Aimed at young women, presumably post-college and out of the house with no expectation of succor by the family (oh, they won’t let you starve, but you’re on your own now, sweetie), Chick Living alternates between useful advice and condescension. I’ll admit, my post-college days are a number of years (*cough* ok, decades) behind me, but I remember the thrill of finding my first piece of free furniture on the streets of New York and making my salary stretch to fill a month’s worth of bills. I once was the woman this book is aimed at.

And I just didn’t find it all that useful for living frugally while looking fabulous. I do think the information about getting renter’s insurance, making sure you get enough calcium in your diet, and when to take your car and yourself in for a routine checkup is valuable. I also think there is a valuable lesson in reading about the author’s story of how she managed to (post-college) pay every bill on time and had funds left over. But telling me my room will look fabulous if I cover a couple of orange crates with a piece of cloth or that a child’s wheelbarrow makes a great ice bucket doesn’t seem useful.

The best thing about Chick Living is that it collects a lot of common-sense-based information in one place: preparing for interviews, to starting a savings account, with reminders that a $3 latte can be made at home for pennies and that yard sales are your friend. But if you hate being thought of as a naïve ‘sweet young thing’ the tone will set your teeth on edge.

This is also an expensive book, so I recommend you look for it in your local secondhand store and read with an eye to keeping what is useful and discarding the rest.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Kris Koederitz Melcher

Conari Press, 2005

pp. 304, $18.95