As I resume writing at Get Rich Slowly, one of my goals is to share a unified theory of money. This is a big change from when I started the site in April 2006.
You see, 11-1/2 years ago, I didn't have a coherent financial philosophy. Not even close. Because of this, I was deep in debt and struggling to make ends meet on an average American income. I was lost in the woods. The only thing I knew was that all of the books I read seemed to say the same thing: “There's no reliable way to get rich quickly; however, there's a time-tested path to get rich slowly.” That's why I started this website.
Back then, I was fishing around for anything that would work. I'd try any tip or technique that sounded plausible — and even some that didn't. Here are a few examples:
- If I saw something free, I took it home. Free is a very good price, right? Well, not always. As Get Rich Slowly readers helped me to see, a free thing isn't really free if you don't need it. It takes up space, which costs money. It also occupies some of your brainwidth. Eventually I realized that free doesn't always mean free.
- My early forays into the stock market were less investing than they were speculation. Twice I lost my annual Roth IRA contribution because I pumped it all into a stock that was down. I just thought I was unlucky until I learned (and truly understood) the virtues of investing in index funds. (Note that although I practice indexing myself, I'm not dogmatic about it.)
- I heeded the common advice to buy in bulk. When Kris and I were married — we're still friends, by the way — we had a cellar and pantry filled with Stuff that we'd purchased. We had so much Stuff that I couldn't even keep track of it all! Naturally, some of that Stuff went to waste. Other things never got used because we never really needed them in the first place. Buying in bulk to save money doesn't actually save you money unless you use the things you buy. This is obvious, I know, but I'm not the only one who has struggled with buying too much in order to “save”.
Over the years, as I read and wrote more about money, I began to see other patterns similar to “get rich slowly”. Gradually, I adopted a series of rules (or “tenets”) that I believed could help me — and others — live a more prosperous life. I developed a rough financial philosophy, one that became more streamlined as the years went by. [Read more…]