Sorry, this giveaway has ended. But the review is still perfectly good!
Regular readers here know that I am a big fan of Money Saving Mom, the blog by Crystal Paine that sparked the whole frugal mom blog genre. I learned how to shop CVS from this blog, and although we are so different — I’m a messy, cynical liberal atheist and she’s a home-schooling Christian mom who makes sure that everything on her blog is upbeat — I have always been impressed and inspired by Crystal’s professional approach to homemaking and mothering. Reading her blog not only showed me a lot of the money-saving techniques that are now regular parts of my life, but it also gave me a window into how a really on-the-ball homemaker grows a successful business while still trying out projects like making her own laundry soap.
And now what has she gone and done? She has gone and wrote a book.
I was lucky enough to receive one of the preview copies of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year.* I didn’t read it right away because I was finishing up Ron Santo: A Perfect 10* (and I am probably one of the only people on earth who loves both Crystal Paine and Ron Santo enough to read their books back-to-back). But last week, I got to meet Crystal in person, and that inspired me to hurry the heck up and read the book.
I enjoyed it. A lot of the couponing and budgeting tips in the book will be old hat to readers of this and other frugal Web sites, but even a veteran couponer will find useful advice here. I love that the book starts with a chapter on getting your life organized. I agree that a lot of money is wasted — in my house especially — because of disorganization and clutter. (Just today, we found out that two parking tickets we got last month now have late fees attached because my husband thought he paid them. Grr! I’m sure this would never happen in Crystal’s home with all her checklists and systems — it’s like Six Sigma over there!)
I’ll finish my review below, but first, let’s give away some books! Crystal has kindly offered to give two lucky Frugalistic Mom readers copies of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget. You can enter this contest up to 3 times:
- For your first entry, please leave a comment telling me if you have checked out Money Saving Mom’s blog and if so what you have gotten out of it. This entry is required to win.
- You can get one bonus entry by Tweeting this post. If you Tweet it, leave a separate comment letting me know you did.
- You can get a bonus entry by sharing this post on Facebook. If you share, leave a separate comment letting me know you did.
- Do not leave more than 3 comments per person. I will count entries by counting comments, so if you do any of the bonus entries, you must leave a separate comment to be counted.
CONTEST ENDS FRIDAY AT 12 P.M. CENTRAL TIME. BOOKS WILL ONLY BE SHIPPED TO US ADDRESSES.
Now, more of the review:
I appreciated Crystal’s step-by-step description of how she declutters her house twice a year. (Although of course what she does in a week or less in her always-streamlined home would take me a month or more because I am starting with a much, much worse mess.)
Another thing I really enjoyed were the tips from Money Saving Mom readers, scattered throughout the book.
My favorite parts of the book, though, were the personal anecdotes. I am a blog reader because I like to read about people’s real lives. I could get all kinds of advice on running a household inexpensively from magazines and Web articles, but I choose to read blogs like MSM because I love seeing people’s lives unfold and seeing their practices and beliefs change through their experiences. One of my favorite series that Crystal has ever written was the one that chronicled her family’s journey to purchasing their first home with cash.
My only disappointment in this book is that I wish there were more, deeper personal anecdotes. Since I have been reading her blog daily for years, I already knew the Paine family somewhat well and was hoping to get to know more about their motivation to make the choices they have made, and what it felt like to live this frugal path. I’d also love to learn more about what it felt like for Paine to build her Web site into such a huge success, and how the income from that site and the growing workload has affected the family.
However, I have hope that we’ll learn more about what it’s like to be Crystal Paine in the future. After all, the first book on her reading list for 2012 is titled, “How to Write a Book Proposal.”
* Affiliate links — if you click through and shop at Amazon, I’ll earn a commission. Also, as stated above, I received a free copy of this book to review.