Review: Poorcraft: The Funnybook Fundamentals of Living Well on Less

I, like many people I know, enjoy running around telling people how broke I am. Sometimes to the point where friends and family worry.  But let me reassure everyone: I am underpaid and I live in a fairly expensive area, but I manage to pay my bills and keep myself fed and, get this, even have fun every so often.

This has taken years of practice, though, and the knowledge that I really had little other choice but to do it. I fumbled a lot and I still fumble on occasion. I wonder how much easier things would’ve been for me if I’d had Poorcraft: The Funnybook Fundamentals of Living Well on Less when I first started out, though.

Written by Templar, Arizona creator C. Spike Trotman with art by Diana Nock, Poorcraft is a playful how-to guide for anyone who’s starting out on their own. Through the two characters of Penny (our resourceful guide) and clueless Mil, the book outlines the various (and often, easy!) ways it is to live on limited funds. Most of the tips are pretty practical and basic — make a budget! consider transportation options other than cars! don’t rely on credit! — but if they are things that you haven’t been told or thought about, they’re good to know.

While there’s not a plot, specifically, the book does follow Penny and Mil as Mil moves into a new place, sets up her household with thrifted and sometimes scavenged furniture (which I can relate to — while I admittedly have several pieces from IKEA, most of my furniture is thrift store/yard sale/Craigslist finds), teaches her how to cook (included are basic recipes) and how to weather emergencies when they arise.

Nock’s art is always fun and the cartoony, exaggerated style keeps the book light even when more upsetting topics like debt are discussed. Trotman presents this information in a smart, non-confrontational way. Her tone is light and friendly without being judgmental.  Neither creator makes any of these things seem like too much of a sacrifice — you may not have a lot of money but you can live happily and still have fun.

Not everything in Poorcraft will work for everyone in every situation, but Trotman and Nock seem to acknowledge that. Maybe your job isn’t near mass transit so you still need to have a car. Well, then at least buy one you can pay for in cash. If you like to follow trends, consider timeless basics and then add in cheaper accessories. It’s not a matter of “you must follow all of this exactly” so much as it is “this is one way you can do it but feel free to find your own shortcuts.”

If you know anyone who’s just starting out, they need this book. Even if you’ve been doing this for a while, you may still learn something. Ultimately, I loved the supportive tone of Trotman and Nock — they believe you can do this and they’ll get you believing that too.

And I’ll be remembering that when I’m getting creative with my pantry staples until payday on Friday.

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