"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance."
-- Isaiah 55:2 (NKJV)
I must admit to being one of those people who enjoys not spending any more money than necessary to accomplish what needs to be done. It's a sort of challenge for me. In my family, I have a reputation for finding unusually low air fares, five-star hotel rooms for $35 a night, and rarely throwing anything away that can be used again. For example, I have a razor-blade sharpener so I don't have to buy new blades.
Yet among my peers growing up, I was a wild spender compared to many. I assumed (and was pleased to find that I was correct) that Mr. Yeager is someone who knows fewer limits to thrift than I do. I was right. He sleeps on couches while traveling (when he can find a free one), carries a tent for other occasions, and does his book tours by bike. Now, there's a really frugal person!
I found myself laughing in many places, being reminded of the looks on other people's faces when I disclosed some key fact about my own thrift (I don't think of myself as a cheapskate . . . I'm willing to share what I have with others).
Although the book is intended to be as much good advice about not becoming too materialistic as it is to be a source of good humor, I didn't find much advice that I didn't know already. So I suspect the book will be of more value to those who grew up in environments where throwing money around was the norm.
I think one of the key lessons here is that you can use whatever money you save to do something that has lasting value. I often donate, for instance, to groups that do Christian witnessing.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
"The lessons of this book--the secrets of the cheapskate next door--are as much about happiness as they are about money. For cheapskates like me, you will learn, money has very little to do with true happiness. By spending and consuming wisely, we make money a relatively minor part of our lives. We worry less about money than most people, and we can afford the luxury of spending fewer of our limited hours here on Earth chasing ever after more of it. We can focus our time and our attention on the truly valuable things in life--those that often come without a price tag--like spending time with the ones we love, helping others, and pursuing our passions. Because we consume things sparingly, thoughtfully, and fully, things do not consume us."
The above comes from this intriguing, practical, and sometimes humorous book by Jeff Yeager. He is known as "America's Ultimate Cheapskate" and he is now a writer.
In this book Yeager travels (on bicycle!) to interview and survey his fellow cheapskates in order to discover their secrets for happily living life on less.
Throughout this book are "Cheap Shots," quick, money-saving tips to save you more. These are isolated from the main narrative in their own box for easy reference.
Besides the Cheap Shot tips, some ideas about saving money also are found in the main narrative. Do you have to do everyone of the suggestions in this book (some of which are extreme)? Of course not. Yeager explains:
"By all means, adopt those suggestions you like, and ignore those that you don't; you'll still come out ahead."
Besides the money-saving tips, I feel Yeager, through his interviews and his own personal experiences, gets across the cheapskate's mindset.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
A Money Savings Buffet!June 18 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Money, money, money- regardless if we share, save, horde or spend it, we must have some to live and therefore learn how to manage it wisely. The Cheapskate Next Door is a valuable guide on how to sweet talk those dollar bills into submission so they can work in our favor. This book is for young and old, rich and poor, cheapskates and spenders alike.
I especially relished Jeff Yeager's take on creating memories with our loved ones instead of stockpiling things. Cherished memories last, material stuff crumbles. He also questions how much our time is really worth and comes up with compelling answers.
The stories regarding fellow cheapskates were not only delightful, but helpful, and sometimes downright odd, which kept me highly entertained while gaining valuable insider tips on saving money. Lest you be disappointed, he adds his own colorful tales,too, uh hem...the tent, the teenagers and the rain, which really wasn't rain. You won't want to miss any of this.
And I was taken with the "Cheap Shots", clever snippets throughout the book on saving financially through various methods we might have overlooked. My favorite was the fiscal fasting, spending detox, which translates to going a whole week without whipping out our wallets. The theory behind this, Jeff says, is to use what resources we already possess and save money in the process, while also examining how and why we spend. I plan on trying this, even though my debit card is sometimes wedged in my hand like a nut in a shell.
What I've shared here is only a sampling of this financial savings buffet, laid out like the feast it is. Jeff Yeager has managed yet again to wrap a wad of dollar bills around common money sense in a humorous way, proving that saving money and consuming less of our natural resources can not only be painless, but entertaining.
Two thumbs up! A sure bet for giggling all the way to the bank.
38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Simple Tips, Highly Self-ReferentialApril 29 2011
Robert D. Watson
- Published on Amazon.com
I was not one of the one-in-eight who have lost treasury bonds or unclaimed assets, nor am I one of the individuals who is able to donate blood plasma thanks to my high blood pressure. As such, I got absolutely nothing out of Mr. Yeager's most recent guide.
I read his previous book, also on saving money, which he refers to constantly throughout this new book, and I though it was basic, but pretty good. His new guide adds very little to the discussion outside of the two points that I referenced above, and takes a whole lot of material from the previous volume, so much that I can't possibly recommending reading this guide unless you treat the previous edition like a bible.
At the end of the day, Mr. Yeager has two basic tips: spend less than you earn, and don't be wasteful. The first tip is very simple, and discussed in great detail in his previous work (which again, I actually liked). The second is more thoroughly explored in this book, but which is often told through some pretty sad and disgusting vignettes from the travels and research he completed in preparation for this book. And that's where I really have a problem with this book. One story told of a man who "table poaches" at restaurants, sampling food from off the plate of other guests after they've left the table. Another mentions in passing that dinner served at a cheapskate's home was found in the dumpster of a local restaurant the night before. You should also, apparently, be keeping a "drippin's jar" which contains leftover sauces, jams, and salad dressing to be used as a marinade for meats (yuck!). Saving your ear wax and using it to polish your car is a great tip according to one of the cheapskates. He suggests that most cars can be driven for more than 250,000 miles before they need to be taken to the junkyard and that you should take up auto mechanics as a hobby to save some cash, and giddily recounts the story of a man who wore clothing from 1938. Some of these are no doubt included to be an attempt at humor, but by and large, few are things that I would be capable of doing in a public setting, or in managing myself.
Some are simply untrue, or at least for most, unmanageable. The story of a lady who had a "free house" actually owned the land her house was put on before getting the house, then spent almost $30,000 to move the house in and make it livable. Cheap, yes, but it's not free, and from the fact that this was a house that was going to be otherwise torn down and rebuilt completely, probably not the kind of place you'd be really excited about living in. He used startling statistics about cheapskates, including the fact that a very high percentage of them had never owned a mortgage, and those who did were able to pay them off in nearly half the time, yet few specifics were offered as to the tips on doing this, which were discussed in his previous works. Is that good saving and spending, or is that mainly a case of incredible good luck or unreported inheritance? I tend to think it's towards the latter - I have little debt and good savings habits myself, but there's no way I'll be able to buy a house without a mortgage before I turn seventy.
Overall, there simply wasn't enough in this guide to make me think that anything here was really all that useful for everyday life. A few good resources? Sure. And some people who are simply terrible at saving will probably find some tips that can help them, or the wake up call they need to start planning for their future. This book, for me, felt like a recap of previous ideas and a few slightly humorous stories of people who you'd be embarrassed to eat at a restaurant with. One star.
41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Great Read!June 11 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
This book is proof that not everyone has to live the way advertisements and media say we should but still be very happy and live a full life within their means. The author's quick writing style and witty sense of humor keeps the flow of the book going. I like the "cheap shots" located through out the book. As a frugal person myself for many years, I took away a few new pointers in the shots. This will make an excellent addition to your home library, your public library and would be a great gift for the new graduates or anyone just starting out. Actually, this could be a great gift for anyone!
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
The Self-Provisioning Resource Conserving Eco-Nut Next DoorAug. 3 2010
Betsy Platkin Teutsch
- Published on Amazon.com
Amidst the landslide of greening and sustainability books constantly being marketed and touted (get the irony?), two jumped out at me. Reading them as a pair made it clear that Plenitude, by economist Juliet B. Schor, and The Cheapskate Next Door by journalist Jeff Yeager are describing the same contemporary trends using very different language. People can earn fewer dollars without their quality of life being diminished, IF they also experience an increase in free time. This free time can be invested in social capital, healthy lifestyle, creative self-provisioning, and ingenious thrift, aided by everything from social networking to asking grandma to teach canning techniques. Schor's book is analytic; Yeager's is a how-to-do-it manual. Reading over and over again how we aren't "over" this Great Recession because none of us are buying enough, hence the jobs producing all of it are lagging, has often made me wonder how that squares with the carrying load of the planet. The fact that personal savings have actually increased seems like good news, not bad. The fact that demand for fossil fuels has decreased - isn't that the goal here? Schor, an economist with an emphasis on ecological concerns and the author of two other terrific books, The Overworked American and The Overspent American, reviews the basic theoretical underpinnings of modern economics and concludes that they don't square. As developing world incomes rise, driving massive additional consumption, the world's growth limits will be tested. We can't just keep on extracting finite resources on the cheap and expect it will all end well. Likewise, she predicts there will never again be enough conventional jobs for all who seek work. We're becoming too efficient and productive for that, through ever improving and disseminating technology.
Schor's solution,, that we cut back on workers' hours, thereby employing more people over all, is not original. This has been tried in many places and times, often to avoid laying workers off. Kelloggs of Battle Creek, Michigan, famously offered a six-hour day for decades which workers loved, along with all the others lucky enough to live there. Schor's original synthesis is to combine this with the new realities of environmental as well as social stress, to definite a life of Plentitude less dependent on material excess. By editing out the waste of American life, and utilizing the dividend of extra time, whole new micro-economies are evolving, allowing people to live healthier, happier lives that - paradoxically - are lower income. She effectively decouples standard of living from quality of life, as happiness studies have been confirming is correct, once people move past subsistence. She cites examples of lowering overhead by resource sharing, plugging Freecycle, CraigsList, carsharing, Open Source internet software - much of which I have written about over the years. Local agriculture, from gardens to micro-farms, is a favorite example, written about glowingly throughout the book. She describes people once again learning to cook, preserve, sew, and build their own downsized homes. It all sounds very idyllic; I want to believe her, I really do. Except that what she is talking about as a trend looks more like an interesting trickle of outliers (Hi, Anna! How's the honey going?). OK, I grow a few tomatoes. That doesn't make me Ma Ingalls. But perhaps a generation from now her manifesto will prove true. If so, we will all be the better for it.
The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means is a charming hybrid of two terrific classics, The Millionaire Next Door and The Tightwad Gazette. Those books were all about resource conservation from a financial standpoint - why leave good money on the table? TheMND describes a value-oriented affluent population who eschews conspicuous consumption. TTG was more about people scrapping together a nest egg, even on a tiny salary. The secret of both is living beneath one's means. However, they were written before the age of environmental awareness. All their strategies translate quite well to a new eco-age. The Cheapskate took himself on a national book tour - by bike, CouchSurfing his way across the country. His book is a lot of fun. My main takeaway is that if you create good habits, these too are hard to break. One becomes a reflexively resource-conscious consumer [a description I prefer to "cheapskate"]. Case in point. Two friends and I were at the beach in search of 1% hydrocortisone cream for my friend, suffering from a bee sting. We grabbed the first brand we saw. But I couldn't resist going back to look at the shelf, where I found a generic tube for half the price. Then I saw a generic tube half the SIZE. It is generally more economical, both financially and ecologically, to buy a larger quantity. But! Only if you will finish it all. Having just thrown out boxes of unused, expired OTC meds from my old house, I knew the smaller generic tube was a good choice. Time expended: 1 minute. Amount saved: ~ $6.00. Since I earn less than $6.00 a minute, it was a good use of my time. However, you can't send a child to college or pay for health care -America's two huge and ever escalating price tags - on small salaries supplemented by self-provisioning and judicious cheapskating.
If you're following these authors' advice, be sure to check these books out from your local library soon!
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Very much had the feel of a follow-up book on a previous work.July 29 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
The author frequently made reference to his previous book on similar material. Is that where the better material is located? I tend to enjoy reading books on personal finance and consider it a real bargain when I get just a couple of really good ideas for either saving(or making)money. It didn't happen with this book, though. Most of the money saving 'secrets' covered seemed like fairly broadly circulated ideas, not wasting food, not buying on credit,saving for purchases, etc. Perhaps the author is funnier in person or on television, but the humor in this book had kind of a forced feel to it, and did not add much. I ordered this book online, but if I'd leafed through it in person first, at a bookstore I'd have passed. It'll go to the thriftstore on my next trip so that a cheapskate who simply waited can buy it for 1/5 what I paid.