Thursday, January 15, 2009

10 Things I Learned from The Tightwad Gazette

This post was originally published on my old blog. It has been edited and updated since that time.

About a year ago I borrowed "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn from our local library. I can't remember how I first learned about this book. It may have been from MoneySavingMom or it may have been from a subject search at my library. I also cannot begin to list all I've learned from this book. As we began to live more frugally, this book served as both a source of inspiration for new ideas and an encouragement to continue the journey.

The book is over 800 pages and I'm no speed reader and I didn't come close to finishing it in the allotted 3 weeks. So, I renewed it. And then I renewed it again. And again. Evidently, at the time no one else in the whole county wanted this book. If had been requested at all, I would not have been allowed to renew it so often.

Over the course of the several months I had possession of the book these are some of the things I learned (in no particular order) ...

1. Wash out ziploc bags and reuse them. Never reuse one that's contained raw meat, but otherwise until it has holes or has held raw meat there's no reason to throw it away.

2. Stop using so much extra dishwasher soap. I'd been filling the cup up completely, but after reading the Tightwad Gazette I realized for most loads I only need half the amount of soap. What a waste this had been.

3. The power of Yard Saleing. At the time of the articles in the TWG Amy bought the overwhelming majority of clothes for her 6 children at Yard Sales. I had never been much of a Yard Saler before, but TWG inspired me, and since then I've made several great finds of my own!

4. Keep a Price Book. This means keeping track of the sale prices on the groceries you use most. This was a bit overwhelming to think about at first, but after I started it I found that I began to remember the lowest price, even without my price book. The simple act of writing down the price and figuring out the price/ounce or price/each was helping cement it in my leaky brain. This particularly helps me when I'm comparing the price of a store brand item to a name-brand with coupons. Sometimes the store brand is cheaper. Sometimes the name-brand is cheaper. (I'm a bit out of this habit at the moment because life went crazy when my Dad got sick, but I'm working on getting back into the habit. There are several particular items I definitely need to start pricing soon as we're beginning to run low.)

5. Make your own bread crumbs. Using the heels of the bread loaves - which no one in my house wants to eat - I can make my own bread crumbs and never have to buy them. Simply let the pieces dry out for several days, or toast them. Then place them in a ziploc and crumble them with a rolling pin. Stored in an airtight container or in the freezer they will keep for a very long time.

6. Comparison shop. Compare prices. Comparison shop some more - for everything from bank accounts to ziploc containers!

7. Get over the "it has to be new" attitude! It really doesn't. There are many things that can be bought used and in great condition, much less expensively than bought new. It all depends on your own attitude. I found a wonderful used china cabinet last fall for $100. It is exactly what we need right now and it didn't break the budget!

8. Cooking from scratch is often, but not always cheaper. Making pizza from scratch is cheaper than buying Papa John's (even with a coupon). Boxed mac & cheese bought on sale is cheaper than making it from scratch.

9. Baking soda is a great cleaner/degreaser for many surfaces, including kitchen counters. And, combined with white vinegar it's also a great drain de-clogger. It's also much cheaper than my old products.

10. Air dry clothes whenever possible. I don't do this with everything because we're used to the softness from drying in an electric dryer. But, I've started drying socks & underwear on an indoor rack and honestly, no one's complained!

The book is loaded with many more good ideas on how to live a more frugal life. If you want to live more frugally, I suggest borrowing this book from your local library, borrow it from a frugal friend, or if all else fails buy it used on Amazon or Barnes&

For more frugal ideas go to BiblicalWomanhood.


Jessica said...

Great ideas! I do a lot of these already, but not all of them. I don't think I could line dry my underwear--isn't it scratchy?

Thanks for visiting, and I hope your next batch of yogurt works! I'm currently making my third--I think keeping it warm enough is a big part of things, so I started a loaf of bread in my breadmaker right next to it a couple hours after I started the yogurt in order to make sure it stays warm. A hot water bottle in the layers of blankets helps, too. As for the sweet, you have to mix in honey in each serving as you go along. Good luck!

Jodi said...

Amy was my first inspiration for frugal living! I make my bread crumbs in my blender--just one slice at a time, or it will clog. It goes very quickly this way.

Brooke said...

since i don't keep milk on hand, shells & cheese is the cheapest mac & cheese route possible for me.

UnfinishedMom said...

Jessica - If the underwear comes out scratchy, sometimes I'll toss them in for just 10 minutes with another load. That usually takes care of the 'scratchies'.

Lisa said...

Thanks for the great tips!

mom2fur said...

I really haven't been able to get into washing out zipper bags. However, I will re-use them for exactly the same thing. I like to bag my bread flour, for example, by the cups I need. That way, I can just dump the flour in without measuring. I use that bag (marked "Bread Flour") many times.
I use a combo of water, vinegar and baking soda as a fabric softener. I fill a cup partway with water from the washing machine (as it is filling for the rinse cycle), add my vinegar, then add my Baking soda. Of course, if you've ever made a 'volcano' with your kids, you know it's important to hold the cup over the wash when you add the baking soda, LOL! (Makes my clothes super soft, although I do miss the fancy smells of dryer sheets sometimes!)

emptynester3 said...

I am wondering if the vinegar is ok an HE washer- it should be, right? Can't be any worse for the washer than bleach, huh? I was using vinegar when someone asked me about that- I also put in a few drops of essential oil (lavender)


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