"Paying attention to all the thousands of ways we spent our money that make a tremendous difference." –Amy Dacyczyn, 1990
The only things more dog-eared than my coupon envelopes are my Tightwad Gazettes I and II. There are so many pearls of wisdom on every page that each reading experience offers new insights and ideas. Amy Dacyczyn’s (pronounced ‘decision’) ideology has absolutely shaped our family’s life. Long ago when my husband read the Tightwad Gazette’s first book and wanted me to read it, I scoffed at the book–I worked in New York City at the time and my mind was a bit warped as I was exposed to great wealth…I was just not interested in frugality. Somewhere between leaving the working world of New York City and becoming a mom, I learned to love the Tightwad Gazettes.
In this passage, Amy discusses how to avoid feeling bad about living frugally. If you view giving up extras as transferring funds from one area of your life to another (brilliant!!!), frugality becomes an important financial strategy rather than a prison term. This goes along with a favorite quote of mine by Amy: “The dieter fails as long as he hates low-calorie food. The would-be athlete will fail as long as he hates exertion. The tightwad wannabe will fail as long as he views frugality as a lifestyle he has to endure, or, was forced into by circumstance.”
I learned that when kids ask why we don’t have “good food” like their friends, they really mean “why don’t we have packaged foods.” This goes hand-in-hand with one of my favorite quotes by Amy: “Frugality without creativity is deprivation.” This simply means that your kids will feel deprived if you don’t at least find an inexpensive, good, interesting, and delicious alternative to the overpriced, bland, and unhealthy food their friends may be eating.
Anyone who throws out leftovers is nuts. I learned that from Amy’s post on casseroles. From Amy’s simple instructions, I’ve learned how to cook any tiny amounts of leftovers into quite the tasty casserole that even my kids like most of the time. From this, I also learned how to make white sauce from scratch and use it to make just about anything taste great!
I learned never, ever assume frugal people are poor. Amy discusses why we still think that frugality has to do with being “poor” and that wealth and frugality are mutually exclusive terms in most people’s minds. But as her passage says, income level has nothing to do with whether a person is frugal or not. “Many poor people aren’t frugal and a surprising number of wealthy people are.” This passage goes along with my other favorite books: The Millionaire Next Door and Stop Acting Rich, both by Thomas J. Stanley.
Thanks to this discussion, I had the best system of hand-me-downs going in my attic for my two kids. This lasted for years until the HMD stream slowed down. I literally built a system of bank boxes in my attic marked with types of clothing, what sizes, what gender, etc. It worked beautifully. I don’t think I would have loved HMDs so much if I hadn’t been this organized thanks to Amy’s tutorial.
There’s just so much more I’ve learned and continue to learn from these books. Let us know your favorite lesson from reading The Tightwad Gazette!