Living within your means is suddenly the stuff of legend. I first read about W. Hodding Carter's soon-to-be-published book on the subject a few months ago, when the project was announced on the same day that our own Zac Bissonnette agreed to a deal for his book on paying for college. A Year of Living Within Our Means? Shouldn't that be every year, I thought? After all, most of us these days are forced to live on the salaries we've got; and if we're only doing it for a year, well, shame on us.

Excuse me if I gag on my own limited budget.

When I read more on his project yesterday, at first it confirmed my worst first impressions; Carter admitted to having racked up significant credit card debt, while living as if he made roughly three times his average annual income of $41,000. It's not like he was jetting to Monaco for cocktails and a dip in the Riviera a couple of times a month, but he did cop to a hand-carved walnut countertop. And at one point, his wife kicked him out for nine months due to his spendthrift ways (ouch).

I read the piece a little more carefully, though, and I think I may actually end up liking his book. He and his family will live on $550 per month after their mortgage and related expenses; for food, utilities, and the rest of it. They've bought 25 chicks for eggs; his wife has bartered legal work for a big pile of wood; they're going to grow an enormous garden. A book on living within your means? Ok, ok, I'll buy it. But only if you promise to show us how you can keep doing it for five years... a decade... oh, heck, why not forever?

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