Wherever you are on your frugal journey, being able to read up on a whole bunch of frugal lifestyle tips from people who have been doing it for a long time really does help.
Of course I hope frugal living blogs like mine have a place in your go to reading but if you are anything like me, a blog cannot replace good old fashioned frugal books.
Frugal books that have stood the test of time. Where the author has proved their authority with dozens of tips and lived their life according to their own advice. Where you can hear the authenticity in their written word.
Books on frugal living range from those aimed at beginners to those that really encompass the full range of frugal living tips.
The more detailed books also include advice that some people may feel is much more into extreme frugality territory. But of course what may seem extreme to you may be completely normal to me!
A Slimline Frugal Bookshelf
But I don’t have dozens of frugal living books on my bookcase, because many unfortunately don’t live up to the hype of their reviews. Not for me anyway.
For frugal books to make it onto my bookshelf, and stay there, they’ve got to offer a lot more than basic budgeting and saving money advice.
These books needs to offer us readers solid actionable tips, and lots of them. Pictures, lists and diagrams all help to turn words of advice into real, actionable advice.
And for me, it needs to be obvious that the author continues to embrace frugality even though they now have, perhaps, a best selling book.
In essence I want the author to not just talk it, but walk it, and prove it.
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Building Your Frugal Book Shelf
If you don’t currently own any frugal books I am not advocating you rush out and buy any or all of these books, far from it. We are talking frugal living here after all!
Your first step towards building your frugal bookshelf should always be to check out your local library. Libraries are a wealth of knowledge and are free to use.
Checking out these books from the library first allows you to read them and see if they are right for you. I’ve read some books on frugal living and they really haven’t resonated with me. Thankfully I didn’t spend out on them as I got them from my library.
In the ideal world, only once I have read a book via my library, and loved it, will I invest my cold hard cash in my own copy. Having your own copy enables you to re-read your favourite parts and refer to the advice it contains time and again.
It isn’t always possible to get every book you want from your library, but don’t go out and buy brand new.
The second step in building your frugal bookshelf is for any book you read and love, try and find it used. Buying something used or second hand is a great frugal habit to embrace.
I have tried to find books in my local charity shops/thrift stores but when you want a particular title it never seems to be there!
If you can’t find it used in a charity shop/thrift store then your next best place is to turn to the internet.
Most of my frugal books that I’ve bought used have come from Amazon. And I often find new titles to read and research through Amazon. I still try and read them via my library first though!
The Best Books On Frugal Living You Need To Read
These 11 frugal living books are all books I have read more than once and rate highly. You absolutely do not need all of them as there is a fair amount of overlap between them.
But they all talk about frugal living and how to stop living paycheck to paycheck in different ways. There are great personal stories to read and learn along with different ways of doing things.
If you’re itching to know the titles without reading my reviews then here are the best frugal living books I really think you ought to check out:
- The Complete Tightwad Gazette
- Your Money Or Your Life
- The More Of Less
- Six Dollar Family: From Six Dollars To Six Figures
- The Simple Living Guide: A Source Book For less Stressful, More Joyful Living
- Dirt Cheap Adult, A Millennial’s Guide To Life On A Budget
- Low-Cost Living: How to Live Well for Less Money
- The Self Sufficient-ish Bible: An Eco-living Guide for the 21st Century
- How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
- How to Manage Your Money When You Don’t Have Any
- Thrifty Ways For Modern Days
396 reviews on Amazon.com scoring 4.5 out of 5
My absolute number one favourite frugal book. By far.
You’ve probably seen other reviews of this book so mine won’t be news to you. I just want to say – I love this book!
It’s fun, it’s informative, it’s wacky, it’s extreme, it’s eclectic but more than anything it’s a creative collection of thrifty living tips. Many of which are still relevant today.
Originally a newsletter published in the early 1990’s, The Complete Tightwad Gazette is all those newsletters rolled into one book.
There are simple recipes, money saving calculations, tips from the newsletter readers and diagrams of how to make items such as a solar powered cooker. Or how about 19 different ways to re-purpose milk jugs!
Two slight downsides to the book are:
1) the layout is in the style of the newsletter so not neatly segmented into different aspects of frugal living. It means you need to bookmark your favourite pages, the ones you return to time and again.
Alternatively the book becomes so well read and used that you instinctively know where certain tips are. Ahem.
2) Some of the advice is dated, think pre-internet. So advice that might include ringing around garages for the best priced car is out of date.
But the principles still hold true. The principles of getting the best price and value for your money.
And Amy did exactly what she set out to do. Have a large family and a rural pre-1900 New England farmhouse (with attached barn) and not be a 2 income family.
She hasn’t written any more books or newsletters since she retired after this book came out. She doesn’t do publicity interviews, she is fulfilling her dream of living a fabulously frugal life.
You can buy a (used) version of The Complete Tightwad Gazette here.
489 reviews on Amazon.com scoring 4.1 out of 5
Your Money Or Your Life, often referred to as YMOYL, is very different from The Tightwad Gazette. There is advice on how to save money and live frugally but much more discussion on why you might want or need to live life differently.
What YMOYL focuses more on is around tracking your money and understanding what it does for you.
The biggest wake up call that YMOYL gave me was in Chapter 3 when Vicki talks about how money is something we choose to trade our life energy for. That really hit home.
We give our life’s precious energy to a job that we likely wouldn’t do if we were millionaires.
The book is detailed and quite profound – You’re not making a living (in your job), you’re making a dying. Do you come home from your “making a living” job with more life, feeling refreshed, ready for a fun family evening?
No. You’re using up your life energy to earn money to buy things that mean you have to go to work to earn money in order to pay for them.
It’s not a book to flip through casually but an added bonus of the 2018 edition is a forward by Mr Money Mustache! I so need to read this new edition.
You can buy a (used) version of Your Money Or Your Life here.
624 reviews on Amazon.com scoring 4.6 out of 5
Minimalism isn’t frugal living. But there are many crossovers between the two. I am no minimalist but I love some of the messaging in Joshua’s book.
Frugal people don’t buy too much stuff, they don’t buy too much house and they don’t try to compare their lives with others such as the Jones.
All of which come from a more minimal viewpoint. Many minimalists aren’t living with just 33 possessions. Far from it. What they are not doing though is spending all their hard earned cash on stuff and going into debt because of it.
A word of warning, Joshua was a pastor for 15 years and his religion is an important part of who he is. If you are not of a similar religious persuasion then my advice is to skip over those parts that don’t resonate with your personal values.
But don’t let this put you off the book. There is much to gain from living with less stuff.
You can buy a (used) version of The More Of Less here.
73 reviews on Amazon.com scoring 3.9 out of 5
A much shorter book than some of the others on my list but I’ve included here as I think it’s a good resource for someone new to frugal living.
If you need to be cutting back and start saving money then this frugal living book covers all the basics for saving money on your groceries, making your own household products etc.
A couple of reviews have complained that the advice in this book is very time consuming. Well, yes on one level but on another, what else would you be using your time for? Spending money?
When you need to be frugal, time is something you have, money is not. So yes time is money. But is that a bad thing?
You can buy a (used) version of The Six Dollar Family here.
83 reviews on Amazon.com scoring 4.4 out of 5
Although the focus in this book might talk about simple living, when you take a step back and get your frugal living hat on you just know it’s really inclusive of all things frugal.
All the advice centred around achieving simple living has all the hallmarks of frugal living. Janet talks about ‘living under your means’, having savings to give yourself choices in life. Reducing material needs and of course getting out of debt. Sound familiar?
This is a big book of 440+ pages and full of stories of her life and many others. What I love about it is that you gain a wealth of information through the experiences of others.
I get a real sense of peace when I read this book. It includes detailed chapters on money, inner simplicity, family, virtues and many more. Full of ideas to live more simply which equates to a book full of frugal living tips.
You can buy a (used) version of The Simple Living Guide here.
No Amazon.com reviews yet but watch this space
This book on frugal living is the new kid on the block. Brand new for 2019 with advice and tips based on living life today in a digital world.
Amanda and her husband got married in 2013 and lived on an extremely low income ($16k/£13k). They had a baby, paid down student loans and sponsored 2 overseas children through monthly payments.
Amanda’s focus is on a healthy lifestyle on a very small budget. Her unique take on DIY hygiene products and natural medicine cabinet essentials are a refreshing change from other books I have read.
A few basic, practical recipes are all you need, not an entire garden full of herbs. Full of no-nonsense advice on healthy food, nutrition and how to really stretch your budget as far as you can.
You can buy Dirt Cheap Adult here.
501 reviews on Amazon.co.uk scoring 4.3 out of 5
Many books on frugal living are written by US authors for the US market. Whilst many tips work wherever you live, it’s nice to have a book written for the UK market by an author living in the UK. Low Cost Living is exactly that.
The author, John Harrison, has had allotments for over 30 years and so there is a strong focus on the self sufficient lifestyle growing your own food brings, coupled with reducing costs by focusing on home made wherever possible.
This little book is packed full of tips on food – growing it, storing it and making it which I have found seriously useful. He has included a few recipes in each chapter, enough to get you started on your self sufficient journey without turning it into a recipe book.
John’s aim is to provide enough information to enable you to have a higher living standard at a much lower cost than you have had. He’s also a strong proponent of looking after the environment so lots of eco friendly frugal habits to embrace.
You can buy a (used) version of Low Cost Living here.
36 reviews on Amazon.co.uk scoring 4.6 out of 5
This book will appeal to those of you who are trying to live a more eco friendly lifestyle, one where your tread more lightly upon the environment.
The focus of this book, if you haven’t guessed from the title is being self sufficient. In growing your own food. And very much focused on getting rid of chemicals in your daily life and being as natural as possible.
So not frugal per se, more frugal by virtue of being more self sufficient.
What I like about this book is that they don’t presume you have loads of money, 5 acres and farm animals. The twins live in the centre of Bristol city!
Yes, they have allotments but they also have normal working lives and families. Normal as in suburbia.
The book is split into 4 main sections of Home, Outdoors, Food and Lifestyle. The Home and Lifestyle sections focus on being eco friendly with lots of pictures and diagrams of things like making a pot-in-pot cooler and reusable baby wipes.
The Outdoors is focused on growing your own food and herbs with the food section on using all that you grow to feed your whole family. Nothing is wasted with the twins.
Kitchen scraps? – Read the section and diagram on building your own wormery. No greenhouse? – Read how to make your own cold frame, with diagrams of course!
You can buy a (used) version of The Self Sufficient-Ish Bible here.
309 Amazon.com reviews scoring 4.4 out of 5
This book is actually more about personal finance than a book of frugal living tips. I’ve included it because in order to be successful in your pursuit of the frugal life you do need to manage your finances.
It is aimed at people who are at the beginning of their money journey, who either have debt or aren’t saving money regularly. There is a free downloadable Money Tracker which will really help you to master your budget from now on.
Personal finance books can be really dry and boring and this is where this book differs. Written in a more personal style with some really inspiring money quotes. If you haven’t yet mastered your money then this book will be a great help.
You can buy a (used) version of How To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck here.
506 Amazon.com reviews scoring 4.3 out of 5
This is also more a personal finance book than one on the frugal lifestyle. What I think makes this stand out from many personal finance books is the author is not trying to teach you how to invest and grow rich.
It’s about doing the best you can with the income you have. Which dovetails nicely into frugal living and living below your means, whatever they are.
Through sharing his own personal financial difficulties he lays out a financial plan that requires more of you than just to follow some tips. The author explains that you also need to believe in the changes in order to make them permanent.
His focus on avoiding expenses is particularly helpful as is his focus and advice on how to survive the day to day life of being in a bad place financially.
You can buy a (used) version of How To Manage Your Money When You Don’t Have Any here.
118 reviews on Amazon.co.uk scoring 4.4 out of 5
This book is actually a curated compendium of fantastic tips from the MoneySaving Old-Style section of the Moneysavingexpert forums. The forums are a place where people ask advice and share tips. Essentially all the tips have come from frugal folk like you and I.
As a long time Old Styler forumite I bought this book as soon as it came out. No getting it out of the library. Mainly because all the proceeds go to the MSE charity. But also because I knew it would be good because the Old Style forum is so good.
If you are already extremely frugal you might not find it so useful as many of the tips are for people looking to save money and get back to basics.
Some of the tips are timeless (Old Style), some are a little dated as what was cheap in 2006 when the book was compiled, isn’t so cheap now.
You can buy a (used) version of Thrifty Ways For Modern Days here.
The Best Frugal Living Books For You
These 11 books are my recommendations to read and shortlist the ones that resonate the most with you.
Books written in the 1990’s might not be right for you, in which case choose a more up-to-date one. Alternatively perhaps you prefer the old style advice from before we all went digital.
If possible get them from the library to read and judge for yourself. Then buy them used if possible. No need to spend out on brand new when used is just as good!
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