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The Money Saving Mom's Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  920 ratings  ·  146 reviews
From one of Nielsen’s top 50 power moms comes advice you can take to the bank—literally!

Crystal Paine, who has helped busy women everywhere take control of their finances, presents her most effective strategies designed for families of all sizes and income levels. With hundreds of inspiring “why didn’t I think of that?” tips, plus worksheets, Paine breaks down
ebook, 224 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Gallery Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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Jun 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you're trying to reach a financial goal, there are basically two ways to meet it: increase your income and/or cut your expenses. In reality, you have to do both. If you just increase your income, your expenses could increase at the same time, leaving you back where you started. If you just cut expenses, eventually you will run out of expenses to cut.

When you're trying to reach a financial goal, there are basically two ways to meet it: increase your income and/or cut your expenses. In reality, you have to do both. If you just increase your income, your expenses could increase at the same time, leaving you back where you started. If you just cut expenses, eventually you will run out of expenses to cut.

The Money Saving Mom's Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year by Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom focuses mostly on the reducing your expenses and not so much on increasing income. So while it is certainly necessary to cut expenses, the book does not give a full picture on how to best meet your financial goals.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am a fan of the Money Saving Mom site. It lead me to couponing in the first place. In 2009, my husband found out that he would be losing his job in a matter of months.  I reacted by tightening up my already-frugal ways and started looking for more ways to save money.  An article I read about a family surviving on their savings while unemployed led me to Crystal's site.  As I read the posts there, a light bulb lit up over my head: I could coupon (which I had never really tried before) to save more money!  I got going and found I could buy lots of food for just a little money.  My desire to share what I was doing with the world led me to start Frugal Follies. (And as it turned out, my husband started a new job about a month after he was let go from the previous one, so we ended up just fine.)

This book is definitely chock-full of ideas to save money, primarily on food and drug store items.  But first, the book covers goal-setting.  I love the idea of having short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, written down and reviewed regularly.  And that was another thing that drew me to the Money Saving Mom site: when I first started reading, Crystal and her husband were saving to pay for a house in cash.  Wow!  Each month, she gave an update in percentages of how much they had saved.  It was very motivating to see her savings add up, and it made me want to save more as well.

After covering goal-setting, the book goes on to removing clutter from your home.  What?  What does that have to do with saving money?  Crystal says that if your house is in chaos, your financial life will be too.  I can see this, because just a few weeks ago, I was opening some mail from my health insurance provider that I hadn't opened when it arrived a couple of weeks before.  In the envelope I found some reimbursement checks - I had been charged too much by a doctor.  Holy cow, had I waited just a little longer to open that envelope, the checks would have expired, and I wouldn't get that money.  So I see some truth in her argument.  Cleaning up the clutter will definitely be a more important goal for us!

And then, the dreaded B word - budget.  Instead of just creating a budget, she suggests that you ease into budgeting with a three-month process.  I liked that.  I sorta keep a budget - I plan out where money is going each month, and I have a tight food budget, but I don't budget specifically for categories like clothing and eating out.  So I just might!  I also liked that Crystal sees that many people need a credit history to get a job, and she gives a method to create a credit history without going deeply into debt.  This is one place where I disagree with Dave Ramsey, of whom Crystal and I both are fans.

She then explains how to use coupons to save at the grocery store, and also gives general explanations of how to play "The Drug Store Game."  I'm familiar with this, so I didn't learn a lot, but I can see that if you were a coupon newbie, this would be an excellent introduction.  It would have been nice to have more details about the drug stores' policies, but these change rapidly and would make the book dated.  Still, she could have had a link to posts on her site explaining the details of each drug store's method.

The book also gives some great tips on saving money on food without using coupons, purchasing clothes and other home items, and how to earn small amounts of money.  But it doesn't tackle the big purchases: cars, homes, insurance, heating and cooling, appliances, and so on.

And, in any event, I tend to read financial books not for the tips, but for the backstory of the author.  And her story of living in a basement apartment is a compelling one.  According to her, while her husband attended law school, they had an income as low as $650 per month at the time and were debt-free. Rent was $500 per month, and they tithed 10%, or $65 per month.  So that means that for everything else, they only had $85 per month.  How did they afford car insurance, life insurance, renter's insurance, and health insurance (not to mention food and gas for the car) on that kind of budget?  Was staying debt-free more important than having these essential insurances?  What would have happened had they had a car accident, a fire, a health emergency, or a death?  Refusing to take out loans in this case was extremely risky, in my opinion.

Later, when their financial situation was much better, Crystal and her husband set a goal to save $100,000 for a house in 5 years.  That means that on average, their goal was to save around $1700 per month.  This is pretty aggressive for most folks, but by getting extra jobs, selling lots of stuff, and cutting expenses down to the bone, a large number of people could do this.

But she says that after the first year, they barely made the payments.  Her blog says that they had saved 33% of the amount, or $33,000, in the beginning of 2009.  By the end of 2009, she had saved all the money.  That means that they saved $67,000 in the year.  While cutting expenses may have contributed to the amount that they saved, clearly a very large income was the main way to save that amount.  I would guess that most of the Money Saving Mom readers don't make that much in a year.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not begrudging her family's large income.  I'm just saying that The Money Saving Mom's Budget should have focused more on earning a large income as a way to meet your financial goals.  If Crystal and her husband had made only $50,000 per year, no amount of cutting would have enabled her to save $67,000 in one year.  But as I said at the beginning, earning a large income alone is not enough - you have to be able to hold on to it, too.  And clearly Crystal and her family were able to do both.

In any event, I enjoyed the book, despite that Crystal's backstory raised more questions for me than it answered.  And I definitely learned a lot of new ideas from this book.  I guess I should stop blogging and get going with the clutter cleaning!
Sarah Oldland
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-to-reads
A great read for those wanting ideas on how to save money! I'm going to have to buy myself a copy.
Jasmine Marie {#thebookishmama}
It is hard to admit, but several years ago, I found myself buried underneath consumer debt without any real plans on how to get out. I was very much into retail therapy, especially when my boyfriend at the time (who is now my amazing husband) was away for two years in the Peace Corps. It was my way of coping with loneliness. Unfortunately, it led to a lot of bad habits with the ways I spent money. It wasn't until we were engaged and talking about merging our money together that I had to come fac ...more
Amy Rae
Jan 25, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Is there anything worse than listening to a grownass woman with a lobotomized-sounding little girl voice telling you how to run your life? Yes, it turns out, and the worse thing is when she tells you about how she and her husband started their married life with $80,000 in cash on hand and expects you to empathize with her on pretty much anything.

I picked this one up because I was like "hey, moms are busy, this will probably have good advice without trying too hard a la Jen Sincero." The occasional good id
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an easy and quick read, and chock-full of ideas for saving money. We start with the basics: budgeting, getting out of debt, saving money on everyday necessities.

I really like that Mrs. Paine focuses on goal-setting so much. Although I'm pretty frugal overall, I think that setting goals would get me a lot father—goals give you something to work toward.

I couldn't help comparing this book to Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover: they both advocate getting out of debt, not getting into de
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a good book. If you read her blog, a lot of the material and ideas are similar (and the blog is sometimes fresher - this book is only 3 years old, but it felt a bit dated). The most helpful sections for me here were the grocery shopping and meal prep ideas. I also liked the reader stories that she shared as examples.

In the beginning, her cheeriness wasn't an issue. Towards the end, when she took a turn to the spiritual on choosing contentment, I wasn't as intereste
Victor Gentile
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crystal Paine in her new book “The Money Saving Mom’s Budget” published by Oasis Audio gives us ways to Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year. The book has been released in audiobook format and is available from them at Christian Audio ( and is narrated by the author Crystal Paine.

From The Back Cover: From one of Nielsen’s Top 50 Power Moms comes advice you can take to the bank—lite
Kim Heimbuch
Currently listening to Crystal Paine's audiobook "The Money Saving Mom's Budget" read by herself. She reads very quickly and I feel as if I am being yelled at hidden behind a smiling chipper voice. Going to try and push through it....

The overall information is well laid out and mostly common sense. The majority of the ideas seem to fit well only for stay at home mom scenarios. While she did suggest doing small things for money here and there, one solution to overcoming financial burd
Mar 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author: Crystal Paine
Publisher: Gallert Books (Simon and Schuster)
January 2012
ISBN: 978-1451646207
Genre: Inspirational/financial

THE MONEY $AVING MOM’S BUDGET is a book that will help turn your family’s finances around. Based on sound wisdom, this book will help you put together a budget, encourage you to pay cash (and not use credit), to pay down your debts as quickly as possible, and to take control of your life.

Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow I seem to be reading many books that I find interesting and have great ideas but I don't plan on following for the whole book.

What I liked about this book? Crystal Paine, the author, cuts things into very small chunks. She asks basic questions about goals and goals that aren't just about money. What do you like to do? Do you have a time budget?

Now you might want to ask, why does a book called money saving budget have a question about time? Well when you can budget you
Beth Anne
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I was given an advance copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

This is a quick, easy, and encouraging personal finance often do those qualities go together?! It was also much more than a book about money. The principals of being careful with your finances extend to all aspects of purposeful living. Crystal Paine writes, and this is her first book. As someone who reads her blog regularly, I was famili
Kristen Rudd
Jun 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking to save money
Recommended to Kristen by: New Books shelf at library
I used to follow Crystal's blog a while back, so when I saw this on the New Books shelf at the library, of course I had to pick it up.

I feel like I'm pretty on top of things with our budget, but I would like to be saving a little bit more (I'm trying to figure out how to save for replacing our vehicles down the road), so this came at a good time for me.

I like that this starts you off in reasonable chunks for learning how to set goals, budget, save, and use coupons. It can be very easy to dive
Anne Bogel
I'm a Money Saving Mom reader, and this book does a good job of capturing the essence of what Crystal blogs about. Her personal story is so inspiring and she summarizes it well here.

I gave this book only 3 starts because while the book contains quality content, it feels incomplete. I felt like I was reading the middle of a good book that was missing the beginning and ending.

That being said, this book would be an excellent primer for anyone trying to plant their feet on firm financial ground, a
Sara Budarz
Can I just admit something right up front?

I think we all have our ways of giving our brain some down-time, where we passively entertain ourselves with things of little substance. I think TV shows meet that need for many people, but alas, something about my brain does not let me enjoy TV. So when I am tired but somehow need noise, and want to be distracted, I turn to my version of TV: audiobooks on cleaning, or budgeting, or both. Ideally in a setting that has little to do with my real life. Thi
Grace Tolman
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I consider myself a frugal person and even though most of these books give the same tips I still like to read them once in a while because there's always a few nuggets of information that I get that I never knew before. I really liked how the author shared very simple and doable tips. She didn't go onto financial investments or major life altering changes. Her ideas were straight forward and most of them only take a few changes in paradigm to make it work for your life.
My favorite information w
Some smart ideas, but overly heavy on couponing and grocery bills, with a patriarchal emphasis on gendered division of labor (the 'money saving mom,' apparently, has no job, 5 kids, and spends her time finding deals on diapers...what?). Zero content on what do DO with the money saved from feeding a family from discount stores and nearly-passed-its-expiration milk (I'm not kidding), and the assumption is that there is a man to decide how to invest. Hard to wade through this toxic aspect and the r ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As my husband and I have gone down to one income after the birth of our son, budgeting has taken on a whole new level of importance. We had always been mindful of money and saving, but cutting our income in half has meant it's essential to count every dollar. I heard Crystal Paine speak on a podcast and decided to read this book. It isn't earth shattering, but it's solid, logical advice. It gave me a few more ideas of where we can save a little more and additional incentive to be patient in navi ...more
I listened to the audiobook which wasn’t the right format for this book. She provided some information about some websites she uses for certain things which is probably the most useful takeaway from the book. Some of her strategies were just tedious to listen to because she went into GREAT detail about exactly what items belong in what category for coupon organization or for budget planning for example as if we couldn’t get the idea from a couple of examples or even figure it out on our own. I’d ...more
Maria (Ri)
A bit dated at this point, but this reference is still full of great information. Small changes here and there can add up to a big difference in the end. Budgeting and saving is a mindset and she drives that point home. I'm not convinced to go totally cash only, but I do agree it is a very effective way to to curtail spending.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some helpful tips. I rated 3 stars because it’s really more beginner focused- talks about setting up a budget, meal Planning, etc., which are things I’m already doing. Was looking for some further tips. Did find some helpful tips here, but some info is already dated in these quickly changing times.
Charnetta Brown-Griffin
Most if not everything in this book is actionable material! I personally coupon at CVS and love the savings. We’re moving to shopping sale papers for groceries and I can’t wait to try more gift card offers!
Rebecca Dauber
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great website suggestions in this book. I checked some of them out - coupons, codes to save money and more. Well worth the read. Thank you!
John Randall
This was on me. Very similar to other books regarding budgeting and saving money. Good for people that have not done a budget or need options for reducing expenses.
Cindy Handelsman
Aug 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. Spend less than you make, have a budget and use coupons.
Shauna Letellier
Many strategies to save $10-20 per month in a variety of ways, some fairly drastic.
Mary Blajian
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love her ideas on building a budget.
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kitty Jay
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode disappointed me, but I read several positive reviews of Paine's earlier book, The Money Saving Mom's Budget, which convinced me to pick it up - and I'm glad I did.

The first few chapters are mostly about the importance of a budget, which, presumably if someone is picking a book like this up, they know already. But she does give a fairly simple and easy-to-follow directions for actually creating that budget and sticking to it. Some people, I'm sure, want to follow a budget but jus
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Budgeting and frugality have become very important to me since my family became a single income family due to my wife becoming a stay at home mom. I peruse the site Living Well Spending Less for tips and advice. It was from an article on that web site that I discovered the web site Money Saving Mom, which is run by the author of this book. While the updates on the web site seem way too focused on deals and coupons, this book is an excellent primer and refresher for creating and sticking to a bud ...more
If you have never followed Crystal Paine's website then there may be a few useful tips in here, that's why I gave it three stars. I say a few because even if you haven't there isn't much in here someone somewhere else hasn't said. (As far as financial/money saving sites go). However, if you have followed her for any amount of time (and especially those that found her website when she first started) there is absolutely not one thing in this book that you have not heard her say at least once (most ...more
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