397 Ways to Save Money: Spend Smarter and Live Well on Less by Kerry K. Taylor was one of the books recommended by Preet Banerjee in Stop Over-thinking Your Money! I was happy to see that the library had it, so I snagged it as soon as I could. Taylor is the creator of Squawkfox.com, which is a blog about frugal living; it makes sense that she decided to share her tips in a book.
397 Ways to Save Money is split into four parts. Part one covers buying big ticket items, like choosing whether to rent or buy a home. Part two looks at saving money in home management, including maintenance, energy efficiencies, and cleaning. Part three goes through the entire house and suggests ways you can save room-by-room. And part four has a few extra ways to save, looking at things like vacations and pets.
A lot of Taylor’s suggestions, particularly in parts two and three, are surprisingly eco-friendly. She advocates cleaning the way our grandparents and great-grandparents did using common household items like vinegar and baking soda. Cleaning in this way will save you money on more expensive cleaners AND keep more chemicals out of your home. I also like that she includes recipes to make cleaners and even things like laundry soap throughout the book.
Going room-by-room in part three was also pretty interesting. Taylor had a number of cost-saving ideas that would never have occurred to me, like adding a bit of water to extend the life of your liquid soaps and shampoos, or saving money by buying dried beans in bulk for cooking (although I admit I probably won’t be using that last tip too much right now – I’ve been buying beans in cans and they last me quite a long time because I’m single and living alone – I actually struggle a bit more right now with accidentally wasting food I’ve bought or prepared and failed to eat).
A major pro of the book in my opinion is that it is Canadian; Taylor gives Canadian resources and talks about benefits the Canadian government can provide for you (and sometimes some provincial benefits, too). The major con of the book is that it is a bit out of date (it was published in 2009). So some of the facts she uses (like her assumption on the price of gasoline) are out of date. Plus a lot of her resources are websites, so some of the sites may no longer be available/relevant.
Overall though, I really liked this book. A lot of Taylor’s tips are pretty common sense and easy to implement. If you’re an experienced frugalista, you probably won’t get a whole lot of new information out of this book. But for beginners, 397 Ways to Save Money is a fantastic book, full of all kinds of easy tips to get you started.