Thursday, April 8, 2010

Molly's Money-Saving Digest - E-Book Review

Molly's Money-Saving Digest January 2010  $4.95
One in a series of digests designed to help you live frugally while still having fun! Available at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's School Store by subscription or individually.

Here’s a confession: In the past, I have been somewhat put-off by “Molly Green” and her money-saving digests that cost me money to buy -- because, well, I always suspected she wasn’t “real.” And, the fact of the matter is, she’s not. That is, she’s not an individual, “fur-real” person. She’s like the Betty Crocker of frugality. (Sorry if I just burst your bubble on Betty! I used to think she was “real,” too!:)

As the Econobusters website states, “Molly was created as a symbol of ‘everywoman’ who is trying to do the best for her family and home in today’s challenging economy.” The goal of this economically savvy icon “is to underscore the importance of home and family, and to offer continual evidence that frugality does not mean drudgery . . . it can be fun, creative, and immensely fulfilling.” You know – I can live with that. In fact, I quite like the idea! I know I can sure use repeated reminders – and new insights on how to make my role “fun, creative, and immensely fulfilling.”

So, with a new and improved attitude, I embarked on reading the January 2010 issue of Molly’s Money-Saving Digest: Evaluate, Prioritize, Organize with the goal of reviewing it as a potential member of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Product Review Crew.

As suggested by the sub-title, this issue is about evaluating, prioritizing, and organizing one’s household. Being one who tends to allow herself to be governed by her stuff instead of the other way around, I thought it was apropos; I can use all the help I can get. Even my husband, who skimmed through the pages of the e-book, was impressed by the “Tips and Tools for Organization,” which include forms for a budget, a daily to-do list, and a family clothing inventory, the latter of which I never would have even thought to create, though it’s such a sensible idea. While the week’s worth of menu plans would not work for our family’s particular needs, I like the fact that it includes a detailed shopping list and visually appealing photos of most menu items.

I love being inspired by creative ideas and approaches to various aspects of life (hence the very existence of my blog!), and this issue of Molly’s digest did inspire me – and my twelve year-old daughter, who often asks if she can bake something. When she asked recently, I agreed and urged her to try the recipe for “In-a-Pinch Pie Crust” that was featured in “The HomeMaker’s Mentor Lesson” section of the digest. I like the fact that the author acknowledges that “a homemade pie crust isn’t the standard of a loving homemaker” – and that she just encourages us to experiment and create simply because we can, and because it’s worthwhile to do so. Indeed, that’s what my daughter did. She had to apply her own “in-a-pinch” experiment when part way into the endeavour she discovered we didn’t have enough all-purpose flour. So she topped it up with some coconut flour that we had on hand.  That dough looks pretty good, doesn't it?

And here's the finished pie -- an apple pie:

 Now, I will admit that the coconut flour rather altered the taste of the crust. Nonetheless, the baking adventure was a success! (I’ll bet it would have been even tastier if we’d had the ingredients to try the fancy, creamy pecan topping described at the end of the lesson!) Of course, we could have expanded the learning by including a little fractions lesson with the “littles” in our family, as the author suggests, but there was too much anticipation of the pie to dwell on the mathematics of it all!

Equally inspiring to me are the artistic projects – with a purpose -- for both adults and children in this edition of the digest. Detailed instructions and photo illustrations outline how to “Feather Your Nest – Frugally” with inexpensive, homemade verses and photo-edited pictures, as well as photo and jewelry display structures (“Something Old – Something New”). Similarly, children are encouraged to learn about saving money by creating their own papier mach√© piggy banks using easily accessible household materials. This latter activity is supplemented with a mini lesson on chequing accounts, including a sample “checkbook ledger” and mock cheques. (My American friends – I’m sorry if all this Canadian spelling is messing with your brains!)

A personal story by Amy Howard, some letters from readers, an article about how to evaluate, prioritize, organize one’s time, money, and “stuff,” and a “Directory of Links” conclude the e-book. Each is informative and helpful. Having received the digest digitally, I love the fact that I could easily click on the links and immediately access even more information and ideas. As a result, I discovered songbirdtiff, a blog that offers even more inspiration to us all! In my opinion, the modern mix of text and technology is brilliant! (That's one of the things I love about TOS in general!)

So, will I give in and subscribe to Molly's Money-Saving Digest? Not at the moment -- it's not in the budget. (And I know Molly would respect that!) Will I consider purchasing an issue some time in the future? Absolutely! I'm a fan now :)

Even if the digest doesn't interst you, check out the Econobusters website for other resources, including a free newsletter and a free menu planning e-book! You can't go wrong with freebies!

Update: I have decided to give up a couple of little weekly luxuries in order to subscribe to Molly's Money-Saving Digest after all. I think it'll be better for me in the long run;)

(Please note: I am not paid to write this review. I have been asked simply to write an honest opinion in exchange for personal use of the product.)

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