Four years ago today, I started a new blog. Inspired by the success of a popular post at my personal site, I sat down to create what I thought would be the first personal-finance blog on the internet. I was wrong, of course; there were plenty of similar blogs before mine. But over the past four years, Get Rich Slowly has grown into a great place for average folks to gather and discuss their financial successes and failures. It’s been a great trip.

Get Rich Slowly: Year One
It may be difficult to believe, but Get Rich Slowly started with a much different format. I used to make several posts a day, most of which were short summaries of things I’d read elsewhere or glimpses at interesting personal-finance products and tools. It was several months before I found the pattern that would last for the next several years: two posts per day, with the early post being a longer entry.

Most of these early articles were about my personal history, and about the tools and techniques I was using to get out of debt. Here are some of my favorite from that first year:

  • The Entrepreneurial Spirit, a Tribute to My Father — My father was an entrepreneur. He was always starting businesses. He was always selling things.
  • The Worst Job I Ever Had — I made some poor choices at the end of my college career; as a result, I graduated without a prospect for work. No matter — I lived off my credit cards for a few months, basking in the glow of adulthood. Eventually I realized that I needed to find a job.
  • Money Blueprints: What Our Parents Taught Us About Money — I had dinner with two friends from high school last night. We shared good wine, good food, and, especially, good conversation. We talked about how we perceived money when we were younger.
  • Which Online High-Yield Savings Account is Best? — The most-commented post ever on this site, and one folks refer to again and again. It’s not story-oriented, but is simply a resource for finding a good online bank.

Get Rich Slowly: Year Two
The second year of this site saw a creative explosion. As the GRS community grew, it fed me new ideas. And as I defeated debt after debt, I found inspiration all around me. Success with personal finance led to success in other areas of my life. By the end of 2007, I’d managed to pay off the last of my consumer debt; a few months later, I quit the day job to blog full time.

Some of the best stories from this site’s second year include:

  • The Power of Yes: A Simple Way to Get More Out of Life — For much of my adult life I’ve been shackled by fear. I’ve been afraid to try new things, afraid to meet new people, afraid of doing anything that might lead to failure. This fear confined me to a narrow comfort zone. Recently, however, I made a single small change that has helped me to overcome my fear, and allowed me to get more out of life.
  • You Are Your Own Worst Enemy — My friend Gillian called the other day — she’s been having money trouble and was looking for help. “I’m not really a financial advisor,” I told her. “I write about money, and I try to help people at my web site, but I’m not qualified to coach you one-on-one.” Still, she’s a friend, so I resolved to at least give her some advice.
  • Free at Last! Saying Good-Bye to 20 Years of Debt — It took a lot of time and effort, but these actions have finally paid off. Today I wrote a check for the last of my consumer debt. I’m now debt-free, except for my mortgage. I’ve been walking around in a happy little haze all day long.
  • Luck is No Accident: 10 Ways to Get More Out of Work and Life — Dale Carnegie once said, “Happiness doesn’t depend on ay external conditions — it is governed by your mental attitude.” Some people might dismiss this as bunk, but research bears it out. Don’t worry about circumstances beyond your control. Learn to control the things you can, including your reaction to the world around you. How you respond to an unfortunate event is often more important than the event itself.

Get Rich Slowly: Year Three
The third year of Get Rich Slowly was turbulent, though most of this occurred behind the scenes. The blog grew rapidly, and I realized it had turned from a hobby to a business. This was both a blessing and a curse. I felt like there was way too much for one man to take care of, so I began to cast around for solutions.

Meanwhile, I found it difficult to find financial balance. I’d been pinching pennies for a long time in order to pay off my debt, and it was tough for me to loosen up. With your help, I eventually realized it was okay to use money to have a little fun. To add to this year’s ups and downs, my best friend died last February. Though you may not realize it, this event had a profound impact on my life and on this blog.

Here are some of the top stories from Get Rich Slowly year three:

  • A Real Millionaire Next Door — Kris and I love our neighbors. One of our favorite neighbors is the old guy next door. Let’s call him John. He’s a man who has lived the philosophy I’ve adopted for myself, who has lived the philosophy I espouse on this web site. He’s lived this life and has been successful. He’s a man who is happy and fulfilled. He’s a real-life millionaire next door.
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want — 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.
  • The Razor’s Edge: Lessons in True Wealth — My friend Sparky made what I thought were odd choices. He lived like a monk while at home so that he could spend his money on travel and other things that were important to him. This article describes the lessons he taught me.
  • How to Build Confidence and Destroy Fear — Without self-confidence, we have a tendency to make poor decisions. We make choices based on fear instead of what’s best for us. If you lack confidence, you might fill your life with self-destructive behavior. You might work at a job you hate. You may allow yourself to get deep in debt. You may find yourself moving from one bad relationship to another. Without confidence, you don’t allow yourself to pursue your dreams. Here are a few courage-building techniques I’ve picked up over the years.

Get Rich Slowly: Year Four
This past year has been one of great personal fulfillment — and great personal struggle. As a result of my best friend’s death, I made some big behind-the-scenes changes so that I could free some time to pursue other life goals. First, though, I wrote Your Money: The Missing Manual, which has consumed the last six months of my life.

One of the most notable changes, of course, was the addition of staff writers. This helped take the load off my shoulders, and introduced some new voices around here. The blog also moved to a “one long article a day” format, which most people seem to prefer.

Great articles from the past year include:

  • How to Negotiate Your Salary — 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 — 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 is weak, and because I want GRS readers to be informed, I spent twelve hours last week researching a variety of tax topics. These two articles record my attempts to discover that baseline information.
  • The Paradox of Choice and the Dangers of Perfection — 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 thirty. “Perfect” is a moving target. It’s better to make a solid decision today than a perfect decision next week.
  • Spend Based on Who You Are, Not Who You Want to Be — Buy things as rewards, not because you expect merely having them will change who you are. Or, another way to think of it: Buy things as you need them instead of buying them with the expectation that you’ll use them.

Get Rich Slowly: Year Five
What does the next year hold in store for Get Rich Slowly? Well, I finally have to admit that this is now a group blog. Mine is the strongest voice, and I’m providing the editorial vision, but the multi-author format is here to stay.

Note: I realize some long-time readers don’t like the multi-author format and would rather I wrote every article. While that’s flattering, it’s just not gonna happen. I don’t have the time or passion to make that work. If you really want to read more J.D., you can always visit my personal site (jdroth.com), read my occasional posts at Get Fit Slowly, or check out my new blog, Success Daily, which hasn’t officially launched yet.

At the same time, I’d like to write a bit more at Get Rich Slowly, if possible. The current “one big post a day” format is okay as far as it goes, but I miss having smaller, lighter posts in the afternoons. I miss the quick notes about interesting new money tools, and the brief overviews of articles at other sites around the web. These are generally easy to produce, and if I can find time, I may try to write more of these. I think you and I would both get a lot out of this.

But the biggest change to come is my quest to have more interaction with you, the readers. To be honest, the book project and all of the other Big Stuff has taken a lot out of me. I know this will be rewarding in the long run, but in the short term it’s draining. Now I want to focus on you, on sharing more Reader Stories (drop me a line if you want to share yours!), posting more reader questions, and, especially, answering more reader e-mail and participating in the comments.

Thank you for four great years! I’m happy to have helped so many people, and I appreciate how much you have helped me. I look forward to continuing this journey together.

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