Skip to Content

Tightwad Gazette Tour | Winter, from Book One

After I shared my last Tightwad Gazette post, a lot of you said you’d love for this to be a continuing series. Your wish is my command, so here we are for round two!

copy of Tightwad Gazette book on a table.

We’re running through the Winter section of the first book, which in my edition starts on page 78.

title page for winter section.

Let’s go!

(It is a little funny to be reading all these winter tips while my heat index is at 102º F, but never fear. We will get to the spring and summer sections of this book while it’s still hot in the northern hemisphere. 😉 )

Home Decor for Tightwads

Amy wrote a feature about decorating a home on a budget, and I smiled because her first point was also my first point when I wrote about ways to make your home more beautiful for $0. 

And that tips is: keep it clean!

Kristen in her messy kitchen.

Kristen's kitchen.

A tidy, clean space is always going to feel nicer than a dirty, cluttered space, and that is true no matter how much money you have to spend on your home.

Classic: The Time and Money Chart

This is one of those TG articles that I still remember reading!

time vs money chart.

In it, Amy points out that the hourly “savings wage” for doing a frugal activity is not the sole consideration when we make a “Should I bother with this?” decision.

For instance, there might be other values that come into play as well (a frugal practice might also be eco-friendly, or might support a small business/charity.)

And enjoyment also factors in. If you have fun doing a particular frugal activity, that immediately vaults it higher up the priority list, even if the savings wage is not super impressive.

And the inverse is true as well; if you really, really loathe a money-saving activity, that should de-prioritize that one a little.

So there’s:

  • actual savings
  • other values
  • enjoyment

A few examples I thought of: eBay purchasing definitely saves me money (actual savings). But I also value the idea of buying secondhand for environmental reasons (other values) and enjoy the process of poking around on there to see if I can find what I need (enjoyment).

Conversely, line-drying laundry is cheaper than using a dryer. And it also is easier on the environment, which I value. But I hated the process when I tried it, so I decided it was not worth the negligible electric savings*.

(*Which I did calculate in a detailed fashion, and at the time, it was saving me less than $100 a year. Not worth it to me!)

Amy on dating

This is another article that felt entirely new to me, probably because I was already married by the time I read The Tightwad Gazette.

But given my change in circumstances (!), I was curious to see what she would say.

origami hearts

Amy is obviously approaching this from a financial angle, and it sounds like she and her husband are super compatible, with rare fights. She says,

I have always believed that teamwork has been our greatest economic asset. We do not need to expend energy “working on our marriage”, whatever that means. As a result, we have maximum energy to devote to our common goals.

Lemme just say, if I get married again, I would really love to have the privilege of saying something like, “working on our marriage, whatever that means.” That was, uhhhhh, not my experience.

A few nuggets:

Amy says that if you want to attract a tightwad, put out “frugal date baits” (such as giving a plant instead of flowers, making some homemade chocolates, or cooking a meal for the other person).

When you’ve found a tightwad, they will “twinkle with delight” at these types of things, while a spendthrift will be confused or offended.

The other person’s reaction is helpful data for your should-I-keep-dating-this-person decision!

Also, this is really good:

When you are dating, don’t worry about making a good impression. Make an accurate impression. Spend in a way that is consistent with your income and values. In doing so, you increase your chances of attracting someone with whom you are most compatible.

I think that applies not just to finances but to any aspect of dating. There is literally no point in pretending to be someone you are not; even if you snag someone that way, you will have to:

A) keep up an exhausting charade into perpetuity


B) deliver a crushing disappointment to the other person when you reveal your real self

Better to be exactly who you are, and the other person can just take it or leave it. 🙂

Did powdered milk used to be cheaper?

This winter section has a feature on homemade hot cocoa, which features powdered milk, of course. And many tightwad recipes from the past sing the praises of powdered milk for its affordability.

an opened tin of hot chocolate mix.

I will say that back when I first became an adult, powdered milk was readily available at the stores I shopped at, and it was affordable.

But in the last 25 years, it seems to me that it has become both harder to find and more expensive.

Like, this Great Value package makes 5 gallons, and it costs almost $20. That is not exactly a screaming deal.

Has this been your experience as well?

Times Have Changed

A reader writes that his drugstore is always raising prices, so he suggests checking boxes at the back of the shelf because they might not have gotten marked up yet.

I was temporarily confused when I started reading his tip (wouldn’t they all scan the same price?) and then I remembered that ohhhhh, this was long enough ago that it was more common for items to have little price stickers on them! Ha.

Old navy price tag sticker.

(His tip finishes by saying “This works best in older stores that don’t use a laser reader.” 😉 )

Cold medicines might be a waste of money

I had no memory of reading this feature, in which Amy points out that most cold medicines are at best, ineffective. This was surprisingly prescient of her, given that the FDA just recently told us that phenylephrine, a decongestant in cold medicine does…nothing. 😉

cold medicine bottles.

And the same is apparently true for most other types of cough medicines. Most improvements we feel when we take them are merely the placebo effect, except for some nasal sprays and analgesics.

That tracks because in my experience, just about the only thing that actually helps is some ibuprofen to reduce body aches.

Amy also suggests rest, patience (a cold will take as long as it takes), a hot drink, and a good diet; I can’t argue with those ideas.

tea in white mug

Something I’m gonna try: blue jean potholders

I know I have a pair of old jeans in my rag bag that would work for this project, so I think I’m gonna try it, just for fun!

directions for making blue jean potholders.

Something I’m not gonna try: homemade pancake syrup

pancake syrup recipe.

Zoe and I do eat French toast, pancakes, and waffles regularly but…we are much more likely to top ours with whipped cream and fruit than with syrup.

homemade whipped cream

I have no idea how the cost compares, but homemade whipped cream is actually less sugary than syrup. And while it does contain lots of fat, so does butter, which most people include when they use syrup.

So I am team whipped cream all the way, thank you very much.

Something I’m also not gonna try: tin angel ornament

tin angel ornament directions.

I’m pretty prone to accidentally cutting myself from just daily life activities, so to me, this little Christmas craft looks like a pile of finger cuts waiting to happen.

(Look! Here’s an actual photo of one of the ornaments.)


Did you read along with me? I’d love to hear what stood out to you in this section!

And of course, you can give me opinions on what I shared here, even if you haven’t read the book.

P.S. For your future reading plans: I’ll do a recap of the Spring section of book one in two weeks, on July 10th. You can access the book online for free right here.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Tuesday 2nd of July 2024

One last thing, and I apologize for this being kind of a downer....but it's best not to ignore a cough for long. I did and it was lung cancer. Horrible surgery and I'm okay now, 10+ years later; even though I knew that was a symptom, I ignored it because I'm a non-smoker.


Tuesday 2nd of July 2024

I was a subscriber to The Tightwad Gazette and have the books in 3 volumes. They're very worn now. We used to make the pancake syrup, but now usually buy the cheap stuff at Aldi. However, we always use her Chocolate Syrup recipe. It's far better than anything commercial.

The potholders: I haven't made the denim ones, but I did make a whole stack of ones from an old white bath towel; left the edges raw (because I don't care) and can bleach the dickens out of them.

Clean house: that was my favorite article out of all 3 books. She describes going to an elderly person's house and that it wasn't "decorated", just cheerful and clean. That reminded me so much of going to visit my husband's grandmother. She had married in 1903 and still was using the original set of Arts & Crafts furniture they'd bought. There was always a starched white tablecloth on the table, along with a very old casserole dish with oyster crackers in it. Even though she was in her 90s, the house was uncluttered and spotless. And not decorated.


Saturday 29th of June 2024

I was one of the first subscribers to Tightwad Gazette back in the early 90s before she was on Donahue and blew up. There is some kind of wise tale associated with powder milk that it was cheaper the milk. I got married in 1989 and it has never been true in 35 years. I love the smell of line dried sheets etc. It is not money saving as it caused my allergies to flare. Always thought the marriage statement was odd. It is really easy to get caught up in life especially when the kids are young and easy to put your marriage on the back burner. It takes some work to make sure your marriage is on the front burner. I have always been appreciative of the Tightwad Gazette. We were very young Marine Corps family and with the advice of the frugal community we were able to thrive on such a little income and do the things that were important to us like traveling.


Saturday 29th of June 2024

Oh, that's so cool you were an original subscriber!


Friday 28th of June 2024

I heard, or maybe read?, years ago that a cold takes about nine days to run its course. The saying was something like, "A cold takes 3 days coming, three days staying, and 3 days going." Surprisingly, I have found this little gem to be pretty accurate (at least for me). Has anyone else ever heard this? I'd love to hear if others found it to be accurate also.


Tuesday 2nd of July 2024

@Sfeather, The first place I ever heard that about the 9 days was on an episode of Mary Tyler Moore. It was my favorite episode, and I think it was Put on a Happy Face.


Friday 28th of June 2024

The savings from line drying isn't just from saving electricity. There's less wear on the clothes, and less risk of setting a missed stain. Personally, I hate folding clothes, so I hang everything I can to dry, and it leaves me very little to fold :)

The milk, that bugs me too, but I keep it around to avoid quick trips to the grocery store. Which saves me on impulse buys, gas, and my time :)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.