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PSA: The Author's a Fraud
on May 20, 2008
Her style is annoying and smarmy, but that's the least of it. Claiming it came to her "out of the blue," Mary Hunt stole her newsletter idea (and story ideas and some illustrations) from Amy Dacyzyn's Tightwad Gazette (Dacyzyn has records that Hunt subscribed to her newsletter from Dec 91 - 93; Dacyzyn corresponded with Hunt regarding obvious "copying" of ideas and illustrations but Hunt did not reply or attribute the source).* First called "Cheapskate Monthly" and now "Debt-Free Living," the preview issue on Hunt's website likewise presents unattributed ideas as Hunt's own (Heloise's vinegar hints, for instance). She advises you to buy a house at half the price that you can afford, make double payments so that you can pay off the mortgage in "about five years," and then sell that home and buy the house of your dreams. This is a program outlined in Ted Carroll's LIVE DEBT FREE (published 1991), which she cites (amazingly!) in "Complete Cheapskate" but claims as her own idea on her website. "Owning your home free and clear," she says, "...is what Harold and I are working on now." (Cough, cough! She's had plenty of time to put her plan into action, plenty of dollars to do it, and she's "still working on" it?!?) Meanwhile she has churned out an armload of books and regurgitated her ideas for every TV camera she can find. She doesn't have to practice what she preaches because she hauls in the dollars of the faithful through coaching seminars, books, and her newsletter (a $29.95 value, she claims, but if you check it out, you'll see it is a compendium of links to other sources, outdated quotations, and self-promotion).
I'm afraid that with the current economy, a lot of people will be tricked into shelling out for this kind of warmed-over hash. Check it out at the library, if you must, but don't buy it. I've found Ron Blue's Master Your Money to be a more practical, Christian and truthful resource. Amy Dacyzyn's work is the original (which is why she is so widely copied). Flylady.net has budgeting and checkbook hygiene advice; googling will provide more information than you can ever process. Why doesn't Mary just admit that the way she got out of debt and broke free from money worries was not by being a cheapskate, but by being a plagiarist?
*Sept. 1996, Issue 76, The Tightwad Gazette