How is your week? Are you staying cool? Have you been good to yourself?

I have a book to share with you today.

The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle by Amy Dacyczyn

Let me start off by saying – I love love this book. (Hence the review.) I read and reread this series so many times while we were trying to live on one income when our kiddos were little. I think the things I learned from this book were just as valuable to our budget as bringing home a paycheck, maybe even more so, because the lessons continue to pay off.

This book has a TON of ideas on how to live more frugal, and it’s fun to read through the stories of how many of the cheap ways came to be. There are also reader submitted ideas included.The book has lots of cute drawings (Amy is an artist) and she has a sweet sense of humor as well. I loved reading it for the entertainment value as well as for the content.

And the content is terrific! Really, it’s not a new book – in fact, the articles were published originally as a newsletter from 1990-1996 and then compiled into a book in 1998 – but the concepts are timeless. You may find some of the suggestions do not apply one bit to you, and some of the products are seriously out of date, but there is so much, you will definitely take away some goodies.

One of the best things that I walked away with was the sense of being aware of ways to save money everywhere. It became a mindset that came in handy about a million times. 

For example – Amy recommends making a price comparison book. I did this with groceries and was surprised by how much money I could save after doing just a few hours of work. I used a notebook, wrote down all the items we typically purchased in the first column, and in the next 3 or 4 columns the prices per unit for each store. Super simple but super effective. 

Amy does price comparisons for products that may have several options, like hot chocolate that has a ton of brand options plus homemade options, and gives the breakdown of how she determined the best price, while considering the most healthy option. The beauty of showing the reader this method is that we can learn how to do this ourselves with what is relevant in our lives. She not only shows you what is the best deal for her, but teaches how to find the best deals for our families. It’s a win-win.

Amy got criticism for the lengths she would go to save a few pennies, but she included all of her ideas anyway. She wanted to reach everyone with her efforts, including those who watched literally every single penny. Some of those “extreme” tips (like putting a little water in with the jelly dregs, shaking it up and flavoring milk or using it as an ice cream topping) were not something I would do, but who’s to say what is too frugal for someone who is really struggling.

With so many suggestions and ideas, it really became a part of my thinking of looking for the most frugal way to live, while still enjoying life. I still will comparison price shop, look for things used first if possible, use things up in clever ways, and make things at home rather than pay someone else. When I was home with my kiddos, the money we saved because of frugal living tips was probably like me having a part time job – the extra money was so helpful.

I know Amy would encourage you to find this book used somewhere or at the library, to save a few dollars. That’s just how cool she is.

Let me know if you’ve read this book, or if you have another suggestion for money saving tips!



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