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Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets Paperback – September 1, 2009
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This book not only pays for itself within the first few chapters, but Phil unearths ways to subvert the scams of cellular companies. Eye opening at the very least, this money-saving manuscript is less an ode to parsimoniousness, and more a call to arms. --Maddox, author of New York Times Bestseller "The Alphabet of Manliness" June 16, 2009
Phil is a devious mastermind. He'd be the Lex Luthor of tightwads if Lex Luthor was hilarious. Most of the advice in this book will at best destroy your treasured personal relationships and at worst get your butt kicked, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is awesome. If you've ever done something cheap and blushed slightly, you'll be gratified to know that not only is there someone else doing that exact cheap thing -- he's perfected a system and is willing to share his knowledge with a grateful public.
Not only did Phil get me to write this blurb for him, he also convinced me to give him $20 from my wallet.
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A few weeks ago author Phil Villarreal was gracious enough to give me a copy of his new book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets, in exchange for a review. To be honest I haven't had a chance to read the WHOLE thing yet because:
1. I have two kids under the age of five
2. I don't get much time to myself to read or do anything else for that matter
3. I have a husband, a house, meals, laundry, cleaning, errands, grocery shopping, and finances to take care of
But I got about half-way in and so I will give you my review based on the first half of the book.
Phil Villarreal is c.r.a.z.y. Some of the ideas in this book are outrageous to say the least, and some of them even border on unethical (in my humble opinion), but somehow that seems to be the point or at least that is what I read between the lines. The comedic value of the book is great, and entertainment-wise you can't go wrong. I consider myself to be a pretty frugal person, but as it turns out not nearly as frugal as some apparently. The following are things that Phil talks about in his book that I personally have done:
1. I don't smoke, never have.
2. Peel coupons off packages in the grocery store and use them during that trip, or save them for later
3. Kept napkins, straws, and condiment packets for use at home (although only what I was given, never by the bagful!)
4. I don't have a land line
5. I do online surveys for points/cash
6. I RARELY use the ATM
and that's about as far as I got...
All kidding aside there are some good ideas in here, just don't go over-board as the author suggests (with tongue in cheek). At only $12.95 this is a good deal for a brand new book, and you could probably score a deal somewhere (check Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders Books & Music) with a sale or coupon (I found it for $9.32 at amazon.com tonight!). I definitely enjoyed what I read and would recommend the book to a friend, although again, please don't take it too seriously. So go, read and learn!
*I will mention that this book does contain some coarse language, and if you are offended by that kind of thing then maybe this isn't the right book for you.
A few years ago, he asked me to edit his first book, Stormin' Mormon, which he went on to self-publish. One of the only copies sold now sits proudly on my shelf and I was honored to be included in the acknowledgements.
More recently, Villarreal released Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets to broad publicity including book signings, stories in newspapers nationwide and coverage on morning shows in his current home of Tucson and in the bigger market of Phoenix. And since shameless self-promotion is a habit the author and I share, I was all too happy to add my own critical take on the book to his list of clips.
Many of the suggestions are utterly ridiculous and yet incredibly logical if you follow Villarreal's central premise that saving money is a noble goal unto itself. Into this category falls #33 about the psychology behind the dealer and customer when buying a car. Similarly, #35, advises readers at the negotiation table to simply ask for another $20 or $50 off the deal in order to get your name on the dotted line. Audacious as it is, when you think about it, why shouldn't you ask for an extra $50 off? It's a free night out on the town or family time at the movies and you earned that money!
The section of the book that I would seriously consider implementing, societal judgment be damned, was the portion covering Finance. Villarreal offers such logical suggestions of avoiding ATM fees, paying down debt and taking advantage of rebates.
He even manages to challenge fiduciary stereotypes while bringing an element of humor to the art (or tedium) of coupon clipping, "It saddens me that coupon clipping is viewed as the pastime of the desperate housewife...Here and now I want to start an effort to reclaim coupon clipping for men everywhere. I want Harley riders to start keeping plastic, accordion-style coupon holders in the back of their hogs. I want UFC fighters to tout the benefits of $1 off Raisin Bran coupons after bouts. I want John Wayne to rise from the grave, visit a Circle K, and push a buy-one-get-one-free Thirstbuster card over the counter." Classic.
Also in Finance is #44 which offers Villarreal's personal story of shaving $1000 off the hospital bills that came with the birth of his second child earlier this year. How did he accomplish this feat? By simply calling the billing department and asking for a 25% discount in exchange for paying in full right away. Audacious, but I will admit I trimmed $600 off my rent for the year just by making a phone call to my management company.
But back to those utterly absurd suggestions that other critics of this book have been so eager to point out. There's an entire section of them that Villarreal prefaces with the following disclaimer, "Let me make clear that the advice from here on out is strictly for laughs, and I'm not held responsible if you actually enact any of this insanity. Try any of these heinous tactics and you'll be in need of a soul cleansing, but you'll also have a bigger bank account and great stories to tell at parties."
So what falls into this odious section that has raised the ire of humorless columnists and morning show hosts? Let's just say some of the suggestions involve posing as an illegal immigrant, turning your pet in a foundling, scamming bartenders and the ever-popular Dumpster diving. The book advises against ever attempting these money-saving tactics for fear of incarceration, but my hunch is that many of us have pondered such schemes, generally under the influence of booze or various hallucinogens. Besides, as a Netflix user I'm a big fan of #76 and I'm pretty convinced my last two boyfriends used #82 on me.
Ultimately, anyone who's been poor, merely felt poor, gone through unemployment, gone through college or who doesn't mind losing a few points of social grace for the same of saving a few bucks will thoroughly enjoy Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel. If you loyally adhere to the tips contained therein, you will more than make up for the $[...] price tag on Amazon. Avoid the shipping fees to make Scrooge and Villarreal proud.