So, I finally got a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette and am so put off by the author that I'm not convinced the book is going to be any use to me.
Now, I have no problem with thrift, admire even the psycho thrifters who make their money go further than I could ever dream of making mine go, and agree that there are lots of places in my life where I could be a lot more thrifty. But I think that being thrify can become an illness and the author of TCTG has reached that point as far as I'm concerned.
The first article that tipped me off was the 'tightwad test.' One of the questions was what the dinner conversation would be at a fancy restaurant, the meal for which was being paid by gift certificates. The 'correct' answer, according to the author, is to spend the evening analysing how much more cheaply the meal could be made at home! WHAT?! Now, I'm someone who likes to dine out who had cut back her dining expenditures significantly. So, when I treat myself to a meal out, it's to enjoy being served, not having to make the meal and clean up after it, etc., that I think about. If the meal is a gift, so much the better. That question implied that the author would have preferred to have received the value of the gift certificate in cold hard cash for her grocery budget. Personally, I'd strike her off my gift list.
The other comment that irritated me was when she chided herself for taking a hot bath. COME ON! If you're being thrifty in every other area of your life, that you're working hard at home to work less outside the home, have a family, etc., what is so wrong with taking a time out in a hot tub of water???
Finally, what is with her attitude regarding seafood??? Yes, seafood is pricier than tuna or chicken, but what's wrong with wanting shrimp once in a while??? You know what, author? Yeast costs a lot of money, so why don't you make unleavened bread instead?
I agree with the author in principle in regards to her basic philosophy--that thrift can be used to buy your freedom, but when thrift becomes a reason for denigrating generous gifts or little luxuries, then I think there's a problem. The author does have a lot to teach, with years of experience backing her up, but her attitude towards 'spend thrifts' is so superior as to be insulting.
Yes, I am currently one of those spend thrifts she so despises (although I do have areas where I show astounding frugality), but I haven't always been. There was a time in the not so long ago past, that I had to make do--make do with two shirts and one pair of pants for a whole semester because I couldn't afford even thrift store offerings, make do with a 25$ per month food budget because the food banks turned me down (thank goodness for wild foods which probably account for the fact that I never got scurvy), make do without social outings, make do with the boots that had a hole in them.... All that make doing taught me the value of certain things, like a splurge for shrimp or a hot bath on a cold winter's night.
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."