March 12, 2011

Tightwad Gazette I Refresher - Day 10 - March 12th

First of all, before we get to our reading today, if you want to gross out your teenage son, drink V-8 juice in front of him. I love V-8 and I love to pour a little glass and I always ask him “do you want to drink a glass with me?” He gags when I do this. I love having a teenager in the house!

After a day off I was ready to go back to our Tightwad Gazette theme for the month. Today’s reading gives some valuable advice from Amy about saving time and when money saving activities versus time. I think the latter is the one that I confront the most from other people. Yes, I get comments about making my own laundry soap and people say that they just can’t be bothered, don’t have the time or they look at me as if I have frogs coming out of my ears. I can’t count the times that people tell me they don’t have the time to clip coupons and they just buy whatever they feel like at the grocery store. That is fine for them, but for me I save a lot of money with the way I coupon and shop.

Well, enough about my life – let’s get on to advice from Amy Dacyczyn and the Tightwad Gazette I.


Amy explains the correct way to pack and mail a package. Be sure to seal the box with clear packaging tape. Do not use masking, duct or regular cellophane tape. Write the mailing address and your return address clearly on the front of the package. I print out this information and put it on the top of the inside of the box, just in case it would ever be damaged in shipping. Be sure to tightly pack the inside contents with crumpled up newspaper or bubble wrap.

Amy then goes on to explain the best service to use. This has changed since the publication of this book. When deciding whether to use the Postal Service, UPS or Federal Express to send a package, you can easily go on line and compare services and prices.

I shipped a lot of packages when my son was in college.  I found it was easy to go to the Post Office and use one of their Priority Mail boxes to ship things.

Sometimes it is cheaper to send someone a gift card to use for a special occasion, but when your kids are in college, they want packages from home. I used to send homemade cookies, dvd’s that I bought for a couple bucks, microwave popcorn, candy, snacks and other items.

When I am shipping something, I have to think about how fast I need something to get to its destination. To get the cheapest rate, you need to get the item shipped out earlier. I hate paying for shipping. I would rather send a gift card so that the person can buy the item they want, instead of me buying that item and paying to ship it to them.

If you need to ship something, go online and decide for yourself which service is best for your needs.


“Many people think of their hourly worth in terms of their gross pay and presume that any effort that provides a smaller hourly yield isn’t worth their time. On the other end of the spectrum, some people spend all their time doing things that provide very small economic yields (and that they dislike doing), while forgoing activities that save a greater amount of money.“ I hate to quote the first two sentences that Amy writes here because it does have a great wealth of wisdom.

Amy timed how long it took to do certain jobs. Then she made up a chart. For example if a 10 minute job saved her $2.00, then an hourly value would be $12.00.

If you are now living on one income, and you used to work outside the home, you can’t say that I used to make $15.00 an hour and now I am only saving the equivalent of $12.00 an hour. You need to factor in that you don’t have to buy work clothes, lunches out, gasoline for the commute or an extra car and let’s not forget about babysitters.

Sometimes there are a few reasons to do some jobs that save money. For example, perhaps it is environmentally sound or healthier. I bake homemade wheat bread and it takes some time but it is healthier than anything you can buy in a store.

Another reason is enjoyment. Perhaps you save money doing something because you enjoy doing it. I enjoy painting, but I know a lot of people that don’t like the process. I also enjoy hanging my clothes outside because I like to be in the outdoors and I love the fragrance of sheets that are hung outside. Also there are some projects that we do ourselves and we get the enjoyment of saying we did it ourselves. There is a great satisfaction to this.

Amy uses the example of how her husband can make two cheese pizzas in 20 minutes, including the clean up time (not including the rising and baking time). The cost is $2.00 for both pizzas that would have cost them $18 for having two similar pizzas delivered. That is an hourly value of $64. She cuts her son’s hair and it takes 30 minutes and it saves her $12 or an hourly value of $24. She was given two bushes of small pears. It took her 40 hours to can them. She estimated her savings at $40 so this task had an hourly value of only $1.00. But this task had other values such as she enjoyed doing it and it was healthier than what she could purchase in the market.

Amy said that “everyone needs a source of income, but we also need a way to gauge if we should work additional hours away from home.” I whole heartedly agree. We are not at the point in our family that we have replaced my old income with money saving activities. But I know that I don’t spend the amount of money I would carelessly spend when I was working and I also know that I do a lot of money saving activities such as baking bread, hanging out clothes, not purchasing new clothes, cutting back on gasoline consumption and being conservative about energy usage around the house.

When the weather is warm, I hang clothes out on the line. I save money on electricity by not using my dryer, but it is not like I am saving $20 a week by doing this. It adds up over time. However, it also saves me money by not as much wear and tear on our clothes from being dried in the dryer. The majority of the time the clothes dry faster and it saves me time. I like to hang clothes outside so it is both enjoyable and saves me money.

When I worked I would buy things that I really didn’t need, but since I had the money I would buy stuff. I don’t do that anymore. I would say that we save at last $400 a month from this alone.

We save money on strategic grocery shopping and by using a lot of money saving tips. I know we save at least $500 a month from this. I earned more than $900 a month, but this is a considerable amount of money we save by my not working.

Amy goes on to say that if you are short on money and time, you may have to choose activities that give you the highest hourly yields, even if they provide little enjoyment.

Amy ends this discussion by saying that we all possess different abilities, resource, likes and values. No two tightwads are alike nor do they necessarily agree on the same money saving activities. “There is no right way to be a tightwad.”


Amy was questioned by readers as to how “she does it all.” She answered this by saying that she doesn’t do anything as well as she would like and that her husband helps her.

Amy does give some of her time saver tips.

1. Housework Division – During the busy times of her life, she keeps the house organized and will let the cleaning slide. She keeps washing dishes and washing laundry at the top of her priority list. In our household I always say that if I can keep the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom clean along with meals and clean clothes, then I can let the rest of the house slide while I am working on a project such as painting.

Amy goes on to say that vacuuming takes the same amount of time whether you do it every day or once a week. But in her household if the dishes stack up and the laundry piles up, it creates chaos and causes a lot of problems.

Perhaps her own words explain it best “I like things to be clean, but it’s not important to survival when I’m the busiest.”

2. The Container Principle – Use the container method to quick clean your house. “Items in a loose pile are mess. Items in a container are neat. Dirty dishes on the counter are messy. Dirty dishes stacked in the sink are neat (or neater).” Amy uses some containers for temporary storage such as junk drawers that can be sorted later. She also has a basket in the living room to store toys, books and shoes that clutter the floor. “The first kid who wants to watch tv has to put the stuff away.” Hey, that is a great idea.

She uses a roving container when the entire house is messy and a lot of things are out of place. Take a laundry basket and go throughout the house picking up items and putting them into the basket. As you continue throughout your house, drop the items off in their appropriate place.  When my son has left his stuff around the house, I collect it all and set it on his bed to put away.

3. Equipment Investment – Amy says that a lot of people buy one time savers such as convenience foods, disposable diapers and hiring someone to mow your lawn. Amy invested in equipment (bought used and at a good price) that saved her time not so that they had more time to watch t.v., but so that she had more time to sleep. Such items include a computer, garden tractor, weed whacker and table saw. My favorite time saver appliance is my dishwasher. The dirty dishes are out of sight and when it is time to clean them, I push a button.

4. The Federal Express System – This company uses the principle of taking all packages to a central location to sort and then send on to their destination. It all goes through central sorting. Amy uses this system for toys. She dumps all the toys in a central pile. Then she surrounds the pile with the different containers they are stored in and puts them in their proper container.

5. Mass Production – It is more efficient to repeat the same action several times than to produce 1 item. Amy mass produces Christmas presents. She cans food using this principle. In a day she cans a year’s supply of spaghetti sauce. This is better than making from scratch every week. When I bake bread, I make several loaves and freeze them. It is just as easy to bake three loaves, as it is to bake one loaf.

6. Employee Training – Take the time to learn new skills. You don’t save time to begin with, but as you practice and “train” yourself you will acquire new skills and will save time. Something as simple as learning to bake homemade muffins, can save money by not buying mixes or heading to a fast food restaurant for breakfast. In my opinion, learning to cook and bake is the biggest money and time saver for a family’s budget.

We will continue our discussion tomorrow. Please read page 107 through page 117. As always post your comments.

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