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"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. A group that can help lead someone to Salvation for $0.20 is going to get a lot more of my money than one that spends $20.00. Those who spend $1,200 can forget my support. Yet many of the least efficient witnessing organizations collect the most money. Most donors just look at what percentage of donations is used for the intended purpose rather than how frugally that money is applied. The latter is a much better test.
Here's a tip that's in the book: You can order this book to read from your local library. Then, it doesn't cost you anything. That's what I did.
"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. You can have all the money-saving tips in the world but unless you have the proper mindset, your efforts, sooner or later, will be futile.
Finally, the only thing Yeager does not emphasize, I feel, is that when doing any money-saving technique make sure: (1) it's safe and (2) your health won't be negatively affected. As well, there is another menace to be aware of when purchasing or finding used stuff: bed bugs. (Bed bugs, a worldwide problem pest, can be expensive to eradicate.)
In conclusion, after reading this book, Jeff Yeager definitely unleashed my "inner cheapskate." I leave you with the this book's dedication:
"To my parents...and to all parents who teach their children that happiness is not about money. That priceless-but-free gift you give your kids becomes more valuable with each passing year. This I know, thanks to my mom and dad."
(first published 2010; preface; acknowledgements; introduction; 16 chapters; main narrative 225 pages; sources)
<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>