Graphic designer turned author who gained fame in the U.S. in the 1990s as the "Frugal Zealot," the editor of the The Tightwad Gazette newsletter (and paperback reprints).
Starting in 1982 with a net worth of zero, she and her husband, with an average income of US$30,000 (from his Navy salary) managed to start a family and buy a New England farmhouse. By 1989, they had four children, savings of $49,000, and made significant purchases (vehicles, appliances, etc) totaling $38,000.
"Certainly the recycling of aluminum foil did not greatly contribute to our dream. Rather it was the attention to all the thousands of ways we spent our money that made a tremendous difference. Our success was very much a gradual learning process. We made many big mistakes."
A self-confessed compulsive tightwad, she began a zine to share her methods of frugality. Within two years of starting her newsletter in 1990, subscriptions climbed to 100,000. Although Dacyczyn promotes thrift as a viable lifestyle, the earnings from the Random House editions of her books were considerable.
Once, on the Oprah Winfrey show, after describing the cost savings of home-cooked meals, Dacyczyn confessed that she and her husband had splurged and taken the family out to dinner for their wedding anniversary. When she revealed the name of the restaurant, McDonald's, she was soundly booed and berated by the audience as a miser, skinflint, and nut job. From her perspective, not only was the price within her budget, but it made her six kids deliriously happy.