Book Review: 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget

by Matt B

First of all, I have to give a HUGE thank you to Wise Bread and it’s publishers for providing a copy of 10,001 Ways to Live Large to myself and a number of other personal finance bloggers in advance for review. It was a great surprise to open a package just a few days after requesting a copy for review. Wise Bread has been one of my favorite personal finance and frugality websites for years now and I am privileged to have the opportunity to get a peek at their first collective book project.

Before getting into the meat of it, this book is NOT intended to be absorbed in one sitting. As soon as you get a chance to flip through the pages, this is blatantly obvious. It is lacking stories and personal experience narratives, providing nothing but applicable ways to save money on nearly everything in our lives. 10,001 Ways to Live Large (on a small budget) is more like an Almanac of Frugality. More tips, tricks and secrets than you can shake a stick at await within these pages.

This manual is divided into 12 sections, all of which could pull their own weight if published on their own as smaller releases.

  • Food & Drink-

  • Find inexpensive ingredients that will add flavor to many of your dishes, and the foods that every kitchen should have. Learn how to make a simple lunch and save money (and maybe your health) by avoiding restaurants or fast-food. Examine simple methods of saving on meat. All in the first 43 pages!

  • Travel-

  • Hundreds more tips are available here, offering ways to see the world for free (or very inexpensively), saving on tickets, avoiding souvenirs or just getting around an unfamiliar city on the cheap. Again, many of these tips are extremely helpful for those who travel, even if it is on rare occasions.

  • Health & Beauty-

  • At first, I thought I would probably be skipping this section, with thoughts of make-up and hair products floating around in my head. I’m glad I didn’t. Health & Beauty is actually one of my favorite sections, giving advice on how to make clothes last longer, making your own products at home, toilet paper tips and 50 ways to get more out of health care costs (a great resource in itself).

  • Fun & Entertainment-

  • This section is devoted to saving on the non-essential. Those little things that make life fun. You can skimp all you want, but to stop living is just plain stupid. So, read this section for great saving advice on television, wedding plans, dating, parties and tons more.

  • Shopping & Bargain Hunting-

  • I loathe shopping, but after the amazing Health & Beauty section, I could not very well skip over the shopping section. Again, I am glad that I did not. We all shop, even cheapos like myself who will avoid going to the store like it has leprosy. This section concentrates on shopping for things we all need, and finding deals that can actually be profitable. Shopping in bulk, finding deals in service plans (cable, cell phone, etc.), saving on groceries and how to write an effective complaint letter without being insulting or rude are the most valuable areas in this section.

  • Green Living-

  • Most of the tips in this section apply to each and every one of us. Green living is not putting solar panels on your home or driving a hybrid car. It is paying attention to the little things we do every day. This section is not about spending thousands for energy efficiency, it is concentrating on recycling and adjusting your habits to use less and save money.

  • Education & Self-Improvement-

  • Unfortunately, most of us pay far too much (or take out tens of thousands in loans) for a decent education. This section highlights education of all types, not just college. I was hoping for a little bit more in this section, but this is more than sufficient. Truth be told, this book is just too good for me to complain about a few small things that I would have added.

  • Financial Planning & Budgeting-

  • For a 29 page section, there is a wealth of information. In a nutshell, everything you should know about personal finance: Budgeting, charity and choosing a financial planner are just a few topics touched upon here.

  • Credit Cards & Debt-

  • Another powerful section. How to pay off debt, talking to a credit counselor and little-known credit card secrets are outlined here. This chapter alone is essential for anyone who would like a constant and tangible reminder on how to rid themselves of debt.

  • Investing Your Money-

  • Investing and risk are sometimes hard to understand. 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a small budget explains investing simply and quickly without confusing or overwhelming the reader.

  • Housing & Home Improvement-

  • Amazingly, even renters will benefit greatly by reading this chapter. Housing & Home Improvement offers up strategies for becoming rent or mortgage free, getting your security deposit back, de-cluttering and DIY improvements.

  • Career & Money-Making Ideas-

  • This final section contains advice on how to answer common job interview questions, signs that you may soon be ousted from your current position and ways to find income opportunities (large or small).

    Every single section of this book contains clear, concise and useful tips to save money or use money wisely without having to “give up” any of the glamor and experience that is usually associated with price. There are also hundreds of uses for things in your house that you would probably never realize, like using beer as a hair conditioner! I promise, it really works. (Just wash the smell out afterward, you don’t want to smell like a boozer!) There are literally thousands of ideas that could all be started today that will

    I realize that I have never given such a complimentary review for a book before this one. Most books are just too filled with nonsense. Every page of 10,001 Ways to Save is stuffed with information. This is a title I will be reaching out to for years to come. Go pick it up.

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