370 comments

Making Space for Badassity

teahouseIf you’re going to become rich, you need to either earn way more money than you spend, or spend way less money than you earn.

This is the basic math of it, which even the worst complainypants cannot dispute. The whining usually starts when Adm Karpinsk starts talking about how to implement the ideas above.

For example, observe the following simulated but very typical conversation as I counsel Joe and Josephine Consumer on how to escape from their current situation (buried under a mountain of debt with no hope for retirement before 75), and instead reach early retirement before their young kids even finish high school.

Adm Karpinsk:

So, Joe, you tell me it’s hard to pay the bills. But I can’t help but notice this 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 4×4 pickup in the driveway of your home here in the suburbs. That was a $40,000 truck when you bought it on credit. It costs 8 times more than any reasonable vehicle given your financial situation, consumes 3 times the fuel, and depreciates twice as fast.

It’s like pointing a firehose of your hard-earned cash, straight at your toilet while holding the flush lever down, 24 hours a day. So we’ll need to sell that on Craigslist – tonight.

Joe Consumer:

But…But… All my friends at the law firm will think I’m a sissy if I show up with a little Honda Fit! Plus, I need a reliable vehicle because I have to drive to meet clients. And I once hauled a dishwasher with this thing, and was thinking of getting a boat to tow with it since we’re looking at buying a cottage this year.. Plus, I’m underwater on the truck: the loan is bigger than what any dealer would give me for it, and I’ve never bought or sold anything on Craigslist before because I’m scared of talking to strangers and don’t know who I can trust, and (voice fades into background)…

MMM: Right. Well, guess what? None of this matters, because you won’t even be driving to work any more – that’s a sucker’s move. Y’all are moving to a smaller house within 8 miles of your workplace, and biking to work from now on. As a bonus, that’s right next to the university where Josephine teaches, so she can walk to work.

Josephine Consumer: Now hold up Adm Karpinsk. We’re all settled in this house in the suburbs. Plus, our kids are starting school soon and this school district is better than the one downtown. And I’m not walking to work – winters are cold and slushy here. Nor am I biking around town with my kids – I don’t even have a suitable bike and it’s dangerous to ride bikes in the United states and (fades out)….

MMM: Got it. So anyway, we’ll start cleaning up and staging your house tonight so we can have it photographed for sale next week. You’ll start by moving to a rental downtown, since renting is a better deal than buying here in Expensiveville. Later, you can buy a fixer-upper four plex and renovate it yourself over the next few years as you develop your DIY skills. Also, why the hell do I hear your air conditioner running in the background when it’s only 80 degrees outside, while you keep the daylight out with curtains and use antique 60 watt heaters instead of LED bulbs to light your indoors? And why is your clothes dryer running simultaneously as this beautiful sunshine shines down upon your back porch? This casual waste of electricity is burning about $15,000 of your wealth per decade.

We’ll fix this, then move on to your food, entertainment, child-raising activities, vacations, phone service, and soon enough you’ll have a reasonable 60% after-tax savings rate and be set to retire in your 30s.

J+J (in unison): Gaaah! We can see your wisdom, Mustache, but this is all too much for us. We’re not really in good enough physical condition to ride bikes. We don’t even know how to change a faucet, let alone DIY-renovate a 4-plex. The kids are crying, dogs are barking, our garage is piled high with boxes and broken items, and we have daycare schedules, trips coming up for friends weddings, golf games and happy hours, ski passes and TV series to watch. There is just no time to handle all these changes you want us to make!

Mustache (turning to face you, the audience)

See, this is what it really all boils down to: Time. Energy. Mental and physical overload. When your life is already overfilled, it is very difficult to gain the power to make the major, positive changes you need to actually get somewhere.

In other words, if you want to create more wealth and happiness in your life, you might need to clear some space for it first.

The MMM Family’s Secret Frugality Weapon

When people encounter this site for the first time, they usually see my family’s $25,000 annual spending number and assume that we have an extremely frugal lifestyle. “My family could never be as radical as those guys – Mustache’s ways are extreme!”, they say, “but we’ll implement a few small changes in our own way.”

This frustrates me to no end, because I don’t even try to save money any more – all I see is an abundance of luxury in every direction when I gaze out my kitchen window. But I’ve recently come to realize there is one way that we are extreme when compared to other families of similar background: we schedule a lot less stuff into our lives.

While others will buy an unlimited annual ski pass and ride the mountains every weekend, I’ll get a four-pack and make a single weeklong trip with my friends. Others will buy a cottage and split their time between two houses, I’m happy with one. While others will start with a cat, then have a kid, then adopt a dog, then another dog, then create second, third, and fourth kids, I’m feeling plenty busy with just my boy.

None of this is done with money in mind – it is done out of a desire for balance, free time, and a safety margin in life. By keeping our non-negotiable commitments to only 50% of our time, we leave the other 50% open for growth, self-development, and an ability to work much harder to deal with the black swan events that life inevitably serves up. While others might imagine we’re missing out on life by not stacking it up with more activities, I feel we’re allowing ourselves just the right amount of space to actually live it. And of course, the side effect this has on the money side has been very large as well.

I think this difference in life planning style might boil down to my slightly compulsive tendency to think of future consequences. When I was a 26-year-old deciding between BMW and 401(K) as the destination for each financial windfall, I always chose the more responsible option because I predicted my future self would appreciate it. Even today, when I open the fridge at dinnertime and face the tempting selection of ice-cold Colorado microbrews laid out in front of me, I usually leave them untouched, not because I don’t crave one, but because I don’t want the future me to have to deal with a flabby beer belly.

The same thought process applies when I consider signing up for a big future commitment,  like a busy weekend trip or yet another well-meaning project related to this blog, or even adopting  a cat: sure, it sounds lovely in theory, but will my future self appreciate having that much time taken away from him, when he might have other plans?

Of course, you can take future fixation too far and end up with a boring life today, but I correct for this by imagining a future me regretting a boring youth, and do my best to strategically misbehave at optimal levels today. So far, so good as I do not lead an overly pure or monk-like life.

Getting back to the point: To become richer, you need to make changes in your life. But changes take effort, and to perform this effort you’ll need to free up the time and energy to become powerful enough to do it.

How to Make Space for Badassity

When find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. In the world of gaining more leverage over your own life, this means to stop adding complexity. To get you started, here are a few tips from my own book of rules.

Discover the Power of No

 For the next several weeks, say NO to all optional plans which are outside of biking distance of your house. If you don’t have a bike, make that walking distance. You need to start focusing your lifestyle on your local radius. Try having a weekend with nothing planned except catching up on things around the house and exercising right within your neighborhood.

Next time someone other than your very closest friends or family invites you to a distant wedding, make up an excuse and give yourself the gift of staying home instead. Save that energy for the people nearer and dearer to you – including yourself.

Institute a “Purchase Procrastination Program”

Pause any and all research and shopping trips besides food, and make do with the things you have at home. If you have a vacation coming up, promise yourself you’ll get that special purchase made after the vacation instead of before it. If you’re working on a major life goal, delay the purchase until after you achieve it.

Clean, Cancel, and Declutter

By now, you’ll already start having more free time. Use it to attack your garage, your closet, your kitchen junk drawer. Sell stuff on Craigslist, recycle, give away, and trash anything not important to you. Note the new breathing space that opens up in your mind, and even your lungs.

And of course, if you haven’t done so already, cancel cable TV and stop consuming the daily news.

Sharpen the Saw

The most efficient thing you can ever do with your time, is to make yourself a better person. So spend some of your new free, quiet time by starting each morning with a 45 minute walk in the quietest local area you can find. If you’re already knowledgeable in weight training, do a bit of it each day. If not, at least do some push-ups and Yoga for now. Learn about basic meditation, and do it.

And Then,

If you follow these steps, within a week or two you will have roughly doubled your free time and energy, which gives you the power to start really making the more difficult changes.

Sell your expensive cars and replace them with efficient ones from the mid-2000s or before. Get a bike. Find a smarter place to live that is closer to work, or a smarter place to work that is closer to home (and get a raise for yourself while you’re at it – the US labor market is quite literally at its strongest point in most of our lifetimes).

Look through this blog’s list of all posts and implement all of the ideas from the early articles, one by one and watch how your life expenses peel away.

None of this is all that difficult – at this point hundreds of thousands of people, many with far fewer advantages than yourself, have done exactly this and have drastically changed their lives for the better.

If you’ve been poking around here on this site for a while and, still find that major change and plentiful surplus money is in short supply, stop struggling and start by slowing down.

  • aleksey July 13, 2016, 2:45 pm

    You write great man! They should teach this stuff at schools :)

    Reply
    • Dividend Growth Investor July 13, 2016, 3:26 pm

      The sad part is that very few students would really apply themselves to learn the concept of basic personal finance, even if it is taught in schools. Ask yourself, do you remember much from high school? Many people do not take everything seriously until later in life..

      However, those few souls might be able to learn and really improve their lives for the better.

      Reply
      • Stockbeard July 13, 2016, 4:49 pm

        I can confirm I never had a single hour of “basic personal finance” taught to me in school. If it was actually a thing, I’m sure I would remember at least bits of it.

        Of course, a teacher who shows up to explain to you how you’ll be able to ditch work at age 30 is probably not the kind of message that schools would be able to convey…

        Reply
        • desk_jockey July 13, 2016, 5:53 pm

          I can remember basic personal finance being taught in school, particularly class exercises in the 6th grade where for a few weeks we worked with imaginary budgets simulating starting our lives as adults. My two clearest memories were (1) choosing to spend half of my income on a car and associated expenses (what self-respecting 6th grade boy doesn’t plan to drive a Ferrari when he’s out on his own), and (2) figuring out how to counterfeit the colored construction paper rectangles that served as money in the lessons.

          I’m pleased to say that I gained a little more wisdom by the time I got out on my own and never attempted to replicate the experience.

          Reply
          • The Long Haul Investor July 13, 2016, 8:25 pm

            I’ve talked about this with people and it seems the majority never had personal finance training. Even some accountants and finance types don’t fully get it. Yes sad. It always seemed to me school taught more about things I really didn’t need on a daily basis.

            I think if this was taught at some point in high school it might stick a bit more. It should definitely be a requirement for a 1 credit hour seminar while in college. In my opinion it should be required at the high school and college level.

            To many people graduate with the slightest idea on how to run their household finances. I think the knowledge would stick more than people realize. I’m sometimes amazed at what I remember from high school or college. Sometimes just a quick refresher is more than enough to get me back on 100%.

            Reply
            • Ali July 14, 2016, 11:02 pm

              I had a personal finance class of sorts in eight grade. I remember one lesson where our teacher was preaching about how evil credit cards were, then our next assignment was to purchase a car with a certain amount of money….we had to find out payment options, etc. I didn’t understand how, in the EIGHTH grade, I understood car payments were just as “evil” as credit cards, but my teacher didn’t. Then she got pissed at me for wanting to buy the cheapest car I could find and invest the rest. I think my dad did a better job at teaching me personal finance than the class, so I’m not sure classes are the answer here.

              Reply
            • Jim Wang July 15, 2016, 5:00 am

              I’ve never had it. School teaches you how to go to more school and then to college, where you can learn how to be like everyone else and work in a factory. (whatever that factory may be, not necessarily a manufacturing center)

              I don’t think it would stick if taught in school. How many other things were taught in school and didn’t stick? :)

              Reply
              • The Long Haul Investor July 15, 2016, 11:53 am

                Ali I’m sorry your teacher felt that way. I bet their financial situation was in bad shape. Teaching in school obviously assumes a few things. It would be taught correctly and without bias are a couple. Obviously easier said than done. Additionally the timing of when it’s taught is imperative. Either your last year of high school, and at least 1 credit hour in college which is already filled with a lot of other useless items.

                Jim not all school is useless. There are good and poor aspects as with everything in life. School is what you decide to make of it. I never liked it myself but I used it to my advantage when I could. That means taking the opportunity to learn what I wanted when it was offered.

                Note I never said it was the only solution. Nor that it would be guaranteed to “stick”. Even if it makes a difference for 25% of people that’s a baby step in the right direction.

              • Jim Wang July 17, 2016, 5:38 am

                Long Haul – I never said it was useless :)

              • Jamie July 22, 2016, 8:34 am

                I remember having simulations with finances in school when I was a kid. It never really stuck because I did not see or care about the value of those simulated experiences at the time.

                I have never been bad with money, but when things really stuck in my head starting to matter was when I was completely on my own with basically no help forced to sink or swim. It forced me to find ways to survive that most people think are extreme.

            • Monk July 30, 2016, 12:08 pm

              If Colleges required students to take a course in personal finance, they may have fewer defaults on student loans.

              But then again, if college students understood personal finance, they wouldn’t be willing to pay stupidly high tuition while getting a major in Sociology or Art History. It may be in Universities’ best interest to keep students ignorant of personal finance.

              Reply
        • mp July 14, 2016, 4:20 am

          This is just the kind of teacher that schools should have, it would be awesome and inspirational stuff. In fact, early retirees, why not do a part time teaching gig and spread your wisdom and knowledge? the world needs you! (and as most of you are probably pretty handy at tech, doubly so, c’mon!)

          Reply
          • lurker July 16, 2016, 10:47 am

            brilliant idea….teach America! the right stuff

            Reply
        • Jared July 14, 2016, 3:55 pm

          I had a great teacher in high school who did his best to teach students about the difference between wants and necessities, tracking (and minimizing) spending, and investing in stock mutual funds. I earned a $5,000 scholarship based on in-class achievement and leadership activity. The scholarship money was invested in a mutual fund which could either be used for college expenses upon graduation from college or retirement. This teacher taught me a lot, maybe this was unusual, but I’m very thankful for this experience ten years later. I agree that the world needs more teachers like this. Although, I have never appreciated this experience more in my life than I do now after living independently from my parents for ten years and learning responsibility from my own mistakes and achievements. I think this is how most people who come to care about personal finance learn how to handle money responsibly, through experience. Those that care most take time to read and learn on their own from other teachers like MMM.

          Reply
      • Dan July 13, 2016, 10:48 pm

        I wonder about this sometimes. I was taught about compound interest in high school, maybe even late middle school, and understood it immediately on a surface level. But without the experience of actually having a job and trying to amass wealth, I didn’t get how powerful it was until I found MMM in the first year after graduating college.

        It might be, though, that better messaging could help it stick for more people. The lesson from compound interest always seemed to be, “Start saving young, kids!” Much less sexy than “You could stop working after 10 years!” even if they are really the same thing.

        Reply
        • Jim Wang July 15, 2016, 5:03 am

          I think different people are motivated by different things. I was always a long term consequences type of guy, which is why MMM resonates with me, and an engineer so you show me compound interest and I’m like “wow, on board with that!”

          But most don’t biologically develop that long term thinking until they are well into their 20s sometimes and by then you can rack up a ton of debt…

          I say mix up the messaging and whatever sticks with an individual is the best approach, that’s why the internet is so great, so many perspectives.

          Reply
          • Nuke July 21, 2016, 5:15 pm

            Very good point, Jim. We appreciate your posts.

            Reply
        • Pengepugeren July 16, 2016, 3:45 pm

          This stuff is often taught as just math – “If you borrow $X at Y% annual interest and pay $Z per month, when will you have paid off the loan and how much you have paid in interests?”. You do the math problem and move on without having actually learned anything about money.

          Reply
          • Aaron July 20, 2016, 10:00 am

            I wonder if it would resonate better with some if it was also taught as social justice.

            You do something bad that gives you X points of bad karma, so you are thrown in jail. You cannot leave jail until you have 0 bad karma. 1 good karma cancels out 1 bad karma. You accumulate more karma at Y% annually. If you do enough good deeds to generate Z points of good karma perm month, how long until you are out of jail? How much good karma would you have had to generate to end up with 0 karma?

            Alternatively, you can start out with 0 karma, and do good deeds to create a stockpile of goodness. If you ever do something bad to generate bad karma, you can cancel it out with good karma you’ve saved up and avoid going to jail.

            So see the lesson here? Jail = debt. Stockpile of goodness = savings. Stockpile of goodness helps you avoid jail just like savings help you avoid debt.

            Reply
            • Trevis July 29, 2016, 12:13 pm

              I like the social justice aspect, but I would probably frame it differently. It seems like my teenager is hyped up about how the corporations are evil and overpowered. So, I told her to take the power away from them by not buying their stuff (or buying as little as possible). I also let her know that she could work her way out of them having control over her by gaining financial independence. Suddenly, she’s asking about budgeting and how she can save more of her money! She is even asking me why not everyone does this. I told her that is a great question for her mom (who spends most of the money).

              Reply
              • Linda October 16, 2016, 1:00 pm

                That’s it Travis… Everyone has their pain point and “why”. What I have not seen in the comments yet is parents like you who are spending the time with their children and finding ways to relate these values to them. Values like finances and lifestyles are mostly caught, not taught. Until the kids have their own lightbulb moment they may hear what you say but won’t care much about it until they can see how it relates to themselves. That’s how we reach our kids.

      • Jackie July 14, 2016, 3:35 am

        I’m not so sure. I remember the #1 complaint of kids who hated math and it was “I’m never going to use this.” Maybe if they were given the option of a personal finance class there would be a lot more interest since there’s a real world application. I took a class in college called “Math for the Modern World” where we learned about compound interest and mortgages along with other basic math and I just remember thinking “THIS is what I needed to be taught in high school!”

        Reply
        • Mike July 14, 2016, 2:39 pm

          It’s a larger challenge than just presenting the material, because teenagers are inherently bad at see the long term picture. Their decisions are short sighted and they have so little life experience to relate new knowledge to. It’s hard to learn about the long term effects of credit on a household budget when you have no expenses and have never paid a bill. This is a topic that parents are MORE responsible for than schools. It would be great if schools had better programs, but these are life lessons that need to be taught continuously from an early age.

          Reply
          • Dave C July 15, 2016, 9:50 am

            Well said Mike, Jackie.

            Although we can’t change certain inherent things about young humans, we can at least teach them useful things from a young age – giving them at least the ability to use them. Teaching a “History of Economics” course in high school would give students an understanding of what money is and how it is used.

            I often wish I was taught more practical things in high school. I hear some schools are teaching bike mechanics now – strip a whole bike, figure out how it works, and put it back together. Now that is my kind of education!

            Reply
        • The MAD Consultant July 15, 2016, 7:37 pm

          I remember saying that to my Math teacher once. In response he made me write a paper that he even read aloud to the class. I cringe now when I use the formulas I was taught that year to be so shortsighted as a teenager. Yes teenagers think differently, but that does not mean all is lost on them forever. That lesson he taught me has stuck forever.

          I too wish a lot of different things were taught in school. In fact when I help people with their finances I’m sometimes amazed at what simple concepts(and info) seem far-fetched to them. I just recently sat with someone as they talked to their banker about a mortgage refi simply because they wanted someone else there who understood what was being talked about. They were also concerned about being taken advantage of, and not making the right decision with all the options presented. All simply because they didn’t feel confident enough in their ability to understand financial topics.

          Heck I’d be happy if they all knew enough to put me out of a job because it means the world is smarter and better off.
          When I talk to kids in high school I tell them – “There is more knowledge out there than what you are given inside these walls. Its up to you to find it”
          When I talk to young people just coming out of college this is what I tell them – “Now your real education starts”

          Reply
          • Zinnia July 22, 2016, 11:50 am

            Re: the mortgage refi meeting you helped with — Yeah, but what a smart person to ask you to sit in with them! In my experience it’s a pretty big thing to admit you don’t trust yourself to make the best decision and seek a second opinion from someone you respect. When my late-teen, early-20s sons ask for help from more-knowledgeable people I know they are taking a step forward in maturity. Actually, I see a parallel there to rejecting consumerism — you’re golden when you stop caring about how you look to others and instead focus on the results or life you want. Maybe your friend will get inspired to learn more about the things you’ve obviously got a handle on.

            Reply
            • The MAD Consultant July 26, 2016, 1:57 pm

              Zinnia,

              Yes it is flattering, but just part of what I do. I hope they do find the time to learn more. There is a saying that I believe goes like this. “When you stop learning it is time to die”. I firmly believe in that statement.

              As for younger people I think it’s a valuable piece of experience to seek out advice from other well informed people. Those that seek a guide I have observed like being better prepared and informed. A valuable trait. I follow that path to this day as I always seek people who know more than me to learn from. It’s great for you to see how your children take steps in the right direction themselves. They will be well rewarded, and so will you with great memories..

              When MMM was recommended to me by a friend a couple years ago I was intrigued. Especially since they mentioned how we seemed to be similar types of people. At that point I was beginning to bike again, and MMM put the transition on turbocharge. It opened up my eyes again to the benefits and possibilities. Instead of using the bike for only certain things I realized I could do it for everything. Just another example of how learning(and sometimes re-learning) is a never ending process.

              I guess while on the subject(of consumerism and learning) we should not forget to learn from our ancestors. A lot of valuable information in history. When I took to time to learn more about Native American’s I came across some interesting knowledge. For one they actively eschewed consumerist style ways of life, and preferred to not spend their time collecting belongings. Coincidentally this allowed them to pursue spending more time on their personal care, appearance, etcetera, and not just their general survival. All this continued even after coming in contact with European ways.They were some of the first anti-consumerists based upon the lifestyle they chose to live. The plains tribes also had a saying – “The richest person in the tribe was the one with the least.” Due to the fact it was customary and noble to give away your excess to those less fortunate. It’s my assumption MMM is a Native admirer also.

              Reply
      • Alexandra July 19, 2016, 1:20 pm

        I am a high school teacher at a private school with a lot of license to create my own curricula and courses. I’ve put in plans to teach a semester-long personal finance class every year for the last five years. It is always turned down.

        After five years, I understand why. This stuff is HIGHLY emotionally-charged. Being a Mustachian would, for most of the students at my school, necessitate them not going to the school where I teach. Most of their families lead extremely anti-Mustachian lives, as evidenced by the expensive cars pulling up at the school every day and extensive extra curricular activities the students participate in.

        I taught at a public school for eight years before my current job. I think a financial planning class in either setting would be as controversial as sex ed, maybe more so. You would have to be extremely careful about teaching in an unbiased way and just laying out facts about here’s how to budget, here’s what compound interest is, here’s how debt works…it would have to be very “just the facts”.

        I see commenters on financial blogs complain all the time about the lack of financial education in schools, but the truth is it is a very touchy subject–a huge potential can of worms. I can see why schools don’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole.

        Reply
        • Ellie July 20, 2016, 12:17 pm

          How terribly sad. It’s as if the System is threatened by this knowledge and therefore it must not be taught. ;)

          Reply
          • David Wendelken July 24, 2016, 9:27 am

            Actually, the system feels threatened by the parents who will be threatened by this knowledge…

            Reply
          • Dianne July 28, 2016, 2:14 am

            I think it really is threatened by this kind of knowledge. The world is built on buy, spend, work run around like an idiot and repeat so when a few of us try to do things differently the system tries to put us back in our place. I love my life but still I find myself saying I’ve done nothing much when asked about weekend activities. I’ve actually done loads in and around my home, walking, sewing, reading, learning, working out etc. However as my colleagues tend to have stories of trips to other cities, nightclubs and events etc I feel I have to reply as such. Don’t know why, or maybe it’s because they don’t get it. I also cut my working week to 3 and a half days last year and I love it. My house is paid and I feel very badass, I bet they don’t get that either.

            Reply
      • Roxanne Miller September 12, 2016, 11:17 am

        I Love this article!! I am a perfect example of wasting my life & finances..Unfortunately I was a party girl for a while ..then had to learn all the basics of checking accounts..savings..etc…now I am at a time in my life where I have absolutely no money saved and trying to learn how to either flip a property or invest my very very small inheritance into something that could make a return?? Believe me I wish I could have a do-over..but I will say that this was well worth my time & peaked my interest.. Thank You

        Reply
    • BuildMyFI July 13, 2016, 5:12 pm

      This lesson could be life saving to some but it could mean nothing to others. Even this was taught in school, I doubt many would appreciate it before their life take a downturn then they realize “oh, now I understand”.

      Reply
      • aleksey July 13, 2016, 6:12 pm

        well isn’t that how all education works? You get stuff that might be useful forcefully crammed into your head when you’re young and stupid, and then some of it sticks and possibly benefits you down the road.

        Reply
      • Rich v July 14, 2016, 8:40 am

        Life gives the test first, then the lesson

        Reply
        • Dr Bill July 14, 2016, 12:42 pm

          Nice!

          Reply
        • Vince Granacher July 14, 2016, 2:15 pm

          A good way of saying that we learn from our mistakes, if we are paying attention.

          Reply
      • Mikey July 22, 2016, 7:30 pm

        True (@BuildMyFI). But at least when their life does start to take a downturn, they know where they went wrong and are not left clueless. That would be the first step to fixing it.

        Reply
    • Kyle July 14, 2016, 6:55 am

      You re exactly right. I’ve had this very conversation with my wife and kids. They do offer, and I remember taking finance classes. But it was about investing (stocks, bonds, etc.). It wasn’t about personal financial independence. Not even a single day devoted to personal finance. This is why I believe teaching your kids is so important.

      Reply
      • Fiscally Free July 18, 2016, 3:19 pm

        I completely agree. I can’t believe how little most people know about even the the most basic personal finance principles.
        These things should be mandatory basic education, but they are mostly relegated to specialized financial magazines or blogs like this one.

        Reply
    • eyepatch July 14, 2016, 7:29 pm

      I don’t think that school is an institution of a design that is capable of teaching this stuff. I think that living life within your means and enjoying life with less means has less to do with what you know and more to do with what you practice.

      Maybe this is because I don’t budget, but it never seemed that complicated to me. You track what you spend, and you allot what you think you should spend.

      Note: By not budgeting I mean that I have designed my daily expenses to be such that I am confident that they are minimized, and that I track what I spend money on. Endless opportunity cost analysis means that I mostly make purchases that I feel good about, and that they’re not that spendy. (A luxurious can of pre-prepared canned soup in lieu of healthier, home-cooked options.)

      Reply
    • Scooter July 15, 2016, 3:09 pm

      I teach grades 6-8 in a town of around 40,000 people. I am a special education teacher in the emotional disturbance classroom. Last year I had 15 students during what we call a resource room hour, meaning they are in regular classes all day long except for the class period they come to me. In the resource room we work on IEP goals and social/living skills. My kids have deficits in the area of emotions/behavior. I have students with autism, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, neglected child syndrome, and many of my kids were born addicted to drugs and are in foster care or the juvenile justice system. I am so lucky to be able to develop my own programming in a public school where administration supports out of the box thinking. As a SpEd teacher I don’t have to follow a programming designated by the state. The students parents/guardians, classroom teacher, administration and myself develop the programming these kids need on an individual basis. I teach Mustachianism to all my kids. I don’t mention the blog or use the blog in class, but I use the information I’ve learned here and make up my own case study examples to help show them another way of life besides consumerism. Most of my students come from a poverty background. They are very concerned with blending in with the other kids and having material possessions. I just hope I am planting a seed in their hearts that will grow as they get older and gain life experience.

      Reply
      • Beth July 17, 2016, 7:05 pm

        Wow, Scooter! I love hearing that the best is being given to those who seem to have the least. Keep sowing those seeds!

        Reply
      • David July 17, 2016, 9:22 pm

        Hey Scooter! Just wanted to thank you for this comment. Many of the previous ones are about how school doesn’t teach this kind of lessons to students. Yours is the exact opposite, real positive and optimistic, even in the face of difficult situations. So I just want you to know that I appreciate it. Keep up the good work!

        Reply
      • Melissa Pierson July 22, 2016, 9:49 am

        Awesome, Scooter! I wish my daughter had had a teacher like you. Her IEP’s were ignored, she was shamed and berated and left behind, until finally I pulled her out and home schooled her. What a difference a teacher like you would have made.

        Reply
        • Scooter July 23, 2016, 2:13 pm

          Thank you for the comments of support! Melissa- I came to SpEd teaching after my daughter struggled to get her 504 plan followed, I became a “problem parent” and also ended up homeschooling. Three years ago I went back to school and recently graduated at the age of 40 to became the teacher I wish she would have had. I fight for my students every day, which means letting them know the reality of life. I get some flack from staff for teaching finances to the at risk kids who can’t read anywhere near grade level or do basic math. I feel an understanding of consumerism, living below your means, and the propaganda machine known as advertising is just as important as the core subjects. I’m not at work to make friends, I’m there to advocate for my students. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done but I look forward to going to work every day.

          Just so I don’t hijack this thread into an education rant, I am a teacher and my husband is a systems engineer. Combined we make over $100,000 per year and as of 9 months ago we had less than $200 in savings. Seriously. I began reading this blog sporadically after an internet search while trying to develop a life skills curriculum for my students and half-assed-ly adopted some (very few) of the ideas. My husband doesn’t read the blog at all but he’s not much of a spender. He does still eat out occasionally and goes overboard while grocery shopping. He recently bought $30 worth of cherries. (I know!!) We don’t have a budget, we love our air conditioner, we live 20 miles away from the town we work in, and we still managed to save $7000 in 9 months. Embarrassing and pathetic compared to what a lot of you are doing, but to be honest, I don’t feel I changed my lifestyle AT ALL. It was completely painless. I stopped eating out and shopping for fun and we started carpooling. That’s pretty much it! I may never get as serious as MMM but even a tiny change will get you results.

          Reply
  • Patrick July 13, 2016, 2:45 pm

    Thanks for the reminder. Sometimes I forget how much my time is worth to me. Looks like I’ll be fixing the flat on the ol’ Schwinn this weekend and painting the baseboards I installed LAST AUGUST!

    Reply
    • Gmullz July 13, 2016, 3:42 pm

      Ah man, I learned the hard way that it’s way easier to paint them before you put them on. Ideally, you can paint them before you paint the walls of whatever room you’re working on, that way you can lean them against the wall as you paint them and not worry about getting paint on the wall.

      Reply
      • Aimee July 14, 2016, 11:55 am

        Ugh, why did you have to remind me that I have to paint the baseboards that were pretty white before I painted the walls of the new house but are now disgusting from other paint and the floor poly. Adding that to my very long to-do list. :(

        Reply
      • Patrick July 18, 2016, 8:24 am

        I painted them in my garage before I installed them, I just have to go back and fill in some of the seams and nail holes with caulk and touch up the paint in those spots. But yes, painting on hands and knees would be a nightmare!

        Reply
    • Christine July 15, 2016, 9:48 am

      Patrick and Aimee, I’ll be joining you and painting baseboards that were neglected when we were fixing up our house last August. I think I’ll also make time to remove and clean all of our storm windows. I am sure it will feel amazing to finish up this ‘punch list’ of items.

      Reply
  • PoF July 13, 2016, 2:50 pm

    Big fan of an actionable post like this, MMM. Here’s what I do; this is what you can do.

    “My family could never be as radical as those guys – Mustache’s ways are extreme!” — A sad but true fact is that the vast majority of my largely physician readership would feel exactly this way. So I show them how much better life could be and how many more options they can have eventually if they can just find a way to spend less than $100,000 per year.

    And bike to work. Which I started doing thanks to your blog.

    Cheers!
    -POF

    Reply
    • Juan July 13, 2016, 7:27 pm

      Less than $100K a year!? Wow
      I guess I can see that… I have been exchanging a few emails with a wealthy blogger (made wealthy by his day job not his blog) and it is interesting to see how easy it is to inflate your expenses to ridiculous amounts when you have a big income. It really takes some serious badassity and a no non-sense way of thinking to keep expenses from inflating when your income is really high.
      This is one of the many reasons I admire MMM. I hope I can keep myself from falling in the trap as my income continues to grow. This will be a good post to come back to in moments of weakness :)

      Reply
      • PoF July 13, 2016, 9:13 pm

        Gotta start somewhere. I do link to this site a fair amount, and list it as one of 2 main inspirations, but for many docs, a budget of $2,000 a month is a non-starter. So I present budgets that physicians might consider reasonable. MMM Lite. More spending allowance, fewer facepunches.

        While most physicians are not familiar with the term “financial independence,” EVERY SINGLE ONE of us is familiar with the phrase “delayed gratifiacation.” We’re indoctrinated to plan on gratifying ourselves as soon as the first big paychecks come in, or even shortly beforehand. I’m trying to save us from ourselves one post at a time.

        Reply
        • Juan July 14, 2016, 4:43 am

          Makes sense, you know your audience better than anyone. I guess if your monthly expenses are around $15,000 per month, getting close to $2,000 may seem ludicrous :)

          Reply
      • LuckyOz July 15, 2016, 10:48 am

        It is not about what you spend, it is about what you save. Someone earning hundreds of thousands a year, does not need to lower expenses to $2k a month. MMM lifestyle is about living well below your means, not necessarily battling on who can be most frugal.

        Reply
        • PoF July 15, 2016, 2:13 pm

          Indeed. It’s not at all difficult to save half your net income when your net income is $200,000 or more. But it’s incredibly common for physicians to save only a small fraction. Chasing happiness with money and stuff when Not spending would be more likely to get them closer to their goals.

          Reply
        • Juan July 15, 2016, 3:09 pm

          Well said, I agree with the main premise of your argument. It’s not about competing on frugality and there is naturally some wiggle room if you are a high earner. I’d like to point out however, that at some point (I am no one to say where exactly) spending more and more on yourself becomes ridiculous. I think this is why very high earners who “see the light” often turn to philanthropy.

          Reply
          • LuckyOz July 15, 2016, 3:21 pm

            I work in finance with many in the $150k-$250k range who live paycheck to paycheck. One colleague worked 5 years on a project which paid him roughly $1 million over the 5 years. Once the project was completed, 2 months later he as bankrupt. He had been spending his money on cars and bad real estate.

            Another colleague has worked over 20 years at that earnings level, and has virtually nothing to show for it. He continues to buy magic beans (stupid investment schemes).

            Financial illiteracy is as common for high income earners as it is for average income earners.

            Reply
            • PoF July 15, 2016, 5:41 pm

              Perhaps more common. Physicians are frequent targets for bad investment schemes, and tend to be more likely to invest. Too busy or overconfident to bother with due diligence.

              Reply
  • The Green Swan July 13, 2016, 2:53 pm

    Provocative post! Discovering the Power of No will be a challenge for many people I presume, including myself (and I’m usually pretty good at saying no). But the real challenge in finding additional free time is my job. I consider myself a Mustachian, but I haven’t hit FI yet so still have a master to serve. Not making excuses though. I think the best area I can start is by Sharpening the Saw. I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit with working out regularly. Starting there and working in a bit of meditation would do me well for sure!

    Thanks for the inspiration, MMM!

    Reply
  • Lynne July 13, 2016, 2:54 pm

    I started reading your blog from the beginning, and I keep having the same thought – you’re not really retired or semi-retired, you just choose to do different work. I guess you have to make your point, but I find it rather closed minded to not acknowledge that many of us would rather die at our desks with a mountain of debt rather than have to hang out our laundry to dry. If cooking, and home repair, and biking, and forgoing the pleasures of microbrew is all you have to look forward to, then I’ll stay working. Why the extreme? Because I think there are a lot of people who would like to make changes to have a better financial picture, but they really don’t want to live the lifestyle that you do – despite your claims that it’s fantastic – I’m sure it is for you. It sounds like a lot of hard work. It sounds like a job. And it’s a job I wouldn’t want.

    Reply
    • Benjamin J July 13, 2016, 3:07 pm

      Lynne – MMM has saved money and made investments over the last 20 years that have enabled him now to do whatever he wants with his time, regardless of any bills or property taxes that might come his way. How is this not retirement?

      Reply
    • Andrew July 13, 2016, 3:10 pm

      Lol

      Reply
    • Brandon July 13, 2016, 3:12 pm

      The system wouldn’t work without hamsters spinning the wheel. I am greatful that there will always be people with your mindset. The way you choose to spend your time keeps my investments headed in the right direction so that I can spend my time however I choose.

      Reply
      • grum July 14, 2016, 4:09 pm

        This. Every morning as I return from walking with my daughter to the local school, and look out the window at the crowd in the distance driving to work, while I settle in to make a coffee and do … whatever I please … I silently thank them for making the system go round so I can live the life of my dreams.

        Reply
      • lurker July 16, 2016, 10:52 am

        Hurray for the hamsters!!!!!! I am chewing on one little corner of my cage everyday and planning for the big break!!!!!! LOL

        Reply
    • RMD July 13, 2016, 3:14 pm

      And you’re here because…?

      Reply
    • Squeakywheel July 13, 2016, 3:18 pm

      You may get a lot of flak for your point of view, but I think each person should decide this type of thing for themselves. Everyone has different priorities. My nephew, for instance, may agree with you–he loves solving coding problems more than life itself, it seems, and absolutely cannot stand cooking or dealing with any of the other minutia of life. And I think that is ok. If we all were the same, the world would not work as well! Good for you for keeping an open mind, reading the blog, and deciding for yourself. Just because your choice is different than mine, doesn’t make it a necessarily bad one.

      Reply
    • Dan July 13, 2016, 3:23 pm

      I think you are somewhat missing the point (as many complainypants who visit this blog do, no offense intended). Your body and mind function best when they are moving, eating nutritious food, and emotional (both happy and sad) in small intermittent doses. Much of modern life’s excesses do precisely the opposite: less movement while you let gasoline, electricity, or other people do work for you, less nutritious food as you consume sugar and end up fat, and excessive emotions in the form of constant “entertainment”. What MMM describes is not a “job”, he isn’t trading his time for money which he then trades for entertainment, he is spending his time optimizing his body and mind.

      Reply
    • Mr Real Estate July 13, 2016, 3:33 pm

      I remember a post a while back about people who have this similar view point, and it’s one that I halfway share.

      People who enjoy their job and therefore see no reason to spend most of their paycheck since they don’t mind working forever.

      The counterpoint is that there may be a day you wake up and realize you no longer enjoy this job or leaving your family everyday for it. At this time you’ve already locked yourself into this cycle. So why not learn to be happy with a little less every week and set yourself up with some nice FU money should your job ever turn into a prison sentence.

      Reply
      • mp July 14, 2016, 4:27 am

        …and also, ironically, not having to work for money can make work a lot more enjoyable (a SWAMI I believe is the term used here).

        Reply
      • Mike July 14, 2016, 7:23 am

        I see your screen name is Mr. Real Estate. Are you retired off rental income by any chance? If so, how is that going for you? I am getting closer to that point myself, and would like to hear about someone that has done it. Instead of clogging up this blog, if you don’t mind sharing your story/financial situation, please email me at [email protected]

        Reply
    • KingJoey July 13, 2016, 3:36 pm

      Lynne, you should examine your thoughts a little deeper. Isn’t everyone doing different “work”, retired or not retired? Those of us that are retired, or better put “Financially Independent”, do have different work schedules than those that are not FI. Our “work” schedules are “Do whatever the hell I want when I want”. I don’t hang out my laundry, I don’t even bike anymore, but I do follow the principles of spending WAY less money than I make. It allowed me to retire at 58 and my only regret is that I should of and could have retired earlier.

      I know several people that would rather die at their desks than retire, and unfortunately, some have. I find this extremely sad! What I have found out is that they are scared! Scared to leave a lifestyle they have grown accustomed to, scared of not making enough money, scared of not seeing their work friends, and sadly enough, scared of boredom.

      Isn’t the power of freedom, freedom to do what and when you want, worth a little less extravagant lifestyle now to attain FI sooner rather than later? I say a resounding YES!

      If you want to keep working until the day you die, I can guaranty you’ll succeed. But that’s an easy and sad goal to attain. I hope you find other pleasures that don’t require you to stay on the treadmill of “working for the man” day in and day out. It’s much better on this side of the fence. I wish you well.

      Reply
      • Mika M July 15, 2016, 10:45 am

        I probably qualify as half-Mustachian at best. The biggest change for me was reigning in the mindless buying off “stuff”. My personal checklist for better finances include my half-ass version which covers the Big 3 (housing, transportation, food) and last but not least the buying of stuff:

        -A short commute from a small home (well, not huge at least)
        -A fuel efficient car, as small a size as you can stand
        -Brown bag both breakfast and lunch to the office, make your own coffee if you drink it, and cook your own dinners at least 90% of the time (I get lazy on this too; always keeping a supply of frozen pizzas handy)
        -Reduce (your consumption and spending on Things), Reuse & Recycle (repurpose what you already have, borrow, swap, Craigslist, Freecycle, etc.)

        Just rolling with that lazyman’s route has made a gigantic world of difference for me. I might not be financially independent tomorrow but I’m definitely confident I won’t be strapped to a desk at 72 wondering if I’ll have enough to retire in a couple more years. Unfortunately most people I know won’t even go THAT far.

        Reply
        • Lynne July 21, 2016, 8:05 am

          Mika, that’s exactly what I am looking for – some sort of “eat this, not that” mentality towards doing better, without the extreme “you have to move, bike to work, hang out your laundry, cook all your meals” mentality. They call can call me a “complainypants” or whatever – but the reality is that, in my world, IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. It just wouldn’t – one thing that MMM has is a 100% supportive spouse, I do not. I currently am the one that does all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. so I really couldn’t sign up for more.
          PS – I did not get any notifications that there were new posts on this thread, so that’s why I haven’t responded sooner.

          Reply
          • William July 23, 2016, 12:34 pm

            I think this is an important thing to think about–some of the changes that MMM advocates for are very difficult to make. That’s fine. There’s no need to discount all the changes simply because some of them don’t match your lifestyle. Start instead with changes that you can make in your life. You say that you don’t have time to think about biking and cooking because you do the shopping/cleaning, so can you focus on saving time there? Could you reduce how much cleaning you do by downsizing your home? This would simultaneously increasing your savings rate, which will eventually allow you to stop working earlier, and free up time in the rest of your life. What about focusing on making fewer shopping trips and making those fewer trips more efficient? My point is that this isn’t a philosophy about always doing more, more effort, more stress, etc–you can find ways to save time first and then use that extra time to “move/bike/cook”, or whatever hobbies you have that aren’t sitting in a cubicle :).

            Reply
          • JULIE SUNDAY July 25, 2016, 12:30 pm

            I think you raise an interesting point here that I have often wondered about in the MMM space. You say you are one half of a couple and you do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning–I wonder how many of the Misters here are able to ‘outsource’ much of this unpleasant labor to the original under/unpaid source–their wives. I’d love to be proven wrong with a MMM poll about the gender breakdown of readers/partners and who does what at home but my guess is that there is a healthy dose of “it’s so easy to DIY” when the “Y” is actually your wife.

            Reply
            • Simon Kenton July 25, 2016, 4:27 pm

              For the last 12 years I did the cooking and shopping, having retired early while my wife continued to work. As she retires she will do some more cooking, and perforce some shopping.

              The maids did the cleaning. This provides a useful mechanism for assuring that proxy fights asymptotically approach zero. Neither of us like to clean, each of us is persuaded that our other activities are more useful and lucrative than cleaning, and both of us got enough in previous marriages of fights that were “about” money or “about” cleaning, but were really a stand-in for more fundamental incompatibilities.

              Reply
    • Keith Schroeder July 13, 2016, 3:38 pm

      MMM never asked you to live his lifestyle. By applying his financial advice in your life you can live any way you want. Any way you want!

      I advise you go back and re-read this blog from post 1 and really concentrate on what it taught. You missed the whole point .

      Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk July 13, 2016, 3:48 pm

      “Wow… Just.. Wow”
      – Little MM after I read Lynne’s comment aloud to him.

      You would rather die at your desk with a mountain of debt, if it meant you get to continue to stay inside and use your electric clothes dryer.

      It’s not really worth addressing each of Lynne’s points here (the 450 posts I’ve written over the past five years do a better job), but the biggest misunderstanding is in the concept of win/win.

      I don’t do any of this stuff to save money – I do it because it’s a happier and healthier way to live. Not just for me, but for YOU, too. Not just some of us, ALL of us.

      Every single human on Earth will live better by not cringing away from the idea of effort, as the attitude expressed in this comment implicitly does.

      Reply
      • Ben July 13, 2016, 5:03 pm

        That’s a hard concept for a lot of people. Its more than just being frugal, its being a conscientious citizen of the planet.

        Reply
        • Mrs. CTC July 15, 2016, 4:29 am

          Exactly. It starts out as the road to retirement, until you realise that the road itself is the way you should live your life anyway. With a conscience.

          Reply
      • cksurfdude July 14, 2016, 8:02 am

        MMM – agree with everything _except_ denying yourself that cold, tasty micro-brew ;-)

        Just work out a little bit more (aerobics, biking, etc.) to burn a few more calories …. I have to do that occasionally not to save money (am firmly in the FI camp) but ‘cuz I’m twice your age and the old metabolism has slowed waaaay down (despite working and being active every single day).

        Anyway, thanks again for all the real-world, commonsense wisdom :)

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk July 14, 2016, 8:43 am

          Don’t get me wrong, Surf Dude – I do drink plenty of beer. But still only about 10% of the beer I WOULD drink if I didn’t care about getting fat or diabetic or any of the other problems that come with overconsuming unhealthy stuff.

          That was the point of the self-denial in that example: personal health. NOT saving the $1.33 that it costs me to restock a can of Dale’s Pale Ale as Lynne’s comment implied.

          Reply
      • Matt July 25, 2016, 8:09 pm

        While with most things you recommend this is true, it’s not always the case. If I don’t enjoy doing something like say washing dishes or hanging up laundry, I want to automate it if possible. When I reach FI, I want to be as free from drudgery as possible. I want to be able to focus my effort on fun engineering and entrepreneurial projects along with my regular hobbies. If I have to do everything manually and abandon or short shrift my hobbies to retire early, I’m better off staying at my job.

        Making your own meals, not buying stupid stuff, getting a barbell set in lieu of a gym membership, not using AC, buying a cheap, reliable, efficient car, getting a small place with a short commute all make sense without even considering money. But there are some luxuries and conveniences I’ll gladly spend an extra year at the office to hold on to.

        Reply
        • Javahead July 25, 2016, 8:55 pm

          I can’t really argue with that.

          If there’s something that I genuinely don’t like doing, I try to arrange my life so that I don’t need to.

          But I’ve noticed that when I have more free time some things change from “drudgery” to “kind of interesting and fun”. And others don’t, but often “drudgery” is really just “I have too little free time to do this well” rather than “I hate doing this”. The trick is to figure out which are which.

          Reply
    • A mom July 13, 2016, 4:21 pm

      Just have to say that I love the process of hanging my laundry on the line to dry. I can’t explain it, but I really look forward to it. It raises my spirits almost every time.

      Reply
      • Michael Groves July 13, 2016, 4:57 pm

        I couldn’t agree more. For me it always harkens back to “my ancestors dried their clothes like this, and their ancestors did, and their ancestors did etc” kind of like one small bond we still have despite of our ridiculous modern lifestyles

        Reply
      • Clint July 13, 2016, 5:17 pm

        Me too. Outside. Fresh air. Birds at the feeder. And the big payoff: the best smelling sheets that can’t be duplicated by a dryer!

        Reply
        • Frugal Lizard July 14, 2016, 4:43 am

          Me three! I love watching how the wind moves the clothes/linens around. It is mesmerizing. Sometimes I make patterns with how I arrange it on the line (mostly to facilitate drying) but sometimes it has more of an aesthetic quality to it. One of my neighbors is on to me – making a comment about the temporal beauty of “installation”

          And the best nights sleep is always the first night in line dried linens.

          Reply
          • Spencer July 14, 2016, 12:54 pm

            Fascinating points. I sometimes wonder if humans evolved to enjoy tasks that selected for the survival. Maybe hanging laundry was an activity that increased chances for survival bc of cleanliness, etc. I know a lot of people that absolutely love to fish and hunt, some to the point of obsession. It seems irrational, but perhaps the trait to enjoy those things gave our ancestors a selective advantage.

            Reply
          • lee July 14, 2016, 2:09 pm

            I live in the UK and up north where I live, line drying is the norm despite the atrociously wet weather. Comments at work can often be heard about whether it will stay dry until we get home to get the washing in .
            When the kids were very small babies I would often lie them on the grass (on a blanket) and pin the washing out with different colours ( UK spelling !)and sizes alternating. Then let them watch the washing blow in the wind. Kept them amused for ages.

            Reply
            • wb July 14, 2016, 9:36 pm

              Thank you for that beautiful image, lee.

              Reply
              • Missy July 15, 2016, 6:30 pm

                I agree. What a healthy way to have the kids spend their time! As an aside, when I hang my laundry out, I’m always amazed at how quickly it dries. Some items within 15-20 mins and the heavy stuff like towels are usually a half our or just a bit over on a summer day with sun or a light breeze! Easy!

          • ScottB. September 28, 2016, 9:54 pm

            Also think of most of the world where this is the preferred method regardless of wealth. I also put all my clothes on hangers, and hang them on a balcony. Every time I step out to admire the good view (16th floor) or my garden, I grab a few clothing items and take them 20 feet to my closet.

            Reply
      • lurker July 16, 2016, 10:56 am

        my mom loved it too and the way the stuff smelled after it dried in the great outdoors….taught me to love doing laundry too….I miss her

        Reply
      • roadmanjim July 18, 2016, 11:50 am

        I remember a neighbor where I grew up that did not have a clothes dryer. In the winter, someone would shovel a path out to the clothes line for the laundry. Shirts would go up wet, freeze in to things that looked like they were made out of wood but would still dry! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, despite clothes freezing stiff; they will still dry. Granted, it took a little longer than a warm summer day, but so what? It was only later that I learned about the cool process known a sublimation.

        Reply
    • Jmac July 13, 2016, 4:49 pm

      I don’t want to believe Lynne’s post is a serious one. Any logical person who’s read and digested the fantastic information on this blog cannot possibly take such exception with the way MMM lives. I discovered this blog 3 months ago, was blown away at how clear the answers were, and have completely reversed the (insane) financial course I was locked into. Keep kicking ass, MMM.

      Reply
    • Norm July 13, 2016, 5:53 pm

      I think Lynne is a plant. Or at least a straw man. Excuse me. Straw woman.

      I mean, if you really love your job, good on you. You should keep doing it. But dying at your desk with a mountain of debt isn’t really a goal that anyone should have. And if MMM’s lifestyle of cooking, home repair and biking sounds like “a lot of hard work,” I bet you’d think differently if you had an extra 8 or 9 or 10 hours free every day.

      Reply
      • TexasAnnie July 13, 2016, 9:33 pm

        I wonder – if Lynne thinks that dying with a mountain of debt is winning – because she gets things she wants and won’t have to pay all of it back?

        Doesn’t make any sense to me, but it just crossed my mind.

        Reply
        • Javahead July 14, 2016, 12:53 pm

          I have some family members that have exactly that attitude.

          Way past normal retirement age, getting reasonable Social Security and a pension – but still buried under debt. Rather than giving up expensive vacations (that they complain they’re not fit enough to really enjoy) and other optional expenses and concentrating on paying down their debts to the point they don’t *need* to work – they just say “I’ll need to work until I die” and keep on spending. I think their “retirement plan” is to leave their creditors holding the bag when they go.

          Seeing the choices they’ve made (saying “I had no choice” while spending more than a third of your income on optional items still counts as a choice – a bad one) has greatly influenced how I view and handle money.

          My wife and I have always been slightly Mustachian – live below our means, save and invest, etc. And cheap outdoor activity (hiking in our case) as our favorite recreational activity. We should have our house paid off soon, and with the last kid out of college be able to move those monthly cash flows into investments. Currently, we’re only investing a bit more than 20% of our gross income, but we’ve been at that percentage for the last several decades.

          The majority of our investments are in tax-advantaged accounts – since we’re already close to the age for no-penalty withdrawals we’re pretty well committed to working the few remaining years. Since I like my work, so I’ll probably work a few more years past that age while squirreling away as many more little green employees as I can. But that’s the key phrase – “since I like my work”. Knowing that pretty soon it’ll be a choice rather than a necessity makes a huge difference in job satisfaction.

          Isn’t that the key point? Decide what lifestyle works for you, eliminate unnecessary distractions and unneeded expenses, then figure out what’s needed to achieve your goal. Lifestyle hint: unless you’re working, a cruise or international vacation is *never* a necessity. Unless your job requires it (hint: almost none do) you don’t *need* a huge wardrobe of formal wear, closets full of shoes, luxury cars . . .

          It doesn’t even mean you always need to give up potentially costly indulgences like an occasional coffee-shop coffee, or buying a lottery ticket, or micro brew beer, or buying an imported cigar. It does mean that you should *think* about it every time you spend that money and decide that yes, this time, you can afford the momentary pleasure without compromising your long-term goals.

          Reply
      • Carrie July 14, 2016, 8:35 am

        Whether one enjoys their job or not is NOT The point. Lynne may live to work, but what happens in the likely event that she will grow old, become disabled or have an accident that will (at least short-term) make it impossible for her to earn at your current income?

        Life happens. To deny that is to deny reality.

        Reply
        • lurker July 16, 2016, 10:58 am

          or her job or boss changes and she is bagged like some old groceries……corporate world is pretty ruthless in getting rid of older workers….even though it is “illegal”

          Reply
    • Aaron July 13, 2016, 5:57 pm

      Another issues: If you aren’t self-employed in an eternal industry, you end up subject to a lot of risk. Random physical injury, company-wide layoffs, or industry upheaval make this a way riskier plan than mustache style independence. We all have certain things we value more than others, but the point is with a reasonable application of badassery, you can have both.

      Reply
    • Simon Kenton July 13, 2016, 6:17 pm

      My old boss had mild sciatica and I invited him to come to the gym in the office basement. I knew a couple simple asanas which would relieve and possibly cure his condition. He got the weird look and said, “Uh. Like, stretching? Yoga?! I’d rather have the operation.”

      He won. End of conversation. Lower end of his spine is all fused up now. “…many of us would rather die at our desks with a mountain of debt rather than have to hang out our laundry to dry.” Lynne, you win.

      Reply
    • Frugal Bazooka July 13, 2016, 11:20 pm

      lmao! Someone once stated that if everyone behaved frugally, there would be no one to prop up the economy, the stock market, the job market…blah blah blah…and hence extreme frugality was a fools game.

      Even with a blueprint to throw off the shackles of the 9-5 rat hole race, some folks would rather not. I’m personally thrilled because we’re always gonna need gammas, deltas and epsilons to, you know, do stuff that needs to be done.

      So you see kids…there will ALWAYS be people willing to die at their desk doing a lot of work, working for someone else because, being free is a lot of work.

      lmao!!

      Reply
    • chc4444 July 14, 2016, 2:37 am

      Wow Lynne, it’s obvious to me that you’ve never hung out your laundry. I hate housework but I love hanging out the laundry. I’m outside in the sunshine with fresh smelling cloths hanging them in an orderly way. I find it very meditative. It’s quiet and peaceful and one of my favorite things.

      Reply
      • Dave July 15, 2016, 1:13 pm

        I agree–we lived in Bavaria for a couple years and most of the Germans in the village hung out their duvets almost daily. Houses always smelled like fresh mountain air.

        Reply
        • lurker July 16, 2016, 11:00 am

          exactly right…nice colorado air for señor badass of this blog

          Reply
      • Odessa July 22, 2016, 10:15 pm

        I use what I call a ‘solar dryer’. It never breaks down (unless it rains), uses no electricity, needs no warranty, and it’s free other than the cost of the cloths racks or lines. I like using racks. My clothes last forever and don’t get that static cling that I hate so much. I can position the racks how I want. In direct sunlight or under the porch roof. I also use a big bush for linens and whites. The combination of chlorophyl and sunlight gets whites whiter. No need for bleach. I also hate doing housework, but hanging out your laundry is so easy. I agree that it is meditative and the added bonus is that your clothes are so soft and smell great!

        Reply
    • margaret July 14, 2016, 11:26 am

      Troll level: OVER 9000

      Reply
    • JT July 14, 2016, 11:54 am

      It’s funny, because Lynne’s comment (“you’re not REALLY retired”) is something I also get from time to time. My friends and acquaintances see how many projects I do (currently building, myself, by hand, a 12×16′ tiny house on some land I own) and exclaim that I surely cannot be retired!

      Well, that’s true if your definition of “retired” is “never leaving the house or earning a dime again”. But that isn’t my definition, nor is it the norm anymore. I can’t help if people keep offering me money to do stuff I legitimately enjoy. To me, it’s retirement because I don’t NEED the money. My investments cover my living expenses. It doesn’t mean I never earn any more money. It just means I can always say no. Freedom.

      Reply
    • Aimee July 14, 2016, 12:03 pm

      Lynne, you do have a point. There are people like you and kudos to you for finding happiness in that. My father is like that. He’s only retiring in January at age 69. His whole like was his handyman job. It’s where he got out and talked to people, met new people, learned new things and had a purpose in life. He doesn’t have any friends in real life, no real hobbies, never any interest in traveling or venturing out.

      However, in the past few years, he now has a grandkid and his children have houses he can help take care of – fix things, build things, do things he loves. He is choosing to retire to spend time with people he loves and because he can now find happiness in something other than his work. He was never a big spender but he and my mom live a comfortable life – never had made a lot of money as a salary during the years.

      I on the other hand, hope to retire as early as possible or at least cut back hours at some point. Best of luck to you at your desk for life. If you change your mind and want to retire early, hang those clothes on the line! :)

      Reply
    • LateFIBloomer July 14, 2016, 1:00 pm

      Lynne didn’t know that MMM’s income is $400K+/year…. Yep. Right now, even without a “real” job :)

      Reply
    • Amanda July 14, 2016, 1:45 pm

      I see part of Lynne’s point. I am a working mom by choice because being with my children 24/7 would drive me and probably them insane. I love my kids more than life, but I also enjoy my job and having regular interactions with adults.

      That being said, when we are FI I will probably only work part time and chose the projects I work on more selectively. And by then my children will all in be in school, haha.

      As far as hanging clothes out to dry, there is always a happy medium. Typically I just dry them in the dryer cause my time is worth more than the electricity. But when we were doing cloth diapers for my two oldest kids, we found that it would take something like 3 hours to dry those suckers and leave the house smelling like hot baked pee. So line drying those made sense, it took less time, everything ended up smelling better and the sun would naturally bleach those things. (for the third kid we switched to disposable diapers since the time cost of cloth became too high) Now I am back to using the dryer, but I do hope to switch to a gas dryer in the future to bring the cost down and to be kinder to the environment.

      So I don’t think Lynne should dismiss MMM suggestions and should give these things a try. But then take into account the time cost, health cost and financial cost before deciding whether they are worth it or not.

      Reply
    • Steven July 15, 2016, 12:48 pm

      “I guess you have to make your point, but I find it rather closed minded to not acknowledge that many of us would rather die at our desks with a mountain of debt rather than have to hang out our laundry to dry.”

      This is actually a really scary statement because while if we look at it in a bigger picture I think many people have chosen to do just that. Take out the words “rather than have to hand out our laundry to dry” and insert a few of these:

      *Sell my expensive car
      *Not have a $600 cell phone
      *Eat out every night of the week
      *Buy your “dream home” that’s absurdly expensive

      That’s the America we live in today. I think it’s great that MMM and so many personal finance bloggers out there bring a different lifestyle choice to our attention. It’s fun to bike to work or cook your own food or spend some time at the park and it turns out that all of those things are not only fun but cost much less money than alternatives and gives those like MMM or myself the option to spend/save in areas that we prefer, like a craft beer or vacation. We don’t need the mountain of debt and so many of us who read and follow MMM know that the chain can be cut from the desk and into the sun filled skies of today.

      I could go on but I will not, instead I’m going to go outside and get some sunshine. Have a great weekend!

      Reply
    • TheHappyPhilosopher July 15, 2016, 1:08 pm

      It is not an either/or decision Lynne. You can life a fantastic life AND create the freedom in your life. That’s the whole point. If you are in debt and forced to work until you die you are a slave, plain and simple. You may be a happy slave but a slave none the less.Spend money on the things you love, eliminate spending on the things that don’t add value, that is the point of this post. The specifics are not important. You are getting caught up in the details instead of seeing the big picture. MMM philosophy is not about deprivation once you look beneath the surface.

      Reply
    • JMC July 16, 2016, 7:06 am

      You don’t feed yourself, maintain your home, or stay physically fit while having a job?

      Reply
      • Lynne July 21, 2016, 8:44 am

        JMC, I feed myself and my family – I do 95% of the cooking, and we eat an average of 5 dinners a week at home, my husband brings leftovers for lunch. But we go out too, spending upwards of $500 a month on eating out because I can’t/don’t want to cook but also because we like to go out. I enjoy cooking – it’s creative, but when you have to make dinner night after night, it becomes a chore. We maintain our home by paying other people – new roof, painting, etc. And, as far as physically fit, I’ve been mostly dedicated to physical activity, with job and kids having to get up at 5 AM in order to work out before work. I dream of being able to work out at a sane hour like 7 AM, but that wouldn’t happen even if I didn’t work because of the kids.

        But, my point is, to work hard and save so that I can do more work – it’s just not my goal. I understand the big picture – the freedom part of it – that’s all I’m saying is that when I read this post, and MMM confirms it above in his comment on my comment, there is this whole dogma that you have to buy into, it just seems very extreme.

        Reply
        • Amy K July 26, 2016, 12:09 pm

          But reading your latest post Lynne,
          http://workingmom2three.com/2016/07/25/what-does-an-unemployed-mom-do/

          I see that you are doing that “other work” as well. Something will always fill our time. You’re volunteering and shuttling the kids around while working on your resume. This post was about nixing all three of those in favor of what Mr Money Mustache finds fulfilling. Different strokes for different folks.

          Reply
  • Jon July 13, 2016, 2:58 pm

    Interesting take on self discipline that I’ve never seen before. Basically turning it into results! Good read.

    Reply
  • FinanceSuperhero July 13, 2016, 3:00 pm

    Two principles resonate even above the countless actionable steps contained with this piece: the value of time and the importance of predicting your future self.

    Whether we all want to admit it or not, time is the great equalizer. There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and 8,760 hours in a year (or 8,784 in 2016). But the irony is that we minimize our effectiveness when we strive to maximize our time by cramming in countless activities which add little to no value to our lives.

    But this problem is inextricably tied to a culture which worships instant-gratification. The average person gives up what he wants most for what he wants RIGHT NOW. True wisdom lies in predicting the desires and feelings of your future self and acting accordingly in the present. Delaying gratification, as you suggest, MMM, is a big piece of the puzzle.

    Reply
    • Dennis August 13, 2016, 3:53 am

      From my perspective, the MMM theme is all about attitude and gratitude. Both of these can be developed and controlled by the individual. With the right attitude of no need to do what the rest of the world is doing, you don’t give up or delay or miss out on gratification if you learn to just do only those things that have value in bringing pleasure, happiness, and FI. After all, FI is partially a state of mind. Being in the FI mode is truly awesome…….just living life on your terms rather than being in a mode of life dictating what you must do and when.

      Reply
  • Gerard July 13, 2016, 3:02 pm

    Nice stuff. People talk about the freedom that comes with discretionary cash, but we don’t work half as hard to make sure we have discretionary time.

    Reply
  • Larry July 13, 2016, 3:14 pm

    Thank you,
    I very much enjoy your posts and approach.

    I have gone in a slightly different direction as I can work from anywhere in the US that gets at least a 3g cell signal.
    Hope this somewhat meets a minimum Mustache standard.
    Sold the house. – check
    Debt Free – check
    Sold extra vehicles – check
    Currently have over 100,000 in 401ks

    Have accomplished all of this in over the past 15 years… making less than 50,000 a year, and I didn’t get serious about it till 3 years ago. Betting I was 100,000 in debt not counting the house. (cars, credit cards, ….)

    Now for the differences:
    Live full time in my paid for 1993 RV. (wrote a check for it)
    Currently looking for a lot to get a physical address before my tags and License expire: (thank you Real ID)

    I attempt to stay only in on free BLM campsites, if I do have to stay in an RV park I pick the least expensive one.
    The plan is to travel north in the summer and south in the winter and to stay where heat and air aren’t needed.

    Things you would never believe can be accomplished, you just have to want something different more than the peer pressure to live like normal people.. Normal people are broke and trapped.

    Thank you for letting me ramble:

    Reply
    • Kathy Abell July 19, 2016, 11:09 pm

      Re: “Normal people are broke and trapped.”

      Who wants to be “normal” in such a world? I’ll take “Abby Normal” any day. As Spock would say, “In an insane world, a sane man appears insane.”

      A few years before I retired I really loved my job. But then I had a life threatening health issue and was horrified that I might indeed die at my desk. Life is too precious for that! My focus then became living at least until I could retire at 55 by taking advantage of my company’s “Magic 75” contributory retirement policy. I’m now entering my fourth year of retirement and I wouldn’t trade the past three years of freedom for my desk at work – and I loved my job! But I don’t miss that work at all.

      By the way, it was only the fact that I had made known my intention to retire that kept me from being laid off, since the company didn’t want to pay a severance package to someone close to retiring. In fact, my work partner received his layoff notice the day of my retirement luncheon!

      Reply
  • The MAD Consultant July 13, 2016, 3:20 pm

    Great points. I love that fictional conversation. A lot of people have a tough time coming to realization about their past choices, and what it takes to make better choices for themselves in the future. As you highlighted often you get some mis-informed(likely media sourced) excuse stating what they should be doing is a bad idea. Starting slow and working your way up is unfortunately the path most need. I’m not a psychologist but maybe it’s just human DNA. I believe it is the reason we have the phrase “baby steps”.

    And time. The most precious resource of all. Way more precious than money. I always find it mind boggling how busy people make themselves.

    Reply
  • msjaimelee July 13, 2016, 3:24 pm

    Dear MMM,
    13 days ago I left my office job. I drove 28 miles round trip every day and was miserable with not only the commute but the boring job. I stopped spending, saved my money, and sharpened the skills you teach here. While I am not perfect, and my dear husband has not totally adopted the Mustachian ways, I was able to leave that job and pursue my dream of having my own pet sitting business. I now work from home and I am slowly building relationships in my community. My bike is being fixed and I plan to keep my 2004 Pontiac Vibe until it dies. I have you to thank for getting my ass in gear so I can experience true freedom. THANK YOU!!!! Keep writing and spreading the word. It means so much to me!

    Reply
  • mistakotta July 13, 2016, 3:25 pm

    Awesome post! I really do think that time is what it is all about. Early retirement so we can have more time to do what is really important to us. I think you hit the nail on the head with why people have such a hard time making changes to reach their goals. We tend to really overbook our lives. We know what to do but often don’t have the energy because of time commitments. Also, the daily walk you suggest has been something I have tried to do for the last several years for both the physical but probably more for the mental benefits.

    Reply
  • Mr Crazy Kicks July 13, 2016, 3:25 pm

    Since I left my job FI, I have been doing more decluttering. This morning I sold my moped that I had since high school – 16 years of memories. Well its no longer taking up space in my garage or my head, and I am $340 richer. At least now when I think of what to get rid of next I will not be thinking of my moped but can move on to the next item. Kudos to you on passing up craft beers of CO. I recently got to try some, they are hard to turn down!

    Reply
  • Vikram July 13, 2016, 3:26 pm

    Love the message that minimalism is also about time! It’s unfortunate that society doesn’t lay enough emphasis on creating free, unstructured time for yourself.

    Reply
  • Daniel July 13, 2016, 3:27 pm

    First let me say that I am a big fan and I read this blog religiously. However there are 2 fundamental ideas in the Mustachian philosophy that I see repeated which I believe are unrealistic. Both stem from MMM living in a small city:

    1) Sell your house and move close to work. Well, on average one changes jobs every 3-5 years, right, and if you sell your house every time you lose a boatload in comission, moving expenses, stress etc.

    2) is consequence of 1) Since (for most people) you cannot work close to home, you need a car. I am in a fairly big Midwestern city, my commute to work is 17 miles each way, including about 7 miles on the interstate. There is no way I could bike to work, the city is not designed for biking.

    Back to 1), I am in the process of changing jobs (last job change was Sept. 2012), and the new location is about 15 miles from my current location, and also 12 miles from my house. If I had sold my house in 2012 to be close to work, now I would need to sell again.It simply does not work like that.

    Daniel

    Reply
    • Kirstin July 14, 2016, 7:33 am

      If you read a few MMM posts, you’ll start to see that a big part of Mustachianism is thinking outside the box. MMM chose to move to another country in order to build a better, more desirable life. That may or may not be the route you decide on, but living where you do is a choice, just like cable and daily lattes and electric clothes dryers.
      Another option – get involved and lobby for bike infrastructure to be put in place. It’s incredibly cheap compared to building more roads, requires very little maintenance unlike roads and makes communities more pleasant for everyone.

      Reply
      • Adm Karpinsk July 14, 2016, 7:48 am

        Yeah Kirstin! To Daniel I would add:

        – If you start with the assumption that biking to work is ALWAYS possible car commuting is NOT an option, amazing situations start to materialize

        – Don’t chalk it up to city size. I have lived in many cities, small and large, and biked in all of them. Even more significantly, even in idyllic Longmont, Colorado I still see about 99% of trips still being taken by cars – even though close to Zero Percent of them actually required cars. The problem is in the humans, not the infrastructure.

        – If you look down at the ground and see pavement, gravel, low vegetation or dirt, you can bike it.

        – I would choose renting and moving occasionally LONG before I would choose car-commuting to work. Hell, I’d gladly leave a country or a hemisphere before I’d give up the freedom to move myself using my own power.

        Disclaimer: I am in a real anti-car zealot mood these days as I read through the book “Happy City” by Charles Montgomery – mind bending stuff.

        Reply
        • Kathryn July 14, 2016, 10:42 am

          A HUGE part of this is your own attitude. When I first started reading, I worked 12 miles from home in a non-bikeable area(my husband got hit by a car on his bike!) I immediately dismissed it as something I couldn’t do. But then, something happened- I changed my attitude to a “can-do” attitude- I now work from home and don’t have ANY commute. Seriously, once you give yourself an attitude adjustment, anything is possible.

          Reply
          • lurker July 16, 2016, 11:02 am

            i work from home too and bike everyday in the park to avoid bad car drivers….

            Reply
          • Danie September 16, 2016, 10:11 am

            This was me, too. I was commuting 25 miles each way to work, and when I started reading MMM, I thought, “Well, that’s all well and good for him. Some of us can’t just change jobs and find one closer to us.”
            And then I thought, “Well, why can’t I??”
            So I did!
            Biking to work started me biking to the grocery store, and to run small errands. The community we live in has things close enough if you just adjust your expectations. Yeah, there isn’t a Target within biking distance, but there are multiple stores that contain the same things as a Target. So it just takes a little extra work, which means I get a little extra workout!

            Reply
        • Jonathan July 14, 2016, 1:36 pm

          Mmm, I’ve been digging Mikael Colville-Andersen. His consultant company is http://copenhagenize.com and his ted talks really with me. I see desire lines and space for cars everywhere!

          Car biases is so strong…

          Reply
        • WageSlave July 14, 2016, 2:22 pm

          MMM, would you ever be willing to revisit your bike safety post from several years ago? Your thesis was that biking is the safest form of transportation. I feel (as did several other commentators) that there were a number of holes in your arguments. I’m not saying the conclusion is invalid; but the rationale is not convincing.

          I have recently (finally!) began biking in earnest. However, plenty of people still warn me how dangerous it is; they all have a scary story. I’d love to point them to your article and say, “Here’s why I’m not afraid”, but I can’t try to sell someone on something that I’m not buying.

          So I basically say that I take it on faith that if I follow the rules of the road, use good practices (light, helmet), and give riding my absolute undivided attention, that I should be able to avoid disaster.

          Reply
          • Duncan July 15, 2016, 4:43 am

            Hi Wageslave
            I would say that biking is the best –
            On average the years you will gain through improved fitness will more than balance those lost if squashed
            BUT that is “on average” – even if you do everything right you could still be the poor guy who loses.

            Reply
            • WageSlave July 15, 2016, 3:31 pm

              But what if you are already reasonably fit through other non-biking means? Consider two clones, both who have good exercise/training habits: they are both in great shape. Additionally, one uses biking as a primary means of transportation, the other uses a car. Will the former really gain that much more fitness or life expectancy by biking?

              I consider physical fitness to be defined along a curve that levels off. The rate of change slows as you approach the plateau. So for the completely sedentary person, yes, biking offers a huge boost in fitness (and presumably life expectancy) over driving. But for the person who is already in excellent shape, taking up biking probably won’t make much of a difference.

              In short: like money, training has decreasing marginal value once you exceed some base level.

              Reply
              • threewolfmoon July 15, 2016, 4:10 pm

                “Will the former really gain that much more fitness or life expectancy by biking?”

                No, but they will gain more free time (don’t have to go to the gym after commuting) – which after all is the whole point of this article.

              • Danie September 16, 2016, 10:13 am

                There are other benefits, too. Like it’s better for the environment. I don’t have to do dedicated cardio workouts anymore to keep up my cardio fitness because instead of driving a half-hour every day I bike for that time instead. It’s built in and saves time in the long run.

          • Moof November 8, 2016, 2:47 pm

            Having been nearly run over twice just this year (several other too close for comfort incidents as well) on my commutes, while in bike lanes, during broad daylight, while sporting lights and visible clothing, and while in bike friendly Oregon, I am pretty sure biking is less safe for me. I’m still OK taking that risk, as the upsides of improved health, attitude, etc are worth it to me. I don’t fully buy the trade-off being equal between statistically living a little longer and occasional catastrophic death. I also don’t see the point in buying lottery tickets when the per ticket payout exceeds 1:1.

            Reply
        • scott July 14, 2016, 3:06 pm

          I just walked over and checked out Happy City at the library. I am curious. What are you reading next?

          Reply
        • Keith November 8, 2016, 2:19 pm

          Some people thinking biking to work is insane, but I would say paying ~$500 each month just to get to a place that is supposed to be paying you is insane. It kind of defeats the whole purpose.

          Reply
      • Daniel July 14, 2016, 1:10 pm

        I have read a most MMM posts. I am an immigrant myself like MMM, but unlike MMM I am from Eastern Europe and English is a second langauge for me. I came in the US in 1994 as a graduate student, with $500 I borrowed from my uncle. Today between my wife (from the same country as me) and myself we have a net worth of over $1.5MM, and our home is paid off (a fairly modest $300K home). I am not saying all of this to boast. We are where we are because of frugality (not as extreme as MMM, for ex. we just returned from a 24 day family trip in Hawaii), good understanding of technology/finance and math. I.e., a lot of what MMM preaches. My wife also works, and we have 2 school age kids. Moving closer to MY work would mean making HER commute much worse.

        My point about moving closer to work and biking is that once you have a family, with a working spouse, and kids in school (i.e. the typical American family), your options for moving “close to work” are drastically limited. For young, single people, maybe, but with working spouse, kids etc. not really an option.

        Reply
        • nic July 18, 2016, 8:30 am

          Yes – TRUE, Daniel! I actually live 5 Km to work and hope to never have it nay other way, but I have a fairly secure job that I like and plan to stay in, whereas my hubby has changed companies and jobs about 5 times in the past 18 years. It would not make any sense to uproot our child every time he changed jobs. There is an emotional cost there. It is great if you can have it as a goal, and I have had it as a personal goal and have been lucky to be able to make it happen. It is really not the case that everyone can make it happen though, or else the sacrifices involved are ridiculous. BUT – it is great for people to keep it in mind always to at least inspire their decision where possible!

          Reply
  • Ann July 13, 2016, 3:27 pm

    Nice to hear a mention of “black swans”

    Reply
  • Kent July 13, 2016, 3:27 pm

    Nothing better than a mid-summer mustachian tune up. Thanks, great read on a hot day. For me, list items like strategic misbehaviour, living locally, using a bike, not having a vehicle, and just plain living within my means, get easier each day since finding your blog in December of 2015. Thanks for posting, even though you’re on vacation!

    Reply
  • The Roamer July 13, 2016, 3:36 pm

    It’s very true I never understood why people post their nonstop schedules up like badges of honor. Sometimes you have to run yourself ragged to get ahead but it’s not sustainable and it shouldn’t be the goal.

    Your advice about building a local community has been one of the pieces of advice I’m trying to actively implement. I find that most the people I know all live to far away so I need to make some new friends.

    Currently I need to address the time suck of tv again. We had pretty much cut it to once or twice a week or about 4 hrs. But the Mr and I have gotten into the bad habit of a lot more tv watching… lucky we’ve maintain it low for kids….

    But yes time is necessary to make improvements. :)

    Reply
  • Rick July 13, 2016, 3:47 pm

    It’s a bit late for me (at 61) to retire in my thirties, but–with my skills and lessons from my wife (of nine years)–she and I were able to establish the lifestyle and financial reserves we wanted. It is a rare person (or family) who will live your lifestyle, but it isn’t so rare to want to live in comfort and financial safety. There IS a middle ground that turns away needless spending, builds financial independence, and frees people from the traps of society. But I still drive, we still travel, and we have the freedom our planning has provided us. While my solution may have taken longer, frugal living, long-term planning, and continued saving and investing can also lead to the happiness freedom provides. Maybe that’s just me?

    Reply
    • Yarrow July 15, 2016, 4:12 pm

      No, it is us too. We decided in our first year together 29 years ago, that we didn’t want the traditional American
      lifestyle and the full time jobs it would take to get it. We did have passions though, and both of us found a way
      to make them pay. Fast forward 29 years and we have no debt, bought this house for cash, and the one before it. We have around 500k invested and by following the realtors mantra ‘location, location, location’ we are
      seeing this one close to double what we paid. I love to bake our own bread and we both cook from scratch,
      better food and a major savings. Local good libraries, and the historic great national park systems we are lucky
      to have in this country make low cost road trips our favorite vacation. Love the simple life.

      Reply
      • Yarrow July 15, 2016, 4:15 pm

        Forgot to say, that we still save about 40% of our income.

        Reply
  • Carly July 13, 2016, 3:59 pm

    Excellent post! I am 23, recently married, and currently pursuing a college degree while working full time for $10/hr. While I do not make enough money yet to save significantly, your blog has been an absolute lifeline in allowing my husband and I to live well below our means, get out of all debt except student loans, and even save money while making a collective $40,000/year. We have a long way to go, but the cushion we have been building, mixed with our lifestyle and debt elimination will allow me to drop my work comfortably down to part time in January, so I can finish my Bachelor’s degree on campus, and set us up for a better future. Thank you for teaching my generation the things we were never taught. Because of you, I will be able to enjoy marriage and eventually travel and motherhood, without the weight of crushing debt and financial insecurity, and we will be able to strategically save the money we need to be financially independent and someday own our own recording studio without fear of failure. I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am.

    Reply
    • Pablito July 13, 2016, 6:00 pm

      Nice to see this “can do” atittude instead of someone listing 500 reasons they can’t do it. I am sure your marriage will be better for the lack of financial stress!

      Reply
      • Carly July 13, 2016, 6:41 pm

        I hope so! I know that financial difficulty is a big reason for divorce, and I desperately want to not be just another “young marriage” statistic that ends in divorce. I want to prove that two 20 year olds can make a lifelong commitment and stick to it. So far it’s been the best 3 years of my life! I honestly have trouble understanding how finances break apart marriages…..according to my calculations, if we split up, we each have half as much money, and twice the bills to pay.

        Reply
        • Carly July 13, 2016, 6:42 pm

          I hope so! I know that financial difficulty is a big reason for divorce, and I desperately want to not be just another “young marriage” statistic that ends in divorce. I want to prove that two 20 year olds can make a lifelong commitment and stick to it. So far it’s been the best 3 years of my life! I honestly have trouble understanding how finances break apart marriages…..according to my calculations, if we split up, we each have half as much money, and twice the bills to pay.

          Reply
          • Art July 14, 2016, 5:04 pm

            Carly, if I may make a suggestion re: income, you might try looking into Amazon FBA ( just check you tube). Being a student I would suggest you check the website FBA mastery. It’s kinda like doing Ebay but with more flexibilty IMO. You can learn all you need, for free, thru You tube videos and facebook groups, the entry cost is low, and you can definitely earn a lot more than $10/hr. I am doing it as a side gig to a regular job, and it is enabling me to save a close to 50% of my regular paycheck. I am an old guy (59), and if it works for me, it would probably work even better for you, as it helps to have familarlity with computers, internet, etc.. My niche is use d books, and as a student, that might be good for you too, but there are lots of options.. Just a suggestion, as I worked some hard low paying jobs back when I was in college myself, and nothing wrong with that, but this gives more control of your time and the possibility of some good income.

            Reply
            • Carly July 15, 2016, 8:25 am

              Thank you, I will definitely look into that!

              Reply
    • Mr. Real Estate July 14, 2016, 2:39 am

      Congrats on the recently married, I’m just under a year out from the big day.

      On your $10/hr job, is that good for your area? You sound pretty smart and if you looked around you may be able to find something better and possibly relevant to your degree. Just something to think about since once you graduate being able to pull from relevant past jobs will pay dividends.

      Reply
      • Carly July 14, 2016, 7:00 am

        Unfortunately, for my area and education level, it is. I’m not quite finished with my degree, and my area is extremely rural and impoverished. Unless I want to work on the oil rigs, which is not really an option for a 108 lb girl, I am confined to low level employment. I’m doing better than working at Walmart, which is the major option here. I am working on my degree, and my husband is learning to code through Treehouse. Once my degree is done, and he’s built a portfolio of projects, we plan to flood the market with our resumes, and move to literally wherever one of us finds a decent paying job first. We may even move before, and live off of saved cash. We can even wait tables until we find something else if we have to.

        Reply
    • Ellen July 15, 2016, 2:07 pm

      Carly – just wanted to tell you how you made my day. You sound purposeful, motivated and strategic in your thinking. The tenacity and backbone that you are showing now in your day-to-day choices will be really useful in work settings in your future. I’m FI/ retired now, but in my work roles, I always enjoyed hiring and working with team members who brought optimism, scrappiness and resourcefulness to difficult projects.

      Reply
      • Carly July 18, 2016, 9:01 am

        Thanks, I hope others view it the same way!

        Reply
        • David Wendelken July 24, 2016, 10:24 am

          Carly, I do. Good for both of you!

          Reply
  • steve poling July 13, 2016, 4:01 pm

    Whew. I just finished reading the whole blog. My daughter recommended you and I’m glad she did. It helps me understand her a little better, since she is much more frugal than I am. For years I’ve tolerated certain inefficiencies in my budget due to mere laziness. You’ve helped me summon the gumption to begin trimming them. One word of complaint I have is that all Stoics tend to be unforgiving and impatient with those who cling to their hedonistic adaptations. It can take time to get your head around new a paradigm. Moreover, not everyone is a Vulcan. Thus Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball makes more psychological than mathematical sense. If someone is so mathematically inclined, s/he’ll never get in debt in the first place (or be hair-on-fire debt averse). Thank you for making me more frugality-aware. I am not fully on board with everything you advocate, but I’ve moved quite a ways in your direction. Thank you for that.

    Reply
  • Tissue King July 13, 2016, 4:05 pm

    Well said once again MMM. I myself have been Lyfting myself out of debt and have been very successful at getting rid of 4 monthly bills in the last 3 months. Two of them are car payments. Thanks for your never ending wisdom.

    Reply
  • Geoff July 13, 2016, 4:06 pm

    Another great post, as usual, MMM. I think you could sum-up all of this approach with one word (which I don’t recall seeing highlighted in your blog really) and that is ‘Minimalism’. Some fun reading on this topic at theminimalists.com

    Reply
    • Judy July 16, 2016, 7:08 am

      Thanks for your referral. I will look at the website. I am trying to keep my life simple and I want to pare down. Too much of everything weighs me down. I want to be more in the moment instead of being distracted by stuff. I love all the mmm advice.

      Reply
  • Pablito July 13, 2016, 4:16 pm

    Here’s where saving money and improving one’s life really intersect. These changes to make one’s life simpler tend to make one *happier* as well. It helps that they save $$ too. But one could easily think of that as a mere side effect.

    Reply
  • Stephanie July 13, 2016, 4:24 pm

    Great post. One point I would quibble with is the casual dismissal about a parent’s concern over potentially moving to a worse school district. Not everyone is capable of providing excellent home schooling for their kids, and poor education is something that can have lifelong consequences for a child (well documented in economics literature, for example). I’d rate that one as a legit concern.

    Reply
    • jp July 13, 2016, 6:28 pm

      There are amazing teachers in every school – good or bad school district. It’s up to the student and their families to seek out these teachers and up to the student to excel. I went to the worst school in our area (even turned down moving to the “better school” my senior year), came out with a full-ride scholarship for undergrad, went to an in-state school and ended up with a full-ride to grad school too. (All set to retire in 2 years at 35 – woot woot!) It’s all about making the absolute best with where you are – it’s more of a family dynamic than a “bad” school district.

      Reply
      • EMML July 14, 2016, 9:01 pm

        I read recently that student success is not so much about the teachers, or even parenting style, as much as it is about the peer group. Better schools tend to go with better peer groups.

        Reply
      • S. G. August 17, 2016, 4:35 pm

        I disagree. First, you don’t always get your pick of the teachers. Many schools are very resistanthe to requests. Second, often it’s still the best of a bad lot. Third, even a good teacher is limited when most of their class is poor, English language learners, etc. We were in such a school and actually had some great teachers, but there were still limitations and we were approved for transfer to a better school.

        Reply
  • Gwen July 13, 2016, 4:26 pm

    You forgot to mention the best part! After awhile, you adapt and don’t even miss all those ” super fun things” everyone else is doing. I used to get jealous that my friends would go to all these cool concerts, but I don’t even like live music. It damages my hearing and is expensive. Instead, I listen to the music at home and put the money in my stache. People are amazed I’ve saved $100k at age 25, but it’s easy when you cut the fluff. Thanks for helping to set me on a better path from the beginning!

    Reply
  • Wilfred July 13, 2016, 4:34 pm

    Really admire your philosophy, except the part about having only one child.
    You have a son, great. You NEED a daughter too, at least one.
    By depriving your son of brothers & sisters, you also deprive your grandchildren of aunts, uncles, & cousins.
    By the time you realize all this, you & the old lady might be too old to produce any more.
    This is just … sad.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk July 13, 2016, 8:02 pm

      Holy Shit Wilfred!

      It’s a good thing you just made that mistake over the safety of the Internet, because steamrolling strangers with one’s own unsolicited opinions on family planning is one of the oldest and most reliable ways to get the door shown to you!

      #1 – No, we abso-fucking-lutely do NOT need any more children. Whoo, what a scary thought for both my wife and I, the thought of going back to the sleepless nights and diaper era after ten years of progress! Not only are we almost to old for it, but our son is absolutely adamant that he is glad not to have any siblings, and I locked in the decision in the doctor’s office quite a few years ago now. There are few things in life I am more certain about than not wanting another baby of my own, as much as I love kids in general.

      #2 – When people have zero or one child, it’s just as valid a choice as any other and should never be shamed or labeled “sad”.

      #3 – I can’t argue with you that fewer children means fewer siblings, aunts and uncles. But the great news is we have an infinite supply of equally valuable humans living all around us.

      In my community, the children play freely in the neighborhood and the parents of these children are all friends – much like in Indian culture, we adults are all like aunts and uncles to each other’s children. The kids grow up close, like brothers and sisters.

      Most families (including my own brother and sisters and parents) these days tend to disperse to live hundreds of miles apart. We value each other greatly, but because we can make close friends with the people who live nearby, life is much richer.

      Related article: /2014/09/10/great-news-youre-allowed-to-have-only-one-kid/

      Reply
      • Mia2022 July 13, 2016, 9:55 pm

        Thank YOU MMM! From someone who chose to have zero children…nothing pisses me off more than the Wilfreds of the world. Jeeez…there’s enough humans in the world anyway.

        Reply
      • Josh July 14, 2016, 6:56 am

        Well said!

        Reply
      • Wilfred July 14, 2016, 9:05 am

        Dear Mr. ‘Stache,

        Sorry to have touched a raw nerve. When I read your unsolicited opinion about family size, I thought it was OK if we gave ours.

        #1 – Yes, raising children is a giant hassle. Most worthwhile things are. You’ll realize I’m right when you are old. Especially if Junior doesn’t grow up to be that Nobel prize-winner we know he will be, or marry a saintly woman who will care for you in your dotage. (Have noticed daughters are more likely to care for the aged, than sons).

        #2 – Don’t want to make anybody feel bad for having zero or one child if they have medical problems, take a vow of chastity, etc. But for a healthy, prospering family to stop at one, for no reason other than selfishness, is just … sad.

        #3 – Glad you live in a wonderful neighborhood, with an infinite supply of ersatz aunts & uncles. Most neighborhoods aren’t that ideal. Even so, it’s just not the same. If you think they are just like family, ask them to lend you money. These Indians will quickly think you are trying to scalp them, and go on the war-path.

        P.S. I remember the 1970’s, when people were warning about overpopulation. And now, they tell us our economy needs more workers, so we cannot possibly enforce immigration laws. Odd thing, it seems to be the same people making both (contradictory) arguments.

        Reply
        • Jmac July 14, 2016, 10:24 am

          Oh. My. God.

          #1 – Sure, everyone without a Nobel prize-winning child is screwed. Totally. And by your silly argument, if he has another son the second time around, he’s *still* likely to have nobody to change his adult diapers (waah, waah)!

          #2 – You’re kidding, right? Chastity? And it’s selfish to have one son and take fantastic care of him, providing food, a home, and education? You’re right, by George! What a selfish creature, that MMM!

          #3 – Wonderful – a dash of thinly veiled racism to round things out! And….you’ve got the wrong “Indians”, bud.

          Reply
          • Jmac July 14, 2016, 10:45 am

            P.S. – You’re confusing overpopulation with economics. While the economy may demand more workers, this is not a signal we should continue to grow our population purposefully. What economies demand (and maybe won’t continue to demand if we shift away from reckless consumerism) and what our planet can handle are two very different things.

            Reply
          • diana July 14, 2016, 2:07 pm

            agree completely, and would we even call that racism “thinly veiled”? that’s a little generous I think!

            Reply
            • Jmac July 14, 2016, 2:37 pm

              I was giving him the benefit of “attempted metaphorical use”, but you’re correct of course. His whole post is a mess of half-thoughts, cavalierly blurted at a man who’s only looking to help people.

              Reply
        • chacha1 July 14, 2016, 11:11 am

          Dear Wilfred, when you come to somebody’s blog, you are soliciting their opinion. There is no reason to read blogs other than to get information and opinions that are not your own.

          So you are free to disagree with what you read on those blogs, and a blog writer is then free to slam the door in your face if you say something offensive, but you can’t honestly say that the blog writer’s opinion was unsolicited. You made the choice to come here.

          Reply
          • Wilfred July 14, 2016, 12:41 pm

            Dear Chachai,

            I give Mr Moustache credit for not slamming the door in my face, even though he disagreed. He could have simply deleted my comment during Moderation & I wouldn’t have terrified poor Jmac.

            When a blog author allows comments, I assume he is soliciting the opinions of others, & does not want only echo-chamber praise of the identically-minded.

            Reply
            • Paul July 15, 2016, 5:43 pm

              Dear Wilfrid,

              You’re entitled to your opinion, and I don’t think your sharing on this blog was over the line, but I do think it came pretty darn close. Still, I agree that healthy discussion is facilitated by the exchange of different ideas. I suppose it’s the provocative, know it all language that’s got a few posters in a lather.

              I will assume you’re not a troll looking to get a rise out of people, but that you simply truly believe many of us that age with less than two children, or no daughter, will regret it. I wouldn’t be surprised that a few might. But I’d also guess the majority of us in that boat won’t have any regrets at all :)

              Reply
            • Helen July 19, 2016, 9:51 am

              Holy Mackerel!
              I am that “sweet girl” that so many parents wish would marry their son. In no way, shape or form would I sign up to be your maid. Forget it. I will not change adult diapers. That vow of “in sickness or in health” applies to my husband only. It is flat out unfair and nasty to try to force this on me. A real, high quality caretaker is paid about 5K/month and you’d better be happy to pay them. Don’t like it? Then you’d better be super mustachian – serious paleo diet, crossfit, walking/biking regularly so that you don’t need that kind of care. By the way, how about my expectation that YOU provide *free* childcare for me at all times?

              Reply
        • mary w July 14, 2016, 12:53 pm

          Reason one (daughters will take care of you in your old age) seems to cancel out reason two (selfish not to have a second child).

          Interesting to note that in your three reasons you managed to be both sexist and racist…and didn’t even pick the right race!

          Reply
        • Chris July 14, 2016, 1:00 pm

          I’m completely on board with the spirit of this blog: i.e commuting by bike, learning how to cook frugally, DIY whenever humanly possible, bowing out of mindless consumer society, and focusing on genuine happiness. I’m even on board with drinking less delicious beer (an enjoying the ones you do drink).

          But to not bring future loved ones into the world or have a dog because it doesn’t fit into a retirement plan (I know, its about time, not money)?? Wilfred’s “NEED to have a daughter” was too far, but I’m not too sure if yours is the most expansive notion of love, happiness, or human flourishing either.

          Obviously have as many or few kids as you want (or none at all…I don’t have any), people can be happy or unhappy in countless family scenarios. Problem is, your future self doesn’t know, regardless of the cost-benefit analysis. Happiness and satisfaction can sometimes be in tension. Thus is life.

          Reply
        • Alexandra July 19, 2016, 2:04 pm

          This sounds like it’s coming from a Christian worldview. Which I happen to share, but over the years have realized doesn’t really work to impose on the values of others. It helped to finally get married at age 33 and have a child of my own to realize that having children is really, really hard. We’re having a second because stopping at one just doesn’t feel right to us, philosophically/spiritually, but I can TOTALLY understand the inclination to do so. I’m at 17 weeks pregnant right now and am really dreading starting all over with an infant, even though I know that the payoff is amazing.

          Maybe if I had started earlier with the project I’d be more inclined to keep going and have a third or fourth child, but at 37 I just can’t bring myself to go through pregnancy again after this go ’round. Maybe we’ll adopt or foster children later on.

          Anyway, there’s so much I agree with on this blog, but the big picture is different from my own understanding of why frugality/simplicity are important. And I’m ok with that. MMM writes really well, he’s entertaining, and this blog is free! So I keep the financial inspiration that I agree with, and go elsewhere for my spirituality.

          For example: generosity plays a much bigger role in my husband and my finances. We are not FI but give about 20% of our income away, where MMM says he waited until he was FI to engage in generosity because it would be a bigger payoff for the charities he wants to support. That makes sense from a worldly point of view but is fairly incompatible with our understanding of what money is for.

          Personally, having one child when having more than one was possible DID feel like a bad trade of immediate pleasure (in the form of better sleep, less money on childcare, and an overall easier life) for long-term awesomeness (in the form of watching siblings grow a relationship, and having more than one kid to love for the rest of our lives) not to mention a spiritual understanding of what my marriage is for. But it’s such a personal decision. I used to be pretty judgy about this issue, but I’m not anymore.

          Reply
          • Mikey July 25, 2016, 3:04 pm

            Just out of curiousity, could you elaborate on comment about your “understanding of what money is for”? It seems to that MMM makes sense both from a worldly sense (Of course, the only way that giving money to charity makes sense at all in a strictly worldly sense is if you get some kind of selfish benefit from it – ie: pride, a feeling of accomplishment, improved reputation etc…) and from a spiritual sense. In my view money is simply a tool to accomplish goals, material and more altruistic. Presuming that more money means that a given charity can accomplish more good (of course, there is a time-money trade-off and some charities can accomplish a heck-of-a-lot on a shoestring budget, but even that is a practical, not an ideological, consideration), it makes sense to me to delay “gratification” even in charitable giving.

            I’m in no position to consider any major charitable donations at the moment, as I’m still 23, making $15/hr at a summer job, and paying for tuition, but I’d still like to hear other’s thoughts on this.

            Reply
      • Baron July 14, 2016, 1:17 pm

        I am going to have to call you out on this comment for being complainypants:

        “thought of going back to the sleepless nights and diaper era after ten years of progress”

        Those were moments to become stronger not some sort of horrible choice you made.

        But I do agree, family choice is person an not subject to a “must” requirement. People should be open about the family and choose what is best for them. i

        Reply
        • Adm Karpinsk July 14, 2016, 5:02 pm

          Calling out Adm Karpinsk is always fair game. But here’s the definition of complainypants for the purpose of this blog:

          Complaining that you CAN’T achieve something that you really want to achieve (wealth, early retirement, fitness, even riding a bike to work), because YOU don’t have all the advantages that the author did (being gifted with healthy genetics, happening to live in Longmont, CO, etc.)

          When it comes to having kids, sure, I am pointing out some of the negatives of babies, but it is not complainypants because I genuinely do NOT want any more kids. I’m not running from the hardship of babies despite the desire for more kids – I just think my one splendid lad is plenty for me.

          Now in OTHER ways, I definitely exhibit complainypants behavior – for example I do want to publish a book, and I’d love to have a popular educational YouTube channel sort of like VSauce. But then I claim that I don’t have time because I’m busy raising my boy.

          Meanwhile, plenty of other men are great fathers AND get much more done in their hobbies/careers/whatever than me. I am thus using fatherhood as an excuse to not become better at time management, which is sort of complainypants.

          Reply
          • Paul July 15, 2016, 6:07 pm

            You’re a funny guy. Obnoxiously rude for entertainment’s sake, but straight up, can look in the mirror and honestly critique yourself. Thanks for the insight, newfound lingo, and educational amusement.

            I like the minimalist Stoicism mentality, and the sarcastic mockumentary commentary that accompanies it. I read somewhere (either one of your earlier posts, or a link to someone else’s post) that you gave a talk at a blog conference advising that bloggers make their posts personal, a conduit for their own personality. I think that’s what makes your posts fun, at least for me. I especially love the raging indignation toward Comcast :)

            Thanks again, look forward to more posts, further gems from the community here to apply to my own life, and the sheer entertainment value, which is already paid for through my monthly internet payment :)

            Reply
      • steve poling July 15, 2016, 5:46 am

        As a child my parents would often take us kids to visit Uncle Joe and Aunt Monnie. It was a bit confusing to learn that they were not siblings of either parent, but older friends/mentors of my parents who adopted us kids as nephews/nieces. Fast forward a generation and my friend Ted assumed the role of Uncle Theo to my kiddos. The common element was that both intentional aunts/uncles were childless or unmarried. Wilfred has a point that your lad will benefit from more extended family. I suggest you recruit some non-biological/intentional aunties and uncles at least to provide an example the lad will recall when he’s a parent. Or import some cousins from Canada…

        Reply
      • Ryan July 15, 2016, 6:39 am

        My wife is an only child and has a small extended family. Since she didn’t grow up with little ones around she doesn’t have the drive to have a child. She also is able to make very objective observations about her peers when they complain about their children and associated direct/indirect expenses. Apparently she gets quite a bit of unsolicited advice about our lack of children and these people can turn downright nasty when she comments objectively.

        I believe that there are too many people, especially those that don’t support themselves. Unfortunately I have employees that speak openly about having children to increase welfare receipts, as well as cultural pride about having many children with different women. This pushes us even further towards adoption.

        I believe that there are children out there that need our help and that adoption will not only enrich our lives with someone to take care of me later (What’s up Wilfred!), but will do my part to deal with overpopulation.

        If you want to see something funny, tell someone that you think you are going to adopt a three year old instead of having a child. Watch their face and listen to what they say next, amazing. But, you haven’t even tried? Why would you want to do that?. . . . . .

        Side note: I don’t understand how people cannot see that having two people continually make three will become unsustainable quickly? Or are they special, or do they just not care?

        Reply
        • RelaxedGal July 27, 2016, 10:48 am

          Definitely adopt a 3 year old. The larval stage is the worst, skip it if you can.

          This is coming from someone who wanted 2 kids (I have a sibling) and my husband only wanted one. That first year strengthened his resolve and brought me around. We are a 1 child family, and Thank God we’re past those early months/years. It got better every month (still does, and she’s 5 1/2) but 2 1/2-3 is where I said “Yes, I could handle 2, if they started out like this.” Being able to communicate their needs is HUGE.

          Reply
      • MrFrugalChicago July 15, 2016, 12:16 pm

        You are totally right, and I am making a similar 1 kid decision.

        The bad thing is from a species standpoint.. people like us will contribute less to the gene pool than the overweight, drug addicted people on welfare who have 15 kids. So over time, we will die out, and the welfare kiddie farms will rule :(

        This is literally the only reason I feel bad for 1 kid. I am leaving the human gene pool in a slightly worse place than when I was born.

        Reply
        • Ryan July 17, 2016, 10:47 am

          This is the basic premise of the movie idiocracy, which is laid out at the beginning of the film. After watching it I cannot help but see it EVERYWHERE.

          I figure that maybe we will adopt two children in time and then will have had a positive impact on the world and offset two other couples that had three children.

          Reply
        • Steven July 22, 2016, 10:53 am

          I thought it, you said it.

          Reply
    • James July 13, 2016, 10:16 pm

      This is super dumb. Studies have shown that only-children are better emotionally adjusted and have better outcomes as adults than their peers with siblings.

      Reply
    • Jmac July 14, 2016, 8:35 am

      Well, that was terrifying. Wilfred, I’d encourage you to remember that the decision to have children (nevermind how many) is a deeply personal one. It’s a lifelong commitment and nobody *NEEDS* to have more kids than they already do, whether that number is zero or ten. Some people want no kids, some want a single child and others want to start a basketball team. You are free to decide what works best for your family (and finances), as is everyone else.

      Reply
    • Alison July 14, 2016, 12:13 pm

      I can think of a lot of sad things in this world, one of them being your extremely limited world view. I’m certainly not sad about being child free, nor is it a selfish action to decide not to have children.

      Reply
    • Aimee July 14, 2016, 12:28 pm

      Oh man! I didn’t realize how sad my life was without children. I better hope my FU money lasts long enough to get me into a top notch old age home where I can wither away to nothingness without family or friends to care for me.

      Reply
  • HeatherT July 13, 2016, 4:37 pm

    Excellent post. I think shopping for stuff is actually pretty time-consuming on its own. To me, it feels like a chore, when I could be going for a bike ride or reading a book.

    And that’s not to mention all the time we spend tending our possessions: dusting them, remembering to charge them, constantly moving them out of our way when we need the space for something else. Getting and having stuff takes time, which is OK if the stuff is worthwhile. But having too much stuff takes too much time, as well as too much money.

    Reply
  • PandaBear July 13, 2016, 4:40 pm

    Could not agree more with this post… Interestingly enough, I was able to accomplish what was written here after I had a child and move to the burbs. I was far enough from all the city action that I could not, at a moment’s notice, say yes to a happy hour/dinner/spending event. So there goes spending. Then obviously with having a child, something had to give as far as money/time/energy capacity. I couldn’t just book week night dinners out as often as I used to (which was once a week at a minimum). I thought I would go crazy and get depressed by not having all these activities and social events to go to, but actually this forced simplicity has done me so good. Not to say that I no longer do any of that, but cutting way back has certainly made my life more optimal.

    Reply
    • Pablito July 13, 2016, 6:05 pm

      I know what you mean. I don’t have kids, but I did get married last year. Before, if I missed a night out with the boys, it seemed like a big loss. Now, I can’t be out every night anyway (despite having a very understanding wife) because I’d never get to see the misses! She isn’t much for going out late, so I wind up spending time at home with her having a different kind of fun.

      Reply
  • Fervent July 13, 2016, 5:02 pm

    I’ve been making changes like this slowly but surely. It took a while, but the changes are definitely improvements. Moving out of Manhattan gave me the last kick in the pants to really pair down on what I need/adds value, and what was just “stuff”.

    Reply
  • Aaron July 13, 2016, 5:19 pm

    For some reason I thought we were going to get pictures of woodworking joinery.

    Reply
  • Mrs. Picky Pincher July 13, 2016, 6:02 pm

    Ahhh, I always think I’m a frugal badass, and then Adm Karpinsk comes in for a punch with a Big Fist of Anti-Complainypants!

    We were just talking about buying another car or getting a pet, and this blog brought me back to reality, so thank you. :)

    I think a lot of people are too focused on the dogmatic steps to save money and be free. But it boils down to an attitude change (to Mustachianism, more specifically). We’re still fighting urges and attitudes as we try to live more consciously, and it’s so hard to reprogram our consumer wiring.

    But once you do that successfully, the “saving money” bit falls right into place, with little effort.

    Reply
  • David July 13, 2016, 6:11 pm

    Great post, MMM! Did you intend to address the disparity in schools? Education is something I value deeply, as is the value to my kid of socialization with his peers. Better public schools typically mean better teachers, and other children who have similarly educated parents (and who similarly value a good public school education for their kids). Plus, even if I wanted to home-school, we’re not retired yet so it’s not a reasonable option. I’m pro-diversity–my family is multiracial–but I don’t think that alone outweighs the benefits of a better academic public school. Where do you disagree? Or should J&J stay in their suburban house after all?

    Reply
    • FreeTim July 14, 2016, 5:57 am

      We home school, and we both work. Our state requires 900 hours per year, that’s only 3 hours a day. You can do that EASILY in the evenings. In our case, we adjusted both of our schedules so that someone could hang out with the kid 24 / 7 which is very nice. We do swap out with other home-schooling parents quite often, it’s a community building excercise. My point being YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE RETIRED to “find” the time for home-schooling.

      btw; 900 hours is child’s play (pun intended) if you’re home-schooling year-round. “Schools” have to accomplish it using only 4 or 5 days a week (excepting holidays and summer) that’s why the days are so long. At home, Children learn with less hours than-needed as in an institutional setting (plus, you get to visit parks, museums, anything you want, and not have to leave “at 1:30” to “catch the school bus” as the child is already with you, you can stay as long as the place holds the interest of you both and go home when you feel like it.

      Reply
      • Adm Karpinsk July 14, 2016, 8:06 am

        Thanks Tim! And the unspoken secret is that homeschooling is even less regulated than that: nobody knows how much time you spend doing school lessons.

        Although my boy is returning for full-time conventional school for fifth grade next month (to meet new friends and re-acquaint with the formal structure before middle school begins), the past two years of homeschooling have faded into a Very casual mode. He got so many years ahead by just reading books, bumming around with Khan Academy, watching science videos and conversing with his parents, that we realized there is no need to kill the fun and make things formal.

        Reply
      • Vince Granacher July 14, 2016, 3:00 pm

        And the trips to the park, museum, etc. can also be a learning experience.

        Reply
        • FreeTim July 15, 2016, 4:34 am

          @Vince thanks… yes Exactly all those educational trips count, and weekends count, anytime he’s learning a topic of his own interest it “counts”. I think 900 hours is just shy hours a day, but you could just 2 hrs/day and then do 2.5hrs extra each Sat + Sunday if one was truly worried about the “hours” it’d balance for the week.

          BUT I didn’t mean to focus on the “hours” as our student has a low teacher-to-student ratio and has a familial connection thus will stay engaged (learn faster) than in a brick-mortar school. Homeschoolers often excel with less hours. For the school committee It’s really about him and his progression-over-time.

          … & as MMM wrote it’s not very regulated, our schools here only want to see documented progress (progress reports, OR dated work samples) – and that’s it, this yields immense freedom for us in allowing him to chase whatever catches his interest in an unconventional way not just sitting in front of books (which he loves) but also – learning good hygiene at home, and visits to museums, ancient sites, nature walks, playing with tools fixing his bicycle, getting coached while playing soccer, going to the food-store and learning MMM ways to eat better – I could go on and on – all count, all learning counts.

          So thanks Vince! You are so right.

          It’s not conventional but definitely do-able, don’t wait till you’re retired to try it if you can. You are entitled to try it at least in all USA states. Not sure how it is in Canada.

          Nothing to lose- as one can change one’s mind at any time go back to the “institutional” setting at any time that’s your right too.

          Here we use “unschooling” method – I can share our “education plan” (don’t be daunted as it’s easy) if anyone wants to and there are samples for Massachusetts try http://ahem.info/ & Parent/ guardians don’t have to be teachers, just be a human committed to guiding his education.

          Reply
    • Kirstin July 14, 2016, 8:30 am

      You might find this MMM post to be enlightening on the subject of education: /2011/10/12/avoiding-ivy-league-preschool-syndrome/

      Reply
  • Linda July 13, 2016, 6:18 pm

    If I could figure out a way to cut the things out that make me feel so time starved, I woudn’t even care how much money I had. The feeling of having a weekend coming up with no plans, there is nothing that compares. Or the feeling I get when someone, anyone, cancels on me, in work or in life – it is the best feeling ever. I totally skipped a big vacation this summer to save money and “camp” for the kids which has proved mostly a waste, yet we still seem to be bouncing from one family member to the next. Driving and packing, driving and packing. Wtf? How does it happen? Even with all the best intentions. The idea of saying no is easy, but it is harder than anything.

    Reply
    • Suvi July 14, 2016, 8:03 am

      This was one of favourites, ever. It’ s easy to say “I need to change this”, much harder to do so. So many times, it’ s not knowledge or even willingness that’ s missing but mental and physical energy. People should allow themselves to just be and concentrate their energy for bigger things.

      Reply
    • Suvi July 14, 2016, 8:04 am

      This was one of my favourites, ever. It’ s easy to say “I need to change this”, much harder to do so. So many times, it’ s not knowledge or even willingness that’ s missing but mental and physical energy. People should allow themselves to just be and concentrate their energy for bigger things.

      Reply
    • Hunniebun July 14, 2016, 8:54 am

      I understand where you are coming from. With children and two working parents, it is very difficult to avoid the to-ing and fro-ing now matter how much you say ‘no’ to…because there always has to be a plan for their basic care while you are working. Given that is summer holidays, I think the rushing around is just as bad or worse, because everything is out of routine which makes it hard on kids. Pretty much everything is a trade off between time and money…next year, I will paying the $ for a summer nanny, so that the kids can really and truly have down time, and it will also free up time/space in my life because i don’t have to drop them off at camps/relatives etc. However, for this year, we are still scrambling around but for a few weeks of holidays. At this point, we have no activities, but the working and commuting kids to appropriate care (and the packing bags, lunches, etc.; getting kids dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, buckled into car seats etc. etc.) still takes up way more than 50% of my waking hours! But just because I can’t do everything doesn’t mean I should do nothing, so even trying to carve out time where possible is a good option.

      Reply
      • JN2 July 14, 2016, 12:40 pm

        Last year I taught myself the Italian phrase “non devo fare niente”. I don’t have to do anything. Think about it. It might me true for you in more ways than you realise. Since then, I came across “dolce far niente” – pleasant idleness. Maybe this could work too!

        Reply
    • RobbyJ July 14, 2016, 9:48 am

      Put it on the calendar! X out an entire weekend and write “lounging around the house”. When people invite you to do other things you can say that although you would love to go, your calendar is full that weekend. In fact, you’ll be out of cell phone range & totally unavailable. On Friday evening before that weekend, turn your phone to “airplane” or “off”, and enjoy your weekend.

      Reply
      • Steven July 22, 2016, 10:59 am

        My girlfriend used to say : “I have an appointment with myself”

        Reply
    • Christine July 14, 2016, 2:23 pm

      Being in my early 50’s and single I actually enjoy my unstructured time on the weekends. I like the option to do what I want when I want without making any commitments to anybody. My only son is grown and lives over 5 hours away and works shift work as a firefighter so while we talk several times a week we probably only see each other maybe twice a year due to his schedule and as of right now that works for both of us. I don’t like to travel to much and hassle and waste of money as well and of course I prefer my own bed anyway.

      Reply
  • ScaredyComplainyPants July 13, 2016, 6:37 pm

    Hi MrMM,
    I want to thank you for the tough love. If we met in real life, you would probably scare me because I am Highly Sensitive (why I hate having to work in an office job), but your no nonsense style of writing helps to keep me motivated while I try to save as much as I can. I dream of the day I can walk out of my job and live the dream of early retirement. Thanks!!

    Reply
  • Tortoise Banker July 13, 2016, 7:03 pm

    I like Leo at Zen Habit’s approach:

    “Smile, Breath, Go Slowly.”

    “Limit non-negotiable obligations to 50% of your time or less.”

    I need to do this. Thank you for the reminder!

    Reply
  • Carrie July 13, 2016, 7:21 pm

    Thanks to living the mustachian way, my husband & I were able to pay all of our expenses while he was going through cancer & and extended hospital stay after surgery (21 days). My husband was also off work for 2 months, was only able to work 20 hrs a week after that, and I took 6 weeks off from my business. We were able to pay for all of our living expenses while still having a substantial savings left over. This stuff WORKS! We were finally able to get back to our normal work schedules (30 hrs. a week for each of us) after 6 months. Having no mortgage, debt, or car payments were really the reason we could handle everything. It also pays to have quality health care so as not to have bills afterwards. Thanks for the tools & inspiration to help us survive Mr. Money Moustache!!!

    Reply
  • Adventures with Poopsie July 13, 2016, 7:28 pm

    Great post as always. As a person with a tendency for extremes, I do find I am either waaaaay overbooked or living that boring life you mention. I definitely need to find a balance. Thanks for the wise words!

    Reply
  • mike July 13, 2016, 7:34 pm

    Your son rocks. Doin good MMM.

    Reply
  • Amanda July 13, 2016, 8:11 pm

    I’m having a problem with the truck selling. My husband bought (financed 2/3 price) a Ford 150 in 2014. He now has a work provided truck with everything paid for so his truck mostly sits in the driveway, sucking up $500 a month when we’re not saving currently. We’ve listed it in Craigslist a couple times and have gotten offers of only 20k when the truck is valued at 26-27k, asking 24k (bumper needs to be fixed at $900 so we’re asking under value). Dealerships also sell at 26-27k. It seems people on Craigslist are only looking for cheap deals. Advice? The dealership says they buy vehicles so that’s the next option. We should have 7k left to save once it’s sold.

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk July 14, 2016, 8:33 am

      Well, if the dealers are asking 26-27k (note that asking does not imply selling) it might well be that the truck is really only worth $20k.

      After all, I sure wouldn’t blow $20,000 on a truck, and nowadays neither would you! This is the magic of depreciation, which happens especially fast on impractical vehicles.

      I think that as long as you have it well-photographed and give it a few weeks on Craig’s, and compare that to whatever dealerships are asking, you can let it go with a clear conscience. The real damage is done by KEEPING a depreciating vehicle, rather than selling it at an unhappy price.

      Good luck and congratulations in advance!

      Reply
      • DenverLarry July 17, 2016, 10:16 am

        I would add two things – first, you said the truck sucks $500 out of your budget every month (plus it continues to depreciate), so financially, NOW is the best time to sell it even for what you consider a low price. You don’t want to continue losing $500 a month. Think of that as putting a match to a $20 bill every morning.

        Second, you will be mentally relieved when you sell it, whatever the price. If you sold a month ago for $20,000, you would probably have been mad about the low price, but then you would have forgotten about it after 2-3 days – certainly after a month. Instead, you have to see that truck every day, continue to post on CL, etc. My experience has been that it feels much better to get it over with and get on with your life.

        Good luck!

        Reply
    • Glen July 17, 2016, 5:04 pm

      I have a friend who likes to buy and sell cars. He told me that when he wants to sell a car, he takes it to the local CarMax. They will do a free appraisal and make an actual cash offer on any car in any condition. This offer is now his baseline price. He posts his car for sale at $1000 above the baseline, and will accept as low as $500 above baseline. If he doesn’t get any offers he likes in the time frame he wants, he takes it back to CarMax and sells it there.
      If you are discounting the price based on the bumper damage, you might want to just get it fixed. Having easily seen issues that you just didn’t feel like fixing might be subconciously telling potential buyers that there are likely potential hidden issues that also might need to be fixed.

      Reply
      • Sonny July 27, 2016, 11:09 pm

        IDK about Carmax as far as a place to sell your car to.

        I took a high mileage honda accord there a few years ago and was offered maybe $2,000 when blue book was $7000, I ended up getting $6800 for it off Craigslist.

        Reply
  • Ghenghy July 13, 2016, 8:20 pm

    “See, this is what it really all boils down to: Time. Energy. Mental and physical overload. When your life is already overfilled, it is very difficult to gain the power to make the major, positive changes you need to actually get somewhere.”

    This is exactly the conclusion I’ve come to over the last few months. We do pretty well, but I know there are still some cuts that could (should) be made. I just can’t seem to make myself make the time to do them. I think I need to start a log of where I’m spending all my “free” time because I suspect I have more than I think. By the time I get home from work and do all the play/dinner/bath/books/bed stuff with the kid, I’m beat and want nothing more than to relax and veg out. Then I whine that my to-do list never gets smaller. Clearly I need to give myself a reality check of how much time I’m wasting and suck it up to get stuff done.

    Huh, writing this gave me a thought. I just went a wrote a list of 10 minute tasks, things that I could either finish or break into 10 minute chunks (Make a phone call, clean a window, declutter 3 things…). Now if I can make myself add completing one of those onto the nightly chores I always complete before sitting down for the evening, at least it would be a start.

    Reply
  • Technojunkie July 13, 2016, 8:21 pm

    I’m making my second pass at FI. Messed up the first pass because I didn’t take care of my health and my brain went to crap. Lost my job and made all kinds of stupid decisions. Industrial food-like products wreak havoc with your health and psychology. Now, I pay up for real food. My diet is heavy on local grass fed meat and light on carbs. I could compromise on factory farm meat but for nutritional, environmental and food security reasons buying food from livestock that isn’t fed taxpayer subsidized GMO corn and soy is worth it to me. YMMV.

    I suggest a different spin on buying a four plex: buy with the goal of multi-generational living. If your family relations are agreeable it can be incredibly convenient to have parents or other family in a neighboring unit. Something along the lines of an English manor house might be interesting. A duplex or triplex might be more realistic. If this hadn’t been an option for me I agree with MM that apartments are underrated.

    Homeschooling solves a whole mess of problems. In a two-parent family the world will survive if one of them declines to be a corporate drone and stays home. I know one determined single parent who manages to make it work. Groups for homeschooling families to get together are everywhere. There’s nothing magical about a brick and mortar building that says “school”, nor pieces of paper that say “PhD”. When you look at the expense of day care, commuting, income taxes, stress, etc, just say no to the industrial school model and its highly variable results.

    Reply
  • aceyou July 13, 2016, 9:13 pm

    You nailed it with this one. My wife and I are both teachers, and I think the summers off is our greatest asset. I’ll gladly give up the extra income that the private sector offers for the benefits of having 10 weeks to get life in order.

    Each summer I create a to-do list that I can add to / subtract from however I wish. This free time adds far more wealth, both in terms of happiness and money than working a six-figure corporate job could IMO.

    Here’s this summer’s to-do, I think it shows the cool things that you can do when you have some built in space for badassity:

    Family
    – Play with kids for hours and hours every day
    – Spend lots of time with wife
    – Visit and invite over friends and family at least once a week
    – Have lots of fun in Vegas with wife (free with CC churning)!!!

    Tennis
    – Work at local tennis club 5 hours/week to improve team and get free family membership while getting paid!

    School
    – Take credits through Learners Edge to get salary increase next year

    Financial
    – Transfer Wife’s Roth IRA from high fee company to Vanguard
    – Transfer money our of Gold/TIPS to fund this years Roth IRA at Vanguard
    – Research 457 and Roth 403B options through Plan Member Services
    – consolidate the points I earned through CC churning and close out unneeded cards
    – close out Huntington account and transfer back to FifthThird. (seek out another bank offer?)

    Health
    – Increase strength
    – Continue biking around town
    – Stretch every day

    Home Improvements
    – replace old trim on the front of the house.
    – research solar power for home to see if that’s a viable option yet.
    – start growing veggies hydroponically in basement so I’ll have a fresh food source with Fall/Winter gets here…plus a fun winter adventure with my 4 year old son.

    Reply
  • Heidi July 13, 2016, 9:29 pm

    I have 4 children and we live on roughly $30,000-$32,000 a year easily. I enjoy extravagant luxeries like air conditioning at 80 degrees but I also grow a 1/2 acre garden so our food bill is pretty small for 6 people.
    People love to comment on how busy I must be with 4 boys and I am always like no I have plenty of time. People love to put around themselves a “busy buffer” as I call it. It makes them inaccessible and untouchable. You can’t have a conversation with them because they can’t sit still. My family lives our lives very unhurried even on school days. We are always entertaining and having friends over. As I type I have 7 boys at my house 11 and under having an epic nerf battle outside. My husband and I always vowed we would be the “fun house”. The place where the kids want to be. The kids that come to our house are starved for downtime. My heart breaks for them that they are already so scheduled in their young lives. My children will never know what it is like to eat at McDonald’s or any restaurant for that matter but I know they will remember that our house was always where the fun was.

    Side note. As a family we biked 54 miles last weekend. There was some complaining and man was I sore but it did really bring our family together.

    Reply
  • hunniebun July 13, 2016, 9:39 pm

    I 100% see where MMM is coming from on this post and as a near-professional complainy-pants myself, I can relate powerfully to Joe and Josephine’s resistance and excuses. I have been reading and following along and making changes for nearly a year and still feel very much trapped in a chicken or egg situation. It DOES takes time and energy to make the larger scale, meaningful changes to drastically reduce your spending and increase your savings rate when the fundamental infrastructure of your life is not inline with some of the key objectives (eg. living near work). In my estimation there are some prime windows of opportunity in one’s life where you really have the chance to get on track to early financial independence, namely before selecting your life partner and before deciding to get the home/cat/kids. The fact of the matter is that for people discovering the mustachian way of life near the middle or end-game of their career, it does seem pretty daunting. You already have the house in the suburbs, the kids, the cars, that cats…you also very likely have a community, neighbours, and a husband who isn’t willing to part with his F-150. MMM by his own admission is really just try to maximize happiness. And I think that for many/most (me?) selling my home, pulling my kids out of their school and away from their friends and community, and strong-arming my husband into selling his truck is not going to maximize happiness for any one of us…even if we do get to retire early (which more than likely would back fire since the legal fees for the divorce and kids therapy would eat up all the saving!)

    Which leads me to why I LOVE this post. These are REAL, LIVE, TANGIBLE things that even me – the queen of whinyville can do (and sell to my reluctant partner) to make space for this idea of ‘wanting less’ to grow a little bit more. I am pretty sure that I will never be considered a ‘mustashian badass’ – but I am 100% sure that the articles on this blog and the discussions on this forum have changed the way I think about time, money, and consumer culture. Thanks again for thought provoking article!

    Reply
    • Lisa July 14, 2016, 6:53 am

      Your kids won’t need therapy because they had to change schools. They’ll make new friends. What if you or your husband got a great job opportunity in another state? Would you turn it down so your kids could stay in the same school? That’s an imaginary problem. And of course you shouldn’t “strong arm” your husband – he’s an adult, make your points to him and try to persuade him to come around.

      It seems to me that you’re imagining the worst possible outcome for each of these things, so you’re automatically envisioning those changes making you unhappy, rather than happy. Try imagining the best outcome instead.

      Reply
      • Hunniebun July 14, 2016, 9:08 am

        @ Lisa – I was just kidding :) I know that my kids won’t need therapy if we had to move. However, I do know that we place an extremely high value on family and community and honestly I would not move to another province no matter what the job opportunity. I wouldn’t move away from my family/community if MMM offered me a million dollars today. I 100% know this would not bring me greater happiness. That is just me. For many people, moving away from their family would bring immeasurable joy! I completely understand the point you are trying to make that I am focusing on the negative what-ifs rather than the positive what-ifs. But the reality is that not every huge life shift as suggested (Eg. moving homes or getting rid of possession) is going to bring about positives…Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. No one can say for sure. People DO get divorced (often over differences in money) and anxious children do suffer greatly in times of big changes. Being married and having children often means that your decisions are no longer 100% your own, there is a trickle down effect for every decision that I make.

        On the truck front, I have made my case. Shown the numbers and dh always chooses the status quo. So the options are a) drop it and move on b) nag him to death about it until he resents me. Am I missing one? LOL!

        Reply
        • Chris July 14, 2016, 1:35 pm

          Yeah. If you find a solution to the husband who won’t give up his F-150, let me know.

          Reply
        • Vince Granacher July 14, 2016, 3:13 pm

          You could compromise. He doesn’t have to give up the F 150, he gets to keep it and keep it and keep it as in no new F 150 unless he can pay cash for it and not destroy the savings doing it.

          Reply
        • BuckeyeNut July 15, 2016, 7:59 am

          Hunniebun, you are exactly where I am. The complete MMM lifestyle makes so much sense, but we are unwilling to move near work. We have elementary age children and are in a nice neighborhood surrounded by kids their age. I love my neighbors and nearby friends – I am not willing to move. I feel happy and fulfilled.

          I feel very undeserving, but somehow we achieved financial independence (husband continues to work and I work part-time). I try to push down the nagging feeling that we could be so much better.

          My husband is a spendy pants. I have gradually worked on him and repeated the mantra you can buy stuff or buy your freedom. He understands it but still loves to spend money. I am by nature frugal. We live in a compete with the Jones’ kind of neighborhood. I am happy driving our 13 year old car. Luckily, automobiles is not the hubby’s things – but I do see him being influenced by other consumption compulsions. I keep a monthly spreadsheet of our economic performance and try to review with him where we are. Many months I am unable to get him to sit down for the review, but the months I do I think it helps.

          Reply
    • Christine July 14, 2016, 12:59 pm

      I am intrigued by this way of thinking. It is so easy to get trapped in dogma of your thinking. It is amazing how much some imagination and risk taking and open mindedness and thinking outside the box can do!! It is amazing to me how situations we view as “bad” or “negative” here in America actually make us stronger and happier, something MMM preaches. You kids changing schools.. they will benefit from learning the skill to adjust in a new environment and make new friends. Getting rid of the F-150 could free up funds for date night and actually INCREASE marital happiness. It is literally all in your attitude and how you look at life. I love MMM so much because it really is about freedom. Not only financial freedom but freedom to take any perceived negative situation and have the skills and imagination to find a meaningful and practical solution to your “problem”.

      Reply
  • James July 13, 2016, 10:18 pm

    Great article, and a good lesson for those of us with deficiencies in areas other than saving, too.

    Reply
  • Whiskers July 13, 2016, 10:34 pm

    Triple M – I have done everything you’ve mentioned for FI and agree with everything you said in this post except…cats. I spent a while delaying the adoption of a free-roaming house creature by saying yes to caged creatures and honestly, in retrospect, I wish I had just said yes to the cat right off the bat. Our ex-bird sucked – it was loud and its feathers and crap went everywhere. Then we adopted a frog thinking “How bad could a frog be?” Well, this aquatic frog, before it reached the end of its natural lifespan, needed a complex water filtration system, fresh feeder fish to eat, etc. and all it did was hang there in the water staring at us and make the water brown. In contrast, the cat we have now is pretty self-sufficient and yet is a nice, friendly companion. If I sit down, it sits down for petting but otherwise it does its own thing. Day to day care is minimal (feed, water, scoop box) and Costco has a good price on cat litter :)

    Plus, I’m assuming that the cat idea was brought up by another member of the MMM family. If so, it would be a shrewd tactical move to say yes to the cat as it would likely prevent the invasion of another, more life-complicating creature (e.g. a dog).

    Just sayin’

    Reply
    • Adm Karpinsk July 14, 2016, 8:27 am

      Haha – I admit that I like cats more than any other animal. But we just have NO desire for the extra responsibility. Remember that we are retired – we like to take off and leave the house unattended for months at a time. This means that even houseplants are too much commitment, let alone living creatures.

      Reply
      • vdawg July 18, 2016, 7:24 am

        Ha, I just became a bigger fan of yours after reading that cat comment! We were against commitment too – no children, no pets– but recently adopted a cat to take care of some mice issues. Lo and behold, it is the best thing ever. Not to mention it has also increased our mustachian muscles — got a broken kitty robot litter for free off craigslist (retails for $400) and fixed it, researched deals and coupons so we now have over a year worth of litter and food for free. It’s been good cheap fun!

        Reply
    • Kate July 19, 2016, 2:17 pm

      I have two cats who are both turning 11 this year and I’ve had them since kittens. While I adore them and can’t imagine my life without them, one was diagnosed as diabetic in January and I’m now required to give him insulin injections every 12 hours. Being single and living alone, this responsibility lies entirely on my shoulders.

      I’m not comfortable leaving him at the vet in a tiny cage while I take vacations and having someone come to my house twice a day is extremely expensive. So for the foreseeable future, I’ll be stuck at home quite a bit.

      Needless to say, these will be my last two pets. I will happily care for them for the remainder of their days but I also look forward to regaining my freedom at some point in the future. Their passing will definitely be bittersweet.

      The problem with pets is that you never really know what the future holds. How much are you willing to do for them at the expense of both your money and your free time?

      Reply
  • Frugal Bazooka July 13, 2016, 11:28 pm

    This is the kind of post I continue to come here to read. It’s like a warm bath on a cold night.
    The physical and emotional benefits of living life with a purpose – but without a “job”, far outweigh the financial benefits, but the financial benefits are f*cking amazing.

    I never try to proselytize frugality or wealth building or even early retirement because frankly I don’t have time to argue with people who don’t get it. If they want the blueprint, it’s out there waiting for them to embrace it.
    The sad thing is if people had more faith in their ability to achieve small and large goals, it could transform them and all of society…especially those at the bottom of the economic strata.

    Too bad our leaders don’t have faith in people enough to guide them towatds self improvement, rather they see gov’t as the only way to solve problems that the gov’t will never solve.

    Reply
  • HenryDavid July 14, 2016, 1:34 am

    So wait a minute. All these problems — too much debt, no free time, stress, crappy physical condition, worry about the future — can only be solved one way:MORE MONEY. Lots more money. If I can only get to that place where more money is, life will get better. Meanwhile I must suffer and slave, but still “treat myself” to the occasional expensive “reward” that locks in my moneyless state . . .
    That’s how so many of my friends and family think. So when anybody says different, like in this blog post, they freak out. Tons of excuses come out “yabut, yabut, yabut . . . .”
    Imagine having free time by . . . taking free time. Getting fitter by, like, walking places. Having a more spacious house by, um, emptying out space. The simplicity of it all! And the low (zero) cost! And the immediate, instant, reward.
    Ya just gotta laugh at how smart humans are at not seeing what’s in plain sight.

    Reply
  • Christine July 14, 2016, 2:41 am

    Terrific post. I discovered this website a few years ago. After a mind numingly, boring, soul destroying job I now am retired and truly live a most wonderful life. We are in our mid fourties and even have a few grown kids (who go to uni in the big smoke!). We spend our days in Phillip Island, Australia and live every day doing exactly what we want. That’s real freedom. No more office politics, commuting or trying to live up to others expectations. Bliss. And remember, we are here for such a short time, don’t waste it working!!! Thanks Money Mustache xx

    Reply

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