Announcing the Scrooge Strategy: Premium savings tips

Ramit Sethi

Today I’m thrilled to announce something new called The Scrooge Strategy.


In November 2008, I launched the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge, where I offered ultra-tactical tips to save money and earn money using on credit cards, gas, automated savings techniques, and more. (See all the tips.) It turned out to be a huge success. Tens of thousands of people participated. You left over 1,000 comments. Together, we’ve all saved more than a million dollars.

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Today, to continue those tips, I’m announcing a new program called The Scrooge Strategy. This is a subscription program that you can sign up for today to get new savings tips — about one per week — and continue saving even more money.

Perfect if you need ongoing strategies, tactics, and reminders about saving money
As a member of The Scrooge Strategy, you’ll receive an email to you each week with a new savings tip. As with prior tips, it will include a fresh way of looking at saving money — not more of the same old boring tips that nobody listens to. As a member, you’ll be able to request a savings tip in your particular challenge area: Maybe it’s eating out, or shopping, or spending too much on electronics. I’m also including a panel of expert writers, who will help you save money and conquer that problem area.

These tips work
I spend hours writing each tip, which tend to be 4-6 pages long. They include super-tactical tips with screenshots, phone numbers, call scripts, and my own tips on what to watch out for. As a member, you’ll get one tip per week — just enough to focus on for the week. Plus, each tip is a constant reminder to stay focused on cutting costs, earning more, and optimizing your spending.

“It’s like having a smart, articulate, and inexpensive financial advisor that calls you all the time to check in.”
–Matthew Earle, Boston, MA

“Tips are excellent–I really like Ramit’s emphasis on psychology and it is slowly but surely making me think about purchases I make, especially unplanned ones.”
–Kevin Foster, Blacksburg, VA

“So far, for 2009 I will be saving $660.60 over the course of the year (and I’ve only made 2 changes so far)!”
–Stacy Miller, St. Albans

Useful even if you’re already incredibly frugal
Remember, The Scrooge Strategy operates under the C.E.O. model of Cutting Costs, Earning More, and Optimizing Your Spending. Even if you’re already incredibly frugal, you can still save money!

How much people saved using my free tips from the 30 Day Challenge

How much people saved

(Click to enlarge)

How people did it

How people did it

(Click to enlarge)

And those were just my free tips. With each Scrooge tip — sent out weekly — I include tons of resources and details that I painstakingly research. Instead of saying, “Create a plan!” I include a spreadsheet with already filled-in data to get you started. Instead of telling you how I saved money traveling to Vegas, I show you the screenshots of the sites I used, including where to get coupon codes and a call script of exactly what to say when you call the hotel. Each tip is full of tactics to save you money, earn you money, and optimize your existing spending.

Contributors include millionaires, famous personal-finance bloggers, and Harvard MBAs
I’ve put together a dazzling panel of contributors. I’ll continue sending my own personal-finance tips, but by signing up, you’ll also receive tips from J.D. Roth (who blogs at Get Rich Slowly), Erica Douglass (who runs and sold her web hosting company for $1 million), and Chris Yeh, (who graduated from Stanford and then, traitorously, went to Harvard for his MBA).

What other people have said about my savings tips
“What really sold me on The Scrooge Strategy is that the step-by-step guides make saving money so easy that I seriously have no excuse not to evaluate my financial goals. Sure, I’ve theoretically known that that I needed to shop around for car insurance… but did I ever get my Google on and actually do it? Not until you laid out a couple of links for me. That tip alone saved me $1800 annually — and BONUS — now I actually know what the hell my insurance covers.”
–Lesly, Houston, TX and Scrooge Strategy member

“This actually really worked for me! So I will be saving $30 a month on cable for the entire upcoming year and receiving an upgrade in service! How fantastic is that!! Love this challenge!! It’s the bomb!”
–Cindy T.

“The one selling point – specific high quality personal finance tips that is logical yet achievable at the same time.”
–Karthik Sainath, San Francisco, CA and a Scrooge Strategy member

“You can save well over a couple thousand dollars just with this tip alone. That’s more than some people save in a whole year.”

“IT IS FANTASTIC! My husband just lost his job (this was after starting Scrooge), but with the savings we’ve implemented so far, and the additional savings coming up soon, I don’t think we are going to be in danger of falling off that financial cliff that many families are teetering on right now…and I really do credit a lot of that to this program. Also…IT DOESN’T MATTER AT ALL whether you make a lot of money, or a little money, this is good information/knowledge for anyone if you are willing to just do it.”
–Stacy Miller, St. Albans and a Scrooge Strategy member

“I just wanted to say Thank You for this challenge! So far this month I’ve saved $264.49 and it’s only the 17th of the month.”
–Mary C.


“I’ve been able to save on my home phone ($20 per month) cell phone ($5 per month) and Gym ($10 per month) resulting in a $420 a year. In addition, being introduced to the concept of having no spending days has helped me to control my expenses, an additional saving of approx $240 a year. By using my cards wisely, I was able to get 2 free round trip tickets this year and a cash back for using my American Express Blue Cash card of $154.”
–Paras Nanavati, Los Angeles, CA and a Scrooge Strategy member

“I have been working on implementing the tips. Since these are all monthly charges, $72 X 12 is $864 dollars (in savings) for a year and that is more than I net in a 2 week pay period. That’s not a bad start!”

“I called my insurance company (progressive), and asked what kind of stuff prompted discounts. Apparently, me being a student saves me about 40$/month! $480/year for a 3 minute phone call. Sweet!”

Bonuses: Sign up first and stick around
I’m throwing in a couple bonuses if you sign up before Thursday, 1/15:

  • Private webcast: I recently threw a webcast to 200 people. If you sign up before Thursday, 1/15/09, I’ll invite you to a private Scrooge-members-only webcast, where I’ll try to answer any questions you can throw at me. What’s the research on asset allocation? How do you negotiate for a complimentary suite at a hotel, or improve your resume? What should you say in your initial email to meet a busy CEO?
  • Free personal-finance books for the first 30 members. If you’re one of the first 30 people to sign up today, I’ll send you a free personal-finance book of your choice: The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing, The Road to Wealth by Suze Orman, or The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, & Broke by Suze Orman. Your choice, and I’ll pick up all costs including shipping. These books actually cost more than your first month’s membership, so this is a deal Scrooge would love!!
  • A special bonus gift for long-time members: If you stay subscribed for 12 months and continue saving money, I want to thank you for being a long-term member and saving money using the Scrooge Strategies tips. I’ll be sending you something in the mail — a real, physical gift. I haven’t finalized the details yet, but I promise it’ll be awesome.

Details of membership
These tips are chock-full of tactics, tips, and resources that work. I charge for membership in the Scrooge Strategies program because I spend hours on each tip and I know they’ll save you money (like I wrote about in Stop Being Cheap and Pay Money to Save Money). “But Ramit,” you might say, “how can you charge after you just told us to cancel our subscriptions?” Here’s why: I guarantee you’ll save more than you spend each month. That’s why — because you’ll be saving more than you spend, each month. If your membership fee doesn’t pay for itself, you can cancel your membership at any time (in fact, you can get a 100% refund within 60 days of signing up). There’s no catch. I hate catches.

If you know me, and you’ve been reading my blog for 1 month, or 4 years, you know that I only put out high-quality stuff. I’d like to ask you to give The Scrooge Strategy a try. See if you like it. I have a feeling you will (and if not, you can get your money back). Consider what you spend on lunch twice a week. In exchange for one lunch, let me send you tips that will save you more than the price of the system. You’ll get access to savings tips that will give you new strategies and tactics to save money — by cutting costs, earning more, and optimizing your spending — and get a weekly reminder so you stay on track.

To get started, click here for more details and an instant signup form.

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  1. Chris

    Ramit, I know you don’t like to see negative comments about your tips, but I have to explain some of my reservations with this Scrooge strategy. I would like to try it, but I get a very “snake oil salesman” vibe about the whole thing. The website is one of those loooong narrow webpages like I expect to see for one-off ebook websites or online infomercials, and I feel that some of the marketing hype about the Save $1000 in 30 Days challenge is deceptive. Take, for example, a note in your email newsletter that one of your readers “saved an astonishing $14040” using the tips. The explanation for this was that she saved $1170 in that first month, which equals $14k per year. No explanation of how that $1170 was specifically saved, and looking at your tips, not all of them are things that can be done month after month after month. Some of them are (highly beneficial) one-off savings.

    I have no doubt that readers have saved a bunch of money with the tips on this website, but I see a lot of fuzzy math and sensationalism. I know you have marketing to do, but I doubt I am alone in thinking that I would be more inclined to sign up for such things if they seemed a little less deceptive and tabloid-esque. On the other hand, I am probably in the minority and you draw more readers and customers with that particular vibe, so to each their own. Just wanted to give some thoughts.

  2. Ramit Sethi

    Hey Chris, I completely understand. I’m wary of most long-copy pages, too, which is why I took pains to make sure mine was designed well, backed up with reader testimonials and data, and has good content.

    With that $1170 in particular, I actually reached out to the person, who’s a 27-year-old young woman. I asked her if it was sustainable — in other words, were her savings sustainable enough to save that much each month?

    Her reply:

    “They should be. It was my highest priority to do things that were maintainable. I’ve had lofty goals before and when things are just too hard, too often, I set myself up for failure. So, I took the tips that were the easiest to apply to my lifestyle.”

    I appreciate the feedback and I understand charging for stuff — especially in long-copy pages — can seem a little weird. But I encourage you to try it (and if not, thanks for your feedback anyway).

  3. Mike

    Well – I’m hesistant as I typically am with things of this nature – but I went ahead and took the plunge. I found a few of the tips in the Save $1000 challenge useful and was able to actually save $1000 for the year by just cutting out two things that I was convinced were unnecessary. Hopefully I qualified for a free book.

  4. Chris

    Thanks for the honest reply. I’m going to sign up for the Scrooge Strategy because there is really nothing to lose with the 60-day guarantee. Thanks again.

  5. Evan

    I’ve just signed up and confirmed. How can we tell if we are in the first 30 that get free books? Thanks Ramit, and I wish you luck on a successful launch.


  6. Ramit Sethi

    My assistant will notify you by email within the next 24 hours if you’re one of the first 30!

  7. Mark

    Ramit, I have been a big fan of yours upto now. The first thing I suggest to people when they want to ‘cut back’ is lose the unneccesary subscriptions and yours would be one of those such subscriptions. There are plenty of good free resources out there and can you honestly say that any of your tips are unique to you?

  8. liv

    How will writing for the Scrooge Strategy affect writing for I Will Teach You to be Rich? I check this site daily, but only see postings once every few days to once a week. Will it be once ever few weeks now?

  9. Ramit Sethi

    Liv: I plan to continue writing on this site — and in fact adding new types of content. Recently I’ve rolled out a 30-day challenge, videos, audio interviews, and more. But to be fair, this is not my primary job and I do most of it for free, so some weeks I just don’t have enough time to post.

    Mark, I agree that you should cut unnecessary subscriptions. If you think this is unnecessary, don’t get it! But I’m guaranteeing that you’ll save more than The Scrooge Strategy costs, so it’s certainly worth a shot on an ROI basis. Of course you can find many tips online (even though many of the Scrooge tips are unique to me). But many people want highly tactical tips delivered to them with clear instructions, phone numbers, call scripts, calculations, and guided suggestions. If this isn’t for you, no problem — but for many people, it’s already saved them thousands.

  10. Edward

    Ramit, I actually signed up before today. Will I still qualify for the first 30? 🙂

  11. Mark

    Ramit, credit to you for actually posting my comment, a lot of people might have been tempted just to delete it. The fact that you are willing to defend Scrooge Strategy publicly suggests you truly believe in it.

    Can I ask how you are going to motivate people that signup to continue applying your tips?

    The reason I ask is that I would expect the sort of person that wants the information spoonfed to them (I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this) to be the sort of person that doesn’t have their personal finances as a high priority long-term and once the initial enthusiasm wears off there is a danger that your email just becomes another unread email in their inbox.

  12. Ramit Sethi

    Mark, no problem. Surprisingly, the people that join as Scrooge members are probably more motivated to save money because they’ve spent money and psychologically committed themselves to saving money. (Not only that, but they’re the type of people to pay for value, and they’ll get weekly reminders.)

    You can read some great psychology experiments in Cialdini’s Influence or Pratkanis and Aronson’s Age of Propaganda, where they describe how the greater the barrier to entry, the more people value the content.

    In general, I’m willing to bet that the people who sign up for Scrooge will actually be more likely to save money, earn money, and optimize spending than the average blog reader. So far, I’ve already seen that with the data I’ve collected from Scrooge members.

  13. Ben

    Hey everyone, just wanted to say that this month I will be completely free of revolving debt after moving back into my parents house 6 months ago. I have payed off about $7,500 in loans and credit card debt since then and am on track to have about $7000-$8000 in emergency funds by the end of 2009. Thanks to finance blogs like iwillteachyoutoberich, getrichslowly, and thesimpledollar for keeping me motivated. Ramit, keep up the great posts. Now if I could just get my girlfriend to get in the same frame of mind….

  14. Charlie

    I’m just glad to see that Ramit has finally saved up enough money to buy new shirts for his videos.

    But seriously, if he’s guaranteeing you’ll earn back the money you spend and give you a full refund if that doesn’t happen…. what’s holding you back from giving the Scrooge Strategy a try?

  15. Observer

    I’m somewhat confused by the testimonials.
    Isn’t this a new service?
    And if so, are those testimonials from people who were doing the Save $1000/month challenge?
    Or have those people actually started receiving tips from the Scrooge service and applied them?

  16. Ramit Sethi

    Observer: Good question. Yes, The Scrooge Strategy is a new service, but I released it privately about 6 weeks ago to start testing it. Above, you’ll see quotes interspersed from people who either (1) are Scrooge members or (2) are not Scrooge members, but took my free 30 Day Challenge and saved a bunch of money.

    In the quotes, I indicate when they’re Scrooge members.

  17. Anonmous

    Ramit. I will join the scrooge strategy. But anyways,

    in your CEO model:

    cut costs:
    Last year, ive switched from att to sprint reducing my plan cost. $10/month savings.
    Gave up smoking. $20/month.

    earn more:
    Last month, I spent 10 hrs writing 200 lines of code into a script for a friend. $400 in cash :D.

    That friend asked me to be his technical mentor on designing his application software. Unfortunately, he is having a hard time figuring out things, so he wanted to take my help in enabling him to learn a few things about where to look for documentation and how to go about implementing his sequence of tasks. Im getting paid $250/month from jan until june. I am also going to tell him, how I managed to learn about different related things when i was a student.

    I never would have got the idea to increase my earnings without reading your blog.

    and finally: I graduated in august and got a job at a university. my pay increased by $28K.

    Reduction in my amex apr.
    Monthly discount applied on my sprint bill for each month to come. estimated $3 per month in savings.
    Ive questioned the (online)application processing fee for my insurance and got $15 waived out of $25.

  18. stephanie

    I’m already on a strict budget for the next 6 months while I’m saving for grad school. I’ve got a budget more or less in place for every dollar I earn between now and the end of May. It’s not that I can’t cut anything from my budget, but the vast majority of my income will already be going to savings. After May I plan to re-evaluate my saving and spending, since I’ll know for sure what I’m doing about grad school at that point. Signing up for The Scrooge Strategy will probably happen soon after my re-evaluation!

  19. Millionaire Acts

    It’s nice to see how people did it. As for me, I am really saving for my future as early as the age of 22. I was educated early to use the equation: Income less Savings equals Expenses. And that means setting a side of salary for the most important expense that buys my future and that is savings.

  20. Andrea

    Just a question- are your tips going to be useful for someone living outside the US? I’m in the UK.

  21. Ramit Sethi

    Andrea: To be honest, the Scrooge tips are pretty US-centric (like the 30 Day Challenge ones), but they may be able to spur you to think about how you can apply them in other countries — especially the stuff about negotiating and asking for discounts, which works really well in many other countries.

    I suggest giving it a shot and seeing if they work for you.

  22. David

    I have to admit that I’m leery, but I’m going to give it a shot because of the 60 day guarentee. I figure if the tips are as good as promised, they’ll more than pay for themselves. If not, I’ll just cancel and get my money back.

    While the guarentee is enough for me, it would be nice to see some actual examples of the tips, and not just one line summaries.

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    […] Ramit caused an even bigger stir than normal by introducing “Scrooge Strategy: Premium Savings Tips“.  Scrooge Strategy is a subscription program that, upon signing up, will send you weekly […]

  24. Mike

    Hiccup in the rollout? All the information I was waiting for “within 24 hours” still not in my inbox. Problem on my end?

  25. Ramit Sethi

    It’s actually on my end…looking into it now. You shouldn’t have to take any action — thanks for being patient, and the first tip should arrive ASAP. Sorry for any inconvenience, Mike.

  26. Scott

    I know this blog can only address one thing at a time but I’m all saved up. I’ve only been on here a few weeks but when does the investing and making money part start?

    Also, it’s great to save money. However, the point of saving money is twofold 1. To be there when you need it for retirement, emergencies, etc. 2. To enjoy it.

    A friend of mine had a gas well come in and has a nice monthly royalty. She’s more concerned about saving it than anything else. I asked her if it was all in the bank when she died would she have enjoyed saving it?

    So… when do we get to the part about wise investing, spending, enjoying and planning now that we’ve saved every penny we can find?

  27. Ramit Sethi

    Now THAT’S a great question. I’ll be writing about all of that this year.

    But one thing: Don’t forget about the archives on the top-right side of the page. I have hundreds of article (and hundreds of thousands of words) about just those topics. Some of my best stuff is in there. Remember to check it out!

  28. Nick

    So one of your themes is to cut out unnecessary subscriptions, then you come out offering this? I honestly can’t see myself signing up, unless you can promise more money-saving gems like fuel hedges.

  29. Ramit Sethi

    Nick, how much will that one tip on fuel hedges save you over a year?

  30. Reader

    This web-site lost its importance with subscriptions…dude keep earning money with advertisements….

  31. Josh

    I don’t see why everyone is freaking out. I have a friend that pays $185 for the Marketimer’s yearly subscription and it has made him hundreds of thousands of dollars with his investments. It’s not an expense to him, its an investment. How is this any different?

  32. Thisson

    Free financial tip: keep less cash in your wallet. That puts you in a mindset that you’re not “flush” and you’re less likely to spend frivolously (or let your friends bum cash off you!).

    Next, I don’t mind if Ramit wants to sell subscriptions to these tips. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. The rest of the blog (including archives) is still an excellent ad-supported (free to you) resource.

    Keep up the good work, Ramit.

  33. Beth

    I wish someone would do something like this in Canada. Sorry, Ramit, but I live in a world of RRSPs, TFSAs, Canadian dollars and Canadian taxes. I would pay for content that was geared to me. (Though I find it funny that I know more about US finances than some Americans do!)

    Incidentally, I did take the 30-day challenge and only saved about $10. (Most of your tips I learned from my parents growing up). I still think it was a worthwhile exercise because I used the tips as a guideline for what I could be spending if I wasn’t using those strategies. Instead of living comfortably within my means and saving money each money, I would be overspending my income by as much as $300 a month!

  34. Chet

    Ramit i received your first “premium paid” tip and quite disappointed. Basically its a hyped up Frugality and i was expecting something more than the common sense idea. I hope you have something more unique or valuable tip up your sleeve that you are saving for later. I have not given up on you yet and you still have my attention. Thanks anyways

  35. Charlotte

    I received my first tip and was pleased, it isn’t as if I didn’t know this already but it caused me to take notice and actually DO something about it. I applied what was suggested, planned and prepared and am ready to put into practice with a vengeance the tip as it applied to me and if I do well I should have saved about $150 this month. Call me what you may that I needed a paid subscription to do what I already know, but some of just need more motivation than others. It’s a bit like a support group:)

  36. Chris

    I’d be sort of upset if I paid a subscription fee for a newsletter that guaranteed to save me more money each month than the fee and then told me how to save money on a trip to Vegas. See, Vegas is about the last place I’d like to go on my own time so that month’s letter would be completely worthless to me. Not to mention, convincing people to pay you for a detailed listing of how you saved money on your vacation to Vegas is probably a great way to offset the cost of the trip. There’s a free tip for all the readers out there.

  37. Ramit Sethi

    Charlotte: GREAT point.

    Chris: Well…the Scrooge emails come weekly, not monthly, so you wouldn’t have to wait for long. But it’s true, not all tips will apply to you. If you’d be upset at 100% of the tips not applying to you (and me making money from the hours it takes to write teach tip), then this probably isn’t for you.

  38. Jon

    Wait a second. Didn’t you tell us a while back (one year?) to NOT buy in to subscriptions? I remember reading that on LifeHacker, and now here you are selling your own. Sorry, but it just strikes me as kinda funny.

    • Ramit Sethi

      The difference is I guarantee you’ll save money with this subscription…and it’s a 100% guarantee if you don’t. So far, many of my Scrooge members have been saving hundreds and even $1,000+ with the first few tips.

  39. Kate

    Interesting concept, but I have two questions before I give it a whirl:

    1) Like Beth, I’m Canadian. How useful will these tips be to me, and how much “translation” will I have to do to apply them? (Perhaps non-American subscribers can give a rough estimate of how many tips need adjustment due to their location?)

    2) Is there some way to gain access to tips posted before your subscription started?

    • Ramit Sethi

      Kate, good question. When I talk about accounts like Roth IRAs and 401(k)s, it’s US-centric, but much of the other advice (saving strategies, negotiation, specific tactics) can be applied anywhere. I have a number of international customers and they seem to enjoy it.

      And yes, you’ll get all tips starting from Tip #1 regardless of when you sign up.

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