Sunday, March 7, 2010

Book Review: The New Frugality

By Flea - Be A Survivor

Today I am reviewing The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live BetterI recently finished reading this book while on the ridiculous world tour of business trips I have been forced to take part in for the last month. The book peaked my interest in the typical fashion, even though I consider myself very good with money and quite the cheapo, I am still always looking for someone who does it better, even if I just pick up the odd idea or two.

I am already a person who saves, thinks, and plans when it comes to my money. I have always been frugal and I reuse what I can in most cases. This book is quite different, it provides a more historical perspective of how we got where we are and where the key tenets of the "The New Frugality" come from.

The key philosophy of the book is the "margin of safety", everything should be done with respect to that safety net. You should not take a loan, buy a house, pay for college, or invest for that matter unless there is some margin of safety in case things go horribly wrong. Most people fail miserably in this regard. They do things like take out loans when they need them to pay for groceries rather than to do something like fund an idea or a new business. Take no money you aren't prepared to lose is the mantra (or pay back). This is of course sometimes easier said than done.

The author does manage to mention global warming/climate change, or what ever they are calling it these days a few times in the book and it is quite clear he has drunk the kool-aid in that respect, but it does not detract from the solid financial message presented in the book.

The book drives home key points such as making frugality a habit, getting so used to looking for the cheaper way to do things that it is programmed into the very fabric of your being. This is not a book about collecting aluminum cans or reusing Zip-lock bags so if you are looking for that type of information look at some of the other books I have reviewed as there are several that present it quite nicely.

This book is about how to make yourself financially successful based on some simple rules that we as human beings seem to fail at whenever we are given a choice. Think before acting, provide for a margin of safety, and analyze before spending. The perfect example is: paying to go to the expensive four year university - attending it all four (or five years) to earn the elusive sheepskin. Many community colleges have matriculation agreements with these universities. You can attend the community college for two years at a tenth of the cost and transfer to the four year university for your last two years and get THE SAME DIPLOMA as you would have attending it for all four years.

Yes a margin a safety...think about that. Learn to recognize and plan for it, it can be your financial salvation.

The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live Betteris a good book you should all read (especially if you like some history thrown in).

...that is all.

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  1. I haven't read the book, but I do have a comment on the 4 year school verses community college. I must say I disagree. Because, I was in that boat, after the military I went to a community college first, and had fantastic grades, the "credits" transfered - but the "grades = A" don't. So, your taking 100/200 level classes, and when you get to your new 4 year school, you don't have the "buffer" of good grades, so your taking 300/400 which are more difficult. Also, there was the psychological effect that, damn, it was harder. I think this can disuade a lot of people. SO I say, if you plan on four years go to a four year school - it does cost more, but there are other less tangible benefits. Ken

  2. I have always been frugal and I reuse what I can in most cases. Its great to have this book, as it has margin of safety.