`Frugal Zealot' Offers Cost-Cutting Encore `Tightwad Gazette' Author Amy Dacyczyn Introduces Her Second Penny-Pinching Guide

By Keith Henderson, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, February 21, 1995 | Go to article overview

`Frugal Zealot' Offers Cost-Cutting Encore `Tightwad Gazette' Author Amy Dacyczyn Introduces Her Second Penny-Pinching Guide


Keith Henderson, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


WHILE politicians in Washington cast about for ways to corral the federal budget, Amy Dacyczyn and the 43,000 readers of her "Tightwad Gazette" newsletter are perfecting the art of taming their family budgets.

It has been almost five years since Mrs. Dacyczyn (pronounced "decision") tagged herself "the frugal zealot" and began sharing her knack for pinching pennies. "The Tightwad Gazette II," her second book-length compilation of tips for keeping the "micro" end of the economy in balance, was just published by Villard.

A promotional tour brought her to Boston from rural Leeds, Maine, where she lives with husband Jim and their six children. As she seeks new ways to save money and ponders readers' questions, it becomes more difficult to fill her pages with short, straightforward hints about domestic life, Dacyczyn says.

For example, "Tightwad II" has a chapter on how to economize on funerals - an area she says she never would have ventured into had she not been urged to do so by her readers. Another chapter examines negotiating as a useful skill for deal-seeking tightwads.

Other equally complicated topics lie ahead. One that Dacyczyn views with some trepidation is financing a college education. But her predominantly middle-income readers - most of whom have families - have the subject much on their minds.

Still, tip lists for cheaper living always have plenty of room for the refreshingly mundane. Dacyczyn's book also has such reader-contributed gems as lemonade from lemon-juice concentrate and quick tomato soup from a can of tomato paste. Or how about making a new jar of pickles by slicing cucumbers into the juice remaining when an old jar is used up?

Food, in fact, will always be a preoccupation for the "frugal zealot" because it's one of three or four discretionary areas where families can make big reductions in spending. Other areas, in Dacyczyn's view, include clothing (her family is outfitted in almost 100 percent used clothing), entertainment ("entirely a matter of choice"), and gift-giving (often people are just guessing at what a friend or relative would like).

"Most families spend many times what they need to on food," she says, warming to the subject. …

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