I started reading the complete Tightwad Gazette again. Last time I read these pages was back in the mid 1990’s when the author, Amy Dacyczyn used to send out a monthly newsletter for $12 a year. Once Amy scored $1,000,000 cash in her bank account, she retired. Not bad for 4 years worth of work.
Dacyczyn’s robust, puritanical tightwaddery was learned through trial and error and a very strong desire to accomplish something in her life that she wanted very much. That desire was a paid-for, old homestead home with an attached barn on several acres of land. Once she accomplished what she could only dream of, she dropped off the face of the earth. Her newsletter ended. Oh, every once in a while when the stock market crashes and people lose all of their savings or find themselves in credit up to their eyeballs, they give old Amy a phone call. Thankfully her editor advised her to put her newsletters into books and then finally in to a complete set. Amy is always aghast that people still have not learned any permanent frugal ways to live out their lives. Humans seem to always drift back to square one.
That is why, Dacyczyn says, you need to have a tightwad goal. A dream that usually can only be accomplished by continuing to live the frugal lifestyle. Sure, you can always go out an earn more money. But as Amy states, earning more money entails more expenses (clothing, travel, take-out food, hiring professional services to cut grass/clean house etc. etc) and that defeats your original goal.
I realized very early on that if I were to bring my own goals to fruition I had no choice but to do it the frugal way. I was NOT going to work longer or harder to accomplish my dreams which were to winter in Florida for three months, summer in Newport RI for two months and live the rest of the time on my acreage in upstate New York. Maintaining three homes was going to take oodles of money. But when I put my frugal cap on my head I came up with an alternate solution that could get the job done but without the price tag.
Tightwaddery is a viable alternative lifestyle. It’s not something you do once and forget it. It’s a lifelong practice of cutting expenses to the bone so that you can enjoy a better quality of life on a smallish budget. Essential expenses can not be cut. But optional expenses, such as non-essentials can be cut and alternative solutions can be found to get you to the same end result as if you had paid full price.
However you came to frugality, whether by choice or through no fault of your own, once you figure out your balance, it can be a fun way of living. Who really doesn’t get a big kick out of saving money? I know I sleep all the better when I know I got what I wanted for the least amount of expenditure. I’m glad I picked up a copy of Amy’s revered frugal bible (for free, from my library!) It’s bringing me back to so many cost-cutting alternatives that I had forgotten. One of which was my quest to buy an air fryer. Now, following Amy’s mathematical calculations, I’ve come to realize that for the same 25 minutes or so it takes an air-fryer to properly cook a chicken wing, I could save the $65 air fryer cost and just throw the chicken wings in my already-here, paid-for oven and call it a frugal, money-saving day.
So, the air fryer goes back and I pocket $65 back into my savings account. Already, thanks to Amy, I’m saving money! And not spending foolishly.
Last interview with Amy back in December 2009: