Four Unlikely Books That Have Made Me More Frugal

by Kelly · 8 comments

in Thoughts On Frugality

At some point on your journey towards frugality, you probably read the same books I did, the highlights of which were The Tightwad Gazette and Your Money or Your Life. (If you haven’t read these two, I strongly recommend doing so!) But there are other books that have shaped my journey towards frugality, unlikely choices all. I thought I would share them with you, and how they influenced my way of thinking about money, consumerism, frugality and spending.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point talks about social change, and the moment at which the momentum of the change becomes such that the change is unstoppable. Gladwell analyzes how ideas and behaviors are spread through a society, with the idea first being adopted by a trendsetter, then gradually spreading to various groups of people until even those who are the very slowest to embrace new ideas have adopted the new behavior. We can see this happening right now, with the ever increasing popularity of frugal ideas. Amy Dacyczyn was one of the earlier modern promoters of the frugal lifestyle- now everyone is talking about it 20 years later.

This book influenced my frugality by showing me how little changes or the right person acting at the right time can make all the difference. I started looking at my attitudes towards money and saw that if I wanted to really learn as much as possible about personal finance, I had to start learning from the right people. It was then that I started to read more personal finance books and blogs, and more faithfully too, really paying attention to what I was reading.

Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield

Confessions of an Organized Homemaker is my favorite organizing books, hands down. I like how Schofield lays out her system of organization, but never forces anything on you. And this book has influenced my frugality in a big way, mostly through her insistence that not only does being organized not need to be a complicated matter, but that you can and should find the system that’s right for you. The same reasoning goes equally well for adopting a frugal lifestyle!

Following some ideas from this book I simplified my organizing system, which in turn meant that things were easier to put away and tha I needed fewer fancy (and expensive) organizing systems than I had previously thought. For more on Confessions of an Organized Homemaker, you can read my review here.

The Walmart Effect by Charles Fishman

The Walmart Effect is a balanced look at one of the world’s giants, Walmart, and its effect on consumers and prices. I’ve never really been a fan of Walmart, mostly I think because I didn’t grow up in a family that shopped there. But this book really made me think about the effect the relentless drive for low prices has on consumer mentality and what in turn those low prices mean to the economy.

Although I was already pretty determinedly frugal at the point when I read this book, The Walmart Effect influenced my frugality by strengthening my resolve to buy responsibly whenever possible. I’m not saying that I won’t look for the lowest price, just that I’ll ask myself what that low price means to me. Sometimes cheapest isn’t necessarily the best.

The Betty Crocker new cookbook

Ah, Betty Crocker! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… I love that this cookbook has the basics of cooking, with easy fool proof recipes. I love that the choices might not be the most sophisticated, but will  feed my family healthfully and frugally. I love that instead of needing to turn to a mix, I can just flip open the big red binder, and find an easy to follow, inexpensive recipe.

More seriously, this cookbook, as basic as it is, has helped give me lots of ideas when planning menus or trying to figure out what’s for dinner. And who knows how many take-out meals it has saved me from? That’s frugal in my book!

What are some books that have influenced your views on frugality?

(This post was in the Carnival of Personal Finance at Four Pillars.)


1 Lisa March 9, 2009

The Millionaire Next Door (and now the Millionaire Mind as well). The average Millionaire in the U.S. shops at Costco and other discount price warehouses becaues they know the value of a dollar. And buying in bulk saves time too!

Lisa´s last blog post..Tips from the Millionaire Mind – News You Can Use Today

2 Lucie @ Unconventional Origins March 9, 2009

I haven’t read any of these! Looks like I have four more to add to my wishlist (I have especially wanted to read the first one).

Books on finances have obviously made me more frugal, but surprising books that have had that effect have been books like Eat, Pray, Love, or other soul searching kind of books that make me realize how much stuff you have says little about who you are.

Lucie @ Unconventional Origins´s last blog post..Hair and Anti-Racist Parenting – a Lesson Learned

3 Gabriel March 9, 2009

I hadn’t really thought about Tipping Point in quite that way.

My favorite frugality inspiring cookbook is Cheap. Fast. Good! by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross. In addition to recipes, it has lots of good info on spending as little as you can on food but still eating well. I really like the emphasis on “batch cooking” where you take cook the meat (and other things) in your meals in advance (when you find it on sale!) and then freeze it to use later.

Gabriel´s last blog post..I Scream FROM Ice Cream

4 Craig March 9, 2009

I read The Tipping Point and never thought of it as a frugality book. You do bring up some interesting points and I can see how you spun it for finances. It’s true little things can snowball into big things, a way to look at savings.

5 Coco March 9, 2009

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan;

This books does not necessarily encourage frugality, but made me think about how my purchasing choice of food and other stuff can affect the food chain and ecology system. It also motivated me to live more like my grandparents who enjoyed simple food in moderation and never bought things unless they are really really really necessary.
Since I read this book, I try to pause before buying and ask myself how my purchasing of this stuff would affect the ecology system – now that surely dampens my desire to buy.

I would love to read “Confessions of an Organized Homemaker” and “The Walmart Effect.” Thank you for the great list of interesting books.

Coco´s last blog post..Walgreens Deals- Oahu, Hawaii: March 8-14

6 Erin March 10, 2009

Love Betty Crocker too. The Tipping Point is a great book. I just started Gladwell’s newest book, Outliers, about extremely successful people and how their success isn’t just related to their personal intelligence and ambition but also to the people who surround them, the environment they live in, and the unique circumstances of their lives. I’ll keep frugality in mind as I continue through.

This is an obvious frugality book, but Baby Bargains can help new moms and dads save a lot money. When I was expecting my first, I was completely overwhelmed by the huge selection of different products out there – car seats, strollers, diapers, etc. – and this book helped me narrow down the right products for my family that our budget could also accommodate.

Great post. Thanks, Kelly!

Erin´s last blog post..Financially stressed? 5 ways to feel better fast

7 Kristy @ Master Your Card March 10, 2009

You know, to be honest, I have not read a single personal finance book in my entire life. Not that I don’t find value in them if they’re right for you, but I personally have never been big on the self-help books and a lot of them come across that way. There are one or two I’ve seen come up repeatedly as being some of the best books out there and I may eventually pick them up. But, as a whole, I don’t read them. However, the cookbook is a different story! I LOVE the Betty Crocker cookbook and have found wonderful recipes in them. I’d really like to get a Rachel Ray cookbook now.

Kristy @ Master Your Card´s last blog post..OMG, I Agree with Dave Ramsey… In This Case

8 nixdminx March 16, 2009

Aaah, that’s a difficult one. Naomi Klein’s No Logo was a big one for me, as was Fast Food Nation and Freakonomics (especially the chapter about the real estate lady) . But for a spendaholic like me, I would have to go for this one. There is a really great personal finance specialist in the UK who champions consumer rights and his book has universal good money saving sense. It’s call The Money Diet and more on it here

nixdminx´s last blog post..A New Sense of Identity and Loathing

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