Review: 365 Ways to Live Cheap!

by mzumtaylor on November 11, 2010

in Book Review,Frugality,Personal Finance


Title: 365 Ways To Live Cheap! (affiliate link)

Author: Trent Hamm of TheSimpleDollar.com

Summary: The title really says it all. Hamm goes through every area of life and offers savings tips and tricks to help you stay ahead of the game.

Genre: Personal Finance

Audience: Anyone looking to take control of their finances and save a little money.

Why I liked it: I’ve been a fan of TheSimpleDollar since I found it two years ago. Hamm has a way of getting to the crux of an issue in a way that provides a lot of valuable information without frightening away newbies. This book is no exception.

He offers many (365, in fact) simple, straightforward tips and tricks to saving money in every area of your life, while also explaining why some of the tips he recommends are worth the extra effort they may involve. Many of the suggestions are things that anyone familiar with a frugal life-style will already be familiar with, but there were a few that he makes that I had never thought of.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Tip 25. Don’t Install You Refrigerator Next to Your Dishwasher or Oven
    (Section: Appliances)

    This is a very common kitchen layout, but the heat generated by the dishwasher or oven will make the fridge work harder to keep your food cool. Never even crossed my mind, but makes sense when you think about it.

  • Tip 45. Pay For Car Repairs with a Credit Card
    (Section: Automobiles)

    Credit cards have great fraud protection, so on the off-chance your car repair goes sour, you have the might of the credit card fraud department at your back. Just make sure you pay the repair off right away. Fraud protection is no excuse to go into debt; you should always have the money to do the repair before you even take it to the shop.

  • Tip 61. If You Have an Unexpected Windfall, Put It into a CD
    (Section: Banking and Investing)

    Most people spend any windfall right away without thinking about how to spend it wisely. Putting it into a 6 month or one year CD helps you really plan for what you’re going to use that extra money for.

  • Tip 135. Pick the Model Now, Then Wait Six Months
    (Section: Electronics)

    If you still want the device in six months, a) you’ll have saved a goodly amount toward the cost of it, and b) it’ll probably have gone down in price. If you don’t want it at the end of six months, don’t buy it.

  • Tip 228. Consider a Cheaper Neighborhood
    (Section: Housing)

    As Hamm writes, “It’s wise to be the richest person in a cheaper neighborhood than to be the poorest person in a rich neighborhood.” It’s a bad idea to “compete with the Joneses,” but it’s hard to resist. The easiest way to put yourself in a neighborhood where you’re more likely to be the Joneses, and therefore won’t be tempted to spend money you don’t have.

  • Tip 297. Organize “Work Parties” Where People Gather to Help with a Task
    (Section: Socializing)

    If you need to paint your house or move or re-shingle your roof, get a bunch of friends together and make it a social event. You provide the refreshments and you get to hang out with your friends while accomplishing something together. Sounds fun to me!

  • Tip 316. Shop on Your State’s Tax-Free Holidays
    (Section: Shopping)

    I didn’t even know that state’s had tax-free holidays, but this is really great advice. Most stores offer sales on those days because people who are in-the-know (not me, clearly) are already out shopping on those days.

  • Tip 334. Pay Your Bills on a Weekly Cycle, Not Monthly
    (Section: Utilities and Bills)

    This is an idea I had never encountered before this book, and I love it. The idea is, at the end of each week, pay all of the bills that have come in. If you have more bills than you have money, hold a few of them off until the next week, which will still get them paid on time, but won’t over-strain your bank account. What a great idea.

Whether you’re new to the idea of frugality or just interested in learning a few more tricks, this book has advice for everyone.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: I love books, and if I had my ‘druthers (and all the money and space in the world) I’d have my own library full of them. Since I don’t have all the money and space in the world, I try to limit the books that I own to books that I want to re-read (usually fiction), and books that I know I’ll want to reference.

This book is one of the latter. We currently rent because we’re working on saving up our 20% down payment for a house (Tip 227, interestingly enough). This book has a lot of useful advice both on ways to save money when buying a house, and how to save money after you own one. I definitely plan to own this book.

If you liked… You’ll also enjoy…: Your Money Or Your Life (affiliate link)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda Pingel November 16, 2010 at 7:38 am

Great review! (Measure: I started reading thinking “no way will I read this book” and ended thinking “that might be worth checking out.)

Also, I like the format. Easy to read, easy to understand, easy to find the parts I care about.

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mzumtaylor November 16, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. I’m glad you liked the format and that it was easy to read. The book definitely is worth checking out (obviously, I think so. :D ). Let me know what you think if you do.

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