Frugal Isn’t Cheap- Spend Less, Save More, and Live BETTER

This week I’m reviewing “Frugal Isn’t Cheap: Spend Less, Save More, and Live BETTER” by Clare Levison, CPA.

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The book opens with Clare checking in with her checking account – and surprise, surprise, it’s a negative balance! She then goes on to assure us readers that it’s OK if we, too, are not perfect. Instead of beating ourselves up, we should just move forward and work to do better in the future.


The TL;DR version of this review is that overall it’s a pretty solid book for beginners. You’re not going to find advanced, hardcore frugality strategies a la Mr. Money Mustache, and if you’re a personal finance nut like I am there’s not going to be anything new here. But if you’re just starting out your financial journey and looking to make some small changes to get out of debt and save more, this book will provide you  good basic information while being reasonably entertaining.

Living Well on Less – In this section, the author talks about separating what’s important about yourself from the things that you own. You might think of yourself as a good employer, son, mother, father, or sibling – you likely don’t think of yourself as “the person that owns that cool thingamajig”. So what’s really important is who you are, not what you have. She also talks about some ideas on specific ways to save money, like foregoing a DVD purchase to watch a Redbox rental

Less Spending, More Balancing – Recommendation here is to start saving anything, no matter how much (or little) you’ve saved in the past. The “balancing” part is around living on a balanced budget-preferably a cash one so you can’t overspend.

Getting Out of Debt – Here she goes through the different types of debt payoff strategies – debt snowball (pay off debts from smallest to largest amount), debt avalanche (pay off debts from highest to lowest interest rate), and the “ticked off”method, where you pay them off in the order they annoy you from most to least annoyed.

Saving More Money – Recommendation here is to work up to saving 20% of your income-an excellent recommendation for most people. She recommends a three phase strategy – “Piggy Bank” phase, where you cut spending in small ways and instead put what you would have spent into a piggy bank; “Pay Yourself First” phase, where you start automatically drafted from your paycheck or checking account; and “Goal Phase” where you begin to save for specific goals

Investment Plan – The basics of 401ks, IRA’s, Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPP’s), stock trading accounts, and real estate. And alpacas.

Large Purchases – This section is all about buying a home

Net Worth – It’s pretty basic: assets (money/real estate) minus liabilities (debt) equals net worth. There were some interesting stories in this section about Thomas Jefferson and MC Hammer, both of whom apparently struggled with debt

Income – Gives a few “side hustle” ideas, but is mostly about increasing income at your main job. The author cautions here against starting a business as rather risky, preferring to rely on an employer for income.

Money Doesn’t Make you Evil – Starts off with how you’re not an evil person just because financial security is important to you. But the section is mostly about charitable donations

Teaching Your Children – All about allowances and college

Achieving Financial Success – You can sum it up as “spend less than you earn and save/invest the difference”

All in all, this is a solid book for those who are looking to start reading about personal finance. Although it doesn’t cover any one topic in great depth, it does touch on all the major topics you need to learn about in a relatively entertaining way.

Now I Want to Hear From You!

What financial book have you read lately that you find interesting, entertaining, or educational? What books are on your “to read” list? What book should I read next? Let me know in the comments!

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7 thoughts on “Frugal Isn’t Cheap- Spend Less, Save More, and Live BETTER”

    1. Three ways-I love to read (I own hundreds of books), I read quickly, and I read early in the morning before everyone wakes up. 😀 Reading has been my hobby since I was a little kid.

  1. The best financial book that I read recently was I will teach you to be rich. I really liked the humor and advice that he gave. Plus there were little tips in there that really helped out that I hadn’t considered.

  2. Recently, I read “The Slight Edge” which was fantastic. I’d highly recommend that one. I just finished “With Winning in Mind” on mental performance.

    I’m currently reading “The Richest Man in Babylon”.

    On my list, I have “Think and Grow Rich” and a few others on business/entrepreneurship.

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