Frugal Lessons From The Informative Tightwad Gazette

It is 927 pages of comprehensive conversation about every topic you could imagine!  In an age when someone can find a quick answer to any question, why would you need a book published in 1998?  And what would it teach you?  There are so many frugal lessons from the Tightwad Gazette!

This is really how I use the Tightwad Gazette –  as a reference tool.  If I am wondering about ways to save on coffee creamer and maybe a recipe to make one at home, I look it up in the back. The book has a FABULOUS index.   I know what you are thinking…just Google it, right?  And I could.  But honestly, I love real books, and there is a particular connection I have to the physical paper between my fingers. Plus, what happens if there is a Zombie Apocolypse and they take down the internet!?!  I tease (sort of).

money printables

Amy Dacyczyn started a newsletter in 1990 sharing her frugal tips and “Promoting thrift as a viable alternative lifestyle.”  After years of snail mail, she turned the newsletters into three books and later one large 927-page book!  I borrowed it from the library many times until I found it at a yard sale.  Amy would be proud!!

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Whether it be dryer lint to make fire starters or saving clothes from your older child to pass down to the younger one,  don’t just discard it because you are tired of it or it’s broken.  Make sure you can’t use it for something or pass it to someone else in the family.  Then, make sure you can’t repurpose it.  For example, make mittens out of old sweaters or a quilt out of t-shirts or jeans!

Reusing plastic yogurt or sandwich meat containers is still relevant today.  So is saving the toilet roll cardboard and stuffing them with dryer lint to start your back yard bonfire or inside fireplace!

Choose financial contentment.

Be happy with where you are.  Do you NEED the latest iPhone?  Why would you want to spend $1,000 on an iPhone X when the six is still working great with no issues?  Like my Mama always said, “Just because all your friends jump off the bridge, does that mean you need to also?”  Think smart.  Remember your life goals.

Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’.  They are broke!


Make snacks and cookies from scratch.

A package of Oreo cookies will cost you three dollars for 24 small (regular not double stuff) cookies.  You can make cookies for a fraction of that cost!  Granola bars are the same!  Brownies, cakes, and those little pudding cups can be made for pennies.  Take a look at my post about snacks from scratch for recipes


The flexible casserole.

This might be my favorite lesson.  I have been making this since I first read this book about the year 2000.  It is by far one of my husband’s very favorite meals, and it doesn’t matter what I put into it.  As long as it is creamy and cheesy, he is sold.  You can easily convert this into many dietary needs.  I have even adapted this to Keto!

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • 1 cup main ingredient
  • 1 cup second ingredient
  • 1-2 cups starchy ingredient
  • 1 1/2 cups binder
  • 1/4 cup “goodie.”
  • seasoning
  • topping

Here’s how I usually make it:

  • 1 cup protein
  • 1 cup of vegetable
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 cups of starch
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese
  • topping and seasonings

The protein usually is chicken, and the vegetable varies, but I enjoy broccoli.  The starch could be rice, pasta, or potatoes depending on what I have.  I think the mayonnaise and sour cream are the keys here.  They seem to give it the zing that makes it so yummy! If you add two cups of starch, make sure you have enough binder or add some milk, so it doesn’t get too dry.

You can also use a can of chicken and if you would like tuna.  This could be an interpretation of tuna noodle casserole!

The best thing about this casserole is that you can use up the leftovers PLUS its great for a crowd.  My mother in law made it for guests once with a salad, and it was a big hit!


What being frugal doesn’t mean.

I have been teased (lovingly) by people all my life about being cheap.  My husband says I am “Tighter than bark to a tree” (spoken with a silly accent).  We are not poor or broke.  I believe there is a big difference, by the way.  I am quite proud of my frugal upbringing and present practices.  It has allowed us to create a life that we want by paying off a large amount of debt and setting us up for a great experience.

  • Being frugal doesn’t mean that we stay home all the time and never go out.  We do enjoy a date night a couple of times a month, but we have a budget and don’t do it every week.
  • Being frugal doesn’t mean that we don’t have nice things.  Again, we budget for them and buy them at a discount.  We never pay full price!
  • Being frugal doesn’t mean we freeze in the winter because we don’ want to spend the money to heat the house.  But we do turn the heat down when we leave for the day and reduce the temperature when we go to bed at night.
  • Being frugal doesn’t mean we don’t have giving hearts.  We love to buy a friend a cup of coffee donate to a good cause.  Kindness is important to us, and we like to spread love and give.

My husband and I have been able to build a solid foundation and accomplish goals that we have set for ourselves and our family by not buying the latest and greatest; buy not paying $44,000 for a brand new car and by reusing items that are still good until they aren’t anymore.

We may be weird.  People may find it odd that we use cloth napkins or make our curtains.  That is ok.  We are weird.  Dave Ramsey says “Don’t be normal.  Normal is broke.  Be weird!”  I am ok with that!! I am a Tightwad Gazette weirdo, and I don’t mind!


save money printables

Make your cleaning products.

We don’t buy Windex.  And for years, we made our laundry soap.  Not only are they expensive, but commercial cleaning products have been known to be very unhealthy and toxic.  The chemicals in them called phthalates are said to cause cancer and contain hormone disruptors. So, not only would you be saving some money, you would be living in a healthier environment.  Here are some recipes for cleaning products including a great one for leather!


Stock up when there’s a sale.

This is true with both food and socks!

Last summer, I found Hellmann’s Mayonnaise on sale around Independence Day for $2.50.  I bought six.  That was a fantastic deal because they usually sell for around $4.  I checked the dates and knew that these six would get us through until the next summer.  It was a deal that would save us at least $9.  You might think that $9 isn’t a big deal, but when you do this consistently, those dollars add up saving you substantially over the months.

The same goes for socks and underwear.  They usually go on sale around back to school time and Christmas.  Buy them for gifts and make sure there’s enough for the entire year.  My stepson says this is the greatest gift.  He looks forward to getting them, so he doesn’t have to buy them.  It is a win/win.  The buyer gets them on sale, gives a gift, and the giftee gets a practical gift and saves even more!  My stepson thanks you, Tightwad Gazette!

Stock up when you see a sale of items you would normally buy anyway.  Just pay close attention to whether you will use it all before it goes sour and put them in a place you will find them when they are needed.  There is nothing worse than buying new socks, putting them in a closet and forgetting where you put them.  Then when you do need them, you have to go out and pay full price for something you already bought!  Nothing worse!!!


Buying quality investments over disposable junk.

Tightwad Gazette taught me that buying good quality staple pieces will save you money over time.  Let’s use laptop computers for example.  You can go to Walmart and for $139 purchase a lightweight laptop by a company called EVOO.  There’s a good chance you will have to buy another one in a few short years.  Or you can purchase an Apple or Samsung and the odds that it will last you many years to come are good.  This will save you in the long run.  Making the investment in quality will save money.

The same may ring true for shoes, clothing, furniture, and probably anything else you can think of.

Now, if you can purchase these quality items during a sale, you get double bonus points.   September and November are great months to buy electronics.  With back to school and Black Friday/Christmas sales, you are sure to grab a good deal.

Here is an excellent link for the best deals by month from CNBC.



Do it yourself!  Many examples are sprinkled through the Tightwad Gazette of how to fix things, build things, and create things yourself instead of hiring someone else to do it.  As the internet and specifically Youtube was not around in the 1990s, we are encouraged to go to the library and borrow a book on plumbing if we want to replace the kitchen sink.  Today, the same premise applies except the information is at your fingertips!

The internet will teach you anything you want to know. You are fixing your 2004 Honda Accord to doing maintenance on your window air conditioner unit.  It is all there.  If you are willing to DIY, you can find direction right from your comfy couch with a cup of coffee!!

The Tightwad Gazette

“Telling you how to save money is like telling you how to lose weight.  Everybody knows how to lose weight. You need to eat fewer calories than your body uses.  To save money, you need to spend fewer dollars than you earn.  In both cases, you need to adjust your rate of consumption to your rate of work…Telling you to earn more instead of saving more is like saying “Don’t eat less, exercise more.” There is no doubt that the minimum wage earner does need to earn more to afford…the basics of life.

But for most of us whether we choose to earn more or to save more depends on how easy, accessible, and enjoyable more work is. There is a point at which the quality of life and the standard of living depart…where earning more results in a personal cost and erodes the quality of life.  The solution is to find the right balance of earning more and saving more.  You need to couple your earning effort and your saving effort to achieve the highest quality of life.

Sometimes I feel like I am telling you everything you already know.

The purpose of The Tightwad Gazette is much the same (as losing weight). You will learn some new nitty-gritty strategies, and I will bring into focus what you already know.  But I hope you will come to regard it as a national tightwad network, providing support as you work toward reaching your goal.” -Amy Dacyczyn


Thank You, Amy Dacyczyn.

Thanks for inspiring me to stand up and admit I am a tightwad and I am proud of it.  If you haven’t checked out this book, I encourage you to borrow it or order it.  My copy has been invaluable over the last 20 years!

Printables and words


The Tightwad Gazette has taught me so many invaluable frugal lessons that I have practiced over the years!

If you would like to learn more about saving money at the grocery store, please consider signing up for my FREE eBook on how to save money and feed your family healthy meals for under $200 per month.  The eBook comes with printables, recipes, planners and grocery lists to help you stay organized and frugal!

2 thoughts on “Frugal Lessons From The Informative Tightwad Gazette”

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    I am a long-time fan of the TWG! I bought the books (yes, bought) new as a newly-wed back in the early 1990’s. I still have all three (before the three books was compile into the one BIG book) and still refer to the when I feel that my thriftiness is going off track. Even though many of the articles are dated and no longer applicable to most folks (re-inking your typewriter or dot matrix printer ribbon!), so many of them will ALWAYS apply to living a frugal lifestyle! You touched upon many of the classics in your article. Have you tried any of her other recipes? Tuna Cheddar chowder is DELIGHTFUL (although sadly, as a rule, we no longer buy seafood in our house, due to concerns about overfishing and mercury), and her Crusty Cuban bread….. so fast and easy and delicious! Even if you find Amy to be a bit “over the top” or feel that many of the ideas don’t apply to your life, just her infusion of basic frugal philosophy is inspiring! Hopefully you’ve inspired a new generation to take a peek at these books!

  2. blank

    They sure are classics! I would love to be responsible for bringing it back to the hands of a new generation! Wouldn’t it be great if Amy came out with an updated version?!?

    Over the years I have tried a number of her recipes. There are so many delicious ones!

    Thanks so much for stopping by the blog!

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