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Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel – Book Review and Giveaway

How far would you go to save money? Do you clip coupons? Avoid ATM fees by using cashback? Most of us have done both of those at least a few times. What about seeing multiple movies for the price of one ticket? Pretending it’s your birthday to get a free cake? Avoid bringing food to company potlucks? Spend your lunch hour cruising for free samples at Costco/Sam’s Club?

If you’ve done any of the latter, or if they made you laugh, then you might enjoying Phil Villarreal’s book Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets.

Don’t take the book seriously. Signing up for a credit card to get swag isn’t a good idea. And lying about any number of things (oh the lies he comes up with), would make me feel worse about saving the money than I would about spending it. This book is not a reliable life guide.

What it is, is hilarious.

Villarreal keeps you guessing–sometimes it’s hard to tell whether he’s recommending one of his tips or writing about it because it could work and he finds it hilarious to think of someone trying it.

Some of his tips are quite good and sane, though approached with his quirky style. For example, he has great tips for getting around ATM fees (commonsense stuff, but something to remember). Or he recounts calling the hospital after his second child’s birth and asking for 25% off the bill if he paid in cash. The hospital agreed. No hassle, simple call.

And after that sane advice, he’ll recommend you replace your scratched/damaged DVDs via a Netflix subscription. Get a clean copy from Netflix (hopefully!), mail back your damaged one. Could it work? Yes. Is it ethical? Not so much.

This is an easy book to pick up and put down. I read most of it during my morning metro commute. You can also pick it up on a day when all the PF blogs seem to be posting on the same topic. Whether you flip to a helpful hint or an outrageous suggestion, you’ll be entertained.

You can catch more Phil at his blog Because I Told You So, though a lot of it is coverage of his publicity (the protesters made me laugh).

That was the review, now for the giveaway. I’m giving away my review copy of the book. You too can learn the secrets of Americans stingiest scoundrel.

To enter: Leave a comment with the most outrageous money-saving tip you’ve heard or come up with. And let us know if you ever tried it!

Contest closes Wednesday, September 23rd at midnight, EDT. Winner will be notified by e-mail and must respond within a week or another winner will be chosen. One entry will be counted per person. You must have a valid e-mail address to enter. Void where prohibited. I will make the decision based on a drawing from, I will make the final decision on valid entries.

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My Readers Are Stingy Scoundrels too | Personal Finance Firewall
October 2, 2009 at 1:02 pm


Caro September 16, 2009 at 8:21 am

My room-mate would always put her mushrooms from the store in a plastic bag and then bring along a paper bag to move them to after checkout. She insisted that it made the mushrooms cheaper because the plastic bag was lighter than the paper. And the checkout person always let her take the paper bag without comment (or weighing).

I must admit that I did this for a while because she was so insistent. But it was too ridiculous to keep up.

Little Miss Moneybags September 16, 2009 at 9:36 am

The tip that Trent got recently about using REUSABLE TOILET PAPER. I agree with him–that’s just too frugal for me.
.-= Little Miss Moneybags´s last blog linkfest =-.

J. Money September 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

VERY entertaining book for sure. Crazy, but entertaining πŸ˜‰ Heard there was some greatness towards the end of it too – I’m on #50 or so.
.-= J. Money´s last blog ..Google Asks, J. Money Answers. =-.

Erica September 16, 2009 at 11:59 am

When we were first married and just had a baby, we were VERY broke. That Christmas, we regifted everything. We gave one relative a container of lotion that we had used a tiny bit – we simply topped it off with some other lotion and shook the heck out of it. She loved it and asked for the same lotion the next year. πŸ™‚

Jesse September 16, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Siphoning gas has always been popular among the unethical πŸ˜‰ Its not only unethical and illegal but very unsafe to do.

I had an old boss that had 3 or 4 identical trucks. He would license and register one of them and just swap the plates around to the one he needed to take when traveling πŸ˜‰
.-= Jesse´s last blog ..Happy Meals and Weed =-.

Jane September 16, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Your review reminded me of the stingiest, er, biggest money saver I ever witnessed. When I was in college, my landlady’s son hit me up for money to go out for dinner. He then invited me to go with him. I figured what he wanted to do was some odd way of asking me out AND getting me to pay for dinner. I hesitantly agreed to go out with him and and gave him the money. We went to the restaurant he chose and had a nice dinner. He then excused himself to go to the bathroom. After several minutes I heard a tapping on the window. He was outside, jesturing for me to leave and join him. That was when the waiter brought me the bill. Embarassed, I paid for both meals, having already given him the money to pay for them. Going outside, I decided to be bold and ask him to return the money I had loaned to him earlier since I’d ended up paying for our meals anyway. He flew into a rage about how I didn’t trust him and I was just a @*%$@*$&^. He then told me to walk home and left without me, stranding me late at night in a part of the city I’d never been in before. I never did get the money back, of course, but then I got to never saw him again, too.

Tony September 16, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Lived with a guy that had bought some iron weights at a store. Used them for some time and then decided that he would take them back to the store that he bought them from. He did so and got his money back. He was pretty cheap and wanted the money and did not want to leave them when he moved away. If you ask me it was very un-ethical with what he did.

thisisbeth September 17, 2009 at 1:06 am

I’ve heard of girls buying formal dresses/shoes, and they returning them the day after the event. I get appalled at the thought (and even if I wanted to do something like that, I couldn’t. I’d spill for sure!). This book does sound entertaining!!

Damon Day September 17, 2009 at 1:20 am

I think my favorite one comes from my father. I remember growing up, he would, whenever he filled up his truck with gas, fill it half full with the premium 91 octane and then fill the other half with the cheap 87 octane.

Of course that seems like quite a bit of extra effort so I asked him why he did that. His response was because he figured half a tank of 91 mixed with half a tank of 87 would be the same quality as the 89 middle grade. The difference was that he saved few cents per gallon by doing it that way rather than buying straight 89.

Now I have no idea about the chemical composition of the grades and whether his hypothesis that 91 mixed with 87 creates 89, but when I looked at the prices, his math was correct, he was indeed saving 1 cent per gallon off of the 89.

So he saved about 30 cents on the fill up πŸ™‚
considering it took an extra two minutes or so to pull off the switching of the pumps I would calculate that he was saving 9 dollars an hour.

Considering he was the CEO of his company making several hundred thousand per year, I think he should have saved the 2 minutes and went straight for the 89. But in a small way I think it gave him satisfaction to feel like he was sticking it to the man πŸ™‚

Oh, and I have never tried this, I drive a diesel πŸ™‚
.-= Damon Day´s last blog ..Debt Settlement Companies – Top 5 ways they can Screw you! =-.

Laura in Atlanta September 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm

My grandfater would go to fast food restaurants and take handfuls of ketchup, mustard, mayo packets . . . and take them home and squeeze them into bottles. He never ever bought food at these establishments, but he would stock up on their condiments! Also – My grandmother would put the extra rolls of toilet paper found in public restrooms into her purse and take them home too! (they were made for each other. ;-))

Adam September 18, 2009 at 12:17 am

My aunt washes and re-uses plastic wrap. She had to buy a new roll in years.

Adam September 18, 2009 at 12:18 am

(Should say “hasn’t had to”)

Mrs. Accountability September 20, 2009 at 9:27 pm

My Grandma rarely flushed her toilet… instead she would keep a small plastic tub in the kitchen sink, wash her hands over it, or a dish or two, whatever she used throughout the day. When it was filled, she would go into the bathroom and dump the tub into the toilet, which would then flush the day’s worth of “deposits” down the drain. She also had one bare bulb in the kitchen and at night would use no other lights but that one.
.-= Mrs. Accountability´s last blog ..September 2009 Gardening =-.

Caleb September 24, 2009 at 10:42 am

Towards the end of the Spring semster earlier this year, some kids on my hall decided to blow off some steam during finals week and toilet papered the hall and stairwell. I woke up early the next morning not knowing what had transpired and found the mess outside my room. Apparently they had gotten into the supply closet to get their toilet and just dumped all the excess they didn’t use which ended up being forty or fifty rolls. Now I was getting a married a couple weeks after that and moving into the house we rent, so I took a garbage and filled it with all those unused rolls of toilet paper and took it to our new place. We still have plenty of toilet paper left.

mrsmicah September 26, 2009 at 7:25 pm

This contest is closed. Comments on crazy money-saving strategies are still welcome! πŸ™‚

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