How J. Money’s Finance Blog Made Him a Millionaire

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How J. Money's Personal Finance Blog Made Him a Millionaire

Many people start blogs and other online businesses with dreams of becoming millionaires. Today we have a story featuring an “accidental entrepreneur” who started a blog for fun and accountability, but ultimately became a millionaire when he sold the blog 11 years later.

This is the story of J. Money and his blog, Budgets Are Sexy. Personal finance is one of the most competitive niches online, but J. Money became a legendary finance blogger through his refreshingly personal and honest approach. He shared his net worth each month on a quest to reach $1 million.

After growing Budgets Are Sexy for more than a decade, J. Money sold the blog in 2019 to The Motley Fool for a mid-six-figure sum, putting him past his net worth goal.

But the story doesn’t end there. In 2022, J. Money bought the blog back from The Motley Fool. This time around, he runs it as a hobby.

From Financial Novice to Financial Blogger

In 2007, J. Money was looking for an apartment to rent but wound up buying a house on a whim for $350,000 with no money down. He went online to find help creating a budget and fell in love with the transparency and realness of the blogs he came across. “No one in the real world talks so openly about money,” he said.

Inspired by others, J. Money decided to start his own blog in 2008 for fun and to hold himself financially accountable.

He took an anonymous approach so he could share openly without worrying about friends or family seeing. “From month #1,” he said, “I shared my entire net worth with the community and did so faithfully every single month for over ten years until I finally hit $1,000,000 right before leaving the blog.”

The love of blogging developed very quickly. At the time, J. Money worked in the cell phone content industry (custom ringtones and wallpapers) and was spending an increasing amount of time on his blog.

After about two years, J. Money realized that something had to give, and he wasn’t ready to stop blogging. “It didn’t pay nearly as much as my job,” he said, “but it was so much fun and growing so fast, so there was no way I was going to end the ride there.”

J. Money planned to give his two weeks’ notice to quit the job, but the day before he did it, he was terminated. His employer of five years restructured and laid off half of its employees. “BOOM! Full-time blogger, just like that 😂,” he told me.

A Unique Approach to Finance Blogging

The path to full-time blogger included some unpredictable turns, but after losing his full-time job, J. Money’s blog continued to grow.

Although there are hundreds or even thousands of personal finance blogs, Budgets Are Sexy stood out, and readers connected with J. Money. “Financial stuff is pretty boring,” he said, “so I wanted to create a more vibrant and chill place to talk about this stuff like we were two friends just hanging out at a coffee shop or bar.”

It worked. In a niche with a lot of content written for search engines, Budgets Are Sexy felt highly personal. Readers appreciated the content and kept coming back.

Not only was the blog helping readers, but J. Money also benefitted from it. Sharing his net worth and financial details publicly forced him to look at money differently. “You forget sometimes how small actions add up,” he said, “but being able to see a chart of your compounding moves month after month, year after year, really helps instill some good confidence in you.”

When I asked J. Money about the keys to success with Budgets Are Sexy, he pointed out three things:

  1. Being as real and raw as possible, including “sharing as many of my downfalls as successes.”
  2. Showing real numbers and not just theories.
  3. Making it fun and using “as many dad jokes as possible.”

Clearly, J. Money’s approach helped the blog to stand out. Readers followed along with his financial journey, looking forward to each monthly net worth update. The blog grew and became a leader in a very crowded niche.

Selling Budgets Are Sexy

After more than a decade of running the blog, J. Money was closing in on the $1 million net worth milestone and felt like it might be time for something different.

Although Budgets Are Sexy was deeply personal to him, he thought about selling it. “Ultimately,” he said, “it was just time for a change and to capitalize on 11+ years of growing it… I also wanted to challenge myself as a minimalist and see if I could give up the BIGGEST thing in my life and still be OK, and it turned out I could!”

In 2019, The Motley Fool approached J. Money about selling Budgets Are Sexy, and he realized their cultures were aligned. “This was SUPER important to me as I didn’t want to give up my baby to just anyone!” he said. “One talk led to another, and before I knew it, I had sold it. It worked out so smoothly that it just reaffirmed it was the right move.”

The mid-six-figure sale increased J. Money’s net worth to more than $1 million. In September 2019, shortly after selling Budgets Are Sexy, he posted the final monthly update with a net worth of $1,131,601.03.

After selling, J. Money stayed on for a while to continue running the blog. “Part of our agreement was for me to stay on for a bit before transitioning out,” he said, “so it was like nothing had changed, even though everything had changed.”

“And because the Fool team was so good about letting me write things ‘as normal,’ there was no evil corporate oversight or any of that stuff,” he said. “It literally felt like it was still ‘my’ blog even though I didn’t technically own it anymore. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”

Although J. Money continued to work on Budgets Are Sexy for several months, The Motley Fool never planned for him to stay indefinitely. They hired him to help start a new financial network, so they needed to find a replacement to run the blog.

“My #1 concern throughout was making sure the vibes and content remained similar and my community still enjoyed the site,” J. Money said. ” The Fool was on the same page. They gave me full control over finding my replacement to make sure it had the best chance of success.”

Ultimately, a blogger who goes by 5AM Joel was hired to take over the blog. “It was in good hands, and I was at peace,” J. Money said.

Buying the Blog Back

A few years later, The Motley Fool decided to exit the blogging business (it had purchased several others in addition to Budgets Are Sexy). “Whatever their plans were didn’t work out,” J. Money said, “and eventually led to a significant drop in both traffic and revenue, even though (thankfully) the content itself still remained strong.”

“All this was going on with Covid raging in the background and Google making a ton of algorithm changes too,” he said, “so I’m sure that played some part in the madness.”

When The Motley Fool looked to sell Budgets Are Sexy in 2022, they reached out to J. Money. Initially, he was at peace with closing that chapter of his life and wasn’t interested in buying the website back. “But then I got in a funk, energy-wise, and healthy-wise (I was battling a new autoimmune disease that was pretty rough – Pemphigus Vulgaris),” he said, “and as soon as I started feeling better, I had alllllll this energy and excitement for LIVING and BUILDING again. And when I sat down to talk to the Fool team, they gave me an offer I just couldn’t refuse.”

So, in 2022, J. Money bought Budgets Are Sexy back for significantly less than he had sold it for just three years earlier.

This time around, the approach to the blog is much different. “Oh man, it’s just totally on a ‘go with the flow’ approach, similar to how I structure the rest of my life now in semi-early retirement. I wake up every day with a loose schedule and then let the Universe push me wherever I need to be. 🙂 Some days I’m doing yoga all day long and volunteering, and others I just sit down to pour out my thoughts!”

Today, J. Money blogs purely as a hobby. He even removed all of the ads from the site after buying it back. Although blogging is one of his hobbies, he’s making a concerted effort to spend less time online and have more time for other things, including his coin collecting services. “The dream is to keep scaling back from ONLINE living to more IN-LIFE living,” he said, “so I’m not nearly as active on the blog or on socials anymore as I was.”

Now that J. Money has achieved his financial goals, his new lifestyle suits him quite nicely. “I haven’t felt this *alive* in a while,” he said.

When asked about what he’s learned through this incredible journey, J. Money pointed out three things:

  1. You are more than your job!!! And you don’t lose your friends or experiences just because you stop a project!
  2. You never know what the future holds… Be open to considering any opportunities, even the crazy ones!
  3. Everything is temporary… the good, the bad, the business. We’re all in different “seasons,” and these seasons change just like they do with the weather. Stay flexible and adapt, and you will get stronger with every change! Soak it up!!

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