The justly famous Tightwad Gazette is, I believe, misunderstood. I think most people think of it as a collection of tips. There are tips aplenty, most of which I either already did or found useless (to me) or irrelevant (again to me).
Even though I was pretty advanced in the frugal way by the time I got a hold of these books, first by borrowing them from a friend and then by snagging them at a thrift store, I love the books and will probably never pass them on. I re-read them all the time. Not for the tips, but for the philosophy. Plus, Amy Dacyzyn is an excellent writer.
So, here's a bit of her philosophy: an essay in TG II called "The Supermarket versus the Stock Market" (pp. 51-52). She responds to people who have urged her to write about investing. She counters by saying that, first of all, she feels like she's not qualified. Then she goes on to wonder if anyone really is. That's a thought that has crossed my mind of late. I'm not just talking about bloggers here; I'm talking about all the so-called "experts" with or without MBAs who have been declaring that "no one could have seen the financial meltdown coming."
She later points out that "Tightwaddery gives you a great financial return [on investment]." Her example is a family that follows her frugal shopping tips and saves $250.00 a month. This is in the early 90s, by the way. You would need $50,000.00 earning 6% a year to get the same $3000.00. Yes, I am ignoring compound interest.
Fast forward to now. My Vanguard Money Market is earning less than 1%. Even at 1% I would need $300,000 to earn the grocery savings. Oh, and what if I had done a cashout re-fi as all my mortgage broker acquaintances were urging me two summers ago? And invested the proceeds in the stock market as they were advising?
You get the picture. The only sure things these days--or any days, really--are paying off your mortgage and learning to save on necessities. Somehow no one in the financial press was saying this during the boom years. Or bubble years.
Thank you, Amy, for your timeless wisdom.