Booking It (February Update: The Money Saving Mom’s Budget)

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Booking It is an online book club where we discuss what we’ve read over the past month as well as review a monthly assigned book. This month’s book is The Money Saving Mom’s Budget by Crystal Paine.

We had a revelation at our house this week. I kept walking into FishBoy9’s bedroom after the boys were “sent to bed” and he was awake, reading. His brother in the other bed was snoring. And the clock read well past bedtime. Night after night this was happening until I got to the bottom of it. Turns out he thought that “time for bed” meant you just had to be in your bed. You were free to do whatever you wanted, so long as you were in bed.

That explains why he’s so tired each morning. We’ve now clarified our directive to be, “Time to sleep.”

I can’t say that I blame him, though. When I find a good book, I’m happy to stay up all night, even if I pay the consequences the next day. Unfortunately, I’ve been so swamped by other tasks, lying in bed reading has been an elusive pleasure. All the same, I did get to dig into a few books, though I only finished one.

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

(Please note that if you make a purchase from one of the links in this post, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.)

The Hobbit

I’ve started reading The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein aloud to my younger kids. Yeah, I know. That’s cheating on the book club, isn’t it? Reading ahead. Sorry. It’s a habit.

Anyway, we’re about two-thirds of the way through. I know that I read it when my oldest boys were little, but I’m thinking that might have been about seven years ago. So, in many ways it’s like reading it for the first time. I seem to have forgotten much of the story line.

It’s been fun in the evenings to curl up in blankets and read a chapter or two. My middle four kids (ages 11, 9, 7, and 5) are usually huddled around listening to the story, so it’s definitely become a group activity.

Bird by Bird

Two friends both recommended Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. The subtitle reads, “Some Instructions on Writing and Life.” It’s a book about writing as well as about living. And kinda dovetails with that whole “living a better story” kind of thing.

While I haven’t been completely sucked in, I have enjoyed what I’ve read so far. I’m only about 1/3 of the way into it. I’ve laughed aloud, and I’ve read things that have made me go, “Hmmm.” So far, so good.

I don’t really think of myself as a “writer,” at least not in that black turtleneck, beret, cigarette, and jazz music playing in the background kind of way. I don’t think I’m profound enough. Or well-read enough. I’m just me, you know? But, I am still learning and enjoying the book for what it is.

Mindset for Moms

Mindset for Moms is written by friend Jamie Martin. I first “met” Jamie a couple years ago when I reviewed her first book, Steady Days. Since then we’ve gotten to know each other online and through writing for Simple Homeschool, the site she edits.

Jamie mothers three children, born on three different continents, building her family through adoption as well as naturally. I love her fresh perspective on life — and her positive attitude.

Positive attitude is what Mindset for Moms is about. The subtitle reads, “From Mundane to Marvelous Thinking in 30 Days.” I’ve only just started to dig in, but I’m looking forward to learning from Jamie about retraining my brain to think more on the bright side.

Jamie sent me a review pdf copy, but I went ahead and bought the Kindle version (only $4.99) so that I could take it with me — and maybe even read in bed! The book is only available in ebook form, either pdf or kindle, at this time.

The Well Trained Mind

As part of my Extreme Home(school) Makeover, I’ve been rereading The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. This was the first real book I read on homeschooling over a decade a go. And it’s been really good to go back to it and refresh.

I’m reading it backwards this time. The first time I read it, I only had a two-year old. And apparently a lot of free time on my hands. I know that I read it cover to cover in a week’s time. Now I have kids in high school, 6th, 4th, 2nd, and kindergarten — and infinitely less reading time on my hands.

So, I’m starting in the section on older kids and working my way back. Some folks have mentioned that the book appears intimidating, but honestly, you don’t have to read the whole thing. You can easily start in the section where you’re at in life and then digest other sections as you have time.

I did actually finish a book this past month. Hehehe. This one:

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget

Written by my friend, Crystal Paine, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget is a great place to start in getting your financial house in order. I told you a little bit about it last month; Crystal was my personal coach for awhile when we both lived in Kansas City and my family was digging out of debt. My best garage sale EVER was thanks to her savvy ways and companionship.

Crystal puts that same enthusiasm to help others into her book.

Taking an unusual approach to money management, Crystal addresses goal setting, clutter, time management, and home economics. These are great ideas because they do effect how you spend your money. Once you have control of these basic areas of life, you’ll be better equipped to control your money.

Crystal also offers some unique challenges:

  • Use coupons.
  • Pay cash.
  • Ditch the credit cards.
  • Be content with what you have

You may balk at one or more of those ideas, but I know that they work. Been there, done that. While I don’t use coupons like I used to, Crystal’s challenge reminds me that every little bit helps. $5 worth of coupons used weekly on things you would normally buy and use anyway adds up to $260 over a year’s time. That’s a pretty nice savings. And she shows you how to do it in this book.

I spent some time reading the Amazon reviews of this book, particularly the negative ones to see what objections other readers might have had. I think one valid critique that I read was that this is more of a beginner’s book. And I would agree. If you are just now trying to get your finances in order, if you didn’t grow up in a financially healthy (ie responsible, not rich) home, if you don’t know how to get out of debt, then this is a fabulous starting point.

On the other hand, if you have no debt to work out of and are already a coupon clipper, you may not find all new ideas.

However, with all things, I think different voices “speak” to different people. I listened to Larry Burkett for years. Great man that he was, he just didn’t do it for me. Nothing he said sunk in. Dave Ramsey, on the other hand, with his hard-hits did.

So, I keep this in mind. MSM’s Budget may not be “new” news, but different people have a way of communicating things in the way that we “get it” — finally. Crystal’s may be that voice for you.

I personally found it to be a great refresher course. I was reminded of things that have worked in the past and things that I should revisit. I realized which habits I’ve let slide and that resurrecting them might put a little more cash back into my hot little fist.

I think The Money Saving Mom’s Budget does a great job in summing up the basics to home, money, and life management.

Have you been Booking It?

Apparently, I’ve got a thing for unfinished books this month. I’ve started FOUR books that I need to finish. Heavens!

In the meantime, tell us about the books you’ve read! If you read The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, be sure to tell us what you thought of it.

Check out the list of 12 books that we’ll be reading together this year. Next up: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

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  1. The Hobbit is such a great book! I can’t wait until I can read it to my children, but I think they’re a little young yet.

    I used to read in the bathroom when I was supposed to be in bed asleep. My parents were understanding, especially my mother who would stay up late as well to read, but they made me stop.

  2. Jessica, you are mistaken that you are not a writer! I think your writing is terrific; it’s one of the reasons I read your blog. I was feature writer at a fairly large newspaper for many years, and I can tell you that your talent – an easygoing conversational style – is easily equal to that of some of the staff writers.
    It is a myth that writers are all dark, brooding types;many are moms who do carpool, clip coupons and squeeze dollars until they wince. 🙂

    1. Well, aren’t you sweet? Thanks for your kind words. I was being a little tongue-in-cheek about the beret, etc. Once upon a time I was going to be a journalist. And that seems a little different. Perhaps not as creative and moving as a “writer”? Does that make sense?

  3. I’m also reading Mindset For Moms and Steady Days, plus Desires of My Heart, How to Save More Money and a couple Christian historical fiction books by Kathleen Morgan. I may have to try the Money Saving Mom’s Budget, it sounds helpful. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  4. I have not read Crystal’s book, I have been reading her blog for years and enjoy her writing, but most of the stuff was not new to me, so I decided to let other people enjoy her book! I am recommending it though! For me, Dave Ramsey irritates me and drives me crazy, while I loved Larry Burkett! Isn’t that funny how people can be so different? I posted two links…to lists of books I am reading through this month! I have been posting short reviews on them as I read them! One of my favorites this month has been Growing Great Kids by Kate Battistelli. She did a great job of writing an encouraging book!

    1. That is funny! But, I recognized your name on an old friend’s Facebook wall, so we still have a lot of common ground, don’t we? 😉

  5. I remember about 10 years ago, I was in the mall with my mom, my aunt and a few cousins, not buying anything (many of the concepts in the book, I learned on my own, cash only, unfortunately, I am now teaching my MOM the coupon piece) I was staring at an itty bitty booklight, I was thinking to myself, I wish I could buy that!

    I then remembered, that I didn’t need it, I had been living on my own for at least 5 years at that point. I could read whenever I wanted.

    I was also of the opinion, that, I was IN bed, I wasn’t watching TV (pretty sure I didn’t have one), wasn’t bothering anyone. I fought with my dad, my mom fought with him, and from then on, I read with booklights, flashlights, whatever light I could get.

    I don’t know how I would feel if my son did that, part of me wishes he would because he would be READING! I am his mom, and if he were to follow my example, I am up until all hours reading, ‘one more chapter’, still.

    I loved the Hobbit! I haven’t had an Adventure with Bilbo Baggins in FOREVER.

    What I have been reading this month is the first 5 books in the Lincoln Rhyme series by Jeffery Deaver, I had no idea The Bone Collector was a book! I will never be able to watch the movie the same way again!

  6. Wow, you’ve got some great books going right now! I’m intending to re-read Bird by Bird this year. And The Well-Trained Mind. And maybe The Hobbit!

    Someone wise once said that “re-reading is the best reading.” I might be inclined to agree 🙂

      1. Okay, I tracked it down 🙂 It’s one of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood in The Happiness Project. It’s unlikely she was the first to say it, but that may have been the first place I read it!

  7. I have been reading 168 hours: You have more time than you think. By: Laura Vanderkam
    The book really makes you step back and realize I really do have more time on my hands than I think.

  8. I too am looking forward to reading The Hobbit. I haven’t read that book since I was in Grade 9 and let’s just say that was a LONG time ago. But I won’t go into the details of just how long ago it was. lol

    I also agree with one of the comments above, I have to disagree with your statement that you feel that you are not a good writter. I truely love your writting style and that is why I visit your site on a daily basis. You have a talent, there is no doubt about that.

    I loved your reviews and will now need to add the Mindset for Moms, to my reading list since it sounds like it would be a great read. However, I too got carried away with reading this month and had 4 books on the go. I linked up so that you can see my reviews. Look forward to meeting up again next month. Happy reading!

  9. My books read in January:

    “Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” by Ginger Plowman–a very funny and oh-so-convicting book on parenting. I would rank it up there with Shepherding a Child’s Heart

    “Rekindling the Romance” by Dennis and Barbara Rainey–a book on firing up the marriage flame. It was alright, but not as meaty and heart-probing as books I’ve read by authors like Wayne Mack or Paul Tripp.

    “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis–such a wonderful classic! I haven’t read through this series since I was a youngster, and I put all 7 on my booklist for this year.

    Books that I have read/am reading in February:

    “Shopping for Time” by Carolyn Mahaney and her three daughters Nicole Whitacre, Kristin Chesemore, and Janelle Bradshaw. Most definitely the BEST book I’ve ever read on time management and priorities for women! I re-read this book yearly–it’s only 6 chapters long and just under 100 pages, so it’s a quick read. And so enjoyable!

    “When Children Love to Learn” edited by Elaine Cooper–(still reading)a book on the practical application of the Charlotte Mason philosophy. This is the second of
    three books I am planning to read on Charlotte Mason education. The first that I read was “For the Children’s Sake” by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. Amazon reviews of these two books had a general theme of “read both,” so that’s what I’m doing. I’m not completely sold on everything about Charlotte Mason educational philosophy, but I am gleaning some valuable insights and nuggets of wisdom as I prepare to (probably) begin homeschooling our son next year.

    “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen–this is one of hers that I’ve never read, so I’m going to dive in! I love everything else by her.

    “How to Train Your Dragon”–just because sometimes I need a break from books by intellectuals and just want something easy and funny. And my hubby and I both enjoy children’s lit.:)

  10. Do you know that you can email a pdf to your kindle email? That is how I get books that are free downloads onto my kindle!

    And maybe you already know that and I misread, but just wanted to make sure!

    1. Yes! I have done that before, but depending on the formatting, it’s hard for me to read. I don’t have the Fire, not sure if it’s different than the older version of Kindle. But if it’s not formatted right to enlarge the text, I have to squint or do some funky scrolling. But, thanks for watching my back!

  11. I won this book off your blog, thanks! I wanted to read it but didn’t really want to buy it because I knew I already knew most of the information in it. I’ve always budgeted and tried to spend money carefully but as our family grows, it’s become imperative that I find even more ways to save! You’re right about different voices speaking to different people. The Money Saving Mom’s Budget was a quick, easy read but even though I knew a lot of it already there were a couple wonderful things that I think will be life changers for us! Especially the idea that decluttering is one of the first things you must do before you can save money. I am grateful for the book and look forward to passing it on to others.

  12. I read a lot of books this past month, but the one I really want to recommend is Four-Letter Words. It’s a must-read for Christians.

    I still don’t have Crystal’s book, but I’ve enjoyed a free download of chapter 7 (OK) and a Youtube audio of chapter 1 (awesome).
    Thanks for hosting Booking It!

    Annie Kate

    1. Sorry, you missed the memo. 🙁 The 12th for 2012. Because I’m a dork. Thanks for being flexible!

  13. I also read the negative reviews before reading a book. Sometimes it is very helpful. For instance, this month I started One Thousand Gifts and because of the reviews saying it was written very “poetically” I knew this would be a book that I read just a little of here and there instead of straight through.

    Here’s my review of MSM Budget – I read it as a pre-release book.

    Thanks for the link up, I can’t wait to see what everyone else is reading.

  14. This month I read “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay which is one of the best “simplicity” books I have every read. I think it is because she recommends that you think about your own level of simplicity vs. everyone else’s. With that in mind, I have set goals to tackle my clutter which corresponds with the other books we’ve been reading in Booking It 2012.
    I also read “Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in that House” by Meghan Dawm which makes you think about what is important in life … in your things… in your relationships…etc. I really enjoyed this true story. Right now I am reading “The Dirty Life” by Kristin Kimball which I highly recommend as it gives a real life view of what it takes to produce your food as she and soon-to-be husband start a farm from scratch. It will help you appreciate what all farmers, big and small, do to make it so easy for us to pick up a gallon of milk. I have MSM’s book to read but it is still waiting. I feel like I know what is in it and mainly bought it to support her cause. I plan to give it to my college age son to read as he starts his own journey with money.

    1. Looks like you’re reading ahead, too. 😉 I’ve heard good things about the book, Dirty Life, AFTER we added it to the list. Whew.

  15. Who Moved My Cheese, Eat That Frog, The New CoDependency. Praying the Scriptures for you Children/Teenagers/Adult Children.

  16. I’m excited to say that I just added my reading post to your link up. It’s my first time ever to link up anywhere and my blog is less than a week old! (Hopefully I did it right!)

  17. I’ve managed to read two and a half books so far this year, with The Money Saving Mom’s Budget being one of them {I’m lucky to read two books a year!}. I’d received a copy before hand from Crystal and I enjoyed that the book was simple and straight to the point. She used language that is simple to understand compared to some financial advice books. Crystal takes things back to the basics, teaching the fundamentals of budgeting and various ways to save money, other than coupons. The biggest thing I learned was how much “stuff” just weighs you down and affects your finances. I’ve been following both Life As Mom & Money Saving Mom for a few years, which have helped me realize we need to get on a better financial track & I loved this book even though it was back to the basics.