I have a book recommendation for anyone who is unsatisfied with their financial situation. All too often people think that making more money is the solution to their financial problems, and sometimes it can be, but another solution is to spend less. Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette can help people accomplish the second. There are actually 3 Tightwad Gazette books, I mention the complete version because it contains all three books and because a very kind friend gave it to me for Christmas.
I first became aware of these books last year during the financial panic of Howard’s departure from Novell. (We knew it was the right decision, but from no angle did it look like a fiscally intelligent one.) A friend recommended I pick one up, and so I checked it out of the library. The book solidified for me many of the ways that I thought about money and spending. It also gave me many tips on specific things I could do to spend less. I would never have been able to pull off a $100 christmas if I hadn’t read Tightwad Gazette. I don’t follow all the tips that it espouses, and some of them seem a little bit extreme, but that’s alright because the attitude toward money and spending is far more important than any specific tip it gives. As Mrs. Dacyczyn says “The tightwad life is not only about spending less…it’s about spending in a way that reflects your values.” If you love dining out expensively, then this book can help you cut other corners to fund that love. If you crave video game consoles, then it can guide you into spending less on groceries. If you want to own a house, it can help you cut other corners to save for a downpayment. Howard and I are cutting corners and “making do” so that he can stay working at home for as long as possible, hopefully indefinitely.
These books are not just for the financially strapped. I wish I had read one 5 years ago. Had I done so, I would have squirreled money away even more diligently creating a larger nest egg and our current financial state would be much more comfortable. We spent money all the time for things that brought us little satisfaction. We had an income of $100,000 per year and spent most of it. Now we are discovering that we can live happily on $35,000 per year and I find myself wondering where the other $65,000 went. (Well a good chunk of it went into taxes, but you get the idea.)
At this point you’ve figured out that I’m a big fan of these books. You should check one out of your local library or use the amazon.com link on Howard’s site to buy one online. Some of the used copies at amazon are selling for only pennies because other people feel as strongly about these books as I do and they want to pass on the goodness to others who need it.