Years ago, Parade Magazine did a feature on a lady from Maine named Amy Dacyczyn who went by the title "the frugal zealot." She published a monthly newsletter filled with ways to save money, and by the time the article ran in Parade, she had already compiled the first couple years of newsletters into her book: "The Tightwad Gazette." There was a money-back guarantee on the book - if you didn't save more than the cost of the book from ideas in the book, you could get back your purchase price.
At the time, I considered myself an expert in ways to save money (ha!) and so I bought the book, fully expecting to ask for my $9.95 refund. Shortly after reading the book, I received a coupon from a long-distance carrier offering me $50 to switch to them. I called my current carrier and offered to mail the coupon to them instead for a $50 credit on my account. They happily agreed. It wasn't until my roommate asked me how I knew to do that that I realized I'd gotten the idea from "The Tightwad Gazette." I promptly subscribed to the newsletter and remained a customer until 1996 when the newsletter run ended. The original book I purchased covered only a few years, but the current book has been updated to contain the entirety of the newsletters.
"The Tightwad Gazette" is much more than just a list of ideas on how to save money, although I'd dare anyone to not learn something new. Amy covers almost every method of saving money imaginable, and in this economy that might be very helpful. I think the biggest strength of the book is the philosophical articles interspersed throughout that cover everything from how blackbelt tightwaddery can help you achieve your dreams, the effect of frugality on the environment, how a little savings put to use wisely (rather than put in the bank!) can snowball into big savings, to how to painstakingly calculate the best deal when comparing, for example, medium vs. large eggs. Some of the articles are hilarious. One of my favorites is Amy's retelling of a contest between herself and her husband as they competed by preparing air popped vs. microwave popcorn.
"The Tightwad Gazette" is not perfect by any means. Many things are dated and I expect most readers will find a lot that is irrelevant. Mention of environmental issues is infrequent. You'll not find a guide to saving money while trying to purchase organic produce, and many times it seems the only consideration is actual dollars spent. I've changed my thinking a lot since I first purchased the book and now I care how the cow was raised or how the workers were paid. That's not in the book. That said, though, every time I reread "The Tightwad Gazette," I gain something new that I can use. Just this week, I marked the recipe for making homemade pancake syrup and I got some great ideas for lunch box fillings, which was timely since my son just started preschool.
I'd give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for light green to medium green readers, and anybody who is looking for ways to save money.