‘Your Playbook For Tough Times’ is out!

YourPlaybookForToughTimes3DAfter several weeks of waiting for review blurbs and dealing with daily tech glitches, “Your Playbook For Tough Times” is finally here.

See? I really wasn’t pretending to write a book.

You can buy it as a PDF*, to be read on laptop or tablet, for $1 less than the Kindle version. Another discount is available if you purchase both a paperback and a Kindle product.

A frugal hack of a frugality book, you might say.


I decided to opt in to the “Kindle MatchBook” program, which provides a cheaper e-version of the work (in this case, $1.99) to anyone who buys the paperback. Maybe you want a physical copy for yourself; MatchBook would allow you to give a Kindle version as a frugal gift to a relative or friend. Or do it the other way around if you’re an e-reader kind of person.

Total cost would be $11.48 for the two, plus shipping for the paperback, if you’re not a member of Amazon Prime. (That link will get you a 30-day free trial.)

For those just now tuning in, “Playbook” is aimed at three groups of people:

  • Those 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, at-home parenthood and the like)

The book provides tips and resources to help you get the most from each dollar without losing your dignity or your 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 advance praise

Remember that review blurb I was waiting for a couple of weeks back? It was from consumer crusader Clark Howard. Here’s what he said:

“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.”

(Worth the wait!)

And from others:

“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. Going through tough times? This book’s for you. Worried about tough times looming on the horizon? This book’s for you, too. This book is even for you if things aren’t tough but you’re curious about sensible ways to make your money last longer. 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, NerdWallet 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)

“No one anticipates it, but for the many people without sufficient emergency savings – and that may be almost everyone – economic disaster could be just a divorce, a stretch of unemployment or an illness away. If this happens to you, you need Donna Freedman’s ‘Playbook for Tough Times.’ Not only can it help you negotiate the Byzantine world of social services, it can provide self-help ideas that you may never have thought of…Sympathetic and supportive, Donna’s book can effectively hold your hand as you inch your way back to solvency.” (Kathy Kristof, contributing editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, CBS MoneyWatch columnist and editor of KathyKristof.com)

“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)


Help me help others

And that’s not even all of the advance reviews. Which may come across as like bragging, but it’s actually the sound of self-promotion.

I’ve never liked beating my own drum. This time, however, it’s essential. Since I went with Amazon vs. trying to sell the book to a traditional publisher, the promotion is up to me. There’s no team of publicists, or even a single PR maven. No designers, no social media strategists, no nothing.

What I do have, however, are personal finance colleagues and acquaintances and, of course, my readers. Even if you don’t need the kind of advice found in “Playbook,” chances are you know someone who does. Maybe a whole lot of someones.

Got friends, relatives or coworkers who are struggling with finances or just wondering why they can’t get ahead? Or maybe they want to retire early, be at-home parents or do something else that necessitates some financial creativity.

As J.D. Roth notes above, this is a book that can help more than one group of readers. I’d appreciate help with spreading the word.

One more thing: If you do read “Playbook” and like it, please leave a short review on the Amazon landing page. It doesn’t have to be a dissertation! A single paragraph spelling out what the book taught you or how it inspired you to do things differently would suffice. (Many thanks to those who have already left reviews.)

Thanks for the supportive comments and e-mails during the process.

*When you click on the PDF link you’ll be taken to what looks like a PayPal checkout site. Which it is, but you can also use a credit card. I noticed that people were using that link but not completing their purchases; after I changed the book widget to read “credit or PayPal,” I started getting sales.

So again: You do not have to have a PayPal account to purchase this way. PayPal is merely the entity that is keeping me from having to deal with credit cards personally.

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  1. CONGRATULATIONS! That’s terrific news! I will put up my review on Amazon and on my blog in the next day or so. This is a book many need and it does offer something for everyone!

  2. Congrats!

  3. Cathy P.

    I just ordered your book and am so anticipating reading it ! I have enjoyed reading your blogs and many articles over the years!

    • Donna Freedman

      Thank you! If you enjoy the book, pretty please leave a review for both the paperback and Kindle versions. Apparently it does make a difference. (Does wonders for my ego, too.)

  4. Congratulations! Going to read it myself first and then gift to a young relative. This may just become my go-to gift for high school and college graduates. Bonus: it’s easy to mail for out-of-town gift recipients.

  5. Cathy in NJ

    Congrats:) I just ordered your book. I am definitely looking forward to reading it.

  6. Got it,will definitely review.

  7. RoInSanDiego

    I’ll be ordering and promoting it in my local cheapskate, I mean coupon club. We were a coupon club but after five years we’re pretty sure we’re a support group for really, really frugal women.

  8. Good for You!!!

    I receive notice of your new blog posts in my email. Clicked on it….oh new book!! Bought book!!!

    I’ll read the blog post this afternoon. lol

    I glanced through the pro reviews…..good job, heavy hitters there.

    However, I suspect that after reading your book…..I won’t be making any more of those spur of the moment purchases. 🙂

    (and its soo kind of you to publish this one month ahead of my new journey. I remember the youtube video…”There’s also ways a stone in every bag of beans.” Several pounds of assorted beans, rice and barley came home from Walmart yesterday. Feels like an insurance policy.)

  9. Karen in MD

    Congratulations! I’ve been looking forward to this.

  10. Perfect timing! I just ordered it. I recently gave my notice at my current job, without another one in line. Thankfully I have a very supportive spouse. I’ll definitely leave my review as soon as I finish it. Congrats Donna!

  11. Just ordered it. Can’t wait to settle in for a good reading session. Our family is finally emerging from a hard year with job changes and job loss, which brings along with the loss of health insurance (oy vey!), so this is a subject I can really appreciate.

    • Donna Freedman

      Oh boy…Please weigh in every so often to update us on your progress.

      • Our progress has been to the point that we feel stable again, for which I am so thankful.

        The book is wonderful and has so much great information in it. As I was reading it and nodding my head because “yes, that’s what we did/are doing,” I realized that “tough times” are no longer an isolated event. They’re pretty much like a fifth season, like hurricane season, and it’s something one really has to prepare for.

        • Donna Freedman

          “A fifth season” — I like that. They say nothing is certain except death and taxes. I would say that nothing is certain except uncertainty, i.e., we can never be sure things won’t go south.

          Not that I live in constant dread, but rather with the awareness that if life gets interesting then I’ve done what I can to prepare for it.

          Thanks for your kind words. When you get a moment, could you leave a short review on Amazon? Thanks in advance for that, too.

          • Just did! The account is under my Mister’s name, but you will recognize the review because it’s an expanded version of my reply to you.

  12. Congratulations Donna! I am sharing this with everyone I know.

  13. Gailbon

    Congratulations! I will also share with everyone I know. I have been a lurker here for years, and love your practical, no-nonsense, (but compassionate!) approach to surviving tough times. Thank you!

  14. Very excited to see that your book is out-will buy and review. Is there also a second book in the works?

    • Donna Freedman

      Yes, there is. The original book was so long that some industry folks advised me to cut it in half. Also thinking about a third one that focuses only on food hackery.

      • The food hackery one could include a chapter on senior food hackery, perhaps. Senior discounts are rarely volunteered, but now that I am 60, I am trying to remember to ask:).

        • Donna Freedman

          The first Tuesday of every month is “Senior Tuesday” at a regional supermarket chain: 10 percent off store-brand products. DF and I are there every month.

  15. Catseye

    Congrats to you, Donna! I think I’ll use an Amazon GC that I won in a drawing to buy your book. Now is that frugal or what? ;o)

  16. Congratulations, Donna. I will look for it on Amazon, and will consider the Kindle package (my brother likes Kindle and he also really likes saving money). Once I read it, I’ll leave a review on Amazon.

    PR: are there PF-oriented clubs you could reach somehow? Maybe by creating a page or two of discussion points for book clubs, or some other type of hand-out that would help club members use the book? How does one reach book or PF clubs? Perhaps by offering a copy to libraries in large cities? I know publishers used to send out advance reading copies of books to reviewers, and for this type of book, college career planning offices sound like a good place to “review” this type of book.

    Best of luck with the first and other volumes.

    • Donna Freedman

      Thanks, Amber. If you want to be super-supportive, please buy it through the links in the article or from the widget on my site — that way, I get a small affiliate fee for sending the sale.

      And yeah, I’m looking at delivering talks and such. My prospects are somewhat limited because I’m so far away from the Lower 48, but I am contacting local groups to start.

      • Yes, I’ll use the site widget. Especially because it’s a widget.

        Does Amazon not track interest groups on its book site? Or am I not remembering right? Some people post lists. You, me, and many others ought to list PF books that we found/find useful.

        Also, it seems to me that PF is extremely popular among women, so maybe women’s groups would be a source of interest for your book.

        I’m trying to understand how an author can do her own promotion without the tools of traditional PR or marketing. But then, I’m also mystified about how any book can be promoted, even with a marketing dept. I suspect that everyone is trying to figure it out, because I still see authors doing signings, readings, and publishers still send out review copies, but I wonder what the return really is. I gather that publishers don’t know how to make book sales increase, nor how to predict print runs.

        I would think that a “how to” book would benefit more from a “how to” presentation. “Bring your finance fear or problem, and join others in tackling it” sort of experience. But that would be a lot of time and travel for the author.

        Would it help for the book to have its own web site? And a place for people to log their reactions to the book, or a page where they could say which finance difficulty they solved with it? More interactive. But that would require a moderator or mgr, probably. Oh well. I will keep trying to figure out modern media.

        • Donna Freedman

          I don’t know that anyone has figured out modern media.

          The book (and subsequent books) will need a website. I’ve bought the domain but now have to make building a website a priority. Hard to do right this second while I’m guest-posting and otherwise stumping but it will likely happen soon.

          Right now trying to craft the right response to a Major Journalist who asked — as he should! — what about this book is different/new than any of the other PF books out there. The fact that MJ answered my pitch in the first place was gratifying; now I have to give exactly the right answer or it’ll be “thanks but no thanks.”

          Wish me luck.


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