Hello, friends. It has been a l-o-n-g time since I've written online. Well, that's not entirely true. I've been writing a ton at Facebook. In fact, it's as if Facebook has become my personal blog. But that's about to change. Everything is about to change. Let's talk about it.
As you're well aware, 2022 was one hell of a year for me. It was a year of death and destruction. That sounds like hyperbole, I know, but it's not. It felt as if my world were crumbling around me.
After my mom died in October, I made a vow. I was going to do whatever it took to get myself back to the same mental and physical spaces I inhabited a decade ago. That span of time between 2012 and 2016 was Peak J.D., and I wanted more of it. Maybe I couldn't achieve exactly the same state of mind, but surely I could get closer than I've been the past few years.
Deciding to extend my sabbatical from Get Rich Slowly indefinitely has been liberating. The moment I committed to this, it was as if a heavy load were lifted from my back. I'm able to pursue other passions now without regret. I don't feel guilty. I don't feel like I need to give myself "permission". I just do what I want, and it's awesome.
Isn't this what financial independence is supposed to be?
How I Spend My Time
My food and fitness choices have remained strong now for six weeks. (Official start date of my re-dedication to health? December 13, Taylor Swift's birthday.) I'm lifting weights three times per week. I'm walking roughly five miles per day. I'm doing yoga. My alcohol consumption is way down. More importantly, I'm making smarter food choices.
Last night, for the third Wednesday in a row, I ventured to the Whiteside Theater in downtown Corvallis to watch an old movie. Two weeks ago, it was National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Last week, it was It's a Wonderful Life. And yesterday was Star Wars. The place was packed! So fun to watch a favorite film in an old theater with a couple of hundred other fans.
I've also been watching many movies at home lately. I finally have the time. According to Letterboxd, I've seen seventeen films in December. I watched nine in November. I enjoy exploring the nooks and crannies of cinema. (I highly recommend Letterboxd, by the way. I've been using it to log my film watching for two years, and I can no longer imagine not using it.)
A memory came to me this morning while I was walking the dog, a memory of those days when I was fresh out of college and just beginning to work for my father at the box factory.
A salesman had come knocking on our door. This was strange since the box factory was (and still is) located in a rural area. But somehow this guy had found us and he was there to make his pitch: He was a salesman who trained salesmen. (And, presumably, saleswomen although this wasn't part of the spiel in 1992.)
Dad, amused, introduced this fellow to me. "This is J.D.," Dad said. "He's our salesman. Talk to him." So, this guy sat down with me in a back room of the shabby trailer house that served as company HQ. (This was the very trailer house I'd grown up in. And trust me when I say it was a pit, a sty. It was just as bad as you're imagining. Maybe worse.)
My mother died Monday night. She was 74.
Earlier this week, I began writing a memorial for her. I know I haven't talked much about Mom here at Get Rich Slowly, but she probably played the biggest role in molding me into the person I am today. After writing 2500 words, I realized I have a lot to process. And maybe Get Rich Slowly isn't the place to publish a tribute to her. I don't know.
Thie middle of April is a Big Deal in my world.
The trees have nearly finished blossoming, which means my allergies will soon go away. We're seeing more of the sun, which means the worst of my seasonal depression is behind me. Yesterday, on the 14th, Kim and I celebrated seven years as a couple. And today, on the 15th, Get Rich Slowly celebrates thirteen years of existence.
That's right: This blog is now a teenager.
During the past decade, I've learned to love travel. The old J.D. was too timid to explore the world. He was afraid of everything -- flight delays! terrorists! foreign languages! weird food! -- and so stayed home and dreamed of exploring the world instead of actually doing it.
Since 2007, however, I've visited forty-two states and twenty different countries (many more than once). I've camped high in the mountains of Bolivia, ridden a scooter through rural Turkey, and eaten fried grubs in Zimbabwe. I've been to Cape Horn off of southern Chile and the Cape of Good Hope off the tip of South Africa. I've strolled through glaciers in Alaska, climbed mountains in Peru, and snorkeled in the Galapagos.
I've spent ten years making up for the time I sat on the sidelines doing nothing. And I've only barely scratched the surface of what this amazing planet has to offer. It'd take several lifetimes to see it all.
There's a popular notion in personal-finance circles that frugality and minimalism go hand in hand. If somebody's frugal, they probably also self-identify as being a minimalist. And if somebody's a minimalist, they probably self-identify as being frugal. But while there is a lot of crossover between frugality and minimalism, it's important to understand that they're fundamentally different ideas with different aims. Sometimes they're even at odds with each other.
In fact, I think these two concepts are so non-aligned that I feel the need to define them for those Money Boss readers unfamiliar with the minimalism movement.
- Frugality, as we're all aware, is what used to be called thrift. It's the quality of being careful with money and goods. It's the opposite of waste.
- Minimalism, on the other hand, is the pursuit of less. Minimalist strive to own and do less, and they generally want their possessions to reflect simplicity and elegance.
Frugal folks aim to spend less; minimalists aim to have and do less. There's plenty of overlap there, obviously, but there are many times that frugality and minimalism are neither synonymous nor compatible. Let's look at a real-life example.
Yesterday, a group of Portland personal-finance bloggers got together at a local bar for slushy margaritas and a chat about money. It's always good to hang out with the Fincon folks. I used to think of them as "virtual friends", but more and more they're my real friends.
Much of our conversation centered on our personal lives. We talked about dieting and "going dry". We talked about mutual friends. We talked about how my bike developed a flat tire during the ride to the bar, and how I'd need to find someplace to repair it before heading home. (As part of my year-long quest to reduce my driving, I rode four miles through the cold and rain to meet my friends.)
We also talked about the business of blogging, of course. James suggested some advertising networks I should try. Emma and Monica mentioned some work they're doing for clients. We all talked about how and where we work. I've begun hunting for dedicated office space in my neighborhood -- working from home is just too distracting -- but am having a tough time finding anywhere affordable.
Welcome to the final day of my mini series exploring popular personal-finance apps. As I prepare to track my spending in 2017, I have to decide which tool to use.
In the olden days, there weren't many options. Lately, however, there's been a boom in personal-finance tools. Rather than try every available app, I elected to take a look at four that seemed like good fits for me: Quicken, You Need a Budget, Personal Capital, and Mint.