He’s at it again, but this time he’s not alone. America’s Ultimate Cheapskate is back with all new secrets for how to live happily below your means, á la cheapskate. For The Cheapskate Next Door, Jeff Yeager tapped his bargain-basement-brain-trust, hitting the road to interview and survey hundreds of his fellow cheapskates to divulge their secrets for living the good life on less.
Jeff reveals the 16 key attitudes about money – and life – that allow the cheapskates next door to live happy, comfortable, debt-free lives while spending only a fraction of what most Americans spend. Their strategies will change your way of thinking about money and debunk some of life’s biggest money myths. For example, you’ll learn: how to cut your food bill in half and eat healthier as a result; how your kids can get a college education without ever borrowing a dime; how to let the other guy pay for deprecation by learning the secrets of buying used, not abused; how you can save serious money by negotiating and bartering; and how – if you know where to look – there’s free stuff and free fun all around you.
The Cheapskate Next Door also features dozens of original “Cheap Shots” – quick, money saving tips that could save you more than $25,000 in a single year! Cheap Shots give you the inside scoop on:
• How to save hundreds on kids’ toys;
• What inexpensive old-fashioned kitchen appliance can save you more than $200 a year;
• How you can travel the world without ever having to pay for lodging;
• What single driving tip can save you $30,000 during your lifetime;
• Even how to save up to 40% on fine wines (and we’re not talking about the kind that comes in a box).
From simple money saving tips to truly life changing financial strategies, the cheapskates next door know that the key to financial freedom and enjoying life more is not how much you earn, but how much you spend.
Broadway Books; Trade Paperback Original;
On Sale: June 8, 2010
Praise for The Cheapskate Next Door
"The Cheapskate Next
Door proves once and for all that living happily within your means is
possible at practically any income."
—David Bach, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of The Automatic Millionaire and Start Late, Finish Rich
"Jeff Yeager has a way
of unleashing the inner cheapskate in us all!"
—Jean Chatzky, Bestselling Author and Financial Expert
"If you don't save ten
times the amount you spend on this book, you probably didn't read it."
—Vicki Robin, Author of Your Money or Your Life
"Jeff Yeager's research and cross-country cheapskate quest uncovered a truth few Americans know: Not only can you be happy buying less stuff, you would likely be happier. A must-read for those who want to jump off the consumer treadmill and discover what's really important."
—Gregory Karp, Syndicated Newspaper Columnist and Author of Living Rich by Spending Smart and The 1-2-3 Money Plan
"I loved this book and couldn't put it down, it is an absolute must-read. Jeff puts the fun back in frugality with entertaining insights from "cheapskates" all over the country, sharing their secrets on how to live happy, less-stressful lives on the cheap."
—Stephanie Nelson, Founder www.CouponMom.com and Author of The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half
"Yeager is back with another energetic, likeably eccentric lesson on living happily well below your means. Yeager and his "Miser Advisers" are proof that living more frugally isn't about sacrifice—it's about making choices every day to live a better, happier, more thoughtful life with less."
Do You Think Like A Cheapskate?
In his new book, The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily below Their Means, author Jeff Yeager truly gets inside the minds of his fellow cheapskates, sharing what he calls the "16 idiosyncrasies of the cheapskate mindset."
Yeager, who was dubbed "The Ultimate Cheapskate" by Matt Lauer on the Today show, surveyed and interviewed cheapskates across the country about their attitudes toward money and life. What he discovered will both surprise and amuse, flying in the face of the miserable, Scrooge-like cheapskate stereotypes. Here's a glimpse inside the mind of the Cheapskates Next Door:
· Cheapskates Say "The Joneses Can Kiss Our Assets" - Cheapskates are highly self-confident and proud of their frugal lifestyles, caring very little about what others think of them and even less about things like buying designer brand names and keeping up appearances with the Joneses.
· Cheapskates Are Immune from Buyer's Remorse - Most shoppers eventually regret nearly 80% of the discretionary items they buy; but cheapskates are "premeditated shoppers" and, because of it, are largely immune from buyer's remorse. Nearly 90% of the cheapskates surveyed say they "never" or "rarely" regret a purchase.
· Cheapskates Appreciate Appreciation (and depreciation, too) - Other than when buying a house, most people usually don't think about whether something will increase or decrease in value after they buy it. Cheapskates are tuned into appreciation/depreciation, often preferring to buy antique furniture (like the Amish do) that will retain/increase in value, and buying everything from cars to computers to clothing used, rather than new, so that the first owner pays for most of the depreciation.
· Cheapskates Know That The Best Things in Life Aren't Things – Social science has shown that "stuff" tends to disappoint us over time, but "experiences" – how we spend our time – is what adds true value and meaning to life. Cheapskates value their time, and the things they can do with it, more than money, and the things they can buy with it.
· Cheapskates Answer to a Higher Authority: For most of the cheapskates polled, it's truly not about the money. Nine out of ten cheapskates say that their decision to live a more frugal life isn't about trying to amass a big savings account, rather it's primarily grounded in some higher ideals, such as religious beliefs or environmentalism. That's why, of the cheapskates polled, they donate nearly twice as much to charity as the average American.
FOLLOWING IS A COMPLETE COPY OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE USED IN COLLECTING DATA FOR THE BOOK "THE CHEAPSKATE NEXT DOOR". PLEASE DO NOT FILL OUT OR SUBMIT THIS QUESTIONNAIRE IT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY
The Cheapskate Next Door
Thank you for taking the time to complete this questionnaire. You can just enter and save your responses in this Word document and return it to me as an attachment at UltCheapskate@aol.com. Use as much space as necessary to answer the questions (just modify the document format as needed), and please enter your responses in BOLD to help differentiate your responses from the questionnaire text. Thanks again and Stay Cheap! – Jeff Yeager
PART I. GENERAL INFORMATION
Your Contact Info
I need to know who you are and how to contact you in case I have any questions.
Phone(s) – inc. area code(s):
Your completed questionnaire will not be seen by anyone other than me. I may, at my discretion, wish to mention you by name in my book (e.g. "Here's how Mrs. I.M. Cheap of Thriftville, Wisconsin saves money of her heating bill."). However, you can elect to remain anonymous if you prefer (e.g. "Here's how one of my Miser Advisers from Wisconsin saves money on her heating bill."). If you give permission and I wish to use your name in the book, I will make every reasonable effort to contact you in advance of publication to confirm the specific context of the reference and reconfirm your approval.
____ You may use my real name in the book if you so choose.
____ I do not want you to use my real name in the book.
Don't want to answer some of the questions? It's really important for me to gather as much information from as many people as possible, but if there's some information you really do not want to provide, I'll take what I can get.
General Background Info
Number of times married:
Number of children: (list ages)
Number of years in current job:
Number of jobs as an adult:
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being I hate it all the time and 10 being I love it all the time, how would you describe your feelings about your current job/occupation?
Would you say you are very satisfied, very dissatisfied, or generally content (choose one) with the amount of money you currently earn?
If you had the option, would you decrease your working hours and wages to increase your leisure time?
Particularly if you have strong feelings on the subject, tell me a little bit about how you view your job in terms of the priorities in your life and, specifically, the relationship between your work and your decision to live below your means? (e.g. "I'm able to do what I love for living because I'm frugal" or "I view my job as a low priority; something I do just to survive" etc.)
Highest degree/level of education achieved:
If you attended college, did you:
- Pay your own way?
- Receive scholarships/financial assistance?
- Take out student loans (if so, specify total loan debt upon graduation)?
- Live with your parents/family while attending college?
- Attend a community, state or private college (choose one)?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no importance whatsoever and 10 being extremely important, how important do you consider education in general and a college degree(s) specifically?
Please provide any other tips, advice, personal stories, opinions, etc. you would like to share about education in general and, specifically, how to afford a college education on a limited budget:
PART II. FINANCIAL INFORMATION
What is your approximate total household income (annual)?
If married, do both spouses work outside the home?
Do you have income other than wages/salary? (If so, indicate sources and approximate amounts)
What is your household's approximate net worth (total assets, including the value of your home, minus liabilities/debts)?
Approximately what percentage of your income do you put into savings (including retirement and all other investment and savings accounts)?
Do you have any of the following savings/investment accounts? (if so, any details you care to provide would be appreciated):
- A formal emergency fund
- A 401K or other designated retirement account(s)
- 529 Plan or other college savings account(s)
- Other savings accounts, investment plans, etc. (details appreciated)
What are your priorities when it comes to saving money (e.g. retirement, kid's college, pay off mortgage early, etc.)?
At what age do you hope/did you retire?
Do you contribute the maximum amount allowable to qualified retirement plans you are eligible to participate in (if any)?
Have you ever declared personal bankruptcy?
Have you ever received a significant inheritance or financial windfall, and, if so, what did you do with the funds?
Please provide any other tips, advice, personal stories, opinions, etc. you would like to share about saving and investing in general and, specifically, how people with a limited income can manage to put money into savings.
Other than a home mortgage(s), which is addressed in Part III, do you have any of the following types of debts? (if so, any details you care to provide would be appreciated)
- Credit card debt
- Car loan(s)
- Student loan(s)
- Home equity loan(s)
- Personal loan(s)
- Other debts (details appreciated)
How many credit cards do you own/use regularly?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being I never feel that way and 10 being I always feel that way, how would rate your feelings about the following statement? I will wait until I have the money to buy something rather than charge it or borrow money in order to buy it right away.
Please provide any other tips, advice, personal stories, opinions, etc. you would like to share about credit/debt in general and, specifically, how to eliminate debt from your life.
Do you have a formal/written household budget?
Do you regularly record/monitor how much you spend?
Do you use the services of a professional financial planner?
Who is primarily responsible for managing the finances in your family, and how are financial decisions made?
If a married couple or living together, do you maintain separate his and her accounts of any kind?
Please provide any other tips, advice, personal stories, opinions, etc. you would like to share about household budgeting and financial planning, including any books, websites, or other resources that you would recommend on those subjects.
PART III. HOUSEHOLD BUDGET/SPENDING
The purpose of this section is to gather information about how you spend money. Feel free to add any additional information, tips, advice, opinions, etc. concerning your household budget and spending habits. It's OK to just estimate your spending, but be as accurate as you possibly can ... heck, you might even learn something new about where your money is going!
Spending on Housing
Do you currently own or rent housing?
How much do you pay (monthly) for housing?
How large is your home (approx. sq. ft.)?
Do you live an urban, suburban, or rural neighborhood (choose one)?
How much land do you own?
How many houses have you owned during your lifetime?
How long did you live in each home, including your current home?
How much did you pay for your current home?
Do you currently own more than one home?
How do you heat your home?
Do you have air conditioning?
Did you build your own home or perform extensive home renovations yourself (if so, briefly describe)?
If you have or once had a home mortgage:
- What was the original term/type of your mortgage (e.g. 30 year fixed)?
- Did you refinance along the way (if so, describe)?
- Did you take out a second mortgage or home equity loan along the way (if so, describe)?
- How long did it/will it take to pay off your mortgage(s)?
- If you paid off your mortgage early, any advice on how you did it would be appreciated!
OPTIONAL: Feel free to tell me a little about your housing, home improvements, approach to financing, or anything else about housing that you think would be of interest.
What is your BEST TIP(S) for saving money on housing (including purchasing, remodeling, utilities, etc.)?
Spending on Food
Approximately how much does your family spend on food each week?
How much of that is for groceries/meals prepared at home?
How much of that is for meals eaten in restaurants and carryout/fast food?
How many meals per week do you/your family members eat that are not prepared at home (i.e. in restaurants, fast-food, carryout)?
How often do you go grocery shopping?
Do you grow any of your own food? (if so, specify how much)
Do you participate in a CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture) or other community garden?
Do you use coupons when grocery shopping (if so, specify how often)?
Do you buy organic foods (if so, specify how often)?
Are you a vegetarian?
According to the USDA, the average American throws away about a pound of food per day. How much food do you/your family throw away?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no interest whatsoever and 10 being an extraordinary level of interest, how would you rank your interest in cooking/meal preparation?
OPTIONAL: Feel free to tell me a little about your grocery shopping and cooking habits (e.g. types of stores you shop at, approach to menu planning, etc.)
What is your BEST TIP(S) for saving money on groceries/food ... or maybe your favorite cheapskate meal/recipe?
Spending on Clothing
Approximately how much does your family spend on clothing in a typical year?
How often do you shop for clothes?
Do you or any family members make their own clothing?
Do you buy used clothing at thrift store, yard sales, etc. (if so, how often)?
How long do you expect a typical article of clothing to last?
What's the oldest piece(s) of clothing that you still own and wear?
If an article of clothing gets damaged, do you discard it or repair/continue to wear it?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no importance whatsoever and 10 being an extraordinary level of importance, how important do you consider wearing fashionable/brand name clothing when it comes to household spending?
OPTIONAL: Feel free to tell me a little about your clothes shopping habits (e.g. types of stores you shop at, etc.)
What is your BEST TIP(S) for saving money on clothing?
Spending on Transportation
How many cars/trucks does your household currently own?
How many cars/trucks have you owned during your lifetime?
Approximately how many miles does your family drive per year?
Do you usually buy new or used vehicles when you're in the market for a car or truck?
Do you do most/all of your own vehicle repairs and maintenance?
Do you usually sell/trade in your vehicles while they're still roadworthy, or drive them until they're ready for the scrap yard?
Does anyone in your family use public transportation, or walk or bicycle instead of driving on a regular basis? (if so, briefly describe).
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no importance whatsoever and 10 being an extraordinary level of importance, how important do you consider owning a fashionable car/truck when it comes to household spending?
What is your BEST TIP(S) for saving money on transportation?
Spending on Recreation/Entertainment/Travel
Please list your favorite pastimes, hobbies, leisure activities, etc.:
Using a scale of 1=Never, 2=Sometimes, 3=Frequently, how often do you go to the:
- Movie theater
- Live theater
- Sporting events
- Public library
- Parks/wilderness areas
Approximately how many hours per day is there one or more televisions turned on in your household?
Approximately how many hours per day is someone in your household using a computer for entertainment?
How much vacation time do you take each year?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no interest whatsoever and 10 being an extraordinary level of interest, how interested/important is traveling to you?
Have you ever traveled outside the U.S.?
When it comes to leisure time, would you generally rather spend that time at home or away from home doing something?
What's the best vacation you've ever taken?
What is your BEST TIP(S) for saving money on recreation, entertainment, and/or travel?
Please share any BEST TIP(S) you have to offer with regard to saving money on any of the following household expenses:
- Insurance (all types)
- Health care
- Utilities (electric, gas, etc.)
- Phone, internet, cable service, etc.
- Gift giving*
- Holiday/special celebrations*
- Other(s) (specify)
* (NOTE: Costs specifically associated with raising children will be addressed below.)
Spending/Shopping Habits - General
Using a scale of 1=Never, 2=Sometimes, 3=Frequently, how often do you shop at each of the following:
- "Dollar" stores
- "Big-box" stores/ Membership warehouse (e.g. Costco)
- Yard/garage sales
- Thrift stores
- Live auctions
- Online auctions (e.g. EBAY)
- Farmer's markets
- Dumpster diving
- Other(s) (specify)
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you buy items when they are on sale/discounted?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you buy used items instead of new items that cost more?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you buy an item costing over $10 without first comparison shopping or researching it first (or, at what price level do you comparison shop or research it first)?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you buy generic or store/off-brand items instead of brand-name items that cost more?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you buy a product primarily because you saw it advertised and it looked appealing?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you ask for discounts and/or negotiate on items you buy (examples appreciated)?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you buy an item to replace something that is still useable (i.e. something that's not worn out or broken)?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you buy an item that you eventually regret buying (aka "buyer's remorse") or that disappoints you?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you buy something that you later find on sale for less or that you later consider a rip-off?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you buy something that you really don't need (i.e. a "splurge" or impulse purchase)?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you choose to do something yourself (e.g. home repairs, your taxes, yard work, washing your car, etc.) rather than hire someone to do it for you?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 all of the time, how frequently do you recycle (materials like paper and glass, as well as reusing items and giving unwanted items to charities, etc.)?
Do you ever barter for goods and services? If so, examples would be appreciated.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not important at all and 10 being extremely important, how would rank the following factors when you consider whether or not to buy a product:
- Something that will increase/maintain value
- Hand/locally made vs. mass produced
- A "healthy choice" (if applicable)
- Country where manufactured
- Other consideration(s) (specify)
Things You Own
Which of the following do you currently own (please specify if you own more than one of any item)?
- Television (regular)
- Rabbit ears/DTV converter box
- Television (big screen or plasma)
- Solar panel
- Cable TV service
- Cell phone
- IPOD/Similar device
- Auxiliary electrical generator
- Blackberry / Handheld computer device
- Pet from pet store/breeder
- Pet from animal shelter/stray
- Compost pile
- Internet service
- Wood stove
- Health club/gym membership
- Crock pot/slow cooker
- Freezer (separate from refrigerator)
PART IV: RAISING CHILDREN
I'm particularly interested in advice parents have to offer about raising children on a limited budget and teaching children about money and the idea of living below your means. If you don't have children, you can skip this section or complete it if you'd like.
Researchers have found that it costs, on average, more than $200,000 to raise a child from birth to the age of 18 ... not including college! What is your reaction to that astounding figure, and can you estimate (roughly) how much you spent/will spend to raise your children?
How have you tried to limit the pressure your children feel from both advertising and their peers to want the latest toy, trendy fashion clothing, the hot new tech gadget, etc.?
How have you attempted to teach your children about money? Also, do they receive an allowance and, if so, how much?
How do you handle special occasions (e.g. birthdays, holidays, etc.) for your children, in terms of celebrating without breaking the bank? Any advice/tips about gift giving?
Briefly describe your financial plans for your children's education/future education (e.g. public schools, private, home school?), particularly with regard to attending college. Tips for financing an affordable education greatly appreciated.
Would you say your children are "spoiled" compared to other children you know? How do you feel your attitudes toward money/living below your means may have influenced your children in that regard?
It seems like more and more children these days are "finicky eaters" and insist on only eating certain foods. Is this the case in your house, and how have you handled the kids/food dilemma?
What has been the biggest financial challenge you've faced in terms of raising children on a limited budget?
What advice or BEST TIP(S) would you offer a couple who is considering starting a family?
PART IV. BELIEFS, ATTITUDES & GENERAL STUFF
Don't worry, you're almost done! Just a few more questions! I'm interested in seeing if there are any common trends when it comes to the beliefs and attitudes of people who live below their means. Please answer the following questions, and feel free to add any additional information or opinions that you think would be helpful.
Approximately what percentage of your income do you donate annually to charitable causes (inc. churches)?
If you belong to a church, do you tithe and, if so, what percentage of income?
How many hours per year would you estimate that you spend volunteering for charitable and civic causes (including volunteering at church)?
On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being extremely conservative and 10 being extremely liberal, how would you rate your overall political views?
On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being extremely religious and 10 being not religious at all, how would you rate your overall religious views?
On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not involved/interested at all and 10 being extremely involved/interested, how would you rate your overall involvement/interest in issues concerning the environment and the conservation movement?
Regarding your decision to live below your means, do you feel there are any religious/spiritual, political, environmental, and/or other ethical implications of choosing that lifestyle? If so, can you tell me a little about how you see the relationship between those beliefs and your lifestyle?
Because you live below your means, would you say that you worry/think about money/personal finances less, more, or about the same (choose one) as people you know who do not live below their means?
Compared to other people you know who do not live below their means, would you say that you disagree/argue with your spouse or other family members less, more, or about the same (choose one) about money and financial matters?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not important at all and 10 extremely important, how concerned are you about "keeping up with the Joneses" (i.e. maintaining economic status/appearances with your peers)?
Do you drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and/or gamble (specify which, if any)? If you do not, are your attitudes about vices like these influenced mostly by your religious/ethical beliefs, financial implications, health concerns, or some combination (specify)?
Do you ever splurge on something when it comes to spending, and, if so, what? How do you feel about an occasional splurge?
There are so many things you can value in life, from money and possessions, to friendship and family, to your health and faith, to name but a few possibilities. What do you value most in life?
During your lifetime, do think you have changed your attitude about money and purchasing behavior, and, if so, why?
If someone gave you $1 million, what would you do with it and, specifically, how would it change your life?
Speaking of a million, Thanks a Million for Completing This Questionnaire! You are now officially a Cheapskate Next Door. Feel free to add any additional thoughts, information, attachments, etc. that you think might be useful. Stay Cheap!