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The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle Paperback – December 15, 1998
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From the Inside Flap
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 house, Halloween costumes from scrounged materials, Thrifty window treatments, Ways to dry up dry-cleaning costs, Inexpensive gifts, Creative fundraisers for kids, Slashing your electric bill, Frugal fix-its, Cutting the cost of college, Moving for less, Saving on groceries, Gift-wrapping for tightwads, Furniture-fusion fundamentals, Cheap breakfast cereals, Avoiding credit card debt, Using items you were about to throw away (milk jugs, plastic meat trays, and more!), Recipes galore, from penny-pinching pizza to toaster pastries, And much much more . . .
Three books in one--a $38.97 value for only $19.99!
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.