Almost a year ago, I was browsing a used bookstore and came across two books on frugality. I was so excited to see them – I snatched them up. I have been meaning to write a review, but sometimes reviews are difficult to write. It’s not because the books are bad, it’s because they are so good! If I could, I would type the whole books to share on here. Of course, I can’t do that.
The two books are The Tightwad Gazette I & II by Amy Dacyczyn. I was a little confused by something at first, so I am going to start with an explanation.
There are three Tightwad Gazettes – I, II and III. There is also a Complete Tightwad Gazette which is basically the three volumes all in one book. I only have I & II right now, but I have my eye out for III so I can get that one too. Or I’ll get the Complete version if I find a good used deal on it (actually, it is running less than $16 at Amazon.com right now).
Amy Dacyczyn’s Gazette books are actually a compilation of her Tightwad Gazette newsletters that she used to write. She has taken articles she has written and intertwined them with frugal suggestions from her newsletter readers. The result is what I will refer to as a frugal treasure. Some ideas are so extreme. I love them because they appeal to my inner MacGyver.
Here’s just a few extreme tidbits:
6 pack rings from cans: Collect a bunch of them, sew them up with fishing line and make a hammock.
The plastic piece that comes with bacon: Clean it well and then use it to make stencils.
Of course, the book has more than just the extreme ideas. There are also practical ones about how you can reuse a pair of jeans or how you can make small inexpensive changes to your house to make a big cosmetic difference. To get an idea of the books and to read a few tips, you can take a peek inside the Complete Tightwad Gazette at Amazon.com (go to Look Inside and Surprise Me to read a few pages). You can always visit your local library too for the book, although you may want a copy handy to read and re-read. There are so many tips in these books. I read through them once, incorporated some ideas as I progressed with my reading. Then I read through them again and incorporated some more ideas.
They are great reference books, and with things a little shaky with the economy, we are trying to cut costs even more. That means the books are out again for a third read-through to see what else we can implement. I’m sure it will not be the last read-through, either.
In conclusion, I would like to share a paragraph from Tightwad Gazette II that I think sums up the books well:
If you do not have difficulty making ends meet, you’ll find that some of the material in the book does not apply to you. But you will find fresh ideas for saving money. Even if you do have trouble making ends meet, some of my ideas may seem too radical to you. It was never my intention to write about ideas that were 100 percent acceptable to mainstream America. This book explores its boundaries, and my intent is to present options, not to suggest that every idea is appropriate for everyone.
It also sums up why I love her books so much. There is so much information that I think anyone could find tips they could incorporate into their life to save money. She did an awesome job compiling everything and she is a great writer. I wish I was her neighbor.
If I can manage to get my hands on some 6 pack rings, we are so going to make a hammock this summer 😛
Great review Tricia! I remember when (1991?) Amy D. and her family appeared on TV to discuss their newsletter. I’ve been a fan ever since. Her books are a treasure of excellent ideas and she is always inspirational!
I agree 100%. As you say not all ideas are appropriate for everyone but each time I read through the complete tightwad I find new ideas to try. This book is appropriate for anyone wanting to be frugal or who wants to look at things from a different perspective. One thing I really like is the way she’s not afraid to try out different ways of solving problems.
I have one of her books that I bought at a garage sale. It was originally .75 but was marked down to .10! I’ve always wanted to tell her – she’d be so proud! ha! I do have to wonder why the garage saler was willing to let it go so cheap – maybe frugality wasn’t for them…
I’d be curious to read a review of Trent Hamm (of thesimpledollar.com fame) 365 ways to live cheap
I had the three individual books but bought the complete volume when it was published. I gave the three individual books to a friend who really needed them and find having all three volumes in one book to be very handy. The final section of this book contains several pages of notes/letters that Amy received over the years thanking her for the inspiration that she provided and telling her how much the authors were able to improve their financial lives using her ideas.
More than the individual articles, though, I have always been inspired by Amy’s attitude and tone. She knows this isn’t for everyone and doesn’t expect everyone to go along. She doesn’t fault you for that and doesn’t expect you to fault her for what she does.
Finally, the books also provide a new way of looking at things. They start to get your own creative juices flowing and help you to look at an item or a problem differently and develop a workable, hopefully inexspensive solution or use.
I have all three of the Tightwad Gazette books. I’ve read them cover to cover and refer back to them now and again for specific ideas, but also just for a general tune-up of my frugal attitude. Dacyczyn took a lot of grief from people who criticized how extreme some of her ideas were, but I think her message was always very clear: use what you have as much as you can, waste nothing, and use your creativity to save money. I think her three books are essential reading for anyone who really wants to or has to make do on very little money.
I, too, LOVE these books! I got all 3 on a clearance table about 8 years ago, after taking them out of the library at least a dozen times. Also, about 2 months ago, I found volume II at a thrift store, so picked it up for my daughter’s hope chest. I do a “reread” of them about once a year…all 3 volumes, cover to cover.
Volume III is 1.21 at half.com. Half always seems less expensive than amazon,