Thursday, 12 November 2009

'The Thrift Book' by India Knight

India Knight, who wrote an earlier book 'The Shops', about her love of shopping, writes here of how she recently came close to bankruptcy, from a lack of attention to her money, rather than low earnings, and thereafter changed her spending habits. She is also keen to encourage preserving resources from an environmental point of view, and her writing is influenced by that.

This book is largely about living well without spending huge amounts, and includes sections on food, clothes, beauty products and so on. It also includes a chapter on personal finance where she explains important financial terms and concepts in a very basic way.

I have a different sort of life from the author in many ways; I do not live in London, and have never had her self-confessed phobia about financial issues. However, there were quite a few ideas I liked, and some useful tips.

On clothes, she recommends buying a small number of quality items of clothing, including possibly vintage clothes, and looking after them well. (She reminded me of the existence of spray starch, and I have now bought some to use on my shirts; it definitely makes them feel newer.) The Lakeland home dry cleaning kit she mentions is something I will definitely be trying out.

On making things, she pointed out many inspiring websites and blogs.

On beauty products, she includes a section on how to look expensive, and useful information on home hair dyeing and the differences, or lack thereof, between some cheap and expensive make-up brands.

She also writes about growing food; this is something I am keen to start doing, but am rather nervous about, and her approach, and the websites mentioned, made me feel this was definitely something worth attempting.

On eating out, she encourages people to go for a set lunch at a really special restaurant, rather than either spending a fortune on dinner at a fancy place, or a fair amount somewhere less inspiring.

In summary, I did enjoy this book. I thought that her perspective, as someone who has come close to bankruptcy, was an interesting one, although many of the tips would only really apply to those who had been used to a high-spending, city lifestyle, involving a lot of shopping and eating out. It would be quite useful for anyone not very interested in, or familiar with, personal finance, as a starting point. Although it is very up-to-date, I actually much preferred 'Orchids on Your Budget', which I found more inspiring.

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