I picked up Jeff Yeager's "The Cheapskate Next Door" at a library book sale a couple of months ago. I finally got around to reading it this week. The author would have been proud of me even if I did him out of his royalties on the $12.99 original price. While I am far from the kind of person he describes fondly as a cheapskate, I do have my miserly tendencies. Not paying full price for a book is just one of them.
Yeager's book was published in 2010, and the material is clearly informed by our ongoing recession. The book is modeled on "The Millionaire Next Door" though without the rigorous research to back it up. What this means for the reader is that the book is less about savings tips and more about the lifestyle and personal biases of the "average" cheapskate. I found this fascinating, even if it proves to me yet again that I may be broke and trying to recover but I don't qualify as a genuine cheapskate.
Yeager's cheapskates have a lot in common with the true millionaires Thomas J.Danko and William D. Stanley studied (meaning, people who really have a million, not just stuff and debts). To some extent, being a cheapskate appears to be a trait that begins in childhood. It has more to do with one's inner sense of self, one's self-reliance, and one's immunity to desiring what their neighbor has. At base, it comes down to getting the job done rather than worrying about what one looks like doing the job.
Most of the cheapskates Yeager interviewed are not adverse to comfort nor do they forgo quality when they make a purchase. But neither do they see the point in upgrading if what they already have works fine. They don't all drive junkers, but they do drive their vehicles until the cars are no longer safe. The millionaires tended to do the same. Both the cheapskates and the millionaires live in homes that are smaller than what they can afford and both are usually still with their first spouses.
It appears to me that both Yeager's cheapskates and the millionaires in the Danko/Stanley book have a degree of ingenuity and self-confidence that many of us lack. I know I don't have these particular traits. While I like the idea of making do, of saving, of always searching for the best value, there are times (way too many times!) when I am tired, cranky, impatient or envious, all of which lead me spend money NOW rather than waiting.
Ultimately, that's the average cheapskate's point: delayed gratification and the ability to adopt that as a mantra leads to cheaper products, more money and a better all-round life.