Blowback from Mary Hunt’s book giveaway.

thPlenty of food for thought in the comments on last week’s prize, Mary Hunt’s “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning Retirement.” National pundits and rich politicians who think that the economy is going just fine, thanks, should get an eyeful of stories like:

“I am 44. I have no money. No savings. No job.”

“Like others, I have student loans and – in this economy – am earning very little, and struggling to do that.”

“As a 48-year-old whose financial situation has deteriorated drastically due to some serious life changes, I could really use the help.”

I’m 52 and recently lost my job. I have no savings, my husband has been on disability for 20 years and we rely on every penny that I make. … I don’t want to have to work until I die.”

“I have spent more than one sleepless night fretting about this very subject. Divorced, mid-forties, paycheck to paycheck, less than stellar salary, adult kids sometimes need my help, prices up, taxes up…”

Understand: Such comments don’t surprise me, because I’m playing catch-up with my own retirement and also because more than a few people in my life are living fairly close to the bone. Not every pundit and politician has that daily reality check.


If that’s you, or if you’re making ends meet but don’t have much of a safety net and/or retirement plan, Hunt has a couple of other options:

  • Everyday Cheapskate. This is her free blog and it’s full of money-saving tips, recipes, frugal hacks and coupon links.
  • A free e-book. When you get to the Everyday Cheapskate landing page you’ll be given the option of signing up for e-mail updates. If you do, you’ll get a free e-book called “The Best of Everyday Cheapskate.” If you can’t use at least some of these tips to trim your budget, then you’re probably not trying hard enough.
  • Debt-Proof Living. This website features a “boot camp,” tools, planners, information on managing your money, tips, a massive article archive  and access to a community forum. This service costs $29 per year, but you can also sign up for $3.99 per month to check it out, or if cash flow is a problem. (And if it is? Use some of the tips in that e-book to carve out $29 for an annual membership if DPL speaks to your needs.)

Can’t afford to join for pay, or to buy her books? Check your local library and if they’re not there, request that they be purchased or obtained through an inter-library loan. Or: Join Swagbucks and cash your points in for Amazon gift cards, then buy for yourself.

Oh, and thanks again to Hunt for donating an additional copy of her book to give away and for providing personal answers in the comments section. Clearly, she rocks.


In other news

Here’s what else has been going on:

A short interview I did with Mary Hunt became a post called “Do something about debt,” over on Consumerism Commentary. The topic is a collaboration between Hunt and Chase Slate, a 15-day program called – you guessed it – “Do something about debt.” That link will get you to the archives of a 15-day program of tips, tactics and personal encouragement.

Think of it as the tools you need and the advice that will get you started, but remember that you’ll be the one doing the work. (Hint: You can do it.)

My latest article on Money Talks News should help you get your frugal on. “How to find thousands of freebies” provides tips on scoring all sorts of gratis goodies, from toiletries to travel. If it’s free, it’s for you and me – and remember, anything you don’t have to pay for means you’re one step closer to solvency.

That post made it into this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance over at the Start Freelancing Now blog. Last week another MTN piece, “How to pay bottom dollar for diapers,” made it into the CoPF hosted at The Broke and Beautiful Life.

Finally, I was asked to contribute to what became an article called “6 ways saving money is like competing in the Olympics” at GoBankingRates.com. This is worth peeking at, if only to see the accompanying image of a bunch of talking heads in a bobsled. And I’m driving! Well, my head is.


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  1. Suzanne in VA

    Id like to see a good article regarding those of us in our 40s who do have a little in our 401k and IRA (say less than 50k) What should we be thinking about , doing to grow it and protect it and though it wont be enough to really retire on in 20 yrs w/o Social Security what are our smart options for it in 15 years? Besides put more $ in, I would if I could and still have a life 🙂

  2. I know someone who could really benefit from this book. I am very thankful that we started saving young. I have my parents to thank for that. They paid for my college education, which helped me start life after college without any debt.

  3. Donna, thank you for your blog. It is no small matter to offer help and encouragement as you do to all of us weekly.

  4. Sadly there seems to be a REAL disconnect between our elected officials and Main Street. I see folks struggling everyday as they adapt to ..”the new normal” and the officials say everything is fine. Add to this dynamic a really tough Winter… in “this neck of the woods” with heating oil jumping to $4.35 a gallon and it is a challenging enviroment for even the most avid “cheapskate”. Thank goodness we heat with wood entirely at 0 cost….I’ve seen $1K heating bills from ONE delivery!!

  5. I think Betsey’s comment is the best one ever! Hold on to it when the trolls come out. She is right you are a blessing!
    And your sledding made me smile.

  6. And JestJack and Sonya Ann. Sitting here drinking my free leftover coffee from last night, after looking out at buried cars and more snow falling down. Just made a second payment on my budget billing for my gas heat, where last months usage went from $89 – $286. Don’t even want to imagine this months usage bill.

  7. I recommend the Mr. Money Mustache blog mrmoneymustache.com. It’s written for those who want to retire early, but has lots of great advice for anyone who wants to retire at any time. Also has forums if you have specific questions about some situation you’ve encountered. It’s a different point of view than we usually see in financial blogs, stressing independence.

    • enjoythejourney

      Eddy, I, too, have become a big fan of Mr. Money Mustache’s blog. Age-wise, my husband’s already at “standard” retirement age, but likes what he does and the people in his firm and chooses to continue to work a few more years. But, still the blog shares good info, and even when I don’t agree with it, it’s usually thought-provoking. Donna’s is as well. What I like about “Surviving…” is that while no punches are pulled — Donna says what she means — there is always an underlying kindness there.

      Taking you out of the third person, Donna, I’ve been reading you since 2010 and look forward to each new post. Thanks.

  8. I got a copy of Hunt’s book from the local public library. It’s a good read! Thanks for your blog, Ms. Freedman.

  9. I too find the MMM blog very thought-provoking and often inspiring, though the commenters sometimes strike me as very smug and somewhat naive. And all the paleo stuff is tiresome (to me).

    Although it’s not focused on retirement but on feeding and managing a large family on an incredibly tight budget, The Prudent Homemaker is a great blog for those living really close to the bone. It’s beautiful, useful, and rather uplifting. The author is an LDS homeschooling mother of seven. I am none of those things (work outside the home, never homeschooled, generally agnostic, small family), but I really adore her blog. She has such great tips on how to live creatively and economically–but also pleasurably–when money is not coming in.

  10. Lazyretirementgirl

    Another excellent free web resource is the Prudent Homemaker blog and website. It is a decidedly unhip labor of love by a mom of six or seven children which shares her strategies and tactics for feeding and clothing them on a very tight budget. Her Monday posts on the previous week’s frugal accomplishments which generally attract dozens of comments sharing the efforts of her readers, are encouraging and uplifting. The tone is encouraging and free of the self congratulatory , judgmental nonsense that mars many PF blogs — although never yours, Donna.

  11. Agree with all these comments. I love when I see one of your posts in my inbox, because they always seem very real and honest to me. Life/money seems increasingly hard for so many of us, and I appreciate the way you speak to those whose “financial planning” involves making it through the next week! Thanks!


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