On a cold first of December 2000, my car was totalled during morning rush hour. I was cruising along in the slow lane — I drive like an old man — when a tractor-trailer rig changed lanes into my Geo Storm. According to the guy behind me, the car spun around twice (although that seems unlikely) before slamming into a guardrail and coming to a stop.

The entire accident probably took all of five seconds but it seemed more like five minutes in subjective time. From the moment I felt the first jolt, my mind entered a state of hyper awareness. I could see everything happening around me — the truck looming to my left, the airbag deploying, the chaos as the car whirled about, the traffic in other lanes — but I was powerless to do anything about it.

When my vehicle came to a stop, witnesses pulled over and rushed to see if I was okay. I was stunned, but I was fine.

Over the next couple of hours — and then days — I went about picking up the pieces. The accident itself had been chaos, as I said, and it left a bit of a mess to clean up afterward. I had to have the car towed. The insurance company had to evaluate it. They had to issue me a check. I had to buy a new car. And so on.

Five seconds of chaos, five weeks of picking up the pieces, and then life settled into a new normal.

The left side of my Geo Storm (after accident)

My 2019 felt much the same, my friends. I’m not trying to be overdramatic (or to catastrophize), but for a lot of the past twelve months, I’ve felt as if I’m stuck in a spinning car, clearly able to see what’s happening but powerless to stop it.

This is, of course, a product of my anxiety and depression. Objectively, my life is fine. Great, even. Subjectively, everything’s been spinning and the airbag has deployed. I know this is all in my head, but that doesn’t make it any better.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that I believe — hope, maybe? — that the wreck has come to a halt. The car that is my life has stopped spinning. Over the past month, I’ve been “assessing the damage”. Things are messy, sure, but they’re not as bad as they might have been. Now, I’ve slowly begun to pick up the pieces, to work toward a new normal.

Fortunately, nothing’s totalled. It’s a mess, but there’s nothing that cannot be repaired.

2019 in Review

Hello! And welcome to 2020.

I, for one, am eager to dive into the new year. It’s almost guaranteed to be an improvement over 2019, which was (subjectively) one of the most difficult years of my life. Things can only get better, right?

But when I look back objectively at the previous twelve months, things were great. Especially financially. After hemorrhaging money during the previous two years, I managed to stop the bleeding. The austerity measures I implemented last January worked. My spending declined. Meanwhile, my investments — in the stock market, in my home — all gained value.

As a result, my net worth grew substantially despite being in drawdown mode (as opposed to “wealth accumulation” mode).

  • At the end of 2018, my net worth was $1,334,227. This was a 15.2% decline from 2017!
  • At the end of 2019, my net worth was $1,449,808. This is an 8.7% increase over last year.

In 2020, I intend to continue pursuing frugality. Kim and I have talked about various ways we can both cut our spending even more than we already have (while still enjoying the things that bring us value, such as travel). But my top financial goal is to increase my income with Get Rich Slowly. That means publishing more articles and organizing the existing material so that it’s more useful to new visitors.

As I get back in the habit of writing for GRS, I’ve noticed that some readers have questions. My sporadic publishing schedule has left gaps in what I’ve shared about my life.

  • “What happened to working at the box factory?”
  • “Why are you renting an office?”
  • “Did you ever buy a new car?”
  • And so on.

In my head, I’ve shared about this stuff. But that’s probably just in my head. Today, as we wrap up 2019, I thought it might be a good time to fill in some of these gaps.

Health and Fitness

From a health and fitness perspective, 2019 sucked. And because my health and fitness sucked, the rest of the year seemed to suck more than it actually did. When you’re not well, everything else seems off…even if it isn’t actually so.

At the start of the year, things seemed fine. I was heavier than I wanted, but I was going to the gym and generally happy.

Something happened in March, though. Every spring, I get deeply depressed as my tree allergies flare up. This year, though, things were especially bad. At the end of March, I went to the emergency room with what I thought was a heart attack. It wasn’t a heart attack. It was probably a panic attack.

As a result, I started attending therapy for the first time in ten years. Over the next few months, I sunk deeper into depression and my anxiety worsened. It sucked. Now, though, things seem to be improving. But I’ve suffered a lot of lost time and productivity.

“A lot of your self-worth seems to come from accomplishments,” my therapist said last week. I hadn’t ever thought of that. She’s right. Work, school, play — a lot of how I feel comes from the results I achieve rather than the effort I expend. Something to work on!

In November, I had a colonoscopy. Cancer runs in my family, and I don’t want to take any chances. The doctor removed nine polyps. Two were hyperplastic (“of no significance”) and seven were adenomatous (not cancerous, but could lead to cancer). So, good news there.

All of this healthcare stuff was expensive. I met my $7900 out-of-pocket health insurance max this year, which boggles my mind. Plus, I ended the year ten pounds heavier than I started it.

Despite all of this, I’m hopeful for the future. I seem to have turned the corner on the depression and anxiety. I’m making progress. And I have a plan for improving my fitness, a plan that involves walking and biking to work every day. Much of my mental state seems to be tied to my physical fitness, so this is all good stuff.


At the start of 2019, I went back to work for the family box factory. I was training to replace my cousin, who has throat cancer and is continually told he has three months left to live. When it came time for him to leave, I’d take over as bookkeeper and office manager. That was the plan.

That didn’t work out.

For one, it was taking time away from this website. For another, it was tough to justify commuting an hour each day, especially when I don’t really need the money. Plus, I felt like working together was placing a strain on our family relationships. So, I stopped working for the family business at the end of June. (Fortunately, Duane is still with us and still managing the office. We’re even talking about taking another trip together!)

At Get Rich Slowly, I struggled to find rhythm and direction. I feel like I’ve managed to achieve a sort of balance now, thankfully. I’m writing what I want when I want, and that takes a lot of pressure off me. Tom and I are still trying to get the stupid redesign finished — it’s only taken two years! — but that’s all on me. I’m the sticking point.

As I’ve mentioned in passing, GRS has increased revenue over the past year. I’d still like to boost income even more, but I’m unwilling to do so in ways that compromise the user experience, so that limits my options. Tom and I will keep experimenting, though.

Meanwhile, I’ve begun working on a project that excites me. I’m creating a five-hours, ten-part introductory course on financial independence and early retirement for Audible and The Great Courses. That’ll be sucking up most of my time for the next four months, in fact.

Lastly, I should point out that I have moved into a new office space. At our family meeting on Thanksgiving, Kim urged me to rent space outside the house. She thought it would give me mental separation between work and home. Turns out, she was right.

In December, I rented a small (129 square foot) office for $325 per month and it’s awesome. It’s a great space that I love. Best of all, it actually seems to be fostering productivity. Yay!

My office at this very moment, as I write this article


Now, let’s get to the good stuff. Let’s talk about personal finance.

I was relatively pleased with my money management this year. After seeming to vomit money in 2017 and 2018 (from remodeling the house, buying back this website, and investing in other businesses), I buckled down and looked for ways to not spend. I actively worked to reduce my discretionary expenses in 2019, and have plans to reduce them even more in 2020.

Normally, I have lots of numbers to share. I’ll certainly share some in a moment, but my records are spotty for 2019. I spent two months on the road, during which I didn’t keep good records. I stopped tracking at the end of July, and didn’t resume until the end of October. When I did resume, I switched from Quicken 2007 to Quicken 2017. I thought it was time to enter the modern era. I wish I hadn’t.

I’m now left in something of a pickle. My Quicken 2007 records stop in late July. My Quicken 2017 records start at the end of October. After using it for nearly three months, I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not like the modern version of Quicken, and for many reasons. (Maybe I need to do a review?) I want to go back to Quicken 2007.

That said, Quicken 2007 is near the end of its useful life. Intuit no longer supports it. It will not run on modern versions of the Macintosh operating system. So, I’m keeping an old machine to run the program (and to play World of Warcraft), which is silly.

What I’ll probably do is “reset” Quicken 2007 to 31 December 2019. That means manually entering adjusting balances, etc. Long-term, this means I’ll lose six months of financial data, which will make spending comparisons difficult. But it’s probably the best solution.

Anyhow, let’s look at some of my spending for 2019.

In the spreadsheet below, I’ve included monthly averages for three time periods: all of 2018, for the first half of 2019, and then for the two months between October 20th (when I started using Quicken 2017) and December 19th (when I created the spreadsheet). Here’s my average monthly spending on selected categories:

A spending comparison

Some intersting things to note:

  • After forty years of collecting comic books, I sold almost everything in 2013. Since then, I buy funny books only rarely. In 2018, I stocked up on some digital comics (thus the relatively high monthly expense), but nowadays I buy maybe one collection per month…if that. (I just bought the To Kill a Mockingbird graphic novel yesterday, for example.) Progress!
  • As you may recall, I was very concerned with my iTunes spending when I crunched the numbers for 2018. I was shelling out over $250 a month to buy movies and TV shows. Holy cats! During the first half of 2019, I worked to bring that number down. And over the past couple of months, it’s fallen even farther.
  • One of my big goals for this year was to reduce my food spending. It’s absurd that I spend so much on this category. In 2018, I spent $1038 per month on food, which included $619 per month on groceries and $390 per month on restaurants. To cut costs, I decided to try the meal service HelloFresh for the year. It didn’t work. My combined spending on groceries and HelloFresh increased instead of declining. This week will be my last order from the company. (I have another article in the wings that explains more about this decision.)
  • Finally, I’ve made some progress on my “sin” spending, but not enough. My sin category includes alcohol and (legal) marijuana. I should note that I don’t use pot recreationally very often, but I do use it to sleep almost every night. Anyhow, I’m spending $8 per day on “sin”, and I feel like that’s too much. This is something I’m working on with my therapist, so let’s hope that when I do my 2020 summary, we see some progress here.

Looking at my numbers for the last two months, I spent $10,987.24 between October 20th and December 19th. Of this, $3817.81 went to property taxes, which means I spent $7169.93 (or $3585.97 per month) to support my lifestyle. Not bad. Not bad.

If we amortize the property taxes across twelve months, we get $4221.27 of spending per month, which is $50,655.26 per year. I think $50,000 seems like a resonable spending goal. Let’s see how close I can get to that in 2020!

Final Thoughts

To wrap up our look at my financials, here’s how my end-of-year net worth has progressed over the past few years:

  • 2016 –> $1.58 million
  • 2017 –> $1.58 million (does not include the value of this site)
  • 2018 –> $1.33 million (does not include the value of this site)
  • 2019 –> $1.43 million (does not include the value of this site)

That huge loss in 2018 still stings, but I know it wasn’t money frittered on fast cars and loose women. It was money spent remodeling the house and buying back Get Rich Slowly.

Oh yeah. I forgot to answer one common question. Did I ever buy a new car? No. I’m still cruising around in my 2004 Mini Cooper. Plus, last January I spent $1900 on a 1993 Toyota pickup, which I love. (“I know this is a piece of junk,” I told Kim as we were driving to IKEA yesterday. “But I love it. I’d give up the Mini before I’d give up this truck.”)

When the Mini Cooper dies, I do intend to replace it with a new one, but I hope that won’t be for several years yet. Meanwhile, Kim is actively looking to replace her 1997 Honda Accord. We’ve done one test drive, and she may do another while I’m here at the office today. She’s a big fan of J.L. Collins, so she plans to take a similar approach to how he bought his new car.

So, that’s how my 2019 was. How was yours?

61 Replies to “My 2019 year in review”

  1. Pete says:

    We’re still accumulating ourselves but 2019 was a very good year. Still a ways to go before we pull the plug on needing to work.

    Good deal on your front. Your goal of 50K or so and tweaking some expenses down looks like it will work for you. To a great 2020 and beyond!

  2. dh says:

    Great post.

    Health-wise, you focused on exercise in this post, which is great! But the main focus should be on diet, not exercise. Most people outeat exercising, so the results from exercise are negligible. The focus needs to be on controlling calories IN more than calories OUT. Keto is great for this, as when fat and protein enter the stomach, it triggers a chemical in the brain that says, “I feel full!” You end up taking in less calories. And this is of course why so many people on keto find it easy to fast and skip meals altogether. Check this out:


    As for the new FIRE project you’re working on, I would just remind you of Stephen Covey’s famous words: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” And the main thing in this case is posting at the GRS website. I remember when an older Charles Schulz was asked about why he still worked so hard writing and drawing his daily comic strip Peanuts, and he said something like, “Because it’s the foundation for *everything* — it’s what all the toys, licensing agreements, T.V. specials and everything else rest upon. And I never forget that.”

    • J.D. Roth says:

      Love your final paragraph, David. Thanks for that. I agree. 😉

      Also, I agree on the CICO thing. I have great success when I track calories. Starting that next week!

      • dh says:

        For alcohol, which I enjoy on occasion too, I’ve transitioned to vodka only, as it gets the job done and has zero carbs (zero sugar) and very low calories. If you buy the stuff that’s at least triple-distilled, then it really is as clean as the hype and won’t give a hangover, provided it’s consumed in moderation. Tito’s is a good brand of vodka that even the ladies will drink straight, as it’s practically odorless and tasteless from the freezer — other than maybe a slight sweetness from the corn it’s distilled (6x) from. In fact, the Tito’s story would make a great, inspirational GRS post in its own right!


        • Louise says:

          Honestly, advising someone to switch to spirits from beer would have to be some of the worst, most irresponsible advice. From my observation many of the people who achieve true ‘dumpster fire’ status with their drinking usually drink spirits, in progressively greater quantities.

  3. Petra says:

    Regarding your sleep… did one or more doctors look at your sleep problems?

    • J.D. Roth says:

      Back before I started GRS, I did a sleep study. They diagnosed sleep apnea. For a while, I slept with a C-PAP machine. Today, I sleep with a mouth guard that acts as both a retainer (after my braces) and a snore guard. That helps with some of the issues. But I have a real problem with getting to sleep, especially when I wake up in the middle of the night. I haven’t talked to anyone about that yet.

      • El Nerdo says:

        1. Have you seen if the apnea tracks with weight changes? My wife sez that whenever I put on weight I start snoring.

        2. If you wake up in the middle of the night (I do as well, no drama), can’t you just go to the writer’s shack in your backyard and pound the keys for a while? It’s not like you have to punch the clock in the morning anywhere….

      • Sandy says:

        JD, please do your own research on my advice, but I have found Natural Calm to be a game changer. I make a small glass of it before bed, have one gulp prior to going to sleep and keep the rest of the glass on my nightstand. When I wake up in the middle of the night I drink the rest. Boom. Out like a light. It’s an inexpensive fix and magnesium is very good for your body.

        Again, do your own research — but man. This works really well for me.

        • J.D. Roth says:

          You know what, I used to take Natural Calm every morning back in 2012 and 2013. I don’t do that right now. I should get some. Thanks for the reminder.

          • Sandy says:

            To be clear, I am not giving you advice nor saying you should self-treat any mental health issues like anxiety and depression but sharing experiences is helpful! For me what has been the most helpful for anxiety, sleep, and mild depression is 1) Natural Calm, 2) guided meditation using the Alexa (just say “Alexa, open guided meditation”) and 3) Wyld CBD strawberry gummies.

            (For the record I discussed everything with my naturopath prior to using.)

            Night and day difference. I can’t believe how much of a difference myself. It seems a miracle, but it was the right combo for my health.

            Best of luck with all of it. You just have to advocate for yourself and continue to fiddle around till you find the right combo. That’s what worked for me.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Regarding Quicken: I switched to GnuCash eleven years ago (or so) when I got tired of the direction that Quicken was going and being constantly nagged to upgrade. Like any accounting software, there’s a bit of effort in getting things set up but for me it was worth it to NOT have to put up with the newer version of Quicken.

  5. Lisa says:

    Regarding Quicken, I switched from Quicken 2007 to Moneydance based on recommendations on the interwebs. I have been very happy with it.

    BTW I was able to seamlessly import all my data from Quicken into Moneydance(had a Quicken export file ready to go).

  6. JenniferGwennifer says:

    2019 was a crazy year! This saver married a spender and moved from low-cost New England to high cost San Francisco. We are keeping finances separate and splitting expenses proportional to income (rent 75/25, other expenses 66/33). I expect my work-related travel to double this year as my employer grows. Excited that I just reached $20k in my Roth IRA that I started in 2015 – I’m 33 so I’d like to increase my contributions here when I can. The cross-country move, wedding, and honeymoon all threw my expense tracking completely out of whack this year but I’m excited to start a new year and find ways to keep us from exploding our expenses while exploring the West Coast.

  7. Leif Kristjansen (@ FiveYearFIREescape) says:

    I hear you man. 2019 was a bad year for my fitness too. I didn’t have allergies depression and panic attacks but I was still in the hospital a lot (meeting my new babies, new family’s babies, and close friend’s babies,… so many babies!).

    I know its different but staying on that fitness horse is hard work when life gets in the way. I just try to keep it up since I know it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Good luck!

  8. Goldendog777 says:

    I love how honest you are in your posts. I too have trouble sleeping…and pot is also legal where I live. What combo of CBD to THC helps you sleep? Do you use a tincture or smoke it? Any help would be appreciated!!

    • J.D. Roth says:

      I’m not very scientific about it. Most nights, I just use a 100% CBD tincture. Some nights — and there’s no rhyme or reason to this — I use a 100% THC tincture. I sleep better with the THC, but it has two downsides. First, because it’s THC, I get “high”. I’m asleep, of course, and mostly don’t notice (unless I have to get up for some reason). But it’s an issue if something were to happen in the middle of the night that needed my attention. Second, the THC makes me foggier in the morning. I used it last night, for instance, and I can definitely feel the fog here at 6:53 a.m. as I start work for the day.

      I’m used the last of the THC yesterday, so I’m going to try just using CBD for a while…

      • Goldendog777 says:

        The CBD tincture doesn’t help me with sleep. I’ve read that adding 1% THC to it would help but I have no idea if they sell that here…haven’t checked. I’m currently using hydroxyzine (which is a prescribed antihistamine that also helps with anxiety) but sometimes that leaves me groggy too. Life is so much better with sleep!

  9. Sam says:

    Hope your mental health gets better in 2020!

    How would you go about valuing GRS if you were to make an estimate?


  10. Stephen Chen says:

    Great post JD – it sounds like you are getting a handle on things and have a path to a better place. (Although it seems like you are in a decent place from an outsiders perspective…but I know what matters is your POV. Perception is reality.)

    Good luck – your work helps many people. I hope to see you in person or via Zoom soon.

  11. Tina B says:

    My dad died of Colon cancer, so I’m happy to hear you get screened.

    We bought a new Subaru last year and the dealers in our E. WA town were not willing to work with us. I went on Edmunds and entered my search criteria in the Portland area and had multiple dealers contacting us immediately. We made a deal and hopped on the train right into Portland to pick up the car! The car ended up costing $6k less then the best offer they would make here, plus they had exactly what we wanted.

  12. Karen says:

    Love your honest life posts. My 2019 was solid financially and emotionally, work wise was just so so. Big financial goals were hit, like I paid the last of my kids college tuition so that promise was kept, we also took an epic family trip to Thailand. Thailand itself is cheap, hotels, food and events are very inexpensive. We splurged on an extra night at a resort last minute and even bought an upgrade to business class on the 14 hour flight home—absolutely no regrets there! And that is the big revelation for 2019 for me, if you plan and save well, you have wider range of choices and therefore it was okay to spend more. (majority of the trip had already been paid for, no debt) In general, we don’t live large so this spontaneous expenditure was within our safety zone and it meant sooooo much to us, it capped off our kid’s last years in our home as she has a job after graduation.
    All the best to you in 2020 as you work through your healthy, mindful choices JD, you’ve got this, keep working it.

  13. olga says:

    The only good (very good) part about 2019 was that we finally (argh! but that was intended for 10 years, I knew it wasn’t happening until now) moved from TX to CO. Mountains! With this move, though, the job situation sucked (market availability and financial status of those whom are my customers), no friends is hard in new place (and as a confirmed introvert, with age, it’s so much harder to even hope for), spending on new (but 100 years old) house is increased drastically for improvement purposes, spending too much time inside the house (me – with lack of work hours, DH – working from home) and together leads it to more tension, as well as that “too much time near the fridge” makes it more difficult to limit eating choices – oh, yes, I am yet to find the gym here (though I do run daily). And, of course, the situation with my (adult) children is not under my control, and continues going downhill. So there. 2019 sucked. I’d like to say it can only get better from here. There’s hope. Lets hang in there.

  14. Luke C says:

    Congrats on your turning point, J.D.! Love or hate New Year resolutions, there is no denying that the new year brings the feeling of a fresh start.

    I appreciate you writing about your battles because it reminds me that everyone is working on something, no matter what stage of life you’re at, financially, emotionally, etc. That’s why this site has legs. Its personal finance, yes, but its humanity.

    If Quicken 2007 is becoming obsolete and 2017 sucks, why not write your own program? If its for personal use, you don’t even have to worry about copyright issues. Can you find someone to help you code it on a freelance basis?

    • J.D. Roth says:

      Whoa. Never thought about creating my own software. Very interesting idea. I worry that I’m the only person in my target market (ha), but that’s probably not so.

      Interesting. You have planted the seed of an idea. Let’s see if anything comes of it.

      • El Nerdo says:

        GRS app. Now you’re talking….

        • J.D. Roth says:

          Yeah, but what would it look like?

          I want to get distracted by this today but I can’t let myself. I have to work on this Audible/TGC course. 😉

          • El Nerdo says:

            If I tell you I’ll have to charge you xD.

            To get it out of your head just put it on your maybe/someday GTD folder… where you’ll find it again.

  15. Marco says:

    JD, Thanks for the update. I also used Cannabis for sleep and relaxation at night. I live in the same climate as you (Corvallis) you might try growing a few plants next summer. They are a fun plant to grow and it will make your Cannabis almost free. Just find a sunny spot at your house and keep them in a large container so you can move them around ( due to sun or rain ) Best of luck on 2020.

  16. Joe says:

    Good luck in 2020! It’s a new year so we can all have a new start.
    Hopefully, 2020 will be a better year mentally. Good to hear that you’ve turned the corner.

  17. Steve says:

    Have you thought about going to YNAB/mint/other tracking software that will download transactions for you to categorize? I use a spreadsheet to setup my budget each month and then load it into YNAB.

    For sleep – I use 1 mg of Melatonin. Most bottles start around 10 mg which completely throws me off – if I didn’t fall asleep quickly I’d get panic attacks and even then I felt groggy in the morning. I switched to 1 mg and it made a huge difference with helping me fall asleep.

    • J.D. Roth says:

      I have indeed thought about using other software, but I specifically do NOT want automatic downloading. I want to enter transactions myself. It makes me more mindful of what I’m spending. And it helps me catch goofy stuff.

      • Daphne says:

        I have been using YNAB for almost a year – I don’t link my accounts for the same reason: I like the control of manual entry and checking the math. Also, I don’t need any of my account numbers hanging out in cyberspace needlessly. YNAB is set up with “checking account” “savings account” “investment account”. If anyone breaches YNAB, there is nothing for them to find the actual source….

      • Kelly says:

        Totally agree! I feel that manually entering transactions makes them feel more “real”, sort of in the same way that others say spending cash is more painful than using a credit card. I also detest the idea of having a singular application that has access to all my financial site login credentials – so that’s my other reason for manually entering transactions.
        I also agree on the Quicken 2007 vs 2017. I’ve got 25+ years of Quicken history and I would go back to the 2007 version in an absolute heartbeat! The older versions were much better than the current one.

  18. Brooklyn Money says:

    Even though your net worth isn’t really going up, it’s not surprising since it seems like you are choosing balance over hustle. Last year was my 23rd year or so of grinding and I’m getting to the point where the trade off isn’t necessarily worth it anymore. Especially with the outsized market gains. With my luck I’ll downshift just as we hit a recession. I do worry about sequence of returns risk. Anyway, congrats to you on being so self-aware and good luck getting your health on track this year. BTW I take melatonin every night so I can try to stay asleep (my IBS often wakes me up).

  19. rh says:

    2019–big year. We sold everything, moved 4 hours north and are fixing up a house. I put the business on the cloud so all employees logon in remote, data is backed up, 24×7 tech support, I work 100% remote now for the first time in 12 years. Tried some new skills : kayaking, learning ukulele, cribbage.

    2020 : need to eat better and workout. Will join the co-work space too to meet more people. Would like to get back into cycling and swim once a week. Travel somewhere where we both haven’t been to before.

  20. Jen G says:

    Hi JD – Are you interested in reader submissions to supplement your blog content? If so, where should they be sent?

    Happy New Year!

  21. Kristen says:

    2019 was the worst year of my life. It was challenging professionally, and we worked our butts off for less money all year, not getting to go out and play very much at all. I was looking forward to kicking 2019 to the curb when, five days before Christmas, my beloved Dad sat down to watch tv in the evening and never got up again. My mom, sister and I spent the holidays planning his funeral and burying him. Now, we have many weeks of going through the house, garage, and shed disposing of items, selling his car and their motorhome, etc. It’s a dark winter for us indeed. We will all be ok eventually, but… damn. Hoping for a better and healthier year for us all this year. Best wishes.

    • Kingston says:

      Kristen, sorry you have had such a difficult year, and that it ended on such a shockingly sad note. I hope things will be better for you and your family in 2020.

    • J.D. Roth says:

      And best wishes to you, Kristen. Damn. Reading about the end of your year sure puts mine into perspective. Peace and strength be with you!

    • Amy says:

      Coming back to the site today to say Hugs to you Kristen. That’s a gut punch for the end of the year. I hope you can find some peace and healing as you work through the big task of sorting your father’s estate. I wish you all the best and I hope you get the support you need as you grieve your loss. I hope these next weeks bring you surprises of love and comfort as you work through things.

    • El Nerdo says:

      So very sorry!

      Hang in there…

    • Janette says:

      Kristen, I am so sorry for your loss.
      If your mother is still active, and they were still married, and if she can afford it, I highly recommend taking your time in cleaning things out. It is extremely stressful and she may give up, get rid of things that she actually wants. You mentioned a motor home….if they owned it outright, I would wait on that. She may want it later. She may need many things that she now thinks, “that was his, I don’t want it”. Balance ‘his car” vs “her car”.
      In our 60’s we have watched many families go through this. Grief takes time. It is tempting to think “if we can just go through it now it would be so much easier” but emotionally it doesn’t seem (In our experience) to work out so well.
      The opposite is also true. If they were divorced or your mother needs physical care, it might be worth pushing through.
      Again, I am sorry for your loss.

      • Kristen says:

        Thanks you to all above for the kind thoughts. She’s keeping the nicer of the two cars, which suits her well. Unfortunately the motorhome is too expensive to keep on her own. They had only had it for a few short years, and I fear she will be underwater on it, but she has enough cash reserves that she should be able to pay off the difference. She just got her pension numbers yesterday and she should have enough to live fairly comfortably. Other than the motorhome, they were frugal and responsible overall. My parents have both been the pack-rat type, so the home cleanout is as much for safety and livability as anything. We’re also hoping to get the two extra bedrooms set up for crafting for her so she has something there to look forward to. I’m already talking with her about renting a travel trailer and hauling it so that she can still attend our annual camping trip with my husband’s side of the family. Luckily my sister and I are close so she has plenty of help. Thanks again for the kind thoughts everyone.

  22. Susan says:

    Such a great update. If and when you have time, I’d love to hear an update more on your relationship with alcohol than just your spending on it. From what I remember from previous posts, you’ve been examining your relationship and hoping to make changes. How is that going?

    • J.D. Roth says:

      I don’t like my relationship with alcohol, to be honest. I’ve been tracking my weekly consumption since I started seeing my therapist. She’s not worried about the quantity except that I think it’s high. Most of all, I’m worried that even moderate drinking causes me to become cloudy the next day, to not function at full capacity. Plus, it could be contributing to my mental health problems (obviously). So, I want to cut back.

      Thanks to the two GRS readers who have already emailed to offer to help me with accountability. I appreciate it.

      • Jennifer says:

        I’m in a similar boat with alcohol and your comments around depression and anxiety make me wonder if alcohol contributes to those issues.

        Would you consider reading This Naked Mind by Annie Grace? It comes highly recommended and I’m reading it now.

        • J.D. Roth says:

          We’ve had that book for a couple of years. Kim read it and found it compelling. I haven’t read it. Should I?

          • Susan says:

            Annie Grace is great. You could also try Belle’s 100 Day Challenge where you commit to not drinking for 100 days. It’s long enough where you can’t white knuckle it — you have to develop and rely on better coping strategies. But it’s not long enough as to seem impossible. It helps you get far enough away from alcohol to see what life can really be like without it. I also have depression and anxiety and drinking made both 100x worse. I quit six years ago and it was far and away the best thing I could ever do for myself. If you need a third accountability partner I’d be willing. Good luck to you! Here’s a link to Belle: https://www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com/2018/05/01/100-day-sober-challenge/

      • Amy says:

        JD – have you looked into the affects of gluten (you can be gluten sensitive even if you test negative for celiac) on the body and mind? I seem to recall you enjoy beer and that has gluten – so your body may be reacting not only to the alcohol but also the gluten. Depression is a symptom of gluten sensitivity per some studies.
        I find if I don’t avoid gluten my anxiety and depression ratchet up significantly (along with easier to pin point physical symptoms).
        It may not be what’s going on with you but it may be worth your time to look into it or track your gluten intake against your anxiety/depression levels.
        Alcohol is definitely an experience with diminishing returns and I have yet to find and keep the best balance for me. I applaud your work on this. Well done and keep up your good work!

        • dh says:

          Re: alcohol — I use Mr. Money Mustache’s technique of setting a weekly limit for myself, then *never* breaking that discipline — unless I’m traveling for vacation. My limit is four standard drinks per week, period. If I’ve already had my four drinks for the week and something fun and unexpected comes up that involves alcohol, I still do not drink, no exceptions. I may still participate in whatever the fun activity is, but I do not drink if I’ve already reached my limit for the week.

          Now, when I travel somewhere for vacation (like my upcoming trip to Miami Beach this spring), I will allow myself two standard drinks for every day I’m on vacation.

          Anyway, that’s my system, and it works great!

  23. td says:

    Middle-aged like you and use cannabis regularly for similar reasons. As another poster mentioned, you should try your hand at growing your own and learning how to make infused oils (olive oil is particularly healthy – avoid coconut oil).

    In Canada here and was astonished when I figured out a 2×2.5′ indoor grow tent produces about what I’d use in a year with 1 4-month grow of 2 healthy plants. 2 grows and I have to give most of it away.

    Outdoors, you’ll produce more than you can use yourself, and it’s even cheaper.

    Startup costs are a drag, but it’s way cheaper than buying it. And it’s a fascinating and rewarding hobby. It is a beautiful plant.

    Just make sure if you decide to do that to be mindful of fire hazards such as tent setup and power draw issues, as you’re running electrically-live equipment in your house 24-hrs/day. That’s your major risk to address, particularly if you’re in the US and the insurance company deems a grow fire as an ‘illegal grow’ or some such nonsense and refuses to payout a claim on such a fire. Not worth that risk if that’s the case, I think.

    And if you really want to go off the deep end of getting healthy, try a whole food plant-based diet. My wife and I started doing this about a month ago for health reasons and have both been gobsmacked by the instant weight dropoff and general wellness we’re feeling. That too has some startup costs (you need to have a well-stocked pantry of vegan staples), and you need to be able to cook and enjoy a variety of types of cuisine. But if you don’t feel well generally, you have little to lose by trying it for a week or two. If you hate it, stop.

    Also, I thought a fascinating article would be to discuss the intersection between WFPB/veganism, frugality, minimalism and eco-focused lifestyles. You’ve probably already done so and I missed it. Good luck to you in 2020!

  24. Michael Clark says:

    When we got serious again about our finances, we found iBank, now Banktivity, for the Mac. Very similar to Quicken.

    I looked GnuCash as one of the earlier comments suggested, but my wife wasn’t a fan.

  25. Dave @ Accidental FIRE says:

    Glad to hear you’ve turned the corner on the depression and anxiety. I always say “health first, everything else flows from there”.

    Wishing you the best in 2020 JD!

  26. DJ says:

    JD – Happy New Year! Your writing on this blog is outstanding and always timely. Thank you!

    Just a word of encouragement – or a word of commiseration – but we went through the same kind of year in 2019. So for what it’s worth it could have been the year as much as it was you!

    I will share that we too are looking for ways to “tighten” the budget. We spend way too much on food and I think way too much on wine (our favorite). Probably not worth an entire article but would welcome hearing how you or others are actually reducing expenses. I trust you and know whatever you share will be real.

    Thanks for the great articles and info. I suspect you are reaching and influencing a whole lot of people with all that you share.

    • J.D. Roth says:

      Hilarious. I just pressed “publish” on my post about how I plan to cut costs on food this year, and then came to approve comments. Here you are asking for this kind of article! 🙂

  27. Elizabeth says:

    I’m so pleased to hear Duane is still alive and working! I appreciate everything you’ve written about your journey in this post (happy to hear about the iTunes spending goal being met and whatnot), and the news about Duane brings me peace today. Keep up the great work J.D.!

  28. JDave says:

    Nobody told your cousin he “Had three months to live”. That’s a very common misconception patient have when they hear statistics. Statistically, people with his cancer live an average of three months. That means half live LESS than three months, and half live MORE than three months, and almost none die at exactly 90 days. Most cancer mortality statistics follow a bell curve, which means there are people in the short tail, and people in the long tail. Statistics are very good at predicting the behavior of large populations, and almost useless at predicting the behavior of individuals.

  29. FM says:

    JD, you spent $50,655.26 in 2019. You can’t compare the numbers exactly, but it might be interesting for you to know, that we as a family of five in Germany spent 54,837 Euro = $60,818 in 2019. Our spending goal is 50,000 Euro in 2020. Let’s see how close we will come!

  30. Lazy Man and Money says:

    I could identify with this article in so many ways. It meant a lot to me when you commented on my “meltdown” article that you felt the same way, but I didn’t know if it’s just a way of commiserating.

    I’ve been a little behind in following your financial story for awhile now and didn’t realize you shared real numbers. That’s great.

    I love that you still have the Mini Cooper. I think it was more than 10 years ago that we were talking you about getting it. Time flies!

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