Today at Zen Habits, Leo reviewed “the cheapskate’s Bible,” Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette. I love this book — it’s one of my favorite inspirations for money-saving ideas. Leo also pointed to a 1990 article from Dacyczyn that describes how she made the leap to frugality, and how it helped her to achieve her dreams:
I am a compulsive tightwad. People who know me believe that I worry too much about money, that I don’t spend enough on myself, and that I don’t know how to have any fun. Even Depression-era relatives think that I am too thrifty. One Christmas an aunt gave me two boxes of aluminum foil after learning that I reused the stuff. (I made one box last for two years.)
This year we realized our dream. Our family (with four children) moved into our rural pre-1900 New England farmhouse (with attached barn). Were we too thrifty? When we got married our joint financial assets barely paid for the budget wedding. We owned almost nothing. In other words, we started from ZERO.
Certainly the reusing of aluminum foil did not greatly contribute to our dream. Rather, it was the attention to all the thousands of ways we spent our money that made a tremendous difference. Our success was very much a gradual learning process. We made many very big mistakes. Had we known in the beginning what we know now I am certain we could have saved several thousand more.
Dacyczyn’s story was one of several in the “What is Enough?” issue of IN CONTEXT magazine. Other articles I’ve bookmarked for later reading include:
- How much is enough? by Vicki Robin — “‘Enoughness’ doesn’t mean voluntary poverty — it means discovering who you really are.”
- Lifestyles of the rich in spirit — “Stories from people whose lives are a testimony to the possibility of a simpler, more meaningful life.
- Getting past hawkers by Vernon Huffman — “How to keep advertising from ruining your life.”
- Purging the urge to splurge by Vicki Robin — “50 simple things you can do instead of shopping.”
I’ve witnessed the power of frugality in my own life. Pinching pennies is painful at first, but when you begin to see the rewards, you realize that the sacrifices have been worth it.
[IN CONTEXT: They call me the Frugal Zealot]