Blogger Showdown #1: J.D. Roth vs. Trent Hamm

Get Rich Slowly vs. The Simple Dollar
Welcome to the 1st ever PF Blogger Showdown! Your support and excitement have been incredible the past few days since introducing the series, and my thanks goes out to each and every one of you :) We’ve got a great community here, and I appreciate everyone’s passion in helping spread the good word!

Some of you have asked why I’m leading off with 2 of the biggest pf bloggers around (and why I’d pimp out such hugely successful blogs), and the answer to that is simple: Without J.D. and Trent I wouldn’t be blogging right now. The Simple Dollar & Get Rich Slowly were among the first 3 pf blogs I came across (the 3rd being My Money Blog) and they continue to inspire both bloggers & readers alike. When you’re rockin’ 60,000+ subscribers and you take the time out to help a fan, it says a lot about your character. It also says to thank your lucky stars & run with it! With that said, let the games begin!

J.D. RothJ.D. Roth
66,000 Readers
Get Rich Slowly
Trent HammTrent Hamm
64,000 Readers
The Simple Dollar
How long have you been blogging?
Define “blogging”. I’ve been writing on the web since 1994. I started my first web journal in 1997, and the first one that would recognizably be a blog in 1998. But we didn’t call them blogs back then. We called them web journals. I started my first actual *blog* in 2001, and that was primary focus for six years. In April 2006, I started Get Rich Slowly as a side project, but by 2007 it had become my main site. So, how long have I been blogging? It depends on your definition! I had a few non-serious personal blogs early in the decade. I had a fairly serious parenting blog that I started in late 2005 and abandoned in early 2006 because I became uncomfortable sharing so much information about my child. After that, I launched The Simple Dollar in late 2006.
What motivates you to continue?
This is a great question right now, actually. Money used to motivate me, but now I’m making more than I need, so that’s less of a factor. The fact that I’m helping others at Get Rich Slowly absolutely motivates me to continue that site, but to be honest, I’ve been feeling burned out. It’s great to help people, but I also need to think about myself. I’m beginning to feel like I want to pursue other projects. I’m not sure what this means yet, but I may be taking a reduced role at GRS in the future. I write every day, regardless of whether I’m blogging or not. I’ve been doing it since I was in eighth grade. So, if I stopped with The Simple Dollar, I’d just write something else.
Tell us the first 3 sites/blogs you check in the morning.
The first three sites I check are USA Today (yes, really), Ask Metafilter, and my family’s private discussion forum. The Simple Dollar (to read fresh comments and such). Oh, you mean besides my own? And you’re probably not interested in boring things either, like Gmail. My first three reads are probably Google News, Lifehacker, and Ask Metafilter.
Do you use a budget? (If so, what format?)
I do not use a budget. I’ve tried, but it just doesn’t work for me. The closest I come is for my personal spending. I withdraw $200 at the start of each month, and that’s my play money. I used a budget for quite a while, but I stopped using one a year or so ago. I realized that it had become a dead document – I wasn’t actively using it any more. I do keep track of my spending using Excel and I’m planning on giving Quicken a fair shot when it’s released for the Mac later this year.
Give us your favorite piece of advice in one sentence.
“Do what works for you.” There’s no one right way to live life, and you should ignore anyone who tells you otherwise. Spend less than you earn is the obvious one, so I’ll go with something more fun: get busy living or get busy dying.
Is there any advice you hate hearing?
I know that there is (because I get annoyed sometimes when I hear various “words of wisdom” dispensed), but I can’t think of anything specific right now. Lots of it. I hate absolute statements like “You have to own a home” or “You absolutely should rent and never own a home.” Neither are true. There are almost no absolutes in personal finance, and I think that’s why many people have difficulty with it. They either get stuck in analysis paralysis or they subscribe absolutely to rules that don’t always work.
What’s one of the dumbest financial mistakes you’ve ever made?
Ah, there have been so many. One that I think of often, though, occurred during the summer of 1995. When my father died, I received $5,000 from his life insurance. At that time, I had just under $20,000 in credit card debt. If I had been smart, I would have used the settlement to reduce this debt obligation. Instead, I used the money to buy a new computer and a bunch of stuff to go along with it. So much stuff, in fact, that I had to use my credit cards to purchase some of it. Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb. Pretty much everything I did in my adult life prior to 2006. I racked up mountains of debt.
Do you run any other blogs/sites?
Hahahahahahaha. Yes. Too many. I have my Animal Intelligence site, my site about vintage popular culture, my site about comic books, etc. Most of my readers are aware of my fitness site and my personal site, but there are many others. To be honest, though, I’m about ready to perform a massive consolidation. When I’m done, there will be just 2-1/2 sites: Get Rich Slowly, my NEW personal site (which will incorporate all of my other sites), and Get Fit Slowly (which is the “half” in 2-1/2 — I write it with a partner). I run which is basically where I post short essays that don’t really fit on The Simple Dollar and don’t work as a guest post anywhere that I can think of.
How often do you check your stats?
Not as often as I used to. I used to be a stats junkie. I’d check Sitemeter several times an hour. I was addicted. But you know what? There’s no reason to do that. Nothing is accomplished. I removed Sitemeter so I’d no longer be tempted, and now I only have Google Analytics to track things. Since there’s a several-hour lag involved, there’s no reason to be checking all the time. I just check once or twice a day now. (I want to get to be like Chris Guillebeau, though, who checks *once a month*!) Once a day or so, mostly to see if I have any new significant traffic sources. Usually, if there is such a traffic source, there’s an interesting discussion there.
Internet or Sex – if you had to choose?
Sex! (Though both at once sounds interesting.) Sex.
*BONUS* What’s the weirdest thing about you?
That’s hard to say. To me, I’m not weird, right? I know the thing that makes my friends shake their heads though is that I smell books. When I pick up a book, I put my nose to it and riffle the pages to get a good whiff. I’ve done this since I was a boy, and it amuses my friends. I don’t do it to amuse them, though — I do it with ALL books and magazines, even when there’s nobody around. I’m deaf in one ear. If you’re on the wrong side of me, there’s a decent chance I won’t hear you.
Who wins the first showdown? Submit your vote now and let us know! Base it on whatever you’d like: the better answers, the better blog, the most inspiring, the funnier, whatever. Either way, I’ve got mad love for them both and wish ’em nothing but continued success! Hope you all liked this, we’ll do another match up soon – keep your eyes open…
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