Amy Dacyczyn began a newsletter called the Tightwad Gazette back in 1990 with just 1,700 readers. Six years and seven months later, she had well over 200,000 subscribers and a book deal. Her newsletters were filled with wonderful, frugal (and sometimes…eccentric) tips and ideas from her own experience, as well as from her frugal readers.
I own the Complete Tightwad Gazette. It is 927 pages, and while I started it from the beginning when I was unemployed in 2008, I only got a quarter of the way through. Nowadays, I like to open it to a random page and see what wisdom and ideas it holds. I’d like to share ten such nuggets with you in the hopes that they will help you to save money.
Tightwad Gazette Frugal Tips
- Trade Up for Free Book Credit: Half-Price Books and other used book stores give you a trade-in store credit for books, which Paul and I already take advantage of. But have you ever thought about going to a flea market and purchasing 100 books or so for $0.10-$0.25 each? One woman does so, and wrote into the Tightwad Gazette that she reaps $100-$200 credit at a used book store for just $10-$25 out of pocket.
- Save on Cross Country Airfare: When flying across the country, try to route through Las Vegas. The example given is if you are flying from San Francisco across country, fly from San Francisco to Las Vegas and then get a connecting flight. Las Vegas is always having flight specials.
- Save on Mail: Mail a postcard instead of a letter as the postage is cheaper; you can make your own postcards out of file folders or even cereal boxes. Find one of those annoying business reply cards in a magazine to use as a template for making your own postcards and get creative.
- Cheap Frames: Frames can get expensive. Be on the lookout at garage sales and flea markets for old prints, paintings, photos, etc. Pay particular attention to the frame. You can oftentimes find deep discounts on beautiful frames by discarding the outdated art or print that is in them and using it for your own photos and art. Also check out the clearance section of department stores.
- Save On Shampoo with Kids: Kids don’t always know how much of something to use…so they use too much (costing you extra money). Purchase shampoo in bulk and put it into old soap pump-type dispensers. Teach your kids that shampooing takes one pump for short hair, and two pumps for long hair.
- Cleaning Supplies: Check out your local janitorial supply store for wholesale and concentrated amounts of cleaning supplies. You will save big bucks.
- (Almost) Free Area Rug: If you are taking up old carpeting, typically the carpeting will look new under a bed or dresser because it has never been walked on. Cut an area rug out of this space, and bind the edges by purchasing binding at a carpet or fabric store (you will need glue to do so).
- Save on Car Repairs: Instead of taking your car to a shop, check out your nearest vocational school. Most vocational schools will do the work for free, and you just have to pay for the new parts.
- Save on Entertainment: Call your local museums, zoos, and other area attractions that you want to take your children or grandchildren to and ask when and if they have free days throughout the year. For example, in Houston the zoo is open for free on the first Tuesday of every month and the museum of art is open for free on Thursdays.
- Save Money on Glasses: Pick up frames at a flea market, garage sale, or other venue. Then have your eye doctor cut lenses to fit these frames; you can save hundreds of dollars.
Have you read the Tightwad Gazette? What were your favorite tips?