Trent says The Scrooge Strategy is “short-sighted” — I respond with a challenge

153 Comments

Do you ever wake up in the morning, roll over, and say, “Man, I wonder what my personal finance brethren said about me as I was sleeping?” No? Hm, I guess it’s just me. Anyway, stay with me today as we weave the story of toilet paper, toothpaste, a rudimentary SWOT analysis, and a $1,000 challenge together. It’s really quite compelling.

Yesterday, I woke up to see this Q&A on Trent’s personal-finance blog, The Simple Dollar:

Reader question: “Are you familiar with…Scrooge Strategy? He has a whole different approach to saving money that avoids most frugality tips. Instead he focuses on things like calling to get your cable/phone/insurance/etc. bills lowered and tackling those major spending habits. His argument is that small frugality tips (those that “only” save $5-$10 per month) take too much effort when trying to implement several at a time over a long time; an argument that I believe is completely valid…”
–TMS

Trent’s reply:

“I think it’s good in concept and attractive for people looking for the big quick fix, but it’s shortsighted.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say I can swap out the incandescent bulbs in my house for CFLs and drop my electric bill about $8 a month. This activity would take me about twenty minutes, just once.

Under the philosophy you describe, such an activity would be a waste of time. Yet, over the course of three years, that activity saves $288 for only 20 minutes worth of effort (actually less than that, since with CFLs you don’t have to change bulbs nearly as often).

There are countless examples like this – little frugal steps that don’t save much money per month, but don’t take much time either. As a result, these efforts pay a huge hourly wage. Ignoring them because the immediate result isn’t splashy is a pretty big mistake, in my opinion.”

Hmm.

First of all, imagine you recently gave birth to a beautiful child, only to hear someone down the street calling it ugly. I hope it’s clear that honor requires me to respond. As a respectable personal-finance blogger, however, my response will take the form of a detailed blog post.

I hope to teach these methods to street criminals later this week.

Now, Trent runs one of the most popular personal-finance blogs on the internet, he is an adviser to Wesabe (as am I), and his blog features many, many excellent tactics for saving money.

But he also caters to a completely different audience than I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He and his readers focus on frugality, on ways to save ever-increasing amounts of money by cutting down on waste, and doing less with what you have. His most popular post of all time is How To Make Your Own Laundry Detergent – And Save Big Money.

I don’t have any issue with frugality, except that I think Americans are horrible at it and, for my audience, it’s a hopeless battle of telling them to say no to things — “no more lattes! no more eating out! no more enjoying life!” — which never lasts.

This is simply basic positioning. Trent has a different focus than I do: He focuses on frugality, and I’ve chosen to focus on helping people define rich and spend extravagantly on the things you love, while cutting costs mercilessly on the things you don’t. I especially focus on psychology and automation because none of us want to be financial “experts” — we just want our money to do the right thing so we can get on with our lives.

So, different strokes for different folks. My tips wouldn’t work very well for Trent’s readers, and his tips wouldn’t work well for mine. We could have just left it at that…

…But then Trent talked about The Scrooge Strategy.

A little bit about The Scrooge Strategy
First of all, to my knowledge, Trent hasn’t tried The Scrooge Strategy, my recently launched premium program for tactical in-depth savings tips. Since he hasn’t tried it, I’m not sure why he dismissed it as “short-sighted.” Especially since I’ve always focused on the long term, and 300+ people are Scrooge members for this very reason.

I could sit here and try to defend the Scrooge Strategy all day, but I’ll let the results from my members speak for me:

“You saved me $600 in interest. I just called American Express yesterday and told them that I just got laid off from work, and they said I can get 0% interest for 6 months, and then about 9% for the next 6 months. Reading your tips definitely gave me the idea to call them and try negotiating. I figured that the worst that could happen was that they would say no, but I would have never expected that American Express would waive interest for 6 months!”
–RV

And then there’s Jonathan Bruck’s savings in 2 weeks:

jonathan-bruck-scrooge-savings
Now come on. I’m Indian, I love Taco Bell, and I use coupons more than twice a week. I know about saving money. But it isn’t just about cutting down on things. “Saving” really consists of Cutting costs, Earning more, and Optimizing your existing spending. And you can’t try to save money on everything.

Focus on the 5 big things, rather than 50 little things
The I Will Teach You To Be Rich philosophy has always been to focus on the long-term, and to focus on big wins that matter. If you start investing early, pick a sensible asset allocation with low-cost funds, save for big events in the next 10 years (wedding, down payment on a house, kids, vacations…), focus on having great credit, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t care about. Do these things and you’ll be ahead of 99% of other people.

But by reducing the number of things to focus on — and picking major, important items — you don’t need to worry about that one-off latte or extra $20 you spent on shoes. If you’re handling your major goals, the minor details fall out of that. Whether it’s spending $21,000/year going out or going out to a nice restaurant, you can handle your goals and use your money without feeling guilty.

What happens if you try to save money on everything?
You can’t. Implementing an ethos of frugality is nice, but it just doesn’t work for the vast majority of people. For Trent’s site, it clearly does — but he has a very, very niche audience relative to most Americans (just as I do…maybe even more so). Yes, we “should” be more frugal, but we’re not. And as you guys know, by focusing on big wins, you have gotten some amazing results on this site.

Like I said, Trent and I have very different styles. For instance, these are some of his recent tips: Baking your own bread (save $104 per year*) or making your own laundry detergent ($70/year).

In fact, yesterday, Trent wrote a post, “The Happy Minimum,” that went like this:

“I began to think more carefully… Did I really need to use that much toilet paper?

[...]

Take pepper, for starters. I will put a large dose of pepper almost reflexively on anything I eat that isn’t sweet. The pepper grinder is a mainstay on our kitchen table…I tasted it first, added just two grinds of pepper, stirred, tried it again, and found that I liked the taste. Ordinarily, I would have just ground twelve or fourteen times without thinking about it.

What about toothpaste? I usually put a big glob on the brush without thinking about it too much. Instead, I put just a tiny bit on my brush, spread it over the bristles, and started brushing. Almost immediately, I had a nice bit of foam in my mouth and my teeth felt wonderfully clean afterwards.

Instead of grabbing two or three Kleenexes to blow my nose, why not just grab one and use it until I absolutely can’t use it any more, then get another if I need it?”

Toilet paper? Kleenex? Seriously? Even if you saved 50% on these for the next 20 years (which would affect your quality of life pretty dramatically), you’re still debating minutiae. You could save more in 1 phone call to negotiate your bank’s fees.

I’d rather focus on tips that save me $600/year or illustrate how to turn $20 into thousands using entrepreneurship.

It’s one thing to criticize my tips. But when you haven’t tried them, I’m not sure it makes sense to call my advice “short-sighted.”

toilet-paper-image
The Ramit/Trent Challenge
Again, a lot of Trent’s advice is really excellent (or I wouldn’t even bother writing this), it’s just for a different audience. So, to make this fun, I propose The Ramit/Trent Challenge.

ramit-trent-challenge
Over a period of 1 month, starting Monday, March 2nd, I say we each pick a group of 50 readers and send them 4 tips. (I’m just going to take the first 50 people that sign up for The Scrooge Strategy.) I propose that we’re also allowed to do one hour of private instruction to them (webcast, phone, email, etc), but no more. We let the tips stand on their own.

At the end, we see which group has saved more — the Scrooge group or the frugality group. And I’m willing to bet, if you are: I suggest the loser pay $1,000 to the charity of their blogs readers’ choice.

Trent — will you take my challenge?

To my readers: Join the Challenge
I’ll wait to hear if Trent accepts, but for you guys, we’ll proceed no matter what.

If you want to join the challenge, follow the instructions below. Whoever signs up today will get the tips and will get to attend the private webcast.

But I’m only taking people who want to win. So if you’re dedicated to following the tips for 1 month (and after that, but ESPECIALLY in the first month), sign up. Otherwise, please don’t ruin my chances at winning this bet in the micro-niche world of personal-finance bloggers. Hey, we all have dreams. Small dreams.

If you want to participate:
1. Sign up at http://www.scroogestrategy.com (all signups include a 60-day money-back guarantee)

2. Once you sign up, email ramit@iwillteachyoutoberich.com with this subject line: “I’m IN for the Ramit/Trent Challenge.”

Whether or not Trent accepts The Challenge, you’ll still get the tips, I’ll invite you to the private webcast, and you guys will save money. And we’ll show the world how much you can save by focusing on the big wins, not every little savings tactic that comes along.

[Edit]: Trent’s response is up.

* * *

* Assume buying bread costs $3 while making it yourself costs $1. 1 loaf/week.

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153 Comments

 
  1. I COULD NOT AGREE MORE.

    I personally hate those kinds of tips – saving a tissue paper here, or saving toilet paper rolls for other purposes.. whatever.

    I only do the things I do, like get rid of shampoo or detergent not to save money, but to save my health & the environment (am a bit of an yuppie hippie mix).

    He has an okay blog, but I can’t imagine beating myself up over spending $2 on a chocolate bar, or using more than one square of toilet paper roll.

    I am not wasteful by any means and have turned into a bit of a minimalist (for zen, decluttered purposes), but c’mon let’s live a little!

    I buy technology at $500/pop or a new mini laptop but it’s all about making choices and setting priorities.

    Being that frugal is a disease, just like being a shopaholic (what I once was) is a disease as well.

    I definitely respond and relate more to your blog and my PF blog is in a similar style.

    She who dies with the most gold in the end, is a fool, I say. It means they worked so hard all the way until their death without really enjoying a single penny of it.

    I’d rather die with $0 in the bank :P

    Fabulously Broke in the City
    Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver.

  2. Ramit,
    While there is some overlap, I would contend that your audience probably consists of people than can make bigger, more sweeping changes to their finances which results in larger immediate gains. My hypothesis would be that you’ll see this in your challenge results.

    My guess is that Trent’s audience has already made many of the more sweeping changes, and are now getting down to the truly nitty gritty details which is all that is left. That’s not to say that both aren’t valuable, they just address different stages in the money-saving game.

    One point where I will give you tremendous credit is your focus on not only saving money, but also on earning more. This portion of the wealth puzzle is often ignored, but is just as important.

    Overall I find value in both sites. Keep up the good work.

  3. LOL – can’t you guys just get along? I subscribe to both yours and trent’s site, and even though most of trent’s tips don’t apply to me, at least he doesn’t get into a dick swinging contest when someone criticizes his site.

  4. I saw that post on The Simple Dollar yesterday, and I thought it was an unfair assessment of what you’re doing on IWTYTBR.

    I like both of your blogs, but I have to agree on the frugal minutiae. The posts like the one on toilet paper and pepper grinds completely lose me. Life is too short to analyze how many squares of tissue I need to “do the job,” so to speak. On the other hand, I liked his post about making breakfast burritos in bulk and freezing them, since I don’t eat fast food and can’t manage to get up early to make breakfast.

    I think if you are already paying attention to the big money-savers, and you are inclined to take frugal to another level, so be it, and cutting back on waste is never a bad thing. But I have to say that I sway more toward the IWTYTBR philosophy of cutting back, then spending your time MAKING money, rather than worrying about pepper or toothpaste.

    I haven’t figured out how to take that next step myself, but it’s important to me to get there.

  5. Wow! Touchy, touchy. No, I don’t think the scrooge strategy is short-sighted. I think, from what I’ve read of it in your posts, it is very interesting and chanllenging and covers most of, if not all of the bases. However, I also agree with Trent about frugality. I have NEVER been a frugal person, but when you’re busted back a few notches as a single mom with a crappy paying job frugality is a necessity. You have to be conscious of the little things. Counting those sheets of toilet paper will help you make it to the next payday when you can actually buy more toilet paper and save you however much per roll. Personally, I try to combine the two. Things that I love, my moring cup of coffee… I still get, just once a week now, and the rest of the week I try to replicate it at home for less than half the price. And as far as cutting your cable cost, what’s cable? That is a luxury for me. I’ve already cut out all of those things and gotten rid of the credit cards and all that stuff. So all that’s left for me are the little things. So if I save $0.70 on a loaf of bread that is $.70 toward the light bill. Of course if I did as Trent suggests and cut out that once a week cup of coffe that would be $16 for the month toward the light bill, but my sanity would suffer. Bottom line everyone has to find their own balance. But I like the challenge idea, and I hope he accepts and I’ll be watching to see how it turns out.

  6. I definitely agree – it’s always better to save money on big-ticket items, especially those you don’t particularly care about. For instance, I’m cutting my rent in half (from $800 to $400!) by moving in with an old Japanese lady in Colma City. Also reducing my gym bill ($75/month to $20/month).

    This makes it possible to save at least half my salary each month without skimping on seeing friends for meals/drinks/etc., which is what I care most about. Also, I’m saving up for travel (trips to Japan and Ireland planned in the near future), nice clothes (because you need them in finance), and my wedding (upon reading your advice!)

    Can’t wait to read your book when it comes out!

  7. Meh. Honestly, I’m getting a little tired of you trying to sell me the Scrooge Strategy. (Sorry, but, I’m allergic to advertising. :) )

    Big, sweeping changes are very useful, as is anything that can increase your income. The problem is, I’ve already done all of those things (which is why the 30-day challenge didn’t do much for me). Over the past few years, I’ve made major life changes in the service of spending less money on BS and more money on the things I care about. I mean things like not owning a car and living close to my place of work, though I’ve also negotiated with credit card companies, don’t have cable, etc.

    You said “a hopeless battle of telling them to say no to things — “no more lattes! no more eating out! no more enjoying life!” — which never lasts.” Umm. Though I agree with you that you should spend money on the things you love, I hate the implication of that sentence. C’mon! Spending money != enjoying life. The fact is, while the big changes are useful, you can only do them once. Frugal habits are a useful piece of the puzzle, too, since the small savings DO add up in the long term. And it’s not a hopeless battle at all — it varies person-to-person, but there are a lot of changes most of us can make without feeling at all deprived. It’s all about wanting to put my money where it can contribute the most to my quality of life.

    And hey, you don’t seem to realize that doing stuff like baking your own bread or making your own laundry detergent can also affect your quality of life in a positive way. There’s a deep sense of satisfaction that comes from doing things yourself. For example, I started learning to cook in order to cut back on the amount of money I was spending eating out, but somewhere along the line I’ve begun really enjoying it — it’s fun to experiment, I like knowing exactly what goes into the meals I’m eating, and I’ve found that home-cooked meals taste a LOT better. Plus, eating out in a restaurant became a special treat when I didn’t do it every other night.

    I don’t know, I just don’t think there’s a need to be so disparaging. I think the two schools of thought are complementary, not mutually exclusive. You both have good tips and both angles are important pieces of the puzzle.

  8. If you’re going to make coffee at home most days of the week, just make it at home every day of the week. Don’t buy a cup of take-out coffee. Then you can buy a whole pack of t.p. with money you would have spent on a tall latte and you won’t have to worry about stretching out the t.p. to make it to the next payday. No one should have to do that. Take-out coffee just shouldn’t be bought by people questioning whether their t.p. will last all week.

  9. I thought this post was hilarious and fabulous. I love the toilet paper image.

    Like posters above, I can see the benefit of both types of saving. My car insurance company recently increased my payments by $40 because I moved 5 miles east of my previous residence. Considering I barely drive my car anymore, I thought this was preposterous. I called another car insurance company, got a quote that was about $15 less than what I was paying for the other guy BEFORE the rate increase, and saved a nice chunk of change. I also recently moved in with my boyfriend which is saving us $800 a month on my rent plus whatever I was paying in utilities/cable/etc. These are big changes that definitely save me money. At the same time, frugality tips also save me on small expenses. If I cut coupons to save even $5 or $10 on my grocery bill, that can add up, too (though I’m going to use as much toilet paper as I damn well please).

  10. I read both blogs and agree your audiences are different. I think the Scrooge Strategy will save people hundreds of dollars, especially if up until now they haven’t done much to cut costs or manage money. I also think Trent’s blog helps the more frugal reader take cutting costs to the next level. Many of his readers probably have already put into practice the tips in the Scrooge Strategy.

    As I happen to be a person that is naturally a saver, I instinctively have cut costs on things that are not as important to me. For example, why buy lunch at work? Work isn’t my free time, it’s work, and I’d rather spend the money shopping or out with my friends. In turn I pack myself a healthy lunch so I can indulge later both in money and in calories and have done this for years. On the other hand, am I the type of person that is overly frugal? Probably not. Admittedly I love to splurge on shopping, but I can do this because I have a budget and track my spending. I don’t mind frugality reading tips, even if they are a bit extreme for some people. I probably won’t be making my own laundry detergent any time soon, but I might try my hand at making my own bread. In the same way that after reading all your posts, I decided to get around to finally calling my cable company to get a discount. ($29 off per month btw)

    I think you’re taking Trent’s comment the wrong way. I was first taken a bit back by it myself. After rereading the blog, Trent is responding to the last statement directed at him from his reader about the fact he or she thought implementing small frugality tips takes too much effort. He’s talking about the philosophy the writer of the question describes, not your posts or strategies. The writer of the question is the one who mentioned your strategy and summarized it. I don’t think Trent has signed up and read the Scrooge Strategy with the intention to contest it or rip it apart. He’s just contesting the fact that he thinks small frugal tips will pay off in the long run.

  11. This is stupid. If I signed up for a bunch of subscriptions and services I don’t need, I too could cancel them all and “save” thousands of dollars a year. If I took on tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, I too could “save” a bundle by negotiating a lower interest rate. But because I chose never to sign up for these things to begin with, that somehow makes ME the loser? Come on.

  12. I was hoping you’d respond to that when I read it yesterday. And I hope Trent reads your post in the friendly manner in which it appears to be written – and then takes you up on the challenge.

    However, I don’t think there is any way he has a chance to win as your target audience has a lot more places to save money than Trent’s (if they are counting pepper grains then they likely don’t have a cable bill or buy lattes on a daily basis) so my guess is that he’ll pass. Plus you’ve called him out to the tune of $1,000! I think he’s too frugal for that. :)

    BTW, thanks for “redacting” the rest of the TP discussion when you quoted his post…

  13. Hey Ramit

    First off, even I am a fan of both of your blogs and by now, everybody knows that you two have different styles. Sometimes I get irritated with Trent’s frugaliy tips like making your laundry detergent or today’s post about toilet papers. That’s just not worth my time. I think in today’s world we need to work smarter and not harder. This is not get rich quick thinking, but I am not the guy to make my own laundry detergent!!

    Two words – PARETO ANALYSIS ! I am sure you know what that is. The famous 80-20 rule. I think you are blog supports this and so do I.

    But, I love Trent’s blog too. Some of this posts are very inspiring and unique.

    I hate to see you two flight :(

  14. I check both your sites daily, but Trent’s started out really really good, then started to annoy me greatly because he keeps bashing all these ways of doing things. People ask his opinion on other’s tips and is like “waste of time”…come on!…every little bit helps. I switched out my lightbulbs and use coupons…because it’s just me, going to Costco to buy certain items works out great for me because I don’t have to go back for months to get another helping…but, I can’t stand people who aren’t accepting of other people’s things.

    So…even though I still check his site all the time, I find that half the time, I am pissed after I read his postings (not the other half, he has good ones too)…maybe I only fall into half the criteria of his target audience, which is frugality is cool, but stop bashing me for occasionally (really!…occasionally!) wanting to buy something for myself, and having a Netflix account, and stop bashing others for their own ways of saving and making more money.

  15. I don’t understand why it has to be one or the other. I read both of your blogs. I have employed many of the Scrooge techniques. Then you get to a point where you can’t save any more. That is when Trent’s tips come in. I then have the ability to save even MORE than if I just used your tips.
    I understand why you would be offended, but I would see it as two tools for the same end.

  16. I buy 2-3 (max) bottles of laundry detergent a year. I’ve baked my own bread (just for fun), and you know, yeast is expensive even in the jar, and it didn’t save much at all. Trents recent 2 (2!) posts referring to toilet paper squares honestly made my stomach queasy. I just don’t want to know your TP habits. I have no clue how many squares I use, and I’m happy never knowing.

    Also, would you recommend switching to CFLs? It is a one time easy tip that most Americans can accomplish (frugality through… shopping!) Changing to CFL’s is not time consuming petty frugality. I thought it was a weird example.

    PS – It is one thing to be frugal because you seriously need that $.70 to pay the light bill, but most people don’t.

  17. The unspoken difference between these two philosophies is how they approach the value of time and comparative advantage. I could save money by washing and ironing my dress shirts myself. But it takes me forever to iron a shirt to my liking, I hate ironing, and I suck at it. So on balance I’d lose out, terribly, by choosing to save money that way. Better to use that valuable time for learning a new skill, or, heaven forbid, leisure.

  18. @ Fabulously Broke. Really? “She who dies with the most gold in the end, is a fool, I say. It means they worked so hard all the way until their death without really enjoying a single penny of it.” You think Trent works hard? When his nights are spent with his wife and he gets to spend any time he wants with his Kids? I envy that lifestyle. I would rather ‘live a little’ with my kids than with my ‘$500/pop technology’.

    @Will – LOL!

    @Ramit – I think you need to read the Archives of TSD. Trent did one series about fixing your finances, much the same way you did. Is he supposed to do it again to keep up with ‘new’ bloggers?

    I also don’t think it would benefit Trent to accept the challenge. You have different audiences, and I think your readers would save a ton more, judging by the comments.

  19. You know what? I don’t buy the claim that CFLs last much longer than regular light bulbs. I’ve lived in my apartment for approximately 7 years. I have changed the CFLs in my bathroom light 3 times during those 7 years. It’s bullocks.

  20. Although Ramit’s approach is far more effective for me, I’ve been a reader of both blogs (Ramit’s and Trent’s) for almost two years.

    When I got a $300 gas heat bill in December, I decided to speed up my showers, and I’m considering giving up driving to work (one mile) for a while to save on fuel and car maintenance. These two choices not only enforce reasonable moderation of consumption, but also require changes in personal habits which bring additional benefits.

    These two facts make them more justifiable in my judgment than reducing my toilet paper use to levels that I consider unsanitary.

  21. A couple of thoughts: First of all, some of the commenters here need to lighten up! Smile a bit! This is all in good fun. :)

    Secondly, I see a lot of comments — both here and on certain posts on Trent’s blog — where the commenter has pushed frugality to the limit. (Hint: If you’re counting pepper grains or toilet paper squares, you might just be this person!) But even earning $10 extra a month would be huge for these folks. So why don’t more PF bloggers (some of whom clearly know how to earn a FT living online) cater to this?

    Ramit does a pretty good job of it, but most PF bloggers totally ignore that niche while counseling folks to spend hours making commodities like laundry detergent at home. I don’t get it. When I was broke, I didn’t focus on frugality; I focused on making a LOT more money so I’d never be broke again. It worked for me.

    I think I will start writing more posts about this on my own blog.

    -Erica

  22. I read both blogs, and I think you’re both behaving childishly.

    Trent should have deigned not to comment on the Scrooge Strategy when someone asked. And you, Ramit, did you seriously need to turn this into a steel cage match?

    The audiences for both blogs, you might argue, is very different -but as far as readership goes? I think you have significant overlap, and I think this kind of behavior hurts you as much as it hurts him.

  23. Sorry, one more thing to add:

    @Erica, I didn’t see your comment before, but I wanted to say that you’re absolutely right. I’ve gotten to the point with my frugality where the only way I can have more leeway is just to make more money. There’s not enough in the frugality/PF blogosphere about that, I don’t think.

  24. Whoa. Some of ya’ll are missing the fact that Ramit does not hate Trent. In fact, he praises him in this post, too. Trent made a comment about Ramit’s product, without subscribing to the product, and Ramit is responding, and having some fun with it.

    I don’t think they’re “fighting.” (Can you even fight over the internet? Would be rather geeky, no?)

    • Our closest equivalent to fighting would probably be having a realtime speed-typing contest. Sorry guys but that will be a premium ($) offering.

  25. Hey everyone needs a hobby~Frugalites I am looking at you! :)
    Personally I am scrappy sometimes, so I can afford the things I need or want.
    Hey heads up on the CFLs, my electrician buddy was telling me if you replace all your bulbs in your house, it fries the neutrals in your electrical wiring and poses a fire hazard..why is no one talking about that? A few bulbs here and there is not a big deal, but replace all of them and they cycle differently than the wiring in houses can handle~

  26. This should be interesting to see. Perhaps the best is to be a Scrooge who has slightly frugal tendencies! When frugality gets to the point where you’re still counting tp squares, though, and you have a comfortable income level, that may be going a little far.

    @Ramit, more articles about how to increase income would be great. I’m enjoying the Scrooge Strategy so far but the articles haven’t really applied to me yet (or I’ve somehow already implemented the tips after reading your blog). Still, SS has been a great read.

  27. Everything is a cost-benefit analysis, and for the higher earners that you likely attract, time really may be money. Calling my cable company for a better rate once a year when the last promo rate they gave me expires takes me 10 minutes and saves me several hundred dollars a year. I bill my work time at 80/hour, so that’s a good return on my 10 minutes.

    Clipping coupons and organizing them and driving to multiple stores to save $10 a week? Not worth the time/fuel expended. Sure, I’d save $520 a year vs. the $300 I save by negotiating my cable package, but it would take me 26 hours a year, assuming I spent only 30 minutes a week, which seems low if multiple stores must be visited. I could have billed over 2k in those 26 hours. Hmm, should I spend my time clipping or ensuring that my plate is full of work?

    It’s a much different story if you earn $12 an hour and can save a few hours of wages with a little planning. Chances are that you already have less to cut in terms of services and lifestyle trappings, less wiggle room in general. So different strategies are more tailored to different demographics. If you can’t raise your income, you lower your overhead. I think many people *can* raise their income with a little coaching and research, but sometimes it’s hard to see that depending on one’s background and current situation.

    So would someone making an easy 6 figures sign up to worry about dashes of pepper? I think it would have to be a hobby/moral thing at that point, rather than something that logically makes sense. If it floats your boat, count that toilet paper! It would be interesting to weight the challenge with readers on both sides earning approximately the same amount and living similar lifestyles.

    There’s definitely a middle ground where we can all take steps to avoid waste, and I do agree with that. I have CFLs because it’s a better thing to do environmentally, not to save a few bucks a month. I plan a shopping list once a week, but realistically, I pencil in that I will be out at least 2 nights. That way I don’t buy more than I need to while deluding myself that I will be really frugal and use all those veggies this week, dammit.

    In other words, Team Ramit!

  28. While I do think the steel cage match would be great fun, I gotta agree that it’s stacked against Trent’s readers (like me). I’ve already done all the big stuff. I could maybe shave another $20-$30/year off my car insurance except I’ve been too lazy to make the call. Otherwise everything else is pretty darn optimized for the way I currently want to live. I’m actively looking for the little tweaks and, at this point, have made the big changes and have yet to make the mental shift to making more money.

  29. You’re so right :). The frugality tips are equivalent to ordering Diet Coke at Mc Donalds when you need to lose 100 pounds. First stop going to Mc Donalds, then maybe switch to Diet Coke.

    Frugality tips are ok for optimizing the last few percentages of your spending, but I’d much rather just get the big things right and then get on with life.

  30. Sorry, but I think both Ramit and Trent could take a less from J.D. over at Get Rich Slowly. GHe draws in ideas all over the place and has lots of good tips, but one of the things I like best is that he isn’t out to bash people who disagree with him. He doesn’t appear to react out of anger, and he doesn’t need to put anyone else down in order to build his readership. In short, the guy’s got class.

    I find the “what I say is better than what he says” kind of mentality to be very immature and it shows a lack of confidence. (Like the school yard bully trying to make himself feel better by picking on others — or worse, politicians!) You don’t need to trash other people and other ways of thinking to get my readership. What you need is good ideas.

  31. Bitch slap!

    Ramit will win hands down.

  32. Look, guys. I love you both. Mwah!

    You have different styles, but I don’t think they are mutually exclusive, and can be complimentary. My life is a mixture of both of what you write about. Most of what you both write about I’ve already done. I read your blogs because I like to participate in the discussions (I’m having a blast in the community discussions).

    The main thing I’m getting a kick out of on Trent’s site is the DIY stuff. I’m a DIY geek. Most things I try just to try, then decide it’s not practical for every day life – like DIY laundry detergent. But I think it was pretty cool. I never thought about it. Yeah, maybe it will save me some money, but it’s not practical for me and I won’t do it more than once. I probably would not try DIY toilet paper. I do have limits. But I like DIY tips and projects. Who knows where it might come in handy? But I read way too many apocalyptic sci fi stories and too many episodes of Lost. I bet Locke knows how to make DIY laundry detergent. And McGyver.

  33. As another commenter pointed out, now that you have a product to sell you’re definitely coming up with new and interesting ways to do it. Having your readers join you on one side of a proverbial challenge, while paying for it, is pretty creative marketing.

    However, I propose the following rule change to your contest. These changes would provide for a more fair and interesting challenge, relieve the IWTYTBR readers of the burden of financing this challenge through 50 new sign ups, and most importantly offer both you and Trent valuable traffice, exposure, and positive feedback on both of your sites.

    - You take 50 of his faithful and he takes 50 of yours. You offer 50 of his readers those same 4 tips and 1 hour of personal time. He offers a similar package/plan to 50 of your readers.

    This means that you’re able to reach an audience that might not have been using your ideas and he can reach an audience that is new to his. Both of your strategies are most effective when dealing with people that haven’t done any macro or micro financial cost cutting. This also means that if you do a good job saving those 50 people money they’ll go back to his site and plug your Scrooge Strategy, making believers of those micro penny pinchers. Instead of selling to your flock of sheep you’ll be adding another flock.

  34. I bet Locke knows how to make DIY laundry detergent. And McGyver.

    I nominate this for best comment in the thread!

  35. As I said in the comment on TSD yesterday I think you’re both right and in some ways both wrong.

    I took Ramit’s advice and I called Progressive yesterday and found out by switching I could save $500 on my car insurance. Yes, that’s more than I could ever save making homemade bread and it took me a grand total of 30 minutes on the telephone. I also put it on a Credit Card so I got rewards points off of it too. Of course when the bill comes due I will pay it off 100%

    I have automated savings, I take advantage of a company discount on my Cell Phone (which is the lowest plan possible) and I’ve started finding some extra forms of income (right now it’s mostly selling on Amazon Used & New.)

    Now with all that, yes indeed I am saving $1,000 a month. I didn’t make it this last November but I am now. ;-)

    But on the other side of the coin, I do follow some tips of TSD and I find they certainly give another perspective. I love making my own bread and I have switched much of the house to CFLs (which doesn’t do much to offset all the PCs we are running — good thing I don’t believe in Global Warming)

    I just think that frugality tips are good but I’m not going to just use one square like Sheryl Crow or make my own laundry detergent.

    I think a lot of frugality comes down to how much are you willing to change your life. Trent’s site seems to gear more towards the “I will change everything about my life to save a penny” whereas IWTYTBR seems more about not changing your life (at least in ways that affect day to day.)

    I think you need a little of both. I’m not rich enough to be able to spend $20K a year on partying (heck I was shocked at a dinner I was invited to cost me $25 last weekend) and I buy most of my clothes at Penny’s,Target and Walmart. Yet on the same token last week I spent about $60 on some DVDs I’ve been wanting for a while.

    I like both of your sites and rounding out with Get Rich Slowly and The Frugal Girl I get all sides of the world. TSD is more up from the bootstraps while IWT is more about young professionals. Rural vs Urban. Country vs Yuppie. Anti-Consumerist vs. Consumerist.

    By the way, the only other tip I haven’t gotten anywhere that I would like to read more info on is how to find what certifications and classes would most benefit your career and where to get them. I’ve been debating over a few certifications to chase but I haven’t decided which to go for. Somehow I think 5 days in classes might be worth more than worrying about pepper grinds but I guess different audiences.

  36. I gotta wonder if people actually do read Trent’s blog. He talks all the time about improving your education, calling your credit card company to reduce rates, or shopping for new insurance rates.

  37. If I ever find myself counting toilet paper squares to save a few pennies, then I might as well throw in the towel. My life is over.

  38. This reminds me of an extremely frugal guy I saw years ago on some late night show. He explained how he will cut open his toothpaste bottle in order to use every last bit of toothpaste. I couldn’t agree more with Ramit. Some very frugal ways of living are just not worth the time.

  39. Hmm. After leaving my comment above, I went over to the Simple Dollar out of curiosity. I was not a Simple Dollar reader before today, but having gone back and read some of his blog archive, I think he is being misrepresented here. Much of his advice is the same as yours, Ramit, and he definitely does acknowledge that some expenditures aren’t worth the time or effort. I think you (and many commenters) missed the point of the toilet paper post, which (as I read it) is that often, you can cut back on something with no noticeable change to its utility or contribution to your happiness.

    I’ve now got you both in my RSS. Peace!

  40. So, if I understand well :

    - frugality tips can only be winning in the long term, since you save a few pennies each day
    - you, on the other hand, write “Especially since I’ve always focused on the long term”

    And you propose a 1 month challenge ???

    I’m sorry, but isn’t this a little bit pointless ? Whoever wins won’t matter. Saving 200 bucks in a month does not matter and does not prove in any way “who is the best”. What matters is how much you can save in a lifetime, or at least in a few years.

  41. I don’t know who nagged me into it, but I finally called and switched car insurance (to USAA) and saved about $400 a year.

    To celebrate, I threw a party and papered the house with t.p. streamers.

  42. i like ramit’s blog better than others because his strategies are more practical, especially for higher earners.

    if you’re a professional with a $400/hr billable rate, it’s cheaper to buy the $4 loaf of bread than spend an hour of billable time to bake it.

    calling amex to ask them to waive your platinum card fees saves you $400 and takes 20 minutes.

    could you imagine being a lawyer, doctor, or some other professional with a $100k+ salary asking your guests not to use more than two squares of toilet paper?

    my sister is a grad student, and makes much less. she can’t begin to fathom having a charge card with $400 annual fee. preparing her own food, and being frugal about every tiny expenditure is much more practical for her to implent.

    different strokes for different folks.

  43. I think one should spend/save according to happiness. It is easy to save for tomorrow, but impossible to send money back to yesterday. Something is worth spending the money. It depends on your expectation of life.

    You are both men and Trent has kids, I think. Single girl like me benefit very little from either of your advice because we have very different spending preference. I feel more related to Madam X of “My Open Wallet”.

    I do appreciate your advice on increase earnings. Please focus on that.

  44. Ramit you’re my hero. I burnt a whole roll of toilet paper as a sacrifice to you.

  45. Enough with the toilet paper already. I trust Trent is mature enough not to take up your challenge, Ramit. What you don’t read is the subtext of his article, that we can develop a way of life that incorporates self-discipline by being mindful how we use and consume everyday products. In that respect, folks in India are light-years ahead of Americans.

  46. could you imagine being a lawyer, doctor, or some other professional with a $100k+ salary asking your guests not to use more than two squares of toilet paper

    Where the heck did this come from? That would be extremely bad form for anyone, whether from a doctor or a waitress. I can’t imagine ANYONE asking their guest to do that.

  47. if you’re a professional with a $400/hr billable rate, it’s cheaper to buy the $4 loaf of bread than spend an hour of billable time to bake it.

    I think Martha Stewart’s billable rate is a lot higher than $400/hr. And she bakes bread.

    Just sayin’…

  48. To skipadoo

    $400 / hr ? Really??

    I think people making that much money should not be even reading this or any other blog for that matter. If you read one post for 15 mins, there goes your 100 bucks!

    Get real! $400 / hr people are called super-rich, who are probably less than 5% population of America. I am sure they have better things to do.

  49. This showdown is hilarious. Two entirely different audiences — coastal young, single professionals versus middle-American married folks of various employment. There is really no comparison.

    TSD strikes a chord with me on some of its posts – I am a midwesterner by birth – and helps remind me that there IS another way, when I get wrapped up in the East Coast lifestyle, and that what I have or don’t have is all my choice.

    It’s easier for IWTYTBR to focus on earning more – taking on a part-time job or freelance projects is much more feasible when there is no spouse or kids in the picture.

    I’ve got one shoe in each demographic pool, so my assessment of their audience is:
    TSD: Doing more with less by choice because of the kids, or possibly less aggressive and therefore underearning.
    IWTYTBR: Above-average salaries, mostly yuppies, many of whom came from families with some substantive resources.

    I would love to see them trade readers and see if Ramit can help Trent’s readers earn more, and if Trent can help Ramit’s readers see the value of frugality.

    I, for one, changed to CFL’s because I’m too lazy to get up on the ladder to switch the kitchen lightbulbs. I can do it 2/3 less often now. It was about conserving time, but happens to save me a few bucks in the process. I will also cut open a tube of toothpaste, not for the 8 cents of stuff inside, but because I won’t have to go to the store until the weekend, when I have free time.

  50. Ramit,
    I will say it again – you’re my hero.
    :)

  51. I have personally seen the benefit of both types of saving. I did the Save 1k challenge and have followed some of Trent’s tips. Thanks to both sites’ advice, we’ve paid off our car loan and the only debt left is my student loans.

    I enjoy reading both blogs and seeing what tips could benefit us personally.

    I wasn’t crazy with how Trent reviewed the Scrooge Strategy (if he hasn’t tried, he could’ve just asked his readers to give their experience. with the program), but I don’t believe he meant to offend.

  52. Dude, if this breaks out into an all out gang war, I got your back, homes.

    Oh and this is why I’m on your side:

    “Whether it’s spending $21,000/year going out or going out to a nice restaurant, you can handle your goals and use your money without feeling guilty.”

    Let’s get it on!

  53. I stopped subscribing to TSD a few months ago because the material no longer resonated with me (despite the fact that I became a dad and would need helpful kiddie hints). TSD hints work as long as the time vs. money equation holds – coupons can easily whack 15-20% off the grocery bill, but they’re not worth it if you have to spend hours and hours clipping and organizing them. Luckily I developed my own way of organizing coupons which takes me ten minutes per week and saves me close to $60 per month. I also picked one store and stuck with it – I’m not driving all over town and I’m not investing more hours getting to know each store’s layout and sale cycles. I suppose making your detergent is fine if that’s your thing, but for $12 I got a 6 month supply from Costco and I don’t need to spend an entire Saturday morning making my own stuff (because like all recipes the first few batches will be harder). I’m on autopilot for the small stuff, and now I’m tackling the big stuff – keep up the good work!

  54. As usual, entertaining stuff Ramit! Beats the badly written “10 ways to save money on cellphone bills” followed by “12 tips for reducing consumption” content on most moneyblogs, that’s for sure. Why on earth are all of these sourpusses whining at you, this is a fun idea. I doubt he will, but hope Trent takes you up on it.

  55. I was once a daily reader of The Simple Dollar and although it has a lot of great information… it just got to be “too much”. I consider myself a pretty frugal person, I really cut back on things that I don’t care about and I spend on the things that I do care about… but for me, I like the philosophy of Ramit a little better. I think cutting back on unnecessary spending is absolutely fantastic and I take part in that whenever I can… but it only goes so far.

    If there is something that I want… I want it, period. Saving can only get me “so far” with that, the income needs to go up. Particularly the long term income. Which is why this blog works better for me.

    By the way, Trent has some really nice time management and free software articles that you all may want to check out.

  56. Oh and the CFL argument is sort of silly… you need to change yourlight bulbs anyway, why wouldn’t you put in the energy-saving ones?

  57. I have to admit, I check out a few different financial blogs, and sometimes I do find the frugality tips to be useful. Then again, I find some of them to be asinine. The same goes for Ramit, and I’ll admit that I am a scrooge strategy subscriber. I feel like its best for me to get information from all angles and pick out the nuggets that will actually work for me. In my case, I spend a lot of money on dumb stuff that frugality will help me with, but at the same time I can sure stand to save a lot of money on the larger expenses I make. I signed up for the scrooge strategy assuming not all the tips would really be useful to me, but they do remind me to think a little more in depth about my finances, and every once in a while I’m hoping to get a truly helpful tip. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m going to give it a year and see…

  58. Mike: If I ever find myself counting toilet paper squares to save a few pennies, then I might as well throw in the towel.

    That’s only going to save you money if you’re making your own laundry detergent to keep up with the extra washing you’ll need to do for those towels.

    (Too much? I never know.)

  59. I can’t believe no one has mentioned the Ramit vs. Trent pic yet. It’s friggin’ hilarious!

  60. You should both go on Geraldo and this can be settled once and for all.

    Seriously though, I like Trent’s blog. He writes from a more mature point of view. I think this blog is good for twentysomethings who really need to get started with getting control over their finances. It makes sense to start with the big ticket stuff.

    But if you’ve done that and still need (or want) to do more, Trent’s blog is helpful. And for the record, I tried baking bread when I read his post on it, and LOVED it. Found a new hobby. Now I bake all the time, and I get to eat the benefits!

    Don’t think your challenge will really work though…again, different audiences. So your tips won’t do much for a group that already eats at home, has no cable, prepaid cell phone only, etc. And vice versa, his tips on making laundry detergent probably isn’t helpful for a bunch of young professionals. Just different strokes for different folks…nothing to incite a war over!

  61. I don’t CFLs in any light I’m close to (like my bedside reading lamp). They’re not safe at close distances — they give off radiation and other nastiness. Canada and the UK are investigating the issue (not sure if the US has caught on yet ) so I’m not taking any chances now.

    If you doubt what I’m saying, do a little research. Some sites of course are going to say they’re perfectly safe, but it’s interesting to hear the other side of the story too.

  62. Nice, Ramit. I cancelled my feed to The Simple Dollar for the very reasons you pointed out. I’m more interested in big picture: like entrepreneurism, investing, and saving on the big items. Kudos for standing up for your philosophies and laying down the challenge!

  63. I don’t think one month is an adequate amount of time. Of course you can make more with big changes in the short term. I think Trent’s point is that over the long term, the little things can add up, too. In any case, you should have emailed him before posing the challenge. Now he’ll have no choice but to accept. Of course, he probably gives at least 1k per year anyway somewhere (most people do), so the risk is small I guess.

  64. Clearly Ramit was hurt by Trent’s evaluation of the Scrooge Strategy as “short-sighted”. But I would like to point out that the rest of Trent’s comment doesn’t really criticize Ramit’s Strategy. What he actually says, when you read between the lines, is that he’s sorry Ramit is dismissing TRENT’s strategy of saving on small things, too. His use of the word “short-sighted” seems to have set Ramit off, but I think maybe Ramit should re-read Trent’s comment more carefully.

    It actually seems to me that Ramit is being more dismissive of Trent’s strategy than Trent is being of Ramit’s. So to then issue this sort of challenge comes off as leetle bit petty. There are very clear values to both Ramit’s and Trent’s strategies–Ramit obviously shows you how to make and save bigger bucks, while Trent shows you how to adopt a different mindset so you don’t fall backwards in your PF journey. This is not a competition, boys!

  65. @Matt – about that pic of Ramit vs Trent. Sure it’s funny but I’d rather see Dave “No Cards” Ramsey and Suze “Big Jackets” Orman punch each others’ lights out if we were going to have a boxing match for personal finance tips. ~_^

    (my money would be on Dave Ramsey due to the weight difference but also because I’m not as married to FICO scores as Orman is)

  66. I read both blogs regularly, and while I think that both writers have good intentions, Ramit’s blog seems to be aimed 100% at earning him money (selling books, ebooks etc.). It is quite transparent that this is all just one big &&& making ooportunity for him. If he happens to help someone along the way, fine. I see Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman envy all over this site.

    While some of Trent’s posts do go a bit too far, I find him to be quite sincere, and much less in my face when it comes to marketing his wares.

    Ramit….you speak of having along term vision. I have been reading your blog for a few months now, and as of today, you will be losing me. You are a liar. It is quite obvious that you are trying to extract a quick buck any way you can…I am sick of the sell sell sell attitude of this site.

    Peace

    • I’m pretty sure this isn’t just 100% designed to make me money, or I would shut down the blog and focus on The Scrooge Strategy entirely. Sorry to see you go.

  67. No, you have to keep the blog around as a medium to cram your book down people’s throats…and to further promote the scrooge strategy.

  68. Okay, I love frugality tips mostly because they help me remember that I’m trying to save money (seriously, if I use coupons, it helps me to not spend $$ on things I don’t love), and I also love the focus on the big picture items tips (because switching my health insurance to a high deductible HSA plan, even paying for my routine health out of pocket, has saved us $125/month to put into the pre tax HSA) SO, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this challenge plays out. Keep up the great posts!

  69. I’m not a huge fan of frugaling yourself to death, so I can definitely appreciate Ramit’s point of view.

    And I don’t think that he was offended or angry at Trent’s feedback – he just found a fun and playful way to respond, that should actually increase traffic for both sites. Sounds like a good idea to me.

  70. @ wanzman:

    Nearly every blog has the goal of making money. Why is it so offensive if Ramit profits from his good advice, especially if readers benefit too?

    Other blogs have more ads than this site, and you don’t have to buy anything here if you don’t want to. I can’t say I understand your harsh attitude.

  71. @Ramit,
    Honestly I think you would be more effective you spent time just focusing on the tips. Your tips are mostly good when you do that. You do however spend time calling other tips stupid and retarded (http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/announcing-the-save-1000-in-30-days-challenge/) in an effort to validate your opinion. Then you spend time trying to defend your tips when someone calls them short sighted. I think your comments are far more negative and less constructive than Trent’s comment. I hope you see the irony there. I personally wouldn’t sign up for your service anyhow. Not to stay that the scrooge tips aren’t good. I am sure they are. I save 30-40% of my income and after that I get on with my life and investing in me. I do read blogs such as yours to grab tips here or there or the rare PF idea I haven’t seen. When you say things that imply that Ramit is great and everyone else’s tips are dumb you will loose readers though because it simply isn’t true. I challenge you not to do that.

  72. I love this site Ramit. As a matter of fact I don’t give a f**k about making laundry detergent or how much toilet paper I’m using to wipe my ass. Seriously? Nobody cares about saving 3 cents for using 1 less piece of toilet paper, or turning that pepper grinder one less time. You have saved me so much money and I would like to share that with everyone else.
    Magazine Subscriptions cancelled: $57.95*12=695/year
    Told Mom to cancel OnStar: $18.95*12=227/year
    Called Sprint to negotiate a better rate (found out I get a discount with my employer also): $44.62/month=$535/year
    Complained to my insurance agent: $25/month=$300/year
    Paid off my credit card and pay with cash:$127/month=$1524/year
    Moved saving to ING: $5000@2.4% vs .5% = $95/year
    Quit eating out 5 days a week and cut down to 2 days a week and only eating with coupons=$ 100/week=$5200/year

    Just some examples of where I’ve saved guys, you can total it yourself, but it’s obvious that i’ve saved a substantial amount of money. If I have to pay $8/month and $25 for a book, so be it. I’ve saved more than I’m spending. Besides I have all of David Bach’s, Suze Orman’s, and Dave Ramsey’s books and haven’t saved nearly as much as I have with the Scrooge Strategy and I Will Teach You to Be Rich.

    Oh yes, to wanzman: you’re a moron we don’t want you as a part of this site

  73. Say what you want about Trent, but he does not charge for his money saving advice. Yes, he has a book, but the cost for the book is less than one month of the scrooge strategy.

    I would say one of the keys to saving money is to not pay someone to tell you how to save money.

  74. I have no idea how Ramit has an audience that is both intelligent yet gets so absolutely butthurt over something trivial (and fun and right up his personality alley) like this. Take a break, go read something else and come back to a unicorns crapping rainbows post another day.

  75. Can I turn this thread into a confessional? First: I was just joking; I did not paper the house with t.p. streamers. Now I’ll be serious. Item 2 may be gross but I promise you, less gross than most t.p. confessions.

    1. My young daughter, like all kids, likes to grab a roll of t.p. and whoop it up. I am such a bad housekeeper that we never put it on the dispenser thing. So she toddles into the living room with the whole roll and sometimes I just let her go to town. To a point. I do grab it and tear it off and put the roll away, leaving her whatever yards she scored to swirl around and tear up into bits. Kids just gotta have fun sometimes.

    2. Yesterday I had a zit or something and I guess I scratched it. Has no one here had one of those? Some never have acne but many of us do, so reserve your “ewwww.” I saw a fraction of a mm of blood and grabbed some t.p. Because I had been reading all this lately I stopped and counted, for fun. I think I wadded up 6 or 8 squares! Yep, that’s right, to dab off a tiny dot. I didn’t want to go around looking gross so I wasted that t.p. and obviously it was habit and I never give it a thought. It was a two-second grossness fix and I just tossed it after its minimal usage. Wasteful, even I admit, but I am not losing sleep over it. Sorry if I’m ruining the environment. (Helping the economy, though??) I’m picturing a 3-y-o chastising me….

  76. Assuming Trent finds 50 of his readers that subscribe to your scroogestragegy tips, just advising them to cancel their subscriptions will give him a total saving of $4800 to kickstart his challenge!

  77. Ramit said: “I’m pretty sure this isn’t just 100% designed to make me money, or I would shut down the blog and focus on The Scrooge Strategy entirely. Sorry to see you go.”

    That’s a very risky response. It could easily be argued that I Will Teach You To Be Rich merely functions as an ad for The Scrooge Strategy at this point.

  78. Mark: Wow man…that was total ninja.

  79. I read both this site and The Simple Dollar (and about 20 others) each day and they all bring different things to the table. They also appeal to a different audience. When you are on your own and single these tips are going to apply more, but when you are 40 and have a family I am sure that you are already a little more conscious about your spending. If you have a couple kids to support I am sure that you are not aimlessly blowing money on OnStar and magazines, you have hit a point in your life when saving on the little things that you use everyday really adds up and you have a lot less disposable income to deal with. I don’t make my own laundry detergent, but I am conscious about not dumping a ton of ketchup on my food and unplugging my TV when I am not watching it.. The Simple Dollar also touches on money concepts besides frugality… talking about emotions and how money effects relationships. I don’t think it is a website to just dismiss.

    Also $1,000 might be a lot to Trent. I wouldn’t do it if I was him and had kids… maybe $500.

  80. Courtney:
    I appreciate your personal attack on my OnStar and magazines, but you also overlooked some of the other ways I’ve saved money. Whether I’m 25 with no kids (this is me) and you are 40 (with a family I assume) it doesn’t matter. Some of these tips are not only helping cut corners, but optimizing income. Not only did I cut all of this crap out, but I took on a part-time job to increase my income by about $25,000, bringing my total gross to $69,658 (based on tax return). This is not to brag, but at 25 years old making this kind of money and socking it away in 401(k) max, Roth IRA max and investments will definitely make a difference in my life when I am 40 with a family. You don’t see the big picture. This site motivated me to sell some old stuff on eBay ($2900) in addition to my above savings and take on a part-time job. For $8/month I’ll keep listening. Also, I do read both sites. Like I’ve said in the past though every tip isn’t for everyone. But I’m not counting the squares of toilet paper, it’s just absurd.

  81. Tom:

    I am curious…. What magazines do you subscribe to that end up costing you $695.00 per year?

  82. Briana good point. Should have read $55.95/year

  83. This post made my day. Hilarious. I love the photoshopped images and especially the toilet paper.

    I read both blogs, and I must say that Trent’s toilet paper post had me in stitches when I read it — much as the “make your own laundry soap” did when I read that one. Seems like too much thought for too little reward. I am seriously considering making Trent’s breakfast burritos, though. They look tasty AND frugal!

  84. @ Kevin –

    Trent does charge for his advice. He just charges the advertisers.

  85. I found this very amusing, for one, i am one who never has bothered to do things like count how many toilet paper squares are used or anything like that, i found that, how to say it, “grandpa like” or to put it other way, something my grandfather would do, along with going around the house turning off every light and TV/stereo/whatever.

    I tend to agree a lot more with the tips on this site, i have been reading it for a long time and find it very good, this is my first comment by the way, and just wanted to say that the tips on this site actually work, and you don’t have to suffer on the quality of life just to save a few pennies, which by the way, won’t make you happy in any way, i just can’t find how counting every single square or that toothbrush stuff will make me feel better or happier.

  86. If you can cut your usage of a product down to a level where you are still using “enough,” but see no difference between the lesser amount and the greater amount, then why not use the lesser amount? I wouldn’t pass up a “buy one get one” offer on something that I use every day, so I don’t see why there is so much stigma with the frugal mantra of “use less”.

  87. I would just like to add that the breakfast burrito recipe on Trent’s site is delicious.

    But I will never count TP squares.

    (Similarly, I am automating my savings like Ramit suggests…but I will never spend $21k/year on partying with my friends, even “consciously”.)

  88. Tom said:

    “Oh yes, to wanzman: you’re a moron we don’t want you as a part of this site.”

    I’m a moron? You are the one who was paying $695 a year for magazine subscriptions and $127 per month in credit card interest.

    So I’m the moron? Good Lord, if I had enough idiots like you to be my pupil, I could come up with a strategy that would save billions.

    What a sucker….. bragging about saving money in one sentence, then admitting to paying $8 bucks a month for advice that a million other online sources give out for free.

  89. To wanzman:

    “as of today, you will be losing me”

    Still around? and here i was thinking you were one that makes up his mind and never goes back…

    “I am sick of the sell sell sell attitude of this site.”

    Well i have never spent a dime on this site, and still have gotten a lot out of it, for free.

    “No, you have to keep the blog around as a medium to cram your book down people’s throats…
    and to further promote the scrooge strategy.”

    The blog is way to old to be considered a marketing blog for a book or whatever, i just don’t believe you, and if it were, still it has very good info for free and still nobody is forcing anyone to buy anything, it just depends on you.

    Why are you so angry? this is just a blog, just go and read whatever makes you feel good and never mind about what other people like.

    I just don’t get why it bothers you that someone who has a site makes a profit from it, and he is not lying to you, you even said that it was clear for you that everything was about money, then, i wonder if you would get equally angry at someone who misleads you into buying crap while you think it is good stuff? which one is it?

  90. I’m with Briana. Last night I used that pea sized-amount of toothpaste and it worked pretty well. I probably won’t notice the difference in my grocery bill, but why be wasteful? I use a lot frugality tips simply to cut down on my consumption.

    Besides, when gas prices were so high, everyone was trying to consume less. It wasn’t seen as negative then,

  91. Haters always amuse me.

    Why put so much effort into something that you dislike?

  92. Speaking of one time decisions that save you a lot over time I have a question. I wanted to know what type of accounts or investments there are that are tax free. I (think) know that some retirement accounts are tax free, but as I’m still in college and working at an internship, I need the money to be availble to me in the next 6-18 Months. I know there are some accounts that are for eligible health care expenses only that are tax free, but what else is there?

    Thanks
    Gabe

  93. @Gabe

    If it were that easy, no one would ever pay any taxes.

    Will you get a W2 from your internship?

  94. Briana,

    I will get a W2 from my employer. It is as though I am salaried employee, however I have a 6 Month contract. I am able to start a 401(k) through my employer if I want, it just feels like that is a little bit too far in the future as I haven’t ended my schooling.

  95. [...] del.icio.us, reddit A few days ago, I Will Teach You to Be Rich posted an article entitled Trent says The Scrooge Strategy is “short-sighted” — I respond with a challenge. The basic point of the post was that an average person is better off spending an hour eliminating [...]

  96. As a fellow Indian, I wanted to drop you a note. Ramit you are REALLY reinforcing the stereotypes about Indians. You are not projecting Indians as frugal but as penny-pinchers and tightwads. I suggest you speak for yourself when you are writing these posts and not for over 1 billion people, millions of whom I am sure are similarly offended by your projection of Indians.

  97. I just happened to see Trent’s post on this matter today and came here to see this side of things. After being here for 10 minutes, you and your site come off as pretentious and fake. This whole site seems like a big money making scheme. Heading back to the simple dollar…..

  98. I’m glad Trent didn’t sink to your level in his response to this post. He simply advises people to “do both” and to take frugality to whatever level of extreme (or not) they are comfortable with. BTW, I just unsubscribed you on my Google Reader…

  99. [I deleted this post because it (1) was directly insulting someone else and (2) the commenter didn't even use his real name (of course). -Ramit]

  100. Whoa there, your comment “no more lattes! no more eating out! no more enjoying life!” — which never lasts.” is totally incorrect!

    I am a frugal person but I most certainly enjoy life!
    In fact I think that Trent offers his frugal advise with a disclaimer of never being so frugal that you cross over into being CHEAP, to weigh your frugality so that it does not take away from your quality of life but rather runs side by side.
    I have always taken from his writing that I should make the most of what I already have so that I can choose to spend my leisure money on whats important to me, and by being frugal (in big and small ways) can increase the money I have to spend.

    Your coming off a little bit like a toddler chucking his toys out of the cot!

  101. I gotta say… I’ve been subscribed to both blogs for quite a long time, and this is the first time I’ve considered dropping one. I was a little uncomfortable when I read Trent’s original comment. I was a LOT uncomfortable when I read your post here, and that’s with trying to read it as light and well-meant. (Over the last year, your posts have seemed to be getting a little more angry, and I don’t mean just this one. That’s all fine and everything. It works as a motivator, and especially with the younger skew of the audience you seem to be courting. Just an observation.)

    Now that Trent has responded, I gotta say I really respect him a lot more.

    Both of you have great tips. Both of you have tips that are completely useless to me. I’m not going to drop either one of you at this point, because I like getting the tips from different spots on the PF continuum. But I’m going to be a lot less excited about coming to this site. It does seem to be focusing mostly, as of late, on marketing your book and Scrooge Strategy, and it’s starting to feel a bit heavy-handed about it. I appreciate the need to build awareness, but you might want to back off a bit for a while.

  102. I’m amazed at how idiotic these last few comments are. I’m literally laughing at all of your idle threats to remove Ramit’s site from your RSS. Even if you unsubscribe from just his newsletter, which has waaaaay less people on it then his blog feed, he’s only losing 0.0004% of his total audience. I’m sure Ramit is living his life in constant paranoia that a few people will drop him, while more than 25,000 people love his stuff.

    Do you not realize that polarizing readers is how to make things interesting? If you don’t have a few haters, you’re just another mediocre blog. Ramit’s not blowing sunshine up Trent’s ass because that would be BORING. He’s trying to make this entertaining and fun, but of course a bunch of people have to get hurt about a friendly competition between two niche personal finance bloggers.

    You all need to look at yourselves in the mirror tonight and ask: “Did I really make a threat to remove someone from my feed reader today? What has my life become? Can I honestly call myself a man at this point?”

    GET A LIFE, ALL OF YOU!

    • Everybody please read Charlie’s comment above…because it might be my favorite comment ever. And the last 2 paragraphs might be the theme of my next book.

  103. To suggest this challenge means you do not understand Trent’s readers at all. First, of all most of his readers have done the big 5 (or the obvious cutbacks) and are looking for more. Second, many people who follow Trent are frugal for the sake of not wanting to be wasteful. Finally, not everyone is looking to get rich! In these hard economic times my family is just hoping to not go bankrupt. We own our own business and are doing everything we can to just survive. Trent provides info. beyond the same financial 5 step program reworded on all financial blog sites. Don’t underestimate the value of the frugal tips he provides, they add up and are a blessing for those who need them. His readers would never beat yours in a financial standoff of tips and that is because most of them have already done the big ones and moved on. I think it is a little sad that you did not do your research on what the TSD is all about before putting up this silly challenge. Trent has always been about doing the big stuff and then take frugality as far as is comfortable for you as well as providing the information if you wish to take it further.

    JanB

  104. I have a handful of PF bloggers that I regularly read, including Ramit and Trent. I like the fact that different PF bloggers have different audiences because it’s good to have exposure to different ideas and approaches. In my experience with all of PF blogs I read, I get plenty out of some posts and some posts I don’t get much out of at all. Which Ramit acknowledges in this post – “Again, a lot of Trent’s advice is really excellent (or I wouldn’t even bother writing this), it’s just for a different audience.”

    IMHO one should blend both the “big” and “small” items of frugality/expense reduction. There is no magic all in one formula for personal finance, because everyone’s circumstances are different. Also what worked for me when I was single over a decade ago doesn’t work exactly the same for me now as a family man.

    The problem I have with the initial tone of this post is that Ramit is hot under the collar about the “Scrooge strategy” being described as short-sighted. In of the early posts in the “save $1000.00 in 30 days challenge” series that Ramit did, some of the furgality tips he didn’t like he described as “retarded.” One has to be able to take criticism well if one is to criticise others efforts (Ramit, feel free to comment on my comment).

    IMHO I think that the challenge is too short – a time-frame of a year would offer a better indication of the value of the “big” versus “small” approach.

    After all this I’ll still keep reading both Trent and Ramit.

    Cheers

  105. Honestly, this whole thread is like a train wreck… Horrible, but I can’t… look… away… :)

    I could unsubscribe, but according to Charlie that might make me question my manhood (which is funny, since I’m not a man) or worse yet, question what life has become! Noooooooo!

    Obviously I’m sparring with you here :) But on a serious note, you can’t have it both ways… If Ramit trashing Trent is “fun” and “interesting”, then you can’t turn around and criticize the people who disagree with him. After all, isn’t the controversy in the comments really the point in the end?

    Besides, there are many of us that keep subscribing because Ramit is more outspoken and it’s fun to disagree with him. (I guess that means I have no life, huh?)

  106. Nice Beth :)

    I have absolutely no issues with people who criticize or disagree with Ramit. I do, however, think it’s a complete joke when adults act like petulant children and write things like, “O YA WELL IM GOING 2 REMOVE U FROM THE BLOGS I READ!” The amount of importance they attribute to themselves is insane. It’s like they think Ramit’s going to respond by saying, “Wow, I had no idea I was going to lose 4 out of hundreds of thousands of readers because of that last article. I’d like to make a public apology to anyone who had the misfortune of reading it — I promise to write boring, unremarkable posts from now on.”

    No one cares, not even Ramit, whether those people stay or go. Why they don’t just shut up, hit ‘unsubscribe,’ and carry on with their lives is beyond me.

  107. i have unsubscribed. i have also unsubscribed from Trent’s blog.

    now none of you get the pleasure of saving me money.

    i hope you’ve learned your lesson.

  108. Charlie, I agree with you :) The problem is that “give me what I want or I’m going to walk out” is a tactic that adults successfully use offline when they’re trying to get their way — whether they’re trying to motivate a difficult-to-deal with company to actually listen or they’re making impossible demands on a retailer.

    But using that threat in the online world makes me laugh. I could threaten to unsubscribe, but so what? I’m not paying for anything when I read a blog. Writers and business people have thicker skins than most people think. If we let every threat get to them, they’d be reduced to puddles of goo in a very short time.

    Writers have to do what they think is best for their audience as a whole, and you can’t please everyone all the time. It’s the quality of their posts over time, not single articles, that will attract and keep a readership.

  109. Ok so lets get this straight… In order to counter the idea that your strategy is SHORT SIGHTED, you propose a competition which lasts for the time period of ONE ENTIRE MONTH!!!!!!

    I definitely see the cheeky competitiveness here and it was a good polarising blog post but you have to admit that is pretty ironic…

    “To prove to you I am not short sighted, I will beat you in an eye test at arms length!!! Then as the winner you can safely assume my eyes continue to work better than yours into the distance!!!”

  110. Haha, Matt is completely right. If it’s a matter of dealing with the obvious huge things (and yes, having the techniques to deal with them in the best ways possible), or having already dealt with them and moved on to the smaller things that continue to make a difference in the long run… then yeah. The huge things will make a bigger impact over the course of the month, sure — but that does indeed seem to be Trent’s point exactly.

    I’m also disappointed by the whole, “My beautiful baby has been called ugly!” thing. Trent didn’t pick a fight, he was asked a question and responded with his opinion. Ramit, you have to be aware that the whole world isn’t going to endorse your method — it wouldn’t be your method in that case it would just be the norm.

    And while I’m enjoying keeping up with your blog and have benefited from a great deal of your advice, a lot of it hasn’t been applicable because I was already aware of, and had implemented, certain of the ideas. And at that point, if I’ve gone on to scrupulously avoid waste and improvise on some necessities in order to make an extra school-loan payment a month, I *don’t* appreciate being mocked for it.

  111. I wrote a post once criticizing Trent’s advice to his readers. He didn’t take kindly to it so apparantly he doesn’t like people disagreeing with him either.

  112. [...] Ramit from “I Will Teach You To be Rich” challenged Trent, from The Simple Dollar, to prove whose money saving tips were more effective. [...]

  113. Hmm… maybe I should have been a little clearer (and just for the record, that “jeff” with the lower-case ‘j’ isn’t me). When I said I was considering unsubscribing from one of the blogs that wasn’t a threat, it was simply a way of expressing that I’d rather not continue to endure the marketing and attitude that seem to be overshadowing an otherwise great, and extremely useful blog. I know Ramit could care less whether I or 100 others drop him from our readers. By the same token, I don’t care whether he cares. I get to say what I think about what he wrote. I’m sorry that the way I voiced my thoughts gets Charlie a bit histrionic. (I could maybe see that in reply to wanzman, who seems like a bit of a jerk and went off the end of the pier, but I thought I wrote my comment without that level of stupid included. YMMV of course, but that was the intent.)

    I also understand why he’s writing with an attitude. As you said, he doesn’t want to write ‘boring’ posts. That’s fine, and as I said in my last comment, it fits for his younger skewing audience. I disagree with the “polarizing readers” comment Charlie made, though. You don’t ‘have’ to polarize readers to make things interesting. It’s a valid tactic, but not a necessary one, and I think it gets tired after a while.

    Regardless, the point is that I didn’t like the tone of the article, and I’ve seen it as a trend. I’ve been disappointed by that and the increasingly in-your-face marketing lately. So I wrote a comment about it. Free speech and all.

    (If I write a scathing comment making fun of someone somewhere else, can I have my manhood back, or do I have to do it here?)

  114. Ramit,

    So Trent called your little baby ‘ugly’ huh? Did he? What my eyes see is someone (Trent) defending HIS baby against one of YOUR fans who calls it UGLY. He defends himself by noting that it’s short-sighted to dismiss small savings because you’ve got to look at them long-term to see their value.

    Now you turn things around and play the victim? All I can say is that you’re a witty marketeer, haha! ;-)

  115. Can I ask what subscribing (or unsubscribing) to a blog has to do with being “a real man”? Last time I checked, we didn’t judge men based on the number of their RSS feeds. (Although the idea intrigues and amuses me…)

  116. I’m so surprised there are so many people here who subscribe to both blogs. I have a feeling your “hard core fans” are totally different audiences.

    I looked at your blog while you was doing the 30 days to save $1000 thing and it was so ridiculous for where I am in my personal financial situation.

    Bring your lunch to work a few times a week? I work from home (saving on gas too) and make my lunch every day. My husband “brown bags” every day that he’s not home for lunch too.

    Reducing interest rates? Doesn’t do anything if you are out of debt.

    No cable here, no landline (since we’re a military family, most of our calls are long distance so we do the cell thing), no gym fees, magazine subscriptions, (Tom said he quit eating out 5 times a week? WHAT? We eat out maybe twice a month.) … we’re selling the things we no longer use, etc.

    And once you do all the big things, you only have two choices for bettering your financial situation:
    1) Spend less
    2) Earn more

    We’re working on both of those at this point, building my business, and being frugal!

    (That said, I use as much toilet paper and hot cocoa mix as I want, but I do make my own bread, cook from scratch, and lots of other “too hard” things)

    Your blog is fine for people who are at that stage in their PF life. I get the feeling that most of Trent’s readers are beyond that though. At this point the only PF blogs I read are The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly.

  117. Here’s the bottom line on this conflict (full post on my blog: http://chrisyeh.blogspot.com/2009/02/when-frugality-insanity.html)

    Ramit’s blog is designed for young people with decent incomes who don’t think rationally about their finances, and rightly tackles automated big wins.

    Trent’s blog is designed for people are are already unusually frugal, and want to improve their frugality by learning about new ways to save even more money.

    You can even see the different in their styles…Ramit’s is written in an edgy, wiseass tone that in a previous era, would be been dubbed “extreme.” His job is to break through the clutter in an unfocused person’s life and shock them into taking the first, important steps.

    Trent’s is written in a soft-spoken, straightforward style that makes even my writing look impolite. His job is to preach to the converted and help move them even closer to perfection.

    This may be why Trent didn’t take the challenge–his readers are already so frugal, that they simply couldn’t save that much more (versus Ramit’s readers who include the profligate Manhattan “Sex and the City” types).

    It’s true that Ramit’s advice ignores certain opportunities to save money. But it’s also true that not many people have the discipline and willpower to follow Trent’s advice.

  118. [...] 2009, under General A few days ago, I Will Teach You to Be Rich posted an article entitled Trent says The Scrooge Strategy is “short-sighted” — I respond with a challenge. The basic point of the post was that an average person is better off spending an hour eliminating [...]

  119. @Jeff – My comment was targeted more towards people like wanzman, who was definitely the most extreme of the bunch. Like you said, he definitely seems like a jerk.

    @Liza – You missed the joke. Re-read what I wrote.

  120. I think this post has gotten more comments than ever. Regardless of your point of view, it has certainly got people thinking about personal finance. I like how you always engage us and challenge us.

  121. I know I’m a little late coming to this discussion but, unless I missed it among the large volume of comments, no one is counting the amount of time spent making stuff in order to save. The link to the laundry detergent got me thinking about this. Sounds like a hell of a lot of time in order to save 27 cents per load of wash (I’m pretty sure that’s the statistic he quotes).

    Now, since I have 3 jobs (1 full time, 2 part time), spending that much time making my own liquid detergent is a complete waste for me. When I had those 3 jobs *and* was going to school part time, I bought everything I could at the grocery store. I *knew* that I was spending “too much” as I could get shampoo, etc. cheaper at Target or WalMart, but that was way too much of my time spent driving and shopping.

    The lesson is similar to what many have pointed out. The point of the exercise is to do what is right for you and there’s no one perfect way of getting rich and/or being frugal.

  122. Like Mindy, I know I’m a little late to the conversation. Also like Mindy, I’ve wanted to comment on the time costs of some of Trent’s frugal tips.

    I should probably start by saying that I absolutely love Trent’s blog. This one seems like it might be targeted to a different crowd than the one to which my husband and I belong. Like Joyful Abode, we’ve basically done everything that is a one time, save big idea. We’re in the middle of refinancing our home at $130+/month savings, but other than that, we’re tapped for ideas on saving big.

    What we do have is time, and quite a bit of it. I’m a stay-at-home-mother to a 12 month old and we moved to a small town in the middle of nowhere (and several hours from family) so that my husband could have a job that would earn enough for us to own a home on one income. For us, filling that time with experiments like making laundry detergent and growing a home garden is a good investment, both because they will probably save us money and we’re saving potential costs of filling that time with other entertainment. Frugality is a hit and miss thing with us where we try to save when we can and know where we want to invest a little because it’s worth it (for example, paying for Huggies vs. using cloth diapers means my husband is willing to do his share, and the cost is worth it to both of us). It also saves us enough that we are doing better than friends in a similar situation making 1.5x our income, so the effort is worth it to me.

    I admit that I’m currently saving toilet paper holders… but only because they are supposed to be great for starting seeds for that garden we’re starting this year. I’ll also admit that the only change I’ve considered making to my toilet papering habits is to buy a higher quality and see if it lasts longer.

  123. Interesting. This is just my personal opinion, but regarding to Trent’s comment, I sort of see a top-down approach advocated by Ramit versus a bottom-up approach advocated by Trent. Perhaps there are more similarities than there are differences. Looking at the same thing from two different angles does not necessarily invalid or even contradict each other’s perspective.

  124. [...] want when I’m out. My philosophy is much more in line with that of Ramit Sethi, who advocates “cutting costs mercilessly on the things you don’t care about,” than about making my own laundry detergent. (Although for [...]

  125. Hi Ramit,
    ******************************************************************
    Now come on. I’m Indian, I love Taco Bell, and I use coupons more than twice a week. I know about saving money. But it isn’t just about cutting down on things. “Saving” really consists of Cutting costs, Earning more, and Optimizing your existing spending. And you can’t try to save money on everything.
    ******************************************************************

    Please do not generalize that an Indian Stereotype – That all Indians are into saving money or anything. Although its very nice , but people have already stereotyped Indians as stingy and what not. So someone very respectable like you and the owner of one of the most prominent financial blog should not bolster this kind of sentiment

  126. [...] to their questions is deeply unsatisfying because it involves focusing on the long term: Pick big wins. Focus on helping people before you try to make money. Plan ahead. And most importantly, money [...]

  127. [...] teach you how to be frugal. This is even more funny if you are a regular reader and remember his recent challenge to a frugal blogger about which system works better – frugality or focusing on earning more money (I think both are [...]

  128. Ok, talking about big savings tips – look at your car insurance, especially if you’re newly married. My wife and I combined ours and just about cut our insurance bills (now bill) in half. The other thing that helped us is that I shopped around right when a couple of traffic infringements dropped off my record, that’s probably another good time.

  129. Also, can’t we all just get along ?!!??

  130. I’m late to the party, but I just wanted to say that once you’ve done those five Ramjit things, or those five things don’t apply to you, then that’s it for the Ramjit strategy. What if i don’t have bank fees or interest rates to negotiate, etc? What if I’ve already shopped for the lowest insurance rates? What if I don’t have a big fat cable package, cell phone, and gym membership to cut?

  131. Jennlee-

    I believe what Ramit wants us to do once we reach the point of being “streamlined” is to check in on things annually. Set a date to recheck all of those to make sure we’re still getting the best deal. If you don’t have bank fees or interest rates to negotiate, then obviously you won’t be negotiating them right?

  132. [...] few days ago, Ramit posted an article called “Trent says the Scrooge Strategy is Short-Sighted”. Let me give you some back story. “The Scrooge Strategy” is Ramit’s answer to [...]

  133. [...] will lead to a huge savings over the course of your owning a car (Ramit Sethi would call this focusing on the Big Wins).  This is why, when gas prices were up around $5 last year (as they will undoubtedly be again in [...]

  134. [...] been hammering on the idea of focusing on the big wins instead of worrying about $3 lattes here and there. It’s far better to focus on cutting 25% off the two biggest areas of your spending than to [...]

  135. Ramit, as I read your example of Trent’s frugality tips, I realized that it was not just about finding little things here and there – Trent is literally looking at reducing his consumption of just about everything.

    Which, yes, is perhaps the opposite of being “rich” as you define it.

    But if you do consume less of everything, from pepper to toothpaste, my guess is you would see a significant dent in your monthly bills.

  136. Hi,

    I currently live on about 10K a year.

    I like your blog, but… does any of it apply to me? I don’t have any debt (no mortgage, student loans, credit card balance, etc.), pay for virtually everything except rent in cash, and am in excellent health.

    Not sure how to save extra money at this point, apart from counting kleenexes, which is counter-productive.

    Any ideas?

  137. As a reader and fan of both blogs, yours and Trent’s, I want to weigh in.

    In my opinion, both you and Trent are misconstruing the other’s approach to personal finance.

    Trent wasn’t being fair when he called the Scrooge strategy “short-sighted.” You espouse big, “fire-and-forget” type frugal moves, which work very well. There’s nothing short-sighted about that at all. It’s quite simply the best effort-to-return ratio one can find.

    Trent is correct as well — his CFL example is actually very similar to calling for lower credit rates in that the return is definitely worth the effort. And this is where the differing audiences and blogs factor in.

    You misconstrue Trent: his blog is old, and his post count is an order of magnitude larger than yours. What that means is, _he has already covered the big wins!_ If you go through the old posts, he advocates the same things you do: credit rate renegotiations, shopping around for services, automating the money system. But when you’re churning out two posts a day for multiple years, after all you’re left to discuss is more esoteric, lower-level frugality tips.

    Additionally, your blogs each reflect your lifestyles. You are single and seem to have the goal of becoming a very famous finance personality a la Suzy Whatever-her-name-is. You don’t have the time or desire to hang around the house implementing toothpaste-saving tips. Trent, by contrast, has two children, and lives in a rural area. The simple dollar allows him to be at home with his children while exploring frugality, which is a strong interest of his.

    In summary: he started it, you responded, but you’re both nitpicking. 80% of your advice is exactly the same.

  138. I can’t take Trent seriously. He advices to cut my own hair…just look at him how it looks! When I read it in his advices, I first thought it’s a (bad) joke…than I saw his picture…

    Scrooge for the win!

  139. [...] ramit sethi AND (”i hate frugality”) to tell you that. Refer, instead, to Sethi’s open challenge to Hamm from February (in which he contends a gentlemanly race to see whose readers can save money the quickest) or his [...]

  140. [...] tips. You’ll improve on your finances by making small sustainable changes and looking for big wins. Take care of that and you can have fun comparing interes rates at online [...]

  141. [...] I Will Teach You To Be Rich Ramit Sethi’s blog is focused on personal finance, entrepreneurship for young professionals. He advocates spending extravagantly on the things you love but but still minimizing cost on all thing you don&#82…. [...]

  142. [...] months ago (why didn’t I write this article sooner?) Ramit at I Will Teach You To Be Rich defended the Scrooge Strategy and made his opinion clear that “big wins” were his priority when it comes to saving [...]

  143. [...] written about why you should focus on the Big Wins instead of trying to save money on stupid $3 lattes. Earning more is one of the Biggest Wins you [...]

  144. [...] I would definitely recommend the program to others. I think the Scrooge Strategy can be a great program for those willing to put some energy into getting big wins. [...]