Book Review: In The Trenches

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Please note: This is part of a series of reviews we are doing on food storage, emergency preparedness, and self-reliance type books. For more reviews click here.


In The Trenches

Financial Survival During Times of Hardship
by Carol Schultz-Weil

Background: For those of you who have followed Julie and I on our food storage journey over the past two years, you may recall that in the beginning we couldn’t seem to get a grasp on using food storage during natural disasters (i.e. If there is an earthquake and you have no power, how are you going to COOK all that wheat anyway?) So we decided to focus on the thought that we were much more likely to have an “economic disaster” in our lives and we wanted to use food storage to help be prepared for that. Well about 3 months after we started our blog and started to build our food storage, my husband lost his job and was unemployed for about three months. Luckily I had already stockpiled quite a lot of 3 month supply food storage and we were able to spend only about $20-$30 on groceries during those months. Every little bit helps when you are living off of savings! When we were given a copy of In The Trenches: Financial Survival During Times of Hardship I knew that I wanted to be the one to read and review it since this topic hits close to home for me. (My husband recently lost his job AGAIN but we were lucky enough to find a replacement job in less than a week this time!)

What I Liked: In The Trenches is not a typical “finance book”. If you want a step-by-step, more formal plan all laid out for you, I highly recommend getting Dave Ramsey: The Total Money Makeover (Dave and HIS BabySteps have literally changed my life). However, if you are looking for a more personal and friendly approach, perhaps just a few tips to survive during hard times, In The Trenches is fantastic. Carol Schultz-Weil shares her stories of living for 6 months without indoor plumbing, and going from being a bank manager to working at McDonalds. She literally has lived in the trenches and pulled herself out. She offers some great tips on saving money, but the real appeal is the emotional support she gives you throughout the book. It’s one thing to cope with numbers on paper, it’s another to be able to get through each day when your kids need new shoes and you feel like a failure.

Favorite Tip: One of the questions we get asked a lot is “How do you build up a food storage on a tight budget?” In The Trenches addresses this very issue using a simple method that everyone can start using immediately. The concept she suggests doesn’t even require a change in your budget. All you do is take your normal grocery budget each month and set aside 10% of it as a “stocking up fund”. Each month at the grocery store you use that special fund and “stock up” on 1 or 2 items at the store that are on sale and that are part of your family’s normal diet. Using our 3 month supply worksheets can help you easily know EXACTLY which items to watch for to go on sale. After a few months, you will be buying less and less food at full prices and can save your family a lot of money on groceries. If you are interested in long term food storage you can use that savings and start purchasing some of the bulk items like wheat, sugar, oats, etc. Remember this is all coming out of your original grocery budget so it is really something you can do and not worry about extra expenses!

Feedback: In The Trenches provides some great worksheets to help you analyze your budget, expenses, net worth, etc. However, some of the sheets are too small to be very usable. I would want to photocopy and enlarge them all so I could fill them out properly. It would be really nice if they could be made available in pdfs or as an excel file on her blog.

Summary: For someone going through a time of financial hardship, In The Trenches can be a great tool to use. If you are just looking for some creative tips for saving money and living a cheaper lifestyle you will find this book to be helpful too.

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