March 18, 2011

Tightwad Gazette I Refresher - Day 15 - March 18

Be Thrifty and Feed the Piggy
This section touches on some interesting topics such as marriage and money, Valentine’s Day and bean recipes. Quite a variety of topics here. Again all of this information comes from Amy Dacyzcyn’s book the Tightwad Gazette I and these are not my ideas. I have underlined all of my comments and I welcome any of your comments, discussions or ideas, or even criticisms.

Here we go – let’s get to our reading for today.


Amy didn’t encounter too many kids stopping by her house in the country to sell her things, but she did say that this can be quite a problem when you live in a suburban area. So if this is a problem for you, Amy made a list of excuses you could use to get out of buying the stuff. I always buy discount cards from our local cross country or football team. They usually give discounts at places that I shop or at Subway, which is my favorite lunch spot. It is rare to have kids coming door to door these days. But if this was a problem, I wouldn’t make anything up; I would simply say “no thank you.”


Since writing her first article regarding this dilemma, Amy’s children were sent home with flyers for items to sell for a fundraiser. Now Amy was on the other end of this situation. “In all fairness schools raise funds in this manner because it happens to be a very effective method of involving every family, therefore probably raising a larger sum of money.”

Amy cited why she had a problem with this. 1. It is consumerism – buying for the sake of buying; 2. A portion of the money that we spend to help a worthy cause leaves the community. Some people buy when they can’t afford to.

At the school that her children attended, they have other fundraisers such as potlucks and an auction. When Amy talked with some teachers and parents, many shared her views.

I was president of the Parent Teacher Organization when my youngest son was in grade school. We raised a lot of money with fundraisers and there were prizes to those who sold the most. We also took donations of money for those who didn’t want to buy anything, but wanted to simply donate money. We had separate prizes for kids who collected monetary donations.

If a child comes to my door that I know personally, I will buy something from them. I like to be a good neighbor and for me there are times to be frugal and times to loosen the purse strings. It doesn’t happen very often and I can usually find something that I can use or in turn give as a gift to someone else. This is probably the only time I would disagree with Amy.


When a hole appeared in a sock, Amy would take another sock (1 where the mate had been missing) and she would cut a circle out of the one sock that would be about 1/4 inch larger than the diameter of the hole to be patched. Amy would then use a running stitch to sew the patch in place. She would sew around the patch 3 or 4 times.

I would definitely do this if the sock is fairly new and isn’t very thin. At least I would do it to my socks as I’m not sure if my family would like darned socks. I don’t have a problem with it.

I started to darn some of my socks a few years ago. I have several of those “footie” type crocheted slipper socks that I love to wear in the winter time. I wore a few holes in the bottom and on the toes and I didn’t want to replace them. I simply went out and bought some yarn and “sewed” the holes shut. It was well worth it. I have about 5 pairs of socks I purchased for $7.00 each so it only cost me about $2.00 for the yarn to repair these socks and they have not had any more holes in them. This was well worth about 1 hour of my time to fix these.

Here are some uses I have found for old socks or socks with holes. I have taken a sock and cut off the bottom, then hemmed the edge on a sewing machine. You are left with a hemmed sleeve of the sock. You can use these to put on a child’s arms during the winter to keep their arms warmer under their jacket. These can be tucked under their mittens. Also you can use these as leg warmers under snow suits and such for children. Don’t forget about yourself. I have put these on my arms when I go outside to walk the dog in the winter and they seem to help keep the wind from coming up the sleeve of my jacket.

I save all old socks and use them as stuffing for some projects. I took old pillowcases last fall and cut them down to make long cylinders. I left the ends open and stuffed them with old socks. What did I do with these? I put these in between the storm windows and the inside windows to give added protection from drafts this winter. They worked great. I didn’t sew the ends shut; I just tucked them under as I wanted to be able to use these for different sized windows.

Old socks are great as rags to mop up spills or as dust cloths. I keep a small laundry basket in the basement near our dryer and when an odd sock shows up, I throw it in the basket. Usually within two or three weeks, the mate shows up. If after a month the mate doesn’t show up, I put it in a basket in my sewing room to use as stuffing or another project.

If darning socks isn’t worth it to you, find other uses for those socks. It is hard for me to throw them out as I can always find some use for them.

This article reminded me of all the things that I have mended over the years. I have learned to mend. It takes patience, but I am usually very pleased with the outcome. Two years ago my husband came home from work with a small hole, below the knee, in his suit pants. We couldn’t afford to buy him a new pair of pants and it would have been hard to find a pair of pants that would match the suit coat. So I bought some thread that matched the pants. I clipped some of the extra fabric near where the pants were hemmed. I took that fabric and I carefully “wove” it into the hole with the thread. The end result was (after about 2 hours), a perfect repair. I had never done this before, but what had I to lose?

A lot of mending jobs are what I would call “on the job training.” I have repaired many things over the years because it could be a favorite shirt or sweater that I wanted to save or simply because clothes are expensive and if I could mend/repair them and they could be worn again, then it was well worth the effort to save them.

I learned to sew in Home Ec. 40 years ago and I am a basic seamstress. I don’t tailor and I stick with very easy projects. If I can repair a pair of suit pants, then anyone can do it. It comes down to this; you have to believe that you can do something knowing that you have nothing to lose by trying.

Which leads me to this, the next time there is a hole in my husband’s or son’s socks, I am going to repair them and see what happens.


In this section Amy gives some frugal Valentine ideas.

1. Bake a pie with a strawberry or cherry filling. Cut a heart design in the crust. My husband loves cherry pie. I wish I would have re-read this a month ago for Valentine’s Day. Of course, he will take a cherry pie anytime I want to make him one.

2. Make your own simple card.

3. Make a heart shaped cake by baking a round cake and a square cake. Set the square cake on a platter, but turn it so it looks like a diamond. Cut the round cake in half and combine with the square to make a heart. Frost to hide the seams.

4. Make a heart shaped pizza.

5. Rent a romantic classic movie to watch. In my case, I would have to rent Rambo or Top Gun. They aren’t romantic classics but my husband loves those movies. As long as I had some popcorn, I would be just fine.

6. Bake a batch of heart shaped cookies. This is my husband and my son’s favorite thing I do for them. They love rolled butter cookies with almond icing. I only make those cookies on special occasions such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day.


Actually, this article is really about marriage than dating. I love this one comment that Amy makes: “I have always believed that teamwork has been our greatest economic asset. It is about more than simply agreeing on how to handle money. …. As a result we have maximum energy to devote to our common goals.”

“Compatibility is more likely to be found than created. A psychologist told me that whatever a relationship is in the beginning is what it will always be. In other words, people can modify their behavior to a degree, but sweeping changes are rare. While they may occur, they should not be banked on.”

I have been happily married for over 30 years to the love of my life. We dated for only two weeks. I always have believed that we fell hard and fast because we are so compatible, but we are also opposites in many ways.

So with all of the above in mind, money is the most common marital problem. “The financial problems in marriage can involve more than a lack of sufficient funds, but also a difference in spending style.” Sometimes in the dating aspect of a relationship it is easy to overlook spending styles.

Remember the saying “Love is Blind?” That is so true. Amy advises that if you are a frugal or thrifty person you should reflect that when dating so that if the relationship should lead to marriage, it shouldn’t be a surprise to your spouse that you are frugal or thrifty after marriage. Don’t spend extravagantly on dates thereby sending the wrong message. Cook dinner for your date. Plan a modest picnic at your special private spot.

“When you are dating, don’t worry about making a good impression. Make an accurate impression.”

I would go a step further in that when a couple gets engaged, they should get counseling from a very, very good qualified counselor. Money should be a major part of the discussion and setting up a budget should be right up there at the top of the list.

My husband and I have disagreed many times on when to save or spend money and what to spend money on. However, we have learned to compromise on most things. One thing is certain; we do not go out and spend a lot of money without talking it over with each other. Since I am not employed outside of the home, we talk more about our finances than ever before. We have less income to work with, so we need to communicate more than ever.


This is a cute idea given by a reader of the Tightwad Gazette. One year for Valentine’s Day a women made a card for her husband. This is what she did. She made big letters out of construction paper for the words “I Love You.” Then she took a picture of their son holding each letter. She put them all together on a long cardboard card and underneath each picture she wrote a short sentiment. This would be cute alone with just the pictures of their son holding the letters and with today’s digital cameras; it would be an easy project.


“Dried beans are an excellent protein source, are nearly always less expensive than meat, and should be considered a staple of the tightwad diet.” Amy’s husband, Jim, was raised on this baked bean recipe. Amy describes it as a “rich and dark flavor.” You can use most types of dried beans in this recipe.


2 lbs. dried beans (4 cups)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 medium onion
1/2 lb. bacon or salt pork
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 to 2/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt

Soak the beans overnight in cold water. In the morning pour off the soaking water and parboil the beans with baking soda in fresh water until the skins crack when blown upon. Cut onion in quarters and put in the bottom of a bean pot or large casserole. Add parboiled beans. Put cut up bacon or salt pork on top of the beans. Mix brown sugar, molasses, dry mustard, and salt with a pint of water. If necessary add more boiling water while baking. Bake at 300 degrees for 6 hours.

At the time that Amy wrote the book she estimated the cost of these beans were $2.00 versus $7.68 for store bought good quality baked beans. Amy does say that even allowing a generous figure for electricity, this recipe cost well under half the cost of store bought beans. She freezes leftovers in 1 cup portions for other recipes.

Amy included some bean recipes that her mother made.


2 cups baked beans
1 – 8 oz. can of stewed or canned tomatoes
1 large celery stalk with leaves
1 chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Process all of the ingredients in a blender. Heat to boiling and simmer 20 minutes. It is called Dunkin Soup as it was their tradition to eat it by dipping or dunking bread into the soup.


1 lb hamburger, browned and drained
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon shortening
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 cup baked beans

Sauté onion in shortening. Combine the remaining ingredients and place in a large casserole. Top with 1/2 inch layer of cornbread batter. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Bake any remaining cornbread batter in muffin tins.

Here is a recipe that blended the traditions of Amy’s family and her husband’s family.


6 slices bacon, cut up
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
2 medium potatoes, peeled
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
1 – 22 oz. jar of baked beans or substitute homemade)
1/4 cup snipped parsley

Cook bacon and onion in a saucepan until bacon is lightly browned and onion is tender. Blend in flour. Add milk; cook and stir until bubbly. Dice potatoes; add with thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes or til the potatoes are done. Stir in beans and heat through. Top with parsley. Serves six.

Here’s my favorite bean casserole recipe.

CALICO BEANS (This is the original recipe from a 1983 church cookbook.)

1/2 lb. bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can Pork n Beans, drained
1 can lima or butter beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, undrained

Fry the bacon, break into pieces. Brown the ground beef and onions in the bacon fat. Add all the other ingredients together and bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

These are my modifications – If this is to be a main dish, I reduce the amount of hamburger to 1/2 lb. I never use a full pound of hamburger in this recipe. My family does not like lima beans, butter beans or kidney beans. (I in turn love them.) Instead of using these types of beans, I use three cans of Pork n Beans and I drain all three cans. I also only use about 3 or 4 strips of bacon instead of 1/2 lb. I serve this with cornbread.

If this is a side dish, I don’t add any hamburger.

Tomorrow I will be posting an inventory of everything in my freezer and pantry so that you will have an idea of the amount of food I have on hand as I work on eating from the Freezer and Pantry over the next several weeks. So, we won’t have a reading from the Tightwad Gazette tomorrow, but we will continue our discussion on Sunday March 20th. For March 20th read pages 161 through page 171. In this reading Amy covers what to do if you are a tightwad and your spouse is a spendthrift. Also there is a great reader response regarding living on such a small amount of money and the article is called Desperate Measures.

Again, post your comments.


Maureen said...

Love those tightwad recipes.
Martha do you type this whole post out ?? It would take me hours to do that .....

Martha said...

@ Maureen:

I don't type the entire readings straight from the book as it would take too long and would violate copyright laws. I simply type a synopsis and I quote her when a synopsis won't work and I feel people need to "hear" her exact words. Then I make my comments
along the way.

I do this at night and yes, it does take about 3 hours for me to get it completed. BUT, I enjoy doing it as it helps me too.

I have trouble sleeping many nights so if I stay up late and work on this, I am able to sleep 6 hours with uninterruped sleep. So, Amy D. is also helping me get better rest at night.