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The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means Paperback – Jun 8 2010
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Reading THE CHEAPSKATE NEXT DOOR is like looking in the mirror on a very good hair day - I see myself and I like what I see. the mirror, of course, is the passel of stories Jeff serves up with good humor about cheapskates like me from around the country. I see myself in almost every one of his 16 Idiosyncrasies of the Cheapskate Mind. I've dump picked, cherry picked yard sales, carefully picked every purchase, always for a fraction of retail. Like my Cheapskate clan, I'm a bit smug about it all - feeling smart rather than deprived - especially in this recession that has barely affected my financial peace of mind. Jeff is the consummate troubadour for our clan. If you don't save 10 times the amount you spend on this book, you probably didn't read it.” – Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life
"I loved this book and couldn't put it down, it is an absolute must-read. Jeff puts the fun back in frugality with entertaining insights from "cheapskates" all over the country, sharing their secrets on how to live happy, less-stressful lives on the cheap…I think everyone in the country should read this book." --Stephanie Nelson, founder www.CouponMom.com and author of "The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half”
“Jeff Yeager has a way of unleashing the inner cheapskate in us all!” – Jean Chatzky
“I’ve written that there are three basic ways to finish rich: spend less, make more, save more. Jeff Yeager has discovered a whole class of happy Americans who pride themselves on mastering the ‘spend less’ part of the equation. The Cheapskate Next Door proves once and for all that living happily within your means is possible at practically any income.” -- David Bach #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Automatic Millionaire and Start Late, Finish Rich
“Jeff Yeager's research and cross-country cheapskate quest uncovered a truth few Americans know: Not only can you be happy buying less stuff, you would likely be happier. Who are these people who opt out of the consuming rat race? They are The Cheapskate Next Door. For them, spending less is not about deprivation; it's about liberation. And Yeager will tell you all about them -- and their secrets -- in his usual conversational and humorous style.
A must-read for those who want to jump off the consumer treadmill and discover what's really important.” --Gregory Karp, syndicated newspaper columnist and author of Living Rich by Spending Smart and The 1-2-3 Money Plan
"Whether you are a born penny pincher or merely cheapskate-curious, you're bound to learn something from the Cheapskate Next Door." -- USA Today
“The Cheapskate Next Door” by Jeff Yeager, suggests that the simplest solution is to live substantially below your means. Let’s deal with Mr. Yeager’s book first, because it is the better of the two. One reason is that Mr. Yeager, a former executive with a nonprofit association who now writes about saving money and runs Ultimatecheapskate.com, is so amusing.
Here’s one quick example: Conceding that he may have taken the idea of skimping on new clothing too far, Mr. Yeager tells what he says is a true story about arriving early for a book signing to which he had traveled by bicycle. (Driving costs you money in gasoline and depreciation.)
“I was dressed as I usually am when I am cycling, in ratty-looking shorts and a faded T-shirt,” from a 1978 rock concert, as it turns out, he says. “I decided to take a few moments to relax before the signing, so I sat down on a park bench outside the bookstore with my trusty but tattered 10-speed” next to him.
“A nicely dressed older woman walked up to me, opened her purse and tried to hand me a $10 bill, saying, ‘You poor man, you look you could use some help.’ ”
Mr. Yeager was at that book signing promoting his previous book, “The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches.” In that one, he offered his personal money-saving tips like these: Never spend more than $1 a pound for meat at the supermarket — advice that leads him to eat such things as beef hearts and kidneys — and always rummage around in couch cushions at hotels for loose change. (“Those things are like upholstered A.T.M.’s.”)
This time around, he talks to his fellow cheapskates, a moniker they wear with pride, about their money-saving ideas. Many of their tips are clever twists on the conventional.
For example, cheapskates always refinance their homes — when it makes sense. First, they make sure the length of the new mortgage is less than the years remaining on the old one. If they have 19 years to go on their old mortgage, for example, they get a 15-year mortgage when they refinance. That way, they will own the house free and clear four years earlier. And it goes without saying that they buy substantially less house than they can afford. Not only is the purchase price less, but so are the taxes and the upkeep.
But some of the suggestions are unsettling. Mr. Yeager introduces us to people who don’t think twice about grabbing uneaten food off the adjacent restaurant table, once those diners have paid their check, and people who find nothing wrong with “Dumpster diving” for food that supermarkets have thrown away.
Mr. Yeager doesn’t judge. He uses all the examples to support his “heartfelt belief that most Americans would be happier, and the quality of their lives would actually increase, if they would spend and consume less.” -- New York Times
"Ah, yes, belt-tightening is the procedure of the day, from how giant businesses conduct themselves to
managing one’s own personal finances. It is the latter aspect of conservative spending that the author of
the popular Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches (2007) and of the blog Green Cheapskate
addresses in this delightful—yes, delightful—guide for me, you, and everyone else. Personal finance is a
universal concern, particularly in these tight economic times. It is a topic that people need to know about
but still shy away from. Yeager is here to draw you in and does so easily. He does not use the term
“cheapskate” in a pejorative fashion; after all, he lists himself as one and wishes that all his readers would
aspire to cheapskateness. A cheapskate to him is someone who lives below his or her means and does so
happily. How to spend less than you are spending now is the program he details; the amazing fact about
this book is that in addition to his instructions making perfect sense, like no other book of its kind, this one
can be read simply for the humor of the author’s prose." -- Booklist, starred review
"...Jeff Yeager, the author of The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means (Broadway), doesn’t care how he looks, and wants his book to bring out everyone’s “inner miser.” Believing that “money really has very little to do with true happiness,” he traveled across the country to meet likeminded skinflints, a journey he tracked on his blog, the Green Cheapskate. Everywhere he found contented families who prospered on small incomes. Parsimonious parents — loving but never lavish — let their kids know early on that they’d be paying their own way through college. Others made paper from dryer lint or stretched grocery dollars by turning dumpster scraps into canapés. All of them adhered to a strict household budget. The result of Mr. Yeager’s wanderings is a compendium of shrewd steps toward financial security that surely would work for anyone capable of obeying his principal rule: “Figure out what your take-home pay is, and then make it a point to spend less than that every month.” --New York Times
About the Author
Jeff Yeager is the author of The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches, and has appeared as a guest correspondent on the NBC Today Show and Discovery’s Planet Green network. He is also the author of the popular blog The Green Cheapskate, www.TheDailyGreen.com
Visit his website www.UltimateCheapskate.com
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
"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 ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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!