Book Review - The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means
I haven't actually read Jeff Yeager's first book, but I am familiar with his writing on Wise Bread and the Early Retirement forums. He kindly offered me a review copy of his new book and I jumped at the chance to read it. The Cheapskate Next Door is actually the result of Jeff's unconventional way of promoting his first book. Basically, he took off on his bike and couch surfed on his book tour across the country. Along the way he met kindred souls who shared their homes and cheap way of life.
The book is structured so that each chapter discusses one aspect of life such as food or transportation. Each chapter is full of personal stories and also has a few practical money saving tips called "Cheap Shots." Some of the cheapskates Yeager meets are out there even by the Ultimate Cheapskate's standards, and that makes the book quite entertaining.
Although Yeager does not have children, I thought that the most interesting and helpful chapter in the book was about how cheapskates raise kids. He wrote very little about kids in his first book, and that elicited a lot of responses which he compiled into this book. The main idea of the chapter is that you have to learn to say no to your kids and teach them delayed gratification. Children can be well cared for without all the latest gadgetry, and I totally agree with that sentiment. An interesting Cheap Shot in this chapter is that there are now toy libraries in America where parents can borrow toys. This chapter also goes on to talk about how to save on college costs, and shows that a child does not have to cost $222,000.
One of the shorter chapters is called "Break the Mortgage Chains that Bind Thee." The simple message here is that paying off a mortgage is the best thing one can do for their peace of mind. Of course, many would argue that today's low interest rates means that having a mortgage may not be a bad idea financially, but I agree with the fact that having one less payment per month is a great thing.
One thing that delighted me about this book is how the people Yeager met seemed extremely proud of their lifestyle. They revel in the fact that they have a minimum amount of debt and seem to love their lives. I liked the book quite a bit for its jovial tone and its message that you can live happily without being plugged into extreme consumerism.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and I received a free copy of the book reviewed.