Get Rich Slowly started as a place for J.D. to write about money. Over the past five years, it’s grown beyond that. It’s now a multi-author blog. This week, each of the authors will share a brief bio to give readers a little background. Enjoy!

Donna FreedmanI was raised with relatively little information about finances. Here’s the attitude I saw modeled all around me: Work hard, live frugally, pay the bills and if there’s any left over then bank it. Bank, not invest. Most of my life I held the attitude of “just try to balance the books.” I never thought “How can I make more money?” or “How can I ensure my financial security?”

I knew how to make money stretch, but I didn’t know how to make it grow. Yet this skill came in pretty handy several times in my life:

  • At age 16, when I started running the house on a shoestring (my parents split up and I lived with my dad and brother)
  • At age 20, when I was a single mom in Philly
  • In my late 40s, when I filed for divorce and went back to school (more about that in my GRS Reader Story)

Frugality completely changed the course of my life in 2007. That’s when I started writing for MSN Money — first as a freelancer, then as one of the founding writers of the Smart Spending blog and eventually as the Living With Less personal-finance columnist.

Frugality informs but does not define my personal website, Surviving and Thriving. Since May 2010 I’ve operated this page as a kind of playground for words. I write what I hope are useful and substantive pieces, but I also have done essays about my personal encounters with Dr. Demento, Sarah Palin, and the man who invented “Xena, Warrior Princess.”

Like I said: playground.

These days, my goal is to save where I can so I can spend where I want. Mostly that’s financial help for family members (and some complete strangers) and travel (by the end of 2010 I will have made eight trips).

I recently turned 53 and have to say that I have never been happier. My life has been a pretty interesting ride — and it ain’t over yet. Here are a few more random personal facts:

  • I learned to read when I was either three or four. (No one taught me. Apparently I just watched my sisters and figured it out on my own.)
  • I own a scrub-board, and I know how to use it. (For laundry, not for music.)
  • Some of my previous jobs: tomato-picker, glass-factory worker, babysitter, doughnut seller, housecleaner, typesetter, newspaper journalist.
  • While living in Alaska I drove a city bus in a “Roadeo” and a dogsled in a media mushing competition.
  • In the same night, I held hands with both the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his son, Illinois state Sen. Jesse Jackson Jr.
  • I make pumpkin pie from scratch.
  • My degree, begun in 1976 and finished in 2009, is in “the Comparative History of Ideas” – a major peculiar to the University of Washington (it was as close as I could get to majoring in Interesting Stuff)
  • I can change a fill valve in a toilet.
  • I was once on “Jeopardy!”

Finally, here a few links to pieces that might give you an idea of just how big a playground I find words to be:

I’m looking forward to checking out the Get Rich Slowly playground. J.D. has already let me use the word “poo” in a post that also referenced opera, Picasso, and the visual arts. This bodes well. It also suggests that J.D. was never a recess monitor.

J.D.’s note: I’ve admired Donna’s writing ever since I read her original piece about surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year in 2007. I think she’s hilarious, and I’m glad to have her aboard at GRS. Some of her past articles here include Why I Fought to Save $3 (and Why You Should Too) and Unemployed? Underemployed? Here’s How to Get Help.

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, GE Capital Bank, and more.