2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Cathy Estabrook’s Living on Less & Loving It!: Penny Pinching With Style is filled with down-home wisdom and practical suggestions about how to dig out of a financial hole and start winning with money.
This book is not some pie-in-the-sky collection of theoretical personal finance tips but the hard-fought experiences of a family of six climbing out of poverty by taking extra jobs, making their own cleaning products, growing, preserving, and cooking their own food, negotiating monthly expenses, refinishing furniture, and finding every way possible to make their money work for them.
When I first picked up the book, I had expected a much less narrative style. I hadn’t anticipated that this book would be so completely autobiographical. Thus, the first chapter came as a bit of a surprise. Cathy Estabrook started off by telling (in great detail and with some unnecessary repetition) the story of how she and her husband had three children before they were out of their teens. This set the stage for their family’s extreme poverty in a small town.
However, the poverty doesn’t last forever. Cathy’s is an inspiring story of personal determination, grit, and progress. Even though she admits in the book that they have a long way to go before they would have enough money for retirement, they seem to be making their way step-by-step toward complete financial independence.
The first chapter tells the backstory, with the next eight chapters interspersing stories with general financial advice and motivation. Much of the financial advice––understanding wants vs. needs, setting attainable goals, starting slowly and progressing step-by-step, saving a beginner’s emergency fund, monitoring credit and retirement accounts, and living below your means––is standard in the personal finance space.
This book really shines in the last thirteen chapters, where the author gets to the practical part of her message. In these remaining chapters, Cathy Estabrook turns theory into reality by teaching very practical ways to save money and build wealth: how to make your own cleaning products, things to grow in the garden, how to do home canning and preserving, how to sell on eBay, how to save money when planning a wedding, how to refinance a mortgage, how to think about paying for college, how to save with CDs, how to invest in real estate, etc.
Living on Less & Loving It! is a great book for someone just starting a journey into personal finance. The style is accessible and non-technical enough even for someone who is math-phobic or who would hate a book with charts. I can see this book being very useful for a young family trying to figure out how to think about their financial future.
Unfortunately, the book was written in a very informal style filled with phrases such as “…but oh baby…” and “…so hey, that’s life, right?” The writing was not polished or well-edited. The book contained a large number of typos and grammatical errors as well as many awkward and meandering constructions. The structure was non-parallel in many places. The author’s promised “top ten ways to save money” were never enumerated, though they were the ostensible basis for the final thirteen chapters of the book. For those reasons I give this book 2 out of 4 stars. With the help of a patient and thorough editor, I believe the material in this book could easily be worthy of 4 stars.
Living on Less and Loving It!
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like jaylperry's review? Post a comment saying so!