Thursday, April 22, 2021

A Catholic Guide to Spending Less and Living More: Advice from a Debt-Free Family of 16

A husband-and-wife team shares their extraordinary story of raising fourteen children on a modest income while living in an expensive metropolitan region. Their practical wisdom, hard-won spiritual insights, and Catholic perspectives on how they have created their own plan.
  • Break free of debt—even if your family lives on one income.
  • Pay off your mortgage and other big-ticket expenditures.
  • Save for long- and short-term goals.
  • Enjoy fun family vacations without going into debt.
  • Cultivate interior virtues such as gratitude and generosity to prevent resentment and hoarding.
  • Help your kids become good money managers and discerning consumers.
  • Achieve a happier marriage and family life through Catholic principles of good stewardship.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book which is easy to read and has a lot of good advice. Some of it is standard and some is interestingly creative. However, all of it is interwoven with spiritual reminders that practicing things like temperance, generosity, and prudence are ways to grow closer to God.  That's the Catholic part and what that makes this book go deeper than the average "spending less" advice. I especially appreciated the section on living the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

During Lent I came across the idea that Americans are addicted to comfort, which I think is true. I reflected on it and tried to break little addictions during that very appropriate time of sacrifice. This book continues those reflections in showing us how that we may be addicted to comfort in ways we never realized. That makes it valuable in yet another way.

My husband and I already learned many of the suggested techniques through our years of marriage and making ends meet. However, there's always something new to pick up. I was intrigued by the idea of a spending fast where you choose two months of the year to buy nothing that is non-essential. So food and toilet paper and utilities. We live relatively frugally but this will mean rethinking things that I never consider — such as, what about store brand peanut butter instead of my favorite kind? My immediate, unthinking rejection of that idea made me realize that I'm rather spoiled. If nothing else, this already has me looking at my regular expenditures in a new way. 

I received a review copy which I am, in best frugal fashion, going to pass on to my daughter and her husband.

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