Review: Meet the Frugalwoods
I’ve been following and reading the Frugalwoods blog, run by Elizabeth Willard Thames, for about a year and a half. Thames writes about money-saving techniques and tips, monthly expenditures, and her and her husband’s quest for financial independence, which they’ve achieved at the ripe age of 32. The blog also includes reader case studies in which readers write in with their financial situation. Thames provides her advice and then the comments section quickly fills up with helpful advice. This is my favorite part of the blog because you get to hear what other people’s money priorities and goals are.
I received an early copy of Thames’ book, Meet the Frugalwoods, which I expected to be more financial advice like the blog. I was pleasantly surprised that the book feels much more like a memoir about their personal journey to extreme frugality and eventual financial independence. Thames is a talented writer and creates an intriguing and interesting story. I loved getting to know the people behind the blog. I was able to connect some of their blog posts to sections in the book, which was fun. But even if you haven’t read the blog, the book is still a great story about one couple’s financial journey.
I also really appreciated the book’s introduction, in which Thames fully acknowledges her privilege as a middle-class, white, heterosexual woman. She also uses the introduction to talk about the disparities between the middle class and the working poor, noting that her journey doesn’t and cannot apply to everyone.
The Not As Great
My only gripe, which is the same gripe I have about the blog, is that sometimes I feel like I’m being lectured to. Thames and her husband have nearly perfected living frugally and I, like most people, have not. There’s general financial advice weaved into each chapter, but I’d have rather stuck to the personal story and skipped the sometimes seemingly judgmental advice. I like my 9-5 job, I like eating at restaurants (okay, I know I do this too much), and I’m not convinced that everything should be DIY, all of which Thames preaches about over and over again.
I don’t mean to sound cranky. It’s not the Frugalwoods—it’s me! Reading a book about someone who comes from the same background as you who achieves their dream at an age only five years senior to mine is…a bit disheartening. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve got frugal tendencies. You’ve read my reviews of other finance-related books (and if you haven’t check them out here and here). All to say this forced me to re-examine my long-term goals and see if my current savings and investments align with that. Spoiler alert: they do not align. I’ve got some work to do.
Overall, if you like personal finance, are a fan of the Frugalwoods blog, or are just interested in a personal story about moving to the woods, Meet the Frugalwoods is a great choice. It’s an easy and quick read that still requires some internal reflection.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.
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