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The New Frugality by Chris Farrell

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The New Frugality by Chris FarrellThe New Frugality by Chris Farrell is a new personal finance book that discusses a growing trend in America towards frugality. As we claw our way out of the Great Recession, American families are going back to smarter and safer spending after a near decade at the buffet table of cheap credit. This isn’t a book with a million different ways to pinch a penny, it’s a book that seeks to teach you how to be smarter with your money in actionable ways.

For most books, there’s usually one big idea followed by dozens of examples. Once you understand the big idea, there’s not that much more too it. For example, Automatic Millionaire’s main idea is that if you make something (saving) automatic, then you’re more likely to accumulate wealth. Set your 401(k) contribution when you start work and even if you never look at it again (which is dangerous), you’re going to be better off. The Millionaire Next Door’s main idea was that there are millionaires all around you and they didn’t do anything special, outside of being smart with their spending and their savings, to get there. The flash and jazz of superstar athletes or actors was just that, flash and jazz, but there are plenty of quiet millionaires… living right next door to you.

So what’s The New Frugality’s main idea? It’s actually quite subtle and he reveals it in the first few pages. Personal finance isn’t really about stocks, budgeting, or any of that stuff. Those are just the things on the surface. It’s really about deciding how to live your life, what you value, and then being smart with your money so you can create a good life with the things that are truly important. When you think about it in those terms, it’s easy to see where all the various pieces of the puzzle fit in.

Where New Frugality differs is in the wealth of information he provides in support of that main idea. After years of helping people with real personal finance problems on Marketplace Money, he’s acquired a great perspective on the issues that are really troubling those who call in. I hesitate to call it representative of Americans, but I don’t think doing so would be that much of a stretch. As a result, his advice is both actionable and timely.

I connected to one passage in the book that I thought was funny. When Farrell was growing up, his family was both frugal and green. The first was deliberate while the second was accidental. All the things you associate with being green has to do with consuming less, because it helps you save money. He said his mom never turned on the dryer and always used the clothesline. Growing up, we didn’t even own a dryer!

Overall, it’s a good book about frugality that doesn’t focus on pinching every last penny. It establishes a good framework for a healthy and sustainable way to be smarter with your money, including being frugal. I especially liked the idea of how frugality establishes a greater “margin of safety,” which enables you to take intelligent and sensible risks later. Finally, and I hope you take this idea away with you, personal finance is really about living a good and fulfilling life, part of which means avoiding the bad mistakes that could derail your quest to that end.

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8 Responses to “The New Frugality by Chris Farrell”

  1. jsbrendog says:

    i went through a phase of devouring personal finance books and such like this and after awhile i just came to the realization that i haven’t really seen anything new. It is kind of the same animal just wrapped in different furs everytime. while this might be somewhat interesting because it seems to examine the facts of why, what, etc, i still get, from the review, the idea that there isn’t anything in there i haven’t already read/heard.

    it’s hard out there for a pimp (of personal finance)

  2. Carla says:

    If I were to invest in a personal finance book this year, this would probably be it. I don’t need to read about how to eat on less than a dollar a day, or how to not get into debt – been there, done that! Thanks for the review, I will add this to my list.

  3. lostAnnfound says:

    I look forward to reading this book. Might there be a copy on the BB Store? Always room for PF books in my library. :)

  4. Shirley says:

    Great book and I really enjoyed it. I also found that many of the points were just what we were already doing by choice… that felt good!

  5. Izalot says:

    Sounds like a great book. I agree with Ann, any thoughts of adding it to the BB store?

  6. otipoby says:

    This sounds like a good book and reminds me of some advice my brother-in-law gave me when I was young.
    In America today, almost everyone can have almost anything they want – they just can’t have everything they want.
    If you want a Ferrari, you can probably get it, but you may have to postpone retirement. Life is about trade-offs.

  7. Chris says:

    Sounds better than the old penny pinching books….Frugal sounds better than cheap!


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