Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anna reviews 'The Thrift Book: Live Well and Spend Less' by India Knight

Name: The Thrift Book: How to Live Well and Spend Less
Author: India Knight
Publisher: Penguin (2009)
How I got this book: In the library
Why I read it: It sounded really interesting!
Rating: 4 stars

Have you ever looked at your bank balance and almost cried? I've done so quite often, and the thought of 'what on EARTH did I spend my money on?' usually accompany those tears. It's no coincidence, then, that when I saw this book in the library I instantly snatched it up in the hope that it would teach me how to gain control of my spending habits. I'm pleased to announce that it did! India Knight is a middle-class single-mother of three, who like many people, is absolutely terrible with money. She eventually decided that it had to stop, she had to get a grip. It's not hippy-ish, it's simply about how to live well for less. The book discusses several topics- food, beauty, clothes, money, having fun, holidays, etc.

The first topic she discusses is food, and it's absolutely brilliant. There are some really simple things like do food shopping online if possible as it stops you from impulse buying, there's an excellent chart of a list of fruit and vegetables and when they're in season, and there's also things like how to grow your own vegetables and how to cook on a budget. She gives tonnes of great links, one of the best being I went onto this and it's great- it shows you exactly how much food you need for the amount of people you're cooking for, and gives some great recipes for leftovers. Of course you can't mention food without talking about the politics of it- in 2010 around 13.1% of the worlds population are described of as being hungry (as in chronically hungry- where food shortage is a major issue in their life) yet here in the Western world we throw out almost a third of all food we buy. Is that screwed up or what?

The chapter on clothes was facinating! The basics first- if you can buy a t-shirt for $1.50, how much did the people who made it earn? If clothes can be bought for that cheap, it's guaranteed that the people who made those clothes were paid next to nothing, and may even have been child labourers. Beyond that, cheap clothes usually look cheap and are don't last long. India suggests instead that one should save for really expensive, good quality clothes that will last a lifetime and will always look good. She also suggests things like buying vintage clothes, and she has several great links on how to make your own clothes.

The book deals with loads of other things and it's all excellent. I'm glad though that acknowledged her privilege—it's all very well to say that one shouldn't buy really cheap clothes but some people literally cannot afford anything else. I've tried out some of the things she has suggested, and it's all worked out great! She recommends using olive oil as a hair conditioner. It's cheap, it lasts for ages and it's great for your hair. I tried this and it's so true! I've spent a fortune over the years on expensive hair conditioners, serums, etc in an attempt to control my thick frizzy hair and olive oil is the first conditioner that has actually worked! I also went to some of the links on making clothes and I've now a nice skirt made out of an old pair of jeans that I never wore! This is a really fantastic book that I think would benefit most people.


  1. I LOVE this book! I'm so glad you reviewed it, because people are always asking me in scathing tones why I bother reading books like this. I got it for £3 in a sale a few years ago, and I return to it time after time when I feel my spending getting out of control :-)

  2. Sounds like a great book! I've only read a fiction book by India Knight (My Life on a Plate) which was really enjoyable. This sounds useful and clever.

    It's going on my wishlist!

  3. My bank account is sad mainly because of my book buying habits! But I wan't to know more about this olive oil thing. So do you rinse it out after applying? Or just leave it in? I'm tempted to try this.

  4. Anna here- Jenny, you'd need to shampoo it out afterwards, water alone won't do it. Also, don't let it near the roots of your hair- your hair will be greasy for weeks! I just put a cap-ful of olive oil on my hair, leave it on for a few hours, and shampoo it out. It makes your hair quite manageable and ridiculously soft, it's great!

  5. I have to admit I am now really intrigued by this book! Thanks for turning me onto it. Anything to save a buck. And I love that you kept up the trend by checking it out of the library.

  6. I think I am going to look out ofr htis one. IS it useful for the UK ???


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