A list of personal-finance events, conferences, and retreats

Last week, my colleague Patrick from Cash Money Life pinged me on Facebook. “Hey, J.D. What are some of the other personal-finance conferences out there?” he asked. Patrick and I brainstormed a list of money events, and I realized that this might be useful for GRS readers.

(Well, this list might be useful eventually. Right now, during COVID, this list isn’t useful to anyone haha.)

Here’s a quick list of the various personal-finance events, conferences, and retreats that I’m aware of. If you know of others that should be on this list, please drop me a line. I’m happy to add them.

General Personal-Finance Events

At the moment, I’m aware of three general personal-finance events. The first (Fincon) is heavily skewed toward content creators and influencers, but there’s usually plenty of material for the average person.

  • Fincon Expo is the oldest and largest personal-finance conference. Philip Taylor started Fincon as a way for money bloggers to come together each year to share ideas. During the past decade, it’s grown substantially. I think roughly 3000 people attended in 2019. Each year, there’s more stuff for a general audience. Targeted at the financial media (especially “influencers”), but open to everyone. Founded 2011. (I have attended Fincon every year, and probably always will.)
  • Plutus Voices is a series of one-night workshops held around the U.S. While specifically created for folks involved with financial literacy, Plutus Voices is useful to anyone interested in money. Open to everyone. Founded 2018. (I was scheduled to host a Portland event in April but…well, COVID.)
  • EconoMe is a new conference designed to “explore a new American Dream”. Put together by Diania Merriam, EconoMe has roots in the financial independence movement, but also aims to increase financial literacy. It wants to reach both ends of the spectrum. Open to everyone. Founded 2020. (I am helping Diania recruit speakers and sponsors for the 2021 edition.)

In 2016 and 2017, Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You to Be Rich produced his Forefront event, which was tangentially related to personal finance. I attended the first Forefront in NYC in 2016, and I thought it was great. If it returns (which it probably won’t), it’s worth checking out.

Also, Chris Guillebeau started World Domination Summit in 2011. While WDS is not a personal-finance event, it frequently features speakers and workshops related to personal finance. This conference is coming to an end, but past talks can be found online. (I was on the WDS planning team for the first few years, and have both presented from the main stage and held workshops.)

Money Events Targeting Women and People of Color

While general-purpose money conferences are great, there’s a real need to address the concerns of certain specific communities. Maybe these audiences feel excluded at general events. Maybe they have specialized needs or concerns. There’s a growing number of conferences and retreats targeting specific populations.

  • My friend Melanie Lockert runs Lola Retreat, a smaller event intended to help women learn and share how to “go after whatever their heart desires”. I’ve heard good things from previous attendees. (In the past, GRS has sponsored a Lola “scholarship”.) Women only. Targeted at people who want to build better financial futures. Founded 2017.
  • Statement Event is for women in the financial industry: “Our mission is get all the change-makers in one room so we can amplify the conversation around women and money.” Organized by Stefanie O’Connell and Emma Pattee, and filled with an all-start line-up of presenters. Women only. Targeted at financial influencers and service providers. Founded 2018 (I think).
  • Cents Positive is “a retreat for women to talk about money and financial independence”. Billed as a “safe space just for us” so that women can discuss money without feeling unwelcome. Women only. Explicitly not focused on influencers, but on individual financial journeys. Founded 2018.
  • Elevate Influencer bills itself as “the premier event for personal finance professionals and influencers who speak directly to individuals of color”. Started by Sandy Smith of Yes, I Am Cheap. Anyone can attend. Focused on helping content creators to address under-served communities. Founded 2019, although the community has been around much longer.

I’ve talked with several people who have attended these targeted money retreats, and all of the reviews have been positive. People especially seem to like the Lola Retreat and Elevate.

Events Targeting the FIRE Crowd

As most of you know, FIRE (financial independence and early retirement) has been the hot topic in the world of money for the past five years or so. While that heat seems to be subsiding, some of the best personal-finance events were created for folks interested in the subject.

  • The annual F.I. Chautauqua is the brain child of the sagacious J.L. Collins. It’s a week-long gathering in a luxury European resort for what Mr. Money Mustache once called “crazy rich-people talk”. This is the premier event for those serious about financial independence and early retirement. It’s targeted at folks who already have high net worths, although that’s not a requirement to attend. Open to everyone. Founded 2013. Moved to Europe in 2017. (I’ve attended J.L.’s chautauqua twice.)
  • There’s a second, splinter Ecuador Chautauqua run by Cheryl Reed of Above the Clouds Retreats. (I’m unclear as to why J.L. and Cheryl parted ways — and I don’t need to know.) This event tends to be less money-focused than its European cousin, delving into wellness and happiness. Targets folks who want to build a richer life, whatever that might mean to them. Open to everyone. Founded 2013. (I’ve attended Cheryl’s chautauqua twice. I think she should rename the event to prevent confusion.)
  • Camp Mustache is a weekend retreat for folks who subscribe to the ideology of Mr. Money Mustache. This is not organized or run by Mr. Money Mustache himself, although he does attend. Very egalitarian event, which I like. Tickets sell out in seconds. Open to everyone. Targeted at folks interested in financial independence. Founded 2014. (I’ve been once. I was going to attend this year, but…well, COVID.)
  • Camp FI started life as Camp Mustache Southeast but has since become its own thing. Unlike any of the other events listed here, there are multiple weekend Camp FI retreats around the country each year. Targeted at anyone curious about financial independence and early retirement. Open to everyone. Founded 2017. (I’ve attended six times.)

I should point out that the Financial Freedom Summit was scheduled to hold its inaugural event in May, but…well, COVID. Its future is unclear at this point. Intended to introduce general audiences to the concepts of financial independence and early retirement. (I had planned to attend.) Founded 2021?

I should also note that I’m aware of at least two other events that are in the top-secret planning stages. At least one of them ought to be big and aimed at a general audience. As I can share more, I’ll add new money conferences and retreats to this list.

Postscript: The amazing Emma Pattee had a direct hand in creating several of these events. (Emma is one of the most remarkable people I know — and she’s very tolerant of the fact that my dog is a jerk to her dog.) She played a direct role in founding Camp Mustache, Camp FI, Lola Retreat, and Statement. Emma tends to stay out of the limelight, but she’s had a profound positive impact on the personal-finance community. She deserves a medal.

from Get Rich Slowly https://www.getrichslowly.org/personal-finance-conferences/
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Essentialism: The mindful pursuit of quality

It’s been quiet around here for the past few months. Generally when things go dormant at Get Rich Slowly, that’s not a good sign. It usually means that I’ve sunk into the depths of depression, the pit of despair.

I’m pleased to report that in this case, that’s not the issue. In this case, the opposite has happened. Lately, life is grand. During the past three months, I’ve been diligently working to eliminate the net negatives from my life while also emphasizing those things that are essential. To that end, I’ve:

  • Recorded, edited, and published nearly 50 YouTube videos. These are rough, and I know it, but I’m learning from them — and having fun.
  • Given up alcohol. And recently, I’ve given up pot. I’m experimenting with complete sobriety for a while.
  • Lost nearly twenty pounds through simple, sensible eating (and calorie counting). This morning, I weighed in at 186.8, down 17.4 pounds since I started on July 28th.
  • Cleaned and organized nearly every space in my life, “editing” my belongings in an attempt to cut back to the essentials.
  • Worked hard in the yard. I’ve built a fence with one neighbor and am starting another fence with a second neighbor. Plus, I’ve continued our landscaping projects.
  • Begun reading again for pleasure. Yay!
  • And much, much more.

I’ve had a busy three months. And while, yes, I’ve had a few bouts of depression, they’ve been minor and brief. Mostly, I’ve been happy and productive.

Not much of that productivity has been directed at this website, and I’m okay with that. I know there’s plenty of personal finance inside me ready to be shared in due time.

Meanwhile, it’s been rewarding to devote so much time to essentials, to the core concerns of my life.

Essentialism

Essentialism by Greg McKeownI’m currently reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It’s a book about “the disciplined pursuit of less”. McKeown argues that instead of trying to get more things done, we’d be better served by getting the right things done. I find that he’s articulating some of the choices I’ve made over the past three months, that he’s expressing the reasons for my change.

“Almost everything is noise,” McKeown writes. “Very few things are essential.” He argues that we should live by design, not by default. We should aim to make one-time decisions that obviate the need for dozens (or thousands!) of future decisions. We should determine where our “highest point of contribution” is, then focus on that.

McKeown’s philosophy comprises three steps.

  1. Explore and evaluate. An essentialist, he says, exposes herself to new ideas. She’s curious. She explores the world and everything it has to offer. As she does, she evaluates the objects and opportunities that come her way, trying to identify those that are most aligned with her goals.
  2. Eliminate. It’s not enough to explore and evaluate, though. An essentialist also has to learn to say no. As he explores and evaluates, he has to reject anything that distracts him from his purpose. “It’s not enough to simply determine which activities and efforts don’t make the highest possible contribution,” McKeown says. “You sill have to actively eliminate those that do not. This step is tough for me.
  3. Execute. Finally, an essentialist must take action. He needs to develop a plan and follow through with it. From the book: “This is not a process you undertake once a year, once a month, or even once a week…It is a discipline you apply each every time you are faced with a decision.”

In other words, you must constantly and deliberately be exploring the world, then eliminate the noise, identify the handful of extraordinary opportunities, and pursue them with vigor.

This is, in essence, what I’ve been doing for the past three months, although I haven’t had a name for it until now. I like what McKeown calls it: essentialism. I’ve been moving toward essentialism. And it’s producing great results!

Taming Email

My pursuit of essentialism started with a change to the way I handle email.

For years now, email has been the bane of my existence. I hate it. I have several email accounts, each of which is flooded with people demanding my attention. It’s all so much “noise”, to use McKeown’s terminology.

In June, I began to use a new email service called Hey. At first, I was reluctant. (Honestly, I’m still getting used to it almost four months in! But I have no plans to go back.)

Hey does not allow you to import your old email from Gmail (or any other service). You’re forced to start from scratch. And the Hey methodology differs from any other email program I’ve ever seen. The net effect is that it forces you to focus on essentials. Hey is deliberately built to filter the noise and only show you important messages.

Since switching to Hey, email is much less overwhelming for me. I still fall behind sometimes, but now I’m able to catch up with maybe 30 minutes of work. And instead of my inboxes being buried in hundreds (or thousands) of messages, a bad day means I have dozens of messages that need attention. At this very moment, I have eleven messages to deal with. That hasn’t happened in fifteen years!

Email is but one piece of the puzzle.

A Digital Detox

I’ve also been re-assessing my relationship with digital devices. Like many folks in the modern world, I get a lot of “screen time” each week. Part of that is because I work online, sure, but it’s also because I play online. I look at Facebook. I browse Reddit. I play videogames on my iPad. And so on.

I have zero qualms with my connectivity if that connectivity is used toward creative, productive ends. If I’m writing a blog post, great. If I’m producing a YouTube video, fantastic. If I’m reading a news story, also good.

The issue comes when I fritter away hours playing Hearthstone or — worse — spend ninety minutes at bedtime mindlessly scrolling my Reddit feed. It’s when my screen time is “consumptive” that I feel like I’m wasting my life.

Plus, like many people, I’ve become increasingly concerned with the nature of social media. I don’t just mean the spread of misinformation and my friends’ continued insistence on using it as a political forum (although that’s part of it); I also mean the deliberate addictiveness of the stuff.

I’d already been contemplating reducing (or eliminating!) my social media consumption when I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix last month. The Social Dilemma was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I haven’t abandoned social media completely, but I’ve removed it from my mobile devices and only allow myself to view it on my desktop computer. This includes Reddit. (Especially Reddit.)

My current iPhone layout

Then I took things a step further. Our phones and tablets are tools — or ought to be. All too often, however, I’ve felt like my phone was using me. I was the tool. So, about ten days ago, I spent an entire afternoon weeding my phone and tablet of non-essential apps.

I currently have twenty apps on my iPhone (and about the same on my iPad). Previously, I had over 100. What’s more, I spent a lot of time and effort to change how my devices look and feel. I created a custom layout and introduced new icons for every app. I also removed app names. The result, as you can see in the image to the right, is a spare and minimalist tool.

(The apps, from left to right and top to bottom: Settings, Hello Weather, App Store, iTunes Store, Health, Happy Scale, Find My, Music, Audible, Calendar, YoutTube Creator Studio, YouTube, YouTube TV, Apple TV, HeyTell, Shazam, Safari, Hey, Camera, Messages. Apple’s unremovable apps are hidden in those blank, black spaces, so I can still receive phone calls. Facebook Messenger is there too since so many of my business colleagues use it.)

My goal is to be deliberate about my device use. When I go to pick up my phone, I want to have intention behind it. And I want to have to think about which app I’m choosing instead of doing things out of habit. This is remains a work in progress. I still find myself picking up the phone several times a day just to see what’s new. This minimalist layout prevents anything “new” from being there, but it’ll take a while for me to overcome my past conditioning.

Space and Time

Meanwhile, I’ve been gradually “re-modeling” my space and time.

I think this started because of my recent fascination with Japanese culture. I particularly like how the Japanese aesthetic seems to emphasize simple, clean, functional forms. It’s as if the society as a whole decided to strip away everything non-essential. All that remains are beautiful things in which form follows function. (I know this is just my personal — probably faulty — perception, but I’m okay with that right now. It’s serving a purpose.)

After watching a bunch of Japanese movies, I began to be frustrated with my own cluttered life. One day, for no reason whatsoever, I went through every inch of our living room, sorting and tidying and organizing as I went. (I chose the living room because it’s the space we use least, which means there’s far less stuff in it.)

When I finished the living room, I tackled the guest room. That led to re-organizing the bedroom. And that meant I need to clean my writing shed. I’ve cleaned my writing shed twice now, including a pass that I completed yesterday.

I’ve cleaned rooms and spaces before, but it’s always been perfunctory. I’ve done quick cleans that look fine on the surface but which fail to address underlying structural issues. As a result, problems (and clutter) returned. This time, I’m addressing those structural issues. I’m taking time to really think about how we use each room (and how I want to use them in the future), and to arrange things to reflect this usage.

Why do I have my dresser on one side of the bedroom, my closet on the other, and still more stuff in the spare room? Why not put all of my wardrobe together in one corner?

When organizing my writing shed, I pulled everything outside onto the porch. I emptied the shed. Then I asked myself how I really wanted to use the space. One by one, I brought my things back into the shed and placed them in their new homes. Some of my stuff wasn’t allowed to return. Some of it got purged. The result is a workspace that fosters creativity and productivity instead of hindering it. I like it. Very much.

I’ve been doing something similar with my use of time. More and more, I’m trying to do only the things that I want to do and/or feel called to do. That means that if I don’t feel called to write at Get Rich Slowly, I don’t write at Get Rich Slowly. If I don’t want to speak at a conference, I don’t speak at the conference. If I don’t feel like recording a daily video, I don’t.

Reclaiming my time in this way has been tough, though. Sometimes I feel guilty.

You see, as much as I want to believe that I don’t do things to please others, I really do. And that’s a trap. When I base the value of my work on comments, likes, shares, and Google Analytics, I’m seeking external validation. Well, fuck that. I’m over it. I’m 51. I have fewer days ahead of me than I do behind me. If I don’t start living and acting for myself today, when will I? That doesn’t mean I need to be a jerk — that’s not who I am — but I do need to speak up for myself.

Last November, I had a chat with my ex-wife. (Kris and I are still on friendly terms and communicate regularly.) “I don’t think you’re happy,” she said at the time, which was true. I was in the midst of my deep depressive funk. “It sounds like you’re doing too much of what other people want and not enough of what you want. What do you want?”

Well, I’m finally giving myself permission to think about what I want, and to structure my life and work around that.

Mindfulness and Quality

For me, two additional related pieces of this process are an increased focus on mindfulness and quality.

I’ve become much more mindful about everything I do. I’m forcing myself to be deliberate about my choices and my actions. I’m trying not to rush through chores and projects. I take my time. I pay attention to what I’m doing. I work slowly and methodically.

The result is increased quality in everything from building a fence with the neighbors to folding laundry to editing video. It takes longer to do these things now, but the final products are better. (Much better.) And you know what? I’m actually enjoying the experience more. Go figure.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, quality begets quality.

Obsessing over (and enjoying) the quality I’ve produced through increased mindfulness and attention has made me want to pursue quality for its own sake.

Embracing the Imperfections
Paradoxically, my pursuit of quality has also allowed me to start letting go of perfectionism. In the past, I’ve conflated the two, but quality and perfection are not the same. Again, this idea is rooted in the Japanese aesthetic for me.

According to Wikipedia, “wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection”. It’s the appreciation of beauty — of quality — despite (or perhaps because of) obvious flaws. It revels in asymmetry, simplicity, and roughness.

I love it.

My YouTube videos are an example of me putting this notion into practice. These are short clips on a single subject. They’re deliberately amateurish. They have rough edges. At the same time, however, I spend a lot of time thinking about them and editing them to get my message right. I know that they’re not perfect, but my hope is that they’re quality. (And that they’ll lead to increased quality in the future.)

Three months ago, I never would have released these videos. I would have needed them to be perfect. But three months ago, I hadn’t yet made even one video despite years of talking about wanting to do so. After embracing the imperfections, I’ve created nearly 50 of these in ten weeks.

I hope we can all agree that 50 imperfect pieces of work are much better than zero perfect pieces. Let’s sing the praises of perfect imperfection.

How does this new-found pursuit of mindfulness, quality, and essentialism relate to Get Rich Slowly (and elsewhere)? I’m not sure yet. I need more time to think on it, to discuss it with my business partner, Tom.

The One Thing I Can Control

Remember my Hamilton-inspired epiphany from late July? My realization that I am the one thing life I can control? Well, my past three months pursuing essentialism are a direct reaction to that flash of insight. I’ve begun exercising control over myself. And, by extension, control over my time and my immediate surroundings.

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will,” Greg McKeown writes in Essentialism. He’s right.

I’m fortunate. I have a clear sense of my purpose in life. I’ve had a grasp of this goal for nearly a decade now. Still, I’ve done a poor job executing on that purpose, on building a life that supports this priority. I’ve allowed my time, money, and energy to be misdirected. (Our 15-month RV trip was an exception to this, and I was so happy during that time! That should have been a clue.)

At long last, I am prioritizing my life.

I feel as if I’m doing to my life what I did to my office. I’m taking everything out, placing it on the porch, then making considered decisions about what to bring back inside — and where to put it. I’m evaluating my choices and habits. Why do I use pot and alcohol? What’s positive about it? Why do I waste time on Reddit? How can I improve my relationships with email and social media? What work do I want to be doing — and for whom?

I’m trying to identify and emphasize essentials.

“I like the new J.D.,” Kim said last night. “I hope this lasts.” So do I. And I think it will!

Often when I try to make changes to my life, they don’t stick. But that’s usually because I’ve made a sudden course correction or because I’ve adopted some sort of sweeping change without addressing underlying issues. This time, I’ve been methodical. It feels like these changes are coming from deep inside of me, and that they’re being made as an expression of this internal growth.

Plus, I can see that all of the various changes are part of a whole. They’re all linked. They’re philosophical and systematic, not just superficial.

from Get Rich Slowly https://www.getrichslowly.org/essentialism/
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Finding a millionaire money mentor

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

You’ve probably heard that saying before. It’s from motivational speaker Jim Rohn. He used it as a way to encourage people to learn and grow from others’ experiences, habits, attitudes, and so forth. He wanted folks to seek out and spend time with people of high quality.

Unfortunately for most people, this advice can be difficult (if not impossible) to implement.

That’s because we tend to group with like-minded people, which includes hanging out with friends with similar levels of success. Those who are unmotivated often spend time with others who are unmotivated. And those who are motivated by achievement tend to associate with others at a similar level.

When you resolve to improve yourself — to become smarter or fitter or wealthier — it can be tough to find new friends with a similar desire. It can be difficult to change the five people you spend the most time with.

Today, I want to talk about finding a money mentor.

Seeking a Money Mentor

Let’s say you’re a new business owner and you want to hang out with successful business people to learn their secrets. Do they want to hang with you? Probably not.

Even if you knew five successful business owners, it might be tough to get them to share their experience. That’s because — you guessed it — they’re probably hanging out with other successful business people.

Or let’s say you want to learn podcasting. What are the chances you’ll create a mastermind with Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, and three other high-flying audio experts? Your odds are slim. Honestly, your odds are zero. These folks are out there being friendly with each other in the stratosphere. They’re not likely to spend their time with a new podcaster who is just starting out.

Or say you want to date a lovely, fit, out-going, friendly, charismatic lady or man but you’re awkward, out of shape, disagreeable, and surly. You aren’t going to connect with a single person (pun intended) like this — much less five of them!

I even see this principle at work in the pickleball world. [J.D.’s note: John is a pickelball fanatic. When I had lunch with him in July, we had to schedule around his multiple pickelball matches that day haha.] New and inexperienced players want to play with much better players so they can get better. But the better players want to play with each other (for the challenge).

Unfortunately it’s the same way with money. And no one knows this better than me.

I was young when I first heard Jim Rohn’s adage about being the average of the people you spend the most time with. At the time, I was interested in growing my wealth. “I need to find some friends who know something about money!” I thought. “I need to find a money mentor — or five.”

I started paying attention to people in my life who fit that description.

  • First, I looked to my family but there was no one who made the cut. We were lower middle-class most of my life and generally lived paycheck to paycheck.
  • Next, I turned to my friends and saw a group just like me — a bunch of people who were clueless with money.
  • Finally, I considered work acquaintances. But again, I couldn’t find anyone I thought I could confide in who was good with money. Most of my co-workers had high salaries, but they didn’t know how to manage the money they earned.

Ultimately, I decided I’d dig deep into my “network” (which was razor thin to begin with). I wanted to make a list of people I knew even slightly who were wealthy and/or good with money.

I still remember everyone on that list to this day. Here it is:

__________________

That’s right: No one. My list was blank.

And how was I even supposed to know a wealthy person? I was a fresh-out-of-graduate-school executive who was fresh-out-of-small-town-Iowa a few years earlier. If it was possible to have a negative number of network connections, I was there. If it was possible to be greener than green, that was me.

Five Wealthy Friends

I had to create my own group of five wealthy “friends”. (I put that in quotes for a reason which will become clear in a moment.) Here’s where I found them.

Books

My first wealthy “friends” were money manuals. I started to devour and apply almost any money-related book I could find. My “best friend” happened to be Thomas Stanley, who wrote The Millionaire Next Door. I read his book, applied what he said, and my wealth grew.

I found other friends in books, as well. I read everything I could from every type of author.

Of course, I had to plow through a lot of junk to mine the gold nuggets. Even as a newbie, I could tell what was trash (like “no money down” real estate books). In time, the good stuff stuck with me.

Magazines

Remember magazines? They were like mini-books you could have mailed to your house each month. (Oh, the good old days. Ha!)

This was in the olden days before the internet, so magazines were my only option for money articles. I subscribed to three money magazines for many years: Money, Kiplinger’s, and Smart Money.

Again, there was lots of junk (e.g., each month there was another “Seven Great Stocks to Own Now” sort of article) but I navigated my way through the crap and kept some good stuff.

Other Money Novices

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, right?

Well, believe it or not, my wife and I started coaching people at our church early in our marriage. We didn’t know much, but we knew more than most. We did budget coaching: how to set up a budget, how to track spending, how to balance the budget, etc.

My wife and I actually got pretty good at this. We could take a family with minimal income and wild spending, then steer them to a balanced budget within two or three hours. Of course, there were hard choices for them to get to that point…

We saw some hideous spending practices, and we had multiple discussions with people trying to communicate Needs versus Wants versus Desires. (So many would try to justify Wants and Desires as Needs — like getting your nails done once a week was a Need. Yikes!)

Anyway, these people taught us…but in the opposite way of what we expected. They showed us what not to do with real life examples.

Writing

Over time, as our little bits of money knowledge accumulated, I developed a side hustle as a personal-finance writer.

You see the irony in this, right?

I held myself out as an expert — as did the magazines I wrote for. It works the same way with journalists these days. Perception is reality, right?

I did know more than most about money, and the publications I wrote for were more general interest versus hardcore money magazines, so it wasn’t like I was giving advice on complex tax subjects.

Despite my shortcomings, I happened to be a great marketer (which is what I did for a living) and a decent enough writer (my wife was a brutal editor and made my stuff better, though I fought her changes most of the time) to keep myself pretty busy.

The financial writing became a side hustle. We did this for a few years, using all the money we earned to pay off our mortgage. (In those days, the rates were 8% or so, which made paying off your mortgage much more of a no brainer than today.)

While I wrote, I also researched and started to develop my own philosophy of managing money. My money knowledge and financial habits grew and developed.

After several years, we had our home paid off. This led to a 20+ year run of no debt. So I guess we were better off than most.

Blogging

Many years later, blogging became a thing. I started writing on the web in 2005.

This took my writing and money skills to a whole new level. Now people could comment on what I posted. They could (and did) ask me pointed questions about what I wrote.

This forced me to whittle down what I believed and what I didn’t. If I got off track even a bit, my readers let me know it.

This also set the stage for my current site, ESI Money. After so many years of refining my message, I was able to focus my writing on what really mattered and throw away much of the rest.

Of course, these days there are a gazillion blogs and many financial sites, and I read several of them. That’s how many people get their financial information. Unfortunately, a large portion of these are written by people with limited financial knowledge and experience.

Nowadays, anyone looking to grow in financial wisdom can hit the web as well as partake in any of the methods I employed. There’s a wealth of information out there if you have the time to sort the wheat from the chaff.

But doing so is still a far cry from having five actual friends who are experienced with money — people you can talk to, ask questions of, get responses from, etc. Reading about money isn’t the same as having a real-life money mentor.

Besides, people crave person-to-person mentorship in their lives. I know this because they tell me. I hear about it day in and day out.

Connecting with Millionaires

Several years ago, I started interviewing millionaires.

I didn’t do it because I wondered what they did to make themselves wealthy. By this time, I understood the keys to wealth.

Instead, I wanted to hear these millionaires tell their stories in their own words. And I wanted to share a new story at my website every week. My hope was that these wealthy men and women would re-iterate that the keys to wealth boil down to a few basic principles. And they did!

To this date, I’ve published 202 interviews with millionaires at my website.

J.D.’s Note
After I sold Get Rich Slowly (and before I bought it back), I wanted to create what I called “The Millionaire Project”. My idea was simple. I would travel the country to film interviews with wealthy people. I’d ask them how they made their money — and how they managed to keep it.

I never followed through on my project, obviously. So, I was excited when I learned that John had begun his own series of millionaire interviews. It’s not exactly what I had envisioned, but it’s close. (And honestly? In some ways, it’s better.)

Shortly after I started publishing these stories, the requests began coming in.

People wanted to connect with millionaires (me and others) for feedback on money issues. They had questions. They wanted advice. In essence, people were seeking to add a millionaire money mentor to the group of friends they spent time with.

Here are some typical comments I received:

  • “Can you give me your thoughts on this?”
  • “Can I get more specifics on how you invest in real estate/dividend stocks/etc.?”
  • “How can I find someone to review my financial situation? I don’t know anyone good with money. Will you do it?”
  • “Hi Millionaire 192, I loved reading your story. It’s inspiring and where I would love to end up eventually with my real estate investments. Would you be willing to talk over the phone about your real estate strategy? I’m happy to pay for your time.”
  • “I have read, and re-read your story and am very inspired. I wish I was friends with you so we could talk finances on a regular basis. lol.”

At the same time, millionaires were sending me notes wanting to “connect down”. Some of these folks were eager to “pay it forward”. They were willing to be one of the five wealthy friends that people need.

That’s when I knew I had to connect the two groups.

The Millionaire Money Mentors

Millionaire Money MentorsAfter months of thought and planning, I created the Millionaire Money Mentors program.

People kept telling me they had NO ONE in their lives that they could talk to regarding finances. Now they do. 😉

The Millionaire Money Mentors program is exactly what it sounds like: a way to connect with (and ask questions of) millionaires — and other members of this program. It’s an online community dedicated to wealth building.

Members currently have the ability to connect with over 60 millionaires. These money mentors are willing to share their experiences in how to earn more, save more, invest better, and save time doing the right (and avoiding the wrong) money moves.

I hope that you already have a group of wealthy people you can meet with to share your plans and ask for feedback. Even one such money mentor would be amazing!

But if you don’t have any wealthy friends, perhaps the Millionaire Money Mentors program is worth a try.

There are several additional benefits to membership in addition to the millionaire-to-member connection. There are expert Ask Me Anything sessions every other week (Sarah Fallaw — Thomas Stanley’s daughter — and Wes Moss are just two of our upcoming guests), a Millionaire Book Club, and more! (Not to mention we have a long list of potential future add-ons).

If you think you’re interested, I invite you to try it. There’s a 7-day money back guarantee so there’s really nothing to lose. Plus, membership is affordable (GRS readers have a special price for the next few days) and includes bonuses worth more than the annual cost. I tried to make joining as much of a no-brainer as possible from a value proposition standpoint.

And FYI, it’s not just me who loves the site. Here are some comments after our first full week of being open:

  • “The value of the site is amazing! I have learned so much. I only wish I had more time to read everything!”
  • “I believe the price of admission to this site is already undervalued! The value of the content more than covers the cost and then factor in the ability to ask questions.”
  • “Super excited for every one of these (AMA discussions). Thanks and great work putting together this list of incredible people. Well worth the price of admission.”

I hope you stop by and give us a try. But if not, I do suggest you find and connect with a money mentor in Real Life. I took the long and winding road to find my five money “friends” — and even that tough journey was very much worth the effort for me.

from Get Rich Slowly https://www.getrichslowly.org/finding-a-millionaire-money-mentor/
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How to prepare for a natural disaster

My world is on fire.

As you may have heard, much of Oregon is burning right now. Thanks to a “once in a lifetime” combination of weather and climate variables — a long, dry summer leading to high temps and low humidity, then a freak windstorm from the east — much of the state turned to tinder earlier this week. And then the tinder ignited.

At this very moment, our neighborhood is cloaked in smoke.

I am sitting in my writing shed looking out at a beige veil clinging to the trees and nearby homes. The scent of the smoke is intense. My eyes are burning. After everything else that’s happened this year, this feels like yet one more step toward apocalypse. So crazy!

Fortunately, Kim and I (and the pets) are relatively safe. We’re worried, sure, but not too worried. Our lizard brains make us want to flee. (“Fight or flight” and all that.) But our rational brains know that unless a new fire starts somewhere nearby, we should be safe.

Here’s a current map of the fire situation in our county. (Click the image to open a larger version in a new window.)

Map of the wildfires in our county

The areas in red are under mandatory evacuation orders. (And the red dots are areas that have burned, I think. They added the dots to the map this morning.) Residents of areas shaded in yellow need to be prepped to leave at a moment’s notice. And the areas in green are simply on alert.

See that town called Molalla? That’s where my mother and one of my brothers live. My mother’s assisted-living facility was evacuated to a city twenty miles away. My brother and his family voluntarily moved from their home to our family’s box factory. But even that doesn’t feel 100% safe. (The box factory is located just to the left of that cluster of red dots at the top tip of the yellow area around Molalla.)

Kim and I live near the “e” in Wilsonville. We’re more than twenty miles from the nearest active fire. We should be safe. But, as a I say, we’re worried. So, I spent much of yesterday prepping for possible evacuation.

Natural Disasters

We Oregonians don’t have a protocol for emergency evacuations. It’s not something that really crosses our minds.

While the Pacific Northwest does have volcanoes, eruptions are rare enough that we never think about them. And yes, earthquakes happen. Eventually we’ll have “the Big One” that devastates the region, but again there’s no way to predict that and it’s not something we build our lives around. (Well, many people have been adding earthquake reinforcement to their homes, but that’s about it.)

In the past fifty or sixty years, the Portland area has experienced four other natural disasters.

Now, in 2020, we’re experiencing the worst wildfires the state has ever seen. That’s roughly one disaster every ten or fifteen years, and it’s the first one during my 51 years on Earth that’s made me think about the need for evacuation preparedness.

Kim and I have been asking ourselves lots of questions.

If we were to evacuate, where would we go? What route would we take? What would we carry with us? How would we prep our home to increase the odds that it would survive potential fire?

Let me share what we’ve decided and what we’ve learned. (And please, share what you know about emergency preparedness, won’t you?)

Evacuation Preparedness

The first thing we did was brainstorm a list of things that were important to us. Without reference to experts, what is it that we would want to do and/or take with us, if we were to evacuate.

  • Our animals (and animal supplies).
  • Phones, computers, and charging cords.
  • Important documents from our fire safe.
  • A bag for each of us containing clothes and toiletries.
  • Sleeping bags and pillows.
  • Sentimental items. (We have no “valuable”.)
  • Create a video tour of the house for insurance purposes (be sure to highlight valuable items).
  • Move combustible items away from the house.

After creating our own list, we consulted the experts.

In this case, we looked at websites for communities in California. California copes with wildfires constantly. (And, in fact, Kim’s brother and his family recently had to help evacuate their town due to wildfires!) For no particular reason, I chose to follow the guidelines put out by Marin County, California. I figured they know what they’re talking about!

The FIRESafe MARIN website has a bunch of great resources dedicated to wildfire planning and preparedness. I particularly like their evacuation checklist. While this form is wildfire specific, it could be easily adapted for other uses, such as hurricane preparedness or earthquake preparedness.

The ready.gov website is an excellent resource for disaster preparedness. It contains lots of info about prepping for problems of all sorts. You should check it out.

Creating a Go Kit

FIRESafe MARIN and other groups recommend putting together an emergency supply kit well in advance of possible problems. Each person should have her own Go Kit, and each should be stored in a backpack. (In our case, I have several cheap backpacks that I’ve purchased while traveling abroad. These are perfect for Go Kits.)

What should you keep in a Go Kit? It depends where you live, of course, and what sorts of disasters your area is susceptible to. But generally speaking, you might want your kits to contain:

  • A bandana and/or an N95 mask or respirator.
  • A change of clothing.
  • A flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries.
  • Extra car keys and some cash.
  • A map marked with evacuation routes and a designated meeting point.
  • Prescription medications.
  • A basic first aid kit.
  • Photocopies of important documents.
  • Digital backup of important files.
  • Pet supplies.
  • Water bottle and snacks.
  • Spare chargers for your electronic equipment.

That seems like a lot of stuff, but it’s not. These things should fit easily into a small pack. Each Go Kit should be stores somewhere easy to access. Kim and I don’t have Go Kits yet, but we’ll create them soon. We intend to store them in the front coat closet.

Writing this article reminds me of one of the first posts I shared after re-purchasing Get Rich Slowly. Almost three years ago, I wrote about how to get what you deserve when filing an insurance claim. This info from a former insurance employee is very helpful (and interesting).

Final Thoughts

I spent much of yesterday prepping for possible evacuation. This isn’t so much out of panic as it is out of trying to take sensible precautions. I gathered things and put them in the living room so that we can be ready to leave, if needed. If authorities were to upgrade us from level one to level two status, I’d move this stuff to my car.

Also as a precaution, I moved stuff away from the house and thoroughly watered the entire yard. (Not sure that’d make much difference, but hey, it can’t hurt.) I created a video tour of the house that highlights anything we have of value. And so on. This took most of the afternoon.

This morning, I can see that the neighbors are doing something similar. We’re all trying to exercise caution, I think.

Kim and I will almost surely be fine. Although the smoke is thick here at the moment — it’s like a brownish fog, and it’s even clouding my view of the neighbor’s house! — there aren’t any fires super close to us. And barring mistakes or stupidity, there won’t be any threat to our home.

Still, it’s good for us to take precautionary measures, both now and for the future. And it’s probably smart for you to take some small steps today in case disaster strikes tomorrow.

from Get Rich Slowly https://www.getrichslowly.org/emergency-preparedness/
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Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative

When Kim and I go to bed each night, we spend time casually browsing Reddit on our iPads. It’s fun. Mostly.

She and I enjoy sharing funny animal videos with each other (from subreddits like /r/animalsbeinggenisuses, /r/happycowgifs, and /r/petthedamndog). Kim dives deep into /r/mapporn and /r/documentaries. I read about comics and computer games and financial independence.

But here’s the thing. After browsing Reddit for thirty minutes or an hour, I’m left feeling unsatisfied. In fact, I’m often in a bad mood. After browsing Reddit, I have a negative attitude. My view of the world has deteriorated. Why? Because for all the fun and interesting things on Reddit, it’s also filled with a bunch of crap.

You see, I also subscribe to /r/idiotsincars and /r/publicfreakout and /r/choosingbeggars — and dozens more like these. These subreddits highlight the worst in human behavior. And while viewing one or two posts from forums like these can be entertaining and/or interesting, consuming mass quantities of this stuff leaves me feeling dirty. (Plus, there’s the Reddit comments which tend to be juvenile, dogmatic, and myopic. Reddit comments are so bad that Kim refuses to read them.)

It’s taken a while, but I’ve come to believe that Reddit — or the way that I use Reddit, anyhow — is a net negative in my life. It causes more harm than good.

I’ve been thinking about his concept a lot lately. Behind the scenes, I’ve been making many small, subtle changes to my environment and daily routine. My aim is to decrease my depression and anxiety by removing people, things, and experiences that are net negatives and replacing them with people, things, and experiences that are net positives.

What Do I Mean by “Net Negative”?

What do I mean by this? What do I mean by “net negative” and “net positive”?

These concepts are simple to understand when we’re talking about things are easily quantifiable. In sports, for instance, you can crunch numbers to determine whether an individual player helps or hurts her team when she’s on the field. In personal finance, you can track stats in order to see which habits increase your net worth and which cause it to drop. The same is true with fitness or any other activity that can be measured.

But how do you measure Reddit? How can I quantify its effect on my life?

The fundamental problem, of course, is that in most cases we don’t have a way to quantify this stuff. How can you tell whether a hobby is a net negative or a net positive? How do you quantify the good and the bad of social media? Of computer games? Of your career? Of your relationships?

You can’t.

This isn’t a scientific process with actual measurable metrics. When evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of the things in your life, you have to use intuition. You have to guess.

Still, I think most of the time — if we’re honest with ourselves — we can tell whether something is helping or hindering us. Does browsing Reddit make me a better person? Does it make me feel better? Does it keep me better informed? No, not really. In fact, the opposte seems to be true. I may not be able to prove this with numbers (or any other objective measure) but I can sense it. So can you.

Nothing is All Good or All Bad

There’s another problem that arises when trying to evaluate whether something is harmful or beneficial to your well-being. Few things are 100% good or 100% bad. Most have a mix of positive and negative elements.

  • Yes, owning a dog is a pain in the ass — but having a canine companion also brings a great deal of joy. For me, the pros outweigh the cons.
  • Watching television is a mindless passive activity. It can be a complete waste of time. That said, TV can also be an entertaining escape — or a great source of information. Plus, TV can provide a shared experience that sparks conversation with family and friends.
  • Even politicians that I find frustrating aren’t completely misguided; even the worst elected official does some good. (And conversely, even the best representative does things I disagree with.)

As I said, few things are 100% good or 100% bad.

If we could quantify the people and objects and experiences in your life, most would probably have “scores” close to zero — close to “break even” — but a few of these scores would be extremely positive or extremely negative.

Looking at my life, some of my habits and possessions are clearly detrimental. Others are clearly beneficial. In many cases, it’s easy to identify what should stay and what should go. Candy and potato chips? Talk radio? News media? These are all clearly negative and have no place in my life. Exercise? Time with friends? Reading? The music of Taylor Swift? These are all clearly positive and I want more of them.

The challenge comes when something is a net negative — but it also comes with some positive aspect that fills a fundamental need. In cases like this, it’s tough to figure out what to do.

Alcohol as Net Negative

Take alcohol, for instance.

There is no doubt that alcohol relaxes me. By two o’clock every afternoon, I’ve become tense and anxious. I can eliminate this anxiety by drinking a couple of beers. For a long time, that’s what I did. That’s a positive side of consuming beer.

But while drinking alcohol provides some small short-term benefits, the long-term downsides have become too great for me.

Alcohol quells the immediate anxiety…but induces more long-term generalized anxiety. It makes me fat. It interferes with my ability to get things done. It damages my liver. And so on.

Ultimately, I decided that if I were to quantify alcohol’s effects on my life, the negatives would far outweigh the positives, so I’ve given it up for now. (I stopped drinking on Independence Day and my goal is to go a year without alcohol. Or a year drinking as little of the stuff as possible.)

But what about pot? Marijuana is legal here in Oregon. During my fifty years on Earth, I’ve had some exposure to pot but not a lot. (Mostly I’ve used it as a sleep aid.) Over the past two months, though, I’ve been experimenting with it as a replacement for alcohol, and I can see that it does offer some advantages. But I’ve come to believe that pot too is a net negative for me.

No, pot doesn’t contain calories. No, it doesn’t give me a hangover the next day. No, it doesn’t cost an arm an a leg. But pot does make me dumb — both in the present and the future. It saps my motivation. And there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground with it. I can drink a couple of beers and enjoy a gentle, pleasant buzz. When I consume pot, it’s all or nothing and I don’t like that.

Worse, sometimes pot makes me paranoid. When that happens, it sucks. Plus, just as alcohol helps with short-term anxiety while exacerbating long-term anxiety, pot seems to help with short-term depression while increasing long-term depression. Yikes!

So, I think my experiment with marijuana has nearly run its course. Next, I’m going to play with mindfulness and meditation as a way to manage depression and anxiety.

Re-Thinking Social Media

It’s tougher to evaluate things like social media.

For more than a decade now, I’ve been active on Facebook. I like what Facebook used to be. It was a way for me to stay connected with my friends, to see updates on their kids and pets and travel and careers. More to the point, it was (and is) a way for me to share what’s going on in my life. (The real reason my personal blog died? Facebook. I use my Facebook feed as a personal blog.)

Over the past five years, however, the platform has changed. People increasingly use Facebook as a place to espouse their political beliefs. (Why? Why? Why? Why? Has anyone ever been swayed by a political post on Facebook? Ever?) Ads on the platform are invasive and annoying. And the Facebook algorithms seem hell-bent on showing me posts from the same people over and over and over again. (YouTube does the same thing and it drives me nuts.)

Just as I’m considering altering my relationship with Reddit and with alcohol, I’m also considering a change to how I use Facebook because more and more, I feel like it’s a net negative in my life. And the more time that passes, the greater a net negative Facebook becomes.

To me, it’s easier to evaluate Twitter. Twitter is a huge net negative. There’s no room for nuance on Twitter. There’s too much noise. The platform is filled with all of the bad things about social media (brigading, bullying, jumping to conclusions, etc.) and none of the good things. So, I mostly avoid the place.

For somebody like me, someone who believes that people are generally good and that the world is a complicated place filled with nuance, social media is deeply problematic. It’s not inherently bad — I can envision useful, productive social-media platforms — but the way the major players have opted to implement their functionality fosters groupthink, negativity, and the spread of misinformation.

There’s another huge problem with social media, including Reddit. It’s killing my attention span. Pre-Facebook — meaning before I joined in October 2007 — I engaged in a lot of activities that required deep focus. I read novels and non-fiction for pleasure. I wrote long articles. I created websites and even wrote rudimentary computer programs to improve my life.

Today, my attention span is practically zero. It’s tough for me to sit through a 23-minute sitcom let alone an entire movie. I can muster the focus to read a blog post, but an entire book? Well, that’s difficult. If I do sit down to read a book, I become restless after only ten or twenty minutes. I have no patience.

I believe this problem is directly tied to how much time I spend on social media. Social media has conditioned me to have a short attention span, and that’s a huge negative in my life. I crave the capacity to dive deep once more.

Get rid of whatever doesn't spark joy

Keeping the Net Positives

As long-time readers know, I’m a fan of the KonMari method of cleaning and organizing. Marie Kondo argues that you should buy, own, and keep only those things that “spark joy” in your life. Each of your possessions should be a treasure.

What she’s really asking people to do is to examine their belongings to determine whether they’re net positives or net negatives. A shirt that “sparks joy” — such as Jerry Seinfeld’s “Golden Boy”, say — is a net positive in your life, and you should keep it.

What I’ve been doing for the past couple of months is evaluating everything in my life to find what sparks joy and, conversely, what deepens despair. I want more of the former and less of the latter. (Plenty of things are neutral, of course. My toothbrush neither sparks joy nor deepens despair but it is something I choose to keep.)

Here are some of the strategies I’m employing during this process:

  • Develop awareness of how people, things, and experiences effect me. I write a lot about mindful spending. Too many people spend without thinking. I want them to be more deliberate about how they use their money. Well, the same idea applies to how we use our time and our energy. I want to pay attention to which of my habits make me feel good and which make feel bad. I want to notice which of my possessions make my life better and which make it worse.
  • Change my relationship with the problematic items and behaviors. Is it possible to reduce or minimize the negative elements and/or increase the positive elements? Reddit is a great example. If some subreddits bring joy to my life and others make me feel bad, then the obvious solution is to stop reading the forums that contribute to the negative energy. On Facebook, I could stop following the folks who insist on using it as a platform for espousing political beliefs and/or complaining.
  • Seek a replacement that sparks joy instead of deepening despair. I use alcohol as a maladaptive coping mechanism to deal with anxiety and depression. I tried to replace beer with pot, but that presented its own set of problems. Next, I’m going to try to explore meditation. If that doesn’t work, I’ll continue searching for something that will help — without bringing on a bunch of baggage.
  • Accentuate the positive! There’s so much that I love about my life but too often I get distracted by the bad stuff. That’s dumb. My thought is that if I can devote more time and attention to the good stuff, that’ll naturally crowd out the negative. Right? Right?

Will I resume drinking alcohol? Will I ditch Facebook? Reddit? What role do computer games have in my life? How much time should I devote to reading? To television? To exercise? To blogging?

Over the next few months, I’ll try to answer these questions (and more!) as I explore which aspects of my life are net negatives and which are net positives. Fortunately, most of this process is fun. I enjoy it. The tough part comes when I have to decide how to address the things that are both good and bad. Then the decisions become much more difficult…

from Get Rich Slowly https://www.getrichslowly.org/net-negatives/
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We didn’t start the FIRE: The true history of financial independence

I used to be a collector. I collected trading cards. I collected comic books. I collected pins and stickers and mementos of all sorts. I had boxes of things I’d collected but which essentially served no purpose.

I can’t say I’ve shaken the urge to collect entirely, but I have a much better handle on it than I used to. A few years ago, I sold my comic collection and stopped obsessing over them. Today, I collect three things: patches from the countries I visit, pins from national parks, and — especially — old books about money.

Collecting old money books is fun. For one, it ties to my work. Plus, there’s not a huge demand for money manuals, so there’s not a lot of competition to buy them. (Exception: As much as I’d love a copy of Ben Franklin’s The Way to Wealth, so would a lot of other people. That one is out of my reach.)

One big bonus from collecting old money books is actually reading these books. They’re fascinating. And it’s interesting to trace the development of certain ideas in the world of personal finance.

For instance, there’s this persistent myth of “lost economic virtue”. That is, a lot of people today want to argue that people were better at managing their money in the past. They weren’t. Debt (and poor money skills) has been a persistent problem since well before the United States was founded. It’s not like we, as a society, once had smart money skills and lost them. The way people manage money today is the way they’ve always managed money.

Or there’s the notion of financial independence (and the closely-related topic of early retirement). The standard narrative goes something like this:

When you read old money books, however, you soon realize that FIRE isn’t new. These ideas have been kicking around for a while. Sure, the past decade has seen the systemization and codification of the concepts, but people have been preaching the importance of financial independence for about 150 years. Maybe longer.

Today, using my collection of old money books, let’s take a look at where the notion of financial independence originated.

This article is a work in progress. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for years, but I haven’t had the resources to actually write it until recently. And as I acquire more old books about money, I’m sure my insights will change. This particular version is based on a talk I gave last month at Camp FI in Colorado. In fact, some of the images I’m using here are taken from the slides for that talk.

In the Beginning

Who started the FIRE movement? Who “invented” financial independence? Who first came up with the concept? Despite my burgeoning library of money manuals, I don’t have a definitive answer. Not yet anyhow.

That said, the earliest reference I’ve found is Aesop’s fable of the Ants and the Grasshopper from about 560 BCE. (The grasshopper was a cicada in the original Latin, by the way.) Here’s an English translation of the original:

The ants were spending a fine winter’s day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, “Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?” He replied, “I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing.” They then said in derision: “If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter.”

This fable clearly contains the germ of the financial independence idea, even if it doesn’t explicitly talk about F.I. and/or early retirement.

Now, I’m certain there are references to this concept in other ancient literature. I haven’t gone looking for them yet, however, so I can’t tell you where to find them. (If you know, please tell us in the comments.)

But if we jump forward 2250 years, we can see F.I. concepts quite clearly in the writing of Benjamin Franklin. “If you would be wealthy, think of saving, as well as of getting,” Franklin wrote in 1758’s The Way to Wealth. He noted that because they were so obsessed with nice things, many wealthy people are reduced to poverty and forced to borrow from people they once looked down upon.

The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin

In 1854, Henry David Thoreau published Walden. While I have some issues with this book (and with Thoreau), Walden contains a clear foundation for the modern FIRE movement. In fact, when I emailed Vicki Robin to ask what inspired her and Joe Dominguez to teach about financial independence, she specifically cited Thoreau. And it’s easy to see why. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” he famously wrote. But he also wrote this:

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

That quote from Walden sounds as if it could be lifted directly from Your Money or Your Life‘s discussion of life energy, doesn’t it?

In 1864 — during the American civil war — Edmund Morris published Ten Acres Enough, which documented his family’s moved from the city to the country in order to grow ten acres of fruits and berries. His goal was for his family to be self-sufficient, to obtain what we’d call financial independence.

Morris’ approach was typical of the day. He wrote:

No prudent man, accepting such a trust, and guaranteeing its integrity, would invest the fund in stocks. Our country is filled with pecuniary wrecks from causes like this…

Like many of his contemporaries, Morris thought stocks were a poor investment. He advocated investing in real estate. (And note his use of the word “pecuniary” instead of “financial”. We’ll come back to that in a moment.)

Fun trivia! In Ten Acres Enough, Morris doesn’t call the Civil War a “civil war”. He calls it “the slaveholders’ rebellion”. He also makes liberal use of the word “treason”. There’s no bullshit about the source of the war being “states’ rights” as we hear nowadays.

Coining a Term

In 1872, H.L. Reade published a book called Money and How to Make It. This is an amazing book — one of my favorites out of all the volumes I’ve picked up over the past few years. It tackles all sorts of diverse topics, and is quite progressive for its day.

Much of the book is, as the title suggests, about how to earn more money. To that end, Reade offers chapters on how to make money with geese and with ducks and with cattle. He talks about making cheese. He talks about becoming a doctor or a lawyer. But he also includes a chapter on “Woman’s Part in Making Money” and one on “The Brotherhood of Man”. Cool stuff for 1872!

But the reason this book is important is that it’s the first instance that I’ve been able to find where an author actually writes about financial independence. Here’s a quote from the book’s introduction:

We have purposely united with plain practical talk, enough of history and story to relieve the volume from any text book tendency, and believing, as we sincerely do, that no man or woman can read it without receiving a value far greater than its cost, we commend it to the calm consideration of every person who, like the writer, beginning comparatively poor, is anxious to reach what all men should desire and labor for, PECUNIARY INDEPENDENCE.

There you have it. The first reference (that I’ve been able to find so far) to the idea of financial independence.

But wait. What’s up with Reade calling it “pecuniary independence”. That’s strange, isn’t it? Well, not really. Turns out that the word “financial” wasn’t yet in common use in 1872. The word had been around a few hundred years, but it wasn’t until the late 1700s that “financial” began to take on the definition it has today: “relating to money”. Before that, people used the word “pecuniary” instead.

Here are a couple of graphs that show how the usage of “financial” and “pecuniary” have changed over time.

The use of the word financial over time

The use of the word pecuniary over time

It wasn’t until the late 1800s that “financial” supplanted “pecuniary” as the term of choice. In 1872, Reade didn’t write about “financial independence” because “pecuniary indepence” was the more common term!

Nerdy stuff, eh?

Another important early F.I. book was published at about this same time. In 1875, Scottish author and social reformer Samuel Smiles published Thrift, which was meant to conclude a trilogy of personal development books. (Smiles published Self-Help in 1859 and Character in 1871.)

In the preface to Thrift, Smiles writes:

Every man is bound to do what he can to elevate his social state, and to secure his independence. For this purpose he must spare from his means in order to be independent in his condition. Industry enables men to earn their living; it should also enable them to learn to live. Independence can only be established by the exercise of forethought, prudence, frugality, and self-denial. To be just as well as generous, men must deny themselves. The essence of generosity is self-sacrifice.

And Smiles begins the book by re-stating the fable of the Ants and the Grasshopper. For my money — and I haven’t read the entire book yet because I just got in the mail yesterday — this could very well be the first book about financial independence…even if it never uses that term precisely.

So, what’s the first actual reference to the term “financial independence”? I don’t have a definitive answer yet, but I do know its earliest appearance in my collection of old money books.

In 1919, Victor de Villiers published Financial Independence at Fifty, a collection of loosely-related articles that originally appeared in “The Magazine of Wall Street”. While the book itself doesn’t dwell on financial independence, the author includes this definition at the start:

What is financial independence? Freedom from dependence on others for guidance, government, or financial support. The spirit of self-reliance, or of freedom from subordination to others.

He also includes a chart showing “the six ages of investment” which is strikingly similar to my own list of the six stages of financial independence!

Financial Independence through the Years

From these humble origins, the concept of “financial independence” grew more complex and more robust. The path to financial independence became codified.

One of the first books to set out a system to help others become F.I. was the immensely popular The Richest Man in Babylon, which is quite possibly the best-selling money manual of all time.

The Richest Man in Babylon began as a series of pamphlets distributed through banks and insurance companies during the early 1920s. In 1926, author George Clason collected this material into book form for the first time. Over the years, Richest Man underwent several revisions until it reached the form we know today.

As you’re probably aware, Clason suggested the following seven commandments for building wealth.

  1. Start thy purse to fattening. (Save 10% of all you earn.)
  2. Control thy expenditures. (Avoid lifestyle inflation; curb desires.)
  3. Make thy gold multiply. (Use compounding to grow wealth.)
  4. Guard thy treasures from loss. (Avoid get-rich-quick schemes.)
  5. Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment. (Buy your home.)
  6. Insure a future income. (Plan for retirement.)
  7. Increase thy ability to earn. (Educate yourself.)

But there were plenty of lesser-known books published during the twentieth century that offered excellent financial advice and espoused the principles of financial independence.

In 1936, for instance, as part of a series of books called “The Franklin System”, Lansing Smith wrote Gaining Financial Security. This book (which is better than 90% of the money books being printed today!) might be the earliest book to promote financial independence as a concept by name and with a system. Here’s an excerpt (emphasis mine):

If you want financial independence, you must realize its great and lasting value as a desirable attainment. You must keep everlastingly at the task of making it come true. Finally, you must let nothing shake or weaken your determination to achieve your objective.

There is one factor you should understand thoroughly at the outset: The amount of one’s annual income has far less to do with ultimate financial independence than most people think. There are probably thousands of people with incomes many times the size of yours who are nevertheless deeply in debt and wholly unable to meet their obligations. On the other hand, many thousands have far less income than you have and yet they are managing to achieve financial security or are now maintaining and, indeed, increasing it.

Similar books followed. In 1946, in the wake of the second world war, John Durand published How to Build Financial Independence for a New Age. And during the 1950s, several books appeared with the term “financial independence” in their title. (Universally, however, these later books didn’t actually discuss financial independence. Instead, they were manuals for investing in the stock market.)

The 1960s and 1970s saw other books about financial independence appear, many of which promoted a philosophy that seems relatively workable by today’s standards. Then, in 1988, Paul Terhorst published what I consider the first modern FIRE book: Cashing In on the American Dream [my review].

Terhorst was 33 years old and a partner at a major accounting firm. But he began to wonder if he really wanted to be part of the rat race. Didn’t he have enough money already? It took him two years of playing with numbers, but eventually he realized that he could quit working if he wanted. At age 35, he retired. And he’s been retired ever since.

Early Retirement

You’ll notice that so far I’ve only discussed the origin of the concept of “financial independence”. What about early retirement? The modern FIRE movement combines these two notions under one roof. Why don’t older books do so?

The answer to this is complicated because the history of retirement is complicated.

You see, retirement as we know it has only existed for about 150 years. In reality, the definition of “retirement” has been in constant flux for most of that time. In the latter part of the 19th century (and the early part of the 20th century), retirement wasn’t considered desirable. It was called “mandatory retirement”, and it was something that people railed against.

One hundred years ago, retirement was a massive social issue, much the same way that immigration or gun rights are today. Many people opposed retirement. It wasn’t until the Social Security Act of 1935 that attitudes began to change. In time — by the 1950s, certainly — our modern view of retirement as a period of rest after of lifetime of work began to crystalize.

Once this happened, then a notion of “early retirement” became possible. And we can see society explore the idea through books and magazine articles.

The books tend to be academic and of little interest to us. The magazine articles, on the other hand, are interesting — especially since they portray early retirement as an opportunity to pursue other paid work. (This flies in the face of an attitude prominent in some quarters today, an attitude that says “you can’t be retired if you continue to work”. That idea was bullshit sixty years ago and it’s bullshit today.)

Life magazine on early retirement in 1957

Final Thoughts

So, if financial independence isn’t a new concept, why hasn’t it caught on? If people have been preaching the power of financial freedom since 1872 (or before), why don’t more people know about it? I think there are a number of reasons.

Samuel Smiles — and people who adhere to his Victorian ideas — would argue that the reason F.I. hasn’t become more popular is that people are weak. As progressive as he was in his day, Smiles believed that poor people were poor because they made poor choices. There are many people who would make the same argument today. And while I certainly believe that poor choices can be a barrier to wealth, I think they’re a barrier for the middle and upper classes, not the lower class. I believe that poverty is often a result of systemic issues.

Note: Let me be clear, though, that regardless the source of poverty, I believe strongly that it is up to the individual to elevate her financial position. It doesn’t matter the reasons you’re poor. If you’d like to escape poverty, it’s up to you to make the choices required to do so. Then, after you’ve freed yourself, you can turn your attention to systemic issues, to helping other people rise up as well.

Perhaps the biggest change from 1872 to today is technology.

When Money and How to Make It was published, its reach was limited. First of all, it was expensive. The book cost $20 back then, which would be roughly equivalent to $400 in 2020. (You almost had to be financially independent to buy the book!) If you could afford to buy it, then what? Who could you share the info with? If you loaned the book to your sister or your neighbor, maybe you’d have a few people to talk about these ideas with, but mostly you were on your own.

Today, on the other hand, this information is ubiquitous. If you want to learn about financial independence and early retirement, there’s almost too much material out there for you. And it’s easy to find like-minded folks to talk with! There are Facebook groups, subreddits, blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, and in-person meet-ups galore. Technology makes it easy to connect with other people who are interested in financial independence and early retirement.

But I think the real reason that F.I. ideas didn’t catch on in 1872 (or 1919 or 1936 or 1957 or 1988) is simple: Most people just don’t care. Some folks don’t believe the concepts work. (They do.) Others don’t believe the ideas apply to them and their situation. (They do.) And plenty of people simply aren’t willing to wait. The pursuit of financial indepence requires trading short-term comfort for long-term security. Humans aren’t hard-wired to think long term.

Because we’re a myopic species, it’s tough for us to plan five or ten or twenty years in the future. That was true 150 years ago. It’s true today.

I’m not saying that the FIRE movement is going to fade away and be forgotten. I don’t think it will, actually. But I do think that its appeal is limited. Most people are unwilling to make the choices and changes necessary to retire early. They’re okay with the standard path…even though that means they’ll be working until they’re 65. Or 70. Or older.

I suspect that 150 years from now, some kid will be digging through a digital archive and discover the dozens of FIRE blogs from 2020. And he’ll marvel at how the ideas he thought were original to him and his colleagues in 2170 have actually been around for decades. So, he’ll whip up a hologram for HoloTube and share what he’s learned about the history of financial independence and early retirement.

Because — to quote George Santayana — “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

from Get Rich Slowly https://www.getrichslowly.org/history-of-financial-independence/
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Introducing “Morning Musings”

For years now, I’ve wanted to start a Get Rich Slowly channel on YouTube.

Well, I guess that’s only partially correct. I have a GRS channel on YouTube; it’s just not very active. So, I guess what I mean to say is that I want to have an active GRS channel on YouTube.

There are lots of barriers, though, all of which are purely mental. I worry about how I look. I worry about how I sound. I worry about production quality. I worry about the amount of time this will all take. Basically, I’m paralyzed by the need to be perfect.

Last Tuesday, though, on my weekly call with Jonathan from Choose FI, he issued a challenge. “Every morning after you exercise,” he said, “I want you to record a two- or three-minute video. Post it right away.”

“But I’ll be all sweaty,” I said.

“Exactly,” he said. “That’s perfect. The point is to record these videos and put them out there despite the imperfections. In fact, you’re deliberately making them im perfect.”

“Okay,” I said. I was skeptical.

“Just do it, dude,” Jonathan said. “Call them Bicycle Thoughts or something like that. Finish your ride and then do a brain dump of whatever it is you’re thinking about. If you’re thinking about money, talk about money. If you’re thinking about exercise, talk about exercise. But I want you to record these videos and publish every morning.”

Well, I followed his advice.

It’s been very difficult — I cannot squash the urge to make things perfect! — but for the past week I’ve diligently been recording a short video every morning and posting it to YouTube. Here’s a look at the first seven of these Morning Musings.

I’ll admit: As tough as it’s been for me to produce these, I’m glad I’m doing it. It feels good to fight against my innate perfectionism, to embrace “good enough”. And this project is a great low-pressure way to learn video production and editing.

After a week of this, I know that I can record a video in less than ten minutes. (In theory, it can be done in three minutes provided I don’t need re-takes.) And I know that I can have the video edited and published in about fifteen minutes more…as long as I don’t tinker with anything. (When I start getting fancy with “Hamilton” clips and/or lots of in-video notes, then editing can take some time. Video #004 took about two hours to edit because I had to learn all sorts of new stuff.)

These videos aren’t meant to replace this blog, by the way. I’m a writer. I write for my readers. But I’d be foolish to ignore the fact that there are a lot of people out there right now who prefer to get their info by video. So, I’m exploring YouTube to see if it’s a good fit.

Want to help? Let me know if there are any bite-sized topics you’d like me to cover! I’m happy to chat about personal finance, fitness, or just about anything else.

from Get Rich Slowly https://www.getrichslowly.org/morning-musings/
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Action creates motivation

Human beings are interesting creatures. I’m fascinated by them. That’s probably the reason I was a psychology major in college. It’s certainly the reason that I believe (strongly) that everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say. (That bit of philosophy is something I picked up from Brenda Ueland’s marvelous book, If You Want to Write.)

People are awesome — even if we’re each flawed in our own way.

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few years is the dichotomy between knowing something and doing something. It’s one thing to understand a concept or fact intellectually; it’s a completely different thing to experience a fact or concept, or to put it into practice.

I came to this realization during our 15-month RV trip across the United States. At the start of the trip, I had an intellectual understanding of the country’s size and scope. I knew the facts and figures. But I didn’t have an experiential understanding of what these facts and figures meant. It wasn’t until Kim and I had driven 35,000 miles — about 1.5 times the circumference of the Earth! — exploring the U.S. that I really, truly grasped how huge (and varied) this place is.

So too, we — all of us — struggle to put into practice many ideas that we know would improve our lives.

Take my ongoing struggle with anxiety and depression. Too much of the time, I believe I can “think” my way out of it. I can’t. That’s not how it works. I realize this intellectually, but that doesn’t stop me from trying again and again and again. Intellectually, I know that I need to eat right, exercise, and engage in social activity. But knowing this doesn’t actually make it happen. Knowledge is not the same as action.

The same is true with physical fitness. Like all of you, I know what’s required to be physically fit. I have to eat right and exercise. That’s how it works. But again, knowing what creates a healthy body isn’t enough to achieve a healthy body. Fitness requires action, not just knowledge.

Financial fitness is the same. If you want to be rich, there’s only one thing you need to know: Wealth is built by spending less than you earn. The greater the gap between your earning and spending, the faster your wealth increases. But this knowledge isn’t enough to make most people wealthy. Again, knowledge without action is essentially meaningless.

Dreams remain dreams without doing.

The key to making lasting, positive change in our lives is learning how to put knowledge into action. But how? How does one find the motivation to exercise or to get out of debt? The answer is kind of counter-intuitive.

Feeling Good is a popular self-help manual by David Burns. The book helped a younger me through an extended bout of depression. Part of the solution was to overcome my chronic procrastination, procrastination brought about by fear. In Feeling Good, Burns describes the problem.

Individuals who procrastinate frequently confuse motivation and action. You foolishly wait until you feel in the mood to do something. Since you don’t feel like doing it, you automatically put it off. Your error is your belief that motivation comes first, and then leads to action and success. But it is usually the other way around; action must come first, and the motivation comes later.

Action primes the pump. It creates momentum. It instills confidence.

When I’m in a depressive funk — as I have been for the past six weeks — a large part of the problem tends to be because I’m waiting for motivation to come to me. When it doesn’t come, I feel even more miserable. It’s so dumb! I know what I need to do, and I know if I take even one step in the right direct that motivation will follow, but I still struggle to take action. To one degree or another, we’re all like this.

Fortunately, I’m growing older and wiser with each passing day — and year. More and more, I’m actually able (and willing) to take action on the things I understand intellectually.

As I mentioned last week, when I recognized I was experiencing another depressive episode, I took action. I made an appointment with my doctor. I stopped drinking alcohol. I began taking my meds. I improved my diet. And when my buddy Jonathan from Choose FI reached out with an offer to be my accountability partner for fitness, I took him up on it.

Now, Jonathan and I are doing weekly video calls to spur us both to improved mental and physical health.

Jonathan and J.D. chatting on Zoom

When I think back to all of the years I wallowed in debt, I see now that much of my trouble was an unwillingness to take action. I had all of the knowledge I needed to work my way out of debt and build wealth. I understood the problem intellectually for many years. But I didn’t do anything about it. I wasn’t willing to put in the work. I only wanted “silver bullets” — solutions that eliminated the debt instantly.

It was only once I stopped thinking about the problem and started taking action that things got better. When I buckled down and actually did the work, an amazing thing happened. I got out of debt! Shocking, right? And once I took those first small steps toward financial fitness, the subsequent steps became much easier.

Action created motivation. It always does.

So, for me this month will be all about taking action. I’ve spent the past week thinking about the things that have worked for me in the past, the actions that have proven effective. What has helped me fight depression? What has helped me achieve fitness? What has helped me write well (and often)? And how can I take this knowledge and actually act upon it?

What about you? Where are you stuck? What do you know needs done but have been putting off due to lack of motivation? What action can you take today to make your life even a litte better?

from Get Rich Slowly https://www.getrichslowly.org/action-creates-motivation/
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I am the one thing in life I can control

Three weeks ago, I drove from Portland to Colorado Springs to participate in Camp FI, a weekend retreat for people interested in financial independence and early retirement.

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t drive this distance. It’s a 1300-mile trip that takes at least twenty hours to cover. Or, if you’re me, it’s a 1400-mile trip that takes 23 hours of driving spread over two days.

But, in case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and although I’m not nearly as cautious as many of my friends, I don’t relish the idea of confining myself to close quarters with dozens of strangers for hours on end in an airplane. Besides, I like to drive. And I love the beauty of the American west. And I needed some time alone to think deep thoughts — and to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack over and over and over again.

Around noon on Day Two, as I exited I-80 in south-central Wyoming, I was listening to Hamilton for the fourth time in 24 hours when I was smacked in the brain by a lyric I hadn’t heard before. I pulled off the side of the road to think about it — and to make some notes.

Wait for It

For those few who are unfamiliar, Hamilton is a hip-hop musical that tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton and his contentious relationship with, well, everyone — especially Aaron Burr. Burr is the nominal antagonist of the show (although, truly, he is no villain), Hamilton’s most prominent frenemy. Burr is also a complex character.

Alexander’s biggest beef with Aaron is that his rival seems wishy-washy, as if he has no moral compass. (“If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?” Hamilton asks early on. It’s a question he asks repeatedly throughout the show.) To Burr, though, this chameleon-like nature isn’t a character flaw. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s a strength. He’s adaptable and patient; he believes Hamilton is too loud and too reckless.

Each major character in Hamilton gets a song to define who and what they are. Burr’s song, “Wait for It”, comes in the middle of the first act.

Burr sings:

Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints. It takes and it takes and it takes, and we keep living anyway. We rise and we fall and we break and we make our mistakes. And if there’s a reason I’m still alive when so many have died, then I’m willing to wait for it.

And then Burr says: “I am the one thing in life I can control.” I’d never actually heard that line before. But there, in the middle of the rolling Wyoming hills, the lyric hit me like a ton of bricks.

Leslie Odom Jr. sings Wait for It

This is a powerful line in the context of Hamilton, sure, but for me personally, it’s something close to a guiding principle. I’ve written extensively about the power (and necessity) of being self-directed. It’s one of the primary themes of this website.

But here’s the thing: As important as this notion is to me, I sometimes lose sight of it. This is particularly true when my struggles with mental health become severe, when the depression and anxiety threaten to pull me under. In these moments, I forget about personal agency and locus of control and related ideas. When I’m in the throes of depression, everything is overwhelming (even the simple stuff), and it feels like I’m in control of nothing.

A Very Strange Year

This has been a strange year. I know, I know. Everybody’s saying it. But it’s true! And while we, as a society, are “enjoying” this crazy year together, my own personal 2020 has had its own special flavor of weirdness.

As you’ll recall, 2019 sucked for me. Objectively, my life was great, and I could see that. But subjectively, I was miserable. My life-long depression reached some sort of crescendo and was made especially spicy thanks to some new, unwelcome generalized anxiety. Mental health issues stopped me in my tracks last year.

After several months working with a therapist, I made some progress. In January of this year, I took a break from alcohol and began waking at 4:00 or 4:30. It took a couple of weeks to adjust to this new routine, but by mid-January I felt great and was enjoying my greatest productivity in years. Yay!

As our country (and the world) descended into chaos in March, April, and May, I still felt great. I was insanely productive, both for business projects (such as creating my upcoming FIRE course for Audible) and household projects (such as landscaping the back yard). I was flying high. There was a stark contrast between the overall mood of the world around me and my personal mood. I almost felt guilty. (It’s an odd thing when you’re doing well individually while so many other people are suffering. I’m not sure I like it.)

Then, in mid-June, things went haywire. Slowly at first — then all at once — my depression and anxiety roared back with full force. I found myself paralyzed by fear once more. Blarg! Was I drinking too much beer? Taking on too much work? Overwhelmed by current events? Flustered by chaos here on the homestead? (Our fence fell down. The hot tub broke. The fridge is dying. The sewer line is clogged. And so on.) Whatever the cause, I’d reached a dark place by the end of June.

It felt like my life was out of control. Like Alexander Hamilton, I felt like I was stuck inside a hurricane.

Fortunately, I recognized the problem quickly. And that moment in Wyoming — hearing Burr sing “I am the one thing in life I can control” — was key, a wake-up call. It reminded me of my philosophy. I realized that I was focusing too much on my “circle of concern” rather than my “circle of control”.

[Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Control]

I fought back.

During July, I took several steps to combat my depression. Among others:

  • I stopped drinking alcohol. I had my last drinks on Independence Day. My goal is to go one year without the stuff. No, I’m not being 100% strict. If I find myself in a social situation where it’s better to drink than to make a fuss, I’ll drink. But not much. And these situations should be rare indeed. (I’ve had one such occasion since Independence Day.)
  • I called my doctor to ask about medication. While I’m not opposed to meds, I generally don’t like them for myself. I don’t like the side effects. Plus, I have this stupid idea that I shouldn’t need them. Well, in reality I do need them, that much is clear. So, we’re playing with things to see what works.
  • I uninstalled my stupid videogame. (Again.) If you’re a long-time reader, you know that computer games are my kryptonite. And in small doses, there’s nothing wrong with gaming. It can be a great way to relax! But when I’m in one of my funks, gaming becomes an escape, a way for me to avoid reality. Until I’m moving forward under my own steam again, it’s best that I simply avoid the temptation entirely.
  • I shifted physical fitness to my top priority. Like it or not, my body image has a profound effect on my overall self image. I wish this weren’t the case, but it’s true. Plus, eating right and exercising is conducive to long life and an effective way to fight depression. So, with help from my buddy Jonathan at Choose FI, I’m embarking on a six-month quest to lose thirty pounds. (I’ll write more about this soon.)

In short, I stopped allowing myself to be a victim of external forces and started exercising agency. I am the one thing in life I can control. I need to exercise that control in whatever ways I can. It’s the only way out of the pit of despair.

It’s far too early to say how much these changes (and others I’m making) will help me, but I’m confident that things will improve in short order. They already have to some degree. I mean, the first thing I wanted to do this morning was write an article for Get Rich Slowly! (And I have a list of other things to write about too.)

Coming Out of the Dark

During my two weekends at Camp FI in Colorado Springs, I spoke about the true history of financial independence and early retirement. (These ideas have been around much longer than most people think.) My talk was rough, and I know it, but I hope to develop it into an interesting and useful presentation in years to come. And I hope to share a written version of this presentation here at Get Rich Slowly in the near future.

But for me, Camp FI is less about sharing what I know and more about connecting with like-minded friends and colleagues. I had a blast both weekends. I hung out with new friends and old.

I got to spend a bit of time with Michelle Jackson (who is one of my favorite people). Between weekends, I spent four nights in Mr. Money Mustache‘s basement. He and I hiked, swam in a creek, and had deep conversations on his delightful deck. I had lunch with Piggy from Bitches Get Riches (and met her chickens). I also had lunch with John from ESI Money. I got to know Mr. Refined from Refined by Fire. And so on.

Hanging with Michelle Jackson

Hanging with Piggy from Bitches Get Riches

Diania Merriam presents to the group

By the final night of the second weekend, I was more relaxed than I have been in months. Maybe years. As I sat outside with the die-hards until the wee hours of the morning, telling stories and laughing, I felt alive. I felt myself. I felt as if I were in control of things once more.

My road trip helped me re-realize something else important about my depression and anxiety. My suffering is intensified when I spend too much time alone. I feel better about myself (and my fellow humans) when I interact with other people, whether friends or strangers. I genuinely like people. They’re amazing. I need to do a much better job of seeking out human contact if I want to maintain my mental health!

If only we weren’t in the midst of a global pandemic…

from Get Rich Slowly https://www.getrichslowly.org/i-am-the-one-thing-in-life-i-can-control/
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Tips For Researching Stocks

robert scott batchelar stocks header

If you’d like to do more with your money, investing in stocks is a great way of using it to generate more money. If you’re a beginner investor, you’d do better investing in a portfolio or a group of stocks selected by a professional. If you’d like to pick your own stocks, here’s how you can go about it.

  1. Have an idea of the industry to which the company belongs – Find out if the company you’re investing in is well-known, it’s history, if it’s new, like a startup and so on. See if regulations on the industry can affect future prospects. A company’s history will also tell you if it’s adaptable to change and so on.
  2. Have a look at the company’s required report of its financial condition to regulators – The Nasdaq (National Association of Securities Dealer’s Automated Quotation system) has recommended doing your research on the financial as well as other corporate information required by and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. stock regulator. There’s an online database of these filings known as EDGAR. There are also plenty of sites which will let you look up a company’s financial reports as long as you understand the company’s corporate stock trading symbol. The quickest way is to look up a company’s website and search for its investor’s page. This is where information that’s important to investors is kept and maintained, and you certainly will find what you’re looking for here.
  3. Have a look at the company’s weighted alpha – If you’re doing your research on a company online, you can look at its weighted alpha numbers. The weighted alpha figure shows you the company’s growth during the year while emphasizing the company’s most recent price activity. A negatively weighted alpha suggests that the stock price is moving downwards while a positive weighted alpha says the opposite. 

There are many more tips for researching stocks. Start by following these and then branch out.

from Robert Scott Batchelar | Finance http://robertscottbatchelar.com/tips-for-researching-stocks/
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