Happy Birthday, jlcollinsnh; and thanks for the gift Mr. MM!

In 1974 my dad died.  I was 23.

(Didn’t expect the Happy Birthday post to begin there, I’ll bet!)

He never had much interest in kids so our relationship didn’t really begin to develop until I was in college and could relate to him as an adult.  Of course, by then I had my own circle of interest and a very busy life.  Looking back, I never really got to know him.  It is a lasting regret.

I know the basics of course.  He was born in 1911 in Duluth, MN.  His father was a lawyer.  His mother died when he was two.  His step mother evidently didn’t care for him.  He was sent to boarding school in the winters and to his Aunt Jessie and Uncle Ben’s farm in the summers.

He took his degree in Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin and his first job was selling for 7-Up.  My mother was a school teacher when they met and since she wanted to keep working they married in secret.  In those days only single women could be teachers.

Her father had a business as a manufacturers’ rep.  Her brother, my Uncle Linton, and my dad took it over.  They were very good at what they did and earned a handsome living for many years.  But dad, like many men of his generation, was a smoker.  By the time I got to college his health and, by extension, his business were failing rapidly.

My daughter and I have had a much closer relationship.  She knows far more about me, what I believe and why.  But now in college she, too, has her own circle of interest and a very busy life.  So a couple of years ago I began writing some letters to her.  Life lessons if you will.  Things I wanted her to know that she might not be yet ready or interested in hearing just yet.

Then last year I retired….

 ….leaving behind my business friends and colleagues, and wondering how best to stay in touch with them.

Those two goals in mind, the blog idea occurred.

I had never read a blog.  I had never seen one.  I barely knew such things existed.  But I asked around and got pointed to WordPress.

Poking about, I managed to cobble together the format you see here and I started writing.  June 2, 2011 The Monk and the Minister appeared.  My first post.  I sent the link to my friends and family.  The name jlcollinsnh was chosen so they’d know it was me.

Over the next month I posted 17 more before disappearing to Ecuador for the summer.  The blog went dark until I returned with the appropriately named Lazy Days in late October.  Since then I’ve published about two posts a week as ideas and interest come.

Today jlcollinsnh is one year old.  The blog, that is.  It seems it is customary on this august occasion for bloggers to post a review of the year just past.  So, here goes….

As of last week:

  • 50 posts, an average of just about one per week.
  • 41,752 total page views, a little more than 800 per week.
  • 928 page views on my single busiest day.
  • 66 subscribers, although I’ve come to learn regular readers have other ways of accessing it too.

But then, last Saturday, everything changed.

an early present from MMM

Mr. Money Mustache published my guest post on his far more popular site.  What I thought was going to be just a bit more work for me turned out to be a huge gift to this modest little blog.

In just the past week:

  • Just 1 more post.
  • 31,852 more page views.
  • 6811 page views last Sunday alone, the busiest day.
  • 110 additional subscribers.
  • 267 additional comments.

It has been nothing short of breathtaking.  So now, on the blog’s one year anniversary, here’s where the totals stand:

  • 52 posts, including this one
  • 73,604 page views.
  • 6811 page views on the busiest day.
  • 176 subscribers.

But what really made my day is the incredible warmth and kind words in those comments.  Boy howdy.

So a big “Thank You!” to all my loyal readers and an equally big “Welcome!” to all of you who have found your way here this past week.

With out you, this blogging thing would just be so much talking to myself.

Here’s what I learned along the way:

I picked the wrong name.

While jlcollinsnh works fine for letting friends and family know it’s me, it really doesn’t properly brand the blog as what it is.  Most have descriptive titles that help potential readers know what to expect.  But I’ve grown fond of it.  It’s not going to change.

I picked the wrong category (s).

Business – Life – Money, works fine in describing what I cover here.  Although, given the posts, it should be:  Money — Life — Business.  Successful blogs seem more focused.  But I like the freedom to range about my topics.  That’s not going to change either.

There’s no money in it.

The good news is that it costs nothing other than time and effort to do this.

I did just learn that some of you may be seeing ads here.  They never appear on my version.  WordPress tells me they place these and it provides revenue to them.  That, in turn, provides their hosting service to me for free.  Works for me; hope they aren’t a distraction for you.

But, there might be a book in it.

I’ve always wanted to write a book but have never had the discipline to sit still and crank out the chapters.  The blog has provided the structure, and the response from readers like you the motivation, to write.  Slowly the material is accumulating.  The next step will be to organize it and give it a rewrite so it flows.  We’ll see…

There could be money in it.

But not much.  I’m only just beginning to learn there are ways to monetize it, but it seems the amounts are minimal without a far, far larger audience.

I could be doing far more to build the audience.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, lifehacker, reddit, yakezie are all apparently venues that would drive traffic, but I do none.

So far what readership the blog has, has grown organically.

With a big boost from MMM.

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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.
  • Vanguard.com


  1. Mr. Risky Startup says

    Happy Birthday! Yes, I think you have more than one book in you, so sharpen your pencil and get going. Not sure how you are going to avoid censors with book title FU$ (abbreviation) however? 🙂

    I do not use WordPress, but as I understand, you can pay $60 per year to avoid ads appearing on your pages. If you stick Adwords ads on your page, that should produce enough revenue to pay for this.

    As for the name, you should get a domain name (whatever.com) – I would be first to donate $20 for that goal – and $20 should easily cover 1 year of domain name services (if you have Paypal account I can send you $20 now – email me your Paypal account email address). Your current URL will keep working, but you would point new name to your current page and thus be more visible and have easier to remember URL.


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Mr. Risky….

      ….yeah I’m still trying to figure a good book title.

      AdSense is new to me and I’ve not a clue as to what it is or how to impliemnt it. As is the case with most of this stuff. but it sounds good.

      Evidently I can have jlcollinsnh.com for $18. per year. Since I don’t see enough improvement over jlcollinsnh.com I’ve saved my money. and unless I come up with some killer new name, I like it the way it is. even if it isn’t the best description.

      Thanks for the offer of $20! That would be the first $$$ the blog ever made! But, keep it in your own pocket at least for now. 😉

  2. David says

    Thanks for sharing what you are all about. I enjoy reading your post as they come through. Keep up the good work. I’m looking forward to your book!

  3. Fuji says

    Congrats on reaching the blog’s first birthday, well done! I very much enjoy the substance and rhythm of your musings – keep up the good work!

      • Mr. Risky Startup says

        No problem. My offer stands, and I am making it not so much for you (I don’t think you need my $20), but for people who may find you easier and then change their lives for the better. As for the name, you are good with words, name will just come to you one day.

        Few years back I started new company for my current boss. After thinking about it for almost a month, I was unable to come up with a good name and details around it so I decided to drop it for one week and not even think about it. Then, one night, couple of days later, at 2am (my favorite work time), I had a breaktrhough – within 15 minutes I had a name selected, domain name(s) registered, logo designed, toll-free number reserved and trademark process started. And name was so perfect, we still get offers to sell it for good chunk of money.

  4. Kenneth says

    You and MMM are helping more than you know. Like dieting, working out and losing weight, financial fitness can also be a lonely road. We need encouragement, camaraderie, thoughts from people that have done this. We did not go on a vacation trip last year, and will not this year. We have cut back on many expenses that other people think nothing of (TV, cable, cell phones, dining out, mindless shopping etc.) The reward? Our home will be paid in full by the end of this year, 2012. That will free up a ton of money, because we are paying about $3,000 a month towards this. In 2013, that $3,000 a month is OURS! We will not be debt slaves any longer. Thanks for writing your blog!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Well done Kenneth! That’s the cool thing about getting in the habit, the extra freed up cash starts working for you and creating more of itself.

  5. Shilpan says

    Congrats Jim. Your little baby is growing fast. As you’ve said, there is no money in this, but sheer joy of sharing and making friends more than make up for the income loss. I consider you my elder brother on the blogosphere. I lost my elder brother in 1971. Since then, I have learned to live without knowing how important it is to have siblings to share your thoughts, feelings and, even frustration. I think you have all the qualifications to be a great mentor not just for your daughter, but also for thousands of souls who connect with you on the same frequency.

  6. femmefrugality says

    That’s a very young age to lose your father. It’s hard not having that connection, and for what it’s worth I think you’re doing a beautiful job nurturing that connection with your daughter.

    HAPPY BLOGIVERSARY! It’s no wonder your stats went up…that was an excellent guest post! Everything else you write is amazing, too, but sometimes having the right platform can really help things out.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks FF….

      …you are too kind, and your participation here is very much appreciated!

      She and I do have a wonderful relationship, but she’s pretty sick of hearing my talk about this stuff. 😉

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Welcome FVM….

      ….good to see you over here and I appreciate your comment.

      I am very sorry to hear you lost your dad. Heartbreakingly tough at any age, let alone 29.

  7. Malika says

    Happy First Birthday!! Wow, what a year–52 blogs and 172 subscribers! Your wisdom and intelligence on the topics of money, business and life is immeasurable. Thanks for blogging this, now I can always get to a particular topic when I need a refresher course. Glad my (sometimes) comments are in person. Congratulations.

  8. arebelspy says

    JL, I posted over in the MMM comments that I was excited you had that guest post, because more people need to see your blog. I’ve recommended it on his forums as well (as have other readers there). I’m glad it provided such a boost. Keep up the awesome articles. I really, really love the wisdom you provide. Congrats on the one year mark!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Arebelspy…..

      ….I appreciate your very kind words and I especially appreciate you’re passing along the blog with your seal of approval! that’s what will keep it growing.

  9. Jodie says

    There’s so much I want to say and I’ve only really just encountered you. Even so, you were willing to spend some time to provide some information to someone who feels frustrated that they are only looking into this at the age you achieved it and make me feel somewhat better. Thank you and here’s to more blogs from you – I’m still working my way through your posts and they are very informative and helpful.

  10. A says

    I believe I’ve been following your blog since the “worst used car ever” post. It’s been a pleasure reading what you have to say.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Wow, A, that goes back nearly to the beginning. And it makes me wonder how you first found there joint?

      BTW, I’ve a couple of more car posts in the queue.

      • A says

        Well, I’ve been tempted to go down the “classic car” road myself more than a few times. I might have found your blog while searching during my most recent temptation. The article knocked some sense into me and made me laugh hardily. And your “How I lost money in real estate before it was fashionable” series of articles have been some of my favorites to dates. Great stuff!

        • A says

          Though it’s entirely possible my memory is a bit sketchy and I picked you up at a later article… either way, it’s been a while and it’s been great reading!

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Thanks, A….

          a few years back I knew a couple of sales guys who approached the car issue by buying the big S-class Mercedes sedans. These are 100k+ cars new, but they’d buy them 10-12 years old and pay about 10-12k for them. They’d then put a couple grand more into sprucing them up.

          Since these Mercedes were very well built cars, riding around it them I’d neve have guessed I was in an older car.

          But, as good as a Mercedes might be, it is still just a machine and at 10-12 years old a machine that was going to need regular repair. That repair was also likely to be expensive.

          When I asked these guys said, sure but no problem. They opened and added each month to a bank account for maintain funds. When I asked how much each month: $400!!

          Yikes. At the time you could lease (not that I recommend leasing) a very nice new car for that.

  11. Matt says

    I found you through the comments on the MMM site some time ago. You and MMM are becoming my go Money – Business – Life sites.

  12. Kath says

    Happy Blogiversary 🙂

    Blogging has changed my live in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I first started my blog. Congrats on the blogosphere showering you with love and friendship and hits and pageviews 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thank You Kath….

      and welcome. It has been a remarkable learning experience and there is still much in this blogging world that remains a mystery to me.

      BTW, I just checked out your blog. Congratulations on working your way out of debt!

      Although, I can’t imagine how you can put 50% down on a KIA and still owe 17k? I’ve actually been looking at adding a Kia Soul next year. If I do I’ll be expecting change back from my $17,000 bill. 🙂

  13. Trish says

    Discussing your blog with my kids while on a ferryboat on the Golden Horn in Istanbul.
    Thanks for the reminders of good, simple financial thinking, I’ve used your examples yet again to remind my kids to pay themselves first out of every paycheck. (And no debt!)

    One of them already put it to good use, and spent the last year living in France and Morocco.
    Much obliged for putting things so simply and clearly!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Trish…..

      Thanks for checking in, and the fact you are doing so while touring Turkey brings up an important point:

      Saving, avoiding debt and wealth building is not about depriving yourself. It is about having plenty of money to do with your life as you choose. Like touring Turkey or hanging out in France/Morocco. 😉

      BTW, I’m surprised MMR hasn’t commented here:

      His questions were the inspiration. 🙂

      • Trish says

        I can tell you why.
        Since he lives more frugally than I do (which is how he saved over 50% of his pay as a projectionist in LA* so he could go to France/Morocco), a smartphone is not in his budget.
        So when he leaves Turkey and returns to life with a laptop, you’ll probably see a response.

        *$14 an hour, living in Los Angeles. Bicycle and bus. Fair trade for almost a year in France/Morocco, I’d say!
        And no, I didn’t help.

        • jlcollinsnh says

          anybody who manages without a smart phone has special dispensation! Only the most hard core of jlcollinsnhians are capable of this feat.

          time enough for his comment when he’s back in Morocco.

          and yes, you did help. you raised him well.

  14. John says

    Congratulations on your one-year anniversary!! Although I know absolutely nothing about the stock market and its varied machinations I’m holding on to my GE stocks till the bitter end. Too late to back out now, n’est pas? The bottom line is that I find your blog a soothing drink that keeps me cool, calm, and collected. Thanks for the advice – given or not.

  15. investlike1percent says


    btw – i think my name helps get me readers….. people are curious. they come to my blog and then are disappointed. they then jump back to yours for content.

    i am more a steak than sizzle guy !!!


  16. chris says

    HI JC,
    I am just reading thru your archives. Very nice writing. You are touching alot of people in a positive way. A person could do worse. It should make you feel good! Thanks!

    As far as names go I would suggest continuing your focus on the concept of Fatherly advice…there must be something there that will ring true?


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Chris…

      ..it does and comments like yours keep me motivated.

      In fact, I hope to take the blog to the next level in 2013. But I have become attached to the jlcollinsnh moniker. Plus it seems to be taking on a life of its own. 🙂

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