I’m Retiring from Get Rich Slowly

This post from J.D. Roth is part of the reader stories feature at Get Rich Slowly. J.D. founded this site and acted as editor for six-and-a-half years. He now writes at More Than Money.

First, the short version: I’m officially retiring from Get Rich Slowly. I may write an occasional guest post here, but from today forward, my online home is at More Than Money, where I’ll write about personal finance, yes, but also travel and fitness and books and philosophy and dating. Plus, of course, my old standbys: cats, computers, and comic books.

This news probably shocks nobody. Before I leave, here’s a longer version of my history here, the story of Get Rich Slowly from Day One.

In the Beginning
I never set out to be a personal-finance blogger. Though I always wanted to be a writer, I always thought I’d write poetry. Or science fiction. Throughout high school and college, I took whatever writing class I could. I edited the school literary magazines. I wrote for the school papers.

During college, I made some dumb decisions. I came from a poor family, but was a at a school with a lot of wealthy kids. (Or kids who seemed wealthy, anyhow.) I desperately wanted to fit in, but couldn’t afford to do so. But then I discovered credit cards.

I started with store credit cards, which allowed me to purchase clothes and cologne. Soon, however, I had signed up for a Visa with a $300 limit. I maxed that out in no time. And so my credit habit started. By the time I graduated from college, I had no student debt but I had plenty of consumer debt.

From there, matters got worse. When I graduated, I had no job and no prospects, so I took a miserable job selling insurance door to door to little old ladies in eastern Oregon. I bought a new car and a new wardrobe. I was essentially paying for three different places to live. In other words, I was digging the hole deeper.

In desperation, I took a job at the family business, a small box manufacturing company in rural Oregon. I was the salesman, but I wasn’t any good at it. I made a meager income, with which I made minimum payments on all my credit cards. I never paid the balances down, though. Any time my credit limit was raised, I simply spent more. I was dumb.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul
In 1998, I had more than $16,000 in credit card debt. I applied for — and was granted — a home equity loan. I used this money to pay off my outstanding debt. I cut up my credit cards. When I was certain that my balances were paid in full, I cancelled the accounts.

I paid faithfully on this loan for five years (it had a ten-year term). But when my wife and I bought our new home in 2004, the intricacies of the transaction (read: my lack of savings) forced me to fold my previous home loan into a new HELOC: $21,000 at 6%.

Couple this with a car loan, a computer loan, and loans from assorted friends and family, and I had accumulated over $35,000 in consumer debt. I was in bad shape. I felt as if I were drowning.

Seeing the Light
Fortunately, a couple of friends threw me life savers. They’d been watching me struggle, and were waiting until I seemed like I finally might be ready to listen. This was the time.

One friend loaned me Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. Another steered me toward the classic Your Money or Your Life. I read them both, and then went to the public library to borrow more books about money. I devoured personal finance manuals. As I read, I began to notice a stark pattern. “It’s impossible to get rich quickly,” these books seemed to say, “but it is possible to get rich slowly.”

Spurred by what I’d learned, I wrote an article for my personal blog that summarized the information in these books. It was a braindump about money. I called this article “Get Rich Slowly”. I had no idea where this would lead.

Getting Rich Quickly
A year later, in early 2006, I was well on my way to paying off my debt. I’d cut my spending in many areas, and was looking for ways to earn more money. “What if I started a personal finance blog?” I thought. “It could be the first personal finance blog on the internet!” Little did I know that there were already dozens — or hundreds — of other personal finance blogs.

On 15 April 2006, I started Get Rich Slowly — this blog. My goals were to:

  • Share what I was learning about personal finance.
  • Help others improve their financial lives.
  • Improve my own financial life.

I wanted to make money from the blog. And I did.

At the start, I made a few pennies every day. Before long, those pennies grew into dollars. And as my audience grew, so did my income. Within a year, I was making as much from Get Rich Slowly as I was from day job, selling boxes for the family business. After about eighteen months, I had eliminated my debt. After two years, I was able to quit my job to blog full time. And within three years, I had sold the blog for more than money than I thought possible.

Sticking Around
When I sold Get Rich Slowly, I thought I was done with the site. Because of turmoil in my personal life, I wanted to quit the blog. I wanted to walk away. To do something else. Anything else. In fact, I turned down a bigger offer that required me to stick around the site for three years. I wasn’t willing to make that commitment.

Turns out, that was a mistake.

The thing is, I loved Get Rich Slowly. I loved writing for the site, and I loved the community. I felt a responsibility to the readers. Get Rich Slowly was my baby, and I wasn’t ready to leave. So, I stuck around for three-and-a-half years, writing and editing and performing PR.

I always knew, however, that the day would come when I had to step away. To that end, I worked with the new owners to create a smooth transition. We hired new writers. We tackled new topics. Gradually — very gradually — I stepped back. I wrote Your Money: The Missing Manual. I began to speak at various conferences. I met with GRS readers and began to help them pursue their dreams.

By the beginning of this year, it became clear it was time for me to leave the site completely. All year long, I’ve been working to make that happen.

Moving On
Now, the time has come. There’s a solid core of staff writers here. There’s a new editor. The audience no longer expects this to be a blog about me and my journey. (And, in fact, when I do write about myself, I get plenty of cranky comments. That’s a good thing! It means the shift has been made.)

Note: Again, I want to stress that although I’m leaving Get Rich Slowly, I’m not done writing for the web. If you’re one of those who likes my voice, and you’re willing to read about a variety of non-financial topics, go check out More Than Money, the site I started six weeks ago. I suspect many of you would enjoy both that blog and this one.

It feels liberating to have made this decision. Get Rich Slowly has been an awesome gig, the best work anyone could ask for. I love you, the readers, and I love the work I’ve done. I feel as if I’ve done something good for the world, you know? But I think there’s more good in me. I want to continue helping others. Doing what? I’m not sure. But I’ll noodle that out in time.

For now, I’m happy to learn Spanish, build muscle at Crossfit, and travel the world. I’m also eager to continue meeting GRS readers in person. It’s a blast to exchange ideas and to help others follow your dreams. If you’re ever in Portland, let me know.

Finally, I should note that although I’m done writing and editing here (except for an occasional guest post), I’m not completely done with the site. I’ll continue to act as the site’s face. If a newspaper needs a quote, I’ll give them one. If a conference wants a speaker, I’ll be that guy. I’m proud of the site that I created and helped to build. I want its success to continue in the years ahead.

More than that, I want your success to continue in the years ahead. Be well, my friends, and always remember: The fundamental rule of personal finance is to spend less than you earn.

69 comments

  1. Thank you for your work. Thank you for sharing your financial life and personal goals with us. Thank you for caring about the quality of this website and tending to it so diligently. All of the best to you — you have built something piece by piece that is much more than money alone in this financial blog.

  2. Thank you JD! I’ve been following this site for well over 5 years now and as a reader I’ve been part of your journey. I’m really very happy for you and I hope you get to live out all of your other dreams from here on forward.

    I’ll start following your new site now. Because even though I still like GRS, I always appreciated your posts best.

    Good luck to you, and thanks again!

  3. I will miss your voice here, J.D., but I’ll follow you at your other site. What you’ve built here will live on. Congratulations on your success and good luck on the next stage of your life, a life I hope is filled with health, humor, and happiness.

  4. I’ve enjoyed reading GRS for several years, although in my case when it comes to personal finance you’re preaching to the choir. You’ve created a bit of a subculture of wise spending, saving, and earning that is counter to our larger culture of spend-spend-spend.

    I think in the long run, GRS is better and stronger–and more adaptable–with having more voices, more viewpoints. May your future endeavors be as successful as this one has been.

  5. I haven’t been here in a very long time, so it’s quite a surprise to me that you made this announcement. I started following you back in 2006 when I made my own revelations about my debt problems. It was great to have someone like-minded to follow, instead of the usual gimmicky get-out-of-debt schemes. I’ve been debt free for well over 5 years, and have done fairly well even during these difficult economic times. It was great to go through this process with you. Best wishes to you in your new venture.

  6. Thanks for all your time here! You’ve been a help to more people than you’ll ever know. For my part, even I was influenced. I’ve never had an issue with consumer debt, but I’m still learning how best to manage my money to maximize return.

    I recently went back to school for two years to improve my career prospects (and I now have a better job) but needed some help. I took out subsidized loans but worked my butt off to save money while in school, including doing lots of side gigs. I’m happy to report that I was able to pay off my loans, completely, before the first payment was ever due. Take that, 6.8% interest on debt I can’t readily discharge. I appreciate your prodding in making me keep my financial house in the best order possible.

  7. Best of luck to you as you move in new directions. Thank you for this site–whenever I want a new perspective or to research a topic, I poke around the archives. 🙂

  8. I’ve been following GRS since about 2008 (hardly comment though). It was the only personal financial blog that I’ve read consistently and your voice (and story), JD, is because why.

    It’s been a very fascinating journey reading about your personal struggles and triumphs. I’ve lost interest in the past year since the introduction of the new staff writers, but I understand the direction of the site.

    I will definitely be following you at More Than Money. Thanks JD!

  9. Congratulations J.D.!

    I’ve been reading this site for longer than I can remember – in fact I think it was one of the first few PF blogs I stumbled upon. I’ve improved my money management in more ways than can be counted, so all I can say is this:

    Thankyou, and all the best for the future. I think you’ve left this page in good hands 🙂

    Jimi

  10. I am so happy for you, JD. I’ve been following GRS for a few years now and have loved your voice here. Partly because you are one of the few bloggers whose writing style is like having a conversation with a friend, and partly because we share similar views of religion and politics. I wish you all the best and will be sure to follow you at More Than Money.

  11. Congrats, J.D.! Thank you for all of your hard work here and for creating such a fantastic community. Best wishes for your new blog — I’ve been enjoying it so far!

  12. Stating the obvious is I guess, how to get rich slowly. I know too many people on this path and I’d like to overtake.

  13. Thanks for the memories. . . 🙂 Change is inevitable, but it’s been a bit difficult to adjust to your absence. I’m glad that your voice is still around on your other blog, and I’ve been enjoying reading it.

  14. JD, you have evolved and shared your personal “wealth” of knowledge, insight, and inspiration to such a degree my life has changed profoundly. Mahalo. I, too, learned lessons in the financial world the hard way, reminding us all the beauty of being human is to have the capacity and desire to transform- in any area! This is just another adventurous step into the unknown…. Enjoy, live, prosper!

  15. Congratulations J.D.! Thanks for the forum and the information that has been the halmark of this site. Even though you no longer helm this ship day to day it is on a true heading. Looking forward to the future of GRS and will take a gander at your new site. Thank you.

  16. Thanks for sharing your story JD. This was one of the first blogs I came across when I was struggling to sort out my finances. I admit I hated the concept of getting rich slowly be be ause i wanted a wuick fix to my problems, but it was good to see that it was possible, which gave me hope to go on the journey as well. This blog has been an awesome inspiration

  17. Hi JD,

    I am a GRS reader who will be traveling in Portland and would love to meet up. GRS has been incredibly helpful for me and I would not be in the financial situation I am now without it!

    Hope to hear from you soon (e-mail works well)–

    SMR

  18. Thanks for everything you did here,JD. You made a huge difference in the lives of thousands of people, mine included. Heading over to your blog to subscribe. Good luck 🙂

  19. I have enjoyed reading this blog. I really enjoyed reading a few years ago about the Cinnamon Bear on KEX. I can remember listening to that year after year.

    Best of luck

    Cheers

    slm

    1. Because we all were. I remember JD writing an article saying he “was not” going to be leaving the website.

      I don’t understand why he is going to remain the face of this website when it is no longer his. My guess is just to dupe people some more?

      JD I hope you remember in future years that is was the “little” people who made this website.

    2. I’m not sure why you feel duped, though I’m sorry that it’s the case. I am a human being. Am I not allowed to grow and change? Am I not allowed to take different paths? I did say that I was going to stick around, but ultimately that proved not to be productive. It’s best for everyone involved if I move on now. So I’m going to, and without any guilt. I’m not obligated to stay just because you think that I should. I need to make the decisions that are right for my life, not the ones that are right for yours.

      1. Go back and read what you wrote JD. Based on your prior writings, I don’t think you would have been (or ever have been) so rude to a commenter before. Don’t know if it is the money talking or what. Either way good luck to you and may I say good riddance.

  20. I have enjoyed your posts very much over the years and am soo excited to see you’re still having goals and dreams….and chasing them!

    That’s awesome and wonderful on a tremendous level!

    Congratulations on the new site – I’ll be checking it out right now.

    Keep up the great work!
    Lisa

  21. Thank you, JD. I’ve followed this site for many years while I was getting out of $40,000 in consumer debt. You were my daily support.

    Good luck with your new ventures!

  22. I started reading GRS in 2008, as I began digging myself out of debt. JD, your stories helped me tremendously. I’ve been debt-free for quite a while now (except for my 15-year mortgage) and have been building wealth, slowly, through my 401k, Roth IRA and HSA.

    I stopped reading GRS as JD’s contributions slowed, but it was a great help while I was getting myself into financial shape.

    Thanks for all the knowledge and good luck with the new site!

  23. Not sure if I ever mentioned this to you in person, but Get Rich Slowly was the first personal finance blog I read, and eventually it was the site that inspired us to start Wise Bread. So thanks for the awesome stories over the years! And best of luck with More Than Money. I’m looking forward to more travel posts like the ones about Turkey!

  24. Although its a bit sad to hear the news of your retirement but i am happy for you and grateful for all of your contributions to us all. Enjoy life my friend.

  25. Hello JD. Thank you very much for everything. You have done good for yourself and been an inspiration for many people.

    It was also very nice to meet you personally-and also to meet Nick- (To all of you who are curious what JD Roth is like in real life; he is just like his writings, sincere, fun and articulate).

    I will be following your new blog and wish you all the best with it.

  26. Thanks for putting in the hard work and inspiring a community, J.D. I love your blog — it’s the first (and only) personal finance blog I’ve ever read. Best of luck.

  27. Such an inspirational story, JD. Many thanks for sharing your wisdom and life lessons. God speed in your new ventures.

  28. Sad to see you go but happy to see you start this next chapter in your life. Yours is one of the first “PF blogs” I discovered and it had a huge impact on my life. Thanks!

  29. Thanks for the excellent writing, JD. I forget how exactly I found GRS, but I was taking a personal finance course in 2007 and I know I found it around that time. I’m bummed, as it appears many other readers are, that yours will no longer be a regular voice around here (and that it hasn’t been for a while) – but I’m not surprised. It’s been a crazy few years for you, and I thank you for staying around and keeping us readers in the loop. I follow your Foldedspace blog, so I think I’ll finally have to switch over to More Than Money. Best of luck in all your new projects!

  30. You’ve inspired me tremendously on my own journey to better finances. Thank you JD! I’ll keep tabs on your other blog and definitely keep digging into the archives here at Get Rich Slowly– what a gold mine (pun intended)!

  31. Congrats, JD!

    I wish you continued success.

    I read your posts over the years, took your advice to heart, and improved my financial life (which, in turn, solved many other problems in my life). I am grateful to you and the community that your work inspired.

    I live by ‘do what works for YOU’ every day.

    Thank you for lending me the tools.

    Best of luck

  32. Best luck, J.D.!
    Thank you for helping me understand about personal finance and inspiring me to be financially healthy.
    All the best!

  33. Bon voyage!

    What you’re embarking on is a journey (wanted to say trip, but caught myself) and may you discover (as here) unexpected joys, people and experiences.

  34. I agree, your voice will be missed around here. I don’t check in much now that you aren’t posting as often, I don’t find much original content worth coming every day for. Good luck to you though and thanks for all of the inspiration!

  35. Thanks for everything, JD, and good luck! This site was an inspiration and a path when I was getting my stuff together post-college.

    I may have missed the editor actually being named… is it April?

  36. Big fan of the blog. Good luck having a full life.

    Just a note, not sure if this has anything to do with your leaving, but when I came to the site today, an obnoxious flash over add showed up. It was buggy and I couldn’t make it go away. I am sure that you would never let something like that happen if you were running the show. 🙂

  37. J.D.
    You are one of the reasons I am planning a foray into personal finance and PF blogging. (Ramit & mmm) are the others. While money isn’t everything, society at large has some whacked-out ideas about money and finance and these ideas are hindering many people from enjoying the rich opportunities available to them. Thanks for everything you’ve done and for lighting the way for many people to enjoy financial freedom!

  38. JD – you were the first personal finance blogger I ever read and continue to be one of my biggest influences on my own finances. Your no none sense advice and drive to live for “more than money” continue to inspire me. Good luck in your next adventure!

  39. Well, that seals it for me. I came here when I was setting some financial goals for myself (student loans!) and was hooked because of YOUR voice. I still follow GRS because I liked your perspective (when I could get it). Now that you’re not here? I won’t be reading.

    Thanks for everything, and I’ll see you at More than Money.

  40. I wouldn’t be a blogger if not for you. You took a chance on me and placed my post on your wonderful site.

    I now write for “Dollar Stretcher,” and for “Retire and Renew” my own web site.

    Thank you for including guest bloggers on your site. You gave us hope,knowledge,and direction.

    We won’t forget you.

    Lori Blatzheim

  41. I may be in the minority but here goes: I have always loved GRS because I ‘got’ it. It made sense to me. I learned a lot. And gradually, things changed and not always in an informative or positive way. Then came the ‘I sold GRS but just couldn’t tell you’ and now JD won’t be a part of the blog but will in fact show up for publicity reasons, which seems self serving. Whether people say it or not, I bet a few readers feel that the whole thing is disappointing.

    1. Evangeline, you aren’t alone. I feel similarly.

      I love JD’s writing but this all seems decidedly self serving.

  42. Thanks for all the years of articles JD. Your advice helped me as well as thousands of readers, and we’ve all improved our lives through your lessons. Never stop sharing your wisdom and knowledge with others.

  43. Love you JD!! Very inspirational in the way you are living your life. Enjoy your new freedom. You will be missed!!

  44. I have enjoyed GRS for years and YOU will be missed. I appreciate your blog for keeping me on track, for reinforcing good habits, and for introducing me to investing. Next task, to find an investing blog as great as GRS. Best of luck to you.

  45. all the best to you, J.D.!! Thanks so much for all you have done here, i took some valuable lessons here and am very greateful for your input. Again, thanks and have a great life 🙂

  46. J.D.

    I am sad to see you leave the site, but I know you are pursuing what you want to. You were the reason I finally got my financial life together and why I started my blog. I knew there were ways to reduce debt and still “get rich slowly” over time, but it didn’t come clear until I found GRS. I want to thank you for all the years and good luck with the new blog.

  47. Congrats JD on living the life that YOU want to live. Things seemed to change rapidly for you but you’ve proved that a seemingly complete 180 can be done. That gives the rest of us hope 🙂

  48. JD, thank you for your willingness to put yourself out there and share such a personal aspect of your life. The stories you and your fellow authors share have inspired me greatly and made me more mindful in my daily life. I’ve started following you on your other blog and look forward to reading about your opinions and thoughts on topics not always related to personal finance. Thanks again!

  49. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of life as it grows and develops. I appreciate GRS and will continue to read here…but I’ll be checking out your new blog too. Best of luck!

  50. Best of luck JD! I admire your pursuit of what makes you happy. It’s harder to figure out than it seems like it should be, right? Hopefully I’ll run into you at a conference down the road. Don’t make it to Portland often. But if I do, let’s meet up at Powell’s.

  51. This post is both happy and sad at the same time. I always find it difficult to say a permanent goodbye, the kind where you know it is truly time to move on, like moving across the country in the pre-Internet age. But you deserve to move and evolve.

    I hope to meet you in person at WDS in July of next year.

    Good luck, JD!

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