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How to Live on Less: A Guide to Everyday Budgeting and Self-Sufficiency - Gill Govier

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Genre: Finance / Business / Career / Author: Gill Govier / Paperback / 192 Pages / Book is published 2009-04-30 by W & H Publishing

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      20.02.2011 14:33
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      Some useful info if you can get this book in a sale and if you are OK with the tone!

      I have a few books of this genre, most of which I have a black or white opinion of, but this book came out grey! It's marketed as a practical guide to reducing everyday costs and waste, whilst offering tips on how an urban family could become more self-sufficient. Now generally it does hit those spots, but I can't help feeling that whilst it's proclaimed 'broad readership' could include those who are looking to cut costs to pay for something lovely or to remedy a more temporary cash flow crisis, as well as those who are living day to day on relatively little, the book does come out more with a tone that appeals more to the former two and could seriously alienate the latter!

      For example, I was put off a bit early on in the book by the writer's anecdotes in the budgeting section about how their budget priorities include wine (in the groceries); holidays (yes, in the plural), whilst their 'one off expenses' include "new bathroom" and "landscaping"! Additionally, later on advice on avoiding the cost of buying a new outfit rather than "(God Forbid) wear something you've worn before", is to hire something lovely instead "for around £50 - £100". Er, it might be just me but I couldn't help feel that this is a bit galling and comes across as not just a little bit smug for readers whose one off expenses are more of a "oh no, the car's failed it's MOT" or "the washing machine's gone kaput" basis and where wine comes as presents, whilst holidays haven't figured for years and of course those new outfits already come from the charity shop! If you can laugh at this kind of anecdote, then fine, but if it's likely to make you a bit cross or upset, I'd say you are better off without this book - especially with a £10.99 new publisher's price tag (thankfully I did not pay that much)!

      That said, some of the information is useful, but you do have to put up with that narrative to get to it! There's a 'toolkit' approach which is useful for quickly identifying the potentially money-saving advice, with useful symbols to help you decide how time-consuming or cost saving the approaches will be for you. There are also useful tables and visuals on things such as low-cost cleaning products and their uses and vegetable planting - which makes it easier to spot and use the information that you do need. What this book offers that many of its competitors doesn't is that for many of the suggested self-sufficiency approaches, the table includes a 'time to break even' estimate, from your initial outlay to the approach actually becoming cost effective. Although the numbers will have changed with the cost of living, this extra idea information is particularly useful if, say, you have the space for chickens but just don't know if it'll be worth it to you!

      However, although useful in respect of some of the practical advice, some of the pertinent financial information is already out of date. For example recent changes to credit card legislation now applies and as a result many credit card lenders are now charging a fee for 0% interest credit cards in order to claw back some of the money they were making out of borrowers, so it's not as easy or cheap an option as it was at the point when this book was first published in 2009. However, the general advice of not getting into debt, or using the lowest possible interest sources for credit would still apply - it's just the detail that's outdated!

      So you see, my opinion of this book's very mixed: some good practical advice, well laid out and reader-friendly (visually) but some out of date bits as well as some very cringe-worthy writing which doesn't come across well for anyone who is genuinely skint - and with so much redundancy and unemployment around that's probably the majority of the potential readership.

      However, this is only my opinion of course: your own might be different! I would just say though, in the spirit of this book's genre, that if you really want the money-saving advice that this book holds, my advice to you would be don't pay full-price for it, I really don't think it's worth that full-price tag!

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