Author: Kalyn Brooke
There’s lots of savings advice on the Internet. It’s everywhere! Negotiate your bills. Clip coupons. Don’t read advertisements. Use cash. Use credit cards for rewards. Pay off your credit cards and put them in the freezer. Trying to keep it all straight is like juggling plates on top of sticks, so it’s no wonder that many people tune out or ignore much of that advice.
However, if you’re looking for a simple set of tips and a clear schedule to follow, Kalyn Brooke has a new book that offers just that. 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses is a practical guide to household finance. Brooke is a blogger who writes about household thrift and economy, covering everything from home decor to cooking and even building a wardrobe on a budget. Her writing is clear and practical, with many real-world examples. Her experience with Internet writing shines through in this incredibly readable book.
Two features set 31 Days apart from other personal finance guides. First, everything in the book is a practical, hands-on application. There’s no theory of saving. There’s no abstraction. It’s all about the concrete steps you can take to cut down your monthly bills and save money on things you already buy. The emphasis of these tips is to avoid privation and deprivation so you are capable of maintaining a full, healthy lifestyle. The tips in this book are more about value than expense, and Brooke recognizes the distinction between being thrifty and being cheap.
The other feature is implementation. Rather than a slew of strategies loosely organized by theme, 31 Days is set up to focus on just one thing per day for a month. This focus means there’s never a need to remember the “grocery store” chapter a week later during a “meal planning” section. Breaking down the strategies by day ensures there’s a singular focus for the day’s budgeting activities. The constant, daily effort toward a goal also helps maintain momentum. There’s less of a concern about getting burned out on personal finance by trying to change too much at once. Doing a little bit every day can effectively build a thrift habit.
31 Days doesn’t have a ton of new information. There’s nothing in this book that will surprise experienced savers or revolutionize your budgeting process. The same pattern of advice, earn more and spend less, carries through in this book, as well. The book also tends to assume some level of resources on the part of the reader. Brooke suggests bulk buying and batch cooking, both of which can be difficult for those already living hand to mouth or working multiple jobs to make ends meet.
Despite these shortcomings, 31 Days is a quality introduction to personal finance. The focus on concrete steps and a well-constructed schedule can help get us all on the right track to financial health. A copy of 31 Days, a calendar and a big, red magic marker could be the equipment that makes saving and budgeting click into place for you!