Monday, November 3, 2008

Tightwaddery Gets a Bad Name

Frugal Frannie, Tightwad, Cheapskate, Penny Pincher. Most of these labels bring up feelings of unease. Who wants to be called one of those less than flattering names?

But what if tightwaddery was looked at in a positive light? Back in the day, people who managed their money well and were frugal were considered "good with their money", "careful" and "responsible". In today's society though, being careful with your money is more likely to get you laughed at than respected.

Enter the Tightwad Gazette. This book, and the ones that follow it, are written by the frugality queen, Amy Dacyczyn (pronounced "decision"). I have read them in the past but recently picked up a copy at a local used book store. I read it in three days and enjoyed it (again) immensely. Okay, some of the ideas are a little off the wall like the many uses of old juice can lids. But there are many, many good ideas that can save you money, and in many cases, time. I like how the book is organized. Someone said that it's formatted almost like a blog, broken down into small pieces. I think that's a great comparison.

Another thing I LOVE about the book is the fact (reminder) that many things we do to save money are also great for the environment. In fact, the author talks about these overlapping circles--living in a frugal manner is also good for the earth the majority (I think she says 90%?) of the time. And it's true~think about it. Drying clothes on the line instead of in the dryer--saves money and the environment. Making food from scratch--saves money and the environment (no wasteful paper wrappers and Styrofoam containers), even more so if you are eating local and/or organic foods. You get the idea.
Another important tip? This is actually the theme of the book, in my opinion. Prioritizing. For the author and her husband the priority was to have a big family and live in a big house in a rural area. They knew what they wanted and were able to make saving the money for this type of lifestyle a priority. They could have said that this is what they really wanted, but then blown money right and left on tropical vacations, evenings at the theater, dinners at expensive restaurants, etc., but because that wasn't their priority, they chose to pinch pennies and go after their dream. I think that without priorities, it would be very hard, maybe impossible, to stick with being frugal. You need the goal to spur you on to action.

I also came across this article on The Simple Dollar in which the web site owner interviews Mrs. Dacyczyn--it's a good one and I'd highly recommend it, especially if you are already a Tightwad fan.

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