Celebrating one year of Get Rich Slowly 3.0

Can you believe it? A year ago today, I returned to the helm of Get Rich Slowly. Eight-and-a-half years after selling the site, I bought it back.

During the past twelve months, GRS has been through three distinct phases as I've struggled to figure out my focus and direction.

  • First, I tried to manage the blog as a “curation engine”, collecting the best money stories from around the web.
  • You folks wanted more of my voice, though, so I spent three months running the site like I used to in the olden days: I averaged an article a day between January and March.
  • An article a day was too much — for you and for me. Since April, I've worked to find a balance. It seems that two or three articles per week is a good pace.

In my first year back in charge of Get Rich Slowly, I published 209 articles and sent out 38 weekly email updates. (Each email update is essentially a separate article, most of which is a roundup of cool money stories from around the web.)

Let's take a quick look at where we've been and where we're going.

Twelve Favorites from Twelve Months

Conventional wisdom nowadays is that a blog must be focused to be successful. It has to serve a distinct niche audience. That's smart advice, but I don't follow it.

I love the freedom I have when writing at Get Rich Slowly. I love that I'm able to explore a wide range of topics, from how to get out of debt to how to invest to how to be happy. Not every article is applicable to every reader, but I'm okay with that. Even Money Boss (the site I ran from 2015 to 2017) felt too limiting. Here at GRS, I have no contraints. I'm able to write what I want when I want, and I think that leads to better work.

Just for fun, here are twelve of my favorite pieces from the past year:

  • Your lifetime wealth ratio (and how to calculate it). Your lifetime wealth ratio (or LWR) compares how much you have today with how much you've earned during your time in the workforce. It's a way to look at the wealth you've created and gauge how well you've done at keeping that wealth.
  • How to prepare for an uncertain future. Our financial decisions are based on our expectations for the future. We base our expectations on past experience — both our own experience and the experiences of others. Generally speaking, there's nothing wrong with this method of planning. It works. But what happens when the old patterns break? What happens when past data becomes meaningless?
  • Start where you are. My main message to family and friends who find themselves at forty or fifty and feel behind the curve is: Don't panic. All is not lost. You're not too late. This isn't a contest. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
  • How to build a wealth snowball. Spend less than you earn — that's the basic rule of personal finance. If you spend less than you earn, you'll build a wealth snowball that will allow you do do the things you dream of doing and to have the things you dream of having.
  • The plight of the poor: Thoughts on systemic poverty, fault, and responsibility. There's a seductive myth that poor people deserve what they get. Look, let's get real. Far more people live in poverty due to systemic issues and/or historical legacy than due to a pattern of financial misbehavior.
  • The six stages of financial freedom. I used to believe that financial freedom meant just one thing: Having enough money that you never had to work again. Over the years, I've learned that financial independence exists on a continuum. It's not “all or nothing”, but an ever-increasing range of options. It's a process.
  • The high cost of homeownership. For both entertainment and catharsis, I spent some time talking about the high costs of homeownership. My experiences seem typical. Everyone I talk to about homeownership has similar tales to tell. I'll bet you do too!
  • How much should you spend in retirement? I've noticed that a lot of retirees — early retired or otherwise — struggle to know how much they should spend. I believe this dilemma exists for a couple of reasons.
  • The forever fallacy. Everything changes. You change. Your circumstances change. The people around you change. Nothing is forever. The challenge then is to balance this concept — everything changes — with living in the present. You must learn to enjoy today while simultaneously preparing for possible tomorrows.
  • The advantages of buying and owning a home. I've written a lot about buying and owning a home. Much of what I've written could be construed as anti-homeownership. But I'm not anti-homeownership. Here are some of the reasons I choose to own a home.
  • The thin green line: Why you should be skeptical of financial blogs. The trouble with the rise of blogging as a business is that the business has become the focus for most financial blogs. Financial bloggers aren't making decisions based on what's best for their audience. They're making decisions based on what's likely to bring them the most income.
  • Potential needs versus actual needs: Re-writing my financial blueprint. I've begun to question my compulsion to buy things before I'm ready to use them. I'm questioning my tendency to accumulate things because I might want to use them or I might need them someday. What if I instead gave myself permission to buy whatever I need and/or want — but only if I'm going to use it right away?

Here's where I need your help! As I consider which topics to tackle in the future, I'd love to know what financial dilemmas you're wrestling with today. What's your biggest pain point when it comes to money? Also, what's your most recent big financial victory? Finally, what challenges do you anticipate in the near future?

Your feedback will help me choose which subjects to write about in the months to come.

Where We're Headed

The past twelve months have been both fun and frustrating. I've had a blast re-engaging with you folks (and gradually getting re-acquainted with long-time readers). Plus, I truly enjoy writing about money. It's my calling in life.

At the same time, I'm not so fond of the business and technical side of site management. A decade ago, this wasn't such a big deal. Blogs (and the internet, in general) were less sophisticated and one person could run and manage a site without much hassle.

In 2018, however, running a site is more complicated — especially a site that's 12-1/2 years old with an archive of 5000+ articles. If you've been following along, you know how much I hate dealing with SEO, monetization, social media, marketing, and other similar tasks. Plus, running a big blog nowadays is expensive.

During my first year back, GRS has produced roughly $20,000 in revenue. That's great! Unfortunately, the site has incurred roughly $30,000 in expenses. That's not so great. (And that doesn't even include the costs to repurchase the blog!) I don't need to make big bucks here, but I'm not a fan of working long hours while paying for the privilege.

Update! I tabulated some exact numbers. GRS produced $17,219.69 in revenue during the past year. Site-specific expenses — not counting costs for software, tools, A/V gear, etc. that I bought for the umbrella company — were $28,300.93. That's a net loss of $11,081.24. Translation: I'm currently paying about $1000 per month out of my pocket to keep this site running…plus all of my time. Plus re-acquisition costs.

That's why I've decided to collaborate with my pal Tom Drake, the brains behind MapleMoney (a Canadian personal-finance site). Tom not only knows about the technical and marketing stuff, but he actually enjoys it. What a weirdo!

With Tom diving into the behind-the-scenes tasks, I'm free to focus on my passion and strength: writing.

For the rest of 2018, I intend to publish frequently but on an irregular schedule. Topics will be random and varied. But our goal as we head into 2019 is to develop an actual (loose) publishing schedule that adheres to (loose) monthly themes. Our aim is to *gasp* prepare a lot of material in advance. We believe that doing so will free me (and the rest of the team) to do more creative stuff instead of constantly playing catch-up.

My dream is that a year from now, after we've finished renovating the site, Get Rich Slowly will be an excellent, easy-to-use resource for anyone searching for financial help. At the same time, I want it to be an entertaining and interesting place for regular readers to visit. Most of all, I want it to be an outlet for me to write about money. Because honestly, that's all I want to do.

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Dave @ Accidental FIRE
Dave @ Accidental FIRE
1 year ago

Congrats JD, I’ve enjoyed following your blog in the past year. Personally I’m FI and have the money stuff figured out, so I’d like to see more posts about the psychological and identity-side of FI or FIRE or points in between.

S.G.
S.G.
1 year ago

Damn, we’re old.

S.G.
S.G.
1 year ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

At least it’s some small comfort that you’re older than I am, and always will be.

dh
dh
1 year ago

I have to admit, at this late date, I’m here for the fun and entertainment of the site. For example, I’ve enjoyed “meeting” other readers who live here in NM. Who knows, maybe GRS is the next Tinder???

S.G.
S.G.
1 year ago
Reply to  dh

Clean that mouth out with soap, or keyboard, or…whatever.

Tinder, indeed. Ugh. Heaven forbid.

dh
dh
1 year ago
Reply to  S.G.

Lol it could be a new marketing angle for JD — “GRS: bringing cheapskates together since 2006.”

OFG
OFG
1 year ago

I’m glad you returned to GRS. I started reading your blog back in 2006 and I stopped reading it after you sold it. You have a unique voice in the PF world and these days with everyone trying to make money blogging it’s nice to read posts that are intended to help you save, not just help a blogger earn some money. I haven’t blogged myself in ages, but your return inspires me to start writing again one day.

Anne
Anne
1 year ago
Reply to  OFG

Yes, JD, nice to have you back.

Chris
Chris
1 year ago
Reply to  OFG

Very much agree

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
1 year ago

Congratulations on the reboot. Looking forward to seeing what happens in the next year.

Mr HM (Phil)
Mr HM (Phil)
1 year ago

A swag of great catch-up reading today. Very enjoyable. I do still have to give a lot of thought into converting the investment parts of your writings into an Australian context however.

Kari
Kari
1 year ago

Coincidentally, last night I listened to the ChooseFI podcast interview where you announced the buyback of GRS. I definitely did not realize it had been exactly one year at this point!

I laughed at your comment that if you ever do a podcast, you want to have Jim Collins do a voiceover. You’ve ventured into more podcasts this year, so I just had to point that out!

olga
olga
1 year ago

I, too, am following this blog as a fun return, sort of routine for the soul, these days, and read more carefully back in the beginning days. But I do enjoy the familiarity of your voice, the morning “click on GRS and see what’s up” type of thing, and go through the comments. And if some have links to their sites – go check them out while sipping coffee. I am not sure about Tinder, but some kind of social circle for sure:)

Jill
Jill
1 year ago

JD- I have been a long time reader, never a commenter. I am thrilled to have your content back to read. Congrats on your one year anniversary. What I most appreciate is the thoughtfulness of your blog, meaning why we do what we do with regard to money and beyond. You’ve touched on our blueprints, and the causes of behaviors. As a WW member (Wellness that Works, formerly Weight Watchers) we have a slogan “keep your why nearby.” I would love content that focuses on the Whys of our money behaviors. For example, why do I have a closet full… Read more »

Penny
Penny
1 year ago

Thank you for publishing articles! In answer to your question, I am interested in moving from meeting basic needs with a little extra to how to move towards managing my money to amount to greater freedom. Ways to make my money work for me. I definitely like learning ways to improve my bottom line without spending a silly amount of time to do so. Think budgeting, meal prep, DIY fill-in-the-blank, side gigs, home improvements that offer a decent ROI, offering forms and formulas to assist with saving money, etc. I’d also love to see more articles that work in the… Read more »

Steveark
Steveark
1 year ago

I can’t imagine you not making this work, the content is pretty much unmatched in terms of quality and readability. In a world of mostly amateurs like me, it is pro quality material. Anyway, like everyone else I very much appreciate what you do.

Mal
Mal
1 year ago

I have really enjoyed your recent articles on home ownership/home improvements as I’m in a sort-of similar boat of having bought an older home that needs some work while not being particularly handy myself (first time homeowner, but willing to learn…some). My most recent money challenges have involved figuring out what’s worth paying a professional for (most recently gutters!) and what’s worth doing ourselves (landscaping, deck rebuilding).

I also really like your Spare Change roundup – super helpful as there’s still a world of blogs I am yet to discover. I look forward to seeing what you have in store!

Ellen
Ellen
1 year ago

JD…Can you break down the expenses ($30,000) into its own line items so we have an idea of what they are? A lot of hosting packages out there are pretty cheap each month so I’m just curious why the expenses are so big. Thanks

Treo
Treo
1 year ago
Reply to  Ellen

Yeah, I would like to understand that a bit better also. There are a lot more things to consider these days, CDN federation and DDoS for instance, but that still shouldn’t run into the $10’s of k’s per year for a site of this size right now. JD, more info would be appreciated

WantNotToWantNot
WantNotToWantNot
1 year ago

J.D. Congratulations on the life-changes. Your blog is helpful, generous, down-to-earth, honest and well-written. I enjoy it immensely.

What are my current interests? Right now I’m investigating Roth conversions and backdoor Roths. And, as we’re pulling in kale and chard and collards from our garden right now, I’m also struck by how many FIRE folks own a house and extensive yard, yet never use their yard to compost (keep kitchen garbage out of the landfill while building the soil), and to grow food. So simple, economical, and green.

Keep up the valuable work.

Sequentialkady
Sequentialkady
1 year ago

I would like to see a few more pieces focused on public sector employees and our options, eg, 457 vs. 403b, how to plan for retirement if you’re in a system where you can retire after X years of service and draw your pension from day one … how do you handle things like health insurance needs? How about “the finances of going back to school at ____ age?” Then perhaps a few pieces on charitible giving — how to set up an endowment/bequest/grant in such a way that it doesn’t have too many strings attached, but, at the same… Read more »

Allison
Allison
1 year ago
Reply to  Sequentialkady

Yes I hope to see articles on going back to school and charitable giving as well!!

zzzzzz
zzzzzz
1 year ago

JD, here’s a topic suggestion: How do you balance when your wealth snowball (finally) allows you to afford some of the finer things in life without threatening your hard-earned FI, against modeling more frugal behaviors for your kids that will allow them to create their own wealth snowballs?

zzzzzz
zzzzzz
1 year ago
Reply to  zzzzzz

BTW, I really liked your wealth snowball post. I’ve started trying to familiarize my kids with the concept.

VinTek
VinTek
1 year ago

Why would you not count at least part of the costs incurred by the umbrella company?

MSB
MSB
1 year ago

The 3 financial things that I’ve been working on lately are 1) trying to tax plan the remainder of 2018 (ie: figure out how to figure out my 2018 taxes in advance), 2) find a replacement for Quicken 2007 for Mac that is not Quicken, but retains all the 28 years of legacy data I’ve amassed, and 3) find a new HELOC now that my existing HELOC has entered its repayment period.

Darlene
Darlene
1 year ago

I’m another reader who’d like to see more about charitable giving. I’d also like to hear your take on preparing for the possibility of long-term care as a senior. Too often the only advice I hear is to eat organic and exercise!

Jennifer
Jennifer
1 year ago

Guess who I saw quoted in the November Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (my dad still gifts me an annual subscription on paper)?

https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T047-C000-S002-young-fire-savers-race-to-retirement.html

Millionaire Dojo
Millionaire Dojo
1 year ago

I don’t really know what I’m talking about when it comes to monetizing blogs, but I’d think a site this big would be able to generate a decent amount of money if you just added a recommendations page to your menu with a few affiliate links in it. I’m sure you’ll figure out away to get in the green with your new partner though.

Alvin
Alvin
1 year ago

Congrats JD! And thanks for taking the time to write solid advice about money.

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