The past ten months have been amazing: I quit my job at the family box factory at the beginning of March to become a full-time writer. Since then, I’ve worked harder than I ever have in my life. I’ve had a lot of fun, but I’ve also learned a lot about myself, and about running a business.

Today I’d like to share some of the best articles from the past twelve months. I looked at the top 25 most-visited stories that I wrote for Get Rich Slowly in 2008. From these, I picked my ten favorite, which I’ve listed below in no particular order. These offer a great representation of my philosophy and my approach to personal finance:

  • The psychology of happiness: 13 steps to a better life: “We think we know what will make us happy, but we don’t. Many of us believe that money will make us happy, but it won’t. Except for the very poor, money cannot buy happiness. Instead of dreaming of vast wealth, we should dream of close friends and healthy bodies and meaningful work.”
  • The power of positive cash flow: “The greater the gap between earning and spending, the faster you lose (or accumulate) wealth. There are only two things you can do to increase your cash flow: spend less or earn more. (Or both!) This seems obvious, I know, but smart personal finance really is this simple.”
  • The extraordinary power of compound interest: “If you do not spend less than you earn, and if you do not save the difference, you cannot build the wealth you desire. The rich are not rich because they earn a lot of money; the rich are rich because they save a lot of money.”
  • My paperless personal finance system: “Most of my bills are set to be paid automatically. I’m wary of my credit card company, however, so I process that by hand every month. I simply log in to the bank’s web site, verify the totals, and then initiate a payment.”
  • Mortgage prepayment made easy: Own your home in half the time: “Without a mortgage, my fixed expenses would be about $600/month. My total expenses would be about $950/month. This would provide tremendous freedom, granting me an opportunity to try things that I might not otherwise be able to do.”
  • Easy and cheap home-made bread: “There are few things better in life than a hunk of warm, crusty bread slathered with honey or jam. (Perhaps with a hunk of sharp cheddar cheese on the side.) So when Brad insisted I try Mark Bittman’s minimalist “no-knead” bread recipe, I took the plunge into home baking.”
  • Marvelous magazine ads from 1904: “Advertising has been a pervasive part of American culture for more than a century. I recently picked up some 100-year-old magazines for cheap at a garage sale. While it’s fun to read the articles, it’s even more fun to look at the ads. They provide a fascinating glimpse of the rise of U.S. consumerism.”
  • How and when to cancel a credit card: “Closing a credit card account is easy, but if you decide to do it, you should do it correctly.”
  • Embracing the thrift-store ethic: 18 top tips for buying used clothes: “For many people, thrift stores offer an easy way to delve into frugal fashion. But most shops carry more than just clothes. If your budget is pinched, they’re an excellent place to find furniture, to pick up kitchenware, and even to find inexpensive entertainment.”
  • A do-it-yourself Christmas: 34 great gifts you can make yourself: “I drew on our own experience, pulled some of your best tips from the past, and scoured the web for new ideas, in order to produce the following mammoth list of do-it-yourself Christmas gifts.”

Though I enjoy sharing my experiences with money, I also love being able to bring you the voices of other writers. I learn a lot from the guest authors at Get Rich Slowly, and I hope you do, too. Here are the five most popular guest posts from 2008. Each is a gem.

  1. How my net worth went from -$40,000 to $285,000 in five years (by FrugalTrader from Million Dollar Journey): “We didn’t strike it rich in real estate, we didn’t luck into some crazy stock tip, and we don’t even have extremely high paying jobs. Instead, we systematically controlled our spending so that our expenses were well below our income.  We then took the savings and aggressively paid down our debts while at the same time investing for our retirement.”
  2. How to inoculate your children against advertising (by Lisa Tiffin): “Eventually, the lessons of trusting your own judgment, testing the claims of others, and discovering true value began to have an effect on our kids’ everyday lives. Instead of whining for toys they saw in a magazine, Andy and Matt would show me the ad and ask if I thought the toy lived up to its claims.”
  3. How to save hundreds by playing the Drugstore Game (by Cathy from Chief Family Officer): “The Drugstore Game involves combining manufacturer and store coupons, and taking advantage of a store’s best deals. When played at the highest level, the Drugstore Game requires only a couple of dollars out of pocket each week to keep you and your family stocked on necessities like toiletries, paper goods and even groceries.”
  4. 10 essential steps to take before you’re laid off (by Kevin Merritt of blist): “Nobody knows how long the current economic crisis will last or how bad it will get. But it’s already proving to be a much tougher job climate than the past few years, and the next year looks bleaker still. Start preparing today for the possibility of being laid off sometime next year. The earlier you start, the better off you’ll be.”
  5. How to automate your personal finances (by Paul Lussier): “I’ve applied this understanding to put my finances on auto-pilot. I use the automated computer systems at my bank to move money around between different accounts, pay bills, earn interest, credit-card points, etc.  Though the following system may seem complex, it’s really fairly simple once it’s set up.”

If you’re looking for more money-saving goodness, check out the greatest hits from the first two years of this site:

Which are your favorite Get Rich Slowly stories from the past year? (Or of all time?) Your feedback will help me improve this site.

Happy new year, everybody!

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