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Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy
by Jonni McCoy

Before I got pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I were a two-income family living in Southern California. I had several months off with my daughter but felt certain that I had to go back to work when the new school year started (I was a full-time teacher). I couldn't imagine how we would have enough money to get by if I stopped working. We would lose my income, and we would also lose my benefits, which were being fully paid for by my school district. My husband and I took a leap of faith, and I resigned from my teaching position. It's been nearly a year now that I've been home with our daughter, and along comes an opportunity for me to review Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy. I'm happy to say that we intuitively followed some of her principles without knowing it, and I am discovering even more ways to get by on just one income without feeling like we're giving up anything.

The author of Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy, Jonni McCoy, outlines eleven miserly guidelines:

One: Don't confuse frugality with depriving yourself
Two: Remove little wasters of your money
Three: Keep track of food prices
Four: Don't buy everything at the same store
Five: Buy in bulk whenever possible
Six: Make your own whenever possible
Seven: Eliminate convenience foods
Eight: Cut back on meats
Nine: Waste nothing
Ten: Institute a soup and bread night
Eleven: Cook several meals at once and freeze them

Trying to apply all eleven principles at once, if you haven't been living a lifestyle like this, can seem downright impossible! I like what Ms. McCoy has to say about this right in Chapter One: ".take one step at a time. Pick one idea and apply it. When it becomes comfortable, apply another one. Even if you only choose to try a few of the ideas, you will save. The more ideas, the greater the savings." It's reassuring to read this, as it reminds us that we can take things one step at a time and still reap some benefits.

One of Jonni McCoy's favorite recipes for soup and bread night:

Quick Potato Cheese Soup
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup water
2 cups milk
1/2 cup cheese
1 onion, diced
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
2 T. flour
1 T. butter

In a saucepan, melt butter and fry onion until light brown. Stir in the flour and salt and pepper. Stir, forming a rue paste. Add water, stirring constantly. When mixed, add the rest of the ingredients. Stir while it thickens and the cheese melts.

The first principle is more about a change in attitude than it is a tip or trick. Ms. McCoy gently helps her readers reframe how they think about cutting corners, eating out less often or making a meal from scratch. Instead of feeling deprived, she challenges us to keep in mind our goals - why do we want to save money? For me it helps to remember that trying to live more frugally allows me to be at home with my daughter, and that is more important to me than yet another dinner in a restaurant or another trip to Kauai. In addition, trying to save money where we can has actually allowed us to save money and take some (frugal) family vacations!

In addition to explaining what her eleven principles are all about, Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy also has sections that help put the principles into action. The book has roughly 50 pages of recipes and meal-planning; warnings about the difference between "good deals" and "bad deals" at warehouse clubs (good deals include spices, batteries and cheese, while bad deals include plastic bags, paper products and milk); sticking to your budget during birthdays, holidays and other special occasions; saving money on baby-related expenses (try store-brand disposable diapers or washing cloth diapers at home; make your own baby wipes; make your own baby food); calculating the "cost of working"; tips for working moms (do your grocery shopping once a month; don't eat out; avoid buying clothes that require dry cleaning); suggestions for husbands; ten ways to get children to save; and a whole slew of miscellaneous tips for everything from photo developing to bank fees.

A recipe for making your own play dough:

Play Dough
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 t. cream of tartar
2 cups water with food coloring
2 T. oil

Mix together in a pan (non-stick is better). Cook over medium heat until it forms a hard ball. Knead when warm for a smoother consistency.

Before reading Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy my husband and I had already started working on principles one (Don't confuse frugality with depriving yourself), two (Remove little wasters of your money), five (Buy in bulk whenever possible), six (Make your own whenever possible) and eight (Cut back on meats). Now that I've had a chance to read this book, I have more motivation to try and work on a few more principles, like eliminating convenience foods and cooking several meals at a time. Ms. McCoy's book has plenty of useful information to help anyone save more money, whether you're trying to eliminate one income entirely or merely cut back on expenses to free up your money for other things.

Book review by Jennifer Thompson

To Purchase:
   • Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy at Amazon.com
   • Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy at Amazon UK
   • Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy at Amazon Canada

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