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on February 28, 2008
I thought I was a miser. This book revealed that I wasn't. I've never been extravagant. But I learned that I bought unnecessarily on emotion, bought to compensate for time, bought to rationalize a high paying, unfulfilling job. So I tried Jeff's fast this month. I'm on Day 28 - no problem. Just as buying brings some enjoyment, I learned that not having credit card debt brought huge relief (close kin to enjoyment). In fact, not spending hours shopping and buying brought peace. What was amazing was the number of times I thought I needed something at the store - only to realize I had plenty of it at home. I am thinking about the supermarket fast for next month but am kind of afraid of what I'll find in the freezer.

More than savings tips like Tightwad Gazette, this book put money in perspective relative to my life and loosened its claws. The money and time that I'm saving are being put to much better use these days. Will I stick with it? Yes - I've gained far more than I've sacrificed and with less effort and resistance than I ever expected.

PS Read anything Clark Howard to complement this book.
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on January 5, 2008
I don't usually buy personal finance books since most are unpractical, preachy, or unoriginal. Jeff Yeager's The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches, I'm happy to say is none of those things. Unlike most financial experts, he lives by his advice. And, although I pride myself on my frugality, his book gave me a ton of ideas to implement, including:

- to live within my means using the salary I make at 30 years of age, and to continue to live by that standard of living even after my salary increases. So, if I make 40,000 when I'm 30 and 45,000 when I'm 35, I should live as I did when I was 30 and save the rest.

- to establish a mandatory waiting period when using my discretionary spending, of a week or so, to determine if I truly want what I think I want.

- to skip the gym and get outside more...also, to do chores (like washing the car) that burn calories.

- to eat according to the food pyramid (more pastas and rice, less sugars). It's actually cheaper to buy healthier foods like pasta than it is to buy processed foods.

If you're interested in not only saving money, but by being satisfied with what you have, this book is for you.
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on April 10, 2008
This isn't the first such book, and it won't be the last given the coming recession. The last recession in the 80s gave us stuff like "The Tightwad Gazette", which was clearly an influence on Jeff Yeager, as well as "The Millionaire Next Door".

I wanted this book to be better than it is, because I think there is a lot of potential wisdom in living more simply and avoiding materialism, and a lot of practical stuff that people could learn in terms of saving money and avoiding the credit card trap. Unfortunately, if Mr. Yeager has some good tips, he is keeping them to himself. The most "Ultimate Cheapskate" has to tell you is either really simple ("buy a less expensive/house/tv, etc.") or flatout wrong ("the least expensive stuff is at big box stores like Sam's Club" -- WRONG!).

One big problem is that Yeager and his wife of 22 years are unusual, in that they don't have children. Don't get me wrong, it's a personal choice and I respect it. But he never really owns up to it (I had to read sections over twice, until I figured it out), and he never admits that many of his "savings" schemes would not work, or would work differently, if he had young children, or kids in college. Yeager brags, rather shamelessly, about things like living on just one income (his, while his wife's earnings are saved or invested) -- but you can't do that if one spouse stays home with toddlers, or if you have to pay most of one spouse's salary for day care. He also brags about paying his house off early, but again he has not had to support small children or pay their expenses, but could save/invest half the income of a DINK (dual income, no kids) couple.

Finally, he tells us that he's managed to acquire a net worth of $900,000, at age 48 (his wife is 54). But half of that is the over-inflated value of his home in a premium suburb (suburban Washington DC) -- when the housing bubble deflates completely, will his home still be worth almost $500K? And again, the Yeagers have not had to send three kids to college, which most people their age are working on. Furthermore, his chapter on investing -- which is high school level economics, so beware -- doesn't mention that the OTHER $400K of his "net worth" could disappear in an instant if he's bought stock in companies like Enron or Bears Stearn, or if there is a stock market crash. All that "cheapskate" arrogance could vanish in a flash.

I have found that other such "cheapskate" or "tightwad" books don't realize that if EVERYONE lived a simple and cheap life, then all the bargains and free stuff that the Cheapskate lives for would not be there, as everyone else would be competing for the same "cheap stuff". Right now, it's only available because OTHER PEOPLE are buying regular goods and services.

Some of the advice is really crappy, too -- Yeager shops heavily at Dollar Stores. I have found that such stores often stock sub-standard merchandise, such as outdated food items and defective items. They also rely heavily on imports from China! How does this help the US, address unemployment or save the environment? And as far as "big box stores" or "warehouse clubs" -- consumer magazines have exposed them as often not having the cheapest prices anyhow. You can do better by watching sales at your local merchants, or pairing sale prices with high value coupons.

One of the most offensive sections in the book deals with Mr. Yeager's glee at his paid up home, with a valuable, income producing rental unit. First, Yeager tells us he bought the home in 1986, when he was 28 and only earning (he claims) about $10,000 a year. Yet he somehow could afford a $157,000 house! This was expensive back then, and I don't see how someone with so little income could have ever qualified for such a big mortgage -- without heavy parental help, which he fails to mention. He's been coasting on the rental income for 22 years, but most of us really can't count on finding a house with a rental unit attached -- such homes are rare, and when they exist, they are costly. Unless Yeager tells us how much a comparable home, in 1986, would have cost WITHOUT a rental unit, we cannot figure out if the extra cost was justified by the rental income anyways.

This is a little like saying: "I can live cheaply because I was lucky enough to inherit a nice trust fund". Most of us are not willing to forgoe having children, or sending them to college and we can't magically find homes with lucrative rental units over the garage!

I picked this book up hoping for a handful of clever tips for saving money, and instead got a lecture about dumbass stuff like "shop at the Dollar Store". You'd get better, more practical advice from any old lady who lived through the Great Depression.

It would have been far more fair, also, if Mr. Yeager had admitted that it's much easier to save money and live cheap -- if you DO NOT have children...and that many of his "tips" are not applicable to FAMILIES. Or that stubborn kids or teens might be very resistant to not having any cell phone, internet service, cable TV...or to eating a diet of stale outdated canned goods from the Dollar Store.

The book is also greatly lacking in visuals, such as photos or even pie charts, making it a dull read. In short: you won't find any useful tips here if you are serious about saving money.
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VINE VOICEon January 11, 2008
This book is funny, but to buy it for that reason alone misses the point. Hiding behind the humor is the wise advice of a personal finance expert who knows there's more to life than just how much debt you can pile up on a credit card. Jeff Yeager's breezy writing is full of great -- and serious -- ideas, yet you never feel that he is preaching at you. As you read you feel inspired, even empowered.

One of his thoughts is to put yourself on a money fast for one week a year. You spend nothing for seven days, which gets you thinking about all the terrific things to do that are free, and makes you realize that you can easily do without many of the items you buy just out of habit.

The book's eye-opening premise is that, contrary to just about every commercial you see, your quality of life increases as your spending decreases. What awful news for MasterCard! And what a refreshing thought!
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on August 18, 2010
Maybe some will find new ideas in here but I didn't. As I am quite frugal already i expect that can happen and I read frugal books anyhow because even if a new idea doesn't pop up, I still like the connection I feel by meeting others who live similar. But no connection is here. I would not like to meet Jeff at all. He constantly compares things to sex & orgasms and repeatedly jokes that we should send him our nude or sexual pictures or ideas. I don't see how some find this humor. I find it extremely immature.
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on July 16, 2011
Not a lot of info here that I didn't already know. Not a lot of practical advice, either. Just a lot of themes we've already heard over and over. Don't buy too big a house and pay it off early, buy a used car and drive it into the ground, don't eat out, etc. But some ideas are bad. Don't buy food for more than $1. per pound? Really? Store brand mac 'n cheese is less than $1 per pound and I'd never eat that kind of unhealthy crap.

The most annoying thing in this book were his continual anecdotes which did little more than fill pages, saying nothing. And he told them all with a kind of cornball, aw shucks humor that got really annoying and boring after awhile. On several occasions he even admitted that he was "digress"ing. I kept reading and saying to myself, "and the point of that was...?"

That said, Yeager can turn a phrase. It was an easy read. And I really did like the idea of the Fiscal Fast.

But mostly this was just a piece of fluff.
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on December 9, 2008
I'll risk the minority vote here; this book is nothing new. One "star" is too high a rating for this mess. The writing style and tone is juvenile for someone of Mr. Yeager's age. His flood of words, particularly the unintelligent use of vulgarity, distracts from the point he attempts to express. With a respect for my own quality of life, I decided to stop reading before the book ended.

In all fairness, if this books motivates one person to live within their means, then it's not a total waste.
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on August 1, 2008
If you are looking for good tips to save money, this book is not for you. If you are looking to change your mindset about spending money and don't mind strange vulgar references, this book could be right up your alley.

Yeager spends a lot of time discussing a change in mindset regarding money, his "Money Steps" to making financial decisions. Most of this is really common sense and available for free on the internet. His concrete ideas for saving money are few and far between and some of those are not very good. He takes the reader on a shopping trip to the dollar store, which is one of his favorite stores to shop in. I've found that most of the time, the deals at the dollar store are not deals at all because the packaging is much smaller than what you would get at a traditional store. He does not discuss unit pricing in this section at all.

I was disappointed with the book. I'm glad I borrowed it from the library rather than purchasing it.
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VINE VOICEon September 6, 2008
But Amy Dacyzyn & Vicki Robbins have that ground covered, more thoroughly, and then you can throw in the Millionaire Next Door for a bit of spice.

I'm glad I found this at the library before I was tempted to buy it. It's always useful to find reinforcement. Can't say that the argument against these principles--if everyone did it, they wouldn't work--has much weight, because it will be a long time before everyone does it. Ditto on the "only works if you don't have kids" side--Amy proved that wrong.

Agreed, most personal finance books focus on the other side of the equation--how to best handle your net worth through investing, insuring, and increasing it. Only a few books touch the "spend less" side, and most magazine articles cover the same stale ground--shop for insurance. So good for Yeager to bring the concept to a new audience, perhaps. But $1/pound does mean you're eating the worst grade of meat, from animals raised under the most inhumane and unhealthy conditions in factory farms that are destroying the local communities. I'm not convinced that's a good trade-off, esp. from someone out of the non-profit sector. One can make pretty much the same form of case against dollar stores, and I've certainly beaten big-box store unit prices at my local grocery.

I don't normally review books that already have 64 reviews, but this just isn't a five-star, IMO. It's not going to change my life. I don't want to go back and buy it. It's not bad, but it's just a start. For more content about how to live cheaply, read Dacyzyn. She raised six children on $30K. For more content about why to live this way, read Dominguez & Robbins (retired on a net worth of $60K).

(And I quit reading Orman when she equated nuclear power with nuclear weaponry, but I didn't quite understand the jokes, either. Someone has a fixation.)
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on September 29, 2014
I agree with Yeager's basic idea that you don't necessarily have to earn/spend a great deal to have a good life. And he has some interesting points, mostly on the topic of food; he suggests aiming for no more than a dollar a pound on most food, and points out that there are good cheap dishes in any style of ethnic cuisine - there being a lot of poor people all around the world, after all. He also has some websites dealing with world hunger and with cheap hobbies. That's why I'm giving the book 2 stars.

It gets no more because it is loaded with sexual innuendoes, has misinformation, is limited to the perspective of comfortably situated middle-aged people, is padded with such things as meaningless quizzes, has no index... you get the idea. Save your money.

The rather short book is padded with such things inane quizzes, and there is no index. Save your money.
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