March 05, 2011

Tightwad Gazette I Refresher - Day Five - March 5th

None of these ideas are mine. All of this information is taken directly from the Tightwad Gazette I. I have a great admiration for Amy Dacyczyn and the work that she put into her three books. When I feel as if I am the only one in the world trying to stretch a dollar, all I have to do is pull one of her books off of the bookshelf and read a few pages. It is my goal during this month that I will be able to introduce people to Amy and her tightwad ways, that we can all draw encouragement from her and share in the advice that she gives.

If you are wondering what Tightwaddery can give you, simply look at the You Tube Videos I posted of Amy and you will see her beautiful farm house and barn. If she can do that, then the rest of us can at least live within our means by cutting back.

Now we continue our reading today of the Tightwad Gazette I.  As always, my comments are underlined.


Amy addressed the issue of the proper method to wash out plastic bags. She only washes the sturdy Ziploc type bags and doesn’t bother with the flimsy sandwich bags. Amy said the flimsy sandwich bags don’t dry out as well. She never saved any bags that meat was stored in and never, never ever re-used any bags that had poultry in it. I subscribe to this same rule of thumb. It’s one thing to save money by reusing things and another thing to save some money and then get sick from salmonella.

Amy takes her bags and washes them in the dishwater in her sink. She washes them while the water is clean. Amy takes bags and turns them inside out and washes them with a dish cloth. She then drapes the bags over kitchen utensils drying in the dish rack. Also, dry the bags inside out so if they are still a little damp, the dampness is on the outside of the bag.

When do you throw a bag away? Fill it with water and hold it up. If the bag resembles a sprinkler you may throw it away.

Amy then talks about all the plastic bags that come our way. She talked about the plastic bags that sugar comes in, about taking the plastic grocery bags back to the grocery store to re-use. Any bag with paint, such as bread bags, should not be used inside out.

Amy doesn’t feel that washing bags takes much time at all and reaps savings.

I buy the Ziploc sandwich bags when they are on sale cheap and I wash them and dry the insides with a dish towel and set them out to dry. I get more mileage out of these bags than I would by using the fold over plastic sandwich bags. I wash and re-use as many plastic bags as possible. If you want more details about how I care for and re-use plastic bags, you can see my comments on the March 1st entry to this reading series.

I also use plastic grocery bags to line my small garbage cans and lately I have been using them to “rag” paint on my walls. Otherwise, I use cloth bags for my groceries and only get plastic grocery bags when I need a few more garbage bags or when I need them for a project such as painting.

Also, I am going to replace my tall kitchen garbage can that is under my sink with a smaller one and use the plastic garbage to line it. We recycle glass, plastic, newspaper, cardboard and paper. So, I don’t really need the tall kitchen garbage can anymore so a smaller one will do. Now I won’t have to buy the tall kitchen garbage bags.


A woman wrote in to tell that a friend recently told her that she had spent $850 for school clothes for her 3 year old and she used a credit card for her purchases. The friend also said that she had just thrown out her son’s old clothes. The woman said that she would have traded her son’s clothes since her son had just grown out of the size that this woman was buying for her son.

I am often awestruck by women who feel that their children must have brand new clothes to wear and don’t even consider thrift or garage sales or for that matter E-bay and other online opportunities. Also, $850 for a three year old back in 1992 is outrageous.


The most frequent question that Amy received was about feeding her family of 8 on $180 per month. Again, this was 1992. If I recall I had a grocery budget back in 1992 of about $60 per week for our family of 4 and we were struggling. I was out of work and it was very hard. Of course, now because of everything I learned, it would have been different.

She stated that their diet does have its share of humble meals and repetition, due in part to a lack of time. But she still managed to avoid all convenience foods. Also, Amy stated that their diet may not be glamorous, but it’s nourishing and offers a reasonable amount of variety. Also she reported and they were in great health.

Here is what she reported that ate in a 14 week period. An asterisk will show the food that they grew in their garden.

Leftover pancakes and waffles Pumpkin*/Cornmeal muffins

Cornbread with homemade jam* Cornmeal mush

Oatmeal with raisins Raisin oatmeal scones

Bagels with cream cheese Oatmeal with Pineapple

French toast Homemade granola

Blueberry pancakes Leftover muffins

Oatmeal Eggs, sausage, English Muffin


Celery with peanut butter and raisins, tangerine, oatmeal cookies

Bologna sandwich, pineapple chunks, popcorn

Cheese sandwich, homemade pretzels, tangerine

Peanut butter on saltines, apple, carrot sticks *

Bologna sandwich, raisins, homemade breadsticks

Celery with cream cheese, bread crumb cookies, gelatin made with frozen strawberries*

Peanut butter and jelly” sandwich, carrots*, tangerine

Tuna fish sandwich, carrots*, blackberry*/apple crisp

Celery with cream cheese, leftover muffins, raisins

Peanut butter and jelly* sandwich, pineapple chunks, breadcrumb cookies

DINNERFried potatoes, ham, peas

Leftover bean soup with dumplings

Cheese omelets, carrots*

Chicken with homemade Shake and Bake, spinach*, rice

Leftover baked spaghetti with ground beef, homemade pickles*

Beans and rice, beet greens *

Fried potatoes, ham, carrots *

Tarragon chicken, mixed vegetables, rice

An indescribable but successful leftover concoction

Pizza with peppers* and onions

Pork chops, oven friend potatoes, yellow beans *

Choice of leftover macaroni and cheese or macaroni with spaghetti sauce and cheese, spinach *

Ham hash, asparagus *

Chicken with homemade Shake and Bake, baked potato, chard


Cinnamon- sugar toast

Any item from the lunch list


Orange Juice

Apple Juice

Hot cocoa

Molasses milk

Tea Water

Powdered milk (She said that the kids never complain)

Amy does provide a few recipes and I love her Raisin, Oatmeal Scone recipe:


1 ½ cups flour

1 cup uncooked oatmeal

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup softened margarine

½ cup raisins

¾ cup sour milk (milk with 2 teaspoons of vinegar added)

1 egg, beaten

** I add a little cinnamon to the dough.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients; cut in margarine and raisins. Stir in enough sour milk just to moisten. Divide the dough in half. F lour hands and pat dough into two circles on a greased cookie sheet about ½ inch thick. Cut into quarters. Bake for 10 minutes. Brush on egg and then bake until golden brown. Serve with honey, margarine or jam.

I would to add that one of my favorite breakfast menus is fried cornmeal mush.  You cook the cornmeal and pour it into a greased loaf pan and let it set overnight.  In the morning you slice it very thin and fry it in a little fat.  Both sides of the cornmeal mush brown to a beautiful crisp.  Pour a little maple syrup over it and it is the best.  Okay, I think you have to be raised on this, but let's not forget what Polenta is.  Perhaps we should just call it fried Polenta and everybody will be ordering it in restaurants.


A woman wrote in to say that the best bargains are usually at the reduced rack at the grocery store. One day she was able to get 12 damaged boxes of Tide detergent (39 oz.) for $1.00. She used $1.00 off coupons and then her mother cut off a portion of the label and sent it in for a $2.00 refund.

At one of the grocery stores that I shop at, they too have a small cart, sometimes with almost expiring or damaged items. I always check it out and I can sometimes find something I can use at a low cost. It never bothers me to buy something reduced in price.


Amy talks about how her mother made her take an art class in high school. Now if you own Amy’s books, you can see her detailed illustrations, so my guess is her mom noticed she had talent. This led to Amy majoring in Art in college and then going on to a job at an Ad Agency. After her first child was born, she stayed home and did some freelancing. Amy did better in her freelancing work than in the Ad Agency because she didn’t have to do what an Art Director wanted her to do, but she could actually use her own creative energies.

Amy makes this statement “People tend to believe that creativity is a mystical gift reserved for a few. They think this mistaking creativity for “craft.” Creativity is the process. Craft is the product. When there is a lack of recognized outlet, such as writing, art or music, creativity goes unnoticed. Creativity is nothing more and nothing less than solving a problem in an original way. Creativity occurs in subtle ways. While preparing a familiar recipe and you realize that you lack an ingredient and make a substitution.” You see we are all artists after all!

I couldn’t agree more with Amy. I can’t draw at all. My kids were around 4 years old when they quit asking me to draw stick figures for them. But, if you give me an empty room, and a few days to look at some paint colors and just sit and ponder the possibilities and do some research, I become an artist and the work that I am doing in my house is my creative outlet. Even down to the way I arrange my kitchen cupboards. Ladies, we are definitely artists and are creative in our own ways.

Amy comes up with 10 steps to a more creative you. Here they are:

1. Realize that you are creative. Look for it in your daily life and nurture that part of yourself.

2. Give yourself mental space, a clear field. We fill our days with sound such as the t.v., radio and such. Do a mindless task in quiet.

3. Never, ever compare yourself to others, but rather enjoy your own innovations.

4. Amy used a strategy called “putting the problem in to the mental computer.” Study the parameters of your problem and then let it rest for a few days.

5. Brainstorm. Toss the idea around with another person.

6. Find a spring board, a starting place. For the tightwad this usually means determining which resources are cheap or in surplus. Build from this point.

7. Do not share your creative ideas with anyone who continually tells you they are dumb.

8. Practice. As with any skill, accessing your creative ability improves the more you do it.

9. Avoid negative stress. This tends to block creativity as your mind focuses on that problem instead. Try to limit contact with individuals who bring on these problems.

10. Start small. When you bite off more than you can chew you set yourself up for failure.

Amy says “Tightwaddery without creativity is deprivation. When there is a lack of resourcefulness, inventiveness, and innovation, thrift means doing without. When creativity combines with thrift you may be doing it without money, but you are not doing without.”

This is why I love reading this book. Amy gives you such wonderful advice and encouragement. In this economy I think she could give weekend seminars and she would never lack for an audience.


Amy was looking for a better headband option for her daughter as a lot of the plastic ones would break after a few uses. She saw a pretty headband on a classmate of her daughter’s so Amy asked the mother. The mother had made the headband out of fabric.

Make a tube of fabric from a 2 ½ inch by 32 inch strip, sewing the right sides together, about a half inch from the edge. She turned the tube inside out and inserted a 19 inch by ¾ inch piece of elastic. Then she machine sewed the elastic ends together and then hand sewed the cloth tube ends together neatly tucking under the cut edge. The resulting headband had a ruffled look to it.

Pg. 53 REAL MAIL – Amy talks about saving the price on postage and mailing and writing letters. I won’t include what she said as it is outdated because we can use e-mail now.


In their home, Amy has an efficient wood/oil furnace and an ample supply of wood purchased at $60 per cord, but they need oil for when they are not home.

Amy pondered when is wood cheaper than oil? Amy states “depending on the variety of hardwood, a cord of wood equals 130 to 200 gallons of oil.” So what is a cord of wood? It is the amount of wood that would stack to 128 cubic feet.

Amy uses an example of purchasing average quality wood for $120 that would produce about the same heat as 165 gallons of oil. To figure out the break point she said you would need to calculate when 165 gallons of oil equals $120 or $120 divided by 165 equals 75 cents. So when oil is 75 cents a gallon and wood is $120 a gallon they cost the same.

Again, these are 1992 prices. I have no experience with burning wood but I know a lot of people that do.

Next time we start on page 55 with a discussion on coupons. Read page 55 beginning with The Scoop on Coupons and ending with pg. 65 with Credit Unions vs. Banks.

Post your comments and I hope you are gaining some new insight to tightwaddery and some encouragement.


Anonymous said...

I reuse my tinfoil, and my baggies as long as they havent been used for pork or anything of that nature. Everyone in our house carries a soft lunch bag so no brown bags.

I loved those headbands and made them by the dozens for my daughters. Now I still make them for little girls birthday parties and have even converted them and made them a little bigger for goys to wear accross the front of there head as army type bands..they love them

Loving this review

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE this book! I have the Complete Tightwad Gazette and have been reading my way through it. It's a big, fat book! But awesome tips & suggestions in it!

Maureen said...

We found ourselves facing a financial time bomb when the stock market collapsed and took our mortgage payment insurance with it, I had to go into super thrift mode from a standing start and discovered Tightwad Gazette.

In three years with the help of Amy and the Martin Lewis website here in the UK we had mended the situation and we were saving so much more than we ever dreamed we could.

The book is from the 90s and is American but there is the nugget of gold on every page.