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.