Review- The Cheapskate Next Door

Jeff Yeager, a proud Cheapskate, has subtitled his 2010 book “The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means.”  That immediately made me think of The Millionaire Next Door series.  A few quotes to give you a sense of the book:

Sure, we could afford to spend more, but why would we?  It wouldn’t make us any happier….

But what I didn’t find was the kind of miserable, greedy, unscrupulous, Grinch-like cheapskate you might imagine.  That’s not to say that such individuals don’t exist, but they’re not the type of proud, generous, self-actualized individuals I found to be the norm, and on whom this book is based….

Are you saying that people will be happier if they shop less?  Judging from the way she was sneering at me across the faux-news desk, it was clear that the local noonday TV anchorwoman wasn’t asking a rhetorical question.  She looked like she’d bought–and was wearing–one of everything that QVC was selling that day.  And her clothes clearly weren’t all she’d bought.  Her extensive cosmetic surgery reminded me of a roadside billboard I once saw for a plastic surgeon just across the border in Mexico: “U Pay 4 UR Face + Hips…I do UR Breasts 4 Free!”  I’d endeared myself to her earlier by arriving for the interview on my bicycle, in a sweat-stained T-shirt.  Suffice it to say that we came from different worlds.

My favorite part of the book was chapter 1, in which he discusses how cheapskates think, and why that’s different (and healthier.) He points out that cheapskates are very peer-pressure resistant, value time and experiences more than money and things, don’t enjoy shopping, and are brand-blind and advertising-immune.  The book is worth a read just for this one chapter. If you’re a bit of a cheapskate like I am, you’ll laugh as you recognize yourself in his writing.  If you’re not, you’ll likely learn a lot that will benefit your retirement fund, as well as your happiness.

The remaining chapters are primarily instructions in how to be a cheapskate.  He talks about the importance of living in small houses, driving inexpensive cars, not wasting food, raising kids to be frugal, and how to haggle without looking like or feeling like a cheapskate.  He gives tips on insurance, buying clothes, and grocery shopping.  Although there are few stories about extremists such as Freegans (dumpster divers) most of the stuff in the book is applicable to any middle class American.

I suggest you pick up a copy.  You can buy from the links below to Amazon, or do what Jeff himself would do, go down to the library and borrow it!