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Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel Book Review – 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets by Phil Villarreal

By Kira Botkin

Book Giveaway: Read this review of Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, then leave a comment with the most low-down or annoying thing you’ve done to earn or save money. Best story wins a copy of the book! Deadline for submission is this Friday - February 11, 2011.

secrets of a stingy scoundrelDo you ever feel like there’s more you could do to be frugal and save money? Perhaps you’ve taken to rinsing and reusing sandwich baggies, or cutting up old clothes for cleaning rags.

But unless at least 20% of your daily calories come from stolen condiments, according to Phil Villarreal in his book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets, you aren’t doing nearly enough.

Published in 2009, this 244-page book contains 100 mini-chapters. Each focuses on a money-saving or money-making tip for those who are truly determined to get every penny’s worth out of their day. The book contains nine sections and covers such topics as food, relationships, the workplace, and entertainment.

100 Questionable Ways To Save

The author of this tome clearly takes pride in his ability to spend as little as possible on any occasion. From the aforementioned stolen condiments, which are included in a half dozen of the tips, to free potlucks and ways to get out of paying your share with friends, he’s clearly had some experience being “that guy” in multiple situations.

This book does offer some tips that are worth taking, such as building your Tupperware collection by volunteering to take home the least appetizing leftovers from a party, or the best way to maximize your profit when being bumped by an airline and getting free flight vouchers.

Many of the tips will in fact help you save money, but you may end up spending time instead of money, so your per-hour “savings” might not be great.

Cheapskates In The Wild

This book is listed as a humor book – and rightfully so. The author seems to take advantage of this classification especially in the last third of the book, which consists of some hilarious frugal tips that are “gross, mean, and oh so wrong.” I would not lend power tools to anyone who actually puts any of these into practice. This is particularly true for the suggestions that you drop off an injured pet at a no-kill shelter so they’ll treat it, and then readopt it, or soak a credit card slip with water so the signature runs, and you can claim it isn’t yours.

To those interested in employing such base money-saving concepts, just keep in mind that one of the best ways to save money is to live with another person. There’s a good chance that you’ll alienate your roommate, partner, or spouse, and spend more on your own place (after you get kicked out) as a result. Some would make awesome bar stories, but even the author freely states that he has not attempted many of the tips in the last section. This is probably why he’s still married.

I do have something to say about the multiple tips that involve how to get drinks on the cheap, get into clubs for free, and snag a pre-liquored girl at a bar: Drinking is about the most expensive hobby you can have. One could probably have replaced most of the drinking-related tips by saying, “Be the designated driver: You’ll get in everywhere for free, and pretty bartenders will comp your soda.”

Final Word

Reading this book is like watching a particularly gory show on the History Channel. You know it’s already happened, and you know you never want it to happen to you. Despite that, you keep watching to see what other disgusting things happen, and you know that there’s some other dude watching it going, “Hey, that looks like fun.”

If you’re that dude, this is the book for you.

Book Giveaway: Read this review of Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, then leave a comment with the most low-down or annoying thing you’ve done to earn or save money. Best story wins a copy of the book! Deadline for submission is this Friday - February 11, 2011.

Kira Botkin
Kira is a longtime blogger and serial entrepreneur who enjoys gardening, garage sales, and finding stray animals. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, where football is a distinct season, and by day runs a research study for people with multiple sclerosis. She hopes that the MoneyCrashers team can help you achieve your goals and live a great life.

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  • http://www.babystepstofluency.com Fiona

    I used to be a major brat when it came to saving money (in my later teens). I’d do all sorts of annoying, even unethical things – such as driving the car till the gas was (almost) gone, and leaving my parents to fill it up, constantly mooching off of friends for dinner whenever we went out to eat, I’ve even intentionally forgotten to give my parents back change. I was absolutely terrible, thank god I’m over that stage now!

  • Ben

    I like to be the guy who when a big group is out dining, to have everyone pay their part in cash, and I put the whole thing on my credit card. I’ll keep telling people we’re short until my portion is down to nothing, or better yet, walk away with a few extra dollars in my pocket. This works best when a few bottles of wine have been shared, and no one is paying a whole lot of attention. Cheers!

  • not given

    I’ll be the gal asking for a separate check or even whipping out my little calculator and figuring who had what.

  • Jason

    I am a haggling fool. I believe there is a way to get anything free or at a huge discount. The thing I do regularly is when I go to a restaurant I figure out a tough meal that has many elements. I will break up my order so the waiter has to come back several times. I will order my entree and add and take away many things so that the item because very specific. When I get the meal, most times it is wrong. After having to send it back a couple times for few errors, I will call the manager over, and begin to use phrases like, “I come here all the time.”, “Worse service I have ever had.”, or “I am disgusted with this meal and need to leave.” Usually I will get atleast a 75% discount whenever I go out to eat. Sometimes I get the meal for free and more “free meal” vouchers for further visits. Keep in mind, I may be ripping off the restaurant, but I always give a huge tip to the waiter for dealing with my crap. Same goes for if I go to a store and give them a hard time for a deal. I write a positive review about the store about how helpful they were.

  • peggy

    Oh boy, who doesn’t remember those days of being a starving, money-strapped undergrad? My buddies and I would scan the announcement boards outside the student center or dining halls and go to every function, meeting, gathering which provided FOOD. Francophone Fanatics Club, Young Republicans, Youth Group, whatever,as long as there was food, we would be there to mooch. I’m not proud of it now that I look back but I guess hungry college students can be pretty desperate.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4OOFOHRHMT7BOCCXT7RFTWMTKQ Misuki Akiko Inuyashas Youkai

    I know it is what it is , and it is wrong , but even tho now I look back I might feel bad , tho humans no matter what walk of life they lead , when it goes rough one does what it needs to survive. When I was just starting out as a single parent , and before my first marriage , I did something I am not really proud of . You know those scanned bar code stickers, or the establishments that would just have a little printed out price tag ? Well there was a time I switched it for another that was cheaper than what it really was , but we live , and learn. Luckily tho it was something that really wasn’t monitored as it is now , and I am glad soon after I came into a place that I could do very well financially , but sometimes we embark on a rough start , as things come to another prospective where we do things we wouldn’t normally do in any case . Anyway that would be it , I know pathetic huh ?

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