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Tightwad Gazette Tour | Spring, from Book One

Alrighty! Time for the third edition of our trip through the Tightwad Gazette books. 🙂

This time around we are in spring from the first of the three books. Let’s dive in!

spring cover page.

(This starts on page 163 in my edition of The Complete Tightwad Gazette. And as usual, I’m just picking and choosing some things to highlight; this is not an exhaustive review.)

On Easter

Amy starts out by saying that the commercialism of Easter bothers her, and my first thought was….imagine her dismay at the current state of things!

marshmallow bunnies.

In my lifetime, pretty much every holiday has gotten noticeably more commercial, with home decor, yard decor, specialty-shaped foods, holiday clothing, and more.

 

 

 

By comparison, the 1990s holidays were probably pretty mild.

I kept the Easter egg hunts pretty simple; I had a big collection of plastic eggs (which I stored in an old plastic file container).

easter eggs

I filled them with candy, hid them, and the kids hunted for them, basket or bag in hand.

And as they ate the candy in the weeks following Easter, we put the eggs back into the file container for the next year. Easy peasy, and no pesky Easter grass to deal with. 😉

Putting out the word

This article is one of those that has stuck with me over the years mainly because I have employed this practice faithfully.

In short, the idea is that if you let it be known that you are searching for x, y, or z, you may be able to snag something for a great price or even for free. You’ll have more eyeballs looking out for the items you want, and sometimes even a friend of a friend of a friend might have what you need.

A very modern version of this exists in my Buy Nothing group, where people can put out requests for items they want/need.

stacked cereal bowls.

My Buy-Nothing cereal bowls!

A related strategy is to be unabashedly known as someone who accepts free things. When my kids were little, lots of people knew I cheerfully accepted big bags of hand-me-downs, so I was the recipient of many such bags.

Because of the volume of the hand-me-downs, I was able to find a lot of things my kids needed, and I was also able to be pretty picky about what I kept and what I passed on.

Similarly, since people know I accept free food and I want to avoid food waste, they’ve often given me their extra food, like when they’re moving to a new state, or when they’re making a dietary change.

And more recently, when I moved out of my marital home and started over, several people kindly gave me things like extra furniture and lamps; I don’t think anyone worried that I’d be offended because I am quite publicly known as a person who appreciates free things. 😉

A dark wood nightstand.

nightstand and lamp from Book Club Elaine; bed frame from my neighbor Kate

Converting Your Spouse

Lots of married readers wrote to Amy asking her how to convert a non-tightwad spouse, and she reluctantly gave her best tips (reluctant because this has not been an issue in her marriage.)

origami red and pink hearts

Another reason for reluctance: she says, “I suspect that if a change runs completely against someone’s character, the best you can hope for is a small degree of behavior modification. The trust is that you cannot change your spouse.”

She gives some tips for how to best accomplish some behavior modification, but in a follow-up article, she notes that less than six of her readers reported any success at all in converting their spendthrift spouses.

And that leads me to the end of the first article, where she addresses single readers.

“The very fact that large numbers of married tightwads request this article should be a red flag to you. Continue to weed out candidates until you find one whose fiscal philosophy matches yours. Every good tightwad knows that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Wise words. 🙂

Reusing a vacuum cleaner bag?

Blue Miele twist vacuum.

Amy is in support of this idea, but everything I have read says that the vacuum bag is an important part of the filtering system in a vacuum, and reusing the bags after emptying them will cause problems.

So I have never tried this hack. What about you?

Disposable Diaper Parent Syndrome

When I was a kid, cloth diapers seemed very normal to me, and I can remember folding cloth diapers in our family laundry, and I also remember changing cloth diapers on my cousins.

page from tightwad gazette.

I always thought I would be a cloth diaper mom too, but I ended up having my first baby in a basement apartment where I had access to the upstairs washing machine just one day per week.

This was not a situation that called for cloth diapering; heck, even managing regular baby laundry was tough under the circumstances.

A pair of baby feet in black and white.

So, I started out my mothering career with disposables and just continued on that way.

I did employ a variety of savings strategies for disposables, so my total cost for diapering all my babies was probably much less than the average.

I read conflicting things about the cost savings from cloth diapers (some are sure it saves a lot, some say, “it depends”), but there are a lot of factors that go into the calculations (how many times a day do you change, how much is electricity in your area, how many years of diapering does your kid need, did you buy the diapers new or used, and so on)

It is almost certainly more eco-friendly to cloth diaper, which makes me feel very slightly guilty about my use of disposables. But what’s done is done, and I figure that I do a lot of other eco-friendly things, so I’m not gonna lie awake at night and fret about this.

How to save on pantyhose

My current answer: don’t wear them. I love that our current fashion trends do not require pantyhose at all times. I hate pantyhose, mostly particularly because if you carelessly look at a pair the wrong way, they get a run.

black heeled shoe.

But back then, a reader wrote in to suggest buying “irregular” pantyhose through a discount catalog. I did actually do this for a number of years, and one downside is that sometimes the irregularities mean that the legs of the pantyhose are rather twisted.

So then you can never get them on quite straight and you feel vaguely uncomfortable the whole time you have them on.

I am very happy that I have had to wear pantyhose maybe 5 times in the last 15 years. Yay for modern trends!

Juice lid reuses

Is it just me, or did frozen juice concentrate used to be more of a thing?

orange juice concentrate

 

When my kids were little, there was a big selection, but now at most stores, it’s pretty meager.

(The jello section has shrunk similarly!)

Also, a lot of juice concentrates are entirely plastic, so there are no metal lids to save for creative reuses.

ideas for reusing juice lids.

One way I reused them was not even on the list in this book; my kids used them as pretend money. We just used a sharpie to write the value of the “coin” on both sides of the lid, and we were good to go.

 

I think my kids made some juice lid coins that were worth astronomical amounts, such as $5000. Heh.

I wish I had a picture of these, but they are all still in the toy food bin that I left behind, and I searched in my blog photos to no avail.

Toy food bin

There’s probably a picture on here somewhere, but it’s from back in the day when photos were unlabeled, and thus less searchable.

(Things have changed a lot in the blogging world in sixteen years!)

Budget Weddings

Amy notes that she once attended a lavish wedding, rumored to cost $40,000. But according to Forbes, the average wedding cost in 2024 is $33,000! Yikes.

I smiled at her suggestion to go to a pawn shop to buy wedding rings because when I went to sell mine from my marriage, the prices they offered were shockingly low, and they said they have more wedding rings than they know what to do with.

wedding rings in Kristen's hand.

 

So, I’m guessing the selection of rings to be purchased at such a place might be pretty extensive! I’d definitely consider that as an option.

Any wedding in my future is probably going to be a slightly elevated elopement. I have zero desire to do the whole big wedding thing again. 😉

And going back to the dating topic we discussed in the last TG post: if two tightwads manage to find each other, they might both be perfectly happy to have a very simple, small wedding.

Conversely, if you are a tightwad and you are marrying someone who wants to drop $33,000 on a wedding…well, that might be a harbinger of financial problems to come.

A “seafood” (aka tuna) casserole

This recipe is so classic for the time: a pasta casserole with a sauce made of mayo and condensed cream soup, and a crumb topping.

tuna casserole recipe.

Amy modifies the recipe to make it cheaper (homemade bread crumbs, homemade condensed cream soup), which is a practice I do regularly.

In fact, barely a month into this blog’s existence, I wrote a post called “frugalizing a recipe“.

But if I was going to frugalize this recipe, I’d probably just make a quick white sauce in place of the mayo and the condensed soup.

Also, I’d spend more to use freshly cooked shrimp. And there’s no way in the world I’d use American cheese.

(Also: how does one even shred American cheese???)

But, the frugalizing concept is still a keeper! It’s always good to look at a regular recipe and think, “How could I make this less expensive?”

Alrighty! Give me your thoughts on these Tightwad Gazette tidbits.

(and any others that you may have noticed if you are reading along with me)

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Selena

Wednesday 10th of July 2024

Well if you can purchase American cheese (in a block) from a real dairy, it can be shredded. Kraft used to sell Am cheese in blocks but I've not seen it for, well, decades. Tupperware sold a cheese holder for said block. Likely too much work to take it out of the frig, slice what you need, then put it back in the frig. Those "wrapped" slices are the absolute worse. No small wonder Am cheese is not popular these days but alas, I am a purist when it comes to cheese and certain foods.

F

Wednesday 10th of July 2024

My baby, my husband and I love our cloth diapers & wipes so I feel compelled to share. We received a bunch from Buy Nothing groups & supplemented via local kids trade/resale shop & online resale (Poshmark), as well as our local zero-waste store. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to manage the garbage and constant purchasing of disposable! Very grateful for easy access to a washing machine & backyard (for outdoor drying); I admit it would be tough without these luxuries!

Laurel A

Wednesday 10th of July 2024

A couple of things struck me. I worked at a camp one summer, and we saved juice can lids to make medals for our summer "Olympics" for over 100 kids! I used cloth diapers only for my third child-she was a quiet, calm child. Had no dryer for a couple of years, so I hung them on the line to dry. After the fourth child came along, she was always on the road with her siblings, cloth didn't work out. My two middles got married the same year-One had a typical weekend type wedding at a local inn, with a lot of diy touches. The other opted to elope to the courthouse with just the parents. She didn't want to be the center of attention. Both were lovely, and just what each daughter wanted. I made cakes for both of them, and friends did flowers. Fortunately the one who had a traditional wedding received a retention bonus from her job that covered most of it! She even had camping at her house and rented a portapotty. Five years down the road, both couples are happy in their own homes. My son recently (age 40) recently thanked me for bringing him up frugally-he lives quite happily on a shoestring! I credit a lot of that from the influence of the tightwad gazette and it's teachings.

SK in Norway

Wednesday 10th of July 2024

I remember the frozen juice concentrate! It must have been expensive because I remember we were only allowed one glass a day. I am an outlier here because I still wear pantyhose all the time. Norway is too cold for bare legs most of the time, and I like the way the sheer pantyhose even out my skin tone.

Blue Gate Farmgirl

Wednesday 10th of July 2024

Easter decorations are simple, no baskets, an adult egg hunt (think dark chocolate, money, vintage jewelry from my auntie's estate), kids egg hunt is a farm wide riddle with eggs filled with chocolate and gummy things & skittles. My Grandma started the tradition and we have continued it. My vacuum is a vintage Rainbow (water filter) that I bought at an estate sale for $25, 35 years ago, still running strong. I purchase frozen Grapefruit juice for my favorite mocktail - selter water, 2 jiggers tart cherry juice and 4 oz Grapefruit juice - served over crushed ice. The frozen lemonade I use for icebox pie: 1 qt vanilla ice cream, 6 oz lemonade. I make a shortbread crust (gluten free). I am not a big casserole cook. We eat salad, veggie and protein. I catch and can my own tuna, I would never dream of using it in a casserole. I can the dark/blood meat for the cats and most people buy this grade at the store. I once took tuna to a sick friend and I made tuna salad sandwiches w/my home pickles on the side and he thought it was chicken. I only process it every other year, but fish every year to help my cousin (his ocean boat). It is an amazing loooong day as we usually go out 40 miles to the warmer water. We know when we're getting into tuna when the black and white porpoises show up. So fun! My husband and I had a farm wedding. Simple. easy. relaxing. BBQ, home made pies and cake, we went camping for the honeymoon.

Lindsey

Wednesday 10th of July 2024

@Blue Gate Farmgirl, I salute you for canning your own tuna. Once I canned salmon, an all day process done in a travel trailer that we borrowed and drove to the local salmon site. The equipment I had to bring so I could safely can was huge and the kitchen area very small. Husband and I each caught our max over two days, and the second day I canned while he gutted and prepared the fish and then while I processed that he caught his allowable amount. Never again!

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