This book review is a long time coming! It’s been sitting on my desk for a long time, but a week of paternity leave has allowed me to finish it and put my thoughts about it down on paper (figuratively, of course).
Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-grubbing Secrets is written by Phil Villarreal and is available from Skyhorse Publishing. It’s laid out as a guide book – with even its small size tempting you to throw it in your backpack as you leave the house in the morning. However, don’t let its appearances fool you – the book is in no way a guide book to how you should actually save money. Well, not if you have morals at least.
The book contains a list of ideas that you and your college buddies would come up with after one too many drinks and someone asked the question, “dude… how many ways can we come up with to mooch off people?” It’s only in this intoxicated state that anyone would suggest tip #95: pouring the milk left over from your morning cereal back into the carton. After a few of these money-grubbing secrets you’ll quickly realize that this book is best reserved as a gag gift for your tight-wad friend, or for that awkward corporate white elephant gift exchange. Tip #21, dumpster-diving outside college dorms at the end of the semester, isn’t very practical for most people, but Phil’s description of the adventure will make you laugh. So will his idea to collect every coupon he can get his hand on (tip #9) in hopes that the 1/100th cash value of each one will one day add up to big bucks.
Now I must admit there are a few “rare gems” in the book that normal people may use. Tip #33 for example, describes some humorous tactics while negotiating with car dealers. We all know how much I hate car salesman, so I encourage the use of this gem as often as necessary. Tip #42 is also a good one – negotiating with your bank’s customer service rep to waive insanely high ATM or late fees (hint: threatening to close your account usually seals the deal).
So if you’re looking for some humorous bathroom reading or need to find the perfect gift for the roomate who just won’t chip in the $5 for cable because he “never watches TV” then go ahead and pick up the book. If you’re looking for serious financial advice and other money-saving tips, might I suggest a little gem called beancounterblog?