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Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I actually bought this book (paid real money for it). The author strikes me as a person who most people would not want to befriend. His ideas are written in a sometimes funny way (except when he marginalizes women) but he is like a person who would rather throw litter in the street than use the garbage can. He is totally out for himself at the expense of all others and he comes across as a person without any real kindness and generosity of spirit. So he tells you to take the coupons off of groceries that you are not even buying so that the next person loses out. He tells you to stuff ketchup packages in your pocket along with mustard when you are at a fast food place. Can you imagine his apartment or house with little soy sauce packages and mustard and ketchup stuffed in a Tucks box. The laughs don't take this book very far. He reminds me of the person who has his car broken into and claims that he had $10,000 golf clubs in the trunk (although it would be more likely mini golf cub that he stole from the kids park) so that in the end we all wind up paying higher insurance costs. It's an ugly book written in an ugly manner. Also, if your teenager ever read it, he/she would be on the road to a petty and unlawful life. Keep away and save your money for the $1.99 supermarket ketchup that will last you a year or so.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
This book is nothing but the musings of a small mind and a borderline petty thief. If you're the type that feels good about being a complete skinflint this is your book. Yeah, break up with your girlfriend before valentines day/holidays to save a few bucks. Sign up for promotions just to get the free hat or shirt, yeah, that's classy.

So if you want to read a couple hundred pages of this rubbish, have at it. Otherwise, just stay away.

Finally, if you're truly cheap and if you really want to read this, get it from the library don't buy it here.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel could not be more aptly named. Within these pages lie some of the most despicable and outrageous ways to save money you could ever imagine, many that even border on illegal. Now, I am a relatively hard person to shock or offend. Anyone who knows me personally also knows that I am gross, inappropriate, idiotic and almost completely desensitized to everything. This book shocked me.

I was unprepared for just how money-grubbing and unethical the tips in this book would be. Add to that the writing style (which is uproarious) and what you get is a book that [...] me right in. I would love to say that I did not like Secrets, but I enjoyed every second of it! Even those tips that I completely disagree with on a moral basis (like taking post-it notes to the grocery store with made-up prices for the store to match) are delivered with such wit that it is hard to even be irritated. It takes a special kind of writer to tell you to basically steal from a company and do it with a sense of humor that makes you laugh out loud as you sit alone on the porch, book in hand.

Although I am steadfast in my plight against some of the borderline criminal tips in this book, there is enough sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek expressions to show that much of the author's seemingly unethical tips are nothing more than entertainment. For example, in the section of Secrets regarding relationships and what a drain they can be on your finances, Phil recommends instigating fights before holidays and special occasions. This way, you will get to avoid gifts, dinners and other holiday fare. Here is a sample of his writing, which (if serious) is disturbing to say the least:

I recommend at least four, I-never-wanna-see-you-again (till next week) throw-downs. Valentine's day, her birthday, your anniversary, and Christmas. Throw Thanksgiving in there too if her parents annoy you and she's asked you to dine with your family.

I am fortunate that I can recognize what should be taken seriously and what is meant to be funny. But it is a VERY fine line. What may be too "over the top" for me may just be an idea or method you will gladly be willing to adapt. If you are looking for tips that will genuinely save you money, and morals have no boundaries, get this book. If you just want to laugh, and could care less about how stingy the author really is, get this book.

On the other hand, if you are easily offended by almost anything at all, this one is not for you. Don't say I didn't warn you.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
This book would be useful to someone lacking any morals, character or basic human decency. Everyone else should avoid it.

The so-called "author" advocates committing fraud and theft in the name of getting undeserved freebies. And let's not even think about what he suggests doing to your friends and significant other.

If you are willing to sell your soul for a free movie, this book is just what you are looking for. Otherwise, stay far away.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
*As written on my personal finance blog My Money Story*

A few weeks ago author Phil Villarreal was gracious enough to give me a copy of his new book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets, in exchange for a review. To be honest I haven't had a chance to read the WHOLE thing yet because:

1. I have two kids under the age of five
2. I don't get much time to myself to read or do anything else for that matter
3. I have a husband, a house, meals, laundry, cleaning, errands, grocery shopping, and finances to take care of

But I got about half-way in and so I will give you my review based on the first half of the book.

Phil Villarreal is c.r.a.z.y. Some of the ideas in this book are outrageous to say the least, and some of them even border on unethical (in my humble opinion), but somehow that seems to be the point or at least that is what I read between the lines. The comedic value of the book is great, and entertainment-wise you can't go wrong. I consider myself to be a pretty frugal person, but as it turns out not nearly as frugal as some apparently. The following are things that Phil talks about in his book that I personally have done:

1. I don't smoke, never have.
2. Peel coupons off packages in the grocery store and use them during that trip, or save them for later
3. Kept napkins, straws, and condiment packets for use at home (although only what I was given, never by the bagful!)
4. I don't have a land line
5. I do online surveys for points/cash
6. I RARELY use the ATM
and that's about as far as I got...

All kidding aside there are some good ideas in here, just don't go over-board as the author suggests (with tongue in cheek). At only $12.95 this is a good deal for a brand new book, and you could probably score a deal somewhere (check Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders Books & Music) with a sale or coupon (I found it for $9.32 at amazon.com tonight!). I definitely enjoyed what I read and would recommend the book to a friend, although again, please don't take it too seriously. So go, read and learn!

*I will mention that this book does contain some coarse language, and if you are offended by that kind of thing then maybe this isn't the right book for you.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a great, lighthearted read. The author writes with a certain undeniable charm like that of a grungy sailor coming into port.

The advice in the book can only be taken half seriously and with a grain of salt. From a financial perspective many of the tips would and have been used by many but the author says it best, "Honor. Integrity. Honesty. Dignity. If you live by any of these values, you may as well drop the book right now(...)"

I would say leave your pride at the door as well because digging through dumpsters or posing as a homeless person are part of the curriculum covered in detail in the book.

Each of these 100 juicy secrets are quite detailed and clearly written from experience. Phil's tongue-in-cheek commentary on each tip is hilarious and just adds value to the great ideas as well as the horrible ideas.

I admit to having done and still do about half of the tips in the book. The other half, most of which I am kicking myself for not coming up with and the rest make my moral compass go haywire, are extremely tempting and almost make me want to take up a few new hobbies.

What you will find in this book:

* How to "dine like a cheap SOB"
* Ways to dodge costly relationship milestones
* Instructions on getting freebies in every situation
* What it means to really pay yourself first
* Doing all of the above while looking like the hero

What you won't find in this book:

* The same tips everyone else already knows
* "Honor. Integrity. Honesty. Dignity."
* How to score points with the man upstairs
* Tips on building healthy relationship with friends or family
* Anything boring!

I can just imagine Phil at the family Christmas party hoarding Tupperware, scraping leftovers off abandoned plates back into the container for later use and giving out handmade sock puppets as gifts to all his relatives.

All jokes aside, the book really has some great information that just about everyone can apply to their finances and was worth every penny.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
The subtitle of this book is "100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets," and with good reason. From the foreword (entitled "Threeword" because by his own admission, the author was too stingy for a foreword):

"Honor. Integrity. Honesty. Dignity. If you live by any of these values, you may as well drop this book right now, because they're against everything it professes...Much of what I write will surely disgust you, but I'm sure a sizable portion is intriguing..."

Indeed, getting past the ethics as you begin your read is a challenge, but once the tone of the book catches your interest, you can have a little fun and actually learn something. Yes - between the tongue-in-cheek commentary and outrageous suggestions, there are solid financial principles to be gathered here (and lots of little tips!).

Some of the 'secrets' you'll find in the book include:

* Old-school ways to heal coughing, nausea, and depression - without a trip to the doctor.
* How to get an extra serving of fries with nothing more than an iced cube.
* Strategies for eating lunch at your wholesale club for free.
* Getting the best prices for the stuff you want at garage sales.
* The perfect mix of soap and water to get rid of a bug problem.
* How to get banks to give you money, instead of the other way around.
* How to get free stuff just by test driving cars.
* Raising your kids for (almost) free.
* How to get the airlines to fly you around for free.

If you didn't catch on, free and cheap is the name of the game. "Don't break any laws, or get the impression that I'm advocating criminal behavior, because this book was written for entertainment purposes." I think the devilish overlay sketched onto the cover's dollar bill gets the point across fairly well.

If sarcasm, fun with money, and an open mind are in your vocabulary, you won't find a more unique personal finance book than this one to enjoy.

And with that, I'm pleased to recommend that you partake in Phil Villarreal's brand of humor.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
Back in my college days, I actually got paid to write about various topics ranging from escaped West African performance artists to Carl Reiner to the legalization of the abortion pill and interracial relationships. I also spent a semester serving as Arts Editor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat with a shyly brilliant observer of human habits named Phil Villarreal.

A few years ago, he asked me to edit his first book, Stormin' Mormon, which he went on to self-publish. One of the only copies sold now sits proudly on my shelf and I was honored to be included in the acknowledgements.

More recently, Villarreal released Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets to broad publicity including book signings, stories in newspapers nationwide and coverage on morning shows in his current home of Tucson and in the bigger market of Phoenix. And since shameless self-promotion is a habit the author and I share, I was all too happy to add my own critical take on the book to his list of clips.

Many of the suggestions are utterly ridiculous and yet incredibly logical if you follow Villarreal's central premise that saving money is a noble goal unto itself. Into this category falls #33 about the psychology behind the dealer and customer when buying a car. Similarly, #35, advises readers at the negotiation table to simply ask for another $20 or $50 off the deal in order to get your name on the dotted line. Audacious as it is, when you think about it, why shouldn't you ask for an extra $50 off? It's a free night out on the town or family time at the movies and you earned that money!

The section of the book that I would seriously consider implementing, societal judgment be damned, was the portion covering Finance. Villarreal offers such logical suggestions of avoiding ATM fees, paying down debt and taking advantage of rebates.

He even manages to challenge fiduciary stereotypes while bringing an element of humor to the art (or tedium) of coupon clipping, "It saddens me that coupon clipping is viewed as the pastime of the desperate housewife...Here and now I want to start an effort to reclaim coupon clipping for men everywhere. I want Harley riders to start keeping plastic, accordion-style coupon holders in the back of their hogs. I want UFC fighters to tout the benefits of $1 off Raisin Bran coupons after bouts. I want John Wayne to rise from the grave, visit a Circle K, and push a buy-one-get-one-free Thirstbuster card over the counter." Classic.

Also in Finance is #44 which offers Villarreal's personal story of shaving $1000 off the hospital bills that came with the birth of his second child earlier this year. How did he accomplish this feat? By simply calling the billing department and asking for a 25% discount in exchange for paying in full right away. Audacious, but I will admit I trimmed $600 off my rent for the year just by making a phone call to my management company.

But back to those utterly absurd suggestions that other critics of this book have been so eager to point out. There's an entire section of them that Villarreal prefaces with the following disclaimer, "Let me make clear that the advice from here on out is strictly for laughs, and I'm not held responsible if you actually enact any of this insanity. Try any of these heinous tactics and you'll be in need of a soul cleansing, but you'll also have a bigger bank account and great stories to tell at parties."

So what falls into this odious section that has raised the ire of humorless columnists and morning show hosts? Let's just say some of the suggestions involve posing as an illegal immigrant, turning your pet in a foundling, scamming bartenders and the ever-popular Dumpster diving. The book advises against ever attempting these money-saving tactics for fear of incarceration, but my hunch is that many of us have pondered such schemes, generally under the influence of booze or various hallucinogens. Besides, as a Netflix user I'm a big fan of #76 and I'm pretty convinced my last two boyfriends used #82 on me.

Ultimately, anyone who's been poor, merely felt poor, gone through unemployment, gone through college or who doesn't mind losing a few points of social grace for the same of saving a few bucks will thoroughly enjoy Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel. If you loyally adhere to the tips contained therein, you will more than make up for the $[...] price tag on Amazon. Avoid the shipping fees to make Scrooge and Villarreal proud.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
just not ethical to teach to cheat and lie.part of the degenerating cultural times being promoted.
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on November 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
I loved this book as much for its money saving advice as for it's humor! How often do you read a book about money that makes you laugh? Not very often. Some of the advice is not for me - like signing up for credit card accounts just to get a free T-shirt, but that's not the point of the book. It's to show you tons and tons of ways to save money, and you pick and choose what works for you.

I received a copy of this book for free to review on my blog, BargainBabe.com, which you can read at [...]
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