Jeff "Cheapskate" Yeager visits Morenci 2008.08.20

Written by David Green.


Being cheap doesn’t mean a life of hardship, deprivation and sacrifice.

That’s not the way it is for Jeff Yeager, the author known as the Ultimate Cheapskate. Yeager told a crowd of nearly 70 people at Morenci’s Stair Public Library that living a cheap lifestyle can actually bring some financial freedom.

“I’m America’s cheapest man and I’m really proud of that,” he said, but then added, “I can see I have some doubters.”jeff.yeager.visit.jpg

Yeager suspected he had some brothers and sisters in cheapness among his Morenci audience, and he proceeded to explain his philosophy.

“It’s about choices every day,” Yeager said.

He sees three components that make up his book, “The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches.” There’s the practical side that requires a willingness to spend and consume less. There’s a need for humor to help reach people who don’t ordinarily read personal finance books.

And finally, there’s a serious undertone that affects the quality of life and the environment.

“It’s really not about saving money,” he said. “You may already have enough money if you spend and consume safely.”

Yeager recommends a “fiscal fast,” a spending detoxification process of going for a week without spending any money.

He generally hears one of two responses to that suggestion: either it’s impossible or it’s no problem at all.

Those who give the latter response are often in for a surprise, he said, as they start cleaning out the cupboards to prepare another meal or head to the bathroom cupboard in search of more leftover shampoo bottles from hotel stays.

“I’m challenging people to just do it for a week,” Yeager said, and he thinks it will lead to these conclusions:

• You’re going to save money, of course;

• You’ll learn how how spend and probably waste money;

• You’ll be reminded there are so many things in life that don’t cost a cent.

Yeager explained that when he finished college, got a job and was living on his own, he realized he didn’t want to spend everything he earned. He wanted to establish a basic standard of living and enjoy life rather than move into a new, bigger house or a buy the latest car.

He says to consider finishing in your “starter home.”

“In our grandparents’ day, people tended not to move around so often,” he said. Many people spend their entire married lives in the same house.

Now, with so millions of people hurt by the bursting of the housing bubble, Yeager is glad he’s one of those who didn’t move on to a new house when his old one serves him well.

“Now the cheapskate is a prophet,” he jokes.

Contemporary spending patterns are so different from 40 or 50 years ago. When he was a kid, it was big news to spot a new car when driving out on the highway.

But he thinks we’ve gone from the land of plenty to the land of waste. Only about 20 percent of purchases are made to replace an item that’s worn out.

Yeager said that thrift stores weren’t all that common when he was growing up. Now they’re easier to find because most clothes are no longer thrown away because they’re worn out. Instead, it’s a matter of keeping up with the latest styles or simply the urge to have something new.

His advice for living through tough economic times is to live a simpler existence.

“Simplify your life as much as possible,” he said. “You save money and it tends to make you happier.”

  • 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.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in 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.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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