Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why I love 'The Tightwad Gazette' Even Though I'm Not a Real Tightwad

The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn is one of the best books on frugality ever written, if not the best.  I don't say that lightly.  

Back in the early and mid-nineties, Amy published The Tightwad Gazette as a newsletter.   Then came three books created out of her newsletter articles, the Tightwad Gazette Volumes 1, 2, and 3.  Finally along came The Complete Tightwad Gazette, which is a compilation of all three books, plus some of the articles from the final issues of the newsletter.  She closed it down after about 4 years, when she, along with her husband Jim and their 6 - yes 6 - children, had achieved financial independence.  She retired, and as far as I know, still resides happily in Leeds, Maine.

Even if you aren't going to turn your dryer lint into a halloween mask, this woman has a story worth telling.  On a single income of less than $30,000.00 a year, she and her husband managed to save $49k for a down payment on a house, all while she stayed home to raise their kids.  This woman is called the frugal zealot, and not for nothing did she get that moniker.

I love my issue of The Complete Tightwad Gazette.   So much so that it is literally falling to pieces.  But while I'm working towards financial independence, I by no means practice what she calls 'black belt tightwaddery'.  

So why do I like it so much?  

First and foremost, because it saved my financial future.  Many many many (let's not discuss just how many) moons ago I was living paycheck to paycheck, on a small income, with debt and with a boyfriend  that had lost his shirt in a business venture.  

Because of the frugal choices I made as a result of reading her books, I dug myself completely out of debt, managed to feed us on very little per month while he was digging his way out of the $10k in debt he'd accrued and looking for a job, and even to start socking money away. 

Even though my situation - and the man in my life - has changed dramatically, I still pull this book off the shelf every month or two, flip it open and begin to read.  I no longer have to count every penny, but I believe that frugality is an amazing tool my husband and I can use to get us where we want to go.  

Most of all I love this book because of her philosophy that 'Tightwaddery without creativity is deprivation'.

All too often when I see 'help!  We're in debt!" posts on a message board I frequent, those of us who are regulars ask the poster to put up their budget.  And then we start suggesting places to cut costs - cable, cleaning lady, and so on.  

Resistance to these ideas happens in almost 100% of the cases.  The reaction is dramatic and immediate 'I couldn't do THAT'.  That, of course, meaning all that poor person, penny pinching stuff.  

But you know what?  You really can do that stuff, and it's smart to.  It's a lot easier than declaring bankruptcy, or not being able to pay the heating bill.  Trust me.

The Complete Tightwad Gazette has something for everyone though, not just the folks in debt.  Her creativity is something to admire and emulate.

And besides, even billionaires should wash out their baggies.  


Kari said...

I will buy your next fruit tree for your yard if you can get Bill Gates to wash out his baggies. :)
-Kari (aka, Mrs.Felicity)

Apple J. said...

I'm pretty sure the frugal zealot would approve. And I love that book, which I picked up a few months ago after you mentioned it on MM. So, thanks!

Diane said...

Thanks for recommending this book - you've piqued my interest and I will be checking it out. Funny, I never thought of washing out my baggies but maybe I should re-evaluate! *10yearstogether*

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