Earlier this year Annie Jean Brewer released an updated and greatly expanded edition of The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too. The basic theme of the book in her own words is “You can do almost anything when you need practically nothing.” While Annie warns that she may come off as preachy at times, in my opinion the book comes off as very gentle and informative. The only parts of the book that I could remotely see as being preachy, are the sections where she talks about ways to help protect yourself against setbacks and less than honest businesses. Her emphasis is to focus upon the suggestions that sound helpful and disregard the ones that you do not like. Annie does a wonderful job balancing a positive outlook with the harsh economic reality for way too many people. She starts out with a remainder that you are richer than you realize, and stresses the importance of focusing upon what we have and not what we do not have. The final chapter is “The In End” which concludes with the importance of focusing upon the things that are the most important. In the middle is over 300 pages of resource on almost any topic you can think of ranging from housing, transportation, cheap and simple recipes, household cleaning, personal care products, clothing, computers, entertainment and even “bad habits”. Annie writes in a very straightforward and at times entertaining manner. Her stories are wonderful and make you feel like the book is more about her sharing what she does and not telling you what to do.
Finally another off-label use of the book that I would like to suggest is a way to help understand the reality for a lot of people in the country. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a well off family in the suburbs and Annie’s writing has been a major eye opener to me. The chapter on “How to live in the hood” was especially an eye opener to me. So if you do not think you need her advice on how to live on less, then there is a good chance that you may need a window into the reality of her world. Jesus commands us to look after the poor among us with love and compassion. Yet all too we fail to understand and wrongly assume that the poor are poor because they are lazy. Thus it is important for us to understand the reality of those less fortunate as understanding is the first step towards compassion. The one caveat that I have about the book is that you may want to consider skipping the chapter on raising animals for food. While the chapter is very informative it may contain a bit too much information for those of us that will never put it to use. Unless of course you are looking for inspiration to consider going vegan.
For full disclosure I can rightly be accused of bias in this review. Annie is a friend of mine and without her encouragement this site would not exist. This is also a book that I helped write. I was blessed with the opportunity to assist by helping to review the working draft in real-time. While I was given a free PDF copy of the final book from Annie, I choose to also buy a copy of the ebook. So yes the book is really that good. This post contains affiliate links to help cover the cost of running the site.