I started reading the book minutes after Delta Airlines put me in a bad mood. As I got through the first few pages, I started thinking of how stupid it is. I didn’t care for the section of home remedies… and I’m not even sure if they are remedies or things Villarreal made up. Then the next page, he writes about his college friend Smiley, which just seemed irrelevant to me. I realized I was reading the book for the wrong reason. I was hoping to get real personal finance insight from it, rather than entertainment. You don’t want watch Pauly Shore expecting to come out smarter than when you in. Once, I got my mind in the right place, the book was much better.
There were a few great tips. Before I get into a couple of my favorites, I want to start out by saying that at least 95% of what Villarreal suggests is either immoral or illegal. So instead of “great” tips, think more “thought-provoking.”
- Netflix Switaroo – Got a scratched DVD? Order the same DVD on Netflix and stick them with the scratched version keeping the nice one for yourself. Also good for upgrading to the latest remastered versions of movies.
- Waiter Tipping – Why base your tip on percentage of the bill. Villarreal makes the point that a waiter has to do the same work to bring you a salad or a steak – one shouldn’t garner more tip.
- Great One-Liners Such As… – “I see no purpose in buying random trinkets, for people I’d never buy stuff for under normal circumstances, in exchange for random trinkets bought by people who would never buy stuff for me under normal circumstances.
Really there were only two bad parts to this book:
- As previously mentioned, the book really stretches moral and sometimes legal grounds to the point of not being a personal finance book.
- Villarreal has to update his tastes in adult web sites. One website that he mentioned was a college friends’ favorite over 10 years ago. Not that I ever went there… or would know anything about that.
I did find a couple of problems with the concept of the book. Mr. Villarreal bills himself out as the cheapest SOB on the planet. Page 1 should have started with him telling the reader to not buy the book and instead read it in the library or borrow it, right? I guess he conveniently missed that one. The book is also printed on glossy paper with color photos and rounded pages. A real Stingy Scoundrel would put it on course pages, sans photos, with pages that give you at least papercuts every time you pick it up.
I’d also like to add another tip. Start a personal finance blog so that authors of books will send you books to review for free. If the book seems interesting, read it and review it. If not, throw it on Ebay for some quick cash. The author will lose a sale, but it’s not a big deal. He/She is selling so many books that one more won’t make a difference. The publishers are the ones who make the majority of the money of the book anyway. Mr. Villarreal will surely approve of you getting weeks of his sugar-mellow cereal milk from the sale.