Sunday, September 4, 2011

Book Review: "America's Cheapest Family" by Steve and Annette Economides

Now my wife can attest to this statement with absolute certainty: I love finding challenges. For me, I approached “America’s Cheapest Family” with just that attitude. I have been living a frugal lifestyle for over two years, and this family of seven has been doing for 20+. What are their secrets, what can I learn from them, and what are they doing that I haven’t thought of? Thankfully there were few surprises (which shows me that I’m on the right track) but plenty of things that down right blew me away. I thought that my wife and I had meal planning down to a science, well this family makes my meal planning education look like a diploma handwritten in crayon. With a family of seven, they spend just over $300 per month , and get this, went grocery shopping just once a month, and they weren’t vegetarians! AHHHH! With just my wife and I, as vegetarians, we come just under $400 a month and shop 3-4 times a month for groceries. When coming across this section, the book had my full and undivided attention. Through utilizing careful planning, a separate full box freezer, and a car vs. my rolling cart, this family has me impressed.
But even beyond the tips, tricks and lessons, this book had a deeper meaning that resonated deep within me. And that is this: in living below our means, we have readjusted our lenses in how we approach the world. Rather than spending money to have fun and create bonding experiences with our loved ones (keep in mind I’m not even touching keeping up with the joneses here), being economical really makes you see your world, city, town and region in an entirely different light. You get more resourceful, more cunning, and in my experience, the memories are that much more enjoyable. The family offers year round tips for entertainment enjoyment and living economical which I must say even gave a young(er) “know it all” a few things that caught my eye and that I could immediately implement into my daily life. The overall philosophy though is what made me smile and glad to have this read this book. That there are others out in the world that care more about financial security and family relationships somewhere hidden among those stumbling out of Sunday brunch spots and walking around trashed beyond their minds in Wrigleyville wearing the latest fashion trends and charging their way through life. 

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