I have continued reading the Tightwad Gazette, mostly while supervising Serena in the bathroom. It’s great for this, because it’s full of short articles that I can read in about 30 seconds, and each page has one or two little cartoon line drawings on it that thrill her no end and make her sit still on the potty. No, I don’t know why that works, but it does. Try it sometime.

The Tightwad Gazette continues to be a very mixed bag, which is not that strange for a collection of self-published newsletters and reader letters. Two very Bad Advice highlights:

1. When you buy a new car, immediately buy yourself a second set of tires and begin a carefully scheduled rotation (which you do yourself) to extend the lives of all 8 tires. Done properly, this will, as the author says, allow you to be “driving on 1990 priced tires in the year 2000.”

DO NOT DO THIS. I do not know enough about cars to know if rotating your own tires every X miles is a good idea or best left in the hands of a capable mechanic. I am a slacker car owner and count myself lucky if I remember to get my oil changed every three months, let alone all the other routine maintenance one is supposed to do.

But I know enough about money to know that investing in tires is a bad investment. If you took the money you would have spent on the second set of tires and put it in a relatively safe investment (bonds? a high interest savings account?) you’d earn a slightly-higher-than-inflation interest rate. Then, when your tires gave out, you could buy new tires at the current price and have money left over. Duh.

Besides this, you lose the opportunity to invest your money in anything else, take the investment risk that something will happen to your shiny new car before you need those tires and they’ll never get used, and sacrifice storage space to keep them in. This is a terrible idea.

2. Strategy #15 for keeping grocery bills low: waste nothing (this includes forcing children to finish all meals).

Do I even need to talk about why this is a bad idea? Not only is it terrible parenting, likely to produce a range of problems ranging from picky eating to eating disorders, but it won’t save you money. Once you’ve prepared and served a meal, you have used those groceries. If at the end, there’s a palatable serving or two left, by all means pack up the leftovers for lunch. But forcing a kid to eat the beets, or eating them yourself, won’t stop the food from being “wasted”. I lost weight when I realized that my kids’ leftovers were as wasted on my waistline as they are in the compost bin. More so, since there they can become next year’s garden soil.

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