HUNT VALLEY, Md. ( TheStreet) -- In this special guest series of guest posts from four noted authors and bloggers on money and life, you're in for yet another treat.J.D. Roth is an accidental personal finance expert. For more than five years he's been writing about smart money management at Get Rich Slowly. He's too humble to tell you himself, but his blog was chosen by Time as one of "The Best Blogs of 2011."
|The author of Your Money: The Missing Manual admits to starting out with plenty of money troubles of his own.|
My story isn't unique, and I know that. Lots of people make dumb mistakes. But when you're living the dumb mistake, you feel all alone. You feel helpless. When you're in debt, it feels like you're drowning, like you'll never make it to shore. Here we are in 2011, though, and things have changed. Seven years ago, I had more than $35,000 in debt and was falling further behind every year. Today I have more than $35,000 in savings -- and I pull further ahead every year. How'd I do it? Well, I didn't win the lottery, and I didn't rob a bank. Instead, I spent several years making small, subtle changes. I learned how to live a frugal lifestyle, cutting back on the things I didn't really need (like cable television). I discovered the debt snowball, a sort of mind game that allows people like me to finally pay off their debt instead of just wishing they had. I started to save for emergencies, for retirement and for fun. I worked long hours to bring in extra income. All of this was hard work, but it paid off. In December 2007, I became debt free and I've remained so ever since.