March 01, 2011

Tightwad Gazette I Refresher - Day One - March 1st

 Today’s reading from the Tightwad Gazette I (preface thru page 13) is more of an introduction from the author, Amy Dacyczyn and her philosophy of frugality. When I read the book years ago, I would have said that she was an individual who practices extreme frugality. Why? Because at the time it was unheard of to do what she was doing. People lived on two incomes and spent two incomes.

So here we are 19 years after the publication of her first book, the Tightwad Gazette I, and we are hoping to gain a fresh look at frugality from a woman that lived what she practiced.

Any sentences that are underlined in this post are my comments.

Under “a Word of Caution” here is a quote “a natural aspect of tightwaddery is the practice of unconventional methods to save money. We push the limits.” I think this is how you would define Amy.

Pg. 3 – Amy talks about the prevalence in our society of believing that living on one income is not possible and how she was going to do it and still fulfill her dream of buying a big old farm house in the country and raising a large family.

Amy also talks about saving money, rather than earning more money, which became her goal.

She became adept at recycling aluminum foil, Ziploc bags and vacuum cleaner bags. I do this too.

I buy the heavy duty foil and wash it and re-use it over and over and over. I find that I can get more mileage out of the heavy duty foil, than regular foil. I haven’t bought foil for a long, long time.

I re-use Ziploc bags by washing them in a sink of soapy water when I am washing other things. I mark on the outside of the bags if they were used to store meat. If they were used to store meat or if raw meat touched the inside of the bag, I do not use them for storage again. I rarely use Ziploc bags to store raw meat in the freezer. I wrap the raw meat in plastic wrap and I use the plastic bags from brown sugar or plastic bags from shredded cheese as the second layer for freezing meat   I also save the inner bags from boxed cereal to use as the first layer of storing meat in the freezer.

Reusing – vacuum cleaner bags. I do this too. I open the top of the bag by unrolling the seal. I take my kitchen garbage can outside to the back porch and I carefully empty the contents of the bag into the garbage can. Then I roll the top back over and staple it several times. I only re-use a bag twice. I have never had problems with my vacuum cleaner from re-using bags. But each person needs to decide if they want to do this or not.  Obviously I don’t have a bagless vacuum cleaner.

Amy worked to see how low she could get her food budget and still serve a varied, healthful diet.

Pg. 4 -  The following statement is made that I think is the theme of Amy D. and her life – It wasn’t one thing “rather it was the attention to all the thousands of ways we spent our money that made a tremendous difference.” In my opinion, this would be saving all of those pennies in many areas that added up to tremendous savings in the long run.

Financial goals could be achieved through saving more money rather than earning more. She felt like a loner at times.

Pg. 5 - Amy recognized that tightwaddery is not for everyone.  It took her years to reach her level of skill. She recommended choosing 1 new idea a week and 1 new skill per month.

Pg. 6 - Each tightwad must weigh and decide what is compatible to his/her lifestyle.

Pg. 7 - She recommended recording your spending habits for 3 months. Then look at essential expenses such as your mortgage, car payment, food and look at optional expenses such as cablevision. Then look at your essential expenses such as food and find the optional expenses within that group. In this case it would be coffee, soda and candy.

Your essential and optional expenses depend on your value system.

Pg. 8 - Ten Painless ways to Save $100 – again this was in 1992

1. Purchase 10 articles of clothing at thrift shops and yard sales this year instead of paying department store prices.

2. Hang 4 loads of laundry per week instead of using your dryer.

3. Once a month make a pizza from scratch instead of having one delivered.

4. Write a good letter instead of making a monthly long distance phone call. (Again this was in 1992.)

5. Reduce your soda/pop consumption by 4 cans per week.

6. Bake one batch of bread (two loaves) per week.

7. Save $50 each on two children’s birthday parties by making homemade decorations, cake, wrapping paper and one present.

8. Reduce your smoking by three cigarettes per day (or give up smoking altogether and save even more).

9. Reduce your whole milk consumption by 2 gallons per week, substituting dry milk in cooking, homemade cocoa mix and in half n half for drinking.

10. Pack 4 inexpensive school lunches per week.

Pg. 11 - Instead of earning more money, save more. Everyone that earns more, spends more. Her solution is to find the right balance.

Pg. 12 Lunchbox solutions. She stated that it costs her half the price of a school lunch to make a lunch for her kids to take to school. I definitely agree with this.

However, with our economy we have more and more families qualifying for free lunches for their kids. In those cases, by all means allow your kids to get their lunches free. If not, she offers several ideas for a lunchbox lunch.

Lunchbox – She found her son’s plastic lunch box at a thrift store. She pealed off the picture and let him pick a picture out of a magazine and with clear contact paper and rubber cement her son had a lunch box tailored to him. My kids carried a soft sided thermal lunchbox to school, they decorated by writing in markers on the backside of their lunchbox.

Amy recommended never using prepackaged anything in the lunch box. She promoted using a thermos that you could put soup in or pack a sandwich. For a beverage, they can carry a thermos.

Here is what I have done. I will take sandwiches such as peanut butter and jelly. Spread both sides of the bread with the peanut butter and then top with the jelly so that the jelly is in the middle of the sandwich. Wrap in baggies and freeze. You can freeze just about any kind of sandwich except one that contains mayonnaise or Miracle Whip. Never freeze a sandwich with lettuce and tomato. But you can take a turkey sandwich for example, from the freezer and before putting it in the lunch box, pry off a piece of the bread, put on a piece of cheese and spread with mayo and then put in the lunch box. Make your own cookies or granola bars. Take a reusuable water bottle and fill with an inch of water or juice, freeze and then in the morning pour more juice and water in it. Crackers or a few chips are good. A small thermos container with pudding or fruit cocktail is good. Don’t forget about the “vegetable sticks” such as carrots with a little container of dip.


Ask your kids what they would like and make your own to create your own school lunches.


My son is a Senior in High School and he takes his lunch to school. Most kids his age eat at school, but he doesn’t because he doesn’t like the food. It used to cost us almost $25 every 7 days of school for him to eat a hot lunch.


This same philosophy goes for the individual that works outside of the home. You can pack leftovers, salads, sandwiches and such and take these to work. There are pluses to taking your own lunch to work. They are saving money and relaxing. Yep relaxing. You don’t have to run out to a restaurant to get lunch, you can stay at your desk or on a nice day go outside and eat and relax and prepare for the rest of the day.


The key to lunchbox lunches and to carrying your lunch to work is to get it ready the night before or have options in your freezer. When organized, you should be able to throw it all together quickly.

Well the reading assignment for today gave a lot of background into Amy and we are just now going to be getting into the Tightwad information.

Post your comments. Agree or disagree with what Amy has said or agree or disagree with me on my comments. Add more ideas to these topics if you have them.

Tomorrow's Assignment:  Read pages 14 through 24

4 comments:

Sharon said...

When I first got this book (actually I have all three in one), I read it from cover to cover in a weekend. I was fascinated by what she could accomplish. There are some things that I don't do, i.e. reuse foil, baggies, etc. I try to use my tupperware instead. My kids bring lunch every day, as do I. I don't like sandwiches which is why I save leftovers. We haven't had as much food waste, for sure.

This will be a fun series, Martha, I'll enjoy reading! :)

The Headstrong Housewife! said...

I am going to scour the thrift stores and used book stores to see if I can find these books to follow along. The only thing I can't bring myself to do is reuse ziploc bags. My mother in law did this but she never really got them clean *shudder* However I have seen patterns for making your own sandwich bags with fabric, and those can just be throw in the washer. Once the weather starts to warm up, Hubby will be putting a clothesline up for me. With a family of 5 (one being a very large husband and 3 teenage kids) I don't think a drying rack will be feasible, at least not for our shirts and whatnot, I guess those could be hung up though, but I could probably use a drying rack for undies, and socks etc. I will have to check freecycle see if I can find a drying rack or two.

Martha said...

As to ziploc bags, I scrub them thoroughly inside and out with a brush using hot sudsy water. Then I dip them in a pan of boiling water for a brief moment. I hang them up on big stirring spoons that are upright in a large glass - then they can airdry.

I do this with clean sudsy water and then I pour the boiling water into the sink so that I can wash pots and pans.

Debs said...

I'm really looking forward to this seris. Hm, let me think, you covered such a lot already...

We have a bagless hoover, so we don't have to worry about bags for that.

My mum always washes out bags (but not meat bags) and hangs them out on her line. I haven't had a washing line in this place - we're in a one bedroom flat in a block, so no outside area. We will soon be moving to a house with a garden and I'm looking forward to having a washing line :)
(Currently I don't have a dryer either, so I've been drying on airing racks or on the line at my mum's or mother in law's houses)

I do, however, have a lot of plastic boxes and I save things like margarine boxes or yoghurt boxes that have a resealable lid to use over and over. I also bought a lot of the little pots if used to freeze the baby food I made at the 99p store, so very cheaply.

My husband takes lunch to work most days. He has access to a microwave so he either takes leftovers from dinner, or I've been buying things like patties or sausage rolls etc from the reduced price (because they are Best before dated that day). I take them home and freeze them and he just pulls something out the freezer on the day and takes some fruit and refills a bottle with water or fruit squash.

I remember reading and rereading 'More with Less' when i was younger - it's my mum's copy, but I'll still pick it up when i go over there! That has some great tips in it too.