Transfer Underway — Please Standby

Hey, money nerds. Just a quick note that we’ve initiated some of the behind the scenes stuff to transfer control of Get Rich Slowly from the current owners to me. No big deal really except that there’s like to be some downtime during the next few hours…or days…or even weeks.

First up, we’re transferring control of the domain. Shouldn’t REALLY be an issue — unless it is. That is to say, nothing usually goes wrong with this except that for a few hours you might not be able to reach the site. But because the new site isn’t yet set up, there could be some downtime. Maybe even for a couple of days.

After that, we’ll transfer the datafiles containing 11-1/2 years of Get Rich Slowly to their new home. Then we’ll point to the internet to this new home.

Really, it’s not rocket surgery. But you never know with stuff like this. Things can and do go wrong.

Bottom line: Be patient. We’ll get things up and running ASAP! By early November, GRS should be at its new home, and everything should be going smoothly.

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Why No One Cares About Your Personal Brand

You’ve become the expert. You’re sharing your expertise daily. But you’re seeing few bumps in your traffic or your followers.

What’s going on?

You rode the momentum just fine until now. And then the light at the end of the tunnel revealed itself to be a brightly painted wall.

There must be something you’re missing, right? Or should you just quit and go back to your day job because you’re never going to accelerate again?

Fortunately, this plateau you hit could be temporary. That is, it could be temporary if you put effort into all the right places.

1. You’re Not Making New Friends

A personal brand is all about relationships. And while you can’t be “friends” with all your followers and all your clients, you can make new friends and be personable.

If you’re hard-selling your brand, you’re not going to make new friends. It’s ok to ask followers to opt-in to stuff. But if that’s all you’re asking for, you’re going to lose those people.


Well, imagine a personal relationship that functions like that. What if you were married? All you do is ask your spouse to do or buy stuff for you.

There’s no conversation. There’s no intimacy. There’s no friendship.

How long do you think that relationship would last? And if you were single, do you think someone would date you?

Before you ask someone to opt-in to things, you have to establish a relationship. This includes creating dialogues with brand followers and ensuring their voices are heard.

2. I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing

Do you have faith in yourself? If not, how did you build a personal brand in the first place?

To become powerful and attractive, you must have confidence in your brand and in yourself. This means being authentic.

But there’s a difference between being candid and being authentic. Your personal brand is one part you and three parts fiction.

Why? Because your brand should be tailored to your audience. The authenticity doesn’t involve a revelation about yourself. It involves a revelation about your followers.

They’ve come to gain something. Whether that be insight or information or a service, they’ve not come to dig into your underwear drawer.

Displaying your weaknesses will only detract from your personal brand.

3. Time Is Of the Essence

When you share your content is important. And if you’re not managing your time well, you’re not going to hit your deadlines.

Is it really as simple as that? You bet your bottom dollar it is!

But what does it mean to manage your time well when promoting your personal brand? It means learning to outsource your small tasks.

Tim Ferris uses an antelope vs mice analogy for this.

If you were a lion, would you chase a mouse for sustenance or an antelope? The mouse isn’t worth it. But the antelope, although harder to catch, is higher in calories and could feed the lion for a while.

Ferris applies this to the tasks he has to do in a day. He asks himself, which of these will return the highest yield, and he attempts to outsource the rest.

If you’re missing content deadlines daily, you might be chasing mice.

One key thing you should outsource is your social media posting. While over time, this might yield great results, the actual formatting and posting of your social content is a very small task.

Use a program like Buffer to schedule your social media posts. You won’t have to even set reminders for yourself. And you’ll spend time on more important things.

Sometimes it’s all a matter of re-branding. But you’ve built your brand from the ground up. While this might be an antelope thing, it’s a bigger antelope than you can handle.

Companies like Graphic Evidence could look at your brand and help you retool it.

4. Originality is a Pair of Fresh Eyes

While there isn’t really anything new under the sun, it’s all in how you re-arrange things. But if you’ve hit a plateau in your personal brand, it might be something to do with your droll content.

Are you producing something fresh, or are you just regurgitating?

That last noun should really make you gag. Why? Because it’s making your followers gag.

If you’re producing the same content over and over again, I’m sorry, but you’re just going nowhere. But doing something “new” doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your niche.

You just have to look at your niche with a new pair of eyes.

That’s essentially the gist of originality. Most things that are considered original are merely a rearrangement of other people’s ideas. Of course, what makes your content truly yours is your perspective.

How do you look at your niche with a new pair of eyes?

Stay Up to Date

Trending content within your niche will bring a fresh feel to your content. What’s being shared the most? Who’s being talked about the most?

Gather up as much trending news and as many fresh ideas as you can and share those things.

Ask Questions

Ask questions and then answer them. Better yet, have your audience ask questions. Do an AMA either on your own platforms or on

If your content is getting stale, questions will open up new doorways and uncover ideas you never knew you had.

Always Gather Ideas

I carry a tiny Moleskine notebook in my pocket. When an idea for an article or a story plot comes to mind, I jot it down.

Even if I’m busy, I try to take a second to jot down my idea and not let it slip away. This is when the creative mind typically thrives.

And if you’re struggling to keep your content fresh, you’re probably letting thoughts go unrecorded. Because the potential in your brain for originality is greater than you think.

Take Time to Brainstorm

If nothing comes to you in the odd moments, then maybe structured brainstorming will help. Some people need structure to jump-start their brain and their creativity.

And if that fails, you could always start networking to see what other people in your niche are thinking. Sometimes just having someone to bounce ideas off of will boost your creativity.

Conclusion: Don’t Be Afraid

We make most of our decisions based on fear. But life really shouldn’t be this way.

If you’re emotionally intelligent, you’ll make your personal brand decisions based on certainty. Be bold and make a stand with your personal brand.

And if you’re looking for inspiration from someone who didn’t give in to fear, check out Shoemoney’s story.

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Where Do You Get Your Money Information?

As I slowly bring Get Rich Slowly back to life, I intend to revive some of the regular features from the old days. On Sundays, for instance, I used to highlight a reader story. And on Fridays I (or a GRS reader) asked you a question.

Since I haven’t even been back on the job a week, there’s not much of an audience here yet. I’m fine with that. I’m taking the long view. Until I get a few questions from you guys — for right now, send them to user jdroth at Money Boss — I’ll come up with some of my own.

Here’s the first.

At the moment, Get Rich Slowly is featuring daily “wall of text” text articles. This isn’t my long-term plan.

Once I have access to everything behind the scenes, I want to move GRS to something more like or Daring Fireball but for money. These sites curate cool material from around the web while occasionally publishing longer essays. I envision Get Rich Slowly doing something similar but with money. (Again, a very rough look at my planned redesign can be found at my animal intelligence site.)

To make a site like that work, I need a constant stream of intersting articles (and podcasts and videos) about money. I can find some inspiration at the always awesome Rockstar Finance, of course. And there are plenty of subreddits to sift through, such as /r/personalfinance, /r/churning, /r/awardtravel, /r/investing, /r/finance, /r/realestate, /r/frugal, and /r/financialindependence (and its siblings, /r/leanfire and /r/fatfire).

But I want to create a wide library that I can sift through — a library of blogs, email lists, podcasts, magazines, YouTube channels, subreddits, newspaper columns and more.

That brings me to my question: What are your favorite sources of information about money? Where do you go to get your daily dose of financial wisdom? I’m especially interested in other sources of curated material. I’m also keen on finding quality video content. But really, I’m just looking for your favorite places to get great personal finance advice.

Tell me where I should go to find awesome money stories to share with GRS readers!

And have no fear, I’m not going to turn Get Rich Slowly into a site that only curates. Like I said, I envision something like Kottke or Daring Fireball, but for money. Lots of curated material, sure, but also plenty of original material. Even when I do curate, I’ll provide commentary. And, as I said, I’ll continue to highlight material from you, the readers.

It’s going to be awesome!

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Side Hustles: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Side Hustle by Chris GuillebeauIn my spare time recently (which isn’t much), I’ve been reading Side Hustle, the new book from my friend Chris Guillebeau. Because CG is a friend, I’m not sure I can provide an objective review of the book, so I’m not going to try. Instead, I’ll give a brief summary and then share some of my own experiences earning money on the side.

Side Hustle Nation

Fundamentally, there are only two ways to improve your financial situation: You can earn more or you can spend less. Most money writers focus on the “spend less” side of the equation. That’s great, but there’s only so much you can cut. Eventually, if you really want to pursue your goals with passion, you’re going to have to earn more. “More income means more options,” Guillebeau writes. “More options mean more freedom.”

For many folks, a side hustle is a smart way to earn more. A side hustle, Guillebeau says, is “a moneymaking project you start on the side, usually while still working a day job. In other words, it’s a way to create additional income without taking on the risks of going full throttle into the world of working for yourself.”

The beauty of side hustles is that they can be started with little or no money. They’re most often passion projects, ways for a person to take something they already love and maybe earn a bit of extra cash.

Guillebeau says there are five core steps to starting a side hustle:

  1. Build an arsenal of ideas. The first step is to brainstorm a list of ways that you could earn money in your spare time. How could you match your skills and resources to a product or service that people would pay for? List as many as you can think of, then weigh the pros and cons of each.
  2. Select your best idea. You can’t do everything, of course, so you’re going to have to narrow your list to the single best idea — the one that excites you the most. “You’re not making a lifelong decision,” Guillebeau writes. “You’re looking for the right idea at the right time.” After you’ve picked a project, do some research. Learn how other people have done the same thing. Figure out who your ideal customer is. Decide what it is you’re going to sell.
  3. Prepare for liftoff. After you’ve chosen your product or service, it’s time to prepare for launch. Figure out the core logistics issues. Set a price. Create your workflow. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect, but do take the time to master the basics of your business.
  4. Launch before you’re ready. This is a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way. There is always more to be done before you start a big project. (Heck, I wasn’t ready to re-launch Get Rich Slowly last Sunday, but I did so anyhow.) When you have your logistics, workflow, and pricing roughly right, then go. Start your hustle.
  5. Regroup and refine. Naturally, not everything will be perfect — especially since you launched before you were ready. As you sell, as you interact with customers, learn from your experience. Enhance what is working, and discard what isn’t. If there are things you can’t handle, ask for help. If a process can be automated, automate it. Adjust pricing, if necessary.

But the most important ingredient to starting a successful side hustle is action. If you don’t take action, nothing else matters.

Obviously, there’s much more to the book than that, but those are the core concepts. If you’ve considered making money with a side project, Side Hustle is a book filled with ideas and info that can help you start earning money in your spare time.

If you’re less into books and more into podcasts, check out Guillebeau’s daily Side Hustle School, which profiles casual entrepreneurs from all walks of life. (You might also enjoy Nick Loper’s Side Hustle Nation.)

Like Father, Like Son

Dad at the LatheAs I read the Side Hustle, my mind drifted to my own side hustles, and to those of family and friends.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, my father was a serial entrepreneur. He was always starting businesses. Even when he worked for other people — selling staples, selling industrial supplies, selling boxes — he had something brewing on the side.

When I was very young, for instance, he decided he wanted to get in on the health food craze of the mid-1970s. In his spare time, he built a wheat grinder. After showing his prototype around, he decided to make and sell them to health food stores around Oregon. This side gig blossomed into an actual business, and within a few years Harvest Mills was also building and selling food dehydrators.

Later, after Dad had sold Harvest Mills and returned to sales, he dabbled in lots of other things.

  • He sold World’s Finest Chocolate door to door.
  • He tried to write and sell accounting software for Apple II computers.
  • He tried to grow and sell nursery stock.

None of these ventures was particularly successful. But eventually he started Custom Box Service, which still supports our family today.

With a dad like mine, it’s no wonder that I grew up wanting to run businesses of my own. In grade school, I would repackage my duplicate Star Wars and sports cards to sell to other kids in class. When I finished reading my Hardy Boys books, I’d sell those too. My friends and I drew comics to sell in the school store. (True story: Several years before the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were created, one of my own comics was about a team of super-hero turtles!)

As an adult, I pursued side projects too. While working at the box factory, I took computer programming classes. Then I got a job (a couple of jobs, actually) programming at a local college. At one time, I was working three jobs totalling 60+ hours per week! I earned some good money with my side hustles — but I spent it all on stupid stuff. (I hadn’t yet become a money boss, hadn’t discovered how to get rich slowly.)

From there, I moved on to computer consulting. I repaired computers for family and friends, and I helped set up their networks. This in turn led to building websites — including this website, Get Rich Slowly.

That’s right: Get Rich Slowly started as a side hustle. It was a way for me to earn some extra cash, money I could use to dig out of debt.

And that’s the thing about side hustles. While most never amount to much, some turn into something bigger. Sometimes a passion project turns into something huge.

Side Gigs Aren’t Always Awesome

As much as this stuff is in my blood, I don’t want to pretend that side hustles always work out. They don’t.

My computer consulting gig, for instance, never amounted to much. Sure, I made a few thousand dollars from it, but it took tons of time. The money was never worth my while. And of the many businesses my father started in his spare time, only two ever really made money. (Still, two out of ten isn’t bad, right?)

More recently, my girlfriend Kim tried a side gig that didn’t turn out. While working her day job as a dental hygienist, she set up an online store during her evenings and weekends. She sold teething necklaces. People liked the necklaces, and she sold several hundred, but ultimately she found she wasn’t making money. She was only breaking even. After two years, she decided to pull the plug. (Kim doesn’t regret the experience; it just wasn’t profitable.)

I know other folks who have tried side hustles with varying degrees of success. I have a friend who makes and sells grapeseed oil. I know several people who dabble in rental properties. I know a woman who designs websites in her spare time. I’ve met several folks who write books and/or articles to make extra money. Some folks earn tons from their projects; others only make enough to keep to barely keep the business going.

Ultimately, though, I think side hustles are mostly awesome. Even if they don’t bring in big bucks, they give you experience with entrepreneurship. They teach you to be proactive and self-directed. And many times they do help you to supplement your income.

What about you? Have you ever pursued a side hustle? How did it turn out? What would you do differently if you had to do it again? Would you recommend that others start their own side gigs? What advice can you offer?

The post Side Hustles: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

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Logo Design in 2018 – Top Brands to Keep an Eye On

Another year is almost gone. Within a few months, it will be 2018. So it’s time to start thinking about what you want to do in the new year with your business that will help you increase your growth and revenue potential. One thing you should do is to consider your logo design and think about how you can improve upon it in the coming months and years.

If you want to create a great logo design, you need to look at a lot of other logos before creating your own. If you are a small business or a startup, you’ll want to look to some of the big name brands to see what they are doing. This does not mean that you have to feel that you are competing with them, although the internet has allowed you to do just that. Instead, look at it as a way to learn from the masters and apply some of their best techniques to your branding.

Branding is the key

Everything you do should be a part of your branding, and you should take in everything you can to learn more about how you can improve your brand and digital assets. From your website to your logo design, everything works together to create the ultimate experience for your customers with your brand.

The following brands are examples of top brands that are worth watching in the coming year of 2018.

1. Apple

On September 12, 2017, Apple CEO, Tim Cook announced the opening of the Steve Jobs Theatre. It was both a tribute to the late Steve Jobs and a starting place to launch Apple’s next two big products, Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X (to be released on November 3, 2017). Apple continues to produce some of the most innovative products and ideas in technology. They built Apple Park (the larger part of the Steve Jobs theatre), to inspire both customers and employees of Apple to create and sell their ideas. Their logo has continued to feature the apple with a bite out of it. It is not expected that the logo will change. But this company bears watching for their continued dedication to innovation and the search for the idea that their founder, Steve Jobs, had for the company in the long years before.

2. Calvin Klein

The Calvin Klein brand recently changed its logo from the standard lettering with only case-appropriate capital letters to all caps. They did this to capture the original spirit of the company. While it might not seem like a huge difference, there is definitely a lot of time, work, and money that will be spent on this rebranding process.

3. BBC Three

The BBC redesigned its logo to differentiate between their analog and digital broadcasts. It features a pink background with the Roman numbers for the number three under the lettering. They also use alternative logos that feature some screenshots from popular BBC films.

4. Mozilla

Mozilla is the creator of the Firefox browser, but they also create many other high-tech inventions that people enjoy. They are known for innovative browser and search technology as well as email and other digital solutions for users. They are in the process of changing their logo, and they have a logo in several different colors, as well. It will be interesting to see what they do with their logo in 2018, based on the recent changes. There was also plenty of backlash from Mozilla fans around the world when their new design was publicly released.

5. NatWest

The NatWest Bank has made a change to their logo recently with a purple background and three red cubes. The three red cubes symbolize three banks that consolidated together to create one organization. The redesigners of the NatWest logo used advanced 3D typography and design to create the logo. This version was released in 2017, so it will be interesting to see whether they make further changes in the coming year.

6. Kodak

Kodak camera company last changed its logo in 2006. The most recent change was a complete makeover from their original logo, and it replaced the traditional yellow background with a pure white background. The newest update has featured a clean look that is attractive, but it bears little to no resemblance to the original branding. This brings up an important issue of brand popularity. When you decide to change your logo, you should think about how well-known your brand is, as well as the customer’s association of your logo. If you have a name like Kodak that was once more popular during the days of analog and 35mm photography but is now somewhat fading in the background, you may want to consider how much of a change to make carefully.

7. AT&T

AT&T, the global leader in telecommunications, now wants also to be the global leader in other forms of communications. With their recent purchase of Time Warner Communications and DirecTV, they hope to expand into the global TV market. Therefore, they think this move is sufficient enough to drop the fonts. Their latest logo features the customary AT&T globe only, perhaps to greater symbolize their global presence in telecommunications.

8. Pandora

Pandora, one of the world’s leading internet music applications and platforms, changed its logo in the Fall of 2016. Their current logo features a large blue “P” on a white circle. It also seems to resemble the PayPal logo somewhat. Not only that, but the internet radio station platform, “Live365” has returned to business hosting new radio stations on the internet after being out of business for almost a year. Live365 enthusiasts, listeners, and broadcaster are happy to see the platform return. But these two factors may pose problems for Pandora, which now has to compete with what is considered the “real radio station” platform in addition to having a logo that resembles Paypal, the payment processing giant. So watch for changes in 2018 to see what they will do.

9. Netflix

The most popular online “on demand” video movie service has changed its logo often the past few years, due to some changes they’ve made to their platform and because they wanted to appeal to mobile users with the solitary “N.” But it seems to be the battle of red and black that keeps users wondering what they will do next. Now, with Netflix adding some 4K programming and other high-quality upgrades this Fall, you may be smart to expect a logo change in 2018, or maybe not!

10. Instagram

Social media platforms tend not to change their logo very often. That’s because they are such a staple of our modern technology era and so popular with their users that they are afraid to make too many changes to something that is so well-known. That being said, Instagram took the plunge and changed their logo drastically in 2016 from the famous 3D look Polaroid-type camera to a flat, 2D colorful version of a camera that is sketched in the background. Users of Instagram complained loudly about the change, stating that it did not represent the Instagram photo platform in the best light and they missed the old logo. You can still find users complaining about the change to this day. Will Instagram bow to public pressure and change it back in 2018? Will they decide that it’s more important to create a logo that resonates with customers than to do what they want to look modern? Only time will tell. But it will be interesting to see what they decide.

The Elements of a Great Logo

So what makes a great logo? We have discussed some of the factors within the comments we made about these logo changes and what you might expect to see in the coming new year. Of course, we have no crystal ball to be able to prognosticate what the brands will do regarding their logo. But, whether it is due to a change in your offerings as a brand, something your competitors are doing, or public opinion, you should consider your logo one of the most important digital assets you have and think about your design carefully.

The good news is that there are plenty of free and premium options for creating a logo design on the internet today. Such options include using a free graphic designer application like Pixlr, to hiring a designer on Fiverr for a few bucks or even going with a professional design agency that might cost you a few hundred. No matter where you currently are with your brand or online business, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on other companies and how they are changing around their logo and branding efforts with the changing times.

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Is Google Becoming Less Transparent with Webmasters?

Matt Cutts is no longer a Google employee. The last we saw of him, he had flitted off to do his public duty at the U.S. Digital Service. His last transmission was basically a farewell to the world of Google.

And no matter if you loved or hated Matt Cutts, his departure spelled a very real change.

Google has never really been all that transparent about their inner workings. And they’ve been especially cryptic about how their search algorithms work.

But at least with Matt Cutts, we received some sort of warning about major updates to the search engine. Ever since he made his departure this last year, Google has been largely silent.

Is this a good thing? Do we really need a “Matt Cutts”? What does this mean for the future of SEO?

I’m going to attempt to answer these questions and give you a clear picture of the state of things. Let’s explore this together, shall we?

1. Were the Google Update Announcements Really a Good Thing?

If you’ve read the book “The Circle” by Dave Eggars, you’ll know what I mean when I say transparency isn’t always genuine.

The book is a bit of hyperbole and the characters in it are representative of silicon valley as a whole. But you can’t help but make connections between the book’s references and our heavyweight contender, Google.

Like The Circle in Eggar’s book, Google has never attempted true transparency. And you can’t really call the Matt Cutts updates transparency.

They never revealed anything internal. And they always pointed outward at what webmasters needed to do to please the almighty algorithms.

The reason Google never attempted true transparency makes sense. According to Matt Cutts himself, “[Google doesn’t] want to give people a way to game our search results.”

No algorithm Google builds will catch all webspam. And knowing Google’s vulnerabilities outright would increase the number of people attempting to exploit them.

So, in a sense, Google keeping a lid on their “secret sauce” is probably a good thing for us all.

The Matt Cutts Announcements Were Better Than Nothing

Google has been training us like dogs. They change something major and we all react.

They say it’s to eliminate spam, but they’re really shaping a product and using us to do it. Do you really think the search engine is the product? Think again.

Google would be nothing without us. Just an indexing service for libraries or something.

Without quality websites popping up on Google’s search results, the engine and website called Google is useless. So, of course, Google wanted to shape how we create content and post it on the internet.

But was this better for SEOs, businesses, and online marketers? Yes. Any communication despite motives was better than none at all.

An SEO advertising company and their clients could be assured that they knew how to keep ranking and delivering quality websites for users. And they could at the same time keep abreast of Google’s changes.

While it never really gave you much more than a hint, at least it was a hint. If your traffic suddenly dropped off, you had a starting point. You could review and fix things.

2. The Phantom and Fred

Google is constantly tweaking their algorithms. This is fine with most anyone who works in SEO. These are usually barely noticeable changes.

But when Google makes even a marginally large change in the algorithm, it’s beneficial to know it’s happening. And there was only one time during the Matt Cutts era that Google didn’t notify users of a change.

What happened? Well, we quickly found out that it was somehow related to site quality. But it wasn’t Panda related. And Google wouldn’t acknowledge it happened for some odd reason.

Of course, a Google update isn’t really a singular update, but a periodically running filter most of the time. Phantom, as SEOs called the announced update, ran periodically from 2013 to 2016.

During that time Cutts left and Google went silent. Then Fred entered the room.

What About Fred?

Google sort of acknowledged (not really) Fred and then went on to do other things. They gave us no real indication of what Fred was really about.

The name Fred even came from a snide response from Matt Cutts’ replacement Gary Illyes. When Barry Schwartz pressed him to name the unannounced algorithm, he jokingly responded, “sure! From now on every update, unless otherwise stated, shall be called Fred.”

While Illyes thought he was being funny, nobody thought so. Fred was a link quality update. And the official line from Google was “we make updates to our core algorithm every day!” Yeah…but not ones that affect millions of websites.

Google’s Black Box

But Fred is a symptom. We’ve always had Google updates and we’re used to the uncertainty they bring to our lives.

We’re not used to Google’s “Black Box.” Google’s Black Box isn’t nearly as exciting as a J.J. Abrams Black Box. We don’t get any cool twists at the end of the story, only tragedy for some.

What do I mean by “Black Box”? I mean Google’s intentional silence on their updates and changes.

The Black Box is a new paranoid position for Google’s webspam department. It’s probably rooted in the philosophy that any hint of Google’s digital guts will tempt people to “game the system.”

But how many people actually succeeded in gaming the system during the Matt Cutts era? And what actually caused Google to pull back into its shell?

Was it that Matt Cutts was our only friend at Google, and everyone else thought SEOs were all selling snake oil?

I’ll be honest, I kind of get that impression. Even one of my friends at Google once outright told me SEOs were selling snake oil (he later recanted and demoted his statement to “SEO is a difficult to hit, constantly moving target”).

Whether this is true of the webspam department at Google, it’s impossible to know for sure.

Conclusion: We’re Flying Blind

Airplane pilots who fly blind often hit things and die. While a tanked website won’t outright kill anyone, a lot of people rely on their site for income.

Expert SEOs know how to “see” what Google does and they can help mitigate losses. But so many people will see their website tank and have no clue what just hit them or what they did wrong.

Whatever Google does in the future, I hope they see reason and start shaping their “product” again.

Where do you think Google is headed? Are we ever going to see another Matt Cutts? Let me know in the comments below.

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Purpose and the Value of Money

I mentioned the other day that my financial philosophy has changed a bit since I left Get Rich Slowly in 2012. One of the biggest shifts is where I believe we should place our focus.

  • In the olden days, I thought money itself was a fine focus. I wanted out of debt. To achieve that goal, I needed money. Today, I view debt reduction as a side effect, not a goal.
  • After I got out of debt, I wanted to build my savings. To achieve that goal, I needed money. Today, I view savings as a side effect, not a goal.
  • After I built a modest nest egg, I wanted to gain greater wealth. To achieve that goal, I needed money. Today, I view wealth as a side effect, not a goal.

After I gained greater wealth, I realized something. I’d been chasing the wrong thing. What I really wanted was happiness, and happiness isn’t something you can just go out and grab. Just as debt reduction, savings, and wealth are side effects of certain choices, happiness too is a byproduct of our choices and the lives we lead. Happiness comes when our actions are aligned with our purpose.

Gradually, I came to understand that purpose was actually my goal all along. Truly, it’s the goal for each of us. When we have a purpose, and when we’re able to pursue that purpose with passion, everything seems to fall into place.

A big reason I returned to writing about money after three years away? I realized it’s part of my greater purpose. That’s also part of the reason I bought back Get Rich Slowly.

None of this is new, really. People have been thinking about this and talking about it for centuries. For millennia. But each of us needs to come to this realization on our own.

Some folks never have this epiphany, and that’s fine. But for those of us who do experience it, it can change our lives. It changes how we view our work, our play, our relationships — and our finances.

The Real Value of Money

This is all on my mind because a couple of weeks ago, I read an article from Mark Manson on the real value of money. Money, Manson says, is merely a store of value — one of many stores of value in our lives. It’s not that money is intrinsically valuable; it’s that it represents value.

He writes:

Money is a touchy subject. That’s because most of us, to a certain degree, associate a lot of our self-worth and identity to our job and how much money we make. It is, quite literally, a market valuation of our skills and competence as a person, and therefore we all get a little bit testy and scooch around uncomfortably in our chairs whenever money is brought up. But money is merely an arbitrary store of value. It is not value itself.

Manson spends some time discussing the nature of money: its nature, its fluidity, its effects. He describe how money creates what he calls “experience cycles”, some of which are positive, and some of which are negative. “People who fall into these experience cycles with their money soon become slaves to earning a buck,” Manson writes. “They begin to see money as the singular purpose of their life. It becomes the whole of their motivation.”

I think you can see where he’s going here. Like me (and millions before us), Manson is arguing that true wealth isn’t really about money.

To Manson, true wealth only occurs when the way you earn your money is aligned with your values. True wealth only occurs when the way you spend your money is aligned with your values. And true wealth only occurs when your earning and spending are aligned with each other. “Money is often a means towards success,” he writes, “but it is rarely success itself.”

Here’s the key takeaway:

The real value of money emerges when we leverage it as a tool towards our success rather than making it success itself. When we channel it towards the experiences and values that we find more important. When we use it to build an innovative business, when it fuels our creativity or infuses our community, when it supports our family or shares love with our friends or adds to our personal health and satisfaction.

In short, the real value of money comes when it helps you pursue your purpose.

Instead of simply reading the handful of quotes I’ve posted here, I encourage you to read the entire article at Manson’s always excellent site: The Real Value of Money.

Do What Works for You

And here’s the key takeaway I want you to get from my article: Purpose is powerful — but there’s no single right purpose for everyone. Each of us is different. Each of us has unique strengths and weakness, unique value systems. What’s right for me may not be right for you.

Over the years, I’ve met a lot of folks who are passionate followers of certain authors and speakers. Sometimes these authors and speakers focus on money, sometimes they focus on religion, sometimes they focus on politics. Their followers like what they say (or, sometimes, how they say it), and without realizing that it’s happened, they gradually adopt the value systems of these gurus. In effect, they adopt the guru’s purpose as their own. I think this is a mistake.

The path to purpose is different for each of us.

Instead of adopting a guru’s purpose (and belief system) as your own, you ought to sift through what he writes or says to find the bits that ring true to you, the elements that are applicable to your life.

The thing is, most of us never consciously consider our purpose. In fact, a lot of folks think this sort of talk is a bunch of new age bullshit. It isn’t. (Or it doesn’t have to be.) Taking time to consider what you truly want out of life is an excellent way to help steer you in a direction that makes you happy, a direction that brings you true wealth. (Coincidentally, it often leads to monetary wealth, as well.)

Who Are You? — and What Do You Want?

The first thing I ask readers to do at Money Boss is to to create a personal mission statement. I think that’s a great exercise, and I encourage you to do that too, but I don’t intend to fully promote my Money Boss agenda here at Get Rich Slowly.

Instead, I hope you’ll set aside a few minutes to answer three simple questions, questions that can at least prod you toward thinking more about your purpose — and how that purpose relates to money. These questions come from The Seven Stages of Money Maturity by George Kinder. (He, in turn, seems to have borrowed them from the work of time-management guru Alan Lakein.)

Here are the three questions Kinder uses to help his clients get clear on their values:

  1. Imagine you’re financially secure. You have enough money to take care of your needs, both now and in the future. How would you live your life? Would you change anything? Let yourself go and describe your dreams. What would you do if money were no object?
  2. Now imagine that you visit your doctor. She reveals you only have five to ten years left to live. You’ll never feel sick, but you’ll have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining? Will you change your life? How will you change it? (Note that this question does not assume unlimited wealth.)
  3. Finally, imagine your doctor shocks you with the news that you only have 24 hours to live. Nothing can be done. At this time tomorrow, you’ll be dead. What feelings arise as you confront your mortality? What did you miss? Who did you not get to be? What did you not get to do?

Answering the first question is easy (and fun). There are many things we’d do if money were no object. But as the questions progress, there’s a sort of funnel. They become more difficult to answer, and there are fewer possible responses.

According to Kinder, the third question usually generates responses that follow five general themes:

  • Family and relationships. Ninety percent of responses to the final question contain this topic.
  • Authenticity or spirituality. Many responses involve leading a more meaningful life.
  • Creativity. Surprisingly, a large number of respondents express a desire to do something creative: to write a science-fiction novel or to play guitar like Eric Clapton.
  • Giving back. Further down the list are themes about giving back to the community, about leaving a meaningful positive impact.
  • A “sense of place”. A fifth common theme (though nowhere near as prominent as the top three) is a desire to have some connection with place: a desire to be in nature, to live someplace different, or to help the environment.

Kinder says that some people — the facts and figures people — look at these questions and ask, “What does these have to do with money?” They have everything to do with money. When you understand what you want to do with your life, you can make choices — financial and otherwise — that genuinely reflect your values.

All of these questions are meant to cause the participant to ask herself, “Who am I as a person, stripped from what I do as a job every day? Is it possible to derive meaning and satisfaction with this stripped away?” Inevitably, the answer is yes.

From my experience — I’ve used these questions in workshops for several years now — your answers can also be like a roadmap to help you discover true value of money.

The first time I wrote about Kinder’s work here at GRS was in February 2009. I’d just attended a conference where he presented his three questions. Answering them had a profound impact on my life, changing its course entirely. I didn’t see my exact purpose all at once, but I did see that my life wasn’t congruent with my values. I made changes — one of which was selling this site. (Ironic then that re-purchasing Get Rich Slowly is congruent with who I am in 2017!)

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5 Ways to Make a Killing as a Ghostwriter

I’m a ghostwriter. I’ve written hundreds of articles and gotten zero credit (but enough money to make it worth it). So you won’t see all of my work publicly listed (although you’ve probably read my work and not known it).

It’s not for every writer. Some writers would prefer a byline with every piece. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But the ability to hire a writer without anybody knowing you’re doing so is a valuable thing. It frees marketers and fulltime writers and celebrities from the time-consuming task of laying down words. And ghostwriters charge their worth to boot.

Now, there are various kinds of ghostwriters and various methods to becoming one. I’m going to touch on two very specific kinds of ghostwriting today. And by the end, you’ll know whether it’s for you or not.

You’re A Ghostwriter…What Kind?

I don’t particularly advertise that I’m a ghostwriter (although I probably should). I usually say I’m merely a freelance writer, which is true. And then I invariably receive the question, “You’re a freelance writer? What kind of freelance writer?”

I struggle to find a simple answer to explain what I see as complex. But when I think of ghostwriters two kinds come to my mind. The SEO/content marketing writer and book ghostwriters.

I fall in the first category. My main gigs are affiliate marketers and businesses. I charge much less than a book ghostwriter but I would say my job is a tad easier.

A book ghostwriter has earned their higher pay by networking, honing their craft to perfection, and relentlessly following up on leads. And much of their work arrives through carefully maintained relationships in the publishing industry.

I’m going to mainly touch on what I know from experience and a little bit about what I’ve researched about book ghostwriting as well. So, enough about me. Let’s talk about what you can do now.

1. Find Someone Who Already Has Connections

You are going to have a tough time finding clients right out of the gate. If you’re fresh out of college with a degree in English or Communications, you only have your school assignments and maybe a few internships under your belt.

Your portfolio is sparse and unless you’re already awesome at web development, your website might not even be all that professional. What then does a newbie do in this suddenly overwhelming market?

Find someone with a host of clients at their fingertips. I’m mainly talking to aspiring online content writers here, but the same principle applies to aspiring book ghostwriters.

Lately, SEO agencies began to branch out and incorporate content writing into their in-house services. Last year, The HOTH created a whole new department devoted to content creation. They call it Blogger.

Since then other agencies have followed suit.

The benefit of finding an agency like this: they have access to hundreds of clients. And while landing a gig with an SEO agency may not allow you to set your own prices, it gives writers experience and forces them to write quickly while maintaining quality.

Other SEO services that hire writers include an SEO reseller program. These companies are slightly different than other white hat SEO services. Their clients are usually other online marketing services that need to shift their focus away from SEO to better focus on their own niche.

2. Set Clear Expectations With Every Client

If you land a gig with a large SEO firm, you won’t have to worry about this aspect of ghostwriting as much. You should still set clear expectations when working with a middleman like an SEO firm. Don’t let them steamroll you or take advantage of you.

But clients might not fully understand how the process works. And if you know your timelines and can give an accurate picture of how many revisions and what kind of feedback you expect, each encounter will be easier.

3. Become an Impersonator

Any writer should already have an active imagination, especially fiction writers. And ghostwriting, even online content writing, is akin to writing fiction in one way. You must develop a narrator’s voice for each client.

I personally hear a voice in my head when I write. This may not be you, but it gives you a picture of how I ghostwrite and successfully mimic a client’s style.

I read former content by a client and develop a voice for that client in my head. Once I’ve set the tone, I can adapt it to any subject.

If you can successfully impersonate your client in your writing, then nobody will know your client hired a ghostwriter. And your client will come back for more.

4. Record All the Things!

Now you need to make this plain to each client and ask their permission first. The laws for recording conversations is different for every state so be sure all parties are aware they’re being recorded.

But once you figure out a system for communicating the fact you’re recording the conversation, you need to record every communication. Why? Because your mind will play tricks on you.

You might think you have a spotless memory. And you might…until you try to write six thousand words for a client and can’t remember that one specific thing (you know it had something to do with a particular keyword they didn’t want or something?). It’s 3 AM where they live and you’re running up against your deadline.

There are plenty of call recording apps out there. Utilize one or several. And if you’re meeting a client in person, you can always use your smartphone as a recording device.

5. Remember, This is a Business Venture

As with freelance writing, you become a small business with only one employee, yourself. And you have to treat this like a business venture.

Create a professional website. Market your services. Do your own accounting or hire an accountant. Withhold taxes from your earnings. Count your earnings. Set your prices and have sales.

I could make a list as long as the transatlantic telegraph cable but I won’t. Just research how to run a small business and emulate one in your ghostwriting career.

Bring It All Together:

Ghostwriting is an exciting and lucrative career. You will make connections you never dreamed and be able to make money doing what you love.

Are you considering a career in ghostwriting? Are you a ghostwriter? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.

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How to Get What You Deserve When Filing an Insurance Claim

We’re only three days in to the era of Get Rich Slowly 3.0, and already GRS readers are providing inspiration for articles. On Sunday’s “I’m back” post, for instance, Amy wrote the following:

As I type this I’m camped out on my brothers sofa, having evacuated my home during the fires in Santa Rosa. I’d love an article in the future about insurance, preparing and recovering from disasters. Thankfully my house is still standing right now, but much of our neighborhood is gone. My home no doubt has smoke damage…

There are tons of people with similar questions after the recent hurricanes. And every day, families suffer individual tragedies when their homes burn down or nearby rivers flood. How do you handle insurance when disaster strikes?

What to Do When Filing an Insurance Claim

As it happens, last year I bookmarked a question on Reddit from a family that lost everything in a fire. One of the replies was from somebody who had inside info on how to get all you deserve when filing an insurance claim.

I used to be the guy who worked for insurance companies, and determined the value of every little thing in your house. The guy who would go head-to-head with those fire-truck-chasing professional loss adjusters. I may be able to help you not get screwed when filing your claim.

Our goal was to use the information you provided, and give the lowest damn value we can possibly justify for your item.

For instance, if all you say was “toaster” — we would come up with a [cheap] $4.88 toaster from Walmart, meant to toast one side of one piece of bread at a time. And we would do that for every thing you have ever owned.

His advice? Don’t lie on your claim — that’s illegal and could lead to bigger problems — but insist on being compensated with “like kind and quality” items. (He provides some specific examples in his post.) The more specific you can be, the better. If you know exact models, then name exact models. If you don’t know the models but know an item had specific features, then be sure to request a replacement with those specific features.

When filing your claim, he says to list everything you can think of, even the mundane stuff. If you’re writing up the shower in your bathroom, for instance, you might include:

  • The shower curtain.
  • The shower curtain liner.
  • The shower curtain rings.
  • The soap dispenser.
  • The sponge loofah.
  • The loofah holder.
  • The shower caddy.
  • All of the stuff in the shower caddy.
  • And so on…

“I could probably keep thinking, and bring it up to about $400 for the contents of my shower,” the commenter writes. “Most people writing claims for a total loss wouldn’t even bother with the shower (it’s just some used soap and sponges) — and those people would be losing out on $400.”

For more expensive stuff, you’ll need documentation. You can’t just say you had a $2000 TV and expect the insurance company to provide you a new one. For the big-ticket items, you need to provide some sort of paper trail, preferably with receipts. If you don’t have a paper trail, try to provide a photograph. (Maybe your expensive TV is in the background of your family’s Christmas gathering from last year, for instance.)

If you need to file an insurance claim, I highly recommend reading this entire Reddit comment. It’s full of good information.

The U.S. government has an entire website called, which is devoted to disaster preparedness and response. If you live in a high-risk area, you ought to take some time to browse through the advice and put some of it into practice. And if, like Amy, you’ve been hit by a catastrophic event recently, check out the recovering from disaster section.

What to Do BEFORE Disaster Strikes

One of the core tenets of this site is that it’s always best to be proactive. That’s especially true in the case of insurance claims. Instead of waiting until disaster strikes to document the contents of your home, you’re much better off taking the time to do so today.

Where Kim and I live, the biggest risk is earthquakes. Since a 2015 New Yorker article about the potential for a massive earthquake in the Pacific Northwest, folks around here have been especially jumpy and willing to prepare. In fact, when we bought our new house this summer, the previous owners left behind a big bin in the back yard filled with water and food and supplies. “It’s for when the big one strikes,” they told us.

For insurance purposes, I believe the best way to prepare and be proactive is to document everything in advance — before you run into problems. In fact, Kim and I intend to do just that this winter.

When we moved to our new home, we downsized. We got rid of a lot of stuff. But we also had to buy some new things too. (Because that’s what happens when you move, right?) Now that the dust has settled, we’re ready to go through the house and inventory what we own.

  • Our first step will be to walk from room to room with a cell phone, taking video of everything we own. We’ll especially focus on the major items in those rooms, documenting makes and models and serial numbers.
  • Next, we’ll create a text file (or spreadsheet) listing our most expensive items, their serial numbers (if applicable), when and where we purchased them, and how much we paid. This is going to take a bit of work, but we’re okay with that.
  • Finally, we’ll store this info in the cloud. It doesn’t do any good to document everything if you’re going to store that documentation in your home. If you lose your home’s contents, you’ll lose the documentation!

This personal inventory will probably take most of an afternoon. It’ll be tedious. (To make it less tedious, we’ll add wine to the mix. Wine makes everything less tedious.) But once we’re finished, we’ll feel better knowing that if something does happen, we’ll get what we deserve when filing an insurance claim.

I’m fortunate to never have lived through a devastating loss to my home, so my advice here is all theoretical and/or based on the experience of others. Have you dealt with the loss of your home before? Have you had to file a large insurance claim? How did you handle it? What advice do you have for others?

Reminder: Comments are still goofy and will appear in ALL CAPS. I know what the issue is, but I cannot fix it until I have access to the Get Rich Slowly backend. I apologize for the inconvenience.

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The Core Tenets of Get Rich Slowly

As I resume writing at Get Rich Slowly, one of my goals is to share a unified theory of money. This is a big change from when I started the site in April 2006.

You see, 11-1/2 years ago, I didn’t have a coherent financial philosophy. Not even close. Because of this, I was deep in debt and struggling to make ends meet on an average American income. I was lost in the woods. The only thing I knew was that all of the books I read seemed to say the same thing: “There’s no reliable way to get rich quickly; however, there’s a time-tested path to get rich slowly.” That’s why I started this website.

Back then, I was fishing around for anything that would work. I’d try any tip or technique that sounded plausible — and even some that didn’t. Here are a few examples:

  • If I saw something free, I took it home. Free is a very good price, right? Well, not always. As Get Rich Slowly readers helped me to see, a free thing isn’t really free if you don’t need it. It takes up space, which costs money. It also occupies some of your brainwidth. Eventually I realized that free doesn’t always mean free.
  • My early forays into the stock market were less investing than they were speculation. Twice I lost my annual Roth IRA contribution because I pumped it all into a stock that was down. I just thought I was unlucky until I learned (and truly understood) the virtues of investing in index funds. (Note that although I practice indexing myself, I’m not dogmatic about it.)
  • I heeded the common advice to buy in bulk. When Kris and I were married — we’re still friends, by the way — we had a cellar and pantry filled with Stuff that we’d purchased. We had so much Stuff that I couldn’t even keep track of it all! Naturally, some of that Stuff went to waste. Other things never got used because we never really needed them in the first place. Buying in bulk to save money doesn’t actually save you money unless you use the things you buy. This is obvious, I know, but I’m not the only one who has struggled with buying too much in order to “save”.

Over the years, as I read and wrote more about money, I began to see other patterns similar to “get rich slowly”. Gradually, I adopted a series of rules (or “tenets”) that I believed could help me — and others — live a more prosperous life. I developed a rough financial philosophy, one that became more streamlined as the years went by.

The Fundamental Tenets of Get Rich Slowly

Although my tenets have shifted slightly over the past decade, they’re still remarkably close to what they were when I first published them on this blog back in 2008 and 2009.

Here are the current core tenets of my financial philosophy (with links to my Money Boss website):

  • You are the boss of you. Your circumstances might not be your fault, but they’re your responsibility. Sure, you’re a part of the overall economy, subject to both lucky and unlucky breaks, but ultimately you are in charge. Your motto must be, “The buck stops here!” Don’t blame anyone or anything else for your financial situation, and don’t expect somebody else to rescue you. Your financial fate rests in your hands.
  • Nobody cares more about your money than you do. The advice that others give you is almost always in their best interest, which may or may not be the same as your best interest. Don’t do what others tell you just because they hold a position of authority or seem to have a persuasive argument. Do your own research, get advice from a variety of sources, and in the end, make your own decisions based on your own goals and values.
  • It’s always best to be proactive. In life, there are often default options. If you don’t consciously and deliberately choose something different, you get the default. When this happens, your life shapes you instead of you shaping your life. Most people go through their entire lives in default mode. They accept what life hands them without question. They’re reactive. A money boss questions the default choices. Sometimes she accepts them; other times, she proactively seeks better alternatives. (As a bonus, being proactive helps you prepare better for both emergencies and opportunities.)
  • The road to wealth is paved with goals. Without financial goals, you have no direction. If you have no direction, it’s easy to spend money on things you’ll regret later. But if you’re saving for a house, your daughter’s college education, or a trip to Europe, your goal will keep you focused, making it easier to spend on what’s important and ignore the things that aren’t. This is why I constantly preach the power of purpose.
  • Profit is power. To build wealth, you must spend less than you earn. This is the basic law of money. Basic but important. Successful personal finance is all about building positive cash flow. By decreasing your spending while increasing your income, you can get out of debt and build wealth.
  • Saving must be a priority. Most financial gurus recommend saving 10% or 20% of your income. That’s great, but if you really want to make an impact, aim to save 50% or 70% of your income. If you have to start small, start small. Even $25 a month is good. As you earn more and develop better habits, save as much as possible. The more you set aside, the quicker your wealth snowball will grow.
  • Small amounts matter. Frugality is an important part of personal finance. Your everyday habits have a huge impact on your financial success. Thrift helps you build good habits, and makes a real difference over time. Plus, there are tons of opportunities to flex your frugal muscles. And, more and more, I’m learning that there’s virtue in efficiency. It really is better to enjoy financial independence on $24,000 per year than to do so at $48,000 per year. (More on this in the future.) The bottom line? Frugality buys freedom.
  • Large amounts matter more. It’s good to clip coupons and to save money on groceries, but it’s even better to save on the big stuff like buying a car or a house. By making smart choices on big-ticket items, you can save thousands of dollars at once. Practice thrift, but always be looking for Big Wins. Big Wins are the quickest way to wealth.
  • You are 100% responsible for your income. How much you earn directly reflects what the market believes you’re worth. Your income is based on the demand for your knowledge and skills, the quality and quantity of your work, and how well you market yourself to potential employers or customers. To earn more, you must be worth more. That might mean learning more, working more, working better — or all three.
  • Slow and steady wins the race. The most successful folks are those who work longest and hardest at things they love to do. So try to find ways to make frugality fun, and recognize that you’re in this for the long haul. You’re making a lifestyle change, not looking for a quick fix. Be patient and gritty, and you will persevere.
  • The perfect is the enemy of the good. Too many people never get started putting their finances in order because they don’t know that the “best” first step is. Don’t worry about getting things exactly right — just choose a good option and do something to get started.
  • Action is the cornerstone of success. It’s easy to put things off, but the sooner you start moving toward your goals, the easier they’ll be to reach. It’s better to start with small steps today than to wait for that someday when you’ll be able to make great strides. Get moving. Trust that you’ll pick up momentum in the future.
  • Failure is okay. Everyone makes mistakes — even billionaires like Warren Buffett. Don’t let one slip-up drag you down. One key difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is the ability to recover from a setback and keep marching toward a goal. Use failures to learn what not to do next time.
  • There’s no single “right” way to achieve financial success. Each of us is different. We have different goals, personalities, and experiences. We each need to find the tools and techniques that are effective for our own situations. There’s no one right way to save, invest, pay off debt, or buy a house — and don’t believe anyone who tells you there is. Do what works for you. (Note, however, that there are wrong ways to do these things — steer clear of obvious bad choices.)
  • Smart money management is more about mindset than it is about math. Financial success comes when you master the mental game of money. It’s not about understanding the numbers. The math of personal finance is simple: Spend less than you earn and invest the difference. We all get it. Instead, it’s controlling your habits and emotions that’s difficult. Use barriers and pre-commitment to automatically do the right thing.
  • You can have anything you want — but you can’t have everything you want. Being smart with money isn’t about giving up your plasma TV or your daily latte. It’s about setting priorities and managing expectations, about choosing to spend only on the things that matter to you while cutting costs on the things that don’t. Everything’s a trade-off. Decide the level of comfort that’s right for you. There’s no right or wrong. You just have to be willing to pay the price for the lifestyle you choose.
  • Financial balance lets you enjoy tomorrow and today. You don’t have to choose between spending today and saving for tomorrow. You can do both. Strive for moderation in all things: Pursue your goals, but don’t forget frugality; be frugal, but don’t forget your goals. From my experience, both spendthrifts and misers tend to be unhappy.
  • It’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich. Don’t be obsessed with money — it won’t buy you happiness. Financial success should be a side effect of a happy, productive life — not a primary aim. Sure, money will give you more options in life, but true wealth is about something more. True wealth is about relationships, good health, and ongoing self-improvement. Everything else is a lower priority.

Please note that these are not fixed in stone. My financial philosophy has evolved with time, and will continue to evolve as I learn and experience more with money.

Also, these are my rules and guidelines for building wealth. As you begin to manage your money more mindfully, you’ll develop your own financial tenets. Your experience may or may not match mine. Your tenets might be similar — but there might be some differences too.

The Biggest Change to My Financial Philosophy

There’s been one huge change to my financial philosophy over the past 11-1/2 years.

When I started this site, I firmly believed what I wrote at the start of this article: “There’s no reliable way to get rich quickly; however, there’s a time-tested path to get rich slowly.” Today, I realize I was wrong. There is a reliable way to get rich quickly — or at least moderately quickly. But it’s not easy.

Since I sold Get Rich Slowly, I’ve discovered the financial independence movement. (This is commonly called the FIRE — or FI/RE — movement. These letters stand for Financial Independence/Retire Early.) Financial independence (and early retirement) are all about achieving a high saving rate — through a combination of frugal living and high income — so that you’re able to quit work in years instead of decades. A great intro to the topic is Mr. Money Mustache’s article about the shockingly simple math behind early retirement.

Here’s the basic idea: The higher your saving rate, the sooner you can retire. If you save ten percent, as is commonly recommended by financial advisers and personal-finance books, it’ll take you roughly 50 years to stockpile enough to quit your job. If you save twenty percent, as recommended by aggressive advisers and money bloggers, it’ll take you about 35 years to accumulate enough to leave work. But if you can, say, save half your income, you can retire in less than 20 years.

This isn’t a scam. It’s math. It’s truth.

Discovering this “secret” (which isn’t really a secret, obviously) changed my entire financial philosophy. Sure, it’s great to get rich slowly — but you can do better.

The Bottom Line

Now, five years after becoming an advocate for the “shockingly simple math”, I’ve moderated a bit. I’ve returned to center.

I still believe that early retirement via a high saving rate is a fantastic goal for many people. If you’re one of those who wants to quit the rat race as soon as possible, you should absolutely do what you can to live on less while earning a high salary.

At the same time, I recognize that not everyone is eager to retire early. Some people like their jobs. My ex-wife Kris, for instance, loves her work and has no desire to rush to retirement. She’s saved enough that she’ll be done soon anyhow, but she’s happy to continue doing what she’s doing for the next few years.

Plus, there are people who like their luxuries. They like driving a nice car, and if that means sacrificing a few years of retirement, so be it. They enjoy living in a nice neighborhood or taking fancy vacations or spending big bucks on their cable television package. For them, these expenses align with their values, but early retirement isn’t as appealing.

When I first learned about early retirement, I looked on people like this with disdain. Sad but true. After thinking about this for a few years, though, I’ve come to realize that it’s not fair of me to judge the choices others make — as long as these choices are deliberate and aligned with their value system. (But if people are spending out of habit or because that’s what their friends do, or if their spending isn’t congruent with their life purpose, well then I’m here to help!)

The bottom line is that my goal is to help you no matter what your goals are and no matter where you are on the road to financial freedom. I understand that people are imperfect. We’re not machines who can automatically make optimal choices. (Hell, I’m not even sure there are optimal choices in most circumstances.) I’ve made plenty of money mistakes in my own life, so I’m not about to judge you for your missteps.

And that’s what I want to do here at Get Rich Slowly.

If your goal is to achieve early retirement, I want to give you the info you need to achieve that aim. If your goal is to have a happy home in suburbia, I want to help you do that too. If your goal is to drop out of society so that you can travel the world with only a backpack of possessions, I’ll do what I can to teach you how to make that dream come true.

One last thing: As always, I believe personal finance is personal. I believe our choices are shaped by who we are and what we believe. I intend for Get Rich Slowly to be a place for everyone to come together and exchange ideas, regardless of belief. In the past, I kept things as free from politics and religion as possible. I’ll continue to do that — with an exception here and there. Get Rich Slowly isn’t blue or red. It’s purple. (Well, it’s green actually…)

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