The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese

Brian J O'Connor, Author
Brian J. O'Connor. Penguin/Portfolio, $16 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-59184-643-7
Reviewed on: 09/23/2013
Release date: 10/29/2013
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O'Connor, a personal finance editor and syndicated "Funny Money" columnist at the Detroit News, bases this guide on a series he wrote for the paper on coping with the Great Recession, and here conducts a 10-week experiment to cut his family's monthly living expenses by $1,000. Each category (transportation, child care) is addressed in a chapter that offers budget-trimming suggestions. The author's agile wit elevates the book above similar titles. Though O'Connor may hope to join the likes of Suze Orman, the fact that he is struggling to support his family via his newspaper writing makes him more relatable. Suggestions range from the obvious (refinancing the mortgage), to the ingenious (finding a variety of sources of affordable child care for a special-needs child). O'Connor also writes, hilariously, of cost-cutting strategies gone awry—such as roasting four on-sale whole chickens at once using budget beer. The fact that O'Connor actually succeeded in his experiment lends credibility to this funny, pragmatic guide, which will have you laughing all the way to the bank. Agent: Sam Fleishman, Literary Artists Representatives. (Nov.)
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