March 28, 2011

Tightwad Gazette I Refresher - Day 25 - March 28

Tightwad, Missouri
We are getting close to the end of our Tightwad Gazette I Refresher reading. I hope that you have gained something from these posts during March. It has been fun for me to go through this book 18 years after I first read it. Amy Dacyczyn is the one I turn to if I need to find a way to do something cheaper or from scratch.

Let me know if you want to study Amy’s second book, the Tightwad Gazette II next or take a break for while. Either leave a comment or e-mail me.

Let’s get on to today’s refresher reading.


This article starts out with a dinner scene in which cornmeal biscuits are served with a “leftover bean soup and random freezer finds.” The kids have come in from playing outside and they gobble down the meal without question. Amy’s husband tells her the meal tastes very good.

Basically, Amy sits there and takes stock of her life and she is extremely satisfied and happy. They eat humble food, live below their means, buy used clothes and other items, scrounge for free items left to be picked up by the trash hauler (they found a table saw that they overhauled), and she is as happy as can be.

Every time I bake loaves of homemade bread, I feel better than I ever did from receiving a raise or bonus at work. I feel the same way about hanging clothes on the line. There is something about the simple frugal things that I do now that bring me an immense amount of satisfaction.

Amy thinks back to 10 years earlier when she enjoyed prime rib at the Ritz Carlton and purchased toys for nieces and nephews from F.A.O. Schwartz. They enjoy being frugal. ”This attitude reversal lies at the heart of why we have never felt deprived while sustaining our lifestyle for so many years. The feeling of deprivation will undermine any effort to pursue long-term disciplines.”

To overcome feeling deprived, consider the following:

1. “Recognize that you are engaging in the discipline out of choice. You decide to give up something so that you can have something else.” In my life we give up dinners out, new clothes and hiring work to be done on our house so that I can be home, which means we all enjoy a more satisfying and peaceful life. The money saved is well worth it. I never realized how much chaos my job brought to our family. The money was great, but the time constraints in trying to get everything done on a weekend was too much.

2. “As you cut back, give up expenses in the order of the ones that provide the least value for dollars spent. The order of elimination will differ from tightwad to tightwad.” I do not enjoy eating out as much as I did years ago. I would much rather eat at home as it is more comfortable. Every now and then we enjoy a meal out as a family, but it is rare. This one was easy to give up. For others, eating out is too valuable for them to give up, but you may save money by only going out to eat half the amount of time you have been eating out.

Constantly ask yourself if you are getting good value for the money you spent. Going out to a movie is nice but it is also very expensive. I have found that I can easily wait until the movie comes out on d.v.d. Spending $6.00 per ticket and then another $8.00 or more for pop and popcorn for my DH (he insists) is over $20.00. That is not a good value for me and I would rather rent the movie from Netflix and watch it at home.

I will not highlight my own hair and I value having it done by a professional. The cost is only $50 every 3 months and I consider this affordable and a good value.

You need to view giving up extras as transferring funds from one area of your life to another.

I love the example Amy gives. “It costs $20.00 to take the kids to a fast food joint. You could prepare the same meal at home for $2.00. Is the experience of the fast food meal 10 times better than the home cooked meal? Is convenience worth $18.00?”

Amy says that real deprivation is not being able to afford the things that are high on your priority list. “Think about the trade-offs and redefine deprivation. Instead of being a matter of eating more leftovers or wearing used clothes; maybe deprivation is having to work a second job you hate, or stress from massive debt or not being able to afford another child.”

3. Do not compare your economic situation to those of others. You just waste emotional energy when you are constantly comparing yourself to others. “Feeling empowered by recognizing you are choosing to scale down to reach a goal, eliminating expenses in order of least value received, and accepting the givens in your personal economic situation are aspects of beginner tightwaddery.

The one thing that I have learned in the past few years is that the people that I envied that had a new house, new cars, dinners out and great vacations are the people who were carrying massive amounts of consumer debt in order to live the “big life.” When the economy was tumbling down around them, they were in a heap of trouble. I’ll take my life any time over anybody else. I’m satisfied the majority of the time. Yeah, I have set backs, but I work it out.


I cut my husband’s hair and I have cut our son’s hair until he decided that he would prefer to go to a stylist to have it done. This is fine with me. He is a teenager and if he wants a style that I can’t do, I see no problem in going to a professional. After all I see a professional to cut my hair.

My husband is very happy with the way I cut his hair and more importantly he doesn’t need an appointment. He just tells me that his hair needs to be cut and about 15 minutes later, he is good to go.

Amy goes into detail to explain how to cut boy’s hair using the comb and scissors method and she describes how to cut bangs. There are several illustrations and I couldn’t do justice by trying to give a synopsis of what she said.

Here is what I did when I was learning to cut my husband’s hair, I went to Youtube and watched several videos on cutting hair. I also had watched him get his hair cut before, so I had an idea of how to cut it. The biggest help to me was that he wanted me to cut his hair and that he was willing to have me experiment on him as long as I did so by leaving it a little longer than normal. Then he could have it fixed if necessary. Well, it was not necessary.

Youtube is a wealth of information on how to do so many things. I wished that I would have had the courage to cut my sons’ hair when they were younger and to then also cut my husband’s hair. We would have saved a lot of money over the years if I would have just given it a try.


A business man wrote in to say that he buys his socks 30 or 40 at a time. He buys the same identical socks. The reasoning is that if one gets lost or wears out; he can just reach in the drawer to get another one. It isn’t a big deal and the socks have lasted him for about 10 years.


Use the soap until it’s about ¼ inch thick or slightly thinner. Next time you take a shower, break out a new bar. Use both bars to lather up and then press the small bar on top of the new bar. They will bond together. Then as these bonded bars get down to ¼ inch, repeat by bonding another new bar to it.


Eggs are sorted by weight. Jumbo eggs are 30 ounces per dozen, Extra Large are 27 ounces, Large are 24 ounces, Medium are 21 ounces, Small are 18 ounces. The weight can exceed but can never go under these amounts.

Amy came up with a chart that she advises you should keep in your purse. This shows you how many cents per ounce you would pay at the common egg prices. I’m not sure what the common egg prices are these days. They are up and down so much that I have no idea from one week to the next what I will have to pay.

In looking at Amy’s chart, you will pay 4.4 cents per ounce for small eggs that are priced at 79 cents a dozen. If you were able to pay only 79 cents for a dozen of large eggs; they would only be 3.3 cents per ounce which is a better deal.

                            .79      .89     .99     1.09     1.19     1.29     1.39

Small                  4.4     4.9     5.5       6.1       6.6       7.2       7.7
Medium             3.8     4.2     4.7       5.2       5.7       6.1       6.6
Large                  3.3     3.7     4.1       4.5       5.0       5.4       5.8
Extra Large       2.9     3.3     3.7       4.0       4.4       4.8       5.1
Jumbo                2.6     3.0     3.3       3.6       4.0       4.3       4.6


The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, “If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils.”

Said Diogenes, “Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king.” From the Song of the Bird by Anthony de Mello.


Homemade Bubble Solution

9 parts water
1 part joy dishwashing liquid
1/2 part Glycerin (can be purchased at drug stores)

The longer you store this solution, the better it works. Amy advises to mix it up and store it weeks in advance of a special event.


Amy acknowledges that new cars are more complex and it is increasingly harder for “home” mechanics to work on them. That was in 1992 and I’m sure that today cars are more complex.

Readers wrote in to say that they bought older model cars that they could repair themselves. They recommended not buying cheap oil and replacing the oil every 3,000 to 4,000 miles for older cars and every 5,000 miles for new cars.

While my DH is not a mechanic, he can do some repairs on our vehicles. He has replaced the bulbs in the lights; put a new tailgate latch on his pickup truck along with a cable on the tailgate. He has replaced a battery and done some other “light” work on our vehicles.

He tuned up our bikes two weeks ago and he found out how to do it by going on line and looking at the instructions. That is what he has done with our vehicles. But, we leave oil changes and everything else up to qualified mechanics and we never put off repairs or oil changes. That is why our cars last so long and we get a good price when we sell them.


A reader wrote in and said that two goals of minimizing cost per mile and beating inflation can be achieved by buying a good quality car new, maintaining it carefully, and driving it for at least 10 years,

Don’t wait until your old car dies and have to rush out and buy something. Do your research and take your time. When you find a good deal, pay cash. Immediately after purchasing your new car, to an auto body for undercoating and then go to a tire dealer and buy a set of top grade tires.

Get the oil changed regularly and have the fluids checked. After 7 to 8 years have the car repainted to give you good payback when you sell.

Tomorrow read page 241 through 251. Our reading tomorrow is on such topics as Vegetarianism, Tightwad peeves and a wonderful success story from a reader about how she has become frugal, along with some great tips.

1 comment:

6kids4me said...

I like the Tightwad Gazette posts. Even though I read it years ago, it is nice to refresh my memories and realize that we can do many things inexpensively if we desire to do so. Thanks for the posts, they are encouraging!!