Managing Money

What Ever Happened to Amy Dacyczyn of The Tightwad Gazette?

August 11, 2011

Anyone remember Amy Dacyczyn (pronounced Decision), who wrote The Tightwad Gazette newsletter, that later became a book?

She and her husband became famous for their frugal ways, which allowed them to raise six kids on a Navy pension. They also paid cash for a home, barn, and acreage in Maine.

Amy retired from her career as The Frugal Zealot some time ago and seemed to drop out of site. But recently I ran across this video of her, that seems to have been made a few years back. If you were a fan of Amy’s, you’ll probably enjoy it as much as I did.

A compilation of all three of Amy’s books is available in one book from Amazon. It has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating with over 430 customer reviews. See them here.

Were you a fan of The Tightwad Gazette?

Note: This post includes my referral links. See my disclosure policy for more info.

  1. Amazingly, even though she is the official frugal guru, I have yet to read her stuff. My mom was my frugal mentor. :)

    But I forgot all about this lady, though I have heard a lot of great things about her work. I’ll have to put her book on my Amazon Wishlist!

    Nice blog you have here.

  2. It could easily be argued that Amy is the one who started it all! She really is an inspiration. I agree totally with her comment that it is a shame we are more likely to think frugal in bad times. To paraphrase: “if we thought about it in the good times, we could get through the bad times more easily.” I’m a good example of that. I was in heavy debt a while back (medical bills, mostly, on lousy credit cards) and because of that I learned how to cut corners, clip coupons and more. Things have swung almost 180 for us and while we aren’t what would be considered wealthy (at least not on Long Island, NY!) we are very, very comfortable. I don’t have to cut coupons, but I still do and always will. I learned to live below our means. Because of that, I can get almost everything I want, mostly because I don’t want everything! I’m more content than ever with much less. I said to my husband last night, “you know, there’s only a hundred dollars in the checking account until the next paycheck, but I’m fine, because all my bills are caught up!”
    Sorry this is so long, but I’ll say it again: Amy D is an inspiration!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Clare. You have the ability to be what a lot of people are not: content. I think that goes a long, long way. I’m glad things have turned around for you guys. I agree: Amy D is inspiring. I’ve always been intrigued by her, even though my frugality doesn’t even begin to approach hers. Thanks for your comment.

    2. Clare – I realize I’m 3 years late, but I’m curious if you read her books – she doesn’t advocate coupons and I seldom use them. The store brand is usually cheaper without a coupon and just as good.

  3. No idea, Hunter. She never shared much info about income, that I remember. Her focus was on frugality.

    One thing is for sure: whatever she made, she made it go a long, long way.

  4. Very good advice! She’s inspired me to find other ways to build the bookshelves I want behind our couch (I really had my eye on those cubbies she found for free!).

  5. Julie–I absolutely LOVE Amy Dacyzyn! I have her book and was a big fan of hers in the 90’s! Glad to see the video and sad some didn’t know who she was! Thanks for this interesting blog post!

    1. Same here—we continue to be BIG fans of her and her family!!!

      Learned soooooooooooooooooo much from them when I was getting her just $1-an-issue newsletter in the 90s, then was delighted to get her books.

      In fact, was planning to reread her “Complete” compilation all over again soon.

      Would LOVE ot hear more about them—if my math is right, they’d be grandparents several times over by now, and it would be fun to hear about their kids and extended family.

      1. Mrs. R, I think you’re right about the grandkids. My guess is that a lot of people would like to know more about what she’s up to. Can you imagine what kind of following she would have if she blogged? I think she prefers a simpler life with lots of privacy, however.

  6. I also have a copy of the “Complete Tightwad Gazette”. I bought it several years ago and it literally changed my life. I owe this woman so much and it was good to see that she is still out there pinching pennies! Thanks for this post!

  7. Thanks so much for sharing this! Our sponsor couple had shared her books with us when we were engaged, and I think I found my own at a yard sale. I still refer to it from time to time, and it had a lot of influence on our marriage and the way we spend our money. That made me so happy seeing her tonight! And it was a good reminder for me to pay more attention to those dollars we throw away on silly things!
    (I’m a first time reader visiting from Money Saving Mom!)

  8. The Tightwad Gazette compilations changed the way I looked at things, and Amy was a big part of my transformation into liveable frugality :-) She made it seem fun and creative. And in truth, I find I am far more creative in my life, the more I am limited in my spending. For those of you who have not yet read her, and will look for her books, the suggestions are varied and valuable, but be aware that the ones on technology are obviously outdated. Some tips you will incorporate into your life because it suits your lifestyle – some will just make you think a little differently. And that is the essence of what she taught – look for solutions within what you have, and enjoy the process.

  9. I saw Amy on the Phil Donahue show years ago and immediately subscribed to the newsletter. My husband had just lost his job and we had a toddler. Amy did change my thinking and I still use what I learned. I still have all the newsletters, too! Just discovered you site – also from Money Saving Mom….Thanks!

  10. thank you for posting this video! I have been a fan of hers for years and still have her original three first books on my bookshelf (before they came out with the one big condensed book). She was frugal before it became fashionable!

  11. I also want to thank you for posting this. I was a subscriber to the Gazette, and still have many of the original issues in some boxes in the garage.

    She was the original, and while it took me longer to put into practice what I learned from her, finally I am living [relatively] frugally. These days I save about 40% of my income. There is nothing more liberating than to know I have money in the bank; so should bad times befall me and my family, we have what we need. Nevermore paycheck-to-paycheck.

  12. Thank you so much for the video. I found Amy’s newsletter when my children were babies and I wasa stay at home mom. She inspired me to make my own baby wipes! I have all my Tightwad Gazette newsletters and her books. I have wondered what happened to her. I am now a single mom and am using many things again that I learned from Amy.
    Thanks again!

    1. Sounds like you were a true fan, as many of us were, Paula. She was frugal before frugal was cool and made an impact on so many of us long before the internet made that easier to do. How cool that you still have all your newsletters.

  13. Thanks for sharing the post about Amy D. I love her books and have the condensed version. She is a mastermind on frugal living. I like one example in her book about eating an apple versus eating something with many calories and how much time it would take to exercise off the higher calorie item. It makes sense to just not eat it. It makes sense to just not spend so much on something and not have to work extra hours to pay for it.

  14. I’m so glad to see an update on her life! I first read her book when I was 21 years old and newly married. My husband and myself started our marriage w/debt and it seemed we hardly had enough money when we’d sit down to pay the bills. After reading through her book, we changed the way we did things. At our 1 year anniversary we had paid all debt, had money in savings, and were giving monthly to our church, as well as to missionaries on a monthly basis. I am so thankful for Amy D!

  15. A co-worker introduced me to the Tightwad Gazette eons ago. It was a joy to received and follow. I have all my issues and the book and wouldn’t give any of them up for the world. I grew up poor and my family was thrifty (that’s what they used to call it) and I had lots of home made and home grown everything. We were sustainable then and I am sustainable now.

    Thank you Julie and a thousand thanks to Amy D.

  16. The original tightwad was Joanne York who in 1974 wrote “HOW I FEED MY FAMILY OF FOUR ON $16 A WEEK and have meat on the table every night” She only had two children & didn’t work outside the home although she was a school teacher. She was saving money to buy a house while her husband worked as a tailor. She was on a lot of talk shows as the book covered many ways to save money. She was frugal. She lived in the Washington D.C. area where it was expensive. Amy became popular in the late ’80s and raised six kids when others could only afford two.

  17. I vaguely recall reading at the close of her gazette that she sold her publishing rights for a cool million dollars. I also vaguely recall that she stated in an interview that she would pull her kids out of a gathering if there was a plan to order take out food to avoid spending the 20.00 dollars. She’s tough

  18. Didn’t she end up filing for bankruptcy? (..just kidding)

    One of my favorite things to tell some of my Ivy League Connecticut friends with High Roller lifestyles is that my modest lifestyle is actually my most valuable asset. They may make 2 or 3 times as much as me (or more), but they hemorrhage money. When times turn tough, they are more likely to end up filing for bankruptcy. (They are like the hare and I, the tortoise.)

  19. My introduction to Amy was on the Phil Donahue show in the 80’s. At that time she was vilified by the audience. People in the audience were calling her a monster and accusing her of child abuse because she didn’t give into the marketing game that corporations keep most of the population playing. I thought she was a genius and still do.
    I am sure that many of those same people who were calling her names and telling her how wrong she was are the ones which either lost their homes or wound up upside down in their mortgage in later years while she quietly lived her life in a paid for home and money in the bank.

    1. I was horrified when I saw that Donahue show Amy and her family were on! A friend had turned me on to the gazette so I knew who she was and thought she was great. The people in the audience assumed she was going to spoonfeed them easy answers and that being thrifty wouldn’t take any work. They attacked her like she was a bad magician. I was ashamed of the audience members. She was giving pearls of wisdom and they spit on her for it.

  20. I received one of her books at a Christmas “White Elephant” gift exchange! It has so many great ideas in it. I work at a shelter for battered women, I ask them if they want to see it, if they do, I let them read it.
    I will never give it away. I keep it with my recipe books, so I always know where it is! It has helped a bunch over the years. Thanks for this post.

  21. Thank you for the video. Not only am I a fan of Amy’s I do my best to follow all her ways. She is an awesome Mentor! I always wished I could be friends with her. I was one of her original followers when she had her newsletter. I do own all of her books and bought them for my daughter (who is a stay at home Mom of six and her husband is retired from Air Force). Because of Amy I have been able to get us through so many financially tough times and not realize we were poor at times. Life has become a game of saving for the things we need without even feeling it. She has taught me that playing games with my self is fun. We have always had a large garden and canned and preserved everything. Now I’m playing the total recycling game and not allowing any chemicals into our lives. This is also frugal as well as healthy. I still wish we could be friends – she is an awesome lady!!!
    Thank you again.

  22. Many years ago, I was heavily involved in refunding. I came across Amy’s ad in one of those news letters. I sent in a subscription for her newsletter, and my new obsession began. Many of the ideas I thought were cheap looking and tacky but the other ideas have saved me tons. I went on to purchase her books..My family requests to borrow them so often, I have had to make a frugal notebook for myself, as my books are rarely with me.

  23. Amy was a Godsend to me when raising my four children and in-laws. I couldn’t wait for her newsletter to arrive. I learned to save, re-use, trade for services, and invest in our lives. We got by with her help. We even got healthier cooking from scratch. gardening. Thanks Amy.!!!

  24. I love Amy. I have the Complete Tightwad Gazette and I’m currently re-reading it for the umpteenth time. I find that I get different things out of it when I read it at different times in my life. I came on after the newsletter had ended up would love for her or someone else to have a similar format or group going for us.

  25. I was a Tightwad Gazette newsletter member way back in the day. And even bought the books of the newsletters that i already had. Needless to say, i was/still am a big fan of Ms Amy. Thanks for the video. I have often wondered what she was up to after all the kiddies where grown up. I think i’m going right now and get her books off the shelf and re-read them, again!

  26. I also have all of her newsletters. I was always exited to read the new one when it came in the mail.Getting the newsletter each month helped keep me on track.

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