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by Jane Dwinell
To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure that I was going to like this book when I started reading it. The first few chapters, where the author extolls the benefits of frugality and establishes her credibility, had me rolling my eyes quite a bit. Like many authors in this niche, Dwinell tries too hard to to establish herself as an expert, and the result comes off as a little sanctimonious. You know those people on Pinterest who seem to have perfect lives, and how you want to punch them? It's kind of like that.
I'm glad I stuck with it, though, because the rest of the book is jam-packed with useful, pragmatic tips. Many of them are pretty basic or things I already knew, but I did get a few decent ideas, and I came to like the author more by the end of it -- once I realized that we perhaps have more in common than I'd thought.
The audience for this book is obviously the overworked middle class (isn't that the audience of all of these books?), and she does pander to them a bit, but she also sticks to her principles, and I respect that. The basic message of the book is that frugality allows you to have more freedom -- by having fewer material possessions and needs, you can cut down on how much time you need to work and spend your time pursuing your passions instead. That's certainly a message I can get behind. She also looks at frugality not as a means to an end but as a philosophy -- being frugal isn't about having few things, it's about really appreciating the things you have and being thoughtful in each decision you make.
This is worth reading. If you're pretty new to budgeting and need some practical tips, this is a good place to start. The ideas stay fairly vague, so this is more of an entry-level book than a blackbelt's guide, but I'd still recommend it.