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Interview with J.D. Roth from Get Rich Slowly

Published June 28, 2010

J.D. Roth is personal finance blogger and author. While digging himself out of debt, he founded Get Rich Slowly, which is ranked as one of the top ten personal finance blogs. His new book Your Money: The Missing Manual offers practical tips for boosting income and cutting costs. Roth has also contributed to Be Thrifty, 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, and I Will Teach You to Be Rich. He spends most of his time writing for his blog Get Rich Slowly, and his newest project Success Daily, where he provides his readers with daily articles about success and self-improvement. Roth currently lives in Portland with his wife.

Interview Transcript

BeFrugal: How did your blog “Get Rich Slowly” come about?

J. D. Roth: Well, Get Rich Slowly started for a couple of reasons. First of all, from the writing aspect, I’ve been blogging, or doing what eventually became blogging, for a number of years, since about 1997. I had actually had a real life blog since 2001, but during that time and ever since college, I graduated from college in 1991, I had been struggling with that. I expensed foolishly; I didn’t know how to manage my money. Around 2004, beginning of 2005, I decided, you know I’ve got to do something about this. I just cannot keep dealing with this debt. We bought a new house in June of 2004, and it was a hundred-year old house that requires a lot of maintenance, and allotted all the projects we expected to pay for coming up, and I thought oh my gosh, there is no way I can do this with $35,000 of debt, there is just no way.

So, I started reading personal finance books, and eventually on my personal site I wrote an article called “Get Rich Slowly”. And, for whatever reason, it got a lot of attention from around the internet. It was very edifying, and it planted this idea in my head. That article went up in April of 2005, and so in April of 2006 I thought ha, I wonder if I could start a personal finance blog. And so I did. My goal was just to write about my own struggle getting out of debt and learning to manage money. And, I thought you know, maybe I can share this with other people, and they might find it worthwhile.

BeFrugal: Yeah, that’s where all the good ones come from. You know, something personal. So, this is a full time business for you now?

Roth: It is, yeah. I quit my day job in March of 2008, so about two years after I started the blog, I was able to quit and work on “Get Rich Slowly” full time.

BeFrugal: Oh wow, okay. That’s great, congrats on that. So, between your blog and family, what is the snapshot of your day?

Roth: Well, that’s something that’s in the state of flex to be honest. It’s good; I’ve been working on it. Let’s say that the past two years since I did go to start this full time, there has been a lot that happened behind the scenes and in front of the scenes, and it’s just, it’s taken a lot of my time. So, at first, well not at first, eventually, I got to the point where I was working sixty hours to eighty hours a week on the blog. And that was basically all I did was work on the blog. And then I wrote a book called Your Money, The Missing Manual. And, I wrote that last fall and winter, published it in March, and that took a lot of time. So, I was basically going crazy. If you were to talk to my wife in January or February, she would have said oh my gosh, I don’t know what to do with J. D., but now it’s June and things are settling.

I’ve got this nice routine where I am working on the site maybe four hours or five hours a day, Monday to Thursday, so it’s about twenty hours. Then I work on it for about eight hours on Sunday, so that’s really twenty-eight hours a week I am spending. And then I’ve got time to spend with my wife; we don’t have kids. And I have time to exercise, which is very important to me because I’ve just been gaining weight like crazy. I gained twenty pounds while writing the book. I was under stress too, that was the worst. It was awful.

BeFrugal: Okay. So, it fluxes, it changes?

Roth: Yeah. So, I feel like I’ve reached a balance, and I want to keep it here. Now, that I see that I actually really enjoy what I’ve done in the past two months, you know about twenty-eight hours a week, I enjoy it again. I wasn’t enjoying it there for a long time.

BeFrugal: That’s great. So, nowadays there seems to be a lot more interest in being frugal, right? Financial independence, financial security, it needs to come from somewhere, and being frugal seems to be one of those places. So, given that, why do you think that more people are taking the extra steps to BeFrugal nowadays?

Roth: Well, I think the obvious answer is that it’s the e