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596 of 601 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of my all time favorite books!
This book has had a huge, positive influence on my life. I read this book right before I quit my job to stay home and Amy Dacyczyn helped convince me I could do it. But if you are contemplating reading this book, be warned: it is highly addictive and potentially life-changing.
I was already fairly frugal before I read The Tightwad Gazette. My husband and I used...
Published on September 6, 2002

65 of 76 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jeff Foxworthy, I hope you have a copy of this one...
...because this book is the stuff of which redneck dreams are made!

I wasn't sure how to rate this one, in stars, so I gave it three for comprehensiveness. Much can be said here, and much has already been said. This book is a tome filled with wonders, with monstrosities, and with some good practical advice. Every bathroom should contain a copy, as it rivals...
Published on April 26, 2007 by Nosewiper

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596 of 601 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of my all time favorite books!, September 6, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
This book has had a huge, positive influence on my life. I read this book right before I quit my job to stay home and Amy Dacyczyn helped convince me I could do it. But if you are contemplating reading this book, be warned: it is highly addictive and potentially life-changing.
I was already fairly frugal before I read The Tightwad Gazette. My husband and I used cloth diapers, shopped at thrift shops, bought secondhand and had only one car. Many of these actions came from our concern to live lightly on the earth, but had the side-benefit of saving us money. But when I read this book, Amy made me see how wasteful I was being in other parts of my life--throwing money away needlessly by spending too much on groceries, overinsuring my car, and overlooking the wealth of things that can be purchased very cheaply at yard sales. After I read this book, I immediately chopped about $100 a month off of my grocery bill, and IT WAS EASY! And I spent less time running back and forth to the grocery store and more time at home enjoying my family. I was so smitten with this book, that in the first few months after I read it, my husband got really sick of hearing about it. And he was a tightwad, too!
For the last few years, I've been able to use some of Amy's recommendations for saving money, but I really had only scratched the surface in what I could accomplish. I was able to stay home and we were doing okay financially, but just okay--not great. Then earlier this year my husband and I got a wake-up call. Throughout our marriage, we had always managed to save money, even if only $100 a month. Our wake-up call came when we realized that for the first time in our marriage, not only were we not saving money anymore, but our hard-earned savings were slowly being depleted. Consequently, my husband was feeling a lot of pressure to work harder and harder, spending more time away from home and making our family life more strained.
Re-enter the Tightwad Gazette. When I realized that we were losing money, I went into TOTAL frugality mode. First, I used Amy's suggestion to list everything we were spending, then I went over our spending with a fine-tooth comb and looked for places I could cut (fewer long distance calls, cutting back further on groceries, etc.). When I looked at the numbers, I estimated that we could be saving $500 a month. And we live near the federal poverty line! And we pay for our own benefits! Then I reread Amy's book (for about the 4th time), and this time I TOOK NOTES! When I was done, not only did I feel empowered, but I had 4 pages of ideas for new money-saving ideas to try--everything from new recipes to energy-saving strategies. I also realized some mistakes I had been making that Amy discusses at length. First, I had failed to realize that desparate circumstances call for desparate action. Second, I had been justifying a certain amount of wasteful spending on the basis of how hard we worked and how much we deserved it. Third, I had failed to set clear financial goals. Amy talks about the need to set goals repeatedly, and she is right. My new goal was to save $3000 by the end of the year. With this new goal in front of me, I felt completely motivated to start saving money.
To make a long story short, in the 2 months since I have become (in Amy's words) a "Black-belt Tightwad," my family has saved approximately $900, with no dramatic difference in our lifestyle. And lest you think that the lifestyle that Amy promotes is one of drudgery and deprivation, think again. As Amy will tell you in these pages over and over, the life of a tightwad can be full and complete. My kids wear designer clothes (albeit second-hand). My home is filled with nice stuff (most of it bought at yard sales or 'treasure-picked' from the curb). My family eats healthfully--lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, many of them organic, with delicious home-baked goodies thrown in. And we even go out to eat from time to time (although not as often as we once did). Most people who would see my family on the street or visit us in our home would be shocked if they knew how well we do with so little income. Plus I have the added benefit of sleeping more soundly at night, not worrying that we will run out of money.
This book is for non-tightwads, too. I've recommended it to some friends who are spendthrifts, and even they have loved it. So if you are at all interested in saving money or living a simpler, saner life, by all means read this book. But make your first truly tightwad move and don't buy it--go to the library first and read a copy. Amy even recommends that you do this. Then, if it is worth it, you can go ahead and buy it.
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489 of 500 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her children are lucky, September 26, 2003
C. Walker (Minneapolis, MN) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
I am disturbed by some of the reviews that cruelly state that Mrs. Dacyczyn's children are being shortchanged--one reviewer called her childrearing philosophy child neglect and borderline abuse.
I think the Dacyczyn children are very blessed to be raised in a family where worldly values are put in perspective and the important things in life are stressed. My daughter and I are reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's books together, and while reading the Tightwad books, I was struck at how many parallels there are between the beloved classic books and the Dacyczyn family's values.
Children do not need fancy, expensive new clothes to develop properly. There is nothing wrong with used clothes, in the first place. Secondly, Mrs. Dacyczyn makes clear her clothing philosophy in a little article about how she spoke with all her children about what they wanted to wear on the first day of school. She spent a good deal of time planning this with them, and actually made a special item (a vest, I think) so they would feel special. She didn't have to throw money at them to show that she loved them. She spent time talking and listening.
As far as the bath issue... hello, children do NOT need a bath every single day. Where did that myth come from, anyway? It does not jeapordize their health if they don't get scrubbed every night. Most of the people I know give their kids a bath "as-needed" during the week, and then on Saturday night so they're extra-clean for church on Sunday morning. Baths are more frequent in the summer, when they're outside getting dirty, and less in the winter (sometimes only once a week in our house) when they spend all their time inside, and I'd rather not send them to bed with wet hair. It's not so much a matter of frugality as it is common sense.
And the reviewers who made snide remarks about nutrition... holy cow. These kids get organic, garden-fresh produce all summer, and home-canned and frozen produce (also organic, and no preservatives) the rest of the year. Their consumption of ready-made snacks (laden with fat, sugar and preservatives) is sensibly controlled. They get balanced meals from all the food groups (Mrs. Dacyczyn lists a week of her family's menus for us to look at).
I would think that with all the problems that have come to light on child obesity this last decade, that people would understand that we need to pay attention to our children's nutrition. Keeping potato chips as a special treat (and telling the kids that, if they want something not on the family menu, they have to purchase it themselves) is not abusive. It is tender care and regard for a child's health.
As far as showing love: her descriptions of the children's birthday parties are fantastic. The pirate ship birthday theme is wonderful, and her set-up in the yard of an actual ship play-area was awesome. How many parents take their kids to a party store, let them choose the newest popular cartoon character and get party hats, paper goods and "favors" in that theme (and then go buy a tasteless cake with vegetable shortening/powdered sugar frosting at the grocery store)? Is that more loving than what the Dacyczyn family does?
And I would like to point out the snobbery of the reviewers who turn up their noses at dumpster diving. In this throw-away society, it is shocking what people toss in the trash. When my husband and I still lived in our apartment complex, he would watch the dumpster at the end of the month, when people were moving out. One girl threw away boxes of new clothes -tags still on!- and even a mason jar full to the top of coins. Too much trouble to take it to the bank, I suppose. I still wear her pajamas and shorts, use her hand-formed iron wok, and sharpen my knives on her very expensive sharpening stone. We also still use the lovely, unique folding wooden chairs our neighbors threw away.
Someone bragged that her house is not full of other people's castoffs. I am willing to bet that a house full of cast-off antiques and high-quality yard sale finds is more interesting and beautiful than one furnished by walking into Wal-Mart (or even Pottery Barn) and simply running up a credit card.
There are also too many sniffing comments about having six children. Since when is it anyone's business how many children a family has? Particularly since the Dacyczyn family isn't asking anyone for a handout. Large families are full of joy and love and they get too many unsolicited comments. I know someone with a large family who is often told in public by complete strangers, "I'm glad they aren't mine!" To which she threatens to one day respond, "They're glad they aren't yours, too."
Mrs. Dacyczyn never says to her children, "You're not worth a new dress or a new book." She shows how much she loves them by giving them the important things of life. She is also preparing them for adulthood in the best way: showing them the difference between wants and needs. They will know that money is not what makes us happy, and that buying "things" is not as important as spending time with people. They will be well-adjusted, happy adults.
It made me sad to read the mean reviews. If you want to say the book didn't help you save money, fine. But let's not make ourselves feel superior by making cruel comments about this family.
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276 of 290 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great. Some of the negative reviews are disingenuous, October 19, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
This book is an inspiration to help you save money. Kathryn F says "I won't dumpster dive, reuse meat trays or save dryer lint." Amy D. doesn't do any of this;she dove a couple times as part of her research for an article. She doesn't give out money advice like "buy gov't bonds" as others said. As for mealtimes, I agree with her "old fashioned" method of feeding kids, not letting them control the family diet. What Amy DOES do is give examples of ways to save, and articles on calculating real costs of things, etc. Her writing will inspire your own creativity regarding saving money, appropriate for your own situation. The fact that they saved the cash they did, living in expensive New England is amazing, believe me. She outlines options for you, it's up to you to decide what's best - are you truly desperate financially, just want to cut back a bit, or somewhere in between? Personally, what this book has done for me is that it has shifted my values a bit, I am far less interested in having "things", and more into enjoying life through direct experiences - hiking in the mountains, being outdoors. I'm not into the domestic scene like Amy is. But the beauty of the book is you can adapt the advice. Please check it out for yourself, even at the library. But I bet you'll want your own copy.
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84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For rich or poor, a full spectum of tips and philosophies, October 10, 2001
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
Admittedly, the author is the diva of frugality, taking tightwaddery to a high art I wouldn't care to achieve...but she also discusses how the way we spend our money should--but doesn't always--reflect our own priorities, values, and goals. The author makes it clear that the book contains a full spectrum of tips for saving money to accomodate a wide range of frugal styles, and that not every idea in the book is for every person. There's no preaching, just cheerleading!
Probably the most pleasant surprise in this book were the essays discussing the tightwad philosophy. The author addresses gratification, temporary vs long-term fulfillment, learned perceptions about "clean" and "dirty", the true "cost" of a double-income household, hourly "wages" based on money saved, and other interesting aspects of money attitudes.
A recurring theme examines how frugality isn't about living a deprived scrimping lifestyle, but rather how to spend and save money in ways that reinforce your financial goals. Practical examples give tips for getting good deals, finding hidden treasures within your budget, and how to think "outside the box" when it comes to obtaining goods and services.
In all, while this book contains a wealth of "how-tos", it is also a springboard to help you launch your own ideas on how to meet your life goals and find creative ways to do it.
A fantastic and truly entertaining read.
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99 of 103 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book -- helpful, practical, fun!, April 11, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
The first time I read one of the earlier Tightwad Gazette books, I surprised myself by immediately finding a savings in our family budget of $50 per month. I was further inspired to try some other new money saving ideas, and before too long our family was living well within our means and actually climbed our way out of serious consumer debt -- COMPLETELY!
Of course, I don't credit this book with all the personal hard work and discipline that it took to reduce our family's consumer debt, BUT our goal of being debt-free (inspite of a limited income due to lost earning potential from an injury and chronic illness) wouldn't have happened as quickly as it did without the inspiration and practical guidance found in the pages of the Tightwad Gazette books and newsletter.
Many of the ideas were a bit too "out there" for me personally, but there's such a large quantity of information in this resource, that it's easy to find things that WILL work for different individuals and their personal situations. While there's a good chance you won't want to start stockpiling styrofoam meat trays (or go dumpster diving!), maybe you'll discover some new tasty, simple (and VERY inexpensive!) recipes. And keeping a "Price Book" might be just the ticket to cutting down regular expenses in your own family's financial situation.
The three previous Tightwad Gazette books have been compiled into this single edition with the addition of the last few issues of the Tighwad Gazette newsletter (those issues never made it into any of the previous books).
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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Defense of Dumpster Diving, September 28, 2004
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
It was a rare sunny day in an upper-middle class suburb in Oregon. While taking my fiance's trash to the apartment's central trash compactor, I noticed the huge bin of rejected, non-compactable items. A clean, sleek, high-end looking lady's computer case was perched on the edge--trembling, almost in anticipation of that intrepid woman who would simply put out her hand and take it...

That woman was me. Of course then, I didn't know that I was supposed to be too fastidious for this, that it was "extreme" and "far-fetched" to take something that was still in good shape but had clearly been abandoned by its owner. I looked around quickly, almost as if the Waste Police were about to rush in and collar me. But there was nothing but spilled soda on the ground and a lazy fly buzzing around. I snatched the case and almost ran back to my fiance's apartment-!

This is a dramatic reenactment, of course. But the warm glow of victory lingers. I get as much of a rush from a great bargain as some die-hard mall mavens get from shelling out $500 for the latest Coach purse. Is it a sickness? Are we really wackos? Did I really Dumpster-dive without even knowing it?

I know a gal who has a $9000 Nordstrom credit card balance. Is she sick? Is the best way the moderate way, to buy your clothes on sale and to shop at a co-op, as I did until recently? To answer these questions for yourself, you have to enter the world of Amy Dacyczyn.

I heard about this lady years ago and thought she was a nut. Now, exactly five days after reading only her second book of tightwaddery (which I picked up at Goodwill, figuring I'd get my 2.99 back somehow), I can hardly believe my good fortune. I've already saved $50 on last week's groceries, have a fully stocked fridge (instead of cleaning it out, like usual), and am rejoicing over my revelation that we can stop paying $100 a month to insure a car that we don't even drive. This is money earned, people. My husband is a little sick of hearing me sing Amy's praises, but he is already experimenting with cooking our meatloaf in the microwave vice the oven (either my husband makes terrible meatloaf, or we couldn't tell the difference). I am only sorry that, with a new baby to watch over while my husband travels for work, that I can't patrol the local Dumpsters! Or maybe I can...

I was astonished to find that a friend of mine (whom I KNOW to be a total tightwad who scavenges and trash-picks regularly) has actually NEVER HEARD of Amy's books. I won't buy them for her (she'll scavenge them on her own if she wants them) but I am buying this book for my family. (BTW, when she visits next we are planning a Dumpster-diving mission together, since I can't quite justify doing it alone with a baby--unless I drive by real slow!)

In a society characterized by excessive exposure to sex, you have people with weird compulsions and habits. The same applies to consumption. You have your extreme spendthrifts and you have your trash-pickers. We are all sick, folks. You get to choose your disease. You may think you don't care about where your money goes, but when it runs out you start to care real quick. I'm just glad there's somebody out there crazy enough to try to "beat the house" as it were--the advertisers, the corporations--the bean-counters who shave their pennies to see if they can get another penny out of you. It seems as if the rule is squeeze or be squeezed.

I find Amy's work to be a celebration of alternatives that we just don't consider. The advertisers hawk a bunch of new products and we never think about the Dumpsters of this country as treasure troves. Same product, different packaging. Get over it.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind(set) altering..., February 11, 2001
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
Underlying the countless tips and lessons for money saving in this book is a priceless theme: What is valuable to you? While anyone could use the tips in this book to meet shortterm needs, this is really a book with an eye on the long run. Once you decide what is truly important to you, you can learn how to save the money and time necessary for these pursuits. Yes, money and time. Amy D. does not simply address finances. She breaks into the wider world of priorities, energy, environment, time, lifestyle, self, and family. This book addresses the practical and mundane as well as the spiritual and philosophical. Amy D. encourages readers to build rather than squander, to prioritize resources so that you can find happiness in the things that really matter to you. Quit wasting your resources and yourself.
While no one would use all of the ideas in this book (some of them are quite farfetched), we are given a wonderful buffet to choose from. Not only are outright tips given, Amy D. teaches readers how to generate ideas and investigate options for themselves. You know the old saying about giving a man a fish vs. teaching him how to fish? Well, you get both the fish and the fishing lessons from The Tightwad Gazette!
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something for almost everyone, October 23, 2003
Sedim (Chandler, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
I LOVE this book. Do all the ideas apply to us? No. Do we use every idea as stated? Of course not. But as a springboard for ideas that DO apply to our situation, this book has been an exceptionally valuable resource. 2 years ago, I checked it out from the local library at a time when my husband and I were incredibly stressed about not having enough to pay the rent one month. With a renewal, I had the book for 6 weeks, completely free. In that time, we paid the rent with $100 left over, and at the end of the 6 weeks, I purchased it new (after a long and fruitless search for used!), and it had paid for itsself literally 13 times over, beyond the rent issue. In the three years since then, I can't even begin to calculate how much money we have saved from using ideas suggested and/or inspired by this book. However, I do know that in Arizona, I am able to be a full-time stay-at-home-mom while my husband earns well under $20,000 per year. We have a comfortable little apartment in a good neighborhood, we all wear nice clothes, our cars are paid off completely, we have at least 6 weeks of groceries in the house at all times, and he and I are both attending college. We pay ALL our bills on time, and our ONLY debt is student loans.
If you are in need of ideas, suggestions, or advice for cutting costs, I advise you to invest in this book.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tightwad--and proud of it, December 16, 2005
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
What a great title. Though I thought I was thrifty, I always wanted to save more and was intrigued by this book. After reading this 900+ page tome about saving money, I've decided on a couple of things.

1) Amy Dacyczyn (pronounced "Decision") really knows how to save money. Her ideas (and those of her readers) can really pinch pennies and help people avoid all kinds of waste.

2) Most of our energy is spent working to pay for things we don't need - cable TV, new books instead of library books (sorry Amazon), collision insurance coverage on an old car, bread makers, high-end retail clothing, and convenience foods.

3) The great majority of tips, philosophies, and ideas here are very helpful. I loved the idea of creative ways to have a kid's birthday party, Christmas, or any other celebration.

4) Some ideas I'm not about to incorporate just yet into my life, such as the dumpster diving and buying of used shoes. They're just not my thing.

There are some negative reviews which say that Dacyczyn advocates "unhealthy" or "unsanitary" practices in her quest to save money. Maybe this makes me a filthy vagrant, but I didn't really see any of that. Dacyczyn makes it clear in the book--if some of these practices aren't for your lifestyle--THEN DON'T DO THEM!

Some readers will probably not like this book because it doesn't tell them what they want to hear--that they can keep buying the same overpriced stuff they bought last year and somehow still have more money in their pocket. Well, it's not going to happen. You have to spend less money, and Dacyczyn is all about finding those activities which save the most money for your time. She's very smart about it, and I found it immensely helpful.

You'll enjoy the book too, especially if you read it with an open mind.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Encouraging and a bit discouraging, all in one!, July 3, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
This book is the compilation of The Tightwad Gazette newsletter issues, and I subscribed to The Tightwad Gazette back when it was still a subscription newsletter. I started reading it because our family was facing some serious financial difficulties and I needed help NOW! The first time I read the newsletter, I was able to pick up tips that turned our family's financial situation around right away.
The author is a black-belt tightwad and has been from the beginning of her marriage. She and her husband did things "right" from Day One. Which is great for them, but that's where the discouragement from this book came in for me. My husband and I didn't do things "right" from the beginning and consequently weren't going to be able to live in a big, beautiful farmhouse in the country while our children were still small. It was sort of depressing to read about all the wonderful benefits that frugal living brought to the author's life. We'd made some major mistakes in the past (both of us were raised in spend-thrift homes so we really didn't know another way until we'd hit rock bottom ourselves) ... and all of the penny-pinching in the world now wasn't going to allow us to live out our "dream."
Anyway, please know that I LOVE this book for it's tips and ideas! Frugality really is an alternative lifestyle in this day of easy credit and disposable everything, so the author's voice is desparately needed by those of us looking for some frugal encouragement.
But because of the depressing aspect of feeling like the author doesn't "get" the situation of people who've made financial mistakes, I found that reading Mary Hunt's books (especially "The Cheapskate Monthly Money Makeover") has helped to balance things out a bit for me. Mary Hunt's family overcame more than one-hundred-thousand dollars in consumer debt (her family's debt made my family's finanicial situation at its worst look GOOD!).
A good friend of mine -- who's made "right" financial decisions her entire marriage -- thought Mary Hunt's books were just plain "stupid." But then she LOVED The Tightwad Gazette and found it incredibly encouraging -- she also couldn't figure out how I could find The Tightwad Gazette depressing. But she'd never seen life from the view I have. So I think it's a matter of perspective how people relate to the different books. That's why I'm so glad there are numerous people writing on frugality. Somebody's voice is bound to speak to you whereever you're at in your personal financial journey -- if it's not Amy Dacyczyn ("The Tightwad Gazzette") or Mary Hunt ("The Cheapskate Monthly"), maybe it'll be Jonni McCoy ("Miserly Moms") or Deborah Taylor-Hough ("Frugal Living For Dummies").
If you're facing a mountain of debt -- or living the consequences of bad decisions in the past -- be warned that this book could make you feel a bit "down" ... but keep a stiff upper lip, buck up, read this book, and apply its tips ... you -- and your bank account(!) -- will be glad you did!
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The Complete Tightwad  Gazette
The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (Paperback - December 15, 1998)
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