Thrifty Ways for Modern Days - Book Review

by - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thesedays we are awed by the sheer number of books available to us, and it'sdifficult to choose something relevant to our needs. As parents, we arelimited in the time we can spend reading, and as frugal families wecannot afford to spend on books we may later find irrelevant. So eachWednesday, I aim to review a book on a range of subjects from parentingguides to home-making, fashion/beauty and cookbooks which are most relevant for fabulous, frugal mums!

Today I will review one of the most important books on frugality I have ever had the benefit of owning: Thrifty Ways for Modern Days, which offers collective wisdom from members of the MoneySavingExpert community and is edited by the money saving expert, Martin Lewis

As explained succinctly on the front cover, Thrifty Ways provides "handy hints on living better for less". Essentially, this is a book about living thriftily, offering advice about how to spend less (if at all) on the things we do everyday, from cooking and cleaning to dressing and even entertainment. This wonderful book was written through the success of the Old-Style forum on the MoneySavingExpert site where some of the older MSE's decided to share their thrifty wisdoms with younger generations:

[The Old-Style forum] has swiftly developed into a discussion on living life cheaply, healthily, ethically and thriftily, with all generations together searching for a path to Old-Style bliss.

How Thrifty Ways is organized

Thrifty Ways for Modern Days is organized into chapters which outline the many money-saving tips we can choose to adopt for our everyday lives:
  1. Cleaning
  2. Shopping - what to buy and how to reuse it
  3. Clothes and shoes
  4. Home maintenance and DIY
  5. The good life: grow your own
  6. Presents and home-made gifts
  7. Christmas, weddings and other occasions
  8. The old-style recipe book
Each of these chapters includes many sub-headings to organize the information even more concisely. Chapter 1 (Cleaning) for example offers a section on the top 5 cleaners, followed by an analysis of the cose effectiveness of natural products compared to branded products. Later on, you can even find step-by-step instructions to clean every room of the house in a frugal and environmentally friendly manner.

(Trust me, I've tried some of these methods and not only do they save money but these can also save time and energy too!)

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the format is the Preface section (if I may call it that) which offers an introduction to these "Old-Style" ways, complete with a broad overview of what MoneySavingExpert is all about.

The "Do you spend more than you earn..?" section was very enlightening. Here you can find fundamental lessons in debt and money management, complete with tables to help you account for expenditures and budgeting plans, which can help literally anyone find ways to manage their finances better (and even discover they have more money available than previously thought).

I suspect this particular section was written by Martin Lewis himself as the information he provides makes complete sense and cuts through all the fog we tend to associate with our finances, making this an important aspect of learning to deal with any money problems we may have and prevent any wasteful losses of our income.

My favourite chapters

I particularly enjoyed the chapter on cleaning, for while I have used natural (and thrifty) methods to clean our home for some time, I found the sections explaining methods for every room in the house to be particularly enlightening. These sections begin by explaining exactly which products are needed, followed by a run-down of how to clean various aspects of the room, including recipes for home-made cleaning products.

The chapter on shopping proved also very useful. Here you can learn how to make careful choices of what you choose (and choose not) to buy; how to fight the impulse to spend when it's not nescessary, and how to "downshift" in order to make even better savings for your shopping baskets.

This chapter does not only explain how to save money on grocery shopping: almost every aspect of what we choose to buy is covered, from electrical items to beauty and personal treats. Recycling is another important section of this chapter: rather than explain simply how to take your used paper and bottles to the recycling depot, Thrifty Ways offers useful insights of how products may be reused at home - this not only saves on waste, it enables us to save money on expenditure too!


Although a relatively small format when compared to similar titles, Thrifty Ways for Modern Days is packed from cover to cover (literally - there are tips on the front and back!) with great tips to save money and live within your means. The size of this book is roughly the height of a DVD box, and almost an inch thick making it ideal to stuff in your handbag for light reading on the bus or while waiting in a queue. Being a paperback ensures it's also cost effective - the quality of paper it's printed on is hardly exquisite but since this is a book about frugality, there is no more fitting format for this guide.

As Martin explains in his introduction, "Old-Style" ways are not for everyone; this book offers a "take it or leave it" approach where some tips may be suitable for your means while others may seem too extreme for your liking. For example, I personally prefer not to stock up with free sugar sachets and sauces from fast food restaurants or make gift tags on the computer at home. But on the other hand, the advice about swapping clothes at local parties and investing in my own breadmaker were tips which really worked out well for me.

I sincerely recommend you pick this book up for a read. It's currently only £5.49 from Amazon (the list price is only £7.99) though you're also likely to find this bestseller in your local library or through (which was where I sourced mine!). I can tell this book will live for a long time on my desk shelves as I seem to pick it up regularly for thrifty advice on whatever I'm up to.

Buy Thrifty Ways for Modern Days from

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  1. Great review, I would have considered getting it but I've bought a couple of similar books recently, I'll keep it in mind though.