A large Queen Anne-style house with a distinctive witch’s hat tower something like this is the headquarters for Cassia’s extended family in my new novel, What’s Left. If only this one were pink, like hers.

In my new novel, What’s Left, the family’s nest egg was built by living on one income – in a single household – while everyone worked at the restaurant. The surplus went into savings and investments. Once the kids come along, their earnings also go in the pooled income, to be drawn out for college or marriage. Over time, as the family grows, the house has parents, grandparents, kids, aunts, uncles, and cousins. What a circus!

As for pocket money? Take it from the till? Some places, yes. And some places, no.

They’re about to start over, in a way, when Cassia’s father-to-be shows up.

The crucial decision in purchasing the store they elevated into the Hoosier Dog House was whether Ari would join in with his brother Perry, whose wife Dida was navigating the deal. If he did, his wife Athina – Dida’s sister – would be included. And that would mean four of them living and working together, even before their children were on board.

Here’s a detail I cut from the final version:

Yiayia Dida’s most likely to be at the store weekdays when the kids are in school. Often, just her and her sister running the operation, while their husbands take over evenings and weekends.


The point comes through all the same. If you want to build a nest egg, you must either increase your income or reduce your spending. Cassia’s great-grandparents do both at once.

Now that our kids are off on their own, my wife and I are pondering what we might do to make better use of the big house we have. Do we welcome others to dwell with us and share the expenses? Do we downsize altogether?

Are there ways you could see pooling resources would work in today’s economy? Do you see anyone setting an example?

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