for last minute fast-food or eating out. We even have pizza night where we make our own pizza and it is actually much better than the pizza restaurant pizza. This one tip alone can save $25.00 to $50.00 a week. As a bonus, food prepared at home can be made much healthier. Simple meals are fine and transforming leftovers is actually fun.

  • Dori

    My best tip is to buy produce from you local farmers market. Not only do you get fresh produce that taste wonderful, the savings alone is a big beneft. Also, if you go later in the day you can get even bigger savings. Plus you also keep small local famers in business. :)

  • Linda

    Scan all the fliers for the best sales prices and use as many coupons as possible. Save all your loose change in a jar and cash it in when it’s full.

  • Stephanie S

    Planning my families meals for the week has really helped to save us money. If I don’t have the meals planned out for the week I find that we have a tendency to be lazy and grab fast food that costs too much and no one really enjoys.

  • Gen

    I use coupons and watch for sales, but when I cook, I make double or triple the recipe and put it in the freezer in smaller packages, so it is ready when I need something quick.

  • Jehynes

    As a Mature student,,,always accept every invitation to a free meal, go out to every free event, visit a friend for a couple of days for a free weekend holiday! Give back by giving free foot massages and painting, clipping toe nails or offer to weed their garden, shove snow. You dont have to be a free loader but use sweat equity. Be thankful for everthing offered to you and bless your friends, family everyday!

  • Jehynes

    As a Mature student,,,always accept every invitation to a free meal, go out to every free event, visit a friend for a couple of days for a free weekend holiday! Give back by giving free foot massages and painting, clipping toe nails or offer to weed their garden, shove snow. You dont have to be a free loader but use sweat equity. Be thankful for everthing offered to you and bless your friends, family everyday!

Links monetized by VigLink
Close