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Get Rich Slowly turns 10! Celebrating our first decade

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11-September 07

Posted 15 April 2016 - 04:55 AM

This article is by J.D. Roth. Posted Image

My name is J.D. Roth. Ten years ago today, I started a little blog about money. This blog, in fact.

When I started Get Rich Slowly, I had no idea what it would become. Just a year earlier, I had summarized all the best advice from the personal-finance books I’d been reading into a single article for my personal site. It’s when I first began to recognize that all the books had a common thread:

“There’s no reliable way to get rich quickly …
… but there is a way to get rich slowly.”

That post proved popular. But a year later, I was still searching for a way to earn money on the side to help me dig out of debt. I decided that maybe I could earn a few bucks by writing about saving and investing. I actually thought mine would be the first personal-finance blog on the Internet! (Ha — little did I know! There were already dozens — dozens! — of other money blogs out there.)

On April 15, 2006, I launched Get Rich Slowly.

The early years at Get Rich Slowly (2006 to 2008)
Get Rich Slowly was successful from the start. For whatever reason, the stuff I wrote resonated with readers. They shared the site with their friends and family. Within a few months, I had several thousand readers. Within a year, that number was closer to 20,000. I was shocked. And grateful.

Those early days of GRS were a hell of a lot of fun. I was figuring this money stuff out in real time, and writing about my successes (and, yes, my failures) as they happened. I did some stupid, stupid stuff — but as time went on, I got a lot better at managing my money.

Needless to say, writing about smart money management every day — for 1,000 days — produces a lot of articles! But when we looked, we found that certain articles stood out as particularly popular — I think because they were particularly helpful. Anyway, here are some highlights from the first three years of the site:

In praise of the debt snowball

  • September 28, 2006
  • When I started Get Rich Slowly, I had over $35,000 in consumer debt. I lived paycheck to paycheck on a salary of over $50,000 per year. Basically, I was your typical American consumer. To get out of debt, I used Dave Ramsey’s version of the debt snowball. A lot of folks want to complain that using this method is based on bad math, but so what? If math were the issue, I wouldn’t have been in debt — and neither would many other people. The debt snowball works, and that’s why I love it.

Are index funds the best investment?</p>
  • January 24, 2007
  • At first, I was a bad investor. In fact, I was a gambler, not an investor. I took chances on random stocks in the hopes they’d shoot through the roof. Reading and writing about money quickly taught me that pros like Warren Buffett (and many more) actually endorse a simple investment strategy for average folks like you and me. For us, putting our savings into indexed mutual funds is the most reliable long-term investment. This article was when I started catching a clue about index funds.

Which online high-yield savings account and money market account is best?</p>
  • March 21, 2007
  • As I started learning smart money habits, I realized it was dumb for me to leave my money in a big national bank that paid me no interest. But where should I save my money instead? To find out, I polled GRS readers. Whoa! Who knew this simple question would create such a huge response? Readers left over 1700 comments with suggestions about where to get the most bang for my buck.

Free at last! Saying good-bye to 20 years of debt</p>
  • December 3, 2007
  • It took a lot of time and effort, but my new habits finally paid off. Three years after starting my quest, I wrote a check for the last of my consumer debt. From here, I could start building future wealth instead of repaying past folly.

A real millionaire next door</p>
  • May 13, 2008
  • I used to live next door to an old guy named John. John was a retired shop teacher who had managed to build big wealth on a small salary. Now, in his 70s, he spent part of the year working on farms in New Zealand, part of the year on an Alaskan fishing boat, and part of the year puttering around his home in Portland. Later, I decided to interview him about what led to his financial success.

You can’t always get what you want</p>
  • November 24, 2008
  • Notes from a conversation with my cousin: It’s okay to have something in your life that you hate. And it’s okay to have something you want. It’s natural. The problem is that once you get that thing, you’re just going to hate something else, you’re just going to want something more. It’s not want that’s the problem, but the habit of constantly satisfying wants.
So much happened in my life during these years, both good and bad. It seems odd to summarize that entire period in just six posts, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. (If you want to read more, check out the archives.)

Posted Image</p>
The philosophical years at Get Rich Slowly (2009 to 2012)
While the early, heady years of GRS were care-free and fun, running the site eventually became work. A lot of work. Plus, all sorts of stuff was going on behind the scenes in my personal life. My best friend committed suicide. I was unhappy in my marriage. I struggled with my weight. It was all too much.

In early 2009, I decided to listen to the offers from people who wanted to buy Get Rich Slowly. Shortly after the site’s third anniversary, I agreed to sell it.

When I sold, I became financially independent. (I was already on a path toward financial independence — or “FI,” as we say — but the sale helped me leap ahead several years.) My plan was simply to walk away and be done with writing about money. Turns out, I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

You see, I love the GRS community. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to continue answering emails, sharing reader questions and stories, and documenting what I was learning about money. Instead of walking away, I stuck around for another three years as editor and primary writer.

During that time, we brought in other writers to help me manage the workload. I was always amazed at how each new voice added another dimension to the site. And our content changed in yet another way because I was becoming much more philosophical about money at this time.

I had always stressed the importance of psychology; but as my financial philosophy matured, I became even more convinced that smart money management was all about mindset, not math. The math is easy. It’s the emotional stuff that’s tough. Some of the best articles from this era of GRS really get to the heart of these issues, and I hope that what I learned will be helpful to others, too. They still mean a lot to me. Here they are:

The razor’s edge: Lessons in true wealth

  • January 18, 2009
  • This is perhaps the most important article I ever wrote for Get Rich Slowly, although most people would never know it. In early 2009, my best friend took his own life. It had a profound impact on me. Here I wrote about what I learned from Sparky’s life — and his death.
How to negotiate your salary</p>
  • May 6, 2009
  • I don’t think people spend enough time looking for ways to boost their income. Learning how to negotiate your salary is one of the best ways to improve your financial well-being.

Understanding the federal budget and The truth about taxes</p>
  • August 24, 2009
  • We cannot have informed discussions about taxes and government spending if we don’t have the baseline information. Because my own education on this subject was weak, and because I wanted GRS readers to be informed, I spent 12 hours researching a variety of tax topics. These two articles record my attempts to provide that baseline information.

The paradox of choice and the dangers of perfection</p>
  • October 22, 2009
  • While it’s true that some choice is a good thing, too much is not. It’s easy to pick the best option from a pool of three, but it’s difficult to find the perfect choice in a pool of 30. “Perfect” is a moving target. It’s better to make a solid decision today than a perfect decision next week.

The rewards of frugality and thrift (or why we scrimp and save)</p>
  • June 29, 2010
  • I write about thrift and frugality a lot, but it’s only because I recognize their value in helping me obtain my goals.

Action not words: The difference between talkers and doers</p>
  • August 30, 2010
  • If there’s something you want to be or do, the best way to become that thing is to actually take steps toward it, to move in that direction. Don’t just talk about it, but do something. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just take a small step in the right direction every single day.

Earning, spending, and saving: The building blocks of personal finance</p>
  • April 4, 2011
  • This article shares a subtle re-structuring in the way I view personal finance. Subtle, but important.

America’s love-hate relationship with wealth</p>
  • November 14, 2011
  • While writing about money, I’ve noticed that people in general (and Americans in particular) have a complex love-hate relationship with wealth. People want to be rich — but they’re suspicious of those who already are. Why is that? How can we learn to be happy for the financial success of others?

A place of my own</p>
  • January 16, 2012
  • The toughest blog post I’ve ever had to write: After months of hinting at things, I revealed that my wife and I were getting a divorce, and that I’d moved into an apartment of my own. This post explored some of the implications of that decision. (For the record: Kris and I continue to maintain our friendship.)

In recent years at Get Rich Slowly…
Eventually, after three years of lingering at GRS, I reached the point where I was willing to cut the cord. I gradually reduced my involvement until I was ready to walk away. I eased myself out of the site and into the life I’d been hoping to pursue.

Consequently, I haven’t spent much time around GRS during the past four years — but I do pop in from time to time. I’m happy to see that it’s still doing so well, even in my absence. As I gave up the reins, gratefully others were ready to take up the mantle. There have been plenty of shining examples to celebrate from the past four years as well:

How to handle people who undermine your success

  • January 6, 2012 – by April Dykman
  • April was always one of my favorite writers here at GRS. I loved learning from her progress. Here she shared some thoughts on how to handle haters in your life. As you work toward a better financial future, you will encounter people who think your choices are foolish. April — and the commenters — have some tips for coping with the criticism.

The power of personal transformation: Change yourself, change the world</p>
  • July 16, 2012
  • In July 2012, I spoke at World Domination Summit. This is the written version of that speech, which was all about overcoming fear, finding focus, and taking action. I argued that by finding the courage to change what’s wrong in your own life, you’ll not only improve yourself, but improve the world around you. (This material has become the psychological core of my financial philosophy.)

Romanticizing poverty and learning financial independence </p>
  • January 3, 2013 – by Kristin Wong
  • Kristin is another great GRS writer. In this piece, she talks about different perceptions of wealth and poverty — and how those perceptions influence our choices. Her articles always led to great discussions.

All you need to know about saving for retirement</p>
  • May 15, 2013 – Robert Brokamp
  • Robert is another terrific contributor to GRS. The best part? He’s an expert on this stuff! He’s contributed many great articles over the years, but I particularly like this crash course in retirement savings. If you’re wondering where to start, start here.

You are the boss of you: How to find success with money and life</p>
  • August 1, 2013
  • I’ve always said that nobody cares more about your money than you do. But I’ve come to realize that nobody cares more about you than you do. The key to success — in every area of life — is to understand that you control your own destiny. If you want to be successful with money and life, you must act as your own boss.

What are savings for?</p>
  • November 21, 2013
  • After admitting that I spend a lot on travel, some readers were worried that I’d “relapsed” and was in danger of falling into debt. In this article, I argued that money is a tool. It’s not an end in and of itself. Once you have it, there’s no sense hoarding it. It ought to be spent to help you achieve your goals and dreams.
Last year, staff writer William Cowie contributed a very unique series of articles explaining his theory of economic cycles. I found these fascinating. So fascinating, in fact, that I subscribed to his email list at His four-part series included:

Thoughtful reading!

Happy Thanksgiving</p>
  • November 26, 2015 – William Cowie
  • This is a great article that emphasizes success is about more than money. It’s a reminder that although Get Rich Slowly is fundamentally a site about finance, in the end money is only a tool. It shouldn’t be our primary focus, but something we use to help us achieve the things that are most important to us. Love it!

29 Ways to build your emergency fund out of thin air</p>
  • January 18, 2016 – Donna Freedman
  • Donna has contributed a lot of great articles to GRS over the years. I liked this one, which provides tons of tips for boosting your saving rate. Saving more isn’t just for building an emergency fund; it’s also important for digging out of debt and, eventually, pursuing goals like homeownership and financial independence. A great article. (If you like Donna’s stuff, be sure to check out her very own money blog.)
</p> Although I haven’t written much for GRS since 2012, I continue to dabble in personal finance. For instance, I spent four years writing the monthly “Your Money” column for Entrepreneur magazine. I also wrote articles for the Time magazine website. In 2014, I created the year-long Get Rich Slowly course. Last fall, I launched a new blog about how to achieve and sustain financial independence: Money Boss.

GRS: The next generation
What does the future hold for Get Rich Slowly? It’s my hope, of course, that Get Rich Slowly will continue to grow and prosper for another decade — and beyond! I’m proud of this site and the impact it’s had. It’s humbling to realize that a little blog I started on a whim has been able to help hundreds of people (or thousands, or hundreds of thousands!) dig out of debt and build savings.

Though I don’t have insight into the inner workings of the site anymore, I know for a fact that the folks who own the site are committed to helping readers do what’s best with their money. And I appreciate that. So I firmly believe it will continue to thrive.

As for me, I’ve un-retired. I’m resigned to the fact that I was born to be a money writer. I could never have predicted this career, but it seems to be the perfect mesh of my talents and interests. As long as I can continue to help people, I’ll continue to write. I enjoy it.

And I hope to contribute at Get Rich Slowly every now and then. In fact, I’m currently working on another article for GRS that advocates saving half your income — yes, really! — so stay tuned for that. And the rest of my money writing will appear at Money Boss. While both GRS and Money Boss are about personal finance, in essence, they’re two sides of a coin: Get Rich Slowly is about mastering the basics of personal finance; Money Boss is for folks who are ready to go beyond the basics.

Remember my old model that had “three stages” of personal finance? Well, I’ve expanded that to six (or seven) stages, and now most of my writing is geared toward helping people reach those latter stages.

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In the meantime, Kim and I are on the back half of our RV trip across the United States. I’m writing this from Nashville, Tennessee. Soon we’ll move on to Kentucky and Missouri and Oklahoma. We’ll work our way back to Alabama before exploring Louisiana and then spending the entire month of June in Texas. By October, we should be back home in Portland. As we travel, we’re taking time to meet with long-time readers. So if you’re interested to grab a cup of coffee or an ice-cold beer, be sure to drop me a line!

Until next time, my friends: Live long and prosper!

<h2 style="text-align: center;">Thanks to J.D. …</h2> [Editorial note: Join the celebration on our Facebook page or Twitter.

  • #GRSTurns10 -- Tweet your thanks or congratulations
  • #HowIGetRichSlowly -- Add your best personal finance tip
And thanks for your loyal readership!!!]

From the Get Rich Slowly team:
“Special thanks to you, J.D.! We love helping others master their finances and reach financial independence — and appreciate the opportunity to work with you in the effort!”

(And super grateful to all the contributors, too — you’re the best!)

From Kristin Wong:
“GRS was the first money blog I followed regularly, and that’s because it’s such an engaging mix of practical advice and great writing. I’m so glad I started reading, and I’m honored to have been a contributor, too.

“A big thanks to J.D., my fellow contributors, and the readers. You’ve all shared your stories and your perspectives, and not only were they interesting to read, they also helped improve my own finances. I thank you, and so does my bank account.”

From William Cowie:
“To JD Roth: The world is a better place because you are in it! Thanks for the honesty and wisdom! We are all better off for it!”

From Lisa Aberle:
“GRS was the first personal finance blog I found, and the one I’ve read the longest. When I started reading in 2007 or 2008, my financial life was chaotic – I needed help! JD’s honesty and authenticity drew me in from the beginning. And following along with his journey was so inspiring as I got my own finances under control.

“Happy 10th, GRS! And thanks, JD!”

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