Optimizing for joy

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.

Continue reading...
More about...Administration

A clear line

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.

Continue reading...
More about...Administration

2023: The year of me

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.)

The films I've watched in 2022

Continue reading...
More about...Administration

A values-driven life

Hello, friends. Just a quick note to let you all know that my life, at last, seems to be settling. A full two months after the death of my mother, the fog has lifted and I find that I'm motivated to pursue productive pursuits once more.

I spent much of the past several weeks doing some serious soul-searching. It's clear to me (and to Kim) that above all else, I need to make 2023 the year of me.

2023 — The Year of Me

More than a decade ago, I got into the habit of theming my years and months. It was fun! It was also fruitful. Whenever I decided to devote a span of time to one thing, I had great results, whether it was with fitness or writing or dating. This habit of theming lasted for a couple of years, then fell by the wayside. Continue reading...

More about...Uncategorized

A man of no ambition

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.)

Continue reading...
More about...Administration

Sabbatical

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.

[My mother when she was probably 15 years old]

Continue reading...
More about...Administration

Why I bought a NEW car

I am 53 years old. Never in my life have I allowed myself to buy a car I truly love...until now. This is the story of how I allowed myself to make a huge purchase just for the joy of it. And it wasn't even a purchase I'd intended to make. Let me explain.

During the peak of the pandemic (early July 2020), I paid $35,990 for a used 2019 Mini Countryman SE All4. The Countryman — which I call a "Maxi Cooper" — isn't a bad car, but I regretted buying it almost immediately. I'd intended to replace my 2004 Mini Cooper with a newer version of the same model, but allowed myself to be talked into a compact SUV.

For two years, I drove the Maxi Cooper and tolerated it. It wasn't a bad car by any means, but it was a bad car for me. I'm not an SUV guy. I'm a small-car guy.

Continue reading...
More about...Transportation

How self-centered shopping has made me happier with the things I buy

I've changed the way I shop over the past few years. And although the shift has been subtle, I've found that I'm much happier with the things I buy.

In the past, my approach to shopping was simple. If I wanted a new thneed, I would go to a store (or, with the advent of the internet, a website) and choose from the available thneeds. I'd look at the store's selection (or the website's selection) and pick the one best suited for me.

If the thneed I wanted was particularly expensive or important, I might expand my search to multiple stores or multiple websites. But usually, I stuck with the first store I visited.

Continue reading...
More about...Shopping

Who coined the term FI/RE (financially-independent, retired early)?

It's always fun to unearth some esoteric piece of personal-finance history. I know there are only a few nerds out there who care (hello, Grant Sabatier!), but those of us who care really care.

Two years ago, I published an article exploring the history of financial independence in which I noted that the earliest reference I can find to the notion of financial independence comes from an 1872 book called Money and How to Make It by H. L. Reade. And it wasn't until the 1950s that the concept of early retirement (at least in the sense we mean it today) gained traction. But despite my research, I still have questions, such as: What's the source of the modern FIRE movement?

Who Coined the Term FIRE?

Recently at The Retire Early Home Page — a site so old that it existed (and still exists) at the dawn of the web — John P. Greaney answered the question: Who coined the term FIRE?

Continue reading...
More about...Retirement

Designing my life, part one: Building a compass

Last week, I raved about the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. These two Stanford design professors have taken design principles and applied them to helping people figure out what they want to be when they grow up.

After advocating Designing Your Life to several friends, two of them suggested that we work through the book's exercises together. One of those friends is Kim, my long-term girlfriend. The other is Craig, a college classmate. I thought it might be fun to share some of these exercises as we complete them over the next couple of months.

Because I want to respect the intellectual property of the authors, I'm not going to describe the exercises exactly. Instead, I'll provide a vague overview and then discuss my own answers. (And, when it makes sense, I'll also include answers from my friends.)

Continue reading...
More about...Planning, Books