October 30, 2009, 5:00 am

“In Cheap We Trust”: Review and Giveaway

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Reviews
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in-cheap-we-trustIf we had to separate people into 2 different clans: The Thrifts and the Spendthrifts, I would probably be closer to the latter. Unfortunately, the thing I like most about money is spending it. However, being a husband and father of two beautiful children has helped me be more responsible financially. While I never really wasted my money, I have always enjoyed earning more to spend more in order to indulge myself from time to time.

Now that we live on a single income, I have to double my efforts to become more frugal and concentrate on priorities. I guess this is what attracted me to read more about “being cheap”, which led me to “In Cheap We Trust” by Lauren Weber.

About Lauren Weber:

The author “grew up in Connecticut with a father who rationed toilet paper, set the thermostat at 50 degrees during the winter, and rarely used his car’s turn signals (to prevent them from burning out).”

Strong from her frugal background, Lauren always had a passion for writing. She has been writing for Reuters, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and American Banker just to name a few. Since 2007, she has concentrated on writing “In Cheap We Trust”, a combination of personal anecdotes intertwined with social and historical data wrapped up with a political taste for frugal living.

About the book:

Lauren captivated me during the first few pages about her cheap thrills introduction. And why the word “cheap” has become so negative over time. It’s as if the amount of money spent annually has become the measure of your social class in our modern (capitalist) society.

This book uses history to bring us back to the very definition of thrift and how frugality has been an important part of our value system for a very long time. Through a well documented (sometimes too exhaustive though) research, she depicts the history of frugality since the very first person set foot on American soil.

The last decade (apparently) has brought us wealth and comfort. Yet, recent economic events show us that we, as a spendthrift nation, simply incurred a huge credit bill over these same 10 years and it is now time to pay the interest and reimburse the capital. If we had not forgotten the efforts from our ancestors in building the foundation of a strong and frugal society, we might not have hit such a brick wall in today’s recession.

I particularly liked the Paradox of Thrift revisited by Weber. The paradox of thrift was created based on the principle of the economy declining due to the fact that everybody is saving instead of spending. Technically, if consumers stop buying and save their money, it should create an economic contraction resulting in more job losses (I guess this is why Bush was telling us to take our stimulus check to go to Disneyland!).

While the premise is accurate (spending less will result in a longer and deeper recession), spending more will simply postpone the problem for a few years. It’s akin to not going to the doctor because you have the flu, instead wait until you get pneumonia. I feel that a balance between savings and spending would be most appropriate.

I also found it quite interesting to actually understand the roots of frugality and Weber’s personal stories included in her book got me thinking about how far from being thrifty I actually was. It was nice way to get into the mood to save money!

Now the Giveaway!

I actually have 10 copies to distribute amongst Gather Little By Little and The Financial Blogger readers. Each blog will giveaway 5 copies of “In Cheap We Trust”.

Participation rules:

– Comment below with a frugal tip or spending philosophy (1 entry per comment).

Follow me on twitter (1 entry)

– Register to my free mailing list (on top right of the site)

– Register to my RSS feed (1 entry)

You can actually participate on both sites by commenting.

The giveaway winners will be announced on Friday, November 6th.

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Want to save on cash and help reduce farming’s impact on the environment? Eat half the meat you normally would and replace it with with some great veggies. Establish one meatless night a week, and when you eat meat make sure it’s only about 6 oz.

Realistically I’m never going to give up my BBQ burgers on a Saturday evening. Even just writing about it makes me salivate. However, do you really need to eat a 40 oz steak? Instead take some potatoes and other veggies, wrap them in foil and throw them on the BBQ too. Potatoes are fantastic for you, are incredibly affordable, and fill you up quite nicely.

Always take a calculator with you when you shop.
Compare prices and sizes of products.
Try to match up coupons with sale items.

frugal tip: in households with more than one breadwinner, for purchases over $50, you have to explain your plan to purchase to your significant other; result is you normally forget, change your mind or drop the idea, therefore reducing impulse spending!

actually works very well, especially for me who like to indulge myself

I would love to win!

Watch your renewal premiums each year for your home and auto. They always seem to creep up and by shopping around you can usually save some money. Do not automatically renew term 10 life, your rates will be higher than if you reapply (assuming no change in medical situation).

by: wendy wallach | October 30th, 2009 (8:21 pm)

Watch the register when you go to the grocery store. It often fails to ring up the sale price and if you bring the receipt to the courtesy counter, you can then get that item for free.

madamerkf at aol dot com

I believe that when we calculate ROI, its necessarily to have a calculator to avoid frugality…what do you say about this? Thanks financial blogger.

I have to admit I find it very difficult to be frugal and am trying to change my ways. A simple tip may be to stop paying others for what you can do yourself. For example, I belong to a gym ($50/mo = $600/yr) but have started to look into fitness routines I can do at home. There is an intitial cost outlay for tapes and some equipment. I’m not going to buy anything big like a bowflex or treadmill because it’s amazing what you can do with a medicine ball and simple weights. And plyometrics doesn’t require any equipment and still manages to kick my a$$. Cost savings will be from my membership and saved gas from driving back and forth from the gym (which is also good for the environment). The tip can be expanded to include simple home repairs, growing your own vegetables, etc.

[…] out my post for a free book giveaway (winners to be announced on Friday Nov […]

Frugal Tip: Don’t underestimate your food spending: Eat out less (much less) and cook at home instead. Think you don’t have time? Make large meals and freeze at least one night’s worth of leftovers. Make cooking a family/couple affair. You’ll get to spend quality time together and preparation will go quicker. And don’t buy expensive food, except for special occasions. Think of that $12 bleu cheese as a splurge, not a staple. Include cheap healthy staples in every meal: beans, legumes, rice, quinoa, etc. and buy them in bulk. Buy less meat–it’s better for you and you’ll save money since meat is usually the most expensive type of food.

Following you on Twitter, RSS, and mailing list.

I research the heck out of any significant purchase, and then wait for it to go on sale.

[…] First things first, here are the winner of the book “In Cheap We Trust“: […]