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Review (and a Contest!): “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget” by the Writers at Wisebread

Review (and a Contest!): “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget” by the Writers at Wisebread

Live Large on a Small Budget

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      For years now, the folks at Wisebread have been giving out great advice on living well for less. Now they’ve gathered all their wisdom together between two covers in 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, a new book featuring hundreds of great ideas from all their talented writers. Beautifully designed and engagingly written, 10,001 Ways… is a fun read straight through, and a great reference you’ll return to again and again.

      The book is divided into two big parts. The first, “Frugal Living”, is a guide to cutting costs while maintaining – and even improving – your quality of life. With sections on food and drink, travel, health and beauty, shopping and bargain hunting, green living, and education and self-improvement, Part 1 offers plenty of tips you can put into action immediately.

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      The second major part, “Personal Finance”, is about managing your money and, hopefully, increasing your individual wealth. The basics of budgeting, financial planning, and investing are covered, accompanied by a section on handling credit cards and debt and another with tips on advancing your career and making more money. 

      Although the book doesn’t get much into philosophy, the Wisebread approach has always been living well without living above your means. In the wake of global economic problems, massive job losses, unstable gas prices, and general uncertainty on a day-to-day basis, this message has never been more welcome. What 10,001 Ways… offers is a practical, grounded, and sensible approach to living and enjoying life – something a lot of us have been missing in the consumption-driven lifestyles that have become almost inescapable over the last couple of decades.

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      Don’t worry, though – the tips in 10,001 Ways… are practical but they’re not boring. This isn’t a book about living in monastic simplicity or puritanical self-deprivation. The very first chapter is a quite thorough guide to picking affordable wines! (Tip: Seek spin-off labels from big-name wineries for top-quality wine at bargain-bin prices.) Some of the other topics covered in the book include:

      • 7 Ways to Lower Water Heater Costs (Try dropping the thermostat to 120°F to cut your energy cost for hot water by up to 10%)
      • 10 Killer Ways to Feel Like a Million Bucks (Strengthen your hamstrings. Sitting all the time leads to weakened hamstrings, which can lead to aches in your lower back, knees, and hips.)
      • The Best and Worst places to Stash Cash in Your Home (Tampon boxes are in; toilet tanks are out.)
      • 12 Ways to Become Rent- or Mortgage-Free (Have you thought about living in a yurt? They’re affordable, comfortable, and you get to say “yurt” all the time – what more could you possibly need or want?)
      • 20 Signs That a Pink Slip Is Coming (Have you started getting a lot of requests by email or memo that could just as easily have been given in person? Your boss might be building up a paper trail to justify letting you go to HR…)
      • And plenty more – the title promises 10,001 tips, after all.

      All in all, I highly recommend 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. For more information, check out the book’s homepage at Wisebread, or order it directly. Better yet, talk to your local public library librarian about ordering a case for their library, and check it out when it comes in – not only is that incredibly frugal, but you’ll be helping out your community as well! Or here’s another idea: keep reading for a chance to win your own copy, courtesy of Wisebread, absolutely free!

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      Contest: How Do You Live Large on a Small Budget?

      That’s right, the editors of 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget have offered a free copy of the book to a lucky Lifehack reader. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling your fellow Lifehack readers about your tip for living well without spending lots of cash. Tell us about your affordable luxuries, cheap thrills, and low-price high life.

      All entries must be received by 11:59 pm PDT, Saturday May 30, 2009 (limit: one entry per person) and you must leave an email address so that I can contact you if you win (don’t worry, email addresses aren’t published on the site). After the entries have been . received, I will select one winner at random using a random number generator. Entries will not be judged, but try to come up with something good, anyway – consider it a public service!

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      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

      This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

      The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

      The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

      Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

      Curiosity

      Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

      People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

      Patience

      Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

      When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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      Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

      A Feeling for Connectedness

      This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

      A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

      The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

      How to Self-Taught Effectively

      With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

      1. Research

      Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

      Learning the Basics

      Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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      Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

      What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

      Hitting the Books

      Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

      Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

      Long-Term Reference

      While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

      My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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      2. Practice

      Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

      A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

      Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

      Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

      3. Network

      One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

      These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

      Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

      Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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      4. Schedule

      For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

      Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

      Final Thoughts

      In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

      If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

      At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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