Book Review: Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel

By Lynn Truong on 2 October 2009 9 comments
Photo: Amazon

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Every review I've read of this book agrees on one thing about Phil Villarreal's new book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel — he's hilarious. Seriously, his snarky wit will cause many laugh out loud moments — not something you want to be reading during a conference call or in a public bathroom. What we all might not agree on is which tip is okay (like, it's legal), and which tip is not (like, you'll get a smackdown), and which are pure genius (Show Me the Money, shown below).

You might scoff at the tips at first (like planning to have kids approximately 7 months after a close friend or relative, to get all the hand-me-downs), but then you'll find yourself having the "kids" talk with your spouse and you'll start thinking about your sister-in-law who is 4 months pregnant...

What Phil does is shatter the facade of decorum and say out loud (on writing) what most of us just don't have the guts to pull off. He doesn't hold anything back, revealing his most outrageous and creative tips on saving some dough. Not all his tips walk the fine line of ethics by the way. He shares important ones like cutting your hospital bill just by calling their billing department and asking for a discount for paying in full. True story: he knocked $1000 off a $4000 bill with that simple phone call. No super negotiation powers needed.

Phil also shares valuable tips like how to negotiate at a yard sale, where to find restaurants that have "Kids Eat Free" promotions, and provides an innovative tuna sandwich recipe that's delicious, cheap, and needs no fatty mayo.

But my absolutely favorite tip is #35. Show Me the Money.

Wait until you're seated at a table closing a car or house loan, at the point when the loan officer or seller is hunched on the other side of the table, completely sure he's long since closed you and is now just waiting for you to put pen to paper and make it official.

 

This is when you lay your pen on the table and declare that you need $20 or you'll back out. You'll probably get laughs, followed by jeers and accusations of insanity...One time I had a particularly disgruntled loan dude wad up his $20 and throw it at me as I was walking out on the deal. I thanked him, signed the paperwork, and drove off in my new car.

You can find more of Phil's work at The Consumerist, Arizona Daily Star, OK! Magazine or visit his blogs, Philm Guy and BeacuseIToldYouSo.

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Phil's book by listening to our latest Dealista episode!

Tagged: Frugal Living
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Guest's picture
Jesse

haha I agree, that tip was awesome. I read the book one day after closing on a refinance, I was so mad at myself I didn't have that tip earlier, I could have scored $20! haha

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

HAHAHA that's horrible.  I feel sorry for the loan guy. 

Guest's picture

That's the very tip that made my wife stop reading the book in disgust.

Guest's picture
Jesse

Haha so your wife doesnt totally agree with your tactics? ;) well, she got to #35 thats pretty good, and good for you that she didnt see any in the 70-100 range...those could permanently land you on the couch :)

Guest's picture

Agreed. That's one of the book's nifty mechanisms - it filters out those who can't tolerate the stuff later on.

Guest's picture
Guest

When I read #35 I couldn't stop laughing. It's perfect.

Guest's picture
Laura

After reading your blog I got this book & it made me LOL constantly thruout. Absolutely worth it & so far I am happy to reveal that the info from that book has already recouped the cost! ;)

Guest's picture
Laura

I will also take away from that book: W.W.P.D.- What Would Pacman Do. That was the funniest chapter in my opinion next to the uncle gift one. 'all that he see is good' =) =)

Guest's picture
D.J.

I found some of the tips helpful. Other tips, I found ethically and morally wrong. Taking more than your share just moves the cost from your pocket to the pocket of others. When you take a handful of ketchup packets or stack of napkins pushes the business owner's costs up faster and will only cause them to increase their prices faster.