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Book Review - Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy

Updated on November 21, 2009

Miserly Moms - Living on ONE Income in a TWO Income Economy by Jonni McCoy is a must read book if you want to stretch your dollars and have one parent stay at home with the children. The McCoy's did it in a very expensive area of California and if they can make it work, then I bet you could too.

Jonni McCoy starts the book with The Eleven Miserly Guidelines, which are as follows.

  1. Don't confuse frugality with depriving yourself.
  2. Remove little wasters of your money.
  3. Keep track of food prices.
  4. Don't buy everything at the same store.
  5. Buy in bulk whenever possible.
  6. Make your own whenever possible.
  7. Eliminate convenience foods.
  8. Cut back on meats.
  9. Waste nothing.
  10. Institute a soup and bread night.
  11. Cook several meals at once and freeze them.

Yes most of the Miserly Mom's guidelines have to do with the kitchen. But did you realize that next to your mortgage payment, food usually ranks the second highest expense for a family? Shocking I know, but it is even true for us. So it makes sense that this would be an area with the potential for huge savings.

Unlike a mortgage or car payment, how much money you spend on food is a variable and it is really up to you. You could choose to eat ramen noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for every meal all month and spend a very small amount. Or you could eat a steak and lobster dinner three nights a week and spend a thousand dollars a month on food. This book will give you plenty of ideas and tips to find a happy medium.

On page 35 McCoy says that "Money should be looked at as a tool. It's there to get you where you need to go. And if you don't have a plan for it, it will be wasted." Money shouldn't be a cause of stress. You should view it as a way for you to get the things you need and want - a tool to help you. You have to decide how you are going to use this tool to meet your needs. Getting a plan set up to outline how you are going to use your money will eliminate a lot of stress and it will help you reach your goals, whatever they may be.

McCoy had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to stay at home with her kids. We did too and I bet that most people who live on only one income have to make sacrifices in order to do so. You will find that the sacrifices are different for each family, but if it is really what you want for your family, then you will do what you need to do to make it happen. This book will help you cut your expenses and save money so that you can meet your goals.

While this book talks about reducing your expenses so that a family can live on one income, it is full of great tips and ideas that will help anyone save money, regardless of the reasons behind it. Her ideas will still work, even if both parents work.

While you think that you don't have the time to save money the way McCoy does, think again. On page 155 she breaks down how long it takes her to save so much money each month. Between the shopping, planning, going to extra stores (bread outlet, warehouse clubs, etc), and extra cooking she estimates that she spends seven hours handling these tasks. Not seven extra hours, but seven hours. So if you are already spending an hour each week shopping and two hours each week cooking, then it will only be an extra four hours, in order to save a lot of money. I think that is worth it for most people. And if you don't have time to do it all, her ideas are not all or nothing. Take what you can from the book and do what you can handle. Little bits do add up to large amounts.

At the end of the book there is a section of recipes. I found several that look delicious and plan on trying them soon. Miserly Moms is a very well written book that will help many people save money each month. If you are looking to stretch your hard earned dollars, reading this book will definitely help.


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    • profile image

      Suzanne Wesley 

      9 years ago

      Bethany House just released the fourth edition of this book as "Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy." How timely!

    • cindyschulson profile image


      10 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Hi Jennifer - thanks for doing such a great job on this article. I love the message of this book. All the best, Cindy

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I've read this book a long time ago and really learned alot from her. This book really makes sense and really all her tips are not that hard to put in place. This was a real starting point in helping me not be a money waster.


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