I started my journey to frugal living about five years ago, when my family's finances were about as bad as they could get. We narrowly escaped homelessness, and bill collectors were calling and harassing us during all hours of the day and night. I knew that if I was going to improve our situation, we needed to do two things: increase our income and drastically reduce our spending. One of the books that helped set us on the right path was The Tightwad Gazette.

The Tightwad Gazette is actually a collection of newsletter entries written by Amy Dacyczyn, who no longer writes the newsletter, nor has she written any other books beyond the three Tightwad Gazette editions. In fact, I Googled her name and couldn't find any updated information about her at all. She seems to have stepped out of the spotlight. However, the books contain sage advice that is still good today (plus some ideas that are so stingy I never bothered to try them). Here are a few ideas from the first edition of the book that I found especially helpful:

10 Painless Ways to Save $100 this Year:

1. Purchase 10 article of clothing from thrift shops instead of department stores
2. Hang 4 loads of laundry per week instead of using the dryer
3. Once a month make pizza from scratch instead of having it delivered
4. Write a good letter instead of making a monthly long distance phone call (obviously, this was written before email became common and cell phone providers started offering free nights and weekends)
5. Reduce your soda consumption by four cans per week
6. Bake two loaves of bread per week
7. Make your children's birthday cakes and decorations instead of buying
8. Reduce your smoking by three cigarettes per day (or quit altogether and save even more).
9. Reduce your milk consumption by using powdered milk for baking and cooking
10. Pack 4 inexpensive school lunches per week

Keep a Price Book of the items you commonly buy at the supermarket, and list the prices you find at different stores in your area. By keeping track of the prices of these items, you will know when a sale is truly a bargain, and which store has the best prices.

Three ways to save money:

1. Buy it cheaper
2. Make it last longer
3. Use it less

Store brands are almost always cheaper than name brands, even if you use coupons.

For your pets:

1. Stick with name-brand foods. It's usually healthier.
2. Do not overfeed your pet. Use the feeding guidelines on the package.
3. Dry food is just as healthy as canned food, and is cheaper.
4. Don't buy dry pet foods in bulk. The vitamins degrade over time.
5. Avoid switching your pet's food. They really don't need variety in their diet.
and I'll add this one of my own:
6. Always keep up on your pet's vaccinations. It's cheaper than your pet getting sick and running up vet bills.

Don't forget, we are still looking for YOUR frugal tips. The person with the best tip will win a copy of The Tightwad Gazette.


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