Male and Female deer at sunset

A Journey to Better Finances through Frugal Living and Investing

The key to better finances is a simple concept…spend less than you make, then put your extra money to work making more.

The fact that it’s simple, though, doesn’t make it easy.

You have to make the right choices and make them consistently.  You have to experiment and try new things. Some of them may not work, but some of them will.

My husband Jon and I have been working hard to make our finances better through a combination of frugal living and investing, which allows us to live a semi-retired life. I work seasonally, Jon manages and maintains rental properties. We do what we can to keep our expenses low but still have fun.

Some of the things we do work better than others. Since July 2015,  we’ve shared our experiments in frugal living and semi-retirement whether they work or not. (We actually prefer some of the stories where things didn’t work…they tend to be funnier.)

Join us as we travel through grocery store temptations, DIY adventures and misadventures, real estate dilemmas and stock market ups and downs. We’ll tell you all about our attempts to raise a financially literate kid (we only have one, who we refer to here as Little Bit.) And we’ll ask your advice because we’re still figuring out how to make our dollars stretch more and work harder.

A Little More About Us


emily jividen headshotEmily Jividen does the majority of the writing, editing, and assorted other blogging jobs around here.

She spent a bunch of years with a used book company doing lots of different things.. Then she spent 2 years in banking working with financial statements and tax returns. Now Emily spends her winter months preparing tax returns. The rest of the year, she volunteers at her daughter’s school and stays busy with plenty of projects and hobbies.

Emily reads a bunch of genre fiction (especially sci fi and historical mysteries) with a sprinkling of history and sociology. She likes taking classes in various things and thinks the best days include a little swimming or a long walk. Much to the surprise of her inner ten-year-old tomboy, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and knitting. And also video games, something the inner tomboy thoroughly approves.

She has a BA in Politics from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Meredith College and spent time in the Ph.D. program in political science at Vanderbilt. You can contact her at emily at





Jon Headshot2Jon Jividen writes the occasional article, mostly on manly things like making your car last longer. He’s still trying to figure out how to work aliens and Sasquatch sightings into a personal finance blog.

In 2005, Jon went to work for one of the world’s largest financial services companies as a financial planner and adviser. There he wore many hats, helping people with their investment, financial planning, and insurance needs.

Before this, he was on an academic track, graduating with a BA from North Carolina State University, an MBA from East Carolina University, and the CFP program at Duke University. He also spent a year in the Finance Ph.D. program at the University of Central Florida, where he taught Investments during the spring of 2000 during the bursting of the Dot.Com Bubble.

Jon has also worked for a credit union as an administrative officer handling member information requests and loans; and a manufacturing company forecasting commodity prices. He believes his experience and education have helped him to become a “reasonable investor.” “My head may be in the clouds, but my feet are firmly on the ground.” He is also a gearhead and an enthusiastic sailor.  You can contact him at jon at



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