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YourPlaybookForToughTimes3DYour Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul

This one’s mine! It’s aimed at three groups of people:

Those who are currently experiencing hardship

Those anticipating tough times (e.g., family illness, impending layoffs)

Those who want to live lean to realize a dream (entrepreneurship, early retirement, et al.)

“Playbook” provides tips and resources to help consumers get the most of each dollar without losing their dignity or their hope for the future. It’s designed to help you live your best life on the money you have while working to improve your finances.

These aren’t simplistic tips like “Just cut one latte a day” or “Wash and reuse plastic bags,” but rather solid, actionable advice, resources and encouragement. Readers will take away specific tactics to slash the cost of housing, health care, shopping, utilities, clothing and entertainment.


Some reviews:

“Donna writes with a laser-sharp focus on strategies that will help you through tough times. Unlike most personal finance books, her money-saving tips aren’t meant to be cute; they’re real strategies based on tough times she’s successfully overcome in her own life. Donna’s advice can inspire hope if you feel that you’ve reached a personal or financial dead end.” – Clark Howard, personal finance author and nationally syndicated radio host

“Frugality is not a dirty word – it’s a lifesaver. And who better to teach you than Donna Freedman? She’s been where you are now, she understands what you’re going through and best of all, she knows the way out. Deciding to read this book could be that one decision that stands between you and a totally different life.” – Mary Hunt, creator of Debt-Proof Living and Everyday Cheapskate and author of more than three dozen personal finance books)

“This is an essential manual for anyone aiming to live large on a small budget. … One of a small number of books that has earned a permanent place on my reference shelf.” – J.D. Roth, founder of Get Rich Slowly and Money Boss and author of “Your Money: The Missing Manual”

“Unlike a lot of people writing about personal finance, Donna Freedman knows first-hand what it’s like to be broke. She knows how to survive tough times, to live well on less and to create a good life even when bad things happen. Donna imparts all this wisdom with empathy and compassion – along with the occasional kick in the butt. She’s also one of the funniest people you’ll ever have the pleasure of reading, so get started already!” – Liz Weston, personal finance columnist and author of “The 10 Commandments Of Money,” “Deal With Your Debt,” “Easy Money” and “Your Credit Score: How to Improve the 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future”

“A clear, concise and complete guide that will help you change your life. As someone with more than 30 years in the financial planning and personal finance writing fields, I can attest that you won’t find a better step-by-step guide anywhere.” – Gary Foreman, The Dollar Stretcher

“The great thing about ‘Your Playbook For Tough Times’ is that it’s not just advice to use when the going gets tough. It’s advice that, when followed, will keep you from experiencing tough times in the first place. This should be required reading for everyone, whether starting out or starting over.” – Stacy Johnson, Money Talks News

Buy the paperback or Kindle at the link above, or get the PDF ($1 cheaper than the Kindle) from this link. E-mail me at SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com to see if any discount codes are available (I like to reward people with initiative).

And stay tuned: “Your Playbook For Tough Times, Vol. 2: Needs And Wants Edition” is on the way.


For those whose lives aren’t typical


FrugalityforDepressives_250Frugality For Depressives: Money-Saving Tips For Those Who Find Life A Little Harder,” by Abigail Perry (my daughter)

During her post-illness years of poverty and struggle, Abby looked for money advice but couldn’t find anything that worked. Personal finance blogs were popping up like mushrooms after a rain but they all said the same stuff over and over, such as:

“Drink one less coffee a day and you’ll retire rich!” (Many days Abby was too sick to leave her apartment – and she doesn’t like coffee anyway.

“Get a second job to help pay off debt!” (Depressives with chronic fatigue sometimes can’t even get a first job, let alone a second one.)

“All those toys you bought during the good times? Put them on Craigslist and watch your fortunes rise!” (It took her a year and a half to save up enough rewards points to get herself a basic MP3 player. Toys R Not)

She often saw a phrase I’ve come to loathe: “If I can do it, anyone can.” Gah. Basic money hacks do work for a lot of people, but they don’t work for everyone.

Abby tried – oh, how she tried. “Each failure drove the shame and despair deeper. Each new twist focused my mind on my inability to be the good frugal girl I was raised to be.”

Since she couldn’t become a perfect frugalist, Abby decided to hack the hacks. That is, she took the typical PF tenets and rewrote them until they worked for her. “Typical” doesn’t work for someone who’s not typical.

She also started her blog, I Pick Up Pennies, and over time has built an audience not just of fellow depressives and the chronically ill, but also of people who find help and inspiration in what she calls “imperfect frugality.”

Now that hard-won knowledge is now available in book form. “Frugality for Depressives” can help those with illnesses but also anyone whose life doesn’t fit neatly into the do this/don’t do that binary.

Not that she’s letting herself off the hook. Abby still watches her spending, shops as intentionally as possible and even has small (but earnest!) retirement accounts for herself and her husband (who is also chronically ill).

She examines the ABCs of PF with the eye of a survivor, the compassion of a therapist, and the bullshit detector of a fellow traveler who knows what it’s like to hear the siren call of, “Your life is so hard – you deserve that [whatever-it-is].”

Yet the book doesn’t scold or even goad: It leads and it encourages. That didn’t work? Try it this way. Overwhelmed physically and emotionally? Break down this frugal hack into these steps and do one a day if that’s what you need. Be kind to yourself, but remember that means thinking about Future You as well as the part of you that really wants to buy those gazingus pins.

And those of you who come out in hives at the sight of a spreadsheet are gonna love her advice on budgeting: “Don’t.” (But of course it’s not that simple. She provides other options for corralling those dollars.)

According to personal finance author and columnist Liz Weston, the issue of personal finance and depression has never been addressed in book form.

“This is a one-of-a-kind book produced by a one-of-a-kind author. As a depressive with chronic fatigue, Abigail Perry didn’t just research her subject – she lived it. She got tired of being scolded by finance experts whose advice simply didn’t apply to her situation,” Weston says.

“Through trial and error Perry developed realistic workarounds both for daily living and long-term goals. Her brand of ‘imperfect frugality’ can help you cut through exhaustion, shame and fear to build a life that works.”

Buy it in paperback or Kindle at the link above, or as a PDF directly from the author.


A story for all ages

woofiescoverA friend has written a young-adult novel set in Alaska and I’ve agreed to help promote it. The subject: “An ordinary weregirl in Denali Park.”

This is no bipedal werewolf from the movies, however. Once every month or so Albertina Alvarez turns into a four-legged lupine, a curse she inherited from her mom’s side of the family.

Al isn’t sure it’s actually a curse — that is, once she gets used to roaming through the wilderness in the company of other wolves.

Initially, though, it felt like the end of the world. For her own safety she had to leave her elite private school in Southern California and travel with her mother and brother to Denali National Park, where her grandfather runs a lodge with a rather exclusive clientele.

All of them, in fact, are “woofies” — the word that the younger generation of loups-garou uses. (Their elders don’t call themselves that — and they certainly never use the other W word.)

You won’t find any sparkly vampires or girls who moon over (so to speak) unattainable boyfriends in “Woofies: Werefolk in Alaska.” Al is 13 and a lot more attuned to running track than chasing dudes. She’s such an excellent runner that her California coach thinks she can get a full scholarship to college.

But that dream dies when Al moves to the tiny village of Chulitna, where the only sport is basketball. She can’t shoot hoops so she doesn’t fit in. Al is miserable, missing her dad (who stayed in California to keep working) and feeling guilty that her mom has had to give up her career in pharmaceutical sales to make beds and wash dishes.

The only time she doesn’t feel completely disenfranchised is when she’s transformed.

Now she was running full out, the terrain gliding by in an exhilarating blur, front paws stretching out in front of her, hind legs reaching out behind her tail, her back springing up and down in a smooth bounce, whipping her forward like a bullet, blood rushing through her veins like a drum beating out the command: “Run! Run! Run!”

… A thrill surged through her as she left the lights of the lodge. Her feet could feel every detail of the frozen ground, but the sharp sticks and rocks and ice caused no discomfort. … The hours wore on, but she wasn’t aware of them. Time was different. It didn’t have anything to do with a clock, calendars, schedules, school, homework or housework. All were distant memories, dimly remembered dreams, stories heard long ago.

When a scientist announces he has a cure for the condition — that she has a shot at being “normal” — Al isn’t interested. “What is ‘normal’?” she asks herself. “What if being woofie is what’s normal for me?”

As is the case with many young-adult novels, the story is engaging enough to hold an adult’s interest. Got a friend obsessed with wolves, werewolves or Alaska? “Woofies” would make a great gift.

And, of course, it’s a swell choice for anyone — young or old — who’s ever felt at odds with the world yet resists the pressure to conform.

You can purchase the paperback on Amazon for $8.99. Or you can download the Kindle version for just $2.99. Hunt well!

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