Journals offer wealth of knowledge on being cheap

Cheap is chic. The Jack Bennys of the world are finding solace in the pages of a growing number of newsletters that sing the virtues of frugality. At least a half dozen new cheap sheets compete with older publications for the parsimonious.

Published by home-based editors, the newsletters profess to provide a windfall of advice on Spartan living. But are they really worth the price you pay to be stingy?


We've rated a few skinflint journals, considering originality, variety, usefulness, presentation and cost, on a scale of one ($) for the least useful to five ($$$$$) for the most useful.

Generally, each newsletter is at least worth sampling for a negligible fee, if any.


* Cheapskate Monthly, Mary Hart, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, Calif. 90723, (310) 630-8845; 29-cent stamp for a sample; $12.95 for 12 eight-page issues. Improved since its January 1992 debut, Cheapskate recognizes food's budgetary impact and provides two full pages of recipes. It also reduces medical bills (free hearing tests, cold and flu remedies), debunks cheap tricks that fail (gasoline-soaked socks to cure athlete's foot) and teaches pooling money (baby-sitting co-ops). Its bulletin board has too few tips. $$$ 1/2

* Lesko's Info-Power Newsletter, Matthew Lesko, Information U.S.A., P.O. Box E, Kensington, Md. 20895. Call (800) 955-7693 for a free sample; $128 for 12 10-page issues a year. Since 1985, this professional newsletter has helped keep current Lesko's best-selling "Lesko's Info-Power" (Information U.S.A., $33.95) source book of money-saving government programs and federal, state and local information sources. You can pay big for Lesko's information gathering or get it free from the government. $$

* Skinflint News, Melodie and Ron Moore, 1460 Noell Blvd., Palm Harbor, Fla. 34683; (813) 785-7759; stamped, self-addressed envelope for a free sample; $9.95 for 12 eight-page issues a year. Mittens made from shrunken sweaters, ant-repelling mint plants and free food (happy hour and prunes from California) are tips in this 2-year-old. A balance of features (mortgages, car buying, savings bonds), quick tips, reader input and "Skinflint Kitchen Tested" recipes; not always original. $$$

* The Banker's Secret Bulletin, Marc Eisenson and Nancy Castleman, Good Advice Press, P.O. Box 78, Elizaville, N.Y. 12523; (914) 758-1400; $1 for a sample; $19.95 for four eight-page issues a year. Since 1990, this narrative catalog has included items tagged with references to valuable self-help books, pamphlets and software (prepaying mortgages and credit cards, stopping the flow of direct mail, personal estate organizing) and other products available from Good Advice and others. The products are the real deals. $$

* The Penny Pincher, Jackie Iglehart, P.O. Box 809, Kings Park, N.Y. 11754, (516) 724-1868; 29 cents postage for a sample; $12 for 12 eight-page issues a year. A poor man's Money magazine. Testimonials (free flowers from funeral homes), well-researched features (loving the library, working at home, cheap travel), book reviews, recipes, standing columns ("Freebies," the Penny Exchange of answers to readers' questions) and plenty of nuggets from Iglehart's personal gold mine of sage advice. New angles on old tips. $$$$

* The Tightwad Gazette, Amy and Jim Dacyczyns, RR1 Box 3570, Leeds, Maine 04263; (207) 524-7962; 29 cents postage for a sample; $12 for 12 eight-page issues a year. Since 1990, originality has been a sport for this misers' support group. It squeezes a buck dry with features (cheap dog food, used paper clip use, cheap gifts, cheap dates, prescriptions by mail), recipes and reader tips. Proves penny-pinching pays; 1991 receipts from 80,000 subscribers totaled $750,000. $$$$ 1/2