An Interview With Amy Dacyczyn

Author, The Tightwad Gazette

tightwad!When I was first going through my financial turnaround, I was heavily inspired by Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette, not only as a person discovering frugality, but as a writer. As I said in my review of the book, “Highly recommended, and the single best book on frugality I’ve read, bar none.”

The Tightwad Gazette was a newsletter written by Amy in the 1990s, with the last issue going out in 1996. I saw the newsletter a few times when it was in print, but I didn’t really dig into it until later on, when I was in bad financial shape and I turned to my local library to find out ways to help me out of my debt crisis. There, I found The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and it was a revelation – a thousand page tome full of ideas on how to save money, conveniently written in bite sized pieces almost like blog postings. Needless to say, I ate it up and was duly inspired, not only as a person looking to save money, but as a writer, too.

It was a great privilege for me to get to interview Amy, who has inspired me in many ways over the last few years. Since our conversation went on for a very long time and touched on a lot of topics that are way outside of the range of this blog (the publishing industry, etc.), I’ve just selected several of the most relevant pieces for your enjoyment.

What have you been up to over the last ten years since you stopped writing The Tightwad Gazette?

I’ve done a lot of different things. For about six years, I ran a church thrift shop on a volunteer basis a couple of days a week … I kind of burned out doing that. Other than that, I’ve mostly spent my time taking care of my kids, maintaining my house, and doing much of the same things I wrote about in The Tightwad Gazette.

Are you familiar with the waves of people online who write quite enthusiastically about frugality, essentially recreating The Tightwad Gazette’s philosophy online?

That’s something I’ve picked up on in the last year or so. When I retired, I really, really retired and I haven’t been out looking at what’s on other websites and I haven’t gone out looking to see what others are saying about me on websites. I was actually surprised to discover that there are people out there still writing about frugal topics with a hardcore passion and sharing it so openly.

I first really became familiar with The Tightwad Gazette via my local library…

That was absolutely intentional. When I was writing the newsletter, I didn’t ever repeat any material, but I knew that the material had a lot of archival value. Once I started publishing the books, which were basically compilations of the articles from The Tightwad Gazette newsletter, I knew the newsletter would have a finite life span – that I wouldn’t just start repeating articles and sending them out again. The decision to do books was made so that they would be around for the long term in libraries and other places and it would be free and accessible to anyone.

One librarian in Maine says that The Complete Tightwad Gazette is the most frequently stolen book in the Maine library system!

Have you ever considered writing The Tightwad Gazette again, perhaps in online form? I think it’d make a killer blog.

No, no. I’m really retired. Every once in a while I run across something that I think would be a cool topic and I wish I were still writing the newsletter, but there’s not that much that I’ve come across that’s enough different from the stuff I already wrote about to make a new newsletter. It really was a grind, a lot of work … I like privacy. It was a crazy time and I’ve never really regretted retiring. After six and a half years, I was really ready to retire.

What’s the best tactic for saving money you’ve come across since you stopped writing The Tightwad Gazette?

The internet, without a doubt. There are countless ways to save money and stretch your dollar online: selling used stuff, buying used stuff you need, comparison shopping, inexpensive entertainment, inexpensive educational materials – for the price you pay for it, the internet is a spectacular bargain if you use it well.

The advice I wrote about the internet in The Tightwad Gazette in 1995 and 1996 are now embarrassingly dated – those pieces should basically be ignored today. Now, I’m online every day – I use eBay to sell stuff, get medical information, get legal information, order books through inter-library loan, and so on. I got interested in music and CD buying and selling – I used online resources to find what contemporary music I liked, then I was able to buy it through discount music sites, paying $1 to $5 per CD with shipping.

I’m a natural research – anything that interests me, I’ll go off on a tangent researching a topic and studying it for hours. The internet is amazing for that, with resources like Wikipedia – you can learn a ton and it’s all free.

I’m actually thinking of joining Netflix. It’s only $9 a month and since there’s no library in my town I have to use the state library system to get items, but I have to pay for shipping one way on that. Since we watch a lot of films, Netflix seems to be cheaper – we’re going to give it a try. $8.99 gets you six movies a month … that seems like it will fit our needs. We have a lot of free time now that our children have moved out.

I joined a gym – I can’t believe I actually joined a gym, but I have. I’m 52 now, and I found after trying a gym that it was much better at motivating me to get exercise than my home equipment was, and I need the exercise for muscle tone and so on. I tried several and found a gym that I liked – it’s not a choice I would have ever made until I could actually afford it, though. That’s the one luxury I’ve really added to my life over the last ten years.

Any final thoughts? Maybe some writing tips?

Writing is often one of those lightning in a bottle things. There’s some combination of elements that you’ll put together that is unique and it will appeal to people for some reason. It’s not really something you can predict – it just has an appeal. Who knows? It’s just a unique combination of what you’re doing that works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – but if you haven’t found it, tinker all the time until you hit upon something that works.

(A note from me here: between many of these questions, Amy gave me a lot of great advice about the grind of consistently writing good content over a long period of time, some specific advice on how to handle negative readers, and also some suggestions about publishing and various models (newsletters versus blogs and so on). One good idea that might come out of that talk: a “Best of The Simple Dollar” compilation might be a great way to keep the best material from the site around after I’ve stopped writing it at some point in the future. Many, many thanks to Amy for all of her advice and thoughts!)

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  1. luvleftovers says:

    I purchased the three volumes, used of course, about 6 months ago and pick one up periodically to read part of it. There are some great ideas, recipes and advise in there!

  2. Michael says:

    Wow, this is wonderful and I will forward it to several people.

  3. jennifer says:

    How on earth did you get to interview the Frugal Zealot. I purchased the complete tightwad gazette when I had my first child. I am now able to be a stay at home mom… and when I struggle with my motivation necessary to do the frugal things necessary, I did out her book again (in addition to this blog). I am just tickled pink to get the update on a person that almost feels like an old acquaintance because of the # of times I’ve read her materials. Thanks Trent!

  4. Serendipity says:

    This was awesome! I always wondered where the OG simplicity guru went off to. I so glad to hear she’s truly retired. Not because I don’t wish she was still putting out great info, but because it’s nice to know that she walks the talk. She’s not preaching simplicity and frugality while living a crazy lifestyle.

    It was also great to hear that her frugality has evolved (Netflix, gym membership, etc.). After all, our needs all change and we don’t have to beat ourselves up for something if it contradicts something that worked in a different phase of life.

  5. Tori says:

    Here’s a request from the writer(s) in the house: I’d like to see Amy’s writing tips. Could you publish that part of the interview?

  6. PJ Wyatt says:

    I’m with Tori — what else did Amy have to say? About anything!

    Thanks so much for tracking her down and interviewing her. I, too sat at her knee when she was writing. I read all 3 of her books cover-to-cover probably once per year. She and I corresponded for a time (snail mail, hand-written letters) until her twins were born, and then she no longer had time to maintain a correspondence. Wow, and all her kids have flown the coop now. Am I that old?

  7. KJ says:

    This made me smile so hard. Thank you, Trent, and thanks as always, Amy, for pointing me on the road to financial success.

    I made blueberry muffins this morning using her catch-all, use-what-you-have recipe and _strongly_ suggest it (it’s in the Complete TG). Once you get used to making them, they are super-simple to construct and a nice change from oatmeal every once in a while. Although I still loves me the oatmeal.

  8. Jenl says:

    I have always loved her, and think it’s just downright amazing that you scored an interview since she is obviously Very Retired and enjoying it so much.

    Would love to hear her writing tips, too. Come on Trent, don’t hold out on us!

  9. Jay says:

    What a scoop! Congratulations!

  10. nebula61 says:

    This is my favorite post of all! I am jealous of you getting the opportunity to talk to her! I also bought the three books at a used bookstore after I had read them in the library and they are part of my permanent personal reference library. I wondered what had happened to her and I really wish she would return in blog form, to publishing. Oh well! Thanks for making this interview available Trent. And I would also like to know her writing tips.

  11. Ro says:

    Wow, Trent, thanks! You rock! Any other tidbits about her kids? I can’t believe all of them are gone…I thought at least the twins would still be at home, maybe they are at college.

    I have referred to her books so many times…I bought them seperately as they came out, and they are the most worn books in my library!

    Thanks again for this wonderful chance to catch up with what she’s doing nowdays.

  12. Sandy says:

    WOW! You’ve just lived a dream of mine! I, too, am a huge fan, and was a subscriber to her newsletter…and purchased her books separately.
    I’m also amazed that her kids have flown the coop…I loved reading her stories about them.
    One thing she hinted at in one of her books…to do a column on teens and frugality. That’s what I’m into right now and could use any advice out there! Any parents of teens with good advice?
    Anyway, she inspired me to stay home after my daughter was born (14 years ago) and I think I’m still reusing some aluminum foil from that era!

  13. Mac says:

    Thank you for the update! I love Amy’s material.

    Unfortunately, the binding of my copy of “The Complete Tightwad Gazette” has broken. I’m not sure if this is happened because the publisher didn’t make it sufficiently sturdy for a reference book that gets frequent use. It might be that the previous owner didn’t take good care of it. I bought it used on E-bay or Amazon, and the seller did not packaged it well for mailing. In any case, when you have a book published, please try to have a say in getting a binding that will hold up to a lot of use!

    Thanks again for the news from Amy!

  14. Tiffany says:

    Like others have said, it is SO COOL that you got that interview! Amy’s book was definitely my biggest influence in regards to frugality. It seems like you’re really working your way up the ladder, Trent!

  15. Barbara says:

    MORE please!

  16. JReed says:

    Amy’s books completely turned my life around and my husband and I are so much better off because her teachings.We did blow up one vaccum though by “recycling” the vaccum bag.

  17. TheFrugalPlace says:

    I too am so excited to see that you got to interview Amy D! She is a hero to all of us who aim to live a frugal life.

    She has made it pretty clear that she is retired from writing about the frugal life, and many of us mourn over that decision as she has a way of writing many of us can only aspire to…

    I can’t count the number of references I see to her books. It really is amazing.

  18. Donna says:

    How timely! I am just now rereading The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and wondered what Amy was up to these days. Thanks for the update!

  19. Rose says:

    Wow! I am in awe that you scored this interview!

    Amy’s philosophy has been instrumental in my family’s financial freedom. I came across her books as a young adult. Above and beyond the frugal tips, her manifesto of eschewing the cultural imperative to spend has been our sword and our shield. While our peers are drowning in debt, we are completely debt-free. We have never racked up a credit card balance, and we paid off our mortgage in eight years. It can be done!

    Amy, if you are reading this: THANK YOU!

  20. Kelly says:

    Another huge Tightwad Gazette fan here! I often flip through my worn copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette and wonder how she’s doing today. I hear an interview with her on NPR years back and she spoke a little about how frugality and environmentalism align; much like you’ve written about here, Trent. GREAT interview, great subject, great blog!

  21. I have often wondered what Amy was up to since she retired. I’ve even googled her a few times and didn’t find anything recent.

    Congratulations to you for scoring the interview and thanks for sharing it will all of us.

  22. Julie says:

    A recent Boston Globe article also featured Amy D – enjoy :) http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/04/24/penny_pinchers_and_proud_of_it/

    excerpt:
    “I went years without calls, and all of a sudden I am getting calls again,” said Amy Dacyczyn, 52, a mother from Maine who launched a monthly newsletter, The Tightwad Gazette, during the 1990 recession. Full of penny-pinching essays and quirky tips – how to create hammocks and volleyball nets from plastic six-pack rings was a favorite – the publication attracted legions of followers. Six years, three books, and more than 60,000 subscribers later, Dacyczyn decided she’d said everything she wanted to, and retired to spend more time with her children.

    Still, she is still frugal. So, too, are some of her kids.

    “My 23-year-old daughter complained the most while growing up and is the tightest one now,” said Dacyczyn, who prides herself on the many recycled Christmas presents she found for her children, including metal detectors.”

  23. Sandy Fleming says:

    Wow I am so jealous that you got to talk to Amy The Frugal Zealot. I subscribed to her newsletter after reading about her in Parade Magazine in the early 90′s. (I think I was subscribing almost from the beginning of her newsletter until the last issue was mailed.) I have an old saved video of her on a talk show. I subscribed until she retired. I was so happy for her that she could retire, but truly sad that I would no longer get her newsletter. Those newsletters were so inspiring to me besides being so much fun to read. My husband and kids got very tired of hearing “Amy says this, Amy says that” She was an ENORMOUS positive influence on me. I wish that you would write as many articles as it takes on anything that you talked with her about. Frugal or not. I found a copy of the Complete Tightwad Gazette at a garage sale for a dollar and I was so excited. (easier to read and reference then the huge pile of saved newsletters I had) I wish that she would think about writing a book about what she has been up to since retiring.

  24. Angel says:

    I am impressed. Like everyone else, Amy D was my first sampling of true frugality. I too feel upon her books at my local library while looking for finance books. I have learned so much from her. She was kind of like the frugal mom I never had. I am so impressed that you got to interview her.
    Angel

  25. Kacie says:

    That is so neat! I discovered the Tightwad Gazette at my library last summer, and have since purchased the complete edition.

    It really is an incredible resource, and it’s what got me on my own frugal journey.

  26. Sunny says:

    Congrats on the interview, I used to subscribe to the TW Gazette and was really sad when Amy retired. It was like getting a letter from family with awesome advice. I’m glad to hear she is retired and enjoying life. She has been (and still is) a great influence on my life.

  27. momof4 says:

    yay! thanks for this post! I read the book about 3 years before the birth of my first child and it seriously shaped the choices I made so that I could live the life I wanted at home with my children. I still keep these books my kitchen and reference them regularly, especially when I need a boost to stay on track. Awesome job scoring this interview Trent, and Amy if you ever read this blog, thanks a million!

  28. Frugal Dad says:

    Thanks for putting this together, Trent! My wife and I are big fan’s of Amy’s work – we read through her book several times as newlyweds and even refer back to it occasionally. Always nice to get the “where they are now” stories of people we so admire.

  29. AWESOME!!!!!!

    I’m in my mid-20′s and discovered The Complete Tightwad Gazette just this year. I checked it out of the library and then had to buy my own which is now full of all sorts of sticky notes — and I’m not even done reading it because it’s huge! It has really changed my life. My husband and I are not just saving money, we’re soooo much happier than we’ve ever been. And after reading it for just a couple weeks, I was so inspired that I started FruWiki, The Frugal Wiki. There will never be a replacement for the TWG, though.

    So, Amy, if you read this…

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

  30. tammy says:

    I had a subscription to the Tightwad Gazette too. I read them inside and out…I didn’t save them after I bought the books. I have wondered about her many since her retirement. Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it.

  31. Jenzer says:

    Trent, you made my day with this post! I, like other former subscribers, have wondered what Amy’s been doing in her post-TG retirement years. Kudos to her for continuing to live out her values.

    Not sure if you addressed this topic in your interview with her, but I’m curious to know how much of the frugal mindset her children have carried into their independent adult lives. In several of her newsletter articles, Amy noted that a common fatalistic prediction from her critics was that her children would rebel and become “major spendthrifts” to compensate for the “deprivation” of their childhoods. I’d be interested to know if that happened with any of the children, to a greater or lesser degree — but I also understand if Amy would be reluctant to share such family stories, given her preference for privacy.

  32. Beth says:

    Trent – This was fantastic. I was SO excited to see your “exclusive” interview with Amy. I’ve wondered all of these years where she’d gone, what she was up to, and – like Jenzer – wondering what happened with her children and how much her attempts at frugality succeeded as her kids grew older.

    I’ve read the books umpteen times, and continue to do so for fresh ideas and new “levels” of thrift.

    Thanks again!

  33. danielle says:

    Great interview! Great post!

  34. Kris says:

    Holy cow, you found Amy! What a great interview, and I’d love to read any other pieces of her advice. Tightwad Gazette was such a help when I read it earlier this year.

  35. I, too, am so, so excited to read an interview with Amy…I’ve often wondered what she’s up to these days. Great post!

  36. EnochFrance says:

    Publishing a ‘best of’ book does sound like a good idea, but I don’t think “Best of the Simple Dollar” is a good title, since it’s unlikely to speak to anyone browsing the racks who’s never heard of the blog. I recommend just calling it “The Simple Dollar” or “The Simple Dollar (the Book)”.

    Although I suppose this is the kind of thing publishers weigh in on anyway…

  37. deRuiter says:

    Wonderful interview Trent. Thank you Amy for years of inspiration and help! I use many of your tips, and occasionally reread the T G boks like a novel, one never tires of the down home advice and humor. At different times, different tips apply to my interests. Friends, I interviewed my local greehouse owner while getting our tomato and other vegetable plants. The owner said, “Americans don’t plant gardens. Our vegetable plant sales have gone through the roof this year because of the price of food rising AND THE FOREIGNERS. Foreign people all have gardens, no matter how tiny their yards, THEY RAISE FOOD. Americans don’t even plant flowers much, they want to BUY a few big pre planted pots so the landscaper can do the yard as quick as possible. I had to start more plants this year: more vegetables, more parsley, more basil, more different herbs than ever before, because of the immigrants who garden, they’re making my business a lot busier than in past years. The immigrants want fresh food like back home and they want to save money, they’re not lazy.”

  38. John says:

    Trent, great interview. My mom subscribed to the newsletters when I was a kid, and I have picked up the books recently as well. Nice to get an update on what Amy is doing now.

  39. I am a longtime fan of Amy’s! Is there any way for you to give me an e-mail contact for her, just to thank her for how she’s helped us? I would really appreciate it!

  40. Vrekje says:

    Wow, thank you! I was also wondering what the author of my favourite-book-of-all-times was up to these days. And I agree with the comments above: more please!
    Some of us are bloggers too (including myself) and would love to hear everything Amy said!

  41. K says:

    Regarding her children, I can’t speak for her but I can speak for myself. My parents were exactly like Amy growing up – reused everything, did without a lot of new things, etc. and I hated it, always complained and asked for nice things. But now that I’m older and wiser I am just like her. I think that once kids get out on their own they look for ways to save money but most of them don’t know that there are alternatives to buying everything new. So she gave them an advantage.

  42. Kandace says:

    Thanks, Trent. I was THRILLED to see your headline and get an update on one of the women I admire most. I too have googled to try to get more information about Amy and have come up empty. Just yesterday I referred to The Complete Tight Gazette. Thanks for reading the minds of your readers and getting such a scoop!

  43. DivaJean says:

    Hurray! I am so glad to hear what the Frugal Zealot has been up to! I had bought the Tightwad Gazette books each as they came out years ago. I cycle thru them all the time, redefining what I can do to save money or modify how I spend. I even have the Parade article folded and saved in one of the books- I am such a geeky fan!

  44. Robin Timm says:

    I subscribed to Amy’s newsletter! It was fantastic! It is so good to hear from her again and learn what she has been up to. Thank you for interviewing her and sharing!

  45. KoryO says:

    I guess I’m not the only fan who was wondering what she was up to!

    She saved me lots of $ when I was single with her suggestion to get a freezer and store up single-serving meals. I will be using more of them with my little guy as time goes on.

  46. de says:

    Amy actually used one of my tips and sent me an autographed copy of the three volume edition, autographed, which is now a well worn treasure. She is still an inspiration to me and I often find a new idea to apply to my life that didn’t fit before.

  47. PJ says:

    Ooh, if you google “Amy Dacyczyn Interview” your article comes up as #4! And if you google “Tightwad Gazette” your review of her book comes up second.

  48. Galaxy says:

    I love Amy, and her book. And I agree with calls above to hear more! One thing I loved was not just the frugality, but the intentionality and planning she brought to running a household. The planning ahead was something I could do in a work place, but it always flustered me at home. She took planning and thoughtfulness about the future (and present) and made it an art form, and I learned from that.

  49. Lynn says:

    Thank you, Trent, for this interview! I have always wondered how Amy changed with the times after all these years! Did she mention anything about how her kids (and herself) survived their frugal teenage years? If I recall, her kids were quite young when she wrote her newsletters.

  50. Monica says:

    Wow! I love The Complete Tightwad Gazette and have often wondered what she was up to since those days. Thanks for posting this. If you ever want to post more of what she says (even if not frugality-related), I’d love to read that too.

  51. Jane says:

    Thanks for doing this. We used to get that newsletter when I was a kid. I haven’t read the book in ages. So nice to see that her frugal ways have paid off and she can now enjoy some luxuries like a gym membership.

    Did she talk about her kids? Have they inherited the frugal lifestyle?

  52. Madelaine says:

    I always loved Amy and her tightwad gazette.

    Thanks for interviewing her!

  53. Holly C. says:

    I have loved Amy since I read about her in Parade. I think she is a genius! Amy, if you’re reading these comments-All the children are out of the house??? Even the twins???

  54. Kristine says:

    @K(comment #41) “I think that once kids get out on their own they look for ways to save money but most of them don’t know that there are alternatives to buying everything new. So she gave them an advantage.”

    This is so true – anyone can learn how to buy new and be a spendthrift if they didn’t grow up that way. It is so much harder to learn to be frugal if you weren’t brought up that way!

  55. Cathy says:

    Trent,

    Wow! I almost fell off of my chair, when I saw that you had interviewed Amy Dacyczyn of “The Complete Tightwad Gazette”!!

    What a wonderful interview!! I would love to hear more about your discussion with her!

    Thanks greatly!!!

    Cathy G.

  56. Wendy says:

    I have been a huge fan of Amy since I read the interview with her in Parade magazine when I was just 17. Thanks for sharing your conversation with her!

    -Wendy

  57. Jennifer says:

    What a great interview. I have been wondering what she was up to. I love her book and reread it every year. I find that each year I am in a different place, therefore different ideas work for me. I love her book and learned more from it than anything else. I am envious you got to talk to her!

  58. Thanks for posting this–from a longtime Amy reader!

  59. ToilingAnt says:

    I grew up in a Tightwad family and have continued the legacy in my own home. Every time I clean and reuse a Ziploc bag, I think of Amy’s opinion that “even Ross Perot should hire someone to wash out his baggies”!

  60. Thanks for this! I love the Tightwad Gazette.

  61. Carolyn says:

    Wow! I love Amy’s book and have wished I knew how she was doing now. Thank you so much for the interview. You should publish more of what she said because I’d love to hear it.

  62. Maxine says:

    Thanks for the update on AmyD. Someone posted a link to your interview on The Frugalista Files, which is a forum for frugal and simple living. She was the inspiration for many of us who try to walk the frugal walk. Yep, some of us have Netflix and gym memberships, too.

  63. M'Lee says:

    I was so excited to see this! Thank you so much. I found one of Amy’s books at a yard sale last year and have read the rest at our local library, but it drove me crazy that there was NO info about her online anywhere. It seemed so bizarre that such a guru would completely disappear. I’m glad she is enjoying her retirement, though, and thank you again for bringing us this update!

  64. Victoria says:

    Like the others, I am a huge fan of Amy’s. I still reference The Complete Tightwad Gazette on a regular basis. I have also Googled her, and would be fascinated to read the rest of your interview with Amy. Congratulations on your excellent scoop!

  65. Lucy says:

    I would like to add my plea to the others to write more about what Amy said, especially about what her kids are doing now. Thank you very much for doing this interview and article.

  66. Mike says:

    I share your respect for Amy… her books were really helpful to me when I decided it was time to learn what this whole “personal finance” thing was all about. I’d also like to hear some of her advice about writing! Thanks for the great interview.

  67. dust says:

    I loved the Tightwad Gazette books from the moment I first saw a copy. I’ve read it so many time, I could never count. Mrs. Dacyczyn had (and probably still has) such a persuasive way of writing.
    I can’t tell you what a difference her books made in my life as a young bride!
    Thanks, Mrs. Dacyczyn, if you are reading this!

  68. Cindy in NY says:

    Several weeks ago, I asked in the Reader Mailbag if you could do this interview. I am so glad you did! Way to go!! As others have said, you have fulfilled a small dream of ours to find out what has happened to her and her family. Any update on the cookbook??

  69. finaidgirl says:

    THANK YOU once again to Trent for doing this and Amy for agreeing to it, despite her retirement! She’s like a celebrity to me! I also want to hear more about her kids’ lives now.

  70. MamaBelle says:

    An idea…Could you talk to Amy about the possibility of guest posting on your blog if she’s ever really inspired and even if it’s just a one time thing? A creative outlet with no obligations?

  71. Tee says:

    This thrilled my heart. I’ve been a fan of Amy’s for years. I had every newsletter she ever published, until she published her books. I still have my “Complete Tightwad Gazette” and still refer to it for saving ideas. I did finally discard all of the old newsletters, except for the special issue on how people lived through the great depression. I just could not part with that issue.

  72. story says:

    Like everyone else I am both awed and grateful that you landed this interview. As much as I love the blogs I read, I’ve never found anthing quite like the Tightwad Gazette. And it’s a tribute to her writing that reading her so many years after she wrote, I still feel like I know her and look for updates as I would from an old friend. Thank you!

  73. Lisa says:

    Love the interview! Wish there was more. I subscribed to her newletter and even contributed so I also received an autographed copy of the second book. I understood why she stopped writing the letter, yet I think she underestimated the value of her newsletter. How? It was a support system, a connection to a nationwide community. It was sorely missed when she stopped her newletter. It was never her intention to be a guru, she just needed to supplement her husbands military retirement and the newletter took on a life of its own. Once she had the money necessary, she quit. Kudos to her. The internet and specifically this site provide the same kind of connection she provided in the 90′s. Its why I keep coming back. Also, what some don’t realize is that everything from the newsletters is not in the books and that is why I saved all my newsletters and reread them at least once a year. Also, her twins should be under the age of 18 as they are younger than my son.

  74. Sandy Fleming says:

    I agree with mamabelle…Please ask Amy to guesthost. Fabulous idea.
    Sandy

  75. Jennifer says:

    Thank you Trent!! I absolutely could not believe that you had interviewed Amy when I read the title! It just made my day! Like many others have said Amy really changed my life. I have also often tried to find any info on her on line to no avail.

    I think her book is the only book I have ever purchased! I normally only borrow from the library but I found that I was borrowing it so often that I really did need to own this one (which I bought used, of course!).

    Thank you Trent and Amy for this special treat!

  76. Jackie says:

    I call this book “my bible” and I show it to everyone. I basically just keep reading it over and over again to see what’s relevant to me at the time, and I’ve had it for about 5 years.

  77. Cyndi B says:

    Thanks for the update! I always wondered how she was doing!
    As for her books, the most read books in my house!

  78. Chad A. Moore says:

    Trent,

    Excellent interview!

    I think her advise to you was on target. At some point you need to compile the best of “The Simple Dollar” into book form. Perhaps grouped around certain articles types or themes such as a compilation of book reviews, a compilation of your do-it-yourself stuff (making detergent, bread, etc.).

    Keep up the good work

  79. myra says:

    Trent, My first web comment- but I had to add my voice to the chorus! Thank you for this interview. Amy has been a wonderful influence on my life. She had asked for her privacy, and I’m glad she got it, but I hope she also knows that “we” are always eager to here from and about her.
    I hope you suggested she write guest posts for you when she has an idea she is itching to write about!
    Thanks again.

  80. Laura says:

    I was so excited to read this. I have just gotten out my copy of the Complete Tightwad Gazette and have been reading it and feel so fortunate to have come upon your interview with Amy. I would love to hear more. Congrats on a great interview!

  81. angeljoy says:

    I just checked out her last book from the library this past week! I’ve been wondering what she was up to. I’m so glad I stumbled across this interview! Thanks!

  82. Carol Ritz says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this interview! Amy was truly an inspiration to me and I am happy to know she is doing well. Sincerely, Carol Ritz, Douglasville, GA

  83. April says:

    I just love that you interviewed Amy. I have read those books so many times. I have the original 3, No. III is autographed by Amy. Last night after I read the interview and all the comments, I located my newsletters, which only go back to 1994. I couldn’t find the one about the Depression and wondered if I could somehow get a copy of that one, perhaps by email. My mother died last year at 91 and I heard a bunch from her about the Depression, but it is very interesting to me and I’d love to read whatever Amy collected about it. Thank you for publishing the interview!

  84. pax says:

    Interesting interview. I could only imagine that she was probably burnt out after all of the years in the limelight! I am sure she is grateful for having a nice low key life now w/o having to worry about financial resources as she acquired dedicated followers.. Hope she continues to enjoy life and someday she might poke her nose out to see the world again in a slower pace.
    I still have the newsletters from the early 1990s…and one book…

  85. Sandra Hess says:

    The other day my husband and I were talking over how hard it was financially when we were first married.(1977)We had our son in 1979 and our daughter in 1981.We were living pay check to pay check.Somewhere in that time frame we came across the TIGHTWAD GAZETTE and subscribed to it.We got a lot of great tips from that newsletter.We wondered what had happened to it so I got on line and low and behold I got alot of hits!!THE TIGHTWAD GAZETTE (AMY) has retired but anyone can still get her book or read other articles from her.I still use many of her suggestions I got 30 years ago.Amy, if you read this,I hope this finds you doing well.Oh,and by the way I still have your receipe for (OATMEAL RAISIN SCONES)in my receipe book.They were easy and inexpensive to make and our whole family enjoyed eating them!!The receipe is as follows for anyone out there who would like a nice treat:MIX~1&1/2 cups flour,1 cup oats,1 tsp.soda,1/2 tsp.salt.Then mix 1/4 cup melted margarine or butter, 3/4 cup sour milk,raisins to your taste.Mix together.Spoon about a large tbs. of mixture onto baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 12 minutes.(TO MAKE SOUR MILK~MIX YOUR 3/4 CUP MILK WITH 1 TBS white vinegar)Hope you enjoy these as much as we do.Sandra H. from Ohio

  86. Crystal says:

    Great blog you have here! And I’m thrilled to run across the interview with Amy. She is a household word with me and my (now) adult kids. In fact, the Tightwad Gazette books were wedding presents to both my oldest. The younger ones grew up with her as a big influence in our home so, while they are now adults, I haven’t gotten the books for them (yet). Amy truly is an inspiration!

  87. EJones says:

    For those of you who have commented on it, the twins have not yet moved out and still have another year of high school left. And to APRIL, Comment #84, I’m sure it wouldn’t be that hard to acquire a specific copy of one of the newsletters as in the interview Amy states, “…but I knew that the material had a lot of archival value.” So I assume she probably has them archived somewhere, it would probably just be a matter of politely writing her and paying her the original price for the newsletter.

    Hope that helps!

    ~EJones~

  88. Susan Johnston says:

    I found Amy through a friend – but it was just as the books started and the newsletter ended, so I only have the books. I would LOVE to get a copy of the newsletter about life during the Depression (my parents grew up then – so I was also raised by frugal parents.) I found this article because I wanted to contact Amy and ask permission to use some of her suggestions (and even quote what she says) in a cookbook our neighborhood is putting together. i would love to have her email (though she would never have enough time to answer all of us)but I guess I will try snail mail at the Leeds address listed in the back of her books. I hope it gets there! Thanks for enriching my life, Amy! And thanks for the update, Trent! I will be reading your articles from now on!

  89. Antoinette says:

    Please, please, please print every single word of your interview with Amy. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see this article. I’ve read every word of the Complete Tightwad Gazette and her lessons have greatly impacted my life and my spending habits. I have searched on-line in vain for years for any updated info on Amy. Thanks evers so much.

  90. Judi says:

    Like many others, I was shocked to read the children are out of the house. Because of her books, they’ll always picture them as little ones. I mean, they’re the reason she started this long and crazy journey!! I figure they must be around my age now which is frightening to think about.

    Since I always come up empty handed when I Google search Amy, I decided to Google her kids. Couldn’t find anything on Alec, but Jamie is 23 and has a myspace and facebook. So does Neal; his is the only public one. Becca is 19 and engaged! (according to her myspace.) Laura has a facebook, and Brad, like big brother Alec, has no online presence that I have found.

    They really have grown up!!

  91. Sammy McIntosh says:

    I found a copy of Amy’s book recently at Goodwill. It has brought back a lot of memories of getting the Tightwad Gazette. I still have all the issues in a Binder and will sometimes get them out to look at them. Amy is so creative, that is the thing that I always loved about her the most. Like her, I can look at things and see something that everyone else has missed. My daughter recently had a home that was being cleaned out in her neighborhood. She was excited and did some great trash picking! So maybe she HAS learned something along the way. My husband, Chris and I love Amy’s writings. Thanks Amy for all the great advice, i still use a lot of the information to this day. The advice was always down to earth and just plain old common sense. Thank you Trent for the interview. Keep up the good work!

  92. Bettsi says:

    Oh my goodness! How did I miss this? In my last comment when I referred to Amy, I had to open another tab and google her name so I could get the spelling right. I almost fell off my chair when I saw that the second entry was this interview! I shouldn’t be surprised- your down-to-earth approach to personal finance is very much like Amy’s and is the reason why you are one of only two pf blogs I have in my blog links. I have been a fan of hers since my almost adult children were babies. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  93. Betsy says:

    Thank you for posting this! I’m a huge fan of Amy’s! We acquired the three separate TG books for a total of $1 – the first two for 50 cents apiece and a friend gave us the third after they found the Complete TG used :)

    I’m too young to remember the newsletter, and I’m so glad that she published the books! We were already fairly frugal, at least living without any debt, but picking up a TG book always inspires me to save more. Being a stay-at-home-mom would be much more difficult if I’d never read those books.

    Thanks again!
    ~B.

  94. jen says:

    Thanks for the update. I always wonder what the kids are up to. It is amazing that they are all out of the house! That big, big house!
    And remember when the one (?) magazine came and did the interview and thought the teenager (Jaime??)was treated unfairly because she had to wear used clothes!! That writer sure didn’t know teenagers!
    I would also love the hear more, more, more!

  95. Michelle says:

    I am so jealous. Amy Dacyczyn has been an inspiration for me and many others. You are so lucky that you got to interview her. Congrats and thanks for sharing!

  96. Lori says:

    I think if Trent got together with Amy, there could be one more book. There were people out there in the 1990s who thought Amy and her husband were somehow child abusers because they insisted on their children also practice thrift. it would be great to have something in-depth to show the Dacyczyn kids turned into wonderful,frugal adults.

  97. Annie says:

    What a great interview. I still have all the copies of the newsletter, the three volume set of books, and the Complete book. The Complete TG almost never leaves the bedside. Whenever I feel that I’m veering off course, I pick it up and and get recharged.

    I found the link to this blog through another website. I’m going to enjoy looking around here, and seeing what else might inspire my tightwad tendencies. More important than ever in this day and age!

  98. lucy says:

    thanks for the update just got out my complete TW and was reading it again always learn something new wish Amy would write again congrats on the interview

  99. mary ann says:

    So good to hear that she’s doing well. I saw her on Donahue, read about her in Parade, and bought her books when they were 3- still have them and refer back to them. New husband started reading them too- wish she wasn’t retired but after 6 kids- who deserves it more! Thanx for the article.

  100. Kathy says:

    There is no book more beloved or beat-up in my house than my Tightwad Gazette. The respect I have for Amy in sticking to her guns, communicating what she thought we needed to know, and refusing to capitalize on it further knows no bounds. If the whole nation had read the Tightwad Gazette, we wouldn’t be in the fearful mess we’re in today.

    Now then, Amy, that said, would it be so bad to just issue the odd article from time to time? You’ve said you sometimes have ideas, but you understandably don’t want to start up the grind of a newsletter again.

    Well, wouldn’t this be a good forum for you? Just as a freelance writer. You wouldn’t have to do publicity tours, the laundry-drying-in-the-attic, meet deadlines. Just issue a few updates, tweaks, comments. You might even consider a sort of addendum to the Gazette issued periodically, but it doesn’t have to be you that does it. It’s just amazing how much is not only useful but vital information, considering how fast the world moves today.

    Clyde and Bunny Smuckster have been running rampant all over the place for the last ten years. They need some reminding. C’mon Amy!

  101. amber says:

    Thanks so much for tracking down Amy Dacyzyn. You don’t realize how many times my sister and I have wondered what she is up to. Of course, we never met her, but were huge fans from the early years. Her advise allowed us to be stay at home moms!

  102. tami says:

    Thank you so much for the interview. I started getting The Tightwad Gazette right after my husband and I married in 1992. Amy’s lessons have changed our lives. Her advice has allowed us to own a great house, have many nice things (via garage sales) and let me be a stay-at-home mom for the past 12 years. We would never have been able to accomplish these things on one income had I not read and reread Amy’s book over the years.

  103. Eileen says:

    My husband bought me this book :Tightwad Gazette” in 2000. I love this book until now. My only frustration is that I haven’t seen her. I really, really wish to see her. It’s so good to hear from her.
    Can you help me please find a picture of hers?

  104. Mia says:

    Thanks for the Amy update. I have been a fan for many years, and still give a copy of her book as a gift whenever possible. I still refer to her book as its very relevant particularly now.

  105. I just got this book as a gift from my girlfriend’s mom. It was the best gift I’ve received in years! Thanks for this interview. I’ve been wondering what the newsletter would have been like since the internet and Amy’s views on it.

  106. Mary says:

    Amy suggested in 1998 that we check back with her in ten years on how well her teen-raising philosophy worked out in real life. Any word on that in your interview with her?

  107. Debbie says:

    Because of Amy, I quit a full time job paying good money to stay home and raise a 13 year old. So glad I did. I would have never been able to make it thru the teen age years. I did return to work before he went to college. We have our debts paid and money in the bank. Because of Amy, we are in a good position during this down turn. I still use her books as reference. Contrats Amy and maybe you would consider a blog.

  108. Dawn says:

    As a former Tightwad Gazette newsletter reader/contributor, it is amazing to read how Amy’s insights have changed so many people’s lives. Thrift does make a difference, doesn’t it?

    Thank you for your follow up with Amy and the great site.

  109. momstheword says:

    I discovered Amy’s book many years ago. My husband was out of work for a whole year, and during that time I came across her book. It gave me so much hope and valuable information. I still read it from time to time.

    I have often wondered whatever happened to her or what she is doing now. Thank you for letting us know!

  110. BusinessX says:

    Great to see a relatively recent interview with Amy. A big fan since I very first saw her as the guest on Donahue. When she retired, she really did drop out of the limelight, which goes to show her character in this celebrity crazed culture.

    Since Tightwad came out in book form (first a three parter and then one volume) I have given it (gifted) to every women I courted early in our relationship, just to see the reaction. Make sure we were on the same on the wavelength.

  111. Karla says:

    I have been trying to look up Amy ever since we got a computer. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said. I read her newsletters, I read her books and so much of what she wrote echoed all I was feeling and thinking at the time. I was at the store with my college boy the other day and we found a shirt on clerance. We took it to the register and when the price came up as ,”$4.95″ we both shook our heads “no” at the same time. Amy has had an impact in future genrations and I really hope she reads these comments and gives herself a pat on the back. Thank you for having the courage to have a private life. I would have voted for anything you ran for-but you didn’t leverage your impact. You are a respected friend.

  112. Skeeter Johnston says:

    We had the privilege of Amy visiting our home in 1995 or 1996 when she was on a book tour. Amy was an inspiration to this young family of four and her newsletter was very useful. I still refer to them here and there as well as the books. Now that the kids are grown and out on their own, I have passed Amy’s wisdom along with mine on to them. The principle is timeless.

  113. this is terrific. I was re-reading volume II recently (my uncle bought it for me at a library discard sale, knowing full well it would make me squeal). Told my son (age 16) This is what kept me at home with you guys all those years. We had nothing, we spent close to nothing. :-)

    We’ve made more money and I got off course, but a reread has me thinking again. I’m right now moving back to the pantry principle and working on price book. :-) Ironically, I was also trying to make yogurt for the first time–and what do I find, but a yogurt experiment from Amy. I wasn’t all that surprised.

  114. Kay Forman says:

    Thanks for your information. I have been waiting since 1995 to hear more about Amy. She has been my guiding light. Her books, along with “Your Money or Your Life” and “Unplug the Christmas Machine” were my guidelines for getting out of debt and finding fullfillment in life. Please, a reprint of her Depression article and a new book on how she lived when her kids were teens. Does she still live in the big house?

  115. Rose L says:

    Wow, I have every newsletter, had a friend who would subscribe and then pass it on… then we gave the subscription as gifts to each other… have all of her books and have read and re-read them. Still go to yard sales as she recommends, and have the kids “shop in the attic…” My two oldest (now 21 and 19….) never knew what new clothes were… Now I go to the end of year closeouts and almost do better than yard sales, but have definitely been inflenced… Glad to see that she is doing well, since we are the same age…

  116. Mary says:

    I just ran across Issue 24 from 1992, read it again, and, yes, the advice is still good! Like others, I wondered what had become of Amy, so I searched online and “Voila.” Oh, my, I didn’t realize she had compiled books! I’ve been recycling the original newsletters among friends and acquaintences for many years, always with a hopeful request for them to return them when they were finished. Last summer, one friend told me she had a great newsletter about being a tightwad, and I said, “I gave that to you!” Issue #24 will be given away tomorrow to a kindred spirit, and I’m going to buy the first book!

  117. Mary says:

    I just ran across Issue 24 from 1992, read it again, and, yes, the advice is still good! Like others, I wondered what had become of Amy, so I searched online and “Voila.” Oh, my, I didn’t realize she had compiled books! I’ve been recycling the original newsletters among friends and acquaintences for many years, always with a hopeful request for them to return them when they were finished. Last summer, one friend told me she had a great newsletter about being a tightwad, and I said, “I gave that to you!” Issue #24 will be given away tomorrow to a kindred spirit, and I’m going to buy the first book!

  118. Pat says:

    I can resonate with all these comments! I too was a huge fan of Amy’s and The Tightwad Gazette. I was a struggling single parent of 2 who needed to be frugal and Amy was an inspiration and a soulmate! She blessed so many people that I hope she is very blessed today. But I can also hope that her retirement brings free time to once again take up the pen (or keyboard!!)

  119. Robin Zdroik says:

    God Bless Amy….I have her first two books and her complete Tighwad Gazette. I learned alot from the books and although I was always frugal, my husband was not. Over the past 10 years he has jumped on that bandwagon and we have absolutely no debt, live smart and have a good, stres free (for the most part) life. My husband recently lost his good job as his company is closing their doors here in Wisconsin and all of their work will be done in China and Mexico – we are not worried in spite of the fact that there are no jobs and the employment situation continues to get very, very grim. We have built up a nest egg and I still have my job with a lot of seniority built up. We were frugal long ago when it was not popular and were “laughed at”. No one is laughing now – so many people we know are losing their homes, jobs and are in dire straits – and, they still don’t want to get on the frugal bandwagon.

  120. Jan Bloom says:

    Listening to the problems of so many who have found themselves in unfortunate circumstances made me think of Amy. This 83 year old fan of hers would like to see her continue the Gazette,if she feels up to it,as there are so many young people these days who do not have the benefit of family input. We went up to visit her and her husband some years ago, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. I would love to see her again. Maybe Oprah could bring her back for an interview? We need them. Big love to both!

  121. Dana says:

    Wow! I was searching on Amy’s last name to see what was out there and I find you’ve interviewed her! Way to go! You lucky dog. :) I got her three books in the “complete” volume, hardcover… it’s one of my favorite personal finance books.

  122. Anca says:

    I am currently reading a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette (that I borrowed from the library) and was curious if she published anything after that. I read this blog every now and then and was very pleased to find the interview. Good job on the blog! Keep up the good work!

  123. eofelis says:

    Amy’s books were a big influence on me and I still think about them often. I have been able to live frugally with out feeling deprived and go to college full-time as a thirty-something non-trad student and I am almost ready to graduate with *no debt*!

  124. Rebecca says:

    I found the Simple Dollar website when I googled Amy Dacyczyn (I still have a hard time spelling her name!) Your interview and website popped up and so I got a double bonus – I got to read about my favorite frugal zealot and also find out about your great website – which I have been enjoying very much!

  125. Jessica says:

    I have one son, and have another baby on the way. My husband and I were discussing me staying home before I ever found out I was pregnant again. I want so bad to stay home with my kids. I’m pretty good with selling things online and I also sell wholesale merchandise at our local flea market… but that alone will not help if we continue to spend like we have 2 paychecks coming in. My mom had all of her books. She made it when I was growing up. I can still remember her “piggybacking” the soap, washing out the ziplock bags to reuse for our brownbag lunch the next day. Her and my dad made it on one check and sending myself and my sister to a private school that was pricy. That’s motivating to me. Those were also our happiest days. Doing without and living more frugal would/will do us all some good! Her books and this blog are very inspiring!

    Thanks!

  126. Jennie says:

    I am so glad to see this–I read her books about once a year and take a different set of notes each time (as my needs change). I was wondering what she was up to now after all this time. I am so glad sites like this exist–it gets hard to be frugal when so many around us are not–it’s nice to have encouragement.

  127. partgypsy says:

    I finished re-reading the tightwad gazette and as I was talking about it with my husband, he asked, now that it is 10 years older, how do her kids feel about it? Will her kids ever write a “tell-all” book about growing up in the Tightwad family? I would read it : )
    I think her (and your) message is relevant as ever. I think it would be great if she was interviewed on Oprah because she is a role model, and can talk about how her decisions allowed her to stay at home with her children, live in a ecologically responsible fashion AND retire early. I bet the people making fun of her in the 90′s wouldn’t be laughing now.

  128. amy says:

    How wonderful to hear how she is doing! I bought her book years ago (and sold it on ebay :) Was very inspirational~!

  129. Diane Temple says:

    This is for ‘Eileen’ who wrote Comment #104 and wants to see a picture of Amy D. When you Google her name, then click on button in upper right hand of screen and select ‘Image.’ And you will have definitely one or two fairly recent pictures of Amy taken in her home. Good luck!

    I am about to give her third book to my future granddaughter-in-law as a second wedding present.

  130. Yolanda says:

    I had read the first book several years ago, and then recently found “The Complete…” on Amazon.com and ordered a used copy. What amazes me is how current most of the information is. I am grateful to Amy for her help!

  131. jestjack says:

    Thanks for the interview with Amy. She is truly one of a kind and her message is as valid today as it was when she wrote the newsletter. I can not believe all the kids have moved out…time does fly! Thanks again.

  132. Carol says:

    I was so delighted to see her name again. I truly enjoyed and loved those books.

    I think in my move I kept all three. they should be in the storage unit that I will be cleaning out this year. Only 2 years. I got rid of so many of my favorite books, knowing I would find them again, but I could not let go of those.

    The ideas are bizarre and inspiring and useful and just crazy, but they have helped me and my attitudes have changed quite a bit because of them. I see things in a whole new way and that is a good thing.

    Thanks for putting this out there. Love the Tightwad Gazette.

  133. Jackie says:

    Thanks Trent,
    I loved Amy and the Tightwad Gazette and got so many ideas from it. I always wondered it it was still out there or if you were connected with it in some way. Really, I did wonder about that.
    After reading Amys book and the newsletters, it was the beginning of my paying attention to saving money. I raised my children to feel the same way.

  134. LUCIE MALETT says:

    I love to be frugal and just made home made detergent, it works great. would like to have the books in large print additions.

  135. mer723 says:

    I remember reading the article from the Parade about Amy. Unfortunately I then went through a messy divorce and then another bad relationship. I am now looking for ways to repair damage from these past lives when I came upon your blog Trent. I am following your advice this time around and look forward to checking out “The Complete Tightwad Gazette” for enhance your advice! Thanks Trent for both the article and your blog.

  136. Matthew says:

    Hi Trent: On your recomendtion, I bought the book used as befits the title via Amazon. It is a tour de force of fierce frugality. It seems to be written before the internet age and is absent of any reference to on line resources/websites for frugality. It seems a bit like a dated document. I wish she would update it with internet resources.

  137. Mel says:

    Amy is an amazing person, & the Tightwad Gazette has changed my life. I’ve probably read the complete thing, cover to cover, over 10 times since buying it 3 years ago

    With that being said, I dislike Amy’s attitude towards overweight people. As someone who has been struggling with their weight & body acceptance their entire life, Amy’s comments in her article “Diet, you’ll like it” are thoughtless & rude.
    She states “Also, thin people almost always look good no matter what they wear. In contrast, some larger women compensate by spending more on hair, nails, and wardrobe”

    I resent being grouped together with these spendthrifts, just because I have some extra weight that I can’t get rid of, & I find it very insensitive of Amy to make a statement like that. I spend the same amount on my clothes as my thin frugal friends do, the only difference between us is that I look at the ‘large’ section & they look at the ‘small’.

  138. Meredith says:

    I have read the TG many times. It is the set of books I check out most from the library. I always wondered what Amy was doing now. I am in debt to her for helping me avoid debt and to be able to retire early and follow my passion of volunteer work. Thanks to you and to Amy for the inspiration.

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