A nuts-and-bolts guide to cutting expenses.
In 2005, personal finance columnist O’Connor found himself with changing circumstances: accepting a job as a newspaper writer in a suburb outside Detroit; realizing that house purchases/sales left things financially tighter than he, like much of the country, had anticipated; acknowledging the eye-popping expenses involved in child-rearing, day care, insurance and the rising costs of just about everything. In one sense, the challenge he set for himself was part of the solution: breaking down his costs into 10 categories and writing a series of “Grand Experiment” columns in which he worked to find ways to cut his family’s spending by $1,000 each month. A staple of the column, before and during the experiment, has been humor, which O’Connor uses to great effect. Though not all of the author’s jokes hit the mark, the overall effect will resound with readers seeking not only cost savings, but a reduction of the stress around financial changes. The author presents these changes with the right mix of detailed money discussion and frank acknowledgement, both through multiple explanations of how “your mileage may vary” and through his own struggles to make it to his monthly goal. The categories will fit well with most households: transportation needs, housing costs, medical and insurance costs, separate categories for personal spending and entertainment, and a catchall miscellaneous category. O’Connor breaks down each category into a general discussion, followed by approaches to saving, organized from easiest to hardest to implement.
Combined with an easygoing reassurance to readers that not every month can be a challenge-busting month, the author provides useful information and savings tips that can be applied to most readers’ personal situations.