Before Couponing Was Extreme

In the 90’s, while my husband was in seminary, money was tight. (Money is still tight for most of us.)  Trying to pinch every penny, one day I stumbled across The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.  She was living frugally long before it was “fashionable,” and the result of her experience was a newsletter read by 10s of thousands of fans.   I came across one of her books at our local library, a compilation of many of her early newsletters.  I eventually purchased a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette, all 3 of her previously published books in one volume, and the rest is history. 

At first I was overwhelmed by the wealth of information contained in one book.  I knew I could never implement ALL of her wisdom into our daily lives, so I decided to start small with one or two ideas at a time. 

My husband having come from a long line of tightwads was immediately on board.  He hardly raised an eyebrow when he came home to find recycled zippered storage bags drying on the kitchen counter.  Going from cans and convenience foods to pantry cooking not only saved money in the long run, but was also more nutritional for us.  He didn’t say a word about the growing stack of margarine bowls, TP tubes, or lids from frozen juice concentrate. 

Then came the day I started scrunching our little soap slivers together with the new bars, freezing wrappers from sticks of butter, and looking longingly at other people’s trash on the curb.  He drew the line there.  Although I continued my thrift store and yard sale addiction, I did slow down on saving every piece of trash for future use.

Although Mrs. Dacyczyn’s books were published many years ago, there is a lot of useful information that will always be relevant to frugal lifestyles.  You may need to update a few ideas, but the basics will never change.  My copy is worn and dog-eared, part of the cover missing courtesy of a book-chewing cat, but I still enjoy going through it and finding “new” ways to save.


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