Welcome to Frugal School, class is in session! This is a 12 month program that will get you learning what you need to know about living a life of Urban Frugalism. Hit the books, because there might be a pop quiz one day! All these books should be available at a Public Library, and I’ve linked to the Amazon page (with an affiliate ID) so if you buy from there, I’ll make a few cents.
(Note: program length assumes you read a book a month. You can certainly graduate quicker if you read faster, or you can be one of those people who’s in college for 5 years.)
Freshman Year – Prerequisite Reading
These books aren’t even about money. They’re about laying the groundwork for making a lasting change in your life and I recommend them to anyone looking to make any form of self-improvement. Until you know how to make changes in your life, none of the books from the following “years” will be of any help.
|Mindset by Carol Dweck
I picked this book first because it’s going to flip a switch in your brain that says “I can make changes in my life.” The author calls it a “growth mindset,” but it’s really just the knowledge that no matter what hand we were dealt in life, we can improve attributes about ourselves by practice and mindfulness. She gives countless examples of athletes not born with any special gift, but who went on to dominate their sport due to determination and hard work. There are examples from almost every walk of life: sport, business, parenting, etc.
|The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Yes, this book is over-recommended and the tone is often sanctimonious, but it’s popular for a reason. The 7 habits work, and they’re presented in a way that’s easy to digest and integrate into your life. My favorite habit is “Sharpen The Saw”, which just means always keep improving.
|The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Another habit book? You’re probably seeing the pattern. 7 Habits told you which habits to adopt, but this book goes deeper into the psychology behind how humans form (and break) habits. It gives specific tips to help you adopt new habits and make them stick. You could even read this one first.
|Extra Credit: Choice Theory by William Glasser
Here’s some extra credit reading for you brown-nosers sitting in the front row. This book offers a different take on personal responsibility, though it’s similar to Mindset. The author believes that almost everything about one’s current mental state is due to choices they are currently making. Forget about what you’ve done in the past to get you were you are, and focus on improving the choices you are making now.
Sophomore Year – Getting Started
These books are the foundation of understanding your relationship with money, perfect for getting started on your own frugal journey. This year only has 3 books because the first book takes some time to digest.
|Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
This book is the big one. Remember when you finally picked a major in college, and you took that intro class for the major and it totally opened your mind to a new way of thinking? That’s this book. I wrote a longer review of it that goes through each of the 9 Steps. You should read that post.
|I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Ramit has a unique writing style that might turn off people older than 30. But once you get past that, his method for automating your finances can’t be beat. Learn step-by-step how to get your financial life in order, how to negotiate on the price of major purchases, and how to invest for retirement.
|The First National Bank of Dad by David Owen
This book isn’t just for dads and it isn’t even just for people with (or planning to have) kids. It’s a primer on the meaning and value of money, investing, and the stock market. If you don’t have kids you can skip the second half of the book, which details the author’s method of helping his children learn to invest without forcing any particular value system down their throats.
Junior Year – Getting Frugal
No time to study abroad in Frugal School. These books consist of an overwhelming number of tips and tricks that will help many people make frugal choices. Do not read these without a solid foundation from completing the previous years.
|Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn
This book is the bible of frugal tips. Atheists can think of it as the yellow pages of frugal tips. Amy, the author, started a newsletter (via postal mail) in the 1990’s, filled with frugal tips from her family and other readers. Her family cut costs down so drastically that her and her husband were able to quit their jobs and live off the income from the newsletter. Just a few years later, they reached Financial Independence, and no longer even needed the income from the newsletter.
|365 Ways To Live Cheap by Trent Hamm
Trent is the writer of the very popular blog The Simple Dollar. His book contains a tip a day for transforming your lifestyle over the span of a year. Not only are the tips unique and helpful, but the tip-a-day format makes them easier to digest and implement. I think the title sells the book short, and it should really be called “365 Ways To Live Well” since many of his money-saving tips also promote wellbeing and happiness.
|Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen
What would a degree in Urban Frugalism be without a book on living self-sufficiently in the city? This book gives step-by-step directions for many of the things you’ll be doing in your own Foundry in the Forest: gardening, keeping chickens, canning/preserving foods, and (my favorite) bicycling.
Senior Year – Advanced Tune-ups
You’re almost ready to get your Frugal School diploma! Once your money situation is humming along, these are good books to tweak your investments, ensure you’re still on track, and plan for your Financial Independence. Coming Soon