As penny pinchers, we all need a hefty dose of reality and a bit of inspiration from time to time to keep us on track. There’s plenty on-line – I regularly use the Money Saving Expert mantra, ‘Do I really want it? Do I really need it? Can I afford it?’. However, when I hear of other people’s amazing holiday plans and start to think, maybe I could afford just a week in Ibiza, or I covet a beautiful pair of leather boots at £120, I love to sit with an inspirational book and retrain my thoughts. I have a perfectly good pair of boots that cost me £3 at, of all things, a boot sale. A holiday would be fantastic, but so would paying off my credit card – if I want a holiday I will need to save for it, and we always have the tents and camping gear, and can head off the Rendlesham Forest for the weekend in the summer.
So where do I find my inspiration? I have several books that I come back to again and again. You might pick them up second-hand on Amazon or, if you are really lucky, GreenMetropolis.com. Failing that, most library services will let you order a book if you can’t find it on the shelf.
So, my favourites:
The Tightwad Gazette
An absolute classic. Dacyczyn was the first frugal blogger (well, she would have been, but the Internet was in its infancy when she was writing). It started life as a newsletter, and finally became a book in the early 1990s. She had the dream of a large family and a rural New England farmhouse, but wanted to achieve this without having two incomes and having to put her children into daycare. The newsletter became a two way communication, with her many readers writing in to give their feedback and their frugal ideas. Still absolutely relevant.
The Penny Pincher’s Book
John and Irma Mustoe
Another classic of moneysaving, this was originally published in the late 1980s. It is to the point and often witty – “Double saving: say no to children whining for sweets – save money on sweets and even more money on dentistry”.
The Money-Less Man: A year of Freeconomic Living
More recent, and not really geared up for family money-saving, this is nonetheless a really interesting read. Boyle decided to experiment for a year to see if he could live on no money. This involved living in a caravan off-grid, foraging and growing food, making toiletries and toothpaste from natural wild ingredients and more. He even scavenged food from bins – perfectly edible but thrown away by the supermarkets.
This is quite a political book. Boyle’s message is that we crave money at the expense of communities, relationships and the environment, and that we need to realise that we cannot consume all of the world’s resources in the pursuit of things.
How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day
This is a similar theme to Mark Boyle’s book, told in a really entertaining way with loads of ideas on how you can live on very little money if you really have to. Kelly wanted to save for her brother’s wedding, so resolved to live on much, much less than most of us can ever imagine doing. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and she is certainly creative in her approach. It even has a fairy tale happy ending. A nice read!
I would love to hear your recommendations for great and inspiring books. I have more on the bookshelf so part 2 might follow!