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Review: Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel

Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel book cover

Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel
100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets
By Phil Villarreal

Because I write about personal finance on ye olde Internets, and I did that thing where I didn’t buy anything new for a year, I often find myself struggling to maintain the lifestyle that is “frugal” without crossing over and becoming simply “cheap.” However, that’s only one perspective on how to live: Phil Villerreal will tell you in Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel to skip right past Frugal, Cheap, Go and yes, do collect your $200. (Though he also advises staying out of jail, as well.)

The book gives 100 side-splitting “dirty little money-grubbing secrets” organized into 9 chapters:

  1. Personal
  2. Eating
  3. Relationships
  4. Household
  5. Finance
  6. Leisure and Entertainment
  7. At the Workplace
  8. Corporate Cataclysm
  9. Gross, Mean, and Just Plain Wrong—and Yet Oh So Profitable

While the tips range in stinginess and ridiculousness (with the last chapter obviously winning in both categories), the book is truly funny throughout. Just ask my boyfriend, who had to endure my giggles and donkey-braying as I read the book. (But don’t ask my boyfriend if he thinks the book is funny – he’s such a tightwad that he just thinks the book is accurate.)

Is there advice (if you want to call anything in this book “advice”) that I disagree with? Absolutely. Most of it, actually. There are even several things I’ve previously discouraged on this very website. For example, the very first tip in the book, signing up for credit cards just to get the freebie t-shirts and frisbees? Yeah, don’t do that. Even if you give them fake information (which you shouldn’t) if you give them enough information to identify you, they might actually pull your credit report and that’ll ding your credit score.

Still, if you can take every word in this book with a grain of salt, there are numerous gems hidden inside it. In the aforementioned “free t-shirts from credit card companies” tip, there’s a bit about how useful t-shirts can be as “carwash towels, dishcloths, flag football flags, spaghetti strainers, lampshades, and do-rags.” Good plans for old t-shirts you don’t wear anymore!

So there are quite a few good ideas, hidden amongst the suggestion to not tip and the dubious medical advice (Cinnamon Toast Crunch as a headache cure!?! As much as I disbelieve, I also know that I’m going to get some and try). But the main benefit of the book is that it’s wicked funny. Phil Villarreal is a hilariously snarky writer who I can’t quite do justice to in this review. You’ve really just got to read it.

Not ready to pony up the dough for a copy yet? Phil would be proud of your stinginess, but would also want your freakin’ money. You can get a free a taste of his snarky writing on similar topics by checking out his contributions to Consumerist. (Moocher.)

Recommendations by…?

Normally I do my recommendations based on age group: is this good for college students? 20-somethings? Infants? Those distinctions don’t really apply to Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, so I’ll go with something else entirely: a one-question quiz:

Can you make the distinction between “clever idea!” and “haha, that’s funny, but I probably shouldn’t do it in real life?”

If no, good luck in your life’s endeavors. Try to steer clear of anything electrical.

If yes, consider this book Highly Recommended due to extreme hilarity.

Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel can be yours for about $10 on

2 responses to “Review: Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel”

  1. chandan

    was searching this books review 🙂 thanks

    i guess i need to buy this one asap

  2. Ryan Personal Grant

    I read this book as well, a great read. I also thought it was pretty funny, but my girlfriend read it after me and didn’t share in my laughter. What does she know any way?

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