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Hardcover The Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle Book

ISBN: 0679744037

ISBN13: 9780679744030

The Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle

Having discovered that frugality is good for the bank account and the environment, Amy Dacyczyn started a newsletter for skinflints in 1989. Within a year, 50,000 cheapskates had subscribed to The Tightwad Gazette. Now Amy has collected all her wisdom into a book, and it's as good a deal as you'll find in these inflationary times. Line drawings.


Format: Hardcover

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Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A variety of ideas for a variety of readers

I bought this book on a whim off the bargain shelf at Barnes & Noble. Since then, I have read and re-read it and cluttered up the pages with annotations and sticky notes. It isn't just the usefulness of the suggestions that keeps me coming back, but also the author's whimsical writing style. Clearly, she doesn't take herself too seriously, but she does take saving money seriously. There are no lengths to which she will not go--from stocking up on sale-priced food to recycling vacuum cleaner bags--to avoid wasting money. Notice that I did not say "to avoid spending money." Her whole point is that there are things worth spending money on and things not worth spending money on, and which is which will vary from person to person. Her own splurges include a big New England farmhouse and six children. But as she points out, this is what frugality is all about: spending less on the things that aren't important to you so that you'll have plenty of money for the things that are. As she puts it, there's no right or wrong way to be a tightwad. Sometimes, it's true, she can come across as a little obsessive. But after all, when you're trying to crank out a newsletter of money-saving tips every month, you probably can't afford to skip over any idea, no matter how trivial it seems. The idea is not that you're going to save enough for that New England farmhouse by buying clothes secondhand, or by cutting your kids' hair yourself, or by canning your garden produce--but the more of these things you do, the more it all adds up. You have to make your own decisions as to which money-savers are worth the time and effort for you personally. I'd like to point out that other reviewers who have been criticizing some of her ideas appear not to have read very carefully. A lot of people have attacked her for "recommending the use of homemade baby formula," but if you read past the first two paragraphs of this article, you'll find that she specifically *doesn't* recommend the use of homemade formula; she *does* say that breast-feeding is by far the best for babies; she points out that although formula is expensive, it's best to look for other ways to cut expenses first; and she urges anyone who's thinking about using a homemade formula to check with a pediatrician first. Also, she never suggests that you use half as much ground coffee to make a pot; what she says is that you can reuse coffee grounds by mixing them with some fresh coffee--about half the amount you used for the first pot. (I admit this isn't the best tip in the book. I tried it and never managed to get the same amount of coffee out of that second pot. But it's not an inherently absurd idea.) Overall, this book is well worth the 10 dollars or so you'll spend on it. If you're not already an accomplished saver, the tips in this book will probably save you many times what you spend on it, and even if you are, there are plenty of useful ideas to be gleaned from it. Plus it's nice to know tha

For the Seriously Frugally Minded

I grabbed this book eagerly at the library. I have renewed it twice, and am really enjoying the read. I think the amount of flack that Amy is receiving in these reviews simply backs up her assertion that tightwaddery is a lifestyle for the select few. Apparently I'm a good candidate for tightwaddery, because I'm not laughing. In the book she says "When Oprah had a show on cheapskates, I didn't laugh, I took notes." That's me. For instance, this Halloween we carved pumpkins on the night of trick or treating, as she suggested. We did this so that we could use the pumpkin up without it rotting. The next day I brought it inside, cut off the burned spot, cut it in chunks, steamed it, peeled it, cooked it, blended it and froze it. TEN cups of pumpkin puree. Out of one pumpkin. That's enough for 25 loaves of her holiday pumpkin bread. That's exactly what I was looking for when I picked up this book. Good old-fashioned thrift. By the way, I feed my family leftovers, much to the horror of some of the reviewers. My mother fed me leftovers. I think we must be pretty spoiled as a nation to be that upset at the idea of using our resources as fully as possible. I cannot imagine making dinner and throwing out half of a good healthy meal. I also recycle Ziploc freezer bags. This is not gross! We are living in a nation that promotes disposable everything, from one-use toilet brushes to one-use cameras to one-use dish rags. Manufacturers are continually coming up with more and more of these things. If you only use it once, you have to buy more, and subsequently Line Their Pockets with your hard earned dough. They are suckering us! Washing something in order to reuse it, especially if it's something that you'll just buy more of otherwise, JUST MAKES SENSE. Frugality is about being thankful for what you have and using it to the best of your ability. It is very satisfying to me to be able to take some wheat kernels and turn out a loaf of bread. My kids are not wasteful, at least not as far as food goes because they know that food comes for a price. I'm not on food stamps, I'm self-sufficient, my 6 year old could practically bake bread on her own, they appreciate new toys and especially new clothes that grandma buys them. I truthfully don't think her ideas are extreme, except for the homemade baby formula thing.(Okay, maybe the juice can lid wind chimes were a little out there.) Nevertheless, most of her ideas do have practical application. She has a little design for turning a large-size marshmallow into an easter bunny shape by cutting it a certain way. I tried it today and it's really cute, and once again satisfying to hand make. I guess I have never been in an affluent environment, so I have never had everything handed to me on a silver platter. If you think leftovers are table scraps, garden produce is uncivilized (where do you think the store gets it?) and powdered milk is a deadly sin, please try and break free of the pop-tart culture that is being shoved

Classic starting point for lifestyle change.

Seriously, this book is a must-have for anyone interested in the "voluntary simplicity" movement, or those who believe that their dreams are bigger than their resources.One of the most important points Amy makes throughout is that different families and different situations will require different forms of economizing. What makes financial, ethical, and personal sense in one situation will not necessarily do so in another situation, no matter how similar they seem.You might want, as the author does, a pre-1900s rural farmhouse with attached barn, suitable for six kids. Or you might be content to live in a shack so that you can maintain a fleet of snowmobiles. Or you might be like me and want to save money to continue in graduate school without taking out thousands in student loans. Whatever your dreams are, if you follow the author's advice and tips on cutting back in the areas that are lower-priority in your life, you will be that much closer to realizing them. I don't agree 100% with her advice, but I like her approach. :)

Charmingly written and resourceful

I have read TWG I and III so far and enjoyed them thouroughly. Although I don't think I will be recycling Baggies or building a volleyball net from plastic soda-can rings, there is lots of useful advice for getting more for less and a general validation of thrift and and the work ethic. Ms. Dacyczyns' writing style is easy, familiar and no-nonsensical, and contrary to many earlier reviewers I did not find it preachy. Speaking of other reviews brings me to the main points I want to make here. I don't know how Amy and her husband come off in personal apperances, but the reviewer that suggested that Amy lived her frugal, stay-at-home mom lifestyle due to spousal bullying must not have read all the TWG books, or did not read them closely. Amy repeatedly makes clear in her books that she WANTED to stay home with her kids and live in a rural setting; also, that some of her ultra-tightwad ways are deliberately fanatical, almost a game with her. I for one believe this, as I had an extremely thrifty grandmother in whom I recognize some of Amy's ways. For example somewhere Amy says that even though she could buy cheap socks, she finds it irresistible to see how far a darned sock can go. As for her "lazy" husband, well, growing most of your own food and fixing up a 100-year old farmhouse takes alot of time and skill and does save alot of money. The reviewer was cynical that his "helping" with the Gazette was really help, but let me tell you that having just recently done (for the first time) my own camera-ready copy for a scientific paper, putting out any kind of publication in camera ready form is a heck of a lot of work. It's also expensive: in my case it saved $2000 to do it myself. I wouldn't be so quick to write Amy's husband off as a slacker. The other point I wanted to address is the aversion expressed by many readers to dumpster diving. I haven't tried it yet and have no plans to, but there are good reasons why it may appeal to some tightwads. I recently read Juliet Schorrs' "The Overspent American". This book documents out-of-control spending and consumerism among Americans, and examines why people that spend like crazy generally remain unfulfilled. Apparently one of the syndromes of overspenders is that they quickly grow tired of (or never even use) their expensive stuff, and often discard pefectly good (often very high quality) things in order to make room for the new stuff in their lives. In order to substantiate this part of her research, Schorr dispatched her graduate students to the dumps in posh Boston suburbs; she reported that they returned with "lovely gifts for everybody in the office".

Frugal Living at its Best!

Amy Dacyczyn is like a breath of fresh air - blowing in the energy to try new, creative (yet inexpensive) ideas yet cleaning out the old routines that have kept us in ruts (and our bank accounts at a deficit) for years. Amy challenges the reader to embrace these ideas with a touch of cleverness and a big dose of humor. Amy's suggestions for frugal living are simple, well researched and fun...when your neighbor sees you stapling the vacuum cleaner bag closed, they will either share in your excitement or start looking for a new home! The best thing about Amy's books are the validation you receive for your efforts to conserve, reduse, reuse, recycle, rethink and reinvent! Your self esteem will soar, and so will your savings account! I would be remiss, however, if I didn't mention that Amy would never condone buying her book new at a book store or even through a discounted internet service (sorry!). Amy's recommendation is to find a used copy, share the copy your friend already owns, take it out of the library, or at the very least, buy a new copy with several of your friends thereby reducing your cash outlay. Now, doesn't that make sense?!?
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