738 comments

Money Has Made Me Weak: MMM Family Spending Rises to $256,000

Money Mustache - Be Gone.

Money Mustache – Be Gone.  (photo credit: The Man who Gets His Cars for Free)

In my opinion, the first rule of being a reasonable person is admitting when you are wrong, so you can learn from it. So I want to admit something right now: I was wrong about spending money.

Remember how all this time I’ve been telling you that life is better if you aren’t focused on the pursuit of luxury? Yeah, well that turned out to be bullshit.

It was just a way of me trying to fool myself into believing I could be happy spending less money. Because I didn’t really have any other option at the time. Now that the money has started rolling in, I realize that the other rich people weren’t so dumb after all.

See, without really planning or deserving it, I stumbled into a goldmine by starting this website. It has become a truly once-in-a-hundred-lifetimes situation, with over 18 million people stopping by so far and hundreds crawling around at any given moment. With this level of traffic, even the minimal level of advertising you see at the bottom is enough to make freight trains of cash. More than enough money every month, for a family to live extremely well on for a year.

The pressure of all this money gradually overwhelmed me. It started with just tossing a $7.00 chunk of imported Gouda cheese into the shopping cart every now and then. I started throwing in a 12-pack of craft beer even when they were priced at 18 bucks, and sharing them freely with friends on the back patio. Then I bought my brother’s family a nice new fridge, because it was his birthday and they really needed one to complement their excellent cooking skills. I didn’t even notice the loss of that $1500 for a second. It makes me feel good every time I visit and see them putting it to good use.

So this made me realize, hey, even leasing a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S P90D at $1400/month would be just an imperceptible nibble out this incredible torrent of money. And I like fast cars. Especially when they are built on revolutionary technology that will change the world as we know it. It seemed worthwhile to at least try owning one to see if it would actually make my life happier. And it did.

Mrs. Money Mustache was not a car person at all, until she set the vehicle to “Ludicrous mode” and hit 60 MPH in 2.8 seconds. Now we have his and her Teslas.

his-and-hers

Mine’s the red one.

I had been living in a 1532 square foot house with no garage, constantly moving things out of the way so I could get to other things. The place was too small. Why live this way? I could afford a bigger house. In Cash. Every year! 

So we bought one – a nice 8200 square foot place just a couple miles away. You can still get a lot of house here in Longmont for $1.8 million, and with the interest rates so low, the mortgage payment on this place is only $8,500 per month. That’s a lot of money for a normal person, but again, at this new higher level it amounts to a few hours of work. Why the hell not?

newhouse

Home Sweet Home

Now the three of us finally have room to stretch out. To host family and friends in style. To do our own stuff without getting in each other’s hair.

I think I have finally absorbed the message of the many successful people that have stopped by to educate me in the comments sections of every newspaper I’ve had the good fortune of interviewing with over the years: My money is my own. I earned it, I deserve it, and it’s nobody’s business how I spend it.

After just a few more changes including some help with the house cleaning and gardens, private school for little MM, food delivery and better restaurants (turns out we don’t really like cooking after all), I found that our annual budget had swelled a little. We went from about $25,000 to $256,000.

Even after this adjustment, we’re still saving plenty, so where’s the problem? And we are much happier for the change. 

Frugality is fine – I’ve still got plenty of tightwad cred with my programmable thermostat, a hole in my favorite sweater and duct tape patches on some of my winter gear.  But no more of this extreme frugality like the old Adm Karpinsk. That’s for poor people.

Oh, and April Fools, obviously.

The Real 2015 MMM Family Spending Report!

In real life, this is the extent of my fanciness. A pretty fine kitchen and I even upgraded my frying pan and spatula this year.

In real life, this is the extent of my fanciness. No McMansions, but still a pretty fine mostly-complete kitchen if I can flatter my own DIY skills a little. And I even upgraded my frying pan and spatula this year.

The part about the excessive income is real*. But I only mention it to show other wealthy people that we don’t live this slightly-less-ridiculous-than-average lifestyle because it’s all we can afford. We just live the best life we can dream up given our current level of skill, and this is what it happens to cost.

Our total 2015 Actual Spending was $23,941.44 according to the spreadsheet. While most humans that have ever lived since the invention of currency would find this to be an insanely high amount to work with, it can be a surprise to some of my fellow one-percenter Americans. So here are a few mental adjustments to keep in mind:

  • We own our house with no mortgage. If you were to finance a place like this, the monthly payment would be at least $1700/month. So you’d add $20k if comparing to a mortgaged life.
  • It doesn’t include income taxes. If you live at this level of spending and set your income level (from investments) to match it closely, you’ll pay no income tax. If you’re still earning and saving, you do need to pay the tax. In 2015, because of these unexpected earnings, I paid several times more in income tax than we spent on our entire lifestyle. But the amount of tax depends entirely on how much you earn, which is why I don’t count it as part of spending.
  • This is only the spending, not the saving that any non-retired person should be doing. Even if you only max out an IRA, that’s another $5500. Hopefully much higher though : employer 401(k)s let you contribute $18,000 these days.

So all told, we consume at an equivalent rate to a fairly financially irresponsible family with an  income of $62,000 per year. That is, if a family of three earned $62k, paid tax, foolishly took out a mortgage on a $400,000 house, and saved just a tiny bit into the 401(k), they’d run out of money at roughly this level of spending.

Exploring Arches National Park with my little buddy during a camping trip there, April 2015

Exploring Arches National Park with my little buddy during a camping trip there, April 2015

If they commuted to work in large cars like most people do, add another $15,000 or so. With just a few other nudges towards “normal” (cable TV or a taste for Starbucks or fancy shoes, for example) a lifestyle no more noticeably fancy than my own would consume an entire $100,000 salary very easily. So it’s not really an ultra-frugal life. Just a somewhat optimized version of an upper-middle-class life.

And here’s where it all went:

Category20142015Comments
Mortgage Interest00
Property Taxes2,1201411We downsized houses in mid-2014. 2015 was the first full year of enjoying the new lower tax rate.
Food and Dining7,1097,400
Groceries 6,593 6,232See article: Killing your $1000 Grocery Bill
Wine/Beer 322 627This includes parties, I don't drink this much myself!
Restaurants, Coffee Shop 194 541Our major indulgence increase this year. Longmont's "Flavor of India" and "Sushi Hana" are the chief beneficiaries of this spending.
Healthcare4,2683,733
Doctor Visits 484 0A thankfully healthy year for all
Health Insurance 3,272 3,000For 2016 this will be double due to a new health insurance plan. (A downside of the ACA for those with very high incomes)
Dentist 512 256
Pharmacy n/a 42
Physical Therapy 435Mrs. MM was recovering from a nagging case of "frozen shoulder" this year.
Auto and Transport490945
Gasoline 71 332Includes two trips to Utah in my gas-guzzling van: one for the annual "Safety Pirates" snowboarding trip, one for camping with the family and some friends.
Insurance 347 357Fantastically cheap thanks to Geico
Registration & Testing 72 1692005 Scion xA and 1999 Honda Odyssey
Express Tolls 0 0Started taking Uber to the airport instead of driving
Service & Parts n/a 88Wiper blades, brake shoes, and oil change supplies
Public Transportation 0 0Nothing against the bus, Bikes are just faster
Utilities1,6141652Electricity, Gas (heating, cooking), trash/recycling, city park fees, etc.
Cell Phone300539Google Fi and Republic Wireless
Internet Access360692Damn that is expensive.
Home429<120>
Home Renovations 19120Curtains and some paint. Does not include $10k of materials used in actually finishing the build-out of this house, since we're still running a profit due to the 2014 downsizing.
Home Insurance 4100I am self-insured for now, since the cost (and extremely low probability) of replacing the house would not be a significant burden.
Landscaping/Plants 0I did plant a remarkably successful tomato plant this year - probably got $100 of kickass tomatoes off of that thing.
Gifts/Donations1,1551,747Mostly school/family gifts. Does not include donations made by the business.
Crossfit/Yoga330230Mrs. MM switched to Yoga (social event with friends) and working out at home for this year.
School Tuition00Mixture of homeschooling and neighborhood public school
Misc2,0983095
Shoes & Clothing 492 754Both boy and lady got some fancy new winter gear this year.
Sporting Goods 76 0
Shopping Misc 654 1,274Storage baskets, insoles, compost bin, terrarium, suitcases, computer stuff, bike parts, household items, microwave, ottomans, coffee grinder, axe, frying pan, cheese grater
Books, games, gifts 61 488Includes several thousand Magic the Gathering Cards
Other 815 580Monthly Netflix, Movies Out, Bike Parts
Travel5,0572,376Flights to Canada in Summer, Estes Park VRBO house rental with inlaws in fall
TOTAL25,33023,941Hey, looks like it actually went down this year.
Subtracting Tuition, Donations 24,17522,194
Subtracting travel, crossfit 18,78819,588
Subtracting organic/luxury food 16,44217,531Assuming a 33% increase on groceries due to organic + meat.
Subtracting home renovation expense16,42317,411This is what our "no frills" living cost would be, unless we moved to a smaller house (Note: Misc category could be cut down a lot as well)

And so it goes – the years turn by and our spending barely changes. Someday there will be more exciting surprises in this report, but for now life remains happy without becoming more expensive.

Ask Me Anything!

I usually don’t intrude too much in the comments section, but since there are a bunch of new people here these days I originally put up an open invitation here for any and all questions.

It was overwhelming but fun – I spent the entire April 1st furiously typing and clicking on the computer to answer questions. Maybe hundreds of them – I didn’t even keep track. All I know is that I have a very sore neck and a flabby midsection from spending almost the whole day indoors today. So I have to sign off – sorry I didn’t get time to answer all of them. Tomorrow calls for beautiful weather so I’m getting back out there.

You can read the results in the comments below.  I hope some of it is useful to you!

—-

How to track your spending: We do almost all spending using a good cash-back credit card, and let the Personal Capital and Mint apps automatically categorize everything and display it in pretty pie charts and percentages for us. As a non-budget person, I find this method of tracking to be revolutionary, as it happens even when you are busy living life and forgetting about money. If you prefer to work within the more disciplined framework of a budget, take a test drive of You Need a Budget. Used by a surprisingly large number of Mustachians, which is how I heard about it in the first place.

—-

* So what will I do with so much extra cash? Why do I bother continuing to make any money if I don’t need it for myself? Many people ask this. The answer in my case is to continue to live roughly at this level of consumption, lead a secure and generous life, and reinvest the rest back into society, both through traditional charity and interesting projects made possible by the reach of this website (renewable energy, advocating bikes, making better cities, etc).

  • EarlyRetirementGuy April 1, 2016, 5:16 am

    A good effort but was rumbled by the title alone ;)

    Reply
    • Jim Wang April 1, 2016, 6:29 am

      People should go to the meetup in a week and take photos of the newly-mustache-less one. Let’s see how devoted to 4/1 he is. :)

      Reply
      • Dividend Growth Investor April 1, 2016, 7:52 am

        Nice post, hitting two birds with one stone – an April Fool’s Joke and the 2015 Annual Spending Report.

        I think he will keep the Mustache ;-)

        Reply
        • FinanceSuperhero April 1, 2016, 2:14 pm

          I’m not sure which part I appreciated most – the April Fool’s joke or the 2015 Annual Spending Report. I almost spat out my water when I saw the his and hers Teslas! :)

          Reply
          • Jim Wang April 3, 2016, 5:46 am

            When you get one, you have the get the matching pair right? :)

            Reply
      • meep er April 7, 2016, 7:28 pm

        My favorite blogger without a mustache? (MAYBE Cruising Pacific Coast Highway in his new Tesla S? Looking for a beach home for a mere 5 million?)

        Say it ain’t so!

        Reply
        • Steve April 7, 2016, 10:07 pm

          His latest Tweet has him in a self-driving Tesla headed to LA. I have no problem with the fact that you can still be an environmentalist and spend more than 25k/yr. Sometimes it’s the ‘being cheap’ that creates waste (disposable, empty-calorie, styrofoam, non-renewable, etc…).

          Reply
          • Joel April 9, 2016, 5:57 am

            On what planet is a Tesla environmentally friendly?

            It’s filled with batteries containing all manner of rare earth minerals, and it’s still powered by oil of some form (at the power plant).

            Reply
            • Karl Fisch April 9, 2016, 10:55 am

              Tesla’s surely aren’t perfect but, for the record, technically no “rare earth” metals in Tesla’s batteries. While I don’t own one (at least not yet, perhaps Model 3), when combined with the solar panels on my roof, it’s at least a step in the right direction. (Colorado power plant electricity generation is also slowly, but steadily, moving away from coal, so getting cleaner over time.)

              Reply
              • Lennier April 13, 2016, 11:48 am

                The ‘electric cars aren’t environmentally friendly’ meme sure has staying power, doesn’t it.

                For Joel’s benefit, ‘rare earth’ metals aren’t necessarily rare. They can be difficult to seperate from each other, and are usually somewhat dispersed, but are not actually rare.
                The energy used to power the Tesla can come from anywhere, including solar panels.

    • Stockbeard April 1, 2016, 2:58 pm

      Wow, I totally jumped into it and I was like “What?”. I knew the “wasn’t true” explanation was coming, but didn’t realize it was April 1st!!!

      Reply
      • swaayze April 3, 2016, 11:14 am

        Ha, almost. My email program headline showed “spending rises to $256” then cut off, so I assumed $25,600 (and cursed MMM slightly whilst face-punching meself). Then I got to the article and saw $256000. “Wait, what?” Started to zoom in, figuring they bought another house, then the bulb went off.

        It was a pleasant surprise to see the real spending report included, and thanks MMM for including the equivalent spending comparisons to us working suckahs who still pay taxes and mortgages.

        Reply
    • Peggy April 6, 2016, 10:24 am

      I have been listening to every podcast that exists of you being interviewed recently. so, when I started to read this ( albeit quickly glancing at the blurbs under the photos) I was devastated. For a very short minute I lost my faith in humanity. Good one!!!!

      Reply
  • Caleb April 1, 2016, 5:16 am

    LEASING a Tesla?

    I appreciate April Fool’s Jokes but this ventures into reader cruelty!

    Reply
    • MrFrugalChicago April 1, 2016, 7:03 am

      I am not sure it is actually the wrong move to lease a Tesla. Repairing them is very expensive and not DIY, and we don’t really know how they age at 10 years out. If you MUST buy a Tesla due to a million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, this is one case lease may be the less evil choice ;)

      Reply
      • Rezwan April 1, 2016, 11:48 am

        Doesn’t Tesla repair them for free and give you an upgraded loaner?

        Reply
        • MrFrugalChicago April 2, 2016, 12:11 pm

          Sure in warranty. How about 5 years old?

          Reply
          • George April 5, 2016, 11:42 am

            Still in warranty. The warranty lasts 8 years and unlimited miles.

            Reply
      • beatgammit April 2, 2016, 8:31 am

        My coworker just reserved the new Model 3, which was just announced. It’s going to retail for $35k before incentives, which amount to ~$8k where I live for a total of $27k. It’ll have a range of “at least 215 miles”, SL it’s actually somewhat practical for moderately long car trips.

        Yes, it’s still fairly expensive, but it’s not as ridiculous as the Model S and it’s electric so it’s arguably better for the environment. I’ll keep riding my bike to work, but Tesla’s aren’t necessarily ridiculous anymore and I wouldn’t be surprised if MMM gets a used one for the mid range trips.

        Reply
        • Bob April 2, 2016, 11:28 am

          Are you including the $7500 federal credit to that $8000? If yes, it may not be available by the time your coworker gets one — it is limited to the first 200,000 cars (including all the the roadster, S and X models already sold). Just FYI!

          Reply
          • effigy98 April 11, 2016, 1:34 pm

            Tax credit stays until 6 months after they hit 200k cars so probably anyone that preordered will get the full amount, then it goes in half for 6 months, then half again, so there will be some discount. I estimate with average driving it is about a 10k delta in gas vs normal car if you hold the car 10 years, so you are looking at about 18 total cost of ownership.

            Reply
    • Lennier April 3, 2016, 7:33 pm

      I crave very few expensive things in life. Apart from my house, my most expensive possesion is probably my 2002 Ford Falcon.

      But I desperately, desperately want a Tesla.

      Reply
    • Tyler April 7, 2016, 3:16 pm

      I agree. I was actually heartbroken for a few short moments. I went from thinking it was a joke, to thinking “this is way too long and sincere sounding to be a joke…”, to finally being very relieved and everything being right with the world again.

      Reply
  • Mel123 April 1, 2016, 5:25 am

    Wow! I was definitely fooled

    Reply
  • Marlon Duque April 1, 2016, 5:28 am

    For such a moment, while reading, I felt so scary. Thanks it’s April’s Fool.

    Reply
  • Mathias April 1, 2016, 5:30 am

    Hey, excellent article. Just wanted to point out that $5500 is the Roth limit, not the 401(k). Best regards.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 6:43 am

      Thanks Mathias, I fixed that part.

      I wanted to mention that maxing out those accounts is a good thing, even if you plan to retire early. As long as your employer 401(k) plan offers standard index funds with a 0.2% fee or less.

      There are ways to get that money out penalty-free if you end up needing it early after retiring: /2011/11/11/how-much-is-too-much-in-your-401k/

      Reply
      • Jacob B April 1, 2016, 11:23 am

        My company’s SIMPLE IRA Provider only offers their in house mutual funds (Pioneer Investments). All Mutual Funds have a 5.75% Load and 1.6%+ Expense Ratios.

        They have a cash mutual funds with 0% load and 0.75% Expense Ratio (to just hold cash…). So I am putting all of my money into that and just doing a roll over ever year now to get the money into Vanguard/Betterment!

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 12:29 pm

          Holy Shit! Those funds sound horrible! They need to be mocked on the front page of every newspaper until that company is out of business. It’s pretty much an emergency to get your employer to stop using this company as a provider.

          Reply
        • Working to unwind April 2, 2016, 5:40 am

          How do you do a yearly rollover of your work IRA? I have a 403b with really high fees and would love to periodically get the money out.

          Reply
        • Scott April 2, 2016, 7:55 am

          Ask your fund provider if there’s a self-directed option. I was faced with paying 0.9% for the advisor and another 0.3%+ for the funds themselves but I asked if there was a self directed option and he said “yeah, I can set you up with a Schwab account, the money will be dumped in there every month, and you can buy whatever you please.” Perfect! So now I’m paying 0.03% for SCHB (the VTI equivalent) and couldn’t be happier.

          Reply
        • Petunia 100 April 2, 2016, 11:17 am

          Jacob, ask if your employer is willing to establish a second plan. Just as an individual can open IRA accounts with multiple custodians, an employer can establish Simple IRAs with multiple custodians. You can participate in a plan at Vanguard without impacting the existing plan at Pioneer in any way. Vanguard charges nothing whatsoever to the employer to establish or service a Simple. The only costs to the employees are $10 per year per fund until total assets with Vanguard reach 50k, and permanent investor level share class. Unfortunately admiral shares are not available in Simple IRAs.

          Where I work, we have 3 established plans, even though there are only 2 partners and 3 employees. I am the only employee enrolled in the Vanguard plan. Everyone else enjoys paying loads and high expense ratios.

          Reply
        • TomTX April 13, 2016, 3:00 pm

          Get them to open a SIMPLE with Vanguard. Really, it’s very little paperwork. I did it for the small business I worked for and had no prior training.

          Reply
      • Dan April 1, 2016, 11:24 am

        MMM, if my company 401k only offers an index fund with a .35% fee does it make more sense to meet the company match and move the rest to my Roth IRA and a brokerage fund?

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 12:24 pm

          Bah! You got me on my arbitrary limit of the index fund fee. I think 0.35 is still sorta reasonable, but I’d also talk to the HR department to see if they are willing to get better stuff for your employees. Vanguard is taking new corporate clients!

          Reply
          • Stew April 1, 2016, 6:08 pm

            Looking at my own funds for my 401K the expense is 0.59%-1.0%. As much as I have begged my boss to switch companies, he refuses. I work for a very small company so he is HR. I currently max out my 401K and roth IRA contributions each year. Would you recommend I re-distribute some of the 401K funds or is it still better to take advantage of the pre-tax investments at this expense rate?

            Reply
            • Norm April 2, 2016, 10:21 am

              I’ve wondered about this myself, Stew, because my wife has a high fee 401(k) at a small company. I did the math, and under the assumptions that you are in the 25% tax bracket (or higher) now and expect to be in a 15% tax bracket in retirement, it is worth investing in the 401(k) over a Roth IRA as long as the 401(k) fees are under about 1.2%. As painful as the fees are, the tax savings still outweigh the fees up until that point. But if you’re in the 15% tax bracket now, it’s definitely not worth it. My analysis is linked to my name.

              Reply
              • FL Biker April 5, 2016, 8:08 am

                Where I work, options are good, but a little complicated. I have a 3% mandatory contribution to my “optional” retirement plan, and the providers are fairly limited. TIAA-CREF being the best, .32-.37 expense ratios. However, a few years ago they added Vanguard as 403b provider, so I moved my 403b there (before it was at TIAA-CREF). I can’t move existing monies until I quit, though. And last year, they added Nationwide (with Vanguard index funds) as a 457 provider.

                I guess what I’m saying is that it pays to keep asking, because things change.

          • Jeremy E. April 11, 2016, 7:39 am

            For those still curious about whether or not to avoid your 401k, this article could help
            http://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/06/28/stocks-part-viii-b-should-you-avoid-your-companys-401k/

            Reply
      • Josh April 1, 2016, 9:23 pm

        Hi: Newbie blog commenter but long-term Mustachian here,

        I commented on your 401(k) article (/2011/11/11/how-much-is-too-much-in-your-401k/) the other day (at the very end of the comments section) about converting after-tax 401(k) funds to a Roth IRA for additional tax savings. Any chance you (or someone knowledgeable) could give some input?

        Thanks,
        Josh

        Reply
        • DRC April 2, 2016, 7:17 pm

          The after-tax 401k is a bit harder to do, but if you have access to it, it works a lot like the backdoor Roth IRA. There are a couple of restrictions on this method though. 1) Your employer has to offer an after-tax 401 (not many do) 2) Ideally, allow moving that money into a Roth 401k during the time you are still employed so that you won’t have significant gains during the conversion, as those would be taxed as income (I mean, you could still use it, but the ideal process is an immediate conversion to Roth to maximize the benefit). But the fact that most companies don’t even offer it is pretty much a non-starter for most people, but it increases your potential 401k limit to $53k/year, instead of the $18k limit (the $18k can be traditional though). The $53k limit includes employee contributions, employer contributions, and after-tax 401k contributions.

          Reply
        • Tim April 3, 2016, 9:44 am

          Hi Josh. I read your post above and the one you linked to. I also came across information relating to rolling over money from after tax 401K to a Roth. This caught my interest as I have been doing after tax 401K contributions for years. Even without this new “loop hole” I do not consider it pointless to do, in that the money grows tax deferred. After maxxing out regular 401K and doing an IRA, this seems to be a good way to continue investing on a tax deferred basis, although I will concede I don’t know anyone else who does it, but wonder if there is a good reason other than most people don’t save that much or have access to after tax 401K.

          My employer’s 401K is thru Fidelity and allows for the $53K max a year (only 1st 18K can be tax deferred). If you’re 50 or over, catch up contributions raises this to 59K/year, which I did last year. Not easy to have done but it was my goal. The way I see it, between doing that and doing the max amount of an IRA I have done everything that makes sense to save on a tax deferred basis.

          I read online about a change in how the IRS handles rolling over money from these after tax portion of 401Ks. There is an IRS document – #2014-54 (google it). Apparently prior to this, anyone who wanted to roll over the after tax would have to pay taxes on the gains but not on the principal, to do the transaction. My understanding now that is not the case.

          I rolled over many thousands this year from the after tax portion of my 401K. The money that was the principal (what I put in with after tax dollars) went into a Roth IRA, the money that was the gains went into a traditional rollover IRA. I didn’t have to pay any taxes on this transaction, which would not have been the case prior to the 2014-54 change.

          I had asked Fidelity about rolling the money over into a Roth 401K (which is offered in my plan) since that would have allowed me to keep the money in the same institutional mutual funds. I was told that would not be possible without paying taxes.

          I view this ability to roll over after tax 401K money as essentially a way to change the 18K 401K Roth limit to 53K. I also was skeptical until I spoke with 401K administrator/Fidelity. They told me on some companies plans, employees can even automate the rolling over from the after tax 401K.

          Not sure if this site allows posting links. The most useful sites I found on this topic were Forbes articles written by Ashlea Ebeling .

          Hope you found my reply informative Josh. I say go for it.

          I’d be interested to hear input from others on whether they feel it makes sense to put so much into 401Ks and IRAs annually. To me it makes no sense to make non tax deferred investments until after these 401Ks/IRAs are maxxed out, assuming one already has an adequate emergency fund and accessible funds for any major pre retirement purchases.

          Reply
          • Josh April 4, 2016, 9:10 pm

            Thanks for the info guys. I have accounts with Fidelity and after speaking with them, after-tax contributions and once-per month in-service withdrawals are allowed for my 401(k). So I am going to talk with them and try this out. I am 26 and very new to investing and recently opened a taxable account, although it seems like I should have waited and put that money into my (previously believed to be maxed) Roth IRA this way to save a lot on taxes in the future.

            Tim, unless I am mistaken, the after-tax portion of your 401(k) was (obviously) taxed once, and will also be taxed again when it is distributed, so in most cases I think the value will come out lower even than in a taxable count…?

            Reply
            • Tim April 5, 2016, 11:18 am

              You are mistaken. You are not taxed on the principal of after tax investments. If you were you’d be paying taxes twice and no one would do that, especially me.

              When you take distributions you will be taxed on the gains but not on the principal since the principal was after tax dollars.

              Re-read what I wrote about rolling funds (after tax principal and the gains/profit(not taxed yet)) from the after tax 401K account into a Roth IRA (for the principal that was already taxed) and a traditional (for the gains that were never taxed). Then consider talking to Fidelity about doing this. Effectively it changes the 18K Roth 401K max to 53 K. The folks at Fidelity who handle my employer’s 401K walked me through it.

              I’m still amazed that this is so unheard of and that there isn’t a lot more buzz about it. Still would be interested to hear what others think about what I wrote in my last paragraph in my previous post.

              Good luck

              Reply
      • CapeCoddess April 2, 2016, 10:52 am

        Another way to get out of a 401k while still working is called an in-service rollover. You have to be 59 and a half, and it has to be included in your company’s 401K plan. I roll over to my IRA every quarter because our 401 k doesn’t offer index funds and the fees are killer! I just turned 60 last month and will be retiring ( for the second time) before year-end.

        Reply
  • Nee mom and dad April 1, 2016, 5:30 am

    Happy April fools!

    We are having a home energy audit done today to see how much more mustachian we can become! It also includes $250 worth of LED bulbs pipe insulation etc for free due to a deal with the power company. :)

    Reply
    • avocado April 1, 2016, 2:10 pm

      In my experience, power company audits are just so-so. They’re typically done by clock-punchers who do not take the time to return for a follow-up. But $250 in LED is definitely worth it. though! Oftentimes, solar and/or renewable energy companies do a free audit, and it tends to be better.

      Reply
  • Zed April 1, 2016, 5:32 am

    Har-har! Nice try…

    Glad your new frying pan and spatula match the rest of your kitchen!!!

    Reply
  • Aan-T April 1, 2016, 5:33 am

    How do you spend when you travel, do you live as frugally as you normally do?

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 6:53 am

      Hi Aan-T,

      Yeah, while I find our normal lifestyle to be extremely fancy rather than frugal, this pattern continues roughly the same when we are traveling.

      My favorite type of vacation is the classic road trip with tents and mountain bikes on the back of the car. But we also stay with family and friends sometimes (and host many people here on the other side of the coin).

      For the most spendy type of vacation, we rent a really nice house, share it with some friends and family, buy groceries, and cook great meals together. Spend the days hiking around the mountains or beach or wherever we happen to be.

      I’m really anti-tourist attraction: anything with a gift shop or a lineup seems fake to me and the best things usually happen to require some effort, which means nobody wants to do them.

      A few articles related to this:

      /2011/12/20/money-mustache-vs-tourist-trap/
      /2013/04/07/a-peak-life-is-lived-off-peak/
      /2012/04/06/get-rich-with-nature/

      Reply
      • Matt April 1, 2016, 11:10 am

        Anything with a gift shop or lineup is fake? That includes all National Parks! And you have no interest in seeing major tourist sights? Pyramids of Egypt, Colliseum, etc?

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 2, 2016, 10:03 am

          Yeah, I definitely don’t want to see the pyramids or the coliseum at this stage – too touristy. Likewise for the national parks except in the extreme off-season.

          The key to all of these things is that they are in really cool areas. If you absorb the true vibe of Rome by living there in a small apartment rental for a week, you have a much better experience than bumbling through on a tour bus and seeing the traditionally popular sites. Rocky Mountain National Park (near me) is overrun with tourists, but the other million square miles of the Rockies is empty and ready to set up your tent and get out a fishing rod.

          I’m highly in favor of seeing the world, but not the cartoon-caricature snapshots of the world that are polished up for easy tour bus access.

          Reply
          • Abigail April 2, 2016, 11:03 am

            Love this. Since moving to Florida, it’s been hard to see family and friends fork over literally thousands of dollars and spend as many hours at amusement parks, particularly for representations of other countries when I have seen the real places. Just seems sad.
            Then again, apart from this aspect, my one sibling is incredibly frugal. Both she and the other one handle money better than me. I also have no kids, and travel is more expensive with them. Even so, by the tenth hour and the tenth meltdown, none of the gussied up attractions seem that fun to me.

            Reply
          • Matt April 2, 2016, 3:04 pm

            To each their own! I was more than willing to share the space with some tourists to experience a major piece of human history.
            And yes, there are lots of beautiful spots outside of National Parks, but I’ve had some great, quiet hikes within them, especially in the off season. Who cares if there’s a gift shop in the visitors centre? If you decide to stop there, you’ll probably meet some fellow hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who will share some local tips.

            Reply
            • Marcia April 3, 2016, 8:47 pm

              This is funny because we just got back from a trip to Zion and Bryce. Bryce was busy but Zion was PACKED.

              But I didn’t mind the crowds so much. The really easy hikes were packed. Even the slightly harder hikes were really busy. When I wanted peace and quiet I hiked in the hills behind the rental house.

              Reply
          • snowcanyon April 4, 2016, 8:42 am

            The national parks are the best idea ever that has been completely ruined. Especially here in Utah. Sadly, there’s nowhere like Zion (and the area around Zion, while lovely, just isn’t the same), so I keep trying to go in the extreme off season. But the gift shops. The people who can barely ambulate under their own girth, showing their children “nature.” The RVs. What can be done? Here in Utah there’s just no space in the outdoors, anywhere.

            Reply
            • Matt C April 7, 2016, 6:02 am

              Check out the book Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. He talks about how all parks should only allow foot or bicycle traffic among other things.

              Here is a description of the book from New York Times, “As the sole park ranger at the Arches National Monument, 20 miles from Moab, he knew it before the paved roads, before the high tide of beer cans, gum wrappers, cigarette stubs, bottle caps and discarded Kleenex, before the parked trailers, their windows blue tinged at night while the inmates, instead of watching the desert stars, watch TV and listen to the canned laughter of Hollywood. Based roughly on the months of the April-to-September season of the ranger–with side excursions, mental and physical–his book is a voice crying in the wilderness.”

              Reply
            • sbuitend April 12, 2016, 7:52 pm

              That stinks! There still are some great National Parks where you can find solitude. Big Bend in Texas from January – March and Isle Royale in Lake Superior! I believe Isle Royal is the least visited national park.

              Reply
            • Greg December 6, 2016, 7:04 am

              True for some of the parks, but it depends on exactly where you go in them. Plus, there are lots and lots of parks and with a yearly pass you can’t beat the price. The way to enjoy them, IMO, is to pick your park. Sure the “marquee” parks are over-run if you don’t venture far into them, but many others are quiet and peaceful. One of my favorites is the Canaveral National Seashore between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville, Florida. 20+ miles of undisturbed barrier beach with one little access road at each end – both with a very small limit on total car capacity.
              My wife and I have spent many days there hardly seeing a person – all for $5.
              Big fan of the NPS.

              Reply
  • Snikwhit April 1, 2016, 5:34 am

    I have been picking through your site for a couple of weeks and starting to realize our family needs to make some drastic changes. Where does all the money go is too frequently asked. My main question is about cars. We have 3- not teslas-that we use to get to and from work and school. They are 5 year old Toyota rav,10 year old Lexus SUV (gift from parents for teenager), and 3 year old Toyota Tacoma that is husband’s baby. Do we sell them all at this point and buy $5000 cars? Have you ever run the numbers on this scenario? Hard to eat the losses of those 2 new vehicles. Should we just drive them into the ground at this point and never again will we buy new? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:03 am

      Hi Snikwhit – YES! SELL THOSE GUZZLERS IMMEDIATELY!!! :-)

      Yours is a really common emotion: the discomfort of eating losses on vehicles. Think of it this way:
      Every day you own those things, they cut of more of your flesh by depreciating rapidly (they also do it every time you buy gas since they’re all inefficient). It’s only once they are GONE that the losses stop.

      /2012/09/04/its-never-too-late-to-ditch-your-gas-guzzler/

      I’d suggest starting with bikes: make sure everyone has good ones and use them for any trips under 3 miles for starters:
      /2012/05/07/what-do-you-mean-you-dont-have-a-bike/

      And get some high-quality cars instead of the trucks:
      /2012/03/19/top-10-cars-for-smart-people/

      And tell your husband that trucks* are for carrying tools and trailers, not people: /2015/04/28/what-does-your-work-truck-say-about-you/

      *even the Tacoma – and I say this with greatest apologies to my fellow flannel and beard enthusiasts of the mountain states! If you get a 2WD 5-speed 4-cylinder manual base Tacoma with the small cab and long bed, that’s a valid work truck. But most of my brethren end up with high-clearance SR5 V6 4×4 Tacomas, which are really just silly toys that don’t do anything efficiently except off-roading. They need to sell these and get a Honda Fit.

      Reply
      • spudz April 1, 2016, 11:39 am

        Going to agree heartily with MMM on the above. 18 months ago I owend a ’12 4Runner that was my baby. Traded it for an ’11 Honda CR-V, still hardly mustachian, but pocketed $10k on the deal. Put it towards the mortage, got off of PMI, and still live rather lavishly in our 50% more efficient SUV. I’m remodeling my home right now, and I’ve had to rent a truck from Home Depot two times at a total cost of $45 to move drywall and lumber. Only time I’ve ever “missed” the 4runner. Besides the $10k gained, we’ve saved thousands on gas, property tax, and deprecation.

        It was hard emotionally to do, but being on the other side of it, and still having only moderately decreased in SUV size- I can honestly say I’ll never go back.

        Reply
      • Dylan April 1, 2016, 1:30 pm

        I had a 2007 4×4 TRD Off Road Tacoma that I recently replaced with a Hyundai Accent hatchback. I made a profit off of the transaction, pay less insurance and property taxes, and get twice the fuel economy. It was a great move, inspired by the MMM “Top 10 Cars for Smart People” post.

        Reply
        • Philo Beddoe April 4, 2016, 7:59 pm

          I’ve got to chime in…I did the same thing. I had a 2005 Tacoma 4×4 Double cab V6. I loved it, but after a couple of years of reading MMM I decided to sell it and got a…wait for it….Prius

          I never thought I could own one (ugly) but it’s been fun. I unfortunately didn’t profit on the deal, it was a straight-across transaction. But I pay less in DMV fees (in CA, DMV considers a pickup a commercial vehicle subject to a weight fee every year), less for insurance, less for tires, and get at least twice the miles per gallon.

          Reply
          • Stacy in Reno May 9, 2016, 1:29 pm

            Philo Beddoe? Dude, that’s awesome.

            Reply
      • snikwhit April 2, 2016, 8:59 am

        Thanks for all of the links in one place to get me started. And thanks for the comments of people who already went down the path!
        I am going to take this project on asap. Buying and selling three cars. Wish me luck! Will let you know as the savings pile up!

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 3, 2016, 1:05 pm

          Right on! Best instant life transformation ever – less than two hours from question to resolution.

          I sure wish people listened to me like this in REAL life ;-)

          Reply
          • Anjuli December 2, 2016, 11:50 pm

            Hello! I’m not sure if you read all these comments/responses, but I thought I’d give this a whirl.

            I’ve been reading your website for the past year and loving it. I had already discovered minimalism and had been making life changes, and then a coworker directed me to your site. And I could go on and on about how much I love this, and love finding out that there are so many people who think in a similar way to me! But, I will get to the point:

            Can you write a post about tire chains (tire wires, snow tires, whatever else), please?

            Some backstory: I’m a nurse, so I need to be able to get to work no matter what the weather. We live in Asheville, NC (it’s awesome). We use our cars mainly just to get to work. My commute is a 15 minute drive. My husbands is even less. Other than that we can mostly bike and walk. And enjoy living in a thriving neighborhood that makes living life right near our house most lovely. Anyway, we bought a Subaru Forester as our second car (the other is an old Prius). I’ve been doing a little research about snow chains, and I’m starting to get the feeling that awd and other all weather vehicles are probably unnecessary for almost everyone. I’m looking forward to trying out the cable tire chains I just ordered on our Prius this winter, and then hopefully being able to sell the forester if our experiment is a success.

            Thanks SO MUCH! 😊

            Reply
  • Mr Zombie April 1, 2016, 5:39 am

    The annual “Safety Pirates” snowboarding trip sounds fucking immense. What happens here? I assume back to back misty 5’s all the time?

    One thing – the electric bike. Do you still use it? any idea how the maintenance works out in the long run on one of these?

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:13 am

      Haha, I had to look up the “misty 5” in order to determine that no, I can’t do tricks like that. The Safety Pirates is just a few friends from around Canada and the US that convene annually for a boarding trip, for 15 years running.

      The electric bikes have been great. The Prodeco is 100% problem free with many miles now.

      For the other bike, I unfortunately fried my E-bikekit battery pack, which was mostly my own fault: I had it in the provided fabric bag, bungee corded to the bike frame. This earlier version of their battery was just shrinkwrapped in thin plastic so some bolts in my bike frame wore through and shorted out some wires.

      Since then, they have upgraded their battery to include a hard plastic case like the Prodeco. Good design.

      Reply
      • Troy Rank April 1, 2016, 8:10 am

        This is the only downside to DIY Ebikes. The cost of development can be high.

        I highly recommend getting all components from Ebikes.ca (grintech). The price premium you pay over other places will pay dividends in the long life that you can expect from every one of their products.

        Reply
      • Mr Zombie April 1, 2016, 12:37 pm

        Whoa! Stellar work on replying to hundreds of comments. Your spine must need decurling.

        Snowboarding sounds perfect! We do something similar, sadly the snow tends to be shite in the UK, so it’s a pretty extravagant trip across to the continent that’s required.

        eBikes are sounding more and more amazing. I have stayed away from them, for perhaps stupid reasons. My legs are strong enough to cycle, I don’t need help, blah blah blah. And for the most part, I still feel like that. Yet every now and then the option to use an eBike would be welcome. This weekend we got to head across to a different town to pick stuff up. It’s 15 miles away. The trains are closed for a week so the roads will be hell. It’s cycleable, but Mrs Z isn’t that keen. An eBike or two would be the perfect solution :)

        Sounds like you’ve used the bikes a fair amount. And you said it hit 40mph? Maybe it’s time to sell my motorbike, haha. And I’ve been burned plenty of times now on a hard climb by an old lady on an electric bike to convince me of the power output.

        They’ll only get cheaper and lighter I guess.

        Thanks for the reply!

        Reply
      • Alex April 4, 2016, 10:31 am

        I’m curious – I can get behind most all of the MMM lifestyle, however, snowboarding to me seems like a ridiculous bourgeoise expense! That said, I love snowboarding – have been doing it for 15 years or so. Anyway, the cheapest route for my family to experience this luxury at the moment is to drive to my parents’ cabin a little outside of Monarch, Co.. Meals are homemade, sack lunches, gear depreciated, etc., but even so, lift tickets are outrageous these days. I think they want $60 during prime season per ticket (way less than the mega resorts) at Monarch. Granted, we generally bum half-price buddy passes, but even with all this, it remains a high-end luxury in my eye. That said, I think this is my weak spot where spending is concerned, plus the experience of teaching my 5 year old to ski and snowboard a few weeks ago could arguably be considered priceless.

        Does anyone else experience an existential moral quandary when faced with these things? Anyone forego the lifts and hike it? I have considered this, as I generally try to hike up to the bowls for some fresh powder anyway. Ski trip frugality tips appreciated!

        Reply
        • Chris I April 4, 2016, 9:44 pm

          Alpine Touring (Skis or Splitboard) is a great way to get turns in without forking over money for lift tickets, and the exercise is great! You have to invest a few hundred in equipment, but it pays for itself pretty quickly with the outrageous lift ticket prices resorts are charging now.

          Reply
          • Sean April 5, 2016, 1:59 pm

            Backcountry skiing is wonderful, but please-please-PLEASE do your research and be aware of avalanche dangers and avoidance before you head out there! Every year in the Pacific Northwest we lose backcountry skiers to avalanches needlessly!

            Reply
  • DrMinimal April 1, 2016, 5:39 am

    What were your total annual income?
    That must make an amazing saving rate!

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:16 am

      This blog alone was over $400k (thanks to the New Yorker for spilling that), plus Mrs. MM and I had some other little business hobbies as well, including a bit of carpentry for me (and even a quick “expert witness” contract for a friend which I was kinda proud of). So overall a savings rate of over 95%.

      Reply
      • Jonathan L April 1, 2016, 9:44 am

        So what you’re saying is that even *if* you were dropping 256 large a year on life, you’d still have nearly 7x the savings rate of the average American?

        Reply
      • mike April 1, 2016, 2:36 pm

        I love the honesty MMM. Many would try not to talk about it, or hide it.

        Our family will be going from living on savings to over six figures/yr soon. I read other finance forums and they talk about the need to learn how to spend more money when becoming FI with ever increasing funds.

        I like how you say life is already fantastic. Truly, we live in wonderful times.

        Reply
      • Luckyvik April 1, 2016, 5:05 pm

        Just curious, how do you make money off the blog if there are no ads?

        Reply
        • beatgammit April 2, 2016, 8:40 am

          I imagine he makes money off the affiliate links. I honestly think it’s the best way to advertise since it gets a really good click through rate and doesn’t detract from the content.

          Poke around and you’ll find a set of recommendations for things like insurance.

          Reply
      • chiefbp April 1, 2016, 5:33 pm

        Holy shit! $400k for the blog, nice. I definitely chose the wrong profession. Native from Colorado, but currently out of state. Recently retired from US Air Force after 22 yrs (41 yrs old). Far behind on retirement savings, but have a question concerning my military pension. Pension pays $30k per year after tax. How do I account for that when looking towards early (earlier than normal) retirement? Multiply by 25 and add $750k to my assets?

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 5:54 pm

          Hi Chief BP. Your plan is good: the $30k pension is equivalent to (30k x 25 = $750,000) already invested.

          So that’s already more than enough to retire on for most people or small families. But if you need more for some reason, or need to bridge the gap before the pension kicks in, just repeat the same math to cover your extra needs.

          Reply
          • chiefbp April 1, 2016, 7:26 pm

            Rad! Thanks for the reply. Pension started right away. Started next career already, but consider myself semi-retired with teacher job. Two kids in the house for another 6 yrs, but house will be paid off by then and the military pension will more then cover annual costs! Since finding your blog a few months back it is absolutely my fav! I locked on immediately when I saw Longmont, I spent part of my youth there and in Erie.

            Reply
          • threewolfmoon April 4, 2016, 9:55 am

            MMM –

            That’s a good conservative estimate, but as a military pension, it’s actually better than that. Traditional military retirements are fully inflation protected, with annual COLAs equal to the CPI. My method for approximating the equivalent amount of current savings that would equal was to get some quotes on purchasing an inflation protected lifetime annuity with an equal annual income. It turned out to be closer to 40-45x the annual income figure, so with my method chief bp would have a nest egg of $1.2M-1.35M already established. Which of course is ultimately the same end result you calculated – more than enough for the average mustachian person/family to retire on.

            Reply
            • Jeremy E. April 11, 2016, 7:58 am

              $750,000 can give you a passive $30,000 to live on annually if you invest it in VTSAX and withdraw the safe withdrawal rate of 4% per year. However there is slightly more risk(although still very little)) when the money is in VTSAX instead of a military pension.

              Reply
            • Jeremy E. April 11, 2016, 7:59 am

              $750,000 can give you a passive $30,000 to live on annually if you invest it in VTSAX and withdraw the safe withdrawal rate of 4% per year. However there is slightly more risk(although still very little) when the money is in VTSAX instead of a military pension.

              Reply
            • Jeremy E. April 11, 2016, 7:59 am

              $750,000 can give you the same passive $30,000 to live on annually if you invest it in VTSAX and withdraw the safe withdrawal rate of 4% per year. However there is slightly more risk(although still very little) when the money is in VTSAX instead of a military pension.

              Reply
      • Sarah April 1, 2016, 5:36 pm

        But the New Yorker also told us your son is deprived of Magic cards, yet they’re clearly accounted for in your spending report. Also the April Fools got me for the teslas, but I figured it out on the house.

        Reply
      • DrMinimal April 13, 2016, 12:23 pm

        I didn’t think you would actually give the numbers!
        95% saving rate, that’s… beautiful! And inspiring.

        All the best,

        DrMinimal

        Reply
  • Ray Austin April 1, 2016, 5:40 am

    I think I might be living better than you and I believe my annual spending is about $5000 less. (I have two skillets and two turners)

    But, you do have me beat on the self insured thing. I’ve thought about it, but there’s really nasty weather in Texas every year.

    Reply
    • Jenny$tache April 1, 2016, 8:01 am

      On the self insured thing, I can understand not having replacement insurance if you can cover any eventuality including a total loss. Don’t you also need liability insurance in case someone is injured on your property? A major lawsuit for a critical injury or death isn’t something covered out of pocket.

      Also, you indicated you now use Uber to get to the airport, but I don’t see Uber/taxi listed anywhere and public transit is $0 so it’s not there. Just wondering.

      Reply
      • Gerard April 1, 2016, 8:32 am

        Yeah, I was actually down here partly to post something about that. “Renter’s” insurance is crazy cheap and includes liability. I’m going to self-insurance for fire/damage this summer, but I’m gonna keep the liability insurance. As far as theft or damage to possessions goes, I’m covered by NWS — Nothing Worth Stealing.

        Reply
      • Woof! April 1, 2016, 10:41 am

        I assumed Uber was covered under “Travel”.

        Reply
      • CJ April 1, 2016, 11:52 am

        I would firmly recommend MMM has either homeowner’s insurance or some other kind of personal liability insurance and an Umbrella policy. Here’s why: Deep pockets attract claims.

        Sure, right now its difficult to see why anyone MMM voluntarily invites to his home, or with home he allows little MM to play would sue the bejesus out of him for something frivolous. But, people are crazy! And even fighting the lawsuit can be fairly expensive. A low cost of litigation from an insurance defense firm could be from $25,000 to $40,000 for a simple trip and fall case. A more complex case could get up to $100,000 without much trouble. And then there is the actual indemnity if a jury finds you did something wrong.

        Your renter’s/ or homeowner’s covers you even if the damage doesn’t happen on your property. So if you accidentally trip a dude at the grocery store and he sues you, it would cover you. If you invite people to Guatemala and they sue you because you gave them terrible parasites or food poisoning, it would probably cover you too. If your kid somehow injures another person or causes property damage, that would be covered. (Mr. and Mrs. Bueller’s Homeowner’s insurance would have covered Cameron’s Dad’s car if Ferris had caused it to roll off the cliff!)

        I’m with MMM on not living in fear. But, I think any wealthy person in present day America should take advantage of the insurance industry by having the right policy.

        Reply
        • ScottishDave April 3, 2016, 11:35 pm

          I have had an umbrella policy for about 9years, it’s cheap insurance against lawsuits.

          Reply
      • Stacy April 6, 2016, 1:17 pm

        I had the same question about the home insurance. Some liability policy is needed right?

        Reply
  • Rick April 1, 2016, 5:42 am

    Only on my 2nd cup of coffee; but you DID NOT get me:). Happy April Fool’s Day!

    Reply
    • Aaron April 1, 2016, 7:22 am

      Yeah, when I realized it was April 1st, I fired up my browser and specifically loaded the MMM page to see what April Fool’s post he had made (I don’t normally check every day since posts have been less consistent the past year or so).

      Reply
  • Jen April 1, 2016, 5:42 am

    Have you written any articles about keeping waste / garbage to a minimum? Even the packaging from a grocery store run feels like a lot of garbage. Any tips or tricks?

    Reply
    • Becky April 1, 2016, 6:56 am

      I’d love to read the MMM take on that topic, but the queen of reducing waste is Bea Johnson: http://zerowastehome.com/
      :)

      Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:22 am

      Hi Jen, nothing really magic other than noticing the packaging when you consider buying something and imagining the pain you will feel when you later throw both the package (and maybe even later the item itself) out.

      We do use cool home-cut fabric napkins in the kitchen, never buy disposable plates (in fact I bring my own plate to eat off of if someone has a party with disposable stuff), no bottled drinks or prepackaged food and obvious stuff like that.

      Actually, my enjoyment of canned/bottled beer is one of my major flaws – sure, it’s recyclable but it sure feels odd to sip away a tiny 12-ounce serving of the stuff over a period of a few minutes, then toss it in a bin to be trucked away, smashed up, melted at 3000F, re-formed, re-filled with beer, then trucked back to my store so I can pick up another 12 pack on my bike. True all-grain homebrewers have one up on me here. Especially if they heat the boiler with homebrew solar electricity rather than propane.

      /2011/11/21/the-connection-between-trash-and-stash/

      Reply
      • Erik Y April 1, 2016, 8:06 am

        You could go with growlers. Here in Portland you can get them filled with all kinds of great beer in so many places. Even I lot of the grocery stores have growler fill stations. After you finish the beer, just wash out the growler and take it back in for the next fill up.

        Reply
        • Chris April 1, 2016, 12:20 pm

          That’s what I do. The best is the one made by Stanley, even though it’s not the sleekest looking. Great for having outside while working as well because it’s keeps everything cold and fresh.

          Reply
        • Jonathan April 1, 2016, 1:31 pm

          The other day I noticed a gas station here in Portland that sells kombucha growlers. That’s gotta be as Portland as Portland can get.

          Reply
        • VandeWife90 April 1, 2016, 2:10 pm

          I was going to suggest the same thing, reuse growlers, plus the beer tastes way better on tap! Also a fellow Portlander. ABV is within biking distance of my house, double win! Reducing our waste is something I’m always trying to be more diligent about. I think it would make for a great post also. Think about all the money you would save, just buying in bulk! I love the bins at my nearby Winco. They have really high quality flours, oat bran, and other items. Many of them Bob’s Red mill, all for really cheap!

          Reply
        • Erick April 1, 2016, 2:43 pm

          This is what we do with a local brewery in western suburbs of Chicago – the only problem (if you can call it one) is that we have to finish the growler in a couple days or risk the beer going complete flat.

          Reply
        • ecmcn April 1, 2016, 3:34 pm

          I’ve wanted to switch to growlers for ages since my neighborhood in Seattle has something like 15 breweries. My problem is most nights about one beer’s worth would get drunk, and then the things go flat. The “growler saver” doodads all seem to rely on disposable gas bottles. Does anyone have a good solution (other than just drinking more beer)? I’ve thought about a kegerator, but a single purpose fridge doesn’t seem very desirable. I’ve also thought about mini-growlers. I’d want to fill several at a time, and I guess if I’m not opening them they’ll stay pretty fresh.

          Reply
          • Greg April 2, 2016, 3:55 pm

            One possibility is that you could set yourself up with a bottle capper and a set of heavy-duty homebrew bottles. While not all microbreweries will fill up five bottles for you instead of a growler, the really small shops might, and then you just cap them and keep in your fridge until ready to drink.

            Wash the bottles out after each use, then sanitize before filling. (Some micros have a bucket of Star San sitting next to the growler fill station.)

            Reply
          • A.D June 17, 2016, 2:48 pm

            We have been running a kegerator for a year. We keep it in the coolest part of our basement and monitor the temperature at 40 degrees F. A twenty litre key takes up half of the fridge. We use the extra space frugily to cool food stuff i.e., pop, condiments, and prescriptions. In addition, so that we feel better about using the electricity, we pay a voluntary monthly surcharge to support renewable energy.
            My conscience is clean, and we enjoy fabulous, local craft beer on tap at home. I only go out every six weeks to the brewery for a recharge.
            (Local purveyors won’t carry it)
            Andy

            Reply
        • Min April 3, 2016, 5:28 pm

          Great reco. We used to live in a town with lots of growler stations too – we got a BIG 128oz growler. At that size you can get an optional tap, so it’s fresh beer for as long as you want (or can hold out). Sort of acts like a portable keg.

          Reply
      • James Brown April 1, 2016, 3:50 pm

        I use 500 ml EZ-Cap bottles for my home brew. They’re pricey out of the gate, but refillable basically forever. I’ve never had one break. In theory you are supposed to replace the caps every once in a while, but I’ve never had to do that, either.

        -James

        Reply
      • Mountains_O_Mustaches April 2, 2016, 12:47 pm

        Find some home brewer friends or post on CL – they might happily take the bottles to use in their home-brew operation / for crafts / etc. Growlers are pretty awesome, but the beer does go flat if you don’t finish the whole growler in a night or two…

        Reply
      • Nedzer April 2, 2016, 4:00 pm

        I guess a ‘growler’ is some sort of mini tap for draught beer, right? Its also quite a strong slang term around here – good to know. I wanted to share with you a point re: recycling etc I heard some years back that stuck with me. That is that using paper plates/cups, plastic utensils etc. can in the right circumstances be considered more eco friendly than using crockery and utensils. The thinking goes that paper plates for example, being so mass produced and cheap have a lower carbon footprint than the water it takes to heat, detergent needed, time expended to wash, dry & store away your plate. Think about this for example feeding a mass crowd at a sporting event or concert and it certainly makes sense. Maybe it stuck with me as it gives me a free pass to not get the guilts when using throwaway tableware- or perhaps it was the first part of an article published on April fools day that I never completed. Great blog MMM and fantastic feedback from the regular commentators/wider community.

        Reply
      • Georgia Erwin April 14, 2016, 11:36 pm

        Ginger beer is amazing, easy, tasty, and cheap! Just have to watch out for exploding bottles from the carbonation. All you need is ginger, water, and a little sugar and you’ve got a refreshing carbonated and lightly alcoholic drink within a week or two. Check out recipes that use ‘ginger bugs.’

        Reply
  • Tristan April 1, 2016, 5:47 am

    Hey MMM,

    I was disbelieving but it was a great twist. Really enjoyed reading how you have set up your life and, if you take care of your finances (like paying off your mortgage / debt) you can live with a much smaller expenditure in later years, as you are now.

    So you DO have a Tesla each? Or not? I’m unsure if that was part of the April Fools..

    We hope to be able to have the comfortableness than you have now, in not-too-many years from now. Both your nice earnings but your ability to do whatever you want, however you want, whenever you want.

    Tristan

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:26 am

      No Teslas even though I’m a big fan of the company’s mission. I have:
      – an almost-new luxury construction and roadtrips van (1999 Honda Odyssey, perfect condition)
      – an even-more-ridiculously-new compact sport utility car (2005 Scion xA, so perfect it even smells new)

      Total market value of both vehicles combined is $6-8k depending on how much people value low miles on the odometer.

      Reply
  • Nicole April 1, 2016, 5:54 am

    Hi, MMM –

    Just want to thank you for your blog and helpful guidance. I have quirky/non-traditional views of living and it is SO difficult to find folks who think like me. Most my friends and family think I’m crazy when they find out I save over 50% of my income and I dream of achieving a FI number that will buy my own freedom. They think I’m nuts when I tell them I’d rather spend the weekend camping than going to fancy dinners, museums, etc. When I told my parents over Easter that I’d love to live in a tiny-house on a lot of land, the eyebrows almost touched their hairlines. So I want to thank you for the digital community you’ve created that offers a space for me, and people like me, to feel sane.

    Happy April.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:29 am

      Sounds awesome Nicole. Even as a fancypants who lives in a non-tiny house in the middle of a city, I can fully relate to those sentiments and think it’s a path to the good life.

      Speaking of which “The Good Life” by Scott and Helen Nearing is a true anthem on badass simple living. They were so stubborn about it that a cult formed around them over the decades, which still lives on to this day.

      Reply
  • Mac April 1, 2016, 6:06 am

    Whahahaha! I completely fell for it! So disappointed in MMM while reading…. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was thinking: how can this be true! It cannot be!

    I’m such an (April) fool!

    Reply
  • A mom April 1, 2016, 6:07 am

    Hi MMM,

    I love this blog. Thank you so much for what you are doing.

    So here is my kind of silly question. What kind of wood floor is that in your kitchen? Looks very nice.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:33 am

      It’s the original scruffy 1959 oak floor that the house was built with.

      When rebuilding this place, I noticed that it has lived many lives – years under ugly linoleum, decades under several generations of cigarette-permeated carpets. Then someone gave it a quick refinishing before I bought the place, I did the entire construction project with the floor exposed and it miraculously survived without needing refinishing again. And here we are.

      You can still get flooring exactly like that, brand-new these days. It’s pretty cheap, under $4/square foot for the material I think. But if you’re buying wood flooring, look into bamboo as well – the stuff is cool and more renewable. Looks great in darker colors.

      Reply
      • Gary April 1, 2016, 11:32 am

        I had bamboo in my SF loft… never again. It’s just too soft. I dropped a fork and it landed on the tines, leaving an indentation.

        Reply
        • Amy April 1, 2016, 2:42 pm

          Gary, we installed carbonized strand bamboo two years ago and it is nearly indestructible. Much better than the original soft bamboo. Just an FYI. :) It’s running just under $3SF now.

          Reply
      • BH April 1, 2016, 12:47 pm

        I also like your kitchen counter, what is that made of?

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 2, 2016, 9:40 am

          That’s my old standby for luxury countertops – a machine-smoothed quartz mixture by a company called “Silestone”. The cool part is, my concrete-grey color is in their cheapest tier of varieties, even though I thought it was their coolest looking offering.

          Reply
          • Dean Myerson September 20, 2016, 9:12 pm

            A buddy of mine here in CO does his own concrete countertops…says it’s about $250 in materials and ~10 hours labor. Ping me if you want details.

            Reply
  • Daniel April 1, 2016, 6:08 am

    Do you suggest any cell phone service for saving money?

    Reply
    • sig606 April 1, 2016, 6:53 am

      Republic Wireless is usually MMM’s goto cell recommendation:

      /2014/05/13/moto-x-vs-moto-g/

      Reply
      • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:36 am

        And Google Fi has been great too. Little MM is on Republic and Mrs and I are now on Google (she accidentally smashed up her old moto G and Google offered a huge sale on Nexus 5x the next week, so we behaved like total consumers and bought yet another fancy gadget :-)

        /2015/09/20/google-fi-review/

        Reply
        • Jen April 1, 2016, 7:21 pm

          I would love to know what cell phone providers you recommend in Canada (ontario)? I can’t seem to find any of these deals up here. Thanks!

          Reply
          • Bobbylove April 2, 2016, 12:01 pm

            Hi Jen, I live in ottawa and use Fongo.
            https://fongo.com
            In a nutshell
            How Fongo works

            Fongo uses Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to place and receive calls and send and receive messages using your existing data plan (3G/4G) or nearby WiFi connection and Fongo’s nationwide network.

            Reply
            • aB April 5, 2016, 12:00 pm

              I also use Fongo.
              Adding to that, get a tiered TABLET plan, and stick the SIM in your smart phone.
              I’m on a Fido tablet plan, costing me $10 ($11.30) a month, if I go over, then $25.

              Reply
    • Dean April 1, 2016, 7:10 am

      Check out I.P. Daley’s guide, as per below:

      http://forum.adm-karpinsk.ru/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-son-of-the-superguide!/
      http://techmeshugana.com/theguide/

      Republic might be cheap, but you’re required to buy one of their phones, and the phones are locked to Republic and can’t be used with any other carrier (not even other Sprint MVNOs).

      Better off to use an MVNO of the network you already use, that way you can re-use your existing phone and you already know what the coverage is like in your area. If you need a new phone, look into an unlocked GSM phone that can be used with any GSM carrier (if you’re in the US, that means T-Mobile or AT&T and their respective MVNOs).

      Reply
      • Vince Granacher April 1, 2016, 12:22 pm

        My wife and I have Republic (got it after reading about it on MMM blog). Yes, we had to buy our own phones, but we did not go with the fanciest one they offered, so our phone cost was about $250 for both phones with additional storage SIM card. Our cost is under $26 a month for two lines of unlimited talk and text and internet when we are in a wifi hotspot. Could not be happier.

        Reply
        • The Long Haul Investor April 4, 2016, 10:30 am

          I use Republic also and use the lowest end phone available at the time($100). My only gripe is sometimes a phone call rings once before sending it to voicemail, but that’s not an inconvenience since I can call back. I think Republic makes sense depending on your individual situation. For example if you work from home a lot, or have work Wi-Fi access it’s hard to beat. I now participate in the refund plan(.5gb) and average about $18/mth. I’m now starting to think I could even use their most basic plan and buy data as needed since I’m not a big mobile data user.

          Reply
    • Mystic April 1, 2016, 10:05 am

      Daniel, we are using cricket wireless and paying 20$ a month ( taxes and fees included) per line for 2.5 gb data and unlimited calls and text within US. We are two of us and we pooled with another family of 3 for total of 5 lines to get this deal. If At&T works good in your area..cricket will be fine as it is owned by aT&T. We saved 70 a month switching. It is prepaid and you buy your own phones. We have LG G2 and asus zenfone at about 200$ each. Good luck hunting.

      Reply
    • Inaya April 1, 2016, 2:39 pm

      We switched to Ting this month and went from $170 to $38 for 2 lines. The BIG draw for us for Ting vs Republic or Fi was that we could continue using our old phones rather than pay out the nose for 2 new ones. Not every phone is eligible, however, so be sure to use their eligibility checker before you port. Also their towers are Sprint or T-Mobile depending on your device, so if your area is not very good for those carriers, YMMV.

      Reply
    • Rich April 1, 2016, 5:03 pm

      Check out RingPlus (Sprint MVNO), they have free cellphone plans. Got me & the girlfriend some Moto E 2015’s at $30 apiece. They have a standard free plan with 1000 minutes, 1000 texts, and 500MB of data per month (and a multitude of other free/pay plans), but if you keep alert to their forums (or SlickDeals forums) they quite often have flash promo plans which offer even more min/txt/data. (one of the latest had over 3000 minutes/txt/data). There is another company called SmartMarkPhones.net as well which offers free plans if you answer a poll or something each day, but I dont have any further info on them so cannot comment further, but I’ve been pretty happy with RingPlus so far.

      Reply
      • john April 2, 2016, 1:15 pm

        Can confirm Ringplus is the best plan out there at the moment. Free plan for a one time pop up of 20-30 dollars and you get 2k min text and mb data. Used the service and its great. I suggest everyone look into it and switch. This plan is amazing. Check slickdeals when they have another ringplus promo so you can get a plan. Usually they run like 3-5 promos a month so you can easily jump in.

        Reply
      • Amanda A. April 2, 2016, 1:39 pm

        Ringplus and Ting combined are the go-to for my extended “family” – We have
        Me – Qwerty phone on a free Ringplus plan ; Qwerty phone on our Ting family plan
        My fiance – Qwerty phone on a free Ringplus plan, smartphone on the Ting plan
        My boyfriend – Qwerty phone on a free Ringplus plan, smartphone on the Ting plan
        My boyfriends parents – each have a Qwerty phone on the Ting plan, no ringplus plan
        My parents – each have a flipphone on the Ting plan, and my mom has a Ringplus free phone as well.

        Post taxes and fees, we pay $65 a month for seven lines, and we barely restrict our use. (We self-restrict a little on data, but not much, and we certainly don’t HAVE to, we come in at the smallest bucket, and at the small end usually)

        Upfront cost was a little under 400 dollars to buy “new” (lightly used) phones for bfs parents, all four ringplus plans, two smartphones for fiancee and bf, who had to switch networks to go on Ting, and includes the initial top-up charge from Ringplus for each of the lines. Could have been cheaper, but we all wanted phones that still looked nice and new, and the boys wanted their smartphones, even though they basically never use them).

        Reply
        • Aimee May 18, 2016, 11:57 am

          I’m more interested in the fiance AND boyfriend than the phone plans. :)

          Reply
  • desk_jockey April 1, 2016, 6:16 am

    You had me going for the first 2 paragraphs last year with the SUV article. Not this year. There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:40 am

      Haha, thanks for keeping that one alive DJ. That’s how I say it too, after watching George W in action back in the day.
      https://youtube.com/watch?v=cFCH5MxZ-qM

      Reply
      • Antoinette April 1, 2016, 2:33 pm

        You didn’t fool me, unless you count the fact that I thought someone hacked your site.

        Question: We are downsizing and putting our large house on the market soon, looking for something much smaller. What happens to all the big houses left over? Do they get stripped down for parts or converted to apartments in the distant future? The bigger question: what can you say about the angst and feelings associated with leaving a place you love, even though you understand it is the right choice?

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 5:31 pm

          That is a cool question about the fate of big houses if the world becomes more Mustachian.

          In older cities (like my native Hamilton, Ont.), a lot of the old 1800s mansions in the central city were converted to multi-unit stuff or office buildings.

          In pure sprawl areas (like a particularly amazing Northeastern suburb of Denver called “Westminster”), you’d have to update the zoning to allow people to open restaurants and offices in some of the houses, and subdivide other ones.

          The weird thing about suburbs in my opinion is that they’re actually very people and bike friendly (walking paths, quiet roads). People just insist on not walking or biking in them because they mistakenly believe that cars are the only way. If we fix the zoning to make them mixed use (and really shrink down the car facilities), they would become fun little self-sufficient utopias.

          Reply
          • Scott April 2, 2016, 8:21 am

            > The weird thing about suburbs in my opinion is that they’re actually very people and bike friendly (walking paths, quiet roads).

            I lived in a suburb for a while. Suburban Hell, I called it. If you stood on your back porch and looked out, you’d be staring into your neighbor’s living room, watching their television. It was awful. Even worse, because you’re so cramped together, you’d think the design of the neighborhood was extremely efficient, right? Not so! Windy streets designed to waste a maximum amount of space and ensure everyone has to drive their lifted Wranglers and brand new Suburbans as far as possible to their particle-board houses that are so large they needed TWO AC UNITS to cool them. But I digress.

            The biggest problem with the bike and jogging paths is they don’t actually go anywhere. I could go all over my neighborhood, sure, but I couldn’t actually get out and go to the grocery store without going along a narrow 45 MPH road for about a mile. So for casual strolls, the paths were great. For going places, the paths were useless.

            Reply
            • SirSavesaLot April 9, 2016, 10:15 pm

              This was always my problem with suburbs. Too close together to have privacy, too far apart to have real, spontaneous human connections. (Not the spying on you through your back window kind, of course). Too close together (or too regulated) to allow certain efficiencies like clotheslines and vegetable gardens, but too far apart to have shared heating/cooling systems, fewer exterior walls, etc.

              Interestingly, we are seeing the transformation of the original suburbs of many cities turn into slums. As downtowns have become revitalized, the original suburbs built in the 60s and 70s are receiving all the people of little means who used to populate urban cores. These suburbs are now cheap because the housing stock is old, and there are few amenities like sidewalks and streetlights. It’s interesting to see that Mustachian things like sidewalks do indeed affect property value . . . .

              Reply
          • Eurteb April 5, 2016, 1:33 pm

            I wonder as to the fate of giant houses as well…
            I’m impressed and a bit saddened every time I see photographs of the massive abandoned mansions from all over the world (yes mostly ex Soviet) that have been entirely abandoned and now have whole forests growing up through them as the years pass. Any one of these could house an entire small Utopian village. The structures themselves are beautiful, but the wasted materials per volume of benefit is rough.
            It seems to me in the end it’s the people who make the place. Every city/structure has the possibility to be Mustacian the challenge is making it so :)
            Thanks MMM for always bringing it back to what matters, real enjoyment in life.
            And lets face it, for a mansion, getting to grow up to be a forest is pretty cool too

            Reply
      • Susan April 1, 2016, 3:43 pm

        I miss the days when I thought W was about as stupid as any Republican could ever be. He’s looking like an f-ing genius now.

        Reply
        • Lennier April 13, 2016, 12:03 pm

          This has been added to my quotes file. :)

          Reply
  • Brad April 1, 2016, 6:20 am

    The word “fool” in italics in the third paragraph was a nice tip. Well played MMM, well played.

    Reply
    • Kathy Abell April 1, 2016, 10:16 pm

      I was getting very worried about the MMM family until I came across that italicized word. He MUST be joking I thought as I was reading. Oh, yes (big sigh of relief) he is joking!

      Reply
  • Kevin April 1, 2016, 6:20 am

    I was waiting for the annual spending report to come out!! Only question: Any concern of not having the liability protection of homeowners insurance? I currently am not that worried about home replacement costs, but am too concerned of a crazy accident on the property to self insure.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:45 am

      I learned from a savvy insurance agent that “Umbrella insurance” is often a nice workaround for this. You can either get lower-coverage homeowner insurance, or possibly none at all, then get the umbrella policy to supplement it which is often remarkably cheap. Also may apply to people with multiple rental houses.

      But I’m not an expert on this. My strategy so far (for better or for worse) has been: being nice to people, being optimistic, doing the math, having lots of savings, and having lots of lawyer friends including a paid one for the business. Even so I’ll be getting normal insurance once I finish the construction and close out the city’s final approved inspections.

      Reply
      • Kayote April 1, 2016, 8:36 am

        Do check very carefully with your insurance agent. We bought some land with a tiny (falling apart) house on it. When we talked to our insurance company they said our umbrella would only kick in if we had liability on the land/house itself first. That is probably dependent on the insurance company, but worth checking on explicitly rather than assuming if you want to go MMM’s route!

        Reply
      • Paul April 1, 2016, 11:28 am

        I believe you’ll need a homeowner’s policy in order to have umbrella insurance – every company I’ve ever used requires the homeowner’s as a base (often with the liability maxed out) before they’ll sell the umbrella one on top of it.

        But you should be able to do some financial engineering – get (relatively) crappy coverage for the physical house with super high deductibles, but max out personal liability. You can then add a million or two of umbrella coverage incredibly cheaply, and it would be a great idea. Even though you have the wherewithal to fight a suit, it’d be nice to have a mean, super-lawyered up insurance company facing the first million or two of losses with a b.s. suit than having to deal with it yourself.

        Reply
      • Jessica April 1, 2016, 6:32 pm

        You will certainly want to get liability insurance. As an attorney (and I am sure your attorney friends will agree), the real cost is the attorney fees. If some asshole comes after you, even if you win, you’ll be tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for the lawyer.

        However, CO has some Defendant-favorable damages caps… so, your overall exposure is lower in CO than in some other states.

        In all the Umbrella policies I’ve ever reviewed, they don’t kick in unless you have “required minimum underlying insurance.” A recent policy I saw (here in OH) was a $1MM umbrella, but required the insured to also maintain 100k liability for cars and homeowners’ with liability.

        Good luck!

        Reply
    • David Herr April 6, 2016, 4:07 pm

      I also noticed the lack of insurance, and almost had a heart attack. You definitely need an umbrella policy, and if you can get one without homeowner’s insurance, so much the better, but trust me when I tell you, one of the first things I learned in law school was that there is no such thing as too much insurance — they will step in to defend you in most civil litigation, and saving on those attorney fees is vital, because otherwise you would need to put down a retainer of $5K or more just to engage a lawyer to defend you if necessary. To keep the premiums low, choose the maximum deductible, and never use the insurance for anything other than a huge disaster. As a realtor, I cringe when I hear people using insurance to cover a $2000 repair — for the next several years, their home will be in a database of claims that will drive up future premiums and could even complicate a sale. Also, use one insurer for all your needs — auto, home, umbrella, any business policies — because the multiple line discounts are typically extensive.

      I look forward to seeing a line for homeowner’s and/or umbrella insurance on the 2016 Spending Report. :)

      Reply
  • Dean April 1, 2016, 6:21 am

    I’m guessing ‘ebike purchases’ go under the ‘blog’ section of the budget? :)

    What’s with the big jump in Internet expenditure? You did mention that you were sharing an internet connection at your last place, so I’m assuming you’re on the hook for the lot nowadays. No cheaper providers in your area?

    Reply
    • DDD April 1, 2016, 6:27 am

      Can we create a new method of accessing the internet that does not involve mega cable corp passing her excessive overhead onto us?

      Reply
      • Dean April 1, 2016, 7:03 am

        Depends on how much competition there is in the area. No DSL? No MVNO-style resellers of fixed line broadband? No wireless broadband?

        Although I know what you mean, I can’t get fixed line internet (DSL, my apartment doesn’t have cable) for under about $50 a month. The only cheaper option is cellular broadband, and my usage is too high for that to be worthwhile.

        Reply
      • Tom April 1, 2016, 12:40 pm

        I used to rage against the Comcast/TWC duopoly.

        I’m still going to get Google Fiber whenever it finally gets here (I live in a promised location, but rollout is painfully slow)

        But — TWC and Comcast invented some cheap ass plans in order to pass certain federal requirements so they could merge. Their merger died, but you can still get cheap ass internet from these companies.

        And, for residential people, there’s really no reason to get huge bandwidth. No, you don’t need more than a couple megabits of downstream bandwidth to stream video by NetFlix, YouTube, etc.

        That’s a commonly-held myth that the cable co’s try to support. I’ve had several TWC & Comcast reps, and several friends and acquaintances tell me that I “need lots of bandwidth” for streaming videos and “gaming”. It’s a farce.

        Gaming requires low latency, not big bandwidth. There are a few packets a second, and lag is how many milliseconds the packets take to get between you and the server. You won’t get lower latency by buying a higher-bandwidth plan.

        For streaming, I’m on a nominally 2 mb downstream bandwidth connection (Everyday Low Price) that always gets 3.5MB down | 1MB up. I watch YouTube exclusively in HD (the most bandwidth-intensive). I stream sports on ifirstrow for free. I enjoy low-latency gaming. We have 5+ devices sharing the connection at all times, and frequently more when guests are staying over.

        So I’ve alternated between unlimited data for $14.99/mo and lightly throttled data for $9.99/mo from the mega cable corp. I think almost every American should subscribe to these plans. The state of internet in America isn’t quite as terrible as it was a few years ago, but almost everyone still thinks it’s awful. Get your Stoic ‘Stache on and get some cheap ass internet from the mega cable co’s. Enjoy.

        Reply
        • Lady Fordragon April 4, 2016, 12:54 pm

          Tom – My husband and I just switched to TWC’s Everyday Low Price this past month and I completely agree with you that the provided downstream bandwidth is more than enough to watch Netflix, etc. I honestly wish that we had switched last year when our rates had gone up. Lesson learned. Now to look into other areas where we can save some $$.

          Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:49 am

      Yeah – the blog bought the Prodeco E-bike for testing and promoting that technology. Minor cheating although I wouldn’t have bought it for myself as a non-blogger.

      Internet bill went up because we stopped sharing a line. And because the blog work demands a really fast connection (mostly for reliable podcast interviews but also for just productivity boost with all this online editing). Without the blog I’d have a barebones DSL 10 megabit connection or something for $30/mo, or work harder to set up the sharing antenna again. I could actually allocate some of this annual spending to the business side, but didn’t want to be stingy about it.

      Reply
      • Nicole April 1, 2016, 8:19 pm

        MMM,

        What do you think about Longmont’s new Nextlight?

        http://longmontcolorado.gov/departments/departments-e-m/longmont-power-communications/broadband-service

        We just got it hooked up today and it’s wicked fast.

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:39 pm

          I am SO IN FOR NEXTLIGHT WHEN IT GETS TO MY STREET!!!! .. Been on the list since they first announced it. Probably within the next very few months now.

          (For the non-Longmontians, this is city-owned 1 Gigabit per second unlimited fiber optic internet to your house, for 50 bucks a month)

          Reply
          • Mr. FI April 5, 2016, 9:00 am

            My god,

            Nirvana.

            Reply
            • Lennier April 13, 2016, 12:08 pm

              As someone currently suffering under the Liberal Party of Australia’s farsical “National Fraudband Network (Malcom Turnbull Model)” policy (we were just hooked up to the copper of the 19th century), I’m not sure if I hate or envy you. :)

              Reply
          • Jake April 14, 2016, 10:56 am

            Why is Canada so terrible? *sighs wistfully, gives TekSavvy $40*

            Reply
      • Why be April 2, 2016, 3:32 am

        podcast interviews? Where??

        Reply
        • NatPatBen April 15, 2016, 6:30 pm

          Same thing I wpndered

          Reply
  • DDD April 1, 2016, 6:24 am

    The scary part is that the common man would read the first part of this article and think “yep sounds about right, I would do that too” You need only bike by your local high spending area to see these behaviors in action.

    Reply
  • Dee April 1, 2016, 6:29 am

    So is there a book in the works for 2016? I keep hoping because it would make a great graduation gift.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:50 am

      Nope, still very slow in that department. My book project is like a Tesla release date promise.

      In the worst case, I will become a reasonably productive writer in roughly 8 more years when my boy becomes an adult. For now, we’re too busy playing frisbee and making stuff :-)

      Reply
      • Kathy Abell April 1, 2016, 10:25 pm

        There is only a limited period of time when Jr will enjoy playing crises and making stuff with Dad. There will always be time for writing. Enjoy your son while you can. After all, he is the reason you retired so early isn’t he?

        Reply
        • Kathy Abell April 1, 2016, 10:30 pm

          FRISBEES (when will auto correct ever learn what words don’t need correcting????)

          Reply
  • Nbsdmp April 1, 2016, 6:30 am

    Good one MMM! So I was feeling super guilty as I am the guy you described yourself being in the first part of the article, but transitioning to the more simple lifestyle. Parts of it were like yeah, damn straight you need to go 0-60 in 2.8 seconds lol, but glad to hear you haven’t jumped the shark just yet. The biggest surprise for me once I got to retirement is how cheap it really is vs what I thought I was savings towards as a high income earner. My financial planner(yes I know taboo) and I seriously ran scenarios of $300k a year spending…wth, I have never spent that much in my life but I need that in retirement at 44 all of the sudden? Nope! I do spend quite a bit more on craft beer than you though & I am keeping the fishing boat : )

    Reply
  • Cdd109 April 1, 2016, 6:30 am

    I was wondering if you have any experience yet with the twist and lock PEX vs. the crimp? Building a house and getting ready to do the plumbing. I’m used to the crimp but just found out there is a speed fitting as well.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 7:57 am

      Hmm, I haven’t tried any type of PEX fittings besides the super-expensive Sharkbites for the odd rare convenience fix, and traditional rings/clamps for production work like building out a whole house. I’ve been really happy with the results so far (no leaks in almost 10 years of installing the stuff all over the place), but let me know if I’m missing something.

      In case people are wondering why the hell we suddenly started talking about plumbing, it’s because of this post I wrote in 2011 DIY plumbing with PEX: /2011/11/23/how-to-become-a-kickass-plumber-with-pex/

      I am so happy I wrote that – for whatever reason, it has become lodged into the search engines and brought many interesting people into my life :-)

      Reply
      • Cdd109 April 4, 2016, 6:24 am

        Nothing new here. Just a much more expensive way to do the same thing.

        Reply
  • Adam Jeske April 1, 2016, 6:34 am

    Hey Pete, a while back you were posting a bit on how you were reading about how wealth could be given to improve the world in hard places. But I’m not seeing much of that here, though you mention giving through the business. Is that how you’re doing most of your giving these days? How about a mustachian philanthropy post?

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:10 am

      I don’t have any amazing revelations to share in this area yet.

      In 2015 the business donated to Pencils of Promise (schools in Ghana), my local school district, and some environmental causes. But the levels were nowhere close to the amount the business made, so that money is all invested and growing – for now.

      Recent attacks on the blog from established businesses with aggressive lawyers have made me a bit more cautious about keeping a large reserve: /rl360-insurance/ – I want to make sure I NEVER have to back down on principles just because of money. Stuff like this will probably happen more as time goes on.

      But this should still leave a huge surplus. Should I give it away rapidly to established causes? Or fund something really newsworthy that starts a chain reaction?

      Like starting an intentional no-cars renewable energy powered co-op community (aka Badass Utopia) as a model for people to join and learn from? That would get some serious news stories!

      What about starting a school alongside a bunch of idealistic clever people, like the guy who started Breakwater in Portland Maine? http://breakwaterschool.org/ and then sharing both its lessons and its principles of organization free online (so others can copy the idea) as well?

      Although I’ve been slow to give away big chunks of money, I think it’s a big responsibility and I’m really new to the situation of having the option to do so. So we spend a lot of time talking about these ideas and working on them for now.

      Reply
      • Stuart April 1, 2016, 9:54 am

        https://youtube.com/watch?v=Jkiij9dJfcw

        Hey MMM, I saw this last night and was thinking it was the kind of school we need more of. Building appreciation for nature, resiliency and badassness into children. Maybe this is the kind of school you’d be thinking of?

        Reply
      • Patrick April 1, 2016, 10:30 am

        I second the request for a mustachian philanthropy post :)

        Just like your push for environmental stewardship that you make through this blog, I think that generosity and service must be a part of mustachian living, or else it’s all just hoarding and hedonism. I know you got negative feedback from some for your environmental views (This is a finance blog not a Sierra Club ad!), and I’m sure a piece on generosity would get some similar responses. But it’s worth it.

        My FIRE date is pushed off many years because of my giving practices. But the wonderful thing about mustachianism is that it allows you to reduce spending on yourself…in order to save AND spend money on others who aren’t in as nearly a fortunate situation. Mustachianism allows you to raise your standard of giving instead of your standard of living.

        Anyhoo, thanks for the Fools Day post!

        Reply
        • Tyler April 2, 2016, 6:19 am

          Patrick, not that have any issues with your opinion or how you choose to spend your money, but I truly don’t understand the need to try to get other people to donate their own money. If they earned it and want to donate it fine, if they earned it and want to keep it to themselves, then I don’t see the problem with that either as it is their labor they have to produce to receive any cash at all. I personally won’t donate a dime, if I can avoid it, until I FIRE in 10-11 years because my wife and I want to retire much like MMM and have kids and spend all of our time with them. I don’t think there is any higher cause than raising good people to do good, low consumption work for the future just as my wife and I plan.

          Reply
          • Hilary April 3, 2016, 10:50 pm

            To me so much of the philanthropy stuff is just another version of consumerism to make the giver/purchaser feel good for spending money. Only somehow spending money without receiving anything for it other than “good feelings” is supposed to be “better” virtue signalling than receiving a useful product.

            Until we as a family can support ourselves without outside help I believe its inappropriate to try to make ourselves feel better by spending of any sort.

            Reply
            • Patrick April 4, 2016, 2:33 pm

              If you give to others to feel better about yourself, that’s wrong. I do it because it’s other human beings in need. It’s part of being human.

              There are many worthy organizations and individuals (if you get to know them).

              Your last sentence – But don’t most of your spending choices make you feel better? Are not doing anything that makes you feel good until you FIRE? Or is that just a way to justify being stingy? Sorry if that sounds rude – but you criticized generosity, so I can critcize stinginess.

              Reply
          • Patrick April 4, 2016, 2:28 pm

            Tyler, do you have a similar issue with MMM’s environmental views? I don’t see much of a difference between urging people to pollute/consume less and urging people to be generous toward others. People need to think beyound themselves.

            I’ll just put it bluntly that stating that you won’t donate a dime to others until you can FIRE sounds very selfish (like my post sounded pushy/preachy). While I really really want to FIRE ASAP, I can’t blow of kindness and generosity in the name of having what I want ASAP. One can be both generous and FIRE- it just puts of FIRE off a little while longer.

            Reply
            • Tyler April 4, 2016, 4:02 pm

              Patrick, it seems you may have missed the whole point of my comment to you. I was hoping for more of a discussion on why donate money in the first place instead of quickly ensuring your own financial security in its entirety. To answer your question, in no way do I have any issue with MMM’s environmental ideologies, just like I have absolutely no issues with your desire to throw away money that you have earned before your FI is guaranteed. To clarify, I only agree with MMM’s environment ideology because it makes common sense to try to streamline your life and energy usage in a way that reduces expenditures and just so happens to also save the environment. That’s what I call a win, win. On the other hand earning money and giving it away in a way that literally adds years(more than 5?) to FI is so far from basic common sense. That’s what I would call a win, lose. I never said that I would never donate money, but that I would never donate prior to FI. In my opinion this would place my wife and I in a much more powerful position to actually donate more for much longer, especially if we FIRE at 30 like we plan. I believe there’s an old saying that basically states that before you can help your neighbor your own household must have a solid foundation. Before FI, the only people I would actually give money to are family, but thankfully, everyone in my family can stand on their own feet. As conceited as it may sound I don’t understand how other people can’t be as successful as I’ve managed to be. I don’t have a degree, I’m only 21 and I’ve already managed to achieve a salary of just under $60,000 a year. We live in a pretty incredible world these days, no?

              Reply
              • Patrick April 5, 2016, 10:51 am

                “I believe there’s an old saying that basically states that before you can help your neighbor your own household must have a solid foundation.”

                I would counter that a solid foundation does not equal FIRE. Being 21 and making 60K a year is a very solid foundation that allows you to give generously AND save a ton per year to work toward FIRE. Don’t miss out on opprtunities to live an abundant life of sharing and generosity just to meet a FIRE date.

                Giving $$ to people is not throwing $$ away any more than taking the extra time to bike rather than commute by car is throwing time away.

                Let’s make a truce – I’ll stop calling your refusal to give before FIRE selfish and hedonistic if you stop calling my choosing to give “throwing $$ away.”

      • Joe April 1, 2016, 10:55 am

        I was just having an in depth conversation with a bunch of “idealistic clever people” about how to make school different. Integrative project based learning is really cool. For example:

        High Tech High is becoming famous on this front (http://edut.to/1MHldub – video)

        Girard Education Foundation has produced a free curriculum that is used at Summit Public Schools (http://bit.ly/1PKvnop – article)

        Matt in Spokane, WA has some cleaver ideas for integrating the two schools’ ideas above at Pride Prep (http://bit.ly/1ZR29Mf – video)

        Best of luck in your discernment on which direction your future philanthropy heads.

        Reply
      • Troy Rank April 1, 2016, 11:11 am

        Sign me up for cult, I’m in!

        Reply
      • Andy April 1, 2016, 11:52 am

        As a mustachian reading specialist, sign me up to teach at the school you create! I keep trying to subvert the public school system in my own classroom, but it’s really hard to do when students seem so comfortable preparing for tests and asking for worksheets instead of creative projects. It’s almost exactly the same backlash I face when I talk about spending with my peers. People don’t know what they’re missing. But we’ll carry on. I still find that sincere conversation and openness about life eventually wins people over (one of the reasons I’m a fan of your writing).

        Reply
        • Ali April 20, 2016, 12:28 pm

          Look into Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom by Juliani and Make Just one Change by Rothstein and Santana. They’ll help you radically change your classroom practice. I’m doing it a little every day. It’s the toughest thing I’ve taken on, but can see how it will allow kids to really learn — the opposite of what happens in public school.

          Reply
      • David April 1, 2016, 1:01 pm

        MMM, I’ve enjoyed your posts over the last few months (even pre-New Yorker!). I find myself agreeing with much of what you write. I would add that I think a coherent MMM philosophy on charity and altruism is a gap in your worldview.

        One organization that has shaped my own view in this regard is Giving What We Can (http://givingwhatwecan.org), of which I am a member. They emphasize reducing global poverty and suffering. I try to give away about 10% of my income each year to various causes that I think are effective around the world.

        I think that a philosophy of frugality has much to do with a philosophy of altruism. The truth is that even diverting relatively small amounts of consumption to international charities can make large, measurable differences. If you give well, you should be able to save a life for something around $2000, which is pretty amazing.

        Reply
        • Adam Jeske April 1, 2016, 1:19 pm

          I’m glad to see others are thinking of this, too. I think I might start writing a bit in this direction…

          Reply
        • Greg January 15, 2017, 9:47 pm

          I’m glad MMM doesn’t stray too far from what he knows. When he does his posts lose face-punching authority and he’s already stated he doesn’t know enough about charity and altruism yet to dedicate an entire post to it. Thank goodness for that! He’s a rare breed if he can contain himself by not typing shit into a computer about something on which he has nothing meaningful to say.

          Reply
      • Rick April 1, 2016, 2:12 pm

        Yeah, I’m all for the Badass Utopia! I’m looking for a community of like-minded people to settle down in and would love to have you create a community like that (called MMM Manor maybe?). Possibly even a few communities around the country so people could live in environments they prefer (a sunny warm one, a cold snowy one (for ski lovers), an eastern one, and a western one, etc.). Please look into that as a possibility for future projects for yourself (kind of like importing that Ecuador experience to the homeland)!

        Reply
      • David Robarts April 1, 2016, 4:11 pm

        I really like the idea of a community without cars (have a parking lot on the outskirts with bikeshare for visitors and carshare for community members going on trips). I’d also like to see other environmental stands for a community – 100% renewable energy, composting toilets and grey water irrigation, local food production, and near zero trash. It would be neat to see how much money a town could save if it didn’t have to provide for automobiles, sewers, and trash collection.

        Reply
        • Jonathan September 29, 2016, 8:27 am

          David,

          Check out the Vauban Neighborhood in Freiburg, Germany.

          I would love to make a community like that in the states.

          Reply
      • Eliza April 1, 2016, 6:36 pm

        What about establishing a corporate charitable foundation? http://cof.org/content/foundation-basics

        I don’t know much about them (other than a lot of big companies have them), but since it’s a separate legal entity, it might alleviate the risk of large cash assets sitting on the books of the business and making you more of a lawsuit target.

        I always thought that if I ever ended up with a large nest egg (ie: if I don’t decide to give up working after FI) I would want to establish a charitable foundation and set up an endowment. Then you could spend some amount out of the portfolio every year (2%?) making an immediate contribution while continuing to grow the endowment allowing even greater future giving.

        Reply
      • Kathy Abell April 1, 2016, 10:40 pm

        I wish some very smart people would figure out a way to get clean water to the many people throughout the world who don’t have it. It is so amazing to get clean water out of my kitchen faucet (I don’t live in Flint).

        Reply
      • Scott April 1, 2016, 10:49 pm

        there is a huge community of philanthropists in Longmont- as well as most communities around the front range. you can start with contacting the Longmont community foundation. Get involved! being a part of my community through philanthropy has got to be the most rewarding thing I have ever done short of being a dad.

        Reply
      • David Zetland April 2, 2016, 4:18 am

        Given your life philosophy (I think), I’d suggest you look into giving cash (backgrounder: http://theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/welfare-reform-direct-cash-poor/407236/), as it’s usually better (on several margins) than aid (I’ve written on development failure, but see Poverty Inc)

        Reply
      • SHK April 2, 2016, 4:08 pm

        A intentional no-cars renewable energy powered co-op community (aka Badass Utopia) sounds really badass and gets my two-thumbs-up!!

        Reply
      • echochaser21 April 11, 2016, 10:47 pm

        I would love to see the business throw some weight behind developing solar-powered airplanes for commercial travel. Our collective flying habits have an even bigger impact than our collective driving habits; can you imagine flights that don’t unleash literally tons of carbon and other pollutants into the air?!
        Oh, what a beautiful thing that would be.

        Reply
  • Jon April 1, 2016, 6:35 am

    MMM, thanks for all the great advice! Though I quickly realized that you were pulling a fast one on us, I have to say your logic and zeal in justifying your “spending increase” was enlightening in its own way. I can really see how people can believe they are doing the right thing while being incredibly, mind-blowingly wasteful.

    Also, I’m glad to see someone in the MM family is enjoying Magic: the Gathering. As someone else who has expensive hobbies (playing music, video games, MtG, D&D, etc), my question would be this:

    What mindset is most effective when determining the level of money to spend on hobbies and entertainment? I know in the past you have said cheaper is better, but some hobbies simply require a monetary investment. Magic the Gathering is certainly not a frugal game…

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:19 am

      Magic is pretty frugal if you buy the bulk 1000-packs of cards from Amazon. Or you can spend 20 times more on it buying the “Booster packs” on a regular basis.

      It’s sort of like choosing between a $1000 mountain bike and a $12,000 one if you are taking up trail riding: no difference in the amount of fun you can have, just a difference in how you go about it.

      My philosophy is to always look to Nature first for my fulfillment. For example, because I like walking outside, chopping wood for the woodstove, reading books from the library, and other old-fashioned stuff. I personally don’t need much “entertainment” at all – no TV, no video games, no pro sports, etc. But I love being with people, so I’ll play board games and video games and watch movies with them as a way of being together. They’re all still plenty fun.

      There’s no right answer, but I find if you prioritize stuff that is physically good for you (at least several hours outside moving your body every day), you quickly fill your schedule and there isn’t much time left to spend money on other more expensive hobbies :-)

      Reply
      • Zac April 1, 2016, 12:29 pm

        Hi MMM,

        Thanks to the very active secondary market for magic cards (and the prize money for finishing in the top 4 of my local store’s FNM event) I’ve managed to make it a hobby that now pays for itself. I broke even last year and the current value of my collection is $4570. Since the little man is getting into MTG, it might be worth a bit of reading on these sites to start understanding the culture behind playing the game at a high level. I used to compete in chess tournaments when I was in highschool, and MTG provides the same type of mental stimulation and good-natured competition. It’s very fun playing this game, and I’ve met some of my very best friends through the game.

        Check out http://starcitygames.com http://channelfireball.com and http://magic.tcgplayer.com/

        The way I make money from the cards is generally by buying individual cards when they’re cheap (and I think they have potential to grow in value) and sell them once they’ve gained that value. I haven’t bought booster packs in years because I, like you, think they’re a rip-off… also I don’t have space for more bulk product. As my collection has aged, many of the cards that I bought/traded for in 2012-2013 for $5-15 a piece are now selling for $30-45 a piece. The sets constantly rotate, so new cards are printed, and older cards fall out of “standard” format, but are still legal in “modern” and “legacy”.

        Playing the current standard format is very similar to playing World of Warcraft, or any other subscription based game. There are ways to do it for free… but they involve spending a LOT of time in the game.

        Playing Legacy or Modern is more like playing StarCraft II…. but they’re most like playing StarCraft II if you DON”T currently have a computer. Getting your “modern deck” put together, and strong enough to be competitive, will often cost $200-1000. A legacy deck can cost $500-2500 depending on what you’re playing and how competitive you want to be. That reminds me of this site, and specifically the budget magic articles they often post. This is a fantastic resource if the little dude is going to keep playing MTG.

        http://mtggoldfish.com/articles/search?tag=budget+magic

        Anyways, sorry for the rambly post… but I’ve been wanting to write something about MTG since I first saw the misrepresentation painted by that fancy author in that NY Times article (was it NY times? Whatever the big newspaper was). It’s easy to give bad information about MTG, just like it’s easy to give bad information about living a very frugal lifestyle. I can’t emphasize enough, though, how much good MTG and the MTG community has done for my life, though.

        LOVE,
        -Zac

        Reply
      • Tom April 1, 2016, 1:03 pm

        A friend of mine is/was a Magic Pro, and makes lots of intriguing videos about MtG (I don’t play Magic, but follow his basketball & Free Thinking channels). I think you and the lad might enjoy this YouTube channel because Travis approaches Magic with unique first-principles thinking, strategy, and philosophy.

        https://youtube.com/channel/UClPJRRwqan9DSRttbKGjjmQ/videos

        Reply
        • Zac April 1, 2016, 1:28 pm

          I like Travis Woo a lot. :) Read a bunch of his articles, watched his videos and occasionally watch his twitch stream. Good suggestion!

          Reply
          • SpeedReader April 1, 2016, 9:05 pm

            My husband was co-owner of a gaming store when Magic first came on the market. We still refer to it as “paper crack”.

            Reply
      • Jim Brookhyser April 4, 2016, 12:55 am

        There are few things I like more in life than playing a good tabletop game, but I just can’t get into magic. As Jon said, it is truly not a frugal game. I would recommend many: Pandemic, Dominion, Evolution, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mount Skullsfire, Settlers of Catan, Love Letters, Suburbia, and others. Why did you choose MtG? Have you played these other games? If not, you’re missing out.

        Reply
        • Amanda A. April 8, 2016, 5:32 pm

          I will be the first to admit it can quickly get out of hand, but in my life, I’ve spent about as much as one of those games (ok, Dominion or similar, not Love Letter) on MTG, and I played steadily for three-four years. Now, I still have most the cards (sold a few along the way to keep costs down), play with people casually, and my favorite gamestyle these days is something I came up with a few years in, and became about the only style I play (and if I cared to, I’d pare down my collection, but with only $50 or so invested, it hasn’t been high on my list). One cost common decks. The only thing in them are lands, and one cost common cards. It’s quick, dirty, and never the same game twice. Super fun, IMO, and a great way to get people involved in the game without having to explain ALL the rules, just enough to get the idea. It makes pulling out my box of ~8 decks kind of like pulling out a tabletop game. To each their own though. I can’t get into Catan at all :P.

          Reply
    • Scott H April 1, 2016, 8:54 am

      I too noticed the Magic: The Gathering spending in the report. MMM – who in the family plays? Hopefully you all play together!

      I love this game! In my opinion, it is the best card game ever invented. Once you get past the dorkiness of mana, creatures, and spells, you realize what a versatile and interesting game it is. Unlike more traditional games, MTG is always changing and evolving with new cards and strategies. It never gets stale. I got into it in the mid 90s when I was in middle school. I forgot about it when I grew up but recently a friend told me he taught his wife and started playing again. I dusted off the old cards and am again amazed at how much enjoyment we get out of this game. Why go out to bars and restaurants when we can chill at home and play Magic all night!

      Like all things it can be done expensively or it can be done cheaply. A classic Mustachian example. You could constantly be buying new cards and and trying to get a leg up on your friends. Or you can limit your cards to cheap ones that can be bought for pennies. If everyone is on the same level, the fanciness of the cards is irrelevant. If you really want to get into it: get a bunch of cheap cards, some beers and home cooked food, and have a draft where everyone takes turns choosing and creates their deck to play with (I realize this won’t make any sense to folks who aren’t familiar) Countless hours of affordable enjoyment!

      Unfortunately I was a few years too late to be around the really valuable cards. But I’ve met people who had these cards folded up inside backpacks and and threw out thousands of dollars!

      http://cnet.com/news/guy-opens-old-magic-the-gathering-deck-stumbles-on-27000-card/

      Reply
    • Alex April 6, 2016, 5:51 am

      Any fellow Hearthstoners out there? I got into it a while back, although I never did play Magic the Gathering, and now my son (5yo) has been getting into it as well. What I appreciate about it is that there’s no need to buy anything (assuming you have a computer). In fact, though I could easily afford to buy packs and fill out my collection, I feel that, if I really enjoy the game, I would still play it regardless, and the more you play, the more you improve, and the more cards you get for free anyway. It’s a virtuous cycle.

      While I initially just thought of it as a nice was to decompress a bit while simultaneously giving my brain a little exercise, I’ve come to appreciate it more after watching my son play. He doesn’t read in English yet, but he’s pretty well memorized all the card text (that’s a lot of text!) and I think it has actually sped up his mental math quite a bit, not to mention the amount of logic and reasoning it takes. We went to a local tournament the other day just for fun (cause we’re nerdy like that) and he actually won a couple games against folks 25 years older than him!

      Reply
  • Sandy April 1, 2016, 6:43 am

    As a longtime reader (but I seldom comment) I have to say: Dude!! You almost gave me a heart attack. My husband and I live a semi-retired lifestyle so I don’t pay much attention to the date… Until I actually read in your post it was April Fools today, I could almost cry…
    Now, I’m actually laughing out load and telling my husband about it. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:20 am

      Haha.. the classic retired person’s lack of date awareness. I really like when that happens to me.

      “I don’t always keep track of what day it is. But when I do, I prefer to find out it is a Monday”

      Reply
      • Hilary April 3, 2016, 10:55 pm

        I too suffer from lack of date awareness. However I had to laugh as I had only read a few paragraphs when “April fool” came to mind and I was surprised to find that indeed we had got to April already.

        Reply
        • Ralph2 April 4, 2016, 3:24 am

          Unfortunately due to the way the international date line is set it was already April 2 in OZ when the post came out. But I did go back up to check the post date.

          Reply
  • Gwen April 1, 2016, 6:44 am

    Hah! I always look forward to your April Fool’s article. No questions this time. Enjoy your day, Pete!

    Reply
  • Frugal in DC April 1, 2016, 6:50 am

    Always look forward to you April Fool’s posts. What wait in line for an “entry level” $35K Tesla when you can buy two fancier ones?! lol

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:26 am

      Confession: I watched the live-stream release party video for the Tesla Model 3 last night as Elon Musk announced it. I was really impressed. Quite a beautiful car and it would be a no-brainer to buy one if I had a valid use for such a luxurious electric racing wheelchair.

      The great thing about new car releases for a Mustachian is that they are a powerful exercise in self discipline. The Model 3 was announced today, but deliveries don’t even START until late 2017. Which will inevitably be delayed. We’ll call it mid-2018.

      Then you add in 3-4 years to wait for the first big round of these cars to start coming off of their leases with the first owners, so we can buy them in perfect condition for 50% off. This means that the true Mustachian Release date for the Model 3 is Spring 2022.

      That’s a long time to build your Self-Restraint muscle. It’s also the reason that people stuck with an unavoidable car commute right now should pick up a 2013 Nissan Leaf from Craigslist for 10 grand or so.

      Reply
      • Frugal in DC April 1, 2016, 10:12 am

        Yeah that’s the thing, coming up with a valid use for a Tesla. It floors me to think how many folks equate luxury with necessity.

        Reply
      • Zach April 1, 2016, 12:06 pm

        Yeah, my excitement for tesla and electric cars in general has been the hope that I can make our current vehicles last until used electrics are more commonplace. Six more years will be a challenge, but it’s a good goal.

        Reply
      • Scott April 2, 2016, 8:35 am

        In 2022, might as well pick up a 10-year-old Model S for $15k.

        I’d love to have an electric car, even a Leaf, but I rent an apartment and have no place to charge it.

        Reply
      • EV April 2, 2016, 12:13 pm

        Or you can now lease a Focus electric for about $50 a month in CA.

        http://leasehackr.com/blog/2016/3/27/californians-lease-a-ford-focus-electric-for-free

        Reply
  • Jonathan April 1, 2016, 6:51 am

    The nice thing about being well-off is that you can do what you like. MMM could in fact do all of these things, and still increase his wealth. The very rich do live in a way that most people would consider extravagant, but in fact spend a very small portion of their income and wealth.

    As one who is only moderately well-off, I am in a different position. Spending more might indeed get me into trouble, so I have to think carefully. I saved 50% when I worked, but as a retiree my savings rate is now a little lower.

    Reply
  • sig606 April 1, 2016, 6:55 am

    Good stuff.

    Next year actually shave the stache to sell the ruse completely. Maybe you can even raise some money doing it for charity and get your critics to pony up.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:29 am

      I did actually end up pretty embarrassingly hairless after that first picture (taken on a Florida beach in early Feb). The second picture represents the amount of pathetically slow regrowth that has happened since then. I’m not a real Mustache competitor, but I try my best with what I was given :-)

      Reply
  • Levi April 1, 2016, 7:03 am

    Hey MMM, I am a semi new reader (about a month or so) and have read about half of the posts. My question for you is, does Mrs. MMM get involved in a lot of the financials and tracking or do you just keep her up to date? do you (or did you before retirement) challenge each other to spend less or hit limits in order to keep spending down?

    My girlfriend and I are at the begging of this stage, we are renting while saving for a house and paying down student loans. She hasn’t started to get actively involved but is usually up for cutting costs (just got her to agree to cable cutting!).

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:39 am

      Awesome, Levi! It is much more fun if both people are on the same team and having fun with it.

      Mrs. MM got pretty motivated to save and invest more once she started her own separate Vanguard account back in the early 2000s. We didn’t have budgets or limits, we just aimed for “Maximum Fun / Minimum Pointless Waste” with every spending decision.

      Nowadays, neither of us pays any attention to money: the credit cards are on auto-pay, and we grab any necessities from either Craigslist (appliances, bikes) or Amazon (frying pan, spatula) as the need arises. Income comes in on auto-deposit, my accountant handles taxes and various filings, and I just sweep the surplus money into index funds to keep it at work.

      I will occasionally open the Personal Capital app on my phone and provide an update on income or net worth to her, and she says “That’s too much. What are we going to do with it?” A good question.

      If I ever started actually buying a bunch of fancy shit for myself, however, she would become involved and punch me in the face. She would know I was losing my mind.

      Related posts:
      Selling the Dream part 1 and 2:
      /2012/03/22/selling-the-dream-how-to-make-your-spouse-love-frugality/
      /2012/03/27/selling-the-dream-of-financial-independence-part-2/

      Is Adm Karpinsk Ruining your Marriage? (1 and 2)
      /2014/07/17/is-mr-money-mustache-ruining-your-marriage/
      /2014/07/30/is-mr-money-mustache-ruining-your-marriage-part-2/

      Reply
    • LennStar April 1, 2016, 8:55 am

      At one point Mr and Mrs decided to REALLY start saving together. MMM has written down the history somewhere but I cant remember which blog post.

      Reply
      • LennStar April 1, 2016, 8:56 am

        HE was faster then me reading article and comments :D

        Reply
  • caserole55 April 1, 2016, 7:06 am

    I would love to learn any strategies (either from MMM or the MMM community) for reducing dental costs. Our semi-annual cleanings are about $150, and my husband and I each need two crowns at $1500 each. MMM spent <$300 for a family of three. WOW!

    Reply
    • Robb April 1, 2016, 7:18 am

      Fly out of the country for the large procedures. Google “dental tourism”.

      Reply
      • SHK April 2, 2016, 4:28 pm

        I tried dental tourism. Sat in a dentist’s chair in Bogota, Colombia, December 2013, to get a new crown for about $300 vs. $1,400 that my dentist in Madison, Wisconsin, charges. Once the Colombian dentist bent over me with a drill in his hand and said “Let’s get started. Please open your mouth”, I got cold feet. I realized how close your teeth are to your brain.

        I postponed the procedure, got dental insurance through work (about $24/month out of my paycheck), and had my excellent Madison dentist put in a crown with a $680 co-pay the following year.

        To prevent the need for further crowns – like the MMM – I stay away from sugary food and drink, thoroughly brush and floss. I also see my dentist / hygienist once per 6 months, which is covered by my dental insurance.

        Reply
    • Anne April 1, 2016, 7:24 am

      We use a dental discount plan, which is different than insurance. It’s an annual fee and you get reduced rates on nearly everything. Even if my husband and I only get 2 cleanings each per year and don’t need any other work done, it pays for itself. Just make sure your dentist accepts it before you sign up.

      Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:43 am

      Robb has a good idea there.

      My “strategy ” (admittedly questionable and really just based on laziness) is just not going to the dentist very often. I’ve never had a cavity in my life, and the last time I went is in 2005, just before quitting my job that provided free awesome dental insurance.

      I’m really good at brushing my teeth though, and never consuming any sugary foods or drinks.

      We do take little MM every year in an attempt to be responsible parents. His teeth are great with no hint of cavities either. I’m telling ya, having no soda, candy, or juice in the house works wonders :-)

      Reply
      • jgoody April 1, 2016, 2:30 pm

        Oh no… Mr Money Mustache, I’m on board with pretty much your entire movement and it’s had a GREAT impact on my life, but as a dentist, I’m pretty disappointed in you here. It’s great that you’re bringing little MMM in, but you owe it to yourself to personally be seen more often than once a decade. While good home care and diet go a LONG way towards reducing the incidence of cavities, they don’t necessarily bring the incidence down to zero. For all you know, you may have a dozen cavities right now. And if you wait until they are noticeable to you, they may well need expensive things like crowns or root canals to fix.

        And that’s only talking about cavities – what about periodontal disease? And what about flossing? You could spend every waking hour brushing your teeth and you’d still only be cleaning half the areas that need cleaned. Floss floss floss.

        It’s critical for the lay public to know that even with perfect home care, perfect diet, sometimes cavities still happen – sometimes periodontal disease still happens. Only some of the variables are under your control. And if you wait for symptoms to emerge, the “fixes” are always more expensive and leave you less “in-tact” than if you had addressed the problems at the beginning.

        Caserole55 – $1500 is on the high end for a single crown. Prices vary a bit depending on region, but in most regions, $1500 seems high. Then again, if your dentist is very good, particularly conservative and prevention oriented, it may be money well spent. Buying a crown is not like buying a pair of shoes where you can get exactly the same product somewhere else further down the road. You are buying what YOUR dentist can produce. You might also (as JeffreyC mentioned) look into cash discounts.

        Robb – “dental tourism” can be a big gamble. While I’ve seen plenty of good dentistry from other developed countries, I’ve also had numerous patients come back with pretty shocking hack jobs. It’s particularly depressing when they come back and I find that half of what was done was unnecessary in the first place – we end up having to redo everything that was done, including trying to mitigate mutilation of previously healthy teeth.

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 5:33 pm

          I knew at least one Dentist would show up and get me in trouble for this. Jgoody, you’re not located in Longmont, CO are you? If so I’ll bike on down to your office for a cleaning.

          Reply
          • jgoody April 1, 2016, 11:56 pm

            Sadly, not in Longmont. It does sound dreamy though. Maybe some day.

            Reply
        • Steve S April 1, 2016, 7:32 pm

          jgoody,
          Wow, the usual dentist scare tactics. By the time you are MMM’s age you should know how often you need to go to the dentist. My dentist think I need to come in for a checkup once the earth has come one revolution around the sun. What does the earth’s speed have to do with my teeth? NOTHING. They have determined that they can extort insurance $ to pay one time per year. And, they like to repeat this message since it pays their bills.

          I go every 10 year or so. Never any problems. My wife needs to go regularly. She knows this and watches things closely. Please stop the scare tactics. We can cut down on insurance cost if we cut the BS about worthless checkups and x-rays.

          My dentist was always wanting to take x-rays of my young kids. Since I worked with and understand the problem with radiation, I asked for justification. The dentist could not provide this, it was just base on “recommendations” for dental health (I think of this as the way they pay for their expensive x-ray machines). I said NO.

          X-rays have very low resolution and only show up the worst kind of problems. You would probably be aware of any problem because of pain before an x-ray could detect a problem. So please say no to general x-rays until the dentist stands beside you while the x-ray is being taken. If they put a lead vest on you and leave the room, they are not “safe”. Any radiation is not good.

          Love the blog,
          Steve

          Reply
          • DrWillieMo April 3, 2016, 9:51 pm

            I 2nd what my colleague stated above. Floss, floss, floss once per day. I can promise you that I am not out to take radiographs ” to pay for expensive X-ray equipment”. We are advisors and hope for you to have and will teach you to have optimal dental hygiene. Radiographs are necessary in diagnosing dental decay and even more important in finding benign and malignant lesions of the maxilla and mandible but you can go ahead and delay your radiographs if you want, Steve. We just advise you to have the best. My ideal oral health care package includes: sonicare toothbrush, floss, and waterpik. And yes, please stay away from constant bombardments of sugar or your dentist will be out to “get you” again!

            Reply
            • Gerard April 5, 2016, 8:49 am

              I’ve never had a cavity in my life. I avoided the dentist for years because I was a mustachian by circumstance (i.e., I was poor!), and as a result my gums were crap. Now that I’ve had the expensive work I could have avoided by going earlier, my mouth feels so much better. So yeah, don’t go too long between visits!

              Reply
              • Shirley July 6, 2016, 9:10 pm

                You know, as the third dentist responding, I’m going to say, it’s not something that will KILL you if you LOSE your teeth (You can die from oral cancer though, and to a much lesser frequency, dental infections) but preventative care between a reasonable amount of time can benefit you. Teeth are in fact, optional. Chronic gum disease is nearly impossible to reverse, but you may stop the damage done through occasional visits. I don’t tell everyone that they need 2 cleanings and an exam every year followed with xrays, but I do tell them, xrays aid in the exam as they are just ONE form of diagnostic aid, especially for some people are higher risks (therefore, higher needs) than others. There are some people who do fine with just 1 cleaning every year or even 2 years (the younger ones, especially! Salivary flow and diet has a lot to do with it!)

                I love MMM’s guidelines and I would rather encourage frugality over preventative needs than to see patients spend $2000 on a crown and root canal. ;) Here’s my two cents, not that you need it.
                FLOSS EVERY TOOTH YOU WANT TO KEEP, waterpik plenty! Limit the sugar, acid and simple starches as well.

                Steve S has no idea what he’s talking about. First of, the xrays help in CERTAIN instances like cavities in between teeth and horizontal bone loss in the jawbone, and establishes any change over time. If you truly don’t want them that is YOUR choice but many practitioners do not go on too long without a set because we cannot accept the liability of things we cannot see clinically that would’ve otherwise shown on xray. None of us are trying to brainwash you, and none of us would care whether or not you stepped in the office, but if you develop a problem by chance, just don’t blame it on us. ;) **Also, I wouldn’t recommend tourism unless you accept the risk. I see some very shotty mexican and costa rican work these days…. Out of 20 foreign cases I probably see 1 good case. So it depends on who you choose.

            • TomTX April 17, 2016, 4:36 pm

              My dentist’s Xray found the jaw tumor (Ameloblastoma) I didn’t even know was there. The teeth above had just recently started to bother me a bit. Significant parts of the roots were already destroyed by the tumor.

              Reply
      • Sam April 2, 2016, 10:49 am

        I think you should visit a reputable dentist for a checkup and validate that you have no dental issues after not going for a decade and report back the results.

        Reply
      • Bee April 6, 2016, 11:38 pm

        Haha I have the same strategy. Last time I went to the dentist was 2 years ago and the visit before that was 16 years ago! Never had a filling or any dental issues.

        Reply
    • Jeffrey C April 1, 2016, 11:34 am

      I asked my long-time dentist this very same question since I wasn’t getting the rates that people with dental insurance were able to access. We arranged for me to get those same rates so long as I pay in cash at the time of the appt. Saves them credit card processing fees and insurance paperwork, so a big win-win.

      Reply
      • Reddleman April 1, 2016, 3:32 pm

        Dental tourism is definitely a thing. I met quite a few people in Costa Rica when we were there who were doing major work (bridges, crownwork, reconstructive, etc.) for way less than half of the regular U.S. price- often including travel and accommodations.

        There are also many places in Mexico which may be easier if you’re closer to the border.

        Reply
      • DA April 2, 2016, 5:11 pm

        In Canada, at least in Toronto, many dentists will give discounted rate for cash patients to help them out. Those rates are much lower than the insurance rate. You have to talk to the dentist though.

        Reply
      • Amelia April 2, 2016, 6:01 pm

        I am a long time reader and dentist, while I feel dental tourism can be economical, I often see terrible work that creates future problems when patients seek treatment in other countries (Mexico in particular.)

        If I had one piece of advice about keeping dental costs low it would be to avoid soda, energy drinks, and other acidic beverages like the devil. Brushing, flossing, fluoride and a low sugar diet go a long way.

        If you keep up with regular cheek ups and cleanings you can avoid costly root canals and crowns as you catch cavities when they are small. Many offices now have membership plans that can reduce costs for uninsured patients and we always will offer a cash discount for patients with out insurance too.

        Hope that helps.

        Reply
        • charles April 8, 2016, 7:39 am

          Survivorship bias at it’s best.

          Reply
    • Lisa April 1, 2016, 4:22 pm

      Is there a dental or dental hygiene school near you? The hygiene school I graduated from does cleanings for $30. It will take much more time, though (around three hours give or take). I assume there must be some worthwhile areas for dental tourism, but my only experience has been seeing patients with work done in Mexico that was less than ideal and needed to be replaced anyway.

      Reply
    • Neo April 2, 2016, 12:07 am

      I was quoted $1550 for a crown in Australia ( The oz dentist had her eye on a Tesla I think).

      I got it done for $400 in Vietnam including examination, scale and clean and full xrays.

      I holiday in Asia once or twice a year anyways so might as well get it done while there, if its not an emergency.

      Reply
    • caserole55 April 8, 2016, 6:53 am

      Many years ago, when I lived in San Francisco, I went to a Chinese dental practice that charged about half of the going rate. I knew that my Chinese neighbors would demand top notch care for a good price. I think I was their only Caucasian patient. I particularly loved the refrigerator magnet I got with a toothy cartoon and Chinese characters. (This same strategy worked for groceries, as my local Chinese supermarket had fresher food for great prices, compared to my Safeway).

      Reply
  • The Vigilante April 1, 2016, 7:23 am

    I didn’t realize there was a ludicrous speed setting on the Tesla! Have you – or Mrs. MMM – gone plaid?

    Reply
  • Kaytee April 1, 2016, 7:26 am

    Intrigued by the terrarium…for what?

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:45 am

      Little MM adopted some pet snails from the garden. They’ve even had babies!

      We keep them in a cool little habitat container with soil, rocks, dandelions, a little water area, etc.

      My first (and only) time having pets as an adult :-)

      Reply
      • Kaytee April 1, 2016, 9:10 am

        Conch-equences of pet adoptions!

        Reply
      • Vince Granacher April 1, 2016, 12:35 pm

        Can we expect some future home cooking where you are serving escargot?

        Reply
        • Kaytee April 1, 2016, 3:22 pm

          He may have to, if the snails end up slugging it out in some spectacular terrarium thunderdome experience.

          Reply
      • G-Dub April 1, 2016, 1:17 pm

        Check out the book “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating”. Good read and good tips on snail husbandry.

        Reply
      • SHK April 2, 2016, 4:30 pm

        Good thing snail ownership doesn’t cost nearly as much as dog ownership:)

        Reply
      • Brandon April 13, 2016, 6:29 pm

        Bro, no joke I’ve got a snail as a pet as well. Hahah my girlfriend and I received some succulents from friends in California, and a little snail stuck along for the ride. The succulents didn’t make it after being subjected to the Portland winter and eaten by the snail.

        Reply
      • Patricia April 14, 2016, 12:42 am

        Snail caviar fetches more money than beluga caviar so you might have a business opportunity there! ;)

        Reply
  • TheHappyPhilosopher April 1, 2016, 7:27 am

    I fell for these shenanigans once before MMM, but I’m now on to your April Fools day trickery!

    I am amazed each year at the efficiency of your spending. The take home message of your spending reports is that you can live a lifestyle well beyond what the numbers would suggest just by being ruthlessly efficient. I was initially a little shocked at the lack of homeowners insurance, but I do get it. It’s not really about the few hundred dollars, it’s about the freedom to not let a decision like that matter.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:47 am

      Right, and signing up for insurance takes WORK. So far, I’ve figured I should invest that time into finishing the house (and writing to you) instead. I’ll get that admin work done eventually.

      I’m much more ruthless about cutting off unwanted payments (just negotiated a lower cable internet bill after seeing the shocking figure while writing this article), than adding new payments (been shopping on Craigslist for a Leaf for almost a year, still haven’t found the right one).

      Reply
  • Robin April 1, 2016, 7:27 am

    Didn’t fool me for a minute, but loved the ruse! Enjoy your articles very much, and like that the content is so useful to everyone, no matter what you do. I drive a 14-year-old Honda (when absolutely necessary), and walk/bike/take public transport otherwise. Other than driving our clown cars, what change do you think the average Joe can make that’ll have the most impact on finances? Many thanks!

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 8:57 am

      I think my new theme for designing and efficient life might become “Live in the mile around your house”.

      When talking with friends at a party recently, I realized they live REALLY different lives than we do. They get up at 5am, take this kid to lessons and that kid to sports, then go to Yoga or the gym, then go to work, dash off to do something else with the kid or some volunteer thing or whatever.

      Then go to the mountains every weekend for snowboarding, take family vacations elsewhere. The typical high-income modern person is barely ever in his own home!

      In contrast, I get up, make some fancy coffee, do some writing and a few pushups and pullups, then my wife and boy wake up. I make them a fine breakfast, then they hang out to do some homeschooling while I go out for a walk or a bike errand.

      In the afternoons, little MM and I do physical or educational projects together, I might disappear for a few hours to go build things with friends or do a meeting with someone. Then I come home and make a fancy dinner. Friends might stop by to play in our backyard park for some frisbee, and maybe stay for beers or dinner I’ll start a fire in the woodstove, make a fine dinner, and maybe the family and I will all watch a nature documentary or a new Sci-Fi epic or something. Occasionally we’ll go off on a trip.

      The typical week varies a little with social events and such, but there is virtually no car travel and very few organized activities. We are much more freestyle than most and I generally dislike when stuff gets planned more than a week in advance. I’m much happier when I get to decide what to do RIGHT NOW.

      I’m definitely a weirdo by modern standards – to a rich person, this might sound is like a description of an alien lifeform’s habits. But it seems this is more like how humans have lived for most of our existence, and that might be why it is so satisfying at the deepest level.

      Reply
      • mike April 1, 2016, 5:30 pm

        MMM says: “Live in the mile around your house”.

        MMM, you’re onto something there. I’ve been giving that much thought lately too. How often I go in my car to go somewhere…well, to go somewhere. I would love to see a post about this. Certainly a subject I’ve never seen discussed.

        Reply
      • dubaych April 1, 2016, 8:54 pm

        I think it’s a bit disingenuous to dismiss out of hand the activities parents strive to provide for their children. I’m still figuring it out, but we are clearly living in a different world than the sand-lot fantasy in which we grew up. For me, as a child, local woods and a rec center were all I needed, particularly since that’s where all the other kids were. Not so today.
        So cut your friends some slack if they feel compelled to spend their weekends shuttling progeny from moderated activity to professionally coached play session. Calvin and Hobbes is the ideal, sure, but we don’t have Bill Watterson to sketch the panels.
        Ease up on folks consciously and reflectively providing the best they can for their kids.

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 2, 2016, 9:24 am

          I totally agree, dubaych – I have great respect for these friends of mine and the dedication they have to providing this action-packed life for their kids.

          I just meant to point out that it’s not the only way, and to show how I have realized I’m such an outlier while thinking my choices were “normal”

          I would however disagree that a kid’s life needs to be different today. Running free in the woods (while simultaneously getting an advanced and technology-rich education from his parents) will serve my son (and the kids he hangs around that do the same thing) very well.

          Reply
          • dbtx April 2, 2016, 10:33 am

            I agree with you totally on this. When I talk about retiring early my non-Mustachian friends with kids say “I’ll be working until I die”. They feel like they are bad parents if they don’t spend every dime of their dual income cash on their kids:
            – Club sports and professional coaching
            – Buying them every video game they want for getting good grades
            – Giving them cars as soon as they are old enough to drive
            – Paying for their college education
            – Carting them and their friends around in a new three row SUV

            In contrast my childhood was like this:
            – Left on my bike in the morning to explore the woods with friends and came back for dinner
            – Played city sports with volunteer coaches
            – Earned all my spending money mowing yards, washing cars, painting houses and doing chores
            – Didn’t own a car until junior year in college
            – Paid for my entire college education myself by working and taking loans

            As I result of this I went to graduate school, worked at NASA, earned six figures in IT and retired in my 40s

            Reply
            • dbtx April 2, 2016, 11:00 am

              Somehow my post got truncated..

              I think part of the perception that the world isn’t safe anymore for a kid to have a life like we had is mostly a result of the 24 hour news cycle and how quickly things spread online. I live in the suburbs of a large city and it is entirely possible here. If it didn’t I would move my kids to someplace it does or the worst case just provide some supervision for these same activities.

              Reply
          • dubaych April 2, 2016, 10:40 pm

            Oh, I get what you’re saying and I know you rely on hyperbole to make a point and that your outlook is not nearly as binary as you present it, so I should probably forget quibbling and drink the Flavor Aid.
            I just want to say that a busy weekend is not necessarily an “over-programmed” schedule and that, quite possibly, children getting this level of enrichment want it, might need it, and will benefit from it.

            Reply
          • Justin April 3, 2016, 10:08 pm

            I just finished reading a book titled, “Simplicity Parenting” that advocates eliminating a lot of the planned activities, TV, and too many toys. It is not that these things are always bad, but too much of any of them starves kids of freedom to explore and just be kids. We boxed up a bunch of fancy toys and our kids did not even notice they were missing. We then made the kids a sandbox. Now they spend hours digging holes and building mountains. Which is way more time than they spent with any of the fancy toys. Simpler can be better.

            Reply
      • Sherri April 3, 2016, 11:31 am

        I’m wondering how Mrs.MM is homeschooling. Do you guys do formal lessons or use a curriculum or anything? We homeschool also (younger than little MM), and would love to hear what more like minded people are doing.

        Reply
      • gizmonte April 8, 2016, 8:45 am

        “Live in the mile around your house”.

        Since discovering this blog (< 1 year ago), I have reshaped my life, and that of my family, to "live in the mile around my house." In addition to saving serious cash by adopting this value, I'm getting more exercise, experiencing less stress, and feel more connected to my community. Also discovering more nooks and crannies in the 'hood that are impossible to perceive while speeding through at high speeds in a car. Thank you for all you do MMM.

        gizmonte

        Reply
    • Yarrow April 1, 2016, 3:08 pm

      Food does make a huge difference, if you cook it from scratch yourself. We only buy tomato sauces and tuna in cans. We use dried beans and the crockpot a lot. I make gourmet breads twice a week for about .75 cents a loaf,
      and our own salad dressing and cereals. We only eat out when it feels like a treat and it rarely does. We don’t eat much meat by choice, but lots of fruits and vegetables. We buy our eggs and chicken (rarely) from a local
      guy. Out of curiosity I checked the Cencus budgets for foods and discovered that we were in the deprived
      category, and we eat great!

      Reply
  • Travis April 1, 2016, 7:31 am

    I agree with you MMM, I’m quitting this whole “early retirement” thing. It totally sucks being poor http://millennialmoola.com/2016/04/01/i-am-tired-of-being-poor-so-i-am-going-back-to-work/

    Reply
  • Larry Green April 1, 2016, 7:34 am

    Great to hear! It’s refreshing to finally hear you make the leap into the 21st century! Nobody wants to live such a deprived life forever! Glad to see that you are bathing in material possessions now like all good people should.

    Oh, and HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY! This one gave me a good laugh

    Reply
  • Tyler April 1, 2016, 7:34 am

    What about blog-related expenses? Since running the blog itself is essentially free, any other expense is purely an extension of you since this blog is mainly focused on lifestyle. I think it would be fair to at least share these expenses since you and the blog are virtually synonymous.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 3, 2016, 8:56 am

      Hi Tyler,

      Yeah, I think it would be fun to do a post in the future on our full business expenses and income.

      The spending related to the blog is very small (other than direct expenses like attorney, hosting, acccounting and developer costs). The “lifestyle” spending is boring stuff like a conference or two, although it still gives me pleasure to buy myself a nice burrito on the company credit card while walking down the streets of San Francisco.

      Reply
  • Chris April 1, 2016, 7:35 am

    MMM,

    Home workouts. What kind of exercise are you guys doing in addition to lots of biking?

    Are you using equipment? What kind? Assuming that you bought it on craigslist? :)

    –Chris

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 9:04 am

      Hi Chris,

      I’ve got the standard olympic barbell style free weights with an adjustable bench and a squat rack. Right now they’re in a cozy nook in the back patio area because I don’t have room inside. I actually bought the stuff new at Costco about 15 years ago:
      /2011/05/17/get-rich-with-olympic-barbells/

      Then I have a pull-up area mounted to the wall inside, a jumping box, kettle bell, curling bar.

      Other fitness favorites include chopping huge amounts of wood for the stove, shoveling snow after storms, digging for stuff like irrigation systems and gardens, and sprinting in the park (sometimes I get “free” sprinting as part of the daily frisbee games my son and I are into these days).

      Reply
      • Jordan April 1, 2016, 11:22 am

        MMM,
        I’m assuming you do “crossfit” style workouts, based on the equipment you have and past articles I’ve read. Out of curiosity, do you not go to a crossfit gym strictly because of the cost? Is it a time commitment issue? Or is it just because you truly enjoy working out by yourself? Excluding the cost, a crossfit membership seems like something you would enjoy… no frills, no climate control, no treadmills, no TV’s, extremely challenging, etc.

        I’ve been a member at a crossfit gym on an off for a few years, with the main reason for stopping each time being the cost. The typical story goes, I sign up for a few months, see huge improvements in my strength/fitness, then start telling myself….”I can do this at home for free.” But then, after working out for a month or two at home alone, I find that I just don’t have the same drive/intensity as I do when I actually go to a crossfit gym, and I eventually sign back up and the cycle continues. I’m I making excuses? Should I just go ahead and shave off my mustache? Or would you ever give anyone a pass for this expense?
        -J

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 12:38 pm

          Hey Jordan,

          I think if you find the group environment motivating and it gives you better results, and you can afford it, paying for crossfit can be worthwhile.

          For me, I REALLY love lifting alone or with just invited friends. I hate pre-made schedules and really hate people dispensing advice when I’m doing my work. So it’s just a personality difference thing.

          To get the benefits of both, you could open up your DIY Xfit garage to friends and have regular workouts for everyone following the official workouts on the crossfit website. We did this quite a bit at the previous house.

          Reply
          • Sandra April 2, 2016, 7:57 pm

            I noticed Mrs. MMM is not doing cross fit anymore. She might want to check out fitnessblender.com for some great workouts. I stopped using a gym membership over a decade ago and do circuit training in the living room or nearby park instead. fitnessblender is one of my go-to websites for home workouts to keep things interesting.

            Loved this post…I almost started believing the Tesla’s but then it was so off the wall I knew it couldn’t be true!

            Reply
      • mike April 2, 2016, 4:38 pm

        Wondering what squat rack do you have, mike

        Reply
  • Jeremy April 1, 2016, 7:45 am

    Nice one MMM! Fortunately last year gave me a heads up for this year. How do you choose what to spend on your son? I have one getting close to 3 and a girl close to 1 and with my engineering background I have a hard time not dropping a bunch on giant Meccano or K’Nex sets, buying him more books than he could read (in addition to the library of course) or going completely nuts and buying something like a Cubetto. Fortunately with no cable television we don’t have to worry about ads making him want completely useless toys. We’re already planning on getting him a balance bike to get that started early. Thanks for the continued motivation!

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 3, 2016, 8:53 am

      Hi Jeremy,

      I don’t worry too much about efficiency when it comes to educational stuff for my boy. We just make a point of cleaning up the surplus at the end (selling on Craigslist or giving it to younger kids) so the house doesn’t fill up to the ceiling.

      We go through library books by the backpack load, but he also has a very fine computer in his room with good amp and speakers for making music. A full VEX IQ robotics set plus the expansion pack. Loads of LEGO. Board games and books. Software for audio and video editing. Even a smartphone these days. Oh, and I bought him a new Giant XTC JR Disc mountain bike – brand new because I couldn’t find a good enough bike in the 24″ wheel size on Craigslist.

      All told, however, it’s only a couple thousand dollars – less than many people spend on cars and driving in 2 months. Not a budget-breaker and part of a hyper-educational childhood as long as you are conscious about each decision.

      Reply
    • Dave April 6, 2016, 12:09 am

      I’m all over the K’Nex for my 3.5 y/o. I didn’t go crazy with looking, but I couldn’t find great sources for used k’nex, so I went the Amazon route and don’t regret it for a moment — I’ve spent hours and hours playing with them with my daughter. She might tell you I play with them more than she does, but shhh. Lego and duplo, though, you can get in big unsorted bags by the pound on ebay (and probably elsewhere). It’s a lot more fun than buying the new “you can make only one thing! ONE THING!” box sets with hyper-customized pieces.

      I’ll add, though, that we’ve also found an amazing source of building materials: Cardboard boxes. We’ve built houses with them, made her a “car” that she loves to drive around the house, you name it. You can do quite a bit of structural engineering with them, and then paint/tape/stickers/whatever. We’re probably a bit box-heavy around here because of our extreme reliance upon delivery services (google express here delivers from costco for free, and takes any rewards card you throw at it, and our bike trailer isn’t very high capacity.)

      Pro tip: K’nex and cardboard go well together. That’s how we made her kitchen stove and microwave. :-)

      Reply
      • caserole55 April 8, 2016, 7:06 am

        Two favorite things we got for our son’s creative play – a 5′ x 7′ green rug and a 12 foot long swath of blue fabric. The green rug became earth, the blue fabric was draped to be ocean, lake, waterfalls or river. He and his friends created magical scapes with blocks, rocks, plastic animals and dinosaurs, etc.

        Reply
  • Jake April 1, 2016, 7:46 am

    Mike, it went to 18,000 in 2015 (stayed for 2016 as well)

    Reply
  • Gary April 1, 2016, 7:57 am

    Hi MMM,
    I have been reading your blog since September last year and since then I have cut the cord from the cable company, eradicated 3 credit card debts, built a small contingency fund of 4 months worth of mortgage payments, and two days ago returned my lease car to the company at the end of the agreement. In the next few months I plan to grow my contingency fund to cover all household expenses for 6 months. After that I will feel ready to begin investing my money into a Vanguard FTSE UK All Share Index Accumulation fund (as I am in the UK and do not yet have the required £100,000 to invest with Vanguard directly).
    My question is, how did you go about investing in the early days? Were you making frequent and regular contributions to your Vanguard fund? Or were you investing lump sums? Or were you even investing small amounts on a daily basis for example if you managed to save some extra money here and there?

    Thanks for your inspiration you have already changed my life for the better.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 3, 2016, 8:47 am

      Hi Gary, congratulations!

      In the early days, both the lady and I were pretty excited about investing.

      After each paycheck (every 2 weeks), we’d log into the bank accounts, check how much spare money was sitting around in there while allowing enough cushion to make sure the mortgage and credit card auto-pay would go through easily, then we would dump the rest straight into Vanguard funds.

      By keeping the bank account empty, it helped protect against impulse purchases. Although I wasn’t perfect: in 2001 I got a bonus from work, and ran out and bought a brand-new Honda VFR800 motorcycle for almost $10,000. Sold it in roughly 2007 for $5k, so that bit of consumerism has been ended :-)

      Reply
  • KMB April 1, 2016, 8:00 am

    Are you going to CNU in Detroit? June 8-11. Host a meetup!

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 9:09 am

      Hi KMB – I have not heard of this thing, so probably not. It’s tough to balance all these travel opportunities with my desire to hang out at home most of the time. But thanks for the suggestion!

      Reply
  • Tonya April 1, 2016, 8:00 am

    ha ha I knew in the title this had to be a joke, but it does go to show the slippery slope that one can slide down when you start earning more income. I hope that Manhattan Beach meetup wasn’t an April Fool’s joke though, since I live one town over and plan on coming!

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk April 1, 2016, 9:10 am

      Excellent – that part is real, see you there Tonya!

      Reply
  • Mark Ferguson April 1, 2016, 8:01 am

    I haven’t posted for a while, but I enjoyed this post. Congrats on the success and finally learning how to live life! Just kidding. I will say there are more ways than one to be happy. I have thouroughly enjoyed the Lambo over almost two years and cars aren’t always a bad investment. I bought it for 126k and it is worth about $225k now. Debt is not always bad either. I have used debt on my cars and houses to buy more houses. I figured the 350k or so I spent to buy 16 rentals over the last 5 years has turned into 1.5 million in equity and $8,000 a month in income. I have gotten lucky with the Colorado market, but great deals has also helped.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

To keep things non-promotional, please use a real name or nickname
(not Blogger @ My Blog Name)

The most useful comments are those written with the goal of learning from or helping out other readers – after reading the whole article and all the earlier comments. Complaints and insults generally won’t make the cut here, but by all means write them on your own blog!

connect

Last Links:

welcome new readers

Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the Android app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Adm Karpinsk

latest tweets