The prodigal son returns: J.D. Roth is back at Get Rich Slowly

Note: As of last Thursday, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money.

Hey, everybody. It's J.D. here. I founded this site, and I wrote and edited the content for many years. Last autumn, I retired from writing here. Today, I'm unretiring — just like a professional athlete.

My role at Get Rich Slowly won't be nearly as extensive as it once was. Ellen will still serve as editor, for instance, and I'll have no hand in the day-to-day operation of the site. Instead, I'll contribute stories about personal finance a few times per month. And, if things go according to plan, I may actually provide a couple of updates per week in which I link to other great personal-finance info around the web. (That used to be a key feature of this site, but it's fallen by the wayside.)

Today, though, I want to give an update on what I've been doing for the past year.

Background Info

First, for those who don't know, I founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. I was deep in debt and trying to learn how to manage my money. I hoped that by sharing my journey, it'd keep me motivated and help others who were in similar trouble.

The site succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I dug myself out of debt using tried-and-true techniques. Then, as my income from this blog increased, I quit my day job working for the family box factory. I also published Your Money: The Missing Manual, a book about smart money management. Eventually, I sold Get Rich Slowly, though I stuck around as editor for three more years.

Last year, I decided I'd had enough. I felt like I'd written all I could about personal finance, and I'd come to dread the daily grind of producing a blog. (It takes a lot of work to produce a blog like Get Rich Slowly.) So, I retired.

Since then, I've been reading and writing, the same as always, but with less focus than in the past. (I'll explain why in a moment.) I've been able to use my new site, More Than Money, to explore a variety of topics, and my pieces about money have mainly gone to Entrepreneur magazine and to the Time website.

Outside work, I've continued to pursue Crossfit. Plus, I've been dating the same woman for 15 months. Kim and I have had a tons of adventures in our year together, and we've worked hard to build a strong, mutually supportive relationship. It's been a hell of a lot of fun.

Just another Christmas Eve dogsled ride with Kimmie
Over Christmas, Kim and I went dogsledding…

Recently, I've felt the urge to write about personal finance again. It's in my blood. For example:

  • I hear Macklemore's “Thrift Shop” on the radio and want to use that as a basis to write about frugality.
  • I talk with my childhood friends about how our financial fortunes have changed in the past 20 years.
  • I see dumb money advice on television and want to warn people to beware.
  • I watch how smart Kim is with money and want to share some of her secrets.

In short, I have more to say about money than I thought I did, so I'm going to write for Get Rich Slowly again. Before I get started, I should update you on a few major changes in my life.

Note: Many folks want to know how Kris is doing. She seems happier than I've seen her in a long time. She's still gardening and canning and frolicking with cats. She's been dating the same guy for over a year, and he's even managed to convince her to go camping! (He's a mechanic for a Mini Cooper shop, and I plan to take my car to him when it needs work.) Kris and I live five miles apart, and have dinner together about once a month. Kim recently loaned her juicer to Kris in exchange for some spicy pickled carrots. Next weekend, we'll have a joint garage sale.

ADHD and Me

Last fall, I started seeing a therapist. I didn't have a goal in mind at first. During the divorce, Kris had asked me to see one, so when a friend told me how useful her psychologist had been, I decided to give it a shot. I wasn't sure how useful therapy would be for me. In time, though, it became clear that I was wrestling with anxiety issues and a mild case of ADHD.

A few months ago, my counselor decided this “mild case of ADHD” was probably more severe. She suggested I seek medication to help the problem. I was reluctant at first, but after three months of using Vyvanse, I'm a believer. I'm a functional human being again! I'm getting more done every morning than I used to get done in a week. Also, my anxiety has (mostly) vanished. My colleagues have noticed a marked difference, and so has Kim. Best of all, so have I.

I don't like the idea of medication as a long-term solution, so one of my current projects is to create systems and schedules to keep me on track even when I'm not medicated. I've been testing these systems. They work well for a few hours, but by mid-afternoon my mind is a muddle. But I'm confident that with more work and more practice, I'll need the Vyvanse only occasionally.

Note: My ADHD meds cause one notable side effect: I'm not hungry. When I take the Vyvanse, my appetite goes away. To fight this, I try to eat a big breakfast. But some days — like today — I forget to eat before I start working. When that happens, I can go all day without eating. Then I end up very hungry at night when the medication wears off.

Brace Face
photo (9)

For years, I hemmed and hawed about whether I should get braces. I've had some crooked teeth and a wicked crossbite, both of which affected my self-confidence. I could never pull the trigger, though. It seemed silly to get braces simply for the sake of vanity.

Late last year, two things happened. First, my friend Matt (who is just as old as I am) got braces. Second, my dental hygienist girlfriend cleaned my teeth for the first time. “Huh, your teeth really are crooked,” Kim said. “You should see an orthodontist.”

So I did.

In January, I got braces. I'll have them for at least two years, but I don't mind. I already feel more confident. I just wish food wasn't so eager to get stuck on the brackets…

Note: The braces and the therapy are great, but they're also expensive. I have health insurance, but it's catastrophic health insurance, and it doesn't cover stuff like this. If I'd been smart, I would have taken care of these things long ago, back when I was on Kris's awesome health insurance. (And I don't know what I'm going to do about my deviated septum.) Another personal-finance lesson learned.

A Place of My Own

Perhaps the biggest news, on both the personal and the financial fronts, is that I bought a condo. I loved my apartment in northeast Portland — it was close to everything! — but there were many disadvantages to it too.

Last summer, I met Andi Blackwell, who is not only a Portland-based real-estate agent but also a long-time GRS reader. (Andi used to have a financial blog of her own.) Andi and I worked together through the fall to figure out what sort of place I was after. As the real-estate market began to simmer again here in Portland, I found a nice condo in the lovely (and walkable) Sellwood neighborhood. After a short bidding war (ugh), I became a homeowner once again.

I've been here eight months now, and I love it. Sure, I miss having a yard, but I don't miss the yard work. Besides, I live just steps from three wonderful parks, have quick access to a 20-mile multi-use trail, and can walk (or bike) to almost everything I need. Living here has been awesome. The only drawback is that they're building a new bridge nearby, so sometimes (like now) the whole building shakes.

Because banks are tighter with money than they used to be, and because I barely have an income, I couldn't qualify for a mortgage. I had to pay cash for this place. That's put a crimp in my budget (and it pains me to not be able to take advantage of today's low interest rates), which is helping me to rediscover my frugal side.

photo (27)
Kim and Andi exploring a condo in northwest Portland…

Looking Forward

Though I still have a sizable emergency fund, I depleted a huge chunk of my savings to buy this place. (On the plus side, not having a mortgage keeps my monthly costs low.) Plus, my income is lower than it has been in years.

Kim is feeling pinched too. She's smart with money. She'd been building her savings so she could replace her 15-year-old car. But she got hit with an unexpected tax bill, had extensive (and expensive) shoulder surgery, and then accompanied me on a three-week trip to Europe. Her savings have taken a hit.

So, this summer has been all about frugal dating. We've been exploring fun things we can do for cheap. We love happy hour and shuffleboard at the nearby pubs!

Meanwhile, I'm following my own advice and looking for ways to boost my income. Kim helped me sell my comic book collection (about which more later), I'm going to produce an ebook (about conquering fear), and I've started the proposal for my second real book — even though the last book project ended up paying me less than minimum wage. (Writing here won't help. I'm doing this without pay!)

Professionally, I have a couple of unpaid speaking gigs (again on the subject of conquering fear), and helped to produce the third-annual World Domination Summit.

I have a good life, and I know it. I have a nice home, work I enjoy, a supportive girlfriend, and get to spend plenty of time with my friends. This is the happiest I've been in my adult life. And now that my ADHD seems to be under control, I can finally be a productive human being again. That means you'll see a little more of me around here. It feels good to be back…

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claudia
claudia
6 years ago

good to have you back, J.D., welcome!

Jennifer B
Jennifer B
6 years ago

Welcome back! Yours is a voice here that has been missed, and I look forward to reading your posts again.

Betty
Betty
6 years ago

J.D.

I don’t know if you want to explore this option, food intolerances.

Many with ADHD have found foods to be the culprit. Gluten, dairy, soy, and, food coloring, are the ones I have heard/read
about. However, I am sure there are others.

You might find you can cure yourself through diet.

Good to have you back. I found GRS just as you departed.

Stephen
Stephen
6 years ago
Reply to  Betty

Firstly, welcome back to GRS. Definitely looking forward to seeing more for you here. Perhaps a few articles on what its like in the third stage of finance. Long time follower and I’m definitely interested to see what is ahead.

On the ADHD front, I’d also like to hear more about it and how you are coping or how the meds have helped. That is probably one for More Than Money however.

Darin
Darin
6 years ago
Reply to  Betty

I had a lot of anxiety up until a few years ago when I changed my diet to eliminate gluten. My nutritionist said that she treats a lot of people that have migraines, anxiety, ADHD, arthritis, and many other issues that are caused by food intolerances and allergies. Gluten, soy, dairy, and corn are some of the most common. Most doctors aren’t trained in this information so I think it would be worth it to contact a licensed nutritionist to see if you are one of them. You don’t need to be experiencing any digestive symptoms for your issues to… Read more »

Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
6 years ago

I’m so glad that you will be writing here every now and then again. I love GRS and this just makes it 100 times better 🙂

Sounds like life is going good. Happy to hear that as well.

Financial Samurai
Financial Samurai
6 years ago

Welcome back JD!

I had no doubt you would return from writing burnout. As you say, it’s in your blood!

Kingston
Kingston
6 years ago

Much as I like some of the new writers, GRS really has not been the same without you. Glad you’re back.

dara
dara
6 years ago

Awesome to have you back! I found you partway thru my own evil little life plan “Debt Free by 43” and you really kept me psyched. I completed by goal almost a year early. I am now debt free except the underwater mortgage (eyeroll). I’ve turned into quite a financial maniac, too. Setting goals is something I never learned until about age 38 when the cowpie hit the fan.

Glad to hear your life is so full of fun. That’s one of my goals now–more laughter and hijinks!

Carol
Carol
6 years ago

So glad to see that you are back!

Matt @ Your Living Body
Matt @ Your Living Body
6 years ago

Great to have you back. I am one of those that believes ADHD is just another way of being different. Don’t let it get you down. Not all of us need to be tamed.

Mel
Mel
6 years ago

Glad to have you back JD. I’ll bookmark the page again. I left because the content wasn’t the same. I was where you were in life and enjoyed the garden notes too. We’ve paid off the house and recently incurred short term debt for a deck and furniture. We’ll be buying a car soon too. However, we are also maxing out our 401ks. We’ll have to see if we qualify for a Roth. Definitely on the path just not sure how long the journey will be. Hopefully, you stay bookmarked. Looking forward to reading more of your tales.

bulawanten
bulawanten
6 years ago

Welcome back! Have you eaten at Jade’s Teahouse yet?

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
6 years ago

Thanks for the update on Kris. I’m so glad that the two of you are mature, reasonable adults who are both on the road to real joy in your lives.

FI Pilgrim
FI Pilgrim
6 years ago

Welcome back JD! I’ve enjoyed your commentary and story-telling for years, and I look forward to hearing what you’re re-motivated to share going forward!

michelle
michelle
6 years ago

Nice to have you back-have always found the site helpful-and used a lot of tips to find my way out of debt and beyond-and to keep on track afterwards…also have enjoyed your articles and journey very much—there is something in your backyard that you may want to research with anxiety/adhd etc-it sure has helped me with other issues…Bill Harris, Holosync (I think he’s in Portland or Beaverton)

Anne
Anne
6 years ago

I am so impressed by the dog sledding picture and I want to go there….. NOW!

Can you tell a little about how you got connected for that trip?

eileen
eileen
6 years ago

Welcome back! I was happy to read this. Thank you for your candor about your condition, your meds, and everything else.

Ivan
Ivan
6 years ago

Good to have you back, J.D.!

Your writing is refreshingly personal and down-to-earth, so it’s good to know we’ll be seeing a lot of you around here in the future! Congratulations on getting your new place! And good luck on your new ventures on boosting your income.

I have a feeling you’re going to make it. After all, it is YOUR advice that you’re following!

Lori Blatzheim
Lori Blatzheim
6 years ago

Hello J.D.

It will be great to have you back and writing.

I have given so many people copies of your submission guidelines. I have used that post ever since I started blogging. It is truly terrific.

Best wishes on your current life and your future.

You were missed.

Lori Blatzheim

Scott
Scott
6 years ago

JD!

Glad to see you back. Like everyone else, I’ve enjoyed the other writers, but it’s your writing that brought me here and kept me here.

Also, VERY curious to hear what you did with your comic collection – I work in that industry, so I’m looking forward to it.

Christina @ Northern Cheapskate
Christina @ Northern Cheapskate
6 years ago

Welcome back, J.D.! I’ve been following you since your early days here and on your new site, and I’m enjoying learning from you as you grow. Looking forward to more posts from you at GRS!

Joel DePeri
Joel DePeri
6 years ago

So good to have you back!

Ed
Ed
6 years ago

It will be interesting to read some of your new articles that you have mentioned. Welcome back. It is funny you mention ADD/ADHD, that seems to be the fibromyalgia/epstien barr of the last 10 years. EVERYBODY has it. Your comment of how much you can get done now in the day is no surprise when you take an upper. OF course you can get more done when you take speed. This just leads to anti-axiety meds like clonazepam, sleep aids like zolpidem. Soon, someone who was basically medication free is taking a cocktail of controlled substances just to cope with… Read more »

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
6 years ago
Reply to  Ed

Ed, please don’t be a jerk. Has it ever occurred to you that there are a lot of undiagnosed people, who are struggling and many are NOT getting much done when they could have done amazing things with help?

The same is true of the many autoimmune diseases. One day, you or someone you love will be struggling with something. I hope if it is someone you love that they don’t turn to you for support!

Ed
Ed
6 years ago
Reply to  SLCCOM

Sorry, don’t mean to be a jerk. Just want to point out that everybody can and would benefit from taking speed. At least for the short term.

SLCCOM are you really comparing ADD to an autoimmune disease? Rheumatoid arthritis? Psoriasis, lupus? Sorry not in the same ballpark.

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
6 years ago
Reply to  Ed

Sorry, don’t mean to be a jerk. Just want to point out that everybody can and would benefit from taking speed. At least for the short term. ———————– Amphetamines do not act the same way in people with the atypical brain chemistry of ADHD or ADD. See, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9888856, “Role of serotonin in the paradoxical calming effect of psychostimulants on hyperactivity.” So, your assumption is completely wrong. A paradoxical effect means the opposite of what is expected, like when we gave our poodle, Frenchie, tranquilizers, he had a paradoxical reaction that led to him escaping from the camper at Carlsbad Caverns… Read more »

Chip @ ChipsMoneyTips
Chip @ ChipsMoneyTips
6 years ago

Crossfit? Well done, JD! Y’all YouTube it be impressed even more.

Marsha
Marsha
6 years ago

Welcome back. You’ve been missed.

I have to take exception to “prodigal” being used in the title to this post. A prodigal person is a spendthrift, wasteful, extravagant, etc. These don’t describe you at all.

In the parable, the prodigal was welcomed back with much rejoicing. This part applies to you.

Anne
Anne
6 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

I was just going to reply. The word “prodigal” is misused constantly.

Lauren
Lauren
6 years ago
Reply to  Marsha

This is what I came to say. Though I found it amusing in its irony, since the entire point of this blog is how not to be prodigal!

Michelle
Michelle
6 years ago

Welcome back! We’ve missed you!

Lance @ Money Life and More
Lance @ Money Life and More
6 years ago

Welcome back JD! I was excited when I saw you’d be writing here again.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
6 years ago

Congrats!

sheri
sheri
6 years ago

Welcome back! I look forward to your posts.

Carmen
Carmen
6 years ago

I’m so happy for you, J.D. It’s great to have you back on GRS,too. Congrats on everything and here’s to your future!

Tara @ Unsophisticook
Tara @ Unsophisticook
6 years ago

Nice to see you back here writing at Get Rich Slowly, J.D.! Love reading about what you’ve been up to.

~Tara aka Deal Seeking Mom

Dean
Dean
6 years ago

prod·i·gal
/ˈprädigəl/
Adjective
Spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.
Noun
A person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way.
Synonyms
adjective. lavish – profuse – extravagant – wasteful – spendthrift
noun. spendthrift – waster – wastrel – spender – squanderer

HKR
HKR
6 years ago
Reply to  Dean

The Prodigal Son: A biblical parable about a son (JD) who cashes in his inheritance (blog) early and leaves his friends and family (us readers) to pursue his own interests (travel etc.) but eventually finds he must return home (to share what he has learned) and is greeted with joy and celebration (all these comments), despite his earlier departure.

Lauren
Lauren
6 years ago
Reply to  HKR

Except that that’s not what the word means, so people who refer to “the prodigal son” meaning the “returned” part are perpetuating the problem. The reason the biblical prodigal son was called prodigal is because he wasted his inheritance and had to crawl back penniless. If that’s what JD did, then I guess we have fodder for some good stories coming up!

HKR
HKR
6 years ago
Reply to  Lauren

When a preacher tells this parable in church, he does not finish with “so if you are a parent whose son who has squandered away his inheritance on gambling and other vices, kill your finest sheep and throw him a party when he shows up at your door.” Parables are not supposed to be exact matches to the situation they are applied to; they are stories whose general lessons/concepts/themes can be applied to any number of situations.

Mm
Mm
6 years ago

Welcome back!

Mark
Mark
6 years ago

J.D., welcome back! You have a unique point of view and compelling writing style. When you rode off into the sunset, I had two complaints: you hadn’t really gotten rich, but you’d gotten what you had rather quickly. I look forward to following your continuing journey in pursuit of your original goal.

Wayne
Wayne
6 years ago

Welcome back J.D. You’ve been missed!!

Erman
Erman
6 years ago

Hello J.D.

Great to have you back.
You have a natural talent to write and I have been visiting GRS less and less each passing day since you left.

I do not mean disrespect to staff writers and contributors of GRS but in my humlbe opininon, J.D. was the heart and soul of GRS and it has not been the same since he left.

I will be looking forward to your contributions and please sign a paid contract with GRS so we can read your articles more often rather than just ”a few per month”..

Erman

Christine, Random Hangers blog
Christine, Random Hangers blog
6 years ago

I’m sure there’s more than meets the eye but why aren’t you getting paid to write here? Are you at least getting royalties or something related? People seem really glad to have you back, so you writing for free feels like giving away a valuable commodity…

Dawn
Dawn
6 years ago

Welcome Back JD! I, like many others, love GRS but haven’t been keeping up with it as much because the voice hasn’t been the same without you. I feel like a friend moved away for a while and just moved back home again. 🙂 And you should totally be getting at least a little something to supplement your income while writing here. Isn’t that what you would tell each of us?

Lori
Lori
6 years ago

J.D., Welcome back! I have seen some comments about the Vyvanse being a crutch and I want to say that is obviously stated as someone who hasn’t walked in your shoes or mine. I am also on Vyvanse and have found my life immeasurably improved by medication and therapy. I have accomplished alot before medication but now I don’t have to break out in a sweat to function at work and keep my filter in place. I also use an essential oil blend from DoTerra called Intune. I find it really helps with the afternoon brain fog. You can find… Read more »

Sean
Sean
6 years ago

Welcome back J.D.

I appreciate the refreshingly candid view of things you share with your readers. Both you and JL Altucher exhibit the same unique honesty.

Cheers!

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
6 years ago

So glad to see you back!! Thanks for the updates. I love your style of writing and your articles!

Cynthia
Cynthia
6 years ago

Welcome back. I will look forwrad to reading your posts again!

Tonya
Tonya
6 years ago

Can’t wait to hear about you selling your beloved comic books! Welcome back, JD.

Sam
Sam
6 years ago

Long time reader and fan of J.D. But I have continued to enjoy GRS without you. My favorite writer is Honey Smith these days.

I’m also glad to hear that you are in therapy, you’ve had a lot of changes in the last couple of years. Quitting the box company, the divorce, retiring, etc. and that much change can be unsettling and therapy can help. Also, I think Kris gave you some sage advice and perhaps therapy will help you to have a successful relationship with your current girlfriend.

Good luck.

Teinegurl
Teinegurl
6 years ago

J.D ,

Wow! what a year it has been! When i first read the title i couldn’t believe it. Then i read the article wow it’s true. I can’t believe it’s been a year or more since your departure i still remember when you wrote that article. I’m curious to read your other blog more than money because i seem to be missing out. Welcome back

Bree
Bree
6 years ago

Welcome back, J.D.! We’ve missed you.

CB
CB
6 years ago

Curious as to what you would do with the extra cash if you hadn’t used it for the condo payment?

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

I’ve been reading since 2007, rarely commenting but VERY glad to have you back. There’s a level of authenticity you bring, and for a while most articles were not relatable (for myself at least)

Allison
Allison
6 years ago

Hi JD! If you are considering discontinuing your medication at some point, I highly recommend the book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia” by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. (Edit to add: Dr. Campbell-McBride is an MD with degrees in neurology and nutrition – she knows what she’s talking about!) I can only speak for myself, but following the diet guide in this book (as well as taking a magnesium glycinate supplement) has cured my anxiety and improved my life significantly. Check out the reviews on Amazon and think about it! So glad to… Read more »

KM
KM
6 years ago

Do you miss your cats? How are the ones you gave away doing? Did you ever follow up on the one you took to a shelter to find out if it was euthanized or if it found a new home? I hope they are all okay despite being separated from you.

Kristin (Meals Outside the Box)
Kristin (Meals Outside the Box)
6 years ago

So glad to see you back JD! Missed your posts. Take care of yourself. Can’t wait to read more of your posts!

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