If you want to learn something, one of the best ways is to learn from someone who has actually done it.
Do you want to learn to get your budget under control, cut your expenses drastically, simplify your life, and live both frugally and generously? My dear friend, Crystal Paine, is just the person to ask. Her story speaks for itself.
She and her husband began their marriage on a penny-pinching, rice and beans budget of as little as $650-900 (total!) some months, while he went through law school, without going into debt at all. They've dealt with multiple moves, job loss, starting up new businesses and having 3 young children during those years, all the while keeping Crystal at home full-time. They have built up two successful businesses, saved up and bought their vehicles and then their house with CASH (yes, cash!), and are committed to continuing to live frugally so that they can give generously.
Today, her new book The Money Saving Mom's Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life and Save Thousands a Year hits bookstores and I am thrilled to be giving away 5 copies to my readers!
My Thoughts on The Money Saving Mom's Budget
When my own copy of the book arrived just before Christmas, I was eager to read it and found that there were many parts of the book that I didn't want to put down. I had initially wondered whether I would learn anything new or be personally inspired by the book, as my husband and I have similar views as the Paine's do on money and budgeting, we aren't in debt, and frugality is something that I love to practice and share about.
However, I found the book inspiring and helpful to read, no matter where you are at in your financial journey.
You see, Crystal doesn't think that having your finances in order is just about having a budget, cutting up your credit cards, and finding ways to trim your spending. Her approach is very holistic and that's what I loved about this book.
The first two chapters were an unexpected breath of fresh air, and focused on goal-setting and simple, clutter-free living. Her premise is that you need to set goals so that you know exactly where you're going and how you're going to get there, and that streamlining your life and eliminating the clutter (physical and mental) is key to being able to achieve those financial goals.
She's right. It's not enough just to say that you want to spend less or that you want to get debt-free, but not change anything about your overall lifestyle in order to accomplish those desires. If you're still living exactly the same lifestyle that got you into that place of financial struggle, then doesn't it make perfect sense to address the bigger picture and not just the money issues?
Although our family is debt-free, with a healthy amount of savings, and we budget our money every month, I was still reminded of things that we could improve on. Her chapter on goal-setting was the most impactful for me. If I can see one major weakness in how we run our finances, it's that we aren't specific or aggressive enough with setting meaningful goals for our income, our savings, or our giving. Crystal and Jesse have done some tremendous things through their careful money-management and I can see how we could steward our money more effectively by being even more intentional with it.
What You Can Expect to Learn From This Book?
- How and why to set financial goals, and practical, down-to-earth suggestions on how to move towards achieving those goals
- How to simplify and de-clutter your life and why it makes a difference financially
- How to budget your time (in order to help you achieve your goals)
- How to budget your money in a step-by-step manner, why it makes sense to use cash, and how to find money you didn't know that you had!
- How to get rid of your debt and go completely plastic-free
- How to cut down on your grocery expenses drastically, both with coupons and without
- How to reduce expenses in most other areas of your life (clothing, household needs, recreation and entertainment, etc.)
- How to cultivate contentment, no matter what your circumstances are, and live more generously
The one area in which I would suggest that this book may not be helpful for some of my readers is when it comes to the chapters on saving on groceries and household goods through couponing.
Now, I am not against using coupons at all. I use them myself sometimes and write a weekly post with Natural and Organic Coupons and Deals for Crystal's blog, Money Saving Mom. I even started up a deals blog a year and a half ago, with a focus on saving money on more natural, healthy living which included couponing as a way to save (although the blog is now under new ownership). Coupons can be a helpful tool when used carefully, in the context of a "real food" budget.
That said, I think that for those who really desire to focus on eating real, whole, and traditional foods and to keep their homes free of toxins by using simple and natural cleaning and beauty products, you may not gain as much from these two chapters. There is a third chapter that focuses on twenty-five ways to lower your grocery bill without using coupons, and I would agree with (and practice myself) many of these suggestions.
A Worthwhile Read
If you are in the midst of serious financial struggles, OR if you want to learn to steward your money more carefully and work towards meeting your financial goals, I think that you will be encouraged by this book and find its suggestions practical and helpful.
Some of Crystal's suggestions may be downright hard and she doesn't try to sugar-coat what it takes to be in control of your money (rather than letting it control you). She is straight-forward and honest and one of the hardest working women I personally know. She isn't advocating quick and easy solutions, but rather a lifestyle of intentionality and conscientious stewardship of the resources that you've been given. She acknowledges that it takes discipline and often sacrifice, but that the rewards of financial peace are worth it.
An amazing bonus is that ALL of the profits from the sale of this book will be going towards an organization that is dear to my heart, Compassion International. I travelled to the Philippines with Compassion International this past spring, and was blown away by the impact of the work that they are doing in the lives of impoverished children and families, as they meet physical needs, offer hope and transformation, and share the Gospel all over the world.
Would You Like to Win a Copy of The Money Saving Mom's Budget? I Have 5 to Give Away!
Here's how to get entered (remember to leave a separate comment for each entry):
1. Tell me why you would love to win The Money Saving Mom's Budget, or share one of your financial goals for 2012.
Giveaway ends Friday, January 13, 2012.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links to Amazon, where I receive a small commission of sales, which helps to support this site.