- Paperback: 959 pages
- Publisher: Villard; 1 edition (December 15, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375752250
- ISBN-13: 978-0375752254
- Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 403 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle Paperback – December 15, 1998
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Though tightwad seems like a derogatory term, author Amy Dacyczyn wants to assure you that it's okay to be a penny-pincher. This self-styled "Frugal Zealot" wrote and published The Tightwad Gazette for over six years to spread the frugal gospel. Each issue contained tips from her personal experience and from her many readers. The wealth of information contained in all these issues has been compiled into one volume for the first time. You'll find literally thousands of ideas for saving money, from the simple or practical to the difficult or bizarre. On the simple, practical side, Dacyczyn advises would-be tightwads to keep track of price trends at several stores in a "price book" and to buy in bulk when prices are low. Other, stranger offerings include tips for turning margarine-tub lids into playing-card holders, old credit cards into guitar picks, and six-pack rings into a hammock or volleyball net. More helpful are inexpensive recipes for making homemade versions of pricey, well-known products and ingenious ways to fix broken or damaged items. The book's disorganization encourages browsing, but the detailed index will point you to the exact page for specific items. Dacyczyn's occasional "thriftier than thou" tone is balanced by the friendly support for frugality that infuses every page. She even reminds her readers that it's okay to "sweat the small stuff"--because this small stuff is the essence of frugality. --C.B. Delaney
From the Inside Flap
long-awaited complete compendium
of tightwad tips for fabulous frugal living!
In a newsletter published from May 1990 to December 1996 as well as in three enormously successful books, Amy Dacyczyn established herself as the expert of economy. Now The Complete Tightwad Gazette brings together all of her best ideas and thriftiest thinking into one volume, along with new articles never published before in book format. Dacyczyn describes this collection as "the book I wish I'd had when I began my adult life." Packed with humor, creativity, and insight, The Complete Tightwad Gazette includes hundreds of tips and topics, such as:
¸ Travel for tightwads ¸ How to transform old blue jeans into potholders and quilts ¸ Ten painless ways to save $100 this year ¸ Picture-framing for pennies ¸ A comparison of painting versus re-siding your
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First for the good stuff.
Amy Dacyczyn is smart, funny, creative, and articulate. Her style is direct and honest, which is refreshing. It cannot be understated that she blazed the trail of tightwaddery during a time when openly trying to save money meant incriminating onself with the pain and shame of poverty. Dacycyzn not only changed our national dialogue about the practice of thrift, she also served as a role model for current and future economic nonconformists that refused to acquiesce to the status quo.
If I were to rate this book on that, and the feelings of nostalgia it creates when I pick it up and start reading, I would rate it a 5. However, this book is also a product, and people read reviews to make a decision whether or not to purchase it. That decision would be based on how useful it might be to someone who is reading it for the first time in the deuce-tens.
Starting with five stars, I subtracted one star because the book is clearly, painfully outdated. Dacycyzn retired in 1997, so at the time of writing this review; the information in this book is at least 15 years old. Businesses, addresses, and in some cases products (like floppy disks) are going to be a thing of the past. Not that google couldn't pick up where Amy left off, but the reader still has to flip and wade through it all.
I subtracted another star for the lack of organization. This is an issue I see a lot in the reviews, so I kept it in mind when I got my copy in the mail. Keep in mind, the book is an edited compilation of newsletter issues dating from 1990 to 1997 in book form. So there is no section, for example, kids projects and another for holiday projects. Each book is sorted by season, but considering there are three books compiled into one; trying to find "Christmas" in 900 pages will still be a chore. Trying to find "Christmas crafts" or even "Christmas recipes" will be even worse.
There is an index, but it's not much help either. I don't have the time or motivation do do a comprehensive check of every entry, so I decided to try to look up something people might want to refer to very often. I chose the universal bread recipe, because bread is a major staple in the American diet, and it is one of the most useful articles I found in the book. I couldn't find the entry to it in the index. After scanning under "recipes," I looked under "food" which told me to look under "specific foods" (ironically, the very last suggestion listed). I managed to find it under "bread", but it was not under "Universal bread recipe." It was under the "yeast" entry. I cannot understand how finding an extremely useful recipe for bread can be so hard, when she has an entry for "Janet Reno." Yes, Janet Reno. So I flipped to the entry and found her giving a critique of a Senator taking on the cereal companies for railroading generic brands. Uh, what? Not only is taking on corporate abuse of power important (yes, even for breakfast cereal), to put an entry in the index so readers can see you railing against it seems ridiculous.
Another complaint I saw a lot was that her tone is "preachy." I disagree. There were a *few* entries where she implied that people who didn't delve into tightwaddery as deep as she does are somehow lazy, incompetent, or childish by wanting instant gratification. I don't agree with the handful of times she steps into this; but I didn't find it pervasive enough to subtract another star. I also found several places where she makes it clear that she supports anyone who lives within their means, regardless of frugal choices. So the idea that she is some kind of psychological dictator is unfounded, at least IMO.
This doesn't mean I agree with everything in the books. The books seem to be written for prospective homemakers of two-parent middle class families. She strums the "hard work" harp as though socio-political factors such as race, class, or gender discrimination have no bearing on if someone achieves personal success. There is an article about space, but it does not address people who really need to save money but live in unusually small spaces such as motel rooms, efficiency/studio apartments. She says in Tightwad Gazette II that she doesn't want to publish recipes - yet food is a major expense that cannot be excluded, only better managed. She will say that frugality is about building skills, but only publishes a few universal recipes for people to build a frugal skillset in cooking.
So no, this is not a perfect book; but it is still a good resource if for no other reason than to get people to think for themselves and think of ways to save money.
In the book, Amy says that we rarely have chances to save large lump sums of money, but we have chances to save small amounts everyday. It's true. She is very creative and methodical in her approaches. She tells you how much hot cocoa costs from a can, from the packets, from this homemade version and that homemade version. There are breakdowns of why she only purchases new vehicles to how to decide when to pay more for certain items. One story involves her daughter wanting purple boots. They found the same kind of boots but in green for 10% of what the purple ones cost. The daughter protested and Amy explained to her that the purple ones were 10x as much, so unless she truly loved the purple ones 10x more, they really weren't a good value. The daughter went with the green ones and ended up liking them better.
She tells of shortfalls when her kids complained about bland school lunches and how she would spice them up. She lists several uses for simple things like paperclips or what to do with the last of the jelly. It really is helpful in good times, but even critical in hard times. I won't ever get rid of this book.