Book Review: The Complete Tightwad Gazzette

With my current plan to reduce expenses for the next six months I figure I need to do some research on how to be extra frugal, so I borrowed a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn from the library. I have to say this is not your average book of penny saving ideas. It’s actually a summary of some of the best material from a newsletter called the Tightwad Gazette which ran from 1990 to 1996, so you have about 927 pages of reading to do.

Now normally I wouldn’t bother reading that much material about saving money, since I would expect to find it boring.  But I was surprised by the humour in the writing and how similar Amy’s philosophy is to mine about saving money. She writes one article about finding your comfort zone about being a tightwad. She suggests going cheap enough that your are no longer comfortable and than back up one step from that.  This way you can find your own personal cheap level you are comfortable with.

The other main idea I learned from this book was about saving money in general. You have to ignore the “Sale” signs and do the math to determine what is actually the most savings for you. For example, when I go buy meat I can’t tell you what a good deal is since I don’t know what a good sale of ground beef looks like. Is $1.59/lb a good deal or is it a rip off? Amy suggests creating a price book of sales to help you learn what a good price is and which store they are at for all your grocery items. I rather like the idea, so I’m going to do this for meat and cheese (two of our most expensive categories on our food bill).

Beyond these two main ideas, there are literally hundreds of tips on how to reuse or reduce costs on just about everything. I was actually amazed by some of the ideas people had. Some were so simple and useful to me while others made me think “People actually do that to save money? Are they nuts?”

Overall I think this was a great book to read if you are looking for ways to save some money. It took me a while to read all the material and some of it is obviously out dated, but I still think most of the book’s values and ideas are still valid today (not to mention it has a recipe for bacon-bean chowder that is amazing!).

Has anyone else read this one?  What did you think?

6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Complete Tightwad Gazzette”

  1. I actually have this out of the library right now too …it’s slow going but I’m also fairly absorbed in Spook Country and Divisadero (behind the curve again) this week. Like you I found some of the material outdated, and some just silly, but there are some gems in there. I’ve been kind of taking notes as I go along and will see what sort of ideas I’ve come up with after getting through it all.

  2. Yes, I’ve read it and loved it! There are a lot of useful and clever ideas inside. I ended up with the habit of doing my own yogurt 🙂 It’s really simple and quite cheap, compared with the 3 bucks I pay at the grocery for a 750 ml can …

  3. Guinness,

    I know what you mean about gems. I think everyone could find a least a couple of good ideas from that book.


    I’m not that brave to make my own yogurt, but then again we don’t eat a lot of it in my house. So the dollar savings isn’t there for me.


  4. About a month ago we decided to have meat only once a week after reading the wonderful book “Food for Life”. We really felt the difference in terms of energy level. How about going total vegan for the sake of saving extra dollars!

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