Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekend Reading: Suddenly Frugal

Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less
By Leah Ingram
Adams Media, 2010

In the interest of full disclosure, I had to admit that I have a bit of a bloggerly crush on Leah Ingram. Hers was the first frugality blog I stumbled across (thank you google reader), and from that moment forth I decided that I kind of want to be her. That's the bias I'm bringing to my write-up on this book when I say that this is easily one of the best frugality books I've ever read (and that's a lot). Just like her blog, this tome is chocked full of practical advice that saves you money.

I'm not entirely sure what it is about her that I respond to so much but I think it's a combination of things:
  1. She's an actual writer. It's hard to find bloggers that can actually write. There are many talented people out there who have a style, but to find a professional, polished writer is a real treat.
  2. She's no-nonsense and doesn't make it about herself. There are little asides about how she and her family started doing x, y or z, but it's certainly not confessional or full of pictures of family weekends. That stuff is all well and good sometimes, but other times, I just want the advice.
  3. Religion doesn't factor in. This may be an odd thing to say, but one of my biggest complaints about frugality blogs is that many are run by stay-at-home moms who are very religious. I have no gripe with religious people, but it's really refreshing to just read about saving a bit of cash without having to wade through the whole "god directed me to save money this way" stuff. Again, I just want the advice.
While I find the claim on the front cover of the book that a person can save up to $25,000 per year just by reading a bit silly, she does back it up. At the end of each section, there is a breakdown of how much you can save by doing everything she says. Sadly, most of it doesn't apply to me, but maybe someday it will.

Best takeaways:

I need to get a drying rack for my clothes.
I've actually known this for a while, but this book really brought home the fact that I could be saving a lot of money, energy and wear on my clothes if I just sucked it up and bought one. Problem is, I did buy one a few years ago at Target, and the damn thing would not stay together. It was the kind where the wooden dowels fit into plastic brackets on the frame, and the dowels wouldn't stay in. I tried glue (several kinds) and duct tape before I finally just threw it out. If anyone has managed to find a well-made drying rack, let me know.

DIY Laundry detergent.
Borax, washing soda and Fels Naptha soap and you've got laundry detergent that works just as well as the stuff that smells like a meadow. She also posted this on her blog, but the DIY chapter in this book is exhaustive and a little bit awesome. I haven't actually tried making the laundry soap yet, but I will, and you'll hear about it.

How to Compost.
Explained in a way that actually make sense. I have a boss who is a master composter, and she's half explained it to me before, but since she knows it so well, she omits things. This book breaks it down in a way that actually resonates to me much more than boss's advice or anything I've read on the interwebs. Granted, I do not have a yard so cannot really compost--but someday! I'll be ready.

Random Reuseables.
This is an entire section dedicated to giving you ideas of other ways to use common items. It's not unlike the new uses of everyday items section of Real Simple, but that's one of my favorite parts of the magazine, so I can't get enough of this stuff. I love dual purpose and maximizing what you can do with one thing. Ever thought of using toilet paper tubes as seed starters? Genius.


  1. The trick to getting drying racks to stay together is not to overload them. I have two drying racks and I space out what's going on them. Jeans are heavy, so I would hang up two pairs of jeans with some other lightweight things. I also use small rubber bands to hold wooden dowels in place. You really need an all wood drying rack too.

    You could also string a clothes line on your porch/balcony if you have one, or even inside. There some really great retractable ones out there.

  2. Thanks so much for the positive review of my book Suddenly Frugal. I'm so glad that you've enjoyed my advice and writing, and I'm really flattered by all the positive things you had to say--about the book, my blog and me. Thanks again.

    Leah Ingram

  3. Yay!! The frugality master found my humble blog!
    You are welcome, Leah, and thanks to you for teaching me so much and saving me (and others) serious money.