Book Review: The Cheapskate Next Door

The word ‘cheapskate’ usually isn’t associated with positive images.  For example, when you say that to me I picture someone loading up sugar packets from their table in a restaurant to save money at home.  Jeff Yeager is on a mission to change that image with his second book The Cheapskate Next Door where he shares the tips of cheapskates across the US on how to live better on less.

While I typically don’t review many money saving tips books I was pleasantly surprised by Jeff’s book as he focus his book on living happily below your means.  The point of saving money isn’t about hardship, but rather getting more of what you  want in life and that message comes through loud and clear in this book.  Also Jeff manages to actually inject a fair bit of humour in the book and also backup some of his findings with a research.

How do you research cheapskates?  Simple, you give them a huge survey to fill out and let them share their tips for your next book.  So while most books compare back to average people, Jeff’s actually has a lot of data on cheapskates which of course makes it more interesting to know where you fall compared to them.  For example a few bits of interesting data include the average cheapskate home is only 1650 square feet well below the US national average of 2300 square feet and 80% of those polled have or plan to pay off their mortgage early.  Suddenly my 1600 square foot house seems just about right compared to others of a similar mindset.

Yet I can’t hold a candle to one cheapskate that Jeff interviewed for the book: she literally got her house for free.  She manged to find someone who had planned to wreck an older home and had it transported to her property and put in a foundation for it.  Total cost $26,500 include remodeling and moving the house.  Yikes now even I feel like I’ve paid too much for my house.

So for me it was nice to actually compare myself to similar people for a change of pace and get an idea that even for the frugal minded we don’t agree.  For example, coupons tended to split people into even thirds: one third didn’t use them at all, one used them all the time and the last third used them sometimes.

I also really enjoyed the chapter on kids which approached parenting using the oxygen mask method, which simply put means look after yourself first so you can then really look after your kids.  You don’t have to give you kids everything in order to love them and raise them right.  In fact, showing them they can’t have everything in life all at once is likely good training for later on in life.

So overall if you can manage to get a copy from your library I would suggest reading this book.  While most of the tips on saving won’t be new to you, you will likely find a few new ideas on how to save your money and get a few laughs while doing it.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Cheapskate Next Door”

  1. I love the comment – “So overall if you can manage to get a copy from your library I would suggest reading this book.”

    Begs the question of if your intended audience is cheapskates then how many books can you really sell?

  2. I actually bought a copy and read it several times! True, some of his ideas aren’t new but he presents frugality in a way that is entertaining and isn’t preachy.
    He does seem to have sex-on-the-brain, so thin-skinned readers may want to pass on the book.

  3. This sounds like a very worthwhile read. I tend to fall into this category but to a less extreme degree. Its tough to go against the grain but as Tim says, its these differeriators that will make all the difference down the road.

  4. Ross,

    It is actually funny in the book, he does joke a few times about giving his publisher nightmares about not selling books since a larger number of people just borrowed his first book from the library. Speaking as an author myself, I’m more impressed that people have read my book rather than bought it. A sale is nice, but having people talk about the book can be just as valuable.


  5. >I picture someone loading up sugar packets from their table in a restaurant to save money at home.

    I picture someone eating at home. How many sugar packets do you need to pocket to make up the difference between a sandwich you pay for and a sandwich you make yourself?

    The problem with too many cheapskates is that they are paradoxically both stingy (unwilling to spend) and spendthrift (squandering).

    It is just like the person who insists on using their incandescent light bulbs until they burn out when, instead, they could cut their monthly lighting costs by 3/4 if they switched them all out today to compact fluorescents.

    Or, they refuse to buy a caulking gun and caulk and then spend all winter complaining about drafts.

    I think cheapskates miss a good point of view to have of life: balance the cost of things off of the value they have.

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