I love the Tightwad Gazette (TWG) because it made math relevant and understandable to me in my life and it revived my sense of creativity.
Amy Dacyczyn, the author of the TWG, is practical, creative, and funny. She made me laugh. But, the most important things she taught me were the meaning of money, how to spend wisely, and the power of saving.
Because of the TWG, I became debt-free and was able to save money for retirement and emergencies. She reshaped my thinking towards spending money. Now, when I am about to buy something, I ask myself, “Do I need this?” and “Will I get my bang for the buck?” Just those two guides help me make good spending decisions.
I already bought used clothes, used books and household items from thrift stores. So, I was open to the ideas in the TWG. The first TWG tool I put to work was the price book. Because Amy’s ideas are meant to make you think, make you take the ideas and make them your own, I made a spreadsheet rather than a book.
In addition, I got a crockpot, developed a list of staples and went grocery shopping. Soon, it became a game, I remember once as I was evaluating various brands of toilet paper, to determine the best buy. I was reading the packages to determine the number of sheets and then dividing the price by number of rolls. The lowest price with the highest number of sheets was my goal. My eyes were opened to the whole concept of pricing and sizing. As I narrowed down my choices, I looked around the grocery aisle. I was alone but I felt like a spy uncovering a secret. It was thrilling.
I made some of the TWG recipes like Cuban Bread, tuna casserole, apple crisp, and lots of slow cook dinners. I froze the leftovers for lunch the next day or dinner. I ate well.
One time at a committee dinner, we met at a Chinese restaurant and as the waiter served the platters, I noticed the decorative curls of red pepper on the plates. I kept my eye on them. Red peppers, at that time, were selling for about $4.99 a pound. At the end of the evening, when the waiter came to clear the plates, I was aware that most had not eaten the red pepper curls, so I asked the group if they would mind if I had the waiter bag them for me. No one objected. I went home with a large bag of red peppers. I cut them up, froze them and used them in many crock pot dishes. What a prize!
I learned to shop the loss leaders and store in bulk. I hit the markdown bins regularly and found some great buys. I found a half-price bakery outlet. My goal was to make each meal for under $1. Most of the time, I met that goal.
I had already been saving gift wrapping paper. But, now I looked at every item I was about to throw away -- could it be recycled for another use? I loved the creativity of looking at the world in a different way.
I saved enough money to start putting it away in CDs. I learned to research interest rates. I got rid of any credit cards that charged an annual fee.
Anyway, I could go on but hopefully, here, on Tightwad Lessons, we can share new information, techniques or ideas to help improve the quality of our lives by spending wisely.