Jeff Yeager, cheapskate, to visit Morenci 2008.08.06

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

They used to call him a cheapskate. Now Jeff Yeager is just looking practical.

All right, so Yeager is still known as a cheapskate—the Ultimate Cheapskate, according to Matt Lauer of NBC’s Today show—but his approach to life is looking more and more sensible to a lot of people facing tough economic times.

Yeager will talk about his life as a cheapskate when he visit’s Morenci’s Stair Public Library at 1 p.m. Aug. 14. The Grand Rapids, Ohio, native is back in his home area for several appearances in Toledo Public Library branches and he agreed to make a visit to Morenci to present his humorous approach to living on the cheap.

Yeager wrote his book, “The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Roadmap to True Riches,” two years ago and it finally made it off the press early this year, about the time that economic hardships were becoming more and more apparent for many Americans.

There’s a silver lining to tough times, he said. It forces many people to reign in their spending habits.

“Most people would be happier if they spent less money and bought fewer things,” Yeager said in an interview Monday.

During the economic expansion of the 1990s, two things happened, he said: Americans went further into debt than any previous generation, and they didn’t become any happier.

“They became stressed out and they wanted more,” he said.jeff.yeager.jpg

It’s odd, Yeager said, how in the last few years shopping has been billed as a patriotic duty—go out and buy more. If that’s the case, he says the most patriotic thing would be to buy something that’s going to break right away or something that’s going to soon become obsolete. This will lead to more trips to the store.

Yeager brings some humor to his financial philosophy, but he realizes there are people who are losing their jobs, losing their houses and genuinely hurting.

At a talk he gave recently, a woman wasn’t so keen on his light-hearted approach. She was nearly crying when she told how her family was forced to cut back. How had it affected them? They had to cancel their cable television service.

Yeager doesn’t expect everyone to go to the lengths of cheapness he does—he once tried to weave dryer lint back into clothing—but he does see value in living on less.

“It’s the only financial advice that will work for almost everyone,” he writes in his book. “It’s about a quality of life you cannot buy, a sense of satisfaction you cannot fake, and an appreciation for other that gives life value.”

Some people are touting his book as a survival guide, but Yeager prefers to call it a revival guide—how to return to some simpler times, to a more sustainable level of consumption.

Next book

After Yeager’s book was published, he went on a promotion tour by bicycle.

“It was a blast to do it,” he said. “I stayed with cheapskates.”

All the money he saved by couch-surfing was turned over to libraries along the way.

His next book is due out in 2010. This is where he will get to know “the cheapskate next door.”

“I’ll be writing profiles of people who know the secrets of living below their means,” he said. “It’s a very positive thing to live below your means.”

Reporter’s note: I wrote an e-mail to Jeff Yeager on a busy afternoon, listing some questions and inviting him to give me a call if it was convenient.

I could have called him, but I kept on with other things I needed to accomplish. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that cheapskate called me and he had to pay the bill?”

Sure enough, I got a call from the world’s biggest cheapskate.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016