The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn is one of my favorite books of all time. When I need inspiration for a frugal meal or other money saving idea, I go to the bookshelf and pull out my well worn copy. Amy, known as the Queen of Thrift, has built an entire career out of finding ways to live frugally and stretch her family’s budget to its utmost limit.
Dacyczyn’s original format was a monthly newsletter, but eventually the information found its way to three popular books. Then, in the ultimate culmination of frugality, all three books were released in one text known as the Complete Tightwad Gazette.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons by pouring through the little gems of economy found within those pages. Some of them are rather profound, while others are simply affirmations of things I always thought.
I can make an entire meal out of potatoes. First, I have to admit that I like starchy foods. (This is why I always knew that I couldn’t undertake following the Atkins’ Diet.) I always felt like a loaded baked potato was a more than adequate dinner. However, I often felt a little guilty about serving them as a meal to my family. Then, I found Dacyczyn’s take on the topic of baked potatoes. She agrees with me, so I can now serve my family without any apprehension.
Frugality isn’t bad for the economy. This little gem jumped out at me while I was browsing through my handbook of thriftiness a couple of weeks ago. In these times of economic chaos, I’ve often heard financial experts hint that being frugal is bad for the economy. They seem to think that families’ decisions to cut their spending is part of the problem with our economy now. However, I found an entry in the Gazette (published over ten years ago, by the way) that countered that idea.
Space is valuable. I have a pretty specific hatred of clutter, so the idea that space has value really spoke to me. That means that I have to carefully consider each purchase I make before I bring it into my home. Is the product worthy of the space sacrifice I have to make? I also work hard to get the most I can out of the things that are already in my home so I don’t have to buy more stuff.
Shopping at thrift stores and garage sales won’t hurt my kids. Having grown up wearing hand-me-downs, I used to worry that one day the kids would hate wearing secondhand clothes. (Nothing is worse than having someone point out that the dress you’re wearing at church used to be their dress.) Reading Dacyczyn’s revelation that her kids learned to live with frugality and are even showing signs of embracing that lifestyle themselves really gives me hope.