April 01, 2011

Tightwad Gazette I Refresher - Day 29 - April 1st

Well we are coming close to the end of the Tightwad Gazette I. Our final reading will be Sunday, April 3rd. Then what? Well, I have really, really enjoyed going through this Tightwad Refresher reading so I want to forge ahead and continue with her second book, The Tightwad Gazette II. This time it will take a little longer as we won’t be reading 10 pages at a time. The readings and postings got a little too long sometimes.

Tightwad Gazette I was based on the years one and two of her newsletter. The Tightwad Gazette II is based on years three and four. So it is additional information and not just watered down continued information from the first book. It was in the second book that she gave the recipe for Cuban bread that I use all the time. In fact I think the second book has more information and tips than the first book and it is the one I refer to the most. You can tell by looking at it as it is falling apart.

Let’s get started with today’s reading. As a reminder all of these tips and ideas came from Amy Dacyczyn and her book the Tightwad Gazette I. Any comments that I have made are underlined.


Amy starts out saying that she owns three pairs of sneakers. This year’s sneakers, last year’s sneakers and the year before sneakers. Most days she wears last year’s sneakers unless she is planning on going out, when she wears this year’s sneakers. She keeps wearing last year’s sneakers so that this year’s sneakers stay looking good for a long time.

Amy wears the older pair of sneakers when she is doing yard work, painting the house or some other heavy duty chore.

Amy went into detail about describing the condition of the two older pair of sneakers such as they are getting cracked and the soles are separating to the point that you can see some of her sock.

The purpose of this plan is that she always has 1 good looking pair of sneakers. She also does the same thing with blue jeans.

My husband operates on the same plan with his expensive running shoes. He has two pair of running shoes (Asics) at a time for running. He alternates these shoes wearing one on day one and the other on day two and so on. When these running shoes are no longer suitable for running (after approximately 500 miles), he replaces them. This ends up being a new pair of running shoes in the spring and then another pair in the fall. This is how he always has two suitable pairs at a time.

When they are no longer good for running, then they become the shoes that he wears around the house and on weekends with jeans and so on. Then when they become no good for even this, they are designated lawn mowing/yard work shoes. When the day comes that they cannot be worn at all, he throws them out. It is almost like a funeral when that happens as he loves his running shoes.

My husband is very careful not to wear his running shoes for running after they have worn down, as that is how you can end up with knee or hip trouble.


A reader wrote in to say that she makes her own lite margarine. She takes 1 pound of regular stick margarine. After it is softened slightly she gradually adds skim milk by beating it in with an electric mixer. Adding the milk slowly she can add about 1/3 cup milk to the pound of margarine.

The result is a light spreadable product that has increased in quantity by 50% and it stays soft in the refrigerator, tastes the same and has few calories.


Parents and grandparents need to get it out of their head that there is something wrong with secondhand toys. My thought is that if your child has an older sibling, they have been playing with second hand toys their entire life.

If you pay full price for a “hunk of plastic” and it breaks within a week, it hurts. If you buy that same toy at a yard sale for 25 cents, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief.

Kids receive about 10 times their weight in toys before they reach kindergarten. Many of those toys end up in the landfill over time. If you’re pinching pennies or just a tightwad, second hand toys are a great option. Many toys can be rejuvenated simply by washing them in soapy water.

If there is a good yard sale with some toys with missing parts, take a chance. You may find the other parts at other yard sales.

I went to several garage sales in a day with my mom and sister once, when we were on vacation no less. At one I found a Fisher Price barn but there were no other parts. I picked it up for $1.00. At the next garage sale I found a couple of the animals, then at the next I found a tractor and before you knew it by the end of the day and for another $2.00 I had a lot of Fisher Price farm people, animals, gates and machinery. Actually I think if at the first garage sale they would have had all of the pieces I would have had to pay more for the complete set. This way the parts were in small quantities at a lot of garage sales and were either a nickel or a penny.

Wooden toys have great repair possibilities. They can be sanded and repainted. Amy found a wooden doll high chair with a broken leg in a trash heap. She brought it home and her husband took an old croquet mallet handle and fabricated this into a new leg. He sanded off the stripes and refinished the doll chair and it looked practically new when he was done.

Many times game boxes are beat up when the contents are new. Amy avoids buying second hand stuffed animals as if they are worn it is hard to make them look new.

An old bike can look great with a new paint job. The same is true of a wagon.


This is the Tightwad version of a lawn sprinkler.

Supplies needed: 1 gallon well rinsed out bleach jug (make sure the end will thread over the end of a garden hose), cut piece of old rubber glove finger, scrap wood and a garden hose.

Amy’s husband took some scrap wood and made a small little platform. It needed to be 3 inches high. After the platform was built, a hole that was large enough to hold the garden hose was drilled. Slip the old rubber glove finger over the end of the hose to improve the “snugnicity” of the hose. Resting the garden hose on the lawn, bring the end with the old rubber glove on it up through the hole until the threads of the hose show through the top of the platform. The rubber glove finger should hold the hose snug and in place.

Amy’s husband took the bleach jug and drilled about a dozen holes in the bottom of the jug with a 3/32 inch drill bit. Then he fit the top of the jug over the threads of the hose (yes the jug is now upside down) and turned it until it was threaded in place onto the hose.

What you are left with is an upside down bleach jug attached to a garden those that are held upright in place by a wooden block platform.

When they turned on the water, the plastic jug sprinkler shot water heavenward in a seven foot arch.


If you live in the country and have to purchase your heating oil for your tank at one time, knowing when to purchase it can be like trying to play the stock market. Where Amy lived she did some research and found out that sometime between July and September is the best time. If she filled up her 275 gallon tank in the summer, she could save (in 1992) $55.

They also burned wood and found that wood prices were pretty much the same year round in Maine where they lived. However, she noted that you could still save money if you provide some of the labor.

For April 2nd, read page 285 through 289 and then we will finish the book on April 3rd.

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