Every once in a while, you get hold of a book that makes a difference in the way you live from that time forward. You remember where you were when you read it, and you know your life is better for having taken the time to let the author speak to you.
That’s how I felt after readingThe Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. I was visiting a friend of mine in Pittsburgh one summer, and she had borrowed this book from a friend of hers. This particular friend of mine was already a tightwad, in fact, I might have considered her a bit extreme in her tightwaddery. I may have even called her “cheap” on one or two occasions. I, however, was not a tightwad. Having been raised by thrifty parents, I wasn’t a spendthrift, but I was heading in that direction.
The Complete Tightwad Gazette or TWG, as it is know among frugalites, is actually a compilation of newsletters written by Amy Dacyzyn over the course of several years.
Amy Dacyzyn is a wife and mother of six who set out to prove to herself and to the world that it is possible to buy a home and raise a large family without dual incomes.
She and her readers offered suggestions in the newsletters for taking frugality to a whole new level.
She advocated homemade lunches, yard sale clothing, reusing and recycling before it was fashionable, buying your kids cones not sundaes, and learning to enjoy the simple things in life. She made a challenge of getting by on less so that she had time to live life more fully.
I liked what I read, and I began to put into practice many of her suggestions. I learned to shop to fill my pantry with frequently used items when they were on sale rather than shopping for the things that were on my menu plan. I learned to divide a large jar of applesauce into small containers for lunches instead of purchasing snack size containers of applesauce. I learned to cut Grandpa’s hair, turn a cereal box into a magazine holder, and to figure out the unit price of packaged groceries. I bought Christmas gifts at yard sales and made Justine a cookie cake every year for her birthday instead of buying one.
All the while, as a family we were learning to enjoy the challenge of living on less and reaping the rewards of spending wisely and saving without feeling deprived.
Sometimes I get out my copy of TWG and thumb through the pages. I can still remember when I first read some of her ideas that sounded so strange to me at the time. Some of the book is undoubtedly outdated, but if you want to learn about living a frugal lifestyle with joy, this book is still worthwhile reading. I highly recommend it!