"LIVING A BEAUTIFUL LIFE ON LESS: The Blissful and Domestic Guide to Food, Fun, and Finances," by Danielle Wagasky, Plain Sight Publishing, $12.99, 160 pages (nf)

"Living a Beautiful Life on Less" author Danielle Wagasky, of Henderson, Nevada, wasn’t always known for her frugality. She learned to handle her family’s finances the hard way. As a young newlywed, she gave little thought to how she spent money. She and her husband, having been raised differently when it came to money, were total opposites. It wasn’t long before they were besieged with overdraft and late payment fees. Wagasky admits it was mostly her doing.

When Wagasky’s husband, Jason, was deployed in Iraq, she realized she had to find a way to make ends meet. She was alone with two small children, and shopping to fill the void was just making things worse.

Initially, she followed ideas in a book by Annette and Steve Economides, who have been called “America’s Cheapest Family.” Soon, she was adding her own spin to things and found she had a knack for getting by on less. Being competitive by nature, Wagasky set out to create the best life possible for her family while still living within their means.

The blog Blissful and Domestic, online at blissfulanddomestic.com, was started by Wagasky to chronicle her journey to financial control and happiness, and it has useful tips, recipes and a contagious dose of ingenuity. She shares her ups and downs openly. Wagasky, now a self-proclaimed budgeting diva, shares her experiences and knowledge together in her first book, “Living a Beautiful Life on Less.”

Written in a conversational style, Wagasky’s book provides valuable insights for both novice and worn-out seasoned budgeters. She is candid and funny with her authentic "been there, done that" voice. Her approach is encouraging and kind and can help people navigate their finances and family budget.

Throughout the book, Wagasky shares useful tips, surprising strategies and recipes of all kinds, including how to make homemade cleaning products. Many suggestions are fun and innovative, such as “One Hundred Fun Family Night Activities” or “One Hundred Date-Night Ideas.”

While the key principles outlined in Wagasky’s book are not new, her friendly, chatty approach is. She is quick to point out that she isn’t “cheap,” a word she describes as “yucky.” Rather, she is “frugal,” her “happy” word.

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Wagasky also mentions her experiences in paying tithing and budgeting to make other church contributions.

This user-friendly guide to frugal living contains no foul language, violence or sexual content.

Stephanie Abney, an eternal optimist, retired schoolteacher and freelance writer, lives in Mesa, Arizona, with her husband, Jim. They have five children and 18 grandchildren. She blogs at stephaniesaysso.blogspot.com. Email: sabneyfeedback@cox.net