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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been borrowing the series from the library and I know that a lot of information is still relevant but I'm a bit bugged by some of the dated statistics which then lead to her ranting about personal responsibility, and how inflation isn't what people claim it is, they just can't reduce their standard of living, etc. Now I'm not saying that isn't true in some cases but listen to this. She has some USDA statistics from 1993 saying that health care costs were approximately $400 per child for an entire year!! I had to read it like five times to make sure I was reading it right. Before DH got laid off recently we were paying more than that in a month, for two children!!

There is another section I was reading about skincare. She basically debunks all skin care products as having any importance against wrinkles aside from retinol which is only available by prescription as she puts it. Now that so many over the counter products are available with retinol, what would she think of those? Would she find a certain product "frugal" enough or would she still debunk all skin care and deal with the aging process as is? Maybe she would support all natural/organic antioxidant skin care instead or maybe she would find all that bunk too?? I just find myself fascinated at what her responses could be now and yet disappointed that this section on skin care for instance isn't really relevant now considering all of the research and new information on antioxidants. Sure, we all know that paying $300 for cream with caviar in it is ridiculous but I would like an update, you know?

I don't disagree that these were accurate statistics back then or that some of her opinions about the cost of living were debatable but I find myself wishing she would follow up with a modern day response to some of her findings back then. It would be nice if she even did some interviews to give her take on the current economy. I just wonder what she thinks of our current state of economy. I know that her ethics of frugality and living with less are still relevant, even more so today which is why I picked up the series but I can't help but think our inflation vs. stagnant wages we are experiencing today makes some of her statistics and opinions about personal responsibility dated.

I know she is retired (probably made a fortune ironically enough, lol) and probably wants nothing to do with the media anymore but it sure would be nice in these times where frugality is so important to hear her feedback in correlation with modern times which seem to have changed so much since the nineties.
 

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Here is one interview she did about a year ago. I would think there are others.

I found Elizabeth Warren's more recent research about structural shifts in how American families spend their money pretty interesting. She uses the data to support her theory of a two income trap and how it will lead to the collapse of the middle class. Basically, families spend more on healthcare, housing and childcare -- not the consumerist stuff of lore.

There is also some data analysis out there showing inflation is actually more than has been stated by the different CPI measures currently in use.

I am all for being frugal, and we practice it and natural, simple living as much as works for us. I am also all for personal responsibility.

But, IMO our current highly stratified economic system isn't a level playing field. Our tax code highly priviledges certain types of income and assets, too. Education and healthcare also aren't equitably distributed.
 

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I honestly don't bother much with her rantings and just look at what she's suggesting. Frankly, even if her stats are outdated (which we know), she's pointing at things to investigate and through reading her stuff you start to think in that mode... kwim?

It sounds like you're annoyed because she's bunking things that you're fighting the tide on. If you can get through that, and you're inclined to do some of the things that she suggests--it CAN be good stuff. By the same token, there are some things that she suggests and never factors into it the time vs. money cost of it. I started reading her when her stats were actually more relevant; but I was a working single person going to school full-time. Some of this stuff was more time and effort to me than the money was worth (I'm sure that sounds really horrible. I wish I could remember examples to illustrate that I wasn't just being lazy).

But I kept reading her stuff and really, it DID put me in a mode of thought that sought out frugality and REALLY looked at what I was doing in a different way. I didn't just NOT do some of her stuff--I calculated the TRUE cost and tried to find away around it before giving in.

It's less about someone telling you what to do or try and more about trying to think in the mode they're thinking in so that you can apply that mindset or concept to your life... kwim? If you look at it that way, it may annoy you less.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I did read that interview recently. It still leaves a lot of unanswered questions though. Of course that was before the huge economical collapse so I can understand that. I agree with you about the two income issue which she mentions numerous times. I was pretty amazed myself at how some women found that they were actually losing money by working with all of the extraneous expenses. Of course that is all individual and people work for different reasons I suppose.

Heather, I really do appreciate a lot of her advice. In fact I've been thrift store shopping so much lately that I went in to Joann's the other day and balked over a child size gardening shovel that was five bucks and refused to buy it. Normally I wouldn't have blinked at that price.

Yeah, I guess some of her opinions do bug me a bit, particularly because we are licking our own wounds after a layoff and escalating health care costs. Nevertheless we have always been fairly simple minded and live in a very small home. I just graduated high school in 1994 so I have no way of comparing family living back then to now really.
 

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Here is an interview with her from March of this year:
http://www.mlive.com/businessreview/...mallpaula.html

As for her stats and other outdated thoughts, you are just going to have to let it go and read what you can apply to your life.

No book, no information, no facts are always going to have the same relavance.

Years ago everyone knew the earth was flat.
Years ago everyone knew the DDT was safe.
Etc, etc, etc.

There was a book out in the 40's about the back to the land movement called The Have More Plan.

Some of that information is outdated, things like use of DDT and a variety of other facts and good land use management. However, the book is still a great resource today for those that want to move back to the country and be more self sufficant and live "the good life".

Don't let the outdated information hold you back.
 

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I love the TG and credit it for getting me into the frugal state of mind. IMO that's what the book is best for--making you reconsider things you always considered a given, like buying second hand clothing vs new or examining things you do on a "what does this cost me" basis. I also like that even in her most recent interview she encouraged people to get her books at the library, rather than buying them. I contrast that w/ people like Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey who charge people to hear their advice (on saving money, which I find incredibly ironic!). She really is the Frugal Zealot. Anyway, to me Amy D is like Flylady--some great ideas, some stinkers, some that would never fit in w/ my life, but more an overall philosophy than a how-to for my life.
 

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Her parenting style completely turned me off, but I can't dismiss her advice. Even though I think she can be a little extreme I love how her books challenge me to think think think about every purchase. Do I need this? Could I find it cheaper? Could I make it? Would something else work instead? I find her books very inspiring, even though I suspect she would find me a dilettante.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah, I hear everybody. The only reason I'm on the third book is because I did weed out the parts which I disagreed with or didn't apply to me. Some of it is brilliant and some of her parenting ideas like the "creative deprivation" I found refreshing in today's society of excess.

I just wish she would come out with maybe a revised edition of all three?? I'm sure she could make enough money to make it worth her while. I'm thinking that all she would have to do is update the columns that were outdated with new research and material while leaving all of the old ones the way they are. It couldn't be that much work.

Oh, but I agree that I think it's awesome she suggested the library. I too am turned off by people like Suze Ormon and Ramsey who charge money for their workshops.
 

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I also got the large combined text from the library recently. I agree that a lot of the stuff is dated, and frankly I have done WAY better than the author did on several occasions.. for example, her homemade costumes- "painting paper plates" for example- once the plate is painted I am sure no one is going to want to eat off of it.. I buy costumes at yard sales for a $1 or $2 apiece, and have a whole family theme collected before fall, including handing down previous years' costumes to current sized kids...

So I read her for ideas, but I celebrate when I find things that I think I do even more wisely than she does..
 

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Even though the information is dated, I found her to be more about picking our brains and making us *want* to seek out information and truth- not just blindly spend.

She definitely gets your creativity flowing and things that once seemed impossible to solve become solvable.

I think her main message was that we don't need most of the things we think we do, and our job is to widdle and wack away at them until we feel uncomfortable, and then slowly add things back until we're living at a level we feel good at and still able to save lots of money and not be wasteful.

How far you want to go is up to you.

She taught me how to flesh out information and I find that priceless.

 

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She says right at the front of the book that readers should use their own judgment and that not every idea will apply to every reader; she even points out that she publishes ideas she's never used and never will use. And any "how-to" book is going to date no matter what. That's the nature of books as a medium. Before having a child, I used to skip the TG sections about saving money on baby and child items. Now that it's 2009, I skip the sections about political economy circa 1994. It's still a useful series overall.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by pixiewytch View Post

I just wish she would come out with maybe a revised edition of all three?? I'm sure she could make enough money to make it worth her while. I'm thinking that all she would have to do is update the columns that were outdated with new research and material while leaving all of the old ones the way they are. It couldn't be that much work.
Maybe not, but she doesn't seem interested in doing it and she does not need the money.

Someone else could do the same thing though, and I expect it would be fine. Also a lot of the statistical columns-- there is no reason for anyone to publish a print version of a survey cost of living vs. median salary, for example. There are plenty of web calculators which will do just that for you.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Porcelain Interior View Post
Even though the information is dated, I found her to be more about picking our brains and making us *want* to seek out information and truth- not just blindly spend.

She definitely gets your creativity flowing and things that once seemed impossible to solve become solvable.

I think her main message was that we don't need most of the things we think we do, and our job is to widdle and wack away at them until we feel uncomfortable, and then slowly add things back until we're living at a level we feel good at and still able to save lots of money and not be wasteful.

How far you want to go is up to you.

She taught me how to flesh out information and I find that priceless.


I would add though, the time factor.. you can want things, and that's fine, but we have to wait to find them..
 

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I agree that her books were more about the mindset than the specific advice. She had some ideas that work fine for me. I loved some of the no-cost crafts ideas and some of the ways to recycle stuff. But I'm not making gifts out of dryer lint and old candle stubs.


Some of her food ideas were great--I still use the basic muffin recipes. But some aren't anything that I'd ever do--we like good, fresh produce, and I'd rather not give my kids eating disorders.

Even she was conflicted about some of her own beliefs and her actual behaviors.

She's made me examine lots of things and look for ways to reduce costs and recycle, even if I don't use her suggestions. All books get dated over time. Take what works and leave the rest.
 

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I don't know about the OP, but sometimes w/ these books I feel like I get frugal overload. I mean, there are only so many ways to say, "don't spend more than you earn!" Really, homemade lint presents aside, that's what all these frugality books boil down to. I love 'em all, but they all seem to contain a good amount of "duh!" moments once you've read more than one.
 

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That's true too, newbymom05. Some of the advice does seem repetitive, but I haul Amy out every few years when I get really off the rails, because she can get me back on track the fastest. Otherwise, you are right - I don't need 9 other books telling me "eat at home" or "hang out your laundry"
.
 

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i agree it's the mindset she teaches that stands the test of time. i don't follow her dietary guidelines (way too much dairy and wheat for me), and i spend money on organics and pastured meats as an investment into our future health, instead of stocking up on the "loss leader" conventionally/industrially raised cheapest foods. she also tsktsks relaxation: espouses making every minute productive in some way (eg only watches TV if she's mending clothes or some such). many of her techniques are only useful if you live as she does, in a low cost of living rural area with lots of room to create a warehouse of scavenged junk for supplies for repairs of future acquisitions (eg wheelbarrow with dented wheel + wheelbarrow with broken handles = one working wheelbarrow, but meanwhile you are storing a broken wheelbarrow), although she pointed out how people in apartments might manage to tuck a chest freezer into a closet, toilet paper under the bed, and still manage to stock up on sales, and avoid paying premium prices all the time.

she has a personality that i can imagine is very different from mine: no daydreaming, be decisive, be disciplined, workworkwork... i'm not going to become like her no matter HOW many time i reread her books.


but her goal was to show people who'd dug themselves into "ruin" that they COULD get back out, if they learned to change their outlook and behavior. or to show people that by learning tightwaddery they could reach goals that they might otherwise think were impossible. she says THINK about your goals, and work towards them. she gives the example of people who love to travel: use her techniques to live cheaply for 10 months, then take what you've saved and hit the road! even though in HER priority list, that would be wasteful excess, because her goal was lots of kids, a big old house to raise them in, and to retire young.

i think she made a wonderful contribution, and meanwhile managed to meet her goals. i don't hold her responsible for keeping her info current. she retired!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yeah, I too keep thinking about how there is no way in heck I could stockpile yard sale clothes the way she does in my 800SF house. Aside from some bulk pantry and freezer goods, I don't stockpile anything. I'm more minimalist I guess and maybe that is my own demise to some degree.

Anyway, hey, I love Amy regardless and I don't blame her for retiring. I just wish she would throw us a bone. I think I'm just more curious than anything else about her take on the current state of our world and how she would handle it, especially since I didn't have the luxury of finding her books when they were actually written.
 
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