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Crowdsourcing is pretty commonplace nowadays. We use it to raise money for new ideas we have on Kickstarter or our medical bills on Gofundme, we use it to help us make any number of decisions through Twitter polls, we even use it to settle marital arguments about the proper orientation for toilet paper on Facebook. Jeff Yeager took that concept one step further and wrote an entire book by biking around the country and asking people who were winning with money what they do on a daily basis.
The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means is a collection of 16 chapters full of advice, tips, and tricks from people in all walks of life about money: how to save it, when to spend it, and above all, how to make it work for you instead of the other way around.
Despite the clickbait title, there’s plenty of useful information packed in these pages. Much of it’s going to be stuff you’ve probably heard before, like making dinner at home instead of eating out every night, but I think it’s good to even rehash the tried-and-true advice every once in a while. And if listening to one person tell you how to do things isn’t your thing, then maybe hearing the collective wisdom of hundreds of people from all over the place will be more beneficial to you.
The book was written fresh off the heels of the Great Recession of 2008, so some of the advice feels a little dated, such as foregoing movie nights out for Netflix, a novel new way to get DVDs delivered right to your house. That’s right, kids, Netflix started out as a DVD business, ask your parents! But at the heart of most of Jeff’s information is sound advice that has always been in style. Spend less than you earn, learn wants vs. needs, and plan for the future.
This is the first book of Jeff’s that I’ve read, but I enjoyed his easygoing, conversational style and his sense of humor that kept the mood light and interesting. I noticed a few times during the book that it almost felt like he had cheated by putting his name on the cover, since it’s really just anecdote after anecdote from someone else about how to handle money. But he does tie each story together in the margins, and he does a good job of wrangling all the similar stories together under appropriate chapter headings. Maybe it would be more accurate to call him the curator of this book rather than the author.
Overall, I thought it was really refreshing to read a book about spending less that focused on living a fulfilling life along the way, rather than making you feel like you needed to sacrifice everything you can get your hands on now in order to be wasteful and “happy” down the road.
About Jeff Yeager: Jeff spent 24 years working as a CEO and senior executive with national nonprofit organizations in Washington, DC before launching his career in 2004 as an author, public speaker, and media personality.
In 2004, at the age of 46, Yeager realized something startling. Because of the experience he gained as the self-proclaimed “Titan of Tightwads” in the nonprofit sector and the positive impact those same management techniques had on his personal finances, Yeager realized that he had reduced his dependency on money to the point where he could retire. Or rather, as he likes to say, become “selfishly employed,” free to pursue whatever interests he chooses, without inordinate worry over a paycheck.
Since leaving the work-a-day world, Yeager has done just that. As an active volunteer, Yeager serves on the boards of four nonprofit organizations involved in education and the environment. But most of all, Yeager has used his newfound financial freedom to pursue his passion for writing and multi-media journalism.
Jeff currently lives just outside of Washington, DC with Denise, his pooooor wife of 27 years, and his beloved compost pile, Gomer. He grew up in rural Ohio, and is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Bowling Green State University. He was a Rhodes Scholar nominee and was voted funniest student in his fourth grade class.
Buy/Borrow/Pass: Borrow. This is a quick and easy read, but it’s not anything that will likely blow your mind. The tips also seem a little outdated at times, which is really unfortunate for a book on a subject as foundational as personal finance.