Class Year: 2001
Major at MC: Double Major: Art and Writing/Communications
Senior Thesis Title/Topic: “Picture Books: More Than Just Pictures and Words”
Current Town/City of Residence: Maryville, TN
Occupation: Frugal Living Expert
Family: Husband, Aaron Huffstetler; daughters, Emily (10) and Lauren (8)
Q: Describe your career path since graduating from MC.
A: When my oldest daughter was born in 2002, I decided to give freelance writing a shot. As soon as we brought her home from the hospital, I started sending query letters out to magazines. It’s a tough business to break into, and I racked up plenty of rejection letters in the beginning, but I finally got my first acceptance letter, and it was from a national magazine!
After that article ran, editors took me more seriously, and I made more sales – mostly to parenting magazines and websites.
I soon realized that frugal living was my niche (I was always writing about some way or another to save money), and I threw myself into the topic. Over the next few years, I wrote hundreds of articles on the subject.
Then, in 2007, the New York Times announced that they were looking for an expert to write their Frugal Living topic on About.com (frugalliving.about.com). I applied, and got the job! Since then, I’ve written thousands of articles for the site, and have built it into the number one frugal living website in the world!
In 2012, I also launched my own website, myfrugalhome.com.
Q: Describe your job or a typical day “in the office.”
A: With two websites, writing is a big part of my day, but I squeeze in lots of other activities, too. If you were to drop by my office, you might find me testing a new recipe, doing a radio or magazine interview, shooting photographs for an upcoming article or designing a new craft project. Every day is a bit different, but it’s always an adventure.
Q: What has been your most exciting/enjoyable professional experience to date?
A: Being named one of the Top 10 Savings Experts by Savings.com.
Q: How do you define a “good deal”?
A: A good deal is getting something that you need at a great price, so you can afford to put money towards the things that you want most in life.
Q: How did your MC experience prepare you for your vocation and/or life?
A: I had to memorize the list of subordinating conjunctions for one of my grammar classes. Because of that exercise, you’ll never see a run on sentence in one of my articles.
Q: Since graduating from MC, what has made you the most proud?
A: I’m proud of my career, but I’m especially proud of my marriage. Too many kids grow up without an example of what a good marriage is. I’m glad that my husband and I have been able to show our kids what it’s all about.
Q: What are your hobbies? What do you do for fun?
A: A few years ago, I put together a list of the longest yard sales in the U.S. I’ve now attended seven of them, and I’m working my way through the rest of the list.
Q: Professionally or personally, what’s still on your “bucket list”?
A: I want to launch a website that teaches kids about smart money management and all of those frugal skills, like sewing and gardening, that don’t seem to get passed down any more. I hope to have that off of my bucket list by this summer.
Q: Complete this sentence: I’m glad Maryville College still has:
A: the Senior Thesis requirement. It may be a grueling experience when you’re in the middle of it, but it’s amazing when you have a finished thesis in your hands, and realize you’ve basically written a book.
Q: Complete this sentence: My classmates may be surprised to learn that I …
A: ...work out in a tree house whenever the weather is nice.