Home frugal living/saving money Frugal Living: The Tightwad Gazette Author, Amy Dacyczyn

Frugal Living: The Tightwad Gazette Author, Amy Dacyczyn

by adminnv

“Our first child was born nine months (and fifteen minutes) after the ceremony. I set aside my career in graphic design to be a Mom. It was during this time that I discovered daytime talk shows and first heard commonly held myths expounded by intelligent audience members.

“Nowadays, a family has to have two incomes to make ends meet.”

“Nowadays, it is impossible for a young couple to get into the housing market.”

“Nowadays, families cannot afford to raise more than two children.”

As if the message could magically be shot back through the television tube, I raised my fist and shouted, “It is not true, it can be done!” And so began my quest to prove that it could be done – that it was still possible to raise a large family and buy a house without two full-time incomes….

Over the years our average income has been less than $30,000. In less than seven years we saved $49,000, made significant investment purchases (vehicles, appliances, furniture) of $38,000, and were completely debt free! That is an annual savings/investment rate of over $12,500 per year, or 43% of our gross income.”

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Diane February 16, 2010 - 12:50 pm

I positively love Amy D. (btw, didja notice how I avoided spelling that tricky last name? clever eh? ;)) I bought all of her books as they were published years ago and I still keep them handy and refer to them often. She was really my first exposure to living frugally. Though I could never go quite as far as she has on occasion(using old bread bags in place of diaper covers for example) she has definitely made an impact on my lifestyle by her example. She might even be proud of me and my goal to buy nothing this year!

the cottage child February 16, 2010 - 3:16 pm

Yes yes and yes! I actually just started a series of posts (painfully revealing my own backsliding where frugality is concerned, and how obsessed I am with stuff) based on the I-bet-I-could-back-it-up-Biblically-if-I-weren’t-so-lazy-depression-era philosophy of use it up, wear it out, make do or do without. I love this lady – she really is amazing. Like Diane, I don’t think I’m game for every suggestion, but she certainly makes me think about each challenge in fresh ways.

Brandi February 16, 2010 - 6:16 pm

I love living frugal! I had to wrangle in my spending ways a couple years ago, when I left my career. I realized, that I would spend (on junk) most of what I brought home.
I am now the couponing, organic gardening, fresh bread making, penny pinching Mama. We have even managed to save a fully funded emergency fund over the last year. Like Amy said in the piece, saving is like a game.
I have never read her books, but I will be on the look out at the book swaps and yard sales.

Love this post WW!!
Many Blessings,

Jaime February 16, 2010 - 6:46 pm

Now you’re talking my language! I love ALL things frugal… and yes, you’re right, it CAN be done! :o)

Shannon February 16, 2010 - 11:34 pm

It saddens me that the world buys into and believes we can’t make it. I think we become what they say in a sense. If all the world is saying you must have two incomes, etc. then we somehow think they must know what they are talking about. I believe that God designed a system where Momma’s a raising their own children and He will provide, if we are good stewards of our money. I am frugal… and I have to be. I am a stay at home momma to four homeschooling kiddos and my husband teaches public school. We have put him through college and again, through the Master’s program and we are almost debt free on a salary under $45,000 a year. The only thing we still owe on is our mortgage and we are working on that one every chance we can. I am totally convinced that you can “have it all” on very little because the rest of the world is throwing it all away. What gets “thrown away” can be given to us by friends (clothing, etc.) or purchased second hand at yard sales and thrift shops (nearly anything) or sometimes purchased new on clearance sales. I bought 11 shirts on clearance at Wal-Mart a few days ago for $1 each for three of my girls… enough for 2-3 winters and they can hand them down through each other. I even splurged on 4 pairs of pants for my little on at $2 a piece!! And if you are not into Wal-Mart I was at The Children’s Place last night and they had a $2.97 rack… I passed because I have plenty of cuter clothes than what was n those racks. It’s a lot about watching sales and knowing when and where to shop …and being willing to take what people want to give to you ….or being willing to shop resale. My mom commented a few days ago that we travel more than they ever did. We do… frugally… adn we have more fun that most people. My mom and dad bought RVs and boats and land, etc. for vacation. That stuff is SO expensive. We can take a ton of trips for the cost of all that! People don’t see that. You have to THINK about what you are spending your money on. Sorry… I’ll go now… I am frugal and passionate about it!

Kim from Canada February 17, 2010 - 10:10 am

I remember reading about the Tightwad Gazette several years ago and went straight to the library to borrow a copy. The many different ideas were inspiring, for sure! Although, there are some things that were too frugal for me.

Unfortunately, I have friends who fit the world’s view about living on one income – because they haven’t been able to do it. In debt from overspending has brought them to a bandruptcy. With both parents having no inclination to change their spending ways, I pray the kids are learning how NOT to do it.

Is there a way to encourage people like this to change – or just live by example?

Word Warrior February 17, 2010 - 11:11 am

I love to give people Dave Ramsey material…he’s so much better at motivation and making sense about money, and people are more apt to listen to an “expert”…don’t you agree?

Kim M February 17, 2010 - 11:32 am

She is really inspiring. Her book is one of my favorites.

Charity February 17, 2010 - 2:55 pm

Kim from Canada….I know exactly what you mean. It is very tough to encourage someone to change their spending habits/financial mess when they just don’t care. Like Dave ramsey says, it’s like trying to light wet fire wood. Very frusterating!! My husband’s parents are this way and are constantly asking us for money. They over spend and then come to us with their hands out. (I thought that was usually the other way around.) It is often a tough spot for us as a young couple with three small children and they try to make my husband feel guilty but his responsiblity is to provide for his family…not to provide for his parents. Guess that’s a big motivating factor for us to live frugully, and debt free. My parents taught me that you could have anything as long as you have good credit. (I think alot of folks share that crazy way of thinking.) My husband says if you trust God and are a good steward of your money then you don’t need credit 🙂 Both of our families tease and make fun of us for shopping yard sales and thrift stores but at least WE paid for the things that we purchased, not VISA and not someone else that we had our hand out to ’cause we wasted our money.

Food for thought here….Can’t recall where I read this….The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing but in today’s day we apply for a curse and reject blessings.

Rachel February 17, 2010 - 3:27 pm

On another note – why do couples *have* to buy houses? I know that buying can sometimes be the wisest choice with money, but not always. I find it odd that the christian world mirrors the wordly world’s (!) obsession with buying a house at all costs!

Renting has many advantages. Depending on where you live it can be a lot cheaper, and you don’t have fork out for maintenance or insurance. Also, from a christian perspective, it can free up income to give to the Lord’s work, and can also mean you are more flexible to move house if the Lord leads you.

Many christians, rightly, see debt as a bad thing….until it comes to mortgages! My mother says that in her parents generation (born in the 1920s), you never went into debt. If you couldn’t buy a house outright (and most people couldn’t), then you didn’t buy one at all. The majority of people living in the world since creation have not lived in bought houses – so why do we feel that it has to be such a priority? I’m not saying it’s wrong to buy a house, but there seems to be an obsession with it as a major goal and life, and a major investment of money, tying up so much in a property, that could sometimes be used for better things.

On a personal level, we know that when we have children, I will stay home – and we know that we can’t afford a mortgage on our one salary, so we will continue to rent. We also are concerned that interests rates can be so volatile, and fixed rate mortgages so rare, that you can end up paying a lot more a month than you budgeted for. That scares me! And so for us, despite the constant harrassment from well-meaning christian friends and relatives, we will probably not buy a house. People always give us the line “well renting is dead money”, but what other every day purchases like food, electricity etc are investments? Those bills are technically “dead money” too, and yet they are a fact of life!

Word Warrior February 17, 2010 - 4:31 pm


I think you make a very valid point, one, in fact, that my brother just brought up yesterday. From Dave Ramsey’s perspective, he considers mortgage debt different because it is usually an investment that earns in time.

But still, I think you’re right, that we can way overrate our obsession with buying a house.

Charity February 17, 2010 - 5:07 pm

Rachel, I agree with you. We rent as well. For us that is being a better steward of our money than if we were to buy. Guess everyone looks at is differently but debt is debt, no matter who or what company it is owed to.

Jane February 18, 2010 - 8:17 am

My husband and I chose to buy a house rather than rent. We took out a small mortgage, by todays standards, and repaid it as quickly as we could. Our mortgage was paid off whilst my husband and I were still in our mid thirties. We have ‘owned’ our property for 12 years now. We now have no debts and consider this good stewardship. I am a SAHM and we have managed this on one income. My mother in law has always rented and is now in her mid 80’s and still paying rent which takes up half her pension even with housing benefit. I dont consider mortgage debt ‘bad’ but a lot of people borrow more than they need for houses they dont need, Christians sadly can fall into this trap too.

Rachel February 18, 2010 - 3:19 pm

Jane, please don’t think that I was saying that buying a house is wrong – I can see many advantages, and hopefully one day in our neck of the woods there may be houses that can be bought on one income 🙂 I agree, that it can, in many cases, be wise stewardship.

I suppose I just feel that sometimes it is overemphasised by christians – and I think that is sad, as we should be counter-cultural and not overly concerned with worldly possessions.

On the point of being retired and still having to pay rent because you have not bought a house – Well, I have to admit that this is a worry for me sometimes. However, I suppose the way people managed in the past was that the elderly who couldn’t work and so perhaps didn’t have enough to pay for rent, were taken in by children and extended family. Whereas now, we all fend for ourselves because we live in such an individualistic society. But I guess that is a whole different discussion!

Lisa March 22, 2010 - 3:38 pm

We rented for years. It was a very low rent, my H made a very good income and we could have and should have put a lot of money aside. But we didn’t.

We weren’t thrilled in our rental situation because the landlords didn’t want to make an effort to maintain the property and we ended up putting up with a lot of wear and tear issues and maintenance issues because we didn’t want to have to go begging for something to be done.

Then, my elderly grandmother told me she had a chunk of money she wanted to “gift” me now rather than after she was gone and she wanted me to use it to buy a house.

My uncle, her son, pressured us to move quickly because grandmother’s health wasn’t good and we had to have all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed as soon as possible.

There weren’t too many houses available that were reasonable as investments or remodels and we ended up picking the “best” house we could find that turned out to be a more expensive house.

All was fine ….. until last November when my H was laid off from a corporate job he’d had for 6.5 years. He took another job fairly quickly but it was at a $40k less per year than the other. There’s supposed to be a commission potential every quarter to make up the lack … but we’re not likely to see much of anything in that area for a while.

So we’re short $1,600 a month … now our mortgage takes up almost 1/2 of our income and I’m trying to cut every unnecessary expense that I can.

It’s awful being trapped by a large mortgage in a house that’s gone down in value $90k since we bought it. And while we owe less than it’s worth, it’s not by much and there’s no reason to hope to sell it any time soon.

If I had it to do over, I’d have waited as long as it took to find the “right” house for at least 1/2 of what we paid for this one … I’m not sure how we could have said that at the time but we felt like we would be foolish to not accept this gift as we’d likely never have that opportunity ever again in our lives.

Oh, and grandmother is doing very well, still. Thanks be to God.

God Bless,


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