Playbook for Tough Times Vol. 2 – Needs and Wants

Good morning all, and happy weekend! It’s the start of the Fourth of July weekend for those of my readers in the US, and I hope you have something fun planned. For my readers not in the US, the fourth of July is our independence day celebration, and you can learn more about it here.

To kick off Independence Day weekend, I’m here to review a book that will help you reach your own independence day faster – the Playbook for Tough Times Volume 2, by Donna Freedman.

Note – The link to the book is an affiliate link. If you buy the book, I’ll receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting the site!

Wait a minute, how would a playbook for tough times help you in your independence day? Lets explore. And be sure to stay tuned to the end for another giveaway!

First, A Bit About Donna

I’ve known about Donna Freedman for years, so I was really excited when she reached out to me about this new book. Anyone who has spent a lot of time in the personal finance blogosphere or media for some years will know who she is too.

She was a staff writer for MSN Money and Get Rich Slowly, which is where I was first introduced to her work. Nowadays she’s a freelancer, a writer for Money Talks News, and she currently lives up in Alaska. She’s written several books, including the original Playbook for Tough Times, and this second volume.

How Preparing for Tough Times Can Bring Freedom

People often get the wrong idea about frugality and being intentional about your spending decisions. They see someone who doesn’t go out to eat, or who doesn’t buy the latest car/phone/toy/etc. and thinks that they must be suffering because of their frugal choices. Saving money is considered a big sacrifice – almost like a diet, where you need to suffer (hopefully temporarily) and then you can go right back to your old habits.

But those of us pursuing financial freedom and financial independence know better. Frugal choices and intentional spending help us to reach our goals faster. And we’re one of the audiences for Donna’s latest book, the Playbook For Tough Times Volume 2 – Needs and Wants edition. Frugal life hacks on the needs and wants in your life can help you to reach your financial goals faster, and can also be a lifesaver when things get difficult.

How did Donna come up with so many frugal life hacks? She’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt – and now she wants to share it with you.

Where Can You Save Money? The Better Question Is, Where Can’t You?

Opportunities to save money on everyday items and activities are all around you. Almost everything you currently spend money on can be reduced or eliminated. Just check out all the different topics Donna covers in her book below!

Looking to save money on food? Not only does Donna have tips to save at the supermarket, but the e-book is full of links to some great free resources online to create great meals for less. There’s even a creative tip to do “goal oriented grocery shopping”, where you write your goal on the top of your grocery list, so you can keep it in mind when you’re tempted to buy all the yummy things in the store.

Worried about losing your job, or looking to further your education? There’s a bunch of great resources you can use after a layoff, or to get additional education for free (or nearly so).

Looking for things to do? Check out the chapter on inexpensive transportation and frugal vacation choices. Or maybe the chapter on celebrations without breaking the bank is more your style. The bottom line is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a lot of fun.

Want to refresh your house/apartment, but short on funds? Check out the chapter full of ideas on how to improve your hearth and home on the cheap. In fact, there’s an entire section on creating a zero dollar home makeover – it’s amazing what a bit of cleaning, re-arranging, and re-purposing can do to freshen up your home.

Have a wonderful dog or cat, and looking to care for them at a lower cost? There’s a ton of ways to do that – from finding less expensive vet care, to buying pet products and toys used, and buying in bulk. Heck I get all our dog and cat food from BJ’s. Not only does it last a long time, but it’s much less expensive than buying the food every week at Target.

Frugality Is All Around You

One of my favorite sections of the book was around developing your “frugal eyes”. I’ve noticed this same phenomenon myself – once you’re focused on trying to find things to do or to purchase for less, you see those opportunities all around you. Before you had this mindset, you probably looked right past these chances to have fun for less.

What’s an example? Well, this summer my town has a variety of library activities going on. As long time readers know, I love the library, so it’s probably no surprise that we’re going to spend time there in the summer. Just the other day, they had a kick off event that my husband took our middle son to (oldest was in boy scout camp for the week, little guy had a fever). It was a gaming event where the kids got to play all kind of silly games, like knocking over toilet paper tubes with marbles, stacking pennies as high as you could with one hand, bouncing balloons, and other such fun and silly things.

They came home with a big bag of prizes, ranging from a small telescope to an alien to a little pad of paper. Total cost? Zero dollars. Free-99, my favorite price! And bonus, my middle son had a blast all evening running around the library playing these fun little games.

If I didn’t have my “frugal eyes” open, I probably would have missed the form with the dates on it, or the fact that you needed to pre-register, or might not have stopped by the library at all. Instead, because I’m always on the lookout for free family fun, I make sure to pay attention to activities at the library and write them on the calendar.


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9 thoughts on “Playbook for Tough Times Vol. 2 – Needs and Wants”

  1. Every first Saturday of the month, Goodwill runs a sale where everything in the store is 50% off. I can get some new clothes for my toddler or replace the dishes she’s broken in the past month for almost nothing.

  2. I keep a bucket in the bathroom and collect some water while I’m showering to water our house plants and back porch container garden. Our washing machine also drains into a utility sink, so I’ll collect water there to water the plants. We use very mild soaps and detergents, so it doesn’t harm the plants (or us!).

    1. I forgot to tie this together by saying that by collecting water that’s already being used, I’m not paying for (1) new water coming out of the faucet or (2) used water going down the drain.

      1. I use vinegar in my washing machine’s rinse cycle as a fabric softener. This works amazingly well and no lingering smell. And it also solved the problem with my daughter’s skin sensitivities to fragrances/dyes. While white vinegar is generally a good bargain when you buy the store brand, I was able to find a bulk amount at a restaurant supply store for a fraction of the cost. This lasts us almost 6 months and can be used for other cleaning purposes, as well.

  3. AdventureRich

    This may not be my best or all time favorite money saving tip, but with the warm weather and relaxed feel of summer, Mr. Adventure Rich and I enjoy getting out and enjoying our area. Its amazing how much you can do for free if you just look around! Walk on the beach? Free. Volleyball at the local sand courts? Free. Canoe the local rivers/lakes? Free (with recent Craigslist canoe purchase…). Cold beer at a bar? $2 on “$2 Tuesdays” 🙂

  4. I never thought of writing a goal on my shopping list, that is a great idea. Calculating your total before you get to the register helps too. When my husband and I do eat out, we choose restaurants that we can use the leftovers to make something out of the next day. We are pretty good at Thai and Indian fried rice. Or curry soups.

    1. Hey Barbara: The trick isn’t just to write the goal once, but to write it (or to write more than one goal) THROUGHOUT the shopping list. (Pro tip: Use a black Sharpie that you can’t easily scribble over.)

      Canned tomatoes

      And so on. If you have just one overriding goal, seeing it two or three (or more) times in a single list might help you avoid buying the extra treats that look/smell SO GOOD at the moment.

      But when you think of that $4.99 package of store-baked chocolate chip cookies in terms of opportunity cost — specifically, in terms of “that’s $5 that I could put into my EF and stay on target for meeting that goal” — maybe they won’t look *quite* as good.

      Incidentally, there’s a chapter on my first book on “stealth savings” — creative and (mostly) painless ways to save an EF, or to save for a different goal, even if you’re on a tight budget. In the second book I offer to send that chapter for free to anyone who’s interested. That’s because I really, really believe in EFs.

      Anyone who wants it can e-mail me at SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com and I’ll send it along. Seriously: It’s free.

  5. One of my current favorite money saving tips is to shop for books at thrift stores and dollar stores. Borrowing from the library doesn’t always work for me. The last time I borrowed a library book, I realized that it was due in a couple of days. I rushed to finish the book to avoid paying a fine and it ruined the story for me. When I buy books, I can enjoy them at my own pace, then donate them to the main library for book sales. Then I claim them as charitable donations at tax time.

  6. Transfer your savings to a savings account at once, before they are spent. For example, let’s say one plans a menu around loss leader sales at the grocery store and saves $20. Transfer that amount to a savings or investment account before it dribbles away. One can also use it to make extra credit card payments.

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