on May 26, 2003
I checked this book out at the library and couldn't put it down. I had to buy it and now I consult it regularly for ideas and inpiration. A must for every frugal library.
I have saved a tremendous amount of money and have been able to achieve several financial goals in a very short time. I have purchased a much better home than I thought was possible and just paid cash for my next car. It has really helped me focus on spending my money on the things that are the most important to me and reduce or even eliminate spending on the rest. The funny thing is that my life seems more enriched instead of deprived.
Not only did this book demonstrate great ideas on how to save money, but also inspired me to look for new ways to save money that suit my lifestyle. The money saving ideas range from great ways for everyone to save money to the extreme. Obviously, not every tip is for everyone. Everyone has their own comfort level and financial situation, but just pick and choose the ideas that work for you and leave the rest.
on February 23, 2003
I've had this book for a little more than two years. It is excellent. I've bought and read more than a few frugality books, but The Complete Tightwad Gazette is the one I keep coming back to. I've since given away the other books. Amy's advice is spiced with a very liberal dose of humor, which is really needed - so many people get depressed when the issue of money and bills comes up! I especially like her advice on setting up a budget. Mary Hunt's system of in-house checking seemed just too complicated to me, even when reading about it.
Yes, some of Amy's advice is way extreme. She even admits that herself. I wouldn't dumpster dive myself, but if I saw something clean sitting out in the alley by the dumpster (not in it) that might be something else. I know I take advantage of other dumpster divers to get rid of stuff I don't want. I live in Chicago, and setting stuff you don't want out in the alley is an accepted way to get rid of it. Her advice on groceries and a price diary have saved me a lot of money. I'm learning to eat more meatless and it isn't killing me. I *like* dry milk. I was used to drinking skim already, so it didn't take much to get used to. The thing to remember is that mixed dry milk has to be *very cold* to taste the best. It's really a plus for me since I'm a single and would often not even use up a half-gallon before it spoiled. Now I mix up a quart at a time, and there's no waste.
I'm learning my frugality now, as a single, not after I've gotten married. My goal is similar to Amy's: have lots of kids and be a stay-at-home-mom. I don't want a pre-1900 farmhouse (with attached barn!), since I prefer city life. This book is especially helpful in an expensive city like Chicago. Any single frugal men (30ish) out there?
on September 6, 2002
This book has had a huge, positive influence on my life. I read this book right before I quit my job to stay home and Amy Dacyczyn helped convince me I could do it. But if you are contemplating reading this book, be warned: it is highly addictive and potentially life-changing.
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.
on September 6, 2002
I originally bought my Tightwad Gazettes at used book stores and going out of business sales. And even at over half off for each htis collection is still less money. I am planing on getting the Complete Tightwad Gazette soon. I have read the one in the library and there is even more info than is in the first three books.
I have read some odd negative reviews about this book and have to wonder if the folks actually read it.
Why yes she does cover some over the top tightwad ideas. Ussually she is discussing the results of tests she has done on ideas that readers sent in. The dumpster diving even she says she isn't into. But she offers the whole range of tightwad ideas that are out there. She calculates numbers extensively to see the actual truth of the matter, because she had a business of finding out the cheapest way for her readers.
And some have complained about her suggesting bread crumb cookies. You should try them sometime. I found a recipe for them in an old Hershey cookbook. Those things are GOOD! Very rich so you want to cut them into small squares.
Her kids must have a wonderful time. She only takes them to two scheduled activities a month. Much less stress than these poor kids whose parents pick them up from day car run them to scheduled activites every day and then have them doing their homework until 10 pm because they were at some practice for 2 hours and then never got any free time to relax. I hated my 2 hours of drill team practice 6 days a week when I was a kid. I wish my mom had let me spend time with my friends instead.
And the tips are wonderful. I use the bread recipe that is in the last issues every week (you can make any sort of bread you want with it). I also make the crustless quiche all the time. Only takes 2 eggs and you don't have to ake a pie crust (I haven't learned to make a good pie crust yet). All the recipes are easy! She calculates the hourly wage for each activity to determine if the idea is actually worth the time it takes. Some low wage things she does anyway because the results are more rewarding.
But while she gives a wide range of tightwad ideas she also repeatedly states that every idea isn't for everyone and that you have to decide for yourself which ideas suit your life. Which is why she discusses some thigns that she doesn't do herself.
And just to let you know I live in a small suburban house with a tiny yard and still found this book to be very useful. I read it every day that it isn't loaned to a friend.
on August 8, 2002
Of the books that I bought last year, this has proven to be the most useful. I find myself constantly referring to it. It is a very good reference book, and I recommend it to everybody. The book is loosely structured, but it has a good index at the back, so it is not really a problem. The author covers not only the obvious topic of thrift, but also more general topics such as how to set goals, how to be creative and so on. It is really more than "just" about how to save money. Reading this book made me realize that I have far more options concerning what to do with my life than I thought before.
I have read the book from cover to cover once, but I read bits and parts of it almost everyday. Everything in it is not for me, but it is interesting to read about, and it makes me think in a new way. It instructs the reader, as the author writes, not only in specific ways to save money, but also explains the method of saving money, which makes it so much more valuable.
The book has some really good "universal recipes", that I have tried with much success. It is also, in a sense, a good book about home-keeping. The attitude of the author is wonderful and priceless. The most important thing to learn from this book is that you are, actually, in control of your own life, and you have the possibilities you wish, you only have to recognize them. No, you cannot have everything, but if you prioritize, you can have what is important to you. This is really a book about how to live the good life.
on August 7, 2002
I have learned so much from reading this book. I saved over... in the first two months! I quit my job to stay home with my children after numerous daycare disasters, and this book has paid for itself numerous times. I am sure if you ask her kids if they prefered to be raised by their parents and have nice, clean, gently used assests or raised by strangers in a daycare environment and have new things......not really an issue is it? This book teaches things we should already practice; our children need love and strong family ties, not the newest and coolest with seldom seen parents.
I am a only child and all my possessions were bought brand new so I speak from personal experience....I can not remember one thing that was ever purchased for me that was better than it would have been to have my mother home with me instead of being in daycare! For parents fortunate enought to stay home, this book give you the know how to make it work. True not all of her ideas are usefull for everyone, but this is a ONE-SIZE-FITS-MOST kinda book.
She also teaches you how to cook from scratch and gives you facts to back up her advise. When she writes "this" is cheaper, she tells you how and why, as in pre-packaged vs homemade. I could go on and on, but get her book and read it instead.
on July 28, 2002
My mother introduced me to the first Tightwad Gazette. At that time, I wasn't interested. Then, after experiencing several life altering experiences which were very unpleasant, I read the book again and was completely transformed!! This is a book which needs to be sent to every CEO in the U.S. I bought all three books as each was released, loaned them to a friend, never saw them again. I was thrilled recently to see this book in my local library and immediately purchased it. I'm just disappointed that she is no longer publishing the newsletter and also that I never let her know how much she changed my family's life! The book contains something for everyone, if you take the time to read every page. If you skim through, you'll think she's nuts, but if you carefully read each chapter, you'll find that this is the advice all grandparents would give today's grandchildren; waste not want not, a penny saved is a penny earned, etc. As a result of this book, I have also begun reading many simplicity books and have made significant changes in my life which has greatly improved my life as well as that of my family. Whatever you are doing now Amy, I'm sending you my thanks!! Oh, by the way, I was raised the same way you are raising your children. It's not child abuse!
on June 10, 2002
This book changed my life. I read it seven years ago, when I was an undergraduate and had no money. My future husband and I changed our consumption patterns dramatically and were able to save a tremendous amount of money. Now we own our own home with a very low mortgage and have adopted a superfrugal lifestyle. Both of our cars are paid for, and our bills are the lowest of anyone on our street. Amy Dacyzyn's works are not for people who are not open-minded. The most valuable thing in her books is getting the reader to change their orientation towards money and material goods, and to see possibilities that exist but are overlooked. When you see how cheaply you can buy practically anything (books, clothing, furniture, cars, kitchen stuff)used (usually for 1/10 the price new, or less), and how many alternatives there are to spending money (I am working at the grad school at which I am getting my master's, thereby saving $15,000 a year),you realize how foolish it is to spend your hard-earned money when you don't have to and on things that have no capacity to retain value. Amy says herself that not every idea is for every reader. Different people will embrace different parts of this work. This book is especially useful for people who have not been reared or were only partially reared with the cultural knowledge to become blackbelt tightwads.
on May 11, 2002
This book is amazing. Packed with tons of advice, extremely entertaining, incredibly useful and most importantly INSPIRING.
This book showed me a whole new way of thinking about how I spend my money. It truly opened my eyes. I always thought I lived in a thrifty way (I don't typically blow cash on new gadgets etc like some of my friends and relatives do!) but I was shocked at how many areas in my life were 'leaking' money without my even being aware of it! Suddenly, as a result of reading this book, I realized I was living on a slowly sinking ship, throwing big buckets of water overboard (not making unecessary big purchases etc) but oblivious to the countless leaks that had sprung and were leaking water (money)! It took a close inspection of all areas of my life to find those sneaky leaks and I still continue to look for more. Some obvious examples are unneeded phone services I was paying for, using my bank's 'bank online' service for $[money] a month when I could just go to individual company websites and pay my bills for free etc. Just by making a few changes (the biggest being cutting down on buying snacks etc outside of home) I'll save approx. $[money] a year, and I've only just gotten started.
I also found this book to be extremely entertaining- I probably spent WAY too much time reading through it when I first bought it (time that I should have been studying- I'm a college student). It's a pleasure to read and a pleasure to put into practice.
I highly recommend this book!
on April 22, 2002
This book is the culmination of six years of Amy Dacyczyn's "The Tightwad Gazette" newsletter, a paper dedicated to all things thrifty. The book is organized into three sections (each section was originally its own book), that each cover two years of the newsletter's run, as well as some extra bits here and there. The structure is loose - reading like a huge stack of back issues of the newsletter, and includes feature stories, editorial-style comments, and letters and tips from readers.
The author's tone is friendly, practical, and logical, and the book goes far beyond simple tips for living a frugal life. In fact, Dacyczyn extols the merits of living life on your own terms, instead of on society's terms, using frugality as a vehicle to get fulfillment out of life. On the way, she dishes out some sound suggestions for things like quality of living, child-rearing, and of course, tons and tons of demonstrations of HOW to cut costs in your own life.
I was amazed at how detailed some of Dacyczyn's comparisons and plans were - some demonstrating how you could save a few pennies (they add up), or some larger and more dramatic strategies for saving a lot more money. Through all, Dacyczyn's committment to complete ethics within the framework of frugality (never practice frugality at the expense of others) is emphasized.
Although reading the entire book in a few sittings may feel a bit overwhelming (it is six years' worth of info, after all), there are some core strategies that are very worth the price of the book. If nothing else, this book will cause you to evaluate how you spend your money, what you spend it on, and what you could be using it for, as well as perhaps motivate you to tighten up your budget a little (or a lot).
This book is highly entertaining, very inspiring, and extremely motivational. And although I am making it sound rather theoretical, the book is actually mostly hands-on and practical.
Frugality is an extreme art, but one that has afforded many people with the means to truly live and enjoy life the way they choose to. Both the book and the lifestyle are definitely worth taking a look at.