What Would You Do with WAY MORE Money?

One of the things that happens when you get older, living in an affluent area of a rich country, is that the concept of gigantic amounts of money becomes commonplace. There are wealthy people sprinkled all over the Boulder County of Colorado where I live, and to a certain extent, this wealth is contagious.

People with high incomes and consumer habits will gladly fork over great sums of money for luxury products and services, enriching the owners of landscaping companies or car dealerships or salon/massage/spa outlets. Entrepreneur-minded wealthy people and companies will fork over top dollar to hire talented people to work for them, in hopes of growing their own businesses, creating even more wealthy people in the process. And wealthy families will dump buckets of cash this way and that in the hope of ensuring successful upbringings for their children and grandchildren.

Living in such an area, and being retired from what I consider to be the cushy field of software engineering work, Mrs. Money Mustache and I have  occasionally had brushes with the opportunity to amass one to two additional shitloads of money for what sounded like not very much work.

Several years after she quit her job, her company called her back, eagerly suggesting that she return to a position several levels up the ladder that would have paid twice her previous salary. It was a very exciting and tempting offer, but she was still able to quickly decline it. When I quit my own job, I gave up an estimated $900,000 of salary and stock option proceeds over the next five years. Since then, I’ve passed up job opportunities that would have paid even more. Even now, the autotuned pop song of the Extreme Cash Goblin is playing in the background, with fantasies of million-dollar-real estate deals, or hell, why not, blogging empire proceeds that would blow away all past earnings.

I’m not going to lie to you. My name is Mr. Money Mustache, so you can tell that I find the topic of money to be pretty interesting. So whenever one of the opportunities comes up, I get a little fidgety and excited, and my heart beats faster. “Ohmigod! I could be a super-multi-millionaire! I could earn and save so much more if I took this job, that I’d have a WAY higher retirement income for the rest of my life after I finished it. I’d have so much money that I would… ummm..”

Do absolutely nothing differently.

Strangely enough, even though the money sounds exciting in my fantasies, they always end up back in the same place – with me tucking away all the extra cash somewhere useful and then going right back to exactly the lifestyle the MMM family is currently enjoying.

In the olden days,  I would have had a much better answer for you. There would have been seaside compounds in Hawaii, fleets of Teslas plugged in to the 26-car garages in my mansions in all of the world’s hotspots. Air travel via the Gulfstream G650, Playboy Mansion Grotto areas beside every pool, and whatever else money could buy. The fantasies were fun to indulge in.

So when I noticed over the past few years that my fantasies had disappeared, and now I couldn’t even rake up the desire for a 2010 Prius in response to my imaginary millions, I felt a little bit empty and cheated. “What good is several more shitloads of money, if you don’t even have any desire to spend it?”, I found myself asking.

“Aha!”

The answer was of course that when it comes to buying additional treats for myself, the extra money is in fact no good at all. And that was a very liberating thing to figure out. I have completely lost the desire for any more of the things money can buy than I already have, which means I have completely lost any form of envy, any sense of deprivation, or any sense of missing out on anything - no matter how many rap videos I watch or over-the-top houses I visit.

Some people would question this assertion. “Sure, Mr. Money Mustache claims to be happy living on $2000 a month, but that’s just because he’s good at fooling himself. He doesn’t even go out to restaurants several times a week! If this guy could see my new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and cruise the beach strip a few times, I could shake him out of it. I think it takes WAY MORE MONEY to be truly happy.”

But after punching that guy in the face, I’d question his questioning.  As one form of proof, I’d offer the fact that I actually do have way more money than the amount required to sustain our lifestyle while never running out, and I’m still perfectly happy not spending it on myself. We actually want to find ways to need even less over time, just because it feels like the right thing to do, and the happier thing to do.

What could be the explanation for this unusual lack of wanting? How is it possible that almost everyone in this country, even people much wealthier than me, wants more money, but a small minority of us are more than content with what we have?

I think it’s a combination of two things.

Logic: I put a lot of effort into figuring out how to have the maximum possible amount of fun in any given day and week. The availability of time is always the limiting factor, not the number of amazing activities to choose between. Spending more money can only broaden my list of options even further, without giving me more time. It would be like adding another fifty pages to the menu at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant. There are already more choices than you can even read before the waiter grows impatient with you. Just pick something and start eating already.

Practice: in order to attain early retirement in the first place, you need to spend much less than you earn. This process, far from being a temporary deprivation, actually cures your want for many things, so that even when you can afford them, the needy want is no longer there.

The ideas above will sound cuckoo-bird to the most junior Mustachians, and “well, duh” to the most advanced ones. And really, that’s as it should be, because this article is a bit of a test for you.

If your goals for the extra money involve simply paying off the rest of your debts and living the financially independent life you were already planning before I gave you this extra $5-$10 million, then you’ve passed the test – you’ll do well in the uncharted and very adult world of complete freedom.

On the other hand, if you started adding just a few niceties, like a second house up by the ski resorts for those family gatherings, and maybe just one new SUV to get back and forth to it, and oh, maybe just a bit more four-star-resort international travel, because hey, with $10 million, you could easily afford those things… I’d say you’re not completely free yet.

Your personal freedom grows with each material desire that you grow out of.

If this sounds a little bit too bleak and Buddhist to you, don’t worry, there is still hope. Even after you lose your material desires, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with money, in the form of trying to do some good. I’m a real beginner in this area, with little fantasies of fixing up my own neighborhood, helping the school, buying up the crappy vacant lots in the middle of the city and turning them into public orchards, and things like that. Over time, hopefully this can grow to something bigger in scope.

There’s always work to be done, so never fear that all the energy you’re putting into your day job will go to waste if you decide you no longer need the earnings it provides.

But for now, just keep note of your desires and see if you can detect them fading away over time. It may sound strange, but they really will start to slip away from you.. and you won’t miss them when they’re gone.

 

Further Reading: coincidentally, a blogging friend named G.E. Miller happened to post this alternate take on the concept at almost exactly the same time as this article came out: http://20somethingfinance.com/mega-millions/

 

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112 Responses to “What Would You Do with WAY MORE Money?”

  1. jlcollinsnh April 2, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    I can absolutely vouch for the concept here.

    Time was I’d buy lottery tickets, not because I thought I’d ever actually win as clearly that wasn’t gonna happen, but for the sheer fantasy value.

    Now that I have more than I need that fantasy has become a stark realization of what a PITA dealing with winning the lottery would be. What a time suck in some especially ugly ways. (dealing with all the greedy, desperate people hoping for some crumbs comes to mind.)

    Truth is, if some large sum dropped into my lap I’d use it to own even less stuff. That is I’d get rid of everything. I’d move around the world slowly, living in upscale hotels (I do like my comfort in my old age) and renting vehicles and such if and when I might need them.

    Kinda like a humble monk with a well funded AMEX card:

    http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/the-monk-and-the-minister/

    • Shiznik April 2, 2012 at 7:31 am #

      With all the talk of the Mega Millions lottery topping $600 million this past week, I found myself once again wondering what I would do with all that money. However, for the first time in my life, I had absolutely no idea what I would do. I thought to myself…I’d invest some in secure bonds so I could live off the non-volatile interest for the rest of my life, give a million to each close family member, and then….um….crap I still have $590 million to do something with! Years ago I would have blathered on about all the cars/houses/boats ect. I’d buy with this amount of money, but now it seems like such a waste and headache.

      It really is amazing how your desires diminish over time.

      • SunTzuWarmaster April 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

        It is especially apparent when the amount is huge. When the lotto is at $1M, my coworkers would sometimes ask: “what you YOU do with it?”, and the answer is simple: Keep the ~500K (after tax value), and live on the ~$1700/month that it generated. And probably still go to work.

        When it is at $5M ($2.5M after tax), and generating 100K/year, I start considering options beyond “live on the interest”.

        for $590,000,000 ($295,000,000 after tax) I briefly start considering crazy options. I eventually settled down to :
        295M (post tax)
        -3M (live on 120K, I’m a selfish jerk, what can I say)
        ———
        292M (set up college fund for encouraging engineers/engineering)
        11.68M yearly

        25K/year scholarship is (roughly) full-ride tuition, room, and board, to your state school (I’m not paying out of state for you, either!). Requirement is attached that you must get an internship between your sophomore and junior year (when the scholarship will dip to 18K/year).

        Average cost is 25+18/2 = 21.5K/year

        Roughly speaking, I would be able to support 540 engineering students each year for the rest of all time (assuming that education costs mirror inflation). This is roughly the top 10% of all engineering students at my nearby university.

        (and it doesn’t seem like so much now)

        • Erica / Northwest Edible Life September 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

          Our answer would mirror this, except that space education and grant funding for space research (husband) and edible gardening education /local ag startup funding (me) would be what the fortune funded.

          And honestly? I’d outsource more of the maintenance I’m less than keen on and have an eco-friendly cleaning service for my home so I could buy myself more time to do what I really like.

  2. shedinator April 2, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    “It may sound strange, but they really will start to slip away from you.. and you won’t miss them when they’re gone.”

    It’s true. I don’t know if this post is in any way connected to all of the lottery hype from last week, but the way people respond to the “what would you do?” question seems to be directly tied to this idea. There are people who can find a way to spend any amount of hypothetical money, and then there are people who *might* be able to think of one or two things, but then have to resort to “boring” stuff like charity, education, and investment. But there doesn’t seem to be much in the middle- I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say “Well, I know how I’d spend the first $250 Million, but I really can’t imagine how to use up that other half.”

  3. GE Miller April 2, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    On the same wavelength, MMM. I just posted my fantasy of what I would do if I won the Mega Millions jackpot. What I found out after I finished (not my original premise) was that absolutely nothing in my fantasy couldn’t be had by someone who was financially independent. The biggest asset we have is time. And that can be had for much less than vast amounts of unusable cash. Stuff, in comparison, is superfluous.

  4. Tim Stobbs April 2, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    It’s an interesting post, because I’ve actually watch this happen to someone I know. They built a big business, sold it for millions and guest what…lives fairly damn close to the way he always did. Perhaps a little bit better selection of wine being consumed, but otherwise you would never in a million years pick this guy out as having millions in the bank.

    Yes, he tends to spoil his kids/grandkids once in while, but not much as he is aware of the issue of having too much when you are too young. Blowing money is easy to do when you self control sucks, so to train up the kids he doesn’t give them too much. Just enough to keep them from being in serious problems.

    As a sideline watcher I find the entire thing entertaining and highly educational. I don’t need millions to live the way I do, so even if I did I would likely break off parts and donate it or start a charity.

  5. rjack April 2, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    MMM, just when I think you must be out of great posts because of all the great posts you’ve already written, you whip out another great post!

    If I’m completely truthful with myself, I’m one of the Mustachians that would make some changes if I were to say double or triple my net worth. I would travel and stay in places for longer periods of time. I may also want to rent a house in a warm climate every winter.

    I guess I’m not truly free yet, but I’m working on it.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 2, 2012 at 11:04 am #

      Haha.. thanks Rjack as usual. It’s funny that you’d imagine the supply of MMM Classics(tm) running out, because the supply is actually exponentially increasing.

      I have more ideas for new ones than I have existing ones written, and this ideas list grows faster than I can write. Just last night at dinner I wrote three more down. I’ll never be able to quit this job! It’s a curse, I tell you. :-)

  6. Shiznik April 2, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    I completely agree with Triple M that your insatiability will begin to diminish over time. I’ve been living the way of the mustache for about four months now, and I can honestly say my wants and desires have greatly diminished. Unfortunately I still struggle with some desires that have to do with beloved hobbies of mine, but so far every time I’ve come out on top and haven’t given in to my own internal pressure to buy. Thanks Money!

    I love it when Triple M punches a deserving Sukka in the face!

    • Dancedancekj April 2, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

      Great, now I just got an image of Mr. Money Mustache dressed as Mr. T
      “Triple M pity da Sukka!!”

      • Peter April 3, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

        Bam!
        And still punches him in the face!

  7. Frans April 2, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    This post reminded me of the story of the fisherman and the businessman, which is told in, among other places, The 4-Hour Workweek. http://www.lifeprinciples.net/SuccessatLife.html

    Yeah, I don’t know about the rest of the page, but it seems to be a good telling of the story at least.

  8. Heidi April 2, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    I thought about the lottery last week. And then I made a mental plan of what I would do with my winnings. First, I pared my winnings down to $300,000 per year based on nothing except my ability to handle a number. Next, I realized we have many reliable people we could rely on to help us with our new money problem.
    The only thing that we’d change in our lives immediately would be a vacation to Hawaii next winter. Because we’d like to spend 2 weeks living in Hawaii. Its a nice place.
    But the rest of the things will all come with time and skills anyway-fixing the house, paying off the mortgage, perhaps moving, pursuing our dream occupations, spending time with family and friends. We can get all of these things with our own hard work and by waiting.

  9. Mr. Frugal Toque April 2, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    I may not have the complete Mustache yet.
    I do place a huge value on my time: our goal right now is to pay off the mortgage and save enough money to free up our time.
    But, given some cash, I would probably buy a second computer so I could play cooperative video games with my kids.
    But there aren’t any sports cars in that fantasy, just some camping/hiking gear, a little pull-along trailer and some other frugal travel-related necessities.

  10. Geek April 2, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    Still have the fantasies here, luckily I don’t need a lottery ticket to daydream.

  11. JC April 2, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Guess I’m not quite there yet… I would definitely be traveling with my wife, visiting every spot on this earth. I think I would definitely get rid of a lot of stuff in the short term, since I would be traveling. But I would surely get to work translating that money into life experiences. If I never get to visit Mt. Kilimanjaro in my real life, I know I can still be happy and fulfilled. But if I found myself with a few hundred million, I would certainly go. And the Galapagos Islands. And Tierra del Fuego. Wouldn’t you travel more, if you had that money? I’m not talking about sitting in some 5 star hotel drinking champagne. I’m talking about seeing giraffes in their natural environment. Walking on the beaches where Darwin began to craft his theories. Standing at the edge of the world! Anyone?

    • Arbor April 2, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      I haven’t been on all that many vacations but I’ve seen some amazing things in my travels. However, at the end of the trips, the most memorable things are not things at all. It’s the people I traveled with and those we met along the way. The whos always, ALWAYS, trump the whats for me and this is why I no longer vacation. It’s much easier and much more rewarding to surround myself with people I care about on a daily basis.

    • Jeff April 2, 2012 at 11:57 am #

      Agreed. I don’t hate work. I just hate that it gets in the way of travel. I’m looking to be financially independent so that I can travel.

    • Riley April 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

      Ever see “An Idiot Abroad”? Worth a look into how Karl Pilkington fulfills his bucket list. I’ve lived vicariously through his adventures already, so guess I don’t need the extra millions. I may invest in a personal chef, and do something else I enjoy more with my time other than cooking (and cleaning, and there’s probably a few other chores related to owning/maintaining “stuff”.)

    • JS April 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      I’m w/ you. We live a relative frugal lifestyle already, and we’re well on our way to financial independence. However, the financial independence wouldn’t be complete to me if we didn’t have the funds to travel which is why I’ll be working just a few years longer.

    • Ray April 4, 2012 at 3:02 am #

      You’re definitely not alone on that one. That’s exactly what I would do. The travel and experience mean so much more…

  12. Dollar D @ The Dollar Disciple April 2, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    Haha, First off, I feel the same way about the cheesecake factory menu. Normally, I’m pretty good at just picking something so we can eat already but that place has the biggest, most ridiculous menu.

    Second, with an extra $5M, I’d definitely pay off my house and buy a few apartment units before I did anything else. $1M would be WAY MORE than enough to cover our lifestyle. Way more. With the rest, I’d set aside a hefty sum for two college funds for our unborn children. After that… I dunno. Buy a nicer bike? I really have everything I could want at this point.

  13. The Stoic April 2, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    I’ve had that same “Aha!” moment as well. I find that because I don’t really want anything and my expenses are way low I’m saving over 70% of my income a month. I don’t deny that those desires I had back in my spendthrift days were not enjoyable, I just find that they were not sustainable. I don’t want to go through my life wanting one thing after the other to make me happy, which was what buying shit was doing. It gave me a high, no doubt, but left me yearning for that next high as well.

    My desire these days is to not even want to not want things. When I reach that level of mustachian jedihood I’ll let you know :-)

  14. James April 2, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Winning a lot of money would definitely create some changes, mostly speeding up the changes we already want to make. We could sell our house dirt cheap in a few days instead of hoping to just get what I owe. We could move now to a bigger city instead of waiting. We could travel to Switzerland with the kids now instead of waiting.

    But we wouldn’t stay in 5 star hotels on our trips, and we wouldn’t eat at 5 star resteurants. At least not most of the time. I can already see the effect of our kids living and “American childhood” has on them, I certainly can’t bring more of that into their lives. We are cutting back, and more money would allow me the luxury of focusing on living simply, rather than on making transitions slowly so as to avoid poor financial decisions. It would remove finances from the equation to a great extent, which is where I want to end up eventually.

    But knowing myself, it would not be as good for me as getting there slowly and on my own. Getting there quickly would be too easy and with too many temptations to handle all at once.

  15. Anita April 2, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    What Would I Do with WAY MORE Money? I’d give it to charity.

    • Nick April 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

      ^^ This and invest it for sustainable passive income.

      • Shiznik April 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

        x’s 2!

      • vwDavid April 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

        How about invest it passively for charities so you can continue to give to them sustainably….

        • Dancedancekj April 2, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

          +1 and Agreed! Make that money a sustainable source, instead of just dumping it.

  16. Poor Student April 2, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    If I were financially independent and then somebody decided to drop ten million dollars at my house I would be pretty boring with it. I would invest more, more in the investments I already have and some in the investments I did not have the capital for before. I would buy rental houses, or maybe apartment complexes, ans charge very cheap rent and make sure that the places were rented to people who could really use the help. Then I would try to help these people become Mustachians. Anything I did not feel I need to invest would likely leave my hands and go to help others in the form of a charity or some good I could do like you suggested. Our town has a dwindling population so I would try to help our town so that more generations could experience great childhoods like the one I enjoyed here.

  17. TLV April 2, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    I think I’m most of the way there, mentally. Having extra millions wouldn’t change my ideal lifestyle; it would just get me there now, all at once, instead of gradually over the next 15 years or so. Well, mostly – it would still take a while to have a couple more kids. But I’d quit my 6-figure job and move closer to family right away, instead of waiting until we’re closer to FI.

    “How is it possible that almost everyone in this country, even people much wealthier than me, wants more money, but a small majority of us are more than content with what we have?”

    MMM – I think you meant “minority,” not “majority.”

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 2, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

      Thanks TLV, I fixed that typo, and it led to me finding another couple and fixing them too.

      This post was written very late last night, after drinking several beers and then conducting a 17-mile bike inter-city bike ride, alone, through dark country roads, wearing shorts and sandals, to get home from the pub. So I wasn’t in prime writing condition :-)

  18. joe @ Retire By 40 April 2, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    I’m with you all the way, MMM. If a boat load of money fell into my lap, I would invest it to generate more passive income. That’s pretty boring, but we’ve been doing it for so long that it’s our nature now. I would pay off our primary residence and maybe go out to a nice restaurant to celebrate or something simple like that. Life goes on.

  19. Mr. Money Mustache April 2, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    After reading all the comments above about travel, camping gear, and a second computer for playing with the kids: I should note that I’m still full of contradictions in this area as well. I’m not a minimalist at all, and I do already have that second computer, the camping gear, and the extensive travel habit.

    Note that in this article, I said that I wouldn’t spend any MORE than we already do. But we do spend quite a bit already and I don’t have immediate plans to cut it down. As I type, Mrs. MM is currently working out the details for our “spend the entire Winter in Hawaii next year” plan.

    The trip will cost us almost nothing above the current living costs, since I can rent out my current house for slightly more than the cost of an apartment in Hawaii. But implicit in my current living cost is still having this pretty nice house.

    So yeah – it’s a balance, and it’s imperfect. Which may be partly why people can relate to Mr. Money Mustache more easily than they can relate to a pure monk living in a temple in a remote mountain settlement.

    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy SImple April 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

      I’d have to say that additional camping gear would be an attraction. I’d love to have a teardrop (big enough for 4, but small enough to tow with our Matrix). Anything bigger would require a bigger vehicle to tow, and I’m not interested in that. And I’m sure a second computer will be needed at some point when I’ve got 2 kids in school at the same time.

    • Emily April 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      Entire winter in Hawaii? Nice! Of course the first thing I thought of, being a fellow parent was how are you going to do that with a school age kiddo? That sounds like heaven to me!

  20. No Name Guy April 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    “If this sounds a little bit too bleak and Buddhist to you, don’t worry, there is still hope. Even after you lose your material desires, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with money, in the form of trying to do some good. I’m a real beginner in this area, with little fantasies of fixing up my own neighborhood, helping the school, buying up the crappy vacant lots in the middle of the city and turning them into public orchards, and things like that. Over time, hopefully this can grow to something bigger in scope.”

    I could do something like this. Myself, I’m a long distance hiker – the Pacific Crest Trail is in my back yard (metaphorically). The trail needs something like 200,000 hours a year of work to keep it open and maintained to the proper standard (2600+ miles is a lot to take care of). Things like cutting out the trees that come down in winter storms, cutting back brush, fixing erosion, etc. Due to funding constraints, currently it gets ROUGHLY 1/2 this amount of TLC. While in decent shape overall, in places its rough.

    Using my additional wealth, I’d generate passive income to fund extra SCA type youth trail crews through the Pacific Crest Trail Association. Of course, I’d have them focus on my own neck of the woods first (the benefit of being a big donor is directing to a certain extent), but as that part of the trail was polished into a pristine, well maintained state, in a few years, I’d happily fund their work on other parts of the trail. 12 weeks a summer, 40 hours a week, 10 people per crew = 4,800 hours per crew per summer. Say…..5 crews worth for 24,000 hours a year of extra TLC. Lets say with overhead, etc it runs $50 / hour to fund that – there, I’ve spent a cool 1.2 million a year on charity. Working backwards, that would require 30 million at 4%. So, MMM, where’s my 30 million to fund my fantasy “shopping” trip? [Here I'm imagining all the cool trail tools these crews will get - picks and shovels and Pulaskai's, and brush saws, and chain saws, and old school cross cut saws, and rock bars, and grip hoists.....shakes self awake from the dream] :-)

    Oh, and being FI, I could spend my summers alternately hiking, kayaking, mountain biking and volunteering my own time with the trail crew – nothing like a few hundred hours a year of volunteer work to keep one’s mind and body well engaged.

  21. Marcia @Frugal Healthy SImple April 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    I think about this sometimes, as I am working for a startup company. And if we succeed, I could MAKE IT BIG, which at my level of options is along the lines of a million dollars (before taxes), not 5 to 10 million.

    I’m not a junior ‘stash, but I’m also not an expert either. I’d have to say, what would I change…a few things really (which is why I’m not the master ‘stash).

    I’d love to have an extra half bath (we only have one). I cannot tell you how many times my spouse and my son need to be on the john at the same time. You’d think it wouldn’t be an issue with men/boys, but it is in my house.

    The only other thing that I think I’d do…well, if it were enough money to pay off my mortgage and buy a second house, I’d probably do that. Then I’d have a home and rental income. I wouldn’t be buying a fancy house on the hill with a pool and a ton of space. But maybe an avocado tree would be nice.

    But if I couldn’t buy a second house outright, I wouldn’t. I’d probably just pay off the mortgage and squeeze in a half bath somewhere.

  22. Shanna April 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    If I had enough to live and retire I would just give the rest away or become smart enought to invest it and see how much it could earn to give that away. I think spending a few hours a day finding small charities or families who need help with medical bills or help with their sick or disabled family members would be the best job ever. Also any kind of scholaships for inner city children to go to better schools has always been one of my dream charities.

    Also buying any property I think is pretty and making it into a self-sustaining park for the community.

    • Shanna April 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

      And a family home! For the extended family to come to my fun city where I live and stay for free whenever they want and then we could visit more with out my having to host! I would also get a home near the family to stay at and let other family use it too.

  23. Bakari April 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Maybe I’m not so Mustacian afterall – I can think of a few things I might actually buy if I somehow won the lottery (despite not playing it)

    -I’d replace my 250sq ft RV trailer with a big luxurious 400 sq ft park model trailer with a loft and a covered porch
    -I’d get some land about 100 miles north of the bay area to put it on, and buy materials to build a big shed and a solar system and a well
    -I’d buy a free motion dual cross exercise machine to complement my free weights
    -I’d replace the road bike that got stolen last year
    -I’d get a 5 speed manual transmission and a locking differential for my truck
    -I might or might not buy a Tango electric commuter car

    Then I’d figure out how much I needed to put away to live off 4% interest a year, and use the rest to buy air time for public service messages – encouraging people to drive slower to save gas and reduce highway deaths, political messages that endorse ideas instead of candidates, promoting the values of Mustacianism, arguing for shorter work weeks and higher wages, that sort of thing.

    Actually… I might buy a used ultralight aircraft first. THEN the public service messages with the surplus. So, definitely not as Mustacian as one might think…

    • Matt April 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

      Bakari said, “…and use the rest to buy air time for public service messages – encouraging people to drive slower to save gas and reduce highway deaths, political messages that endorse ideas instead of candidates, promoting the values of Mustacianism, arguing for shorter work weeks and higher wages, that sort of thing.”

      I’ve always thought that would be so cool to do! Kind of like anti-commercials. I love the “endorse ideas instead of candidates”—that to me suggests a sort of “propaganda” that encourages rational thought, and looking at the details behind the talking points of whatever issues are getting the most airtime. I shy away from political conversations because they always seem to degrade into slinging talking points back and forth. But any issue I’ve ever sat down and researched, I usually find is quite nuanced, and there is no easy solution. That’s the kind of public discourse I want—an analytical one.

      You basically want to be Morpheus, and show everyone the red pill. :)

      The cynical conspiracy theorist in me says you’d meet an untimely death in an “accident” if you took on this role in earnest. Too many rich establishment types have a vested interest in keeping everyone in The Matrix.

      • Mr. Money Mustache April 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

        Hmm.. “taking on that role in earnest”…

        Would that be like starting a blog that eventually becomes one of the most widely-read ones in the world, advertising anti-consumption and a more sustainable way of living?

        Maybe I’d better learn some more kung-fu and start wearing a bulletproof vest? :-)

  24. mikeBOS April 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Most of the things you guys above confess to wanting don’t require you to have millions of dollars, more like a few thousand. I mean, an extra half bath? You could build one this summer. A little plot of rural vacant land? Just look for a good deal. You want to see the world? Open your eyes and start walking/biking/sailing/driving/manipulating credit card reward offers and you can go just about anywhere on the entire planet for a couple thousand bucks and probably live more cheaply in another country than the one you’re currently in.

    Once you’re FI and you’ve got skills, extra money’s really only good for swimming in a la scrooge McDuck. So instead of giving in to tempting offers of six figure salaries and lucrative business opportunities you can free yourself instead. This is a key difference between people who want to be wealthy, and people who want to retire. I mean, you could use all the frugal FIRE advice to just keep on going and amass tens or hundreds of millions if you wanted. But FI is only half the of the formula, RE is the other.

    “The community has no bribe that can tempt a wise man.” – Thoreau

  25. LeCodeCivil April 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    I won’t be working full time for another year, still living on a student’s budget right now so FI is a long way away. But as far as my day-to-day life is concerned, hardly anything would change. I might eat better food. What “a lot of money” means to me is freedom. I like the concept of “Eff You” Money – just enough so that I can walk away from anything and not have to worry. Enough so I’m not under the thumb of the jackasses of the world. I’m not after early retirement, but I am 100% after financial *independence*.

    And traveling more would be nice too.

  26. The Voluntary Worker April 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    There’s another option nobody is really mentioning…

    I’m what I call a ‘Voluntary Worker’ in that I could stop work tomorrow and maintain my present lifestyle indefinitely but I am still working. Not because I’m compelled to, but because I want to.

    One of the reasons I’m happy to see my stash growing is that it will open up exciting new possibilities for investments that will be FUN – little businesses, slightly bigger ones, a farm etc etc.

    For me, having the income from those things is not necessary for my lifestyle. But I know I would/will really enjoy the stimulation from still being involved in commerce.

    The Voluntary Worker

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      What do you mean nobody is mentioning it!?

      Almost every post on this blog is about getting financially independent, then going on to do more interesting things, some of which could still be called “work”! Even I still do various types of work – almost every day!

      But I still call it “Retirement” – because my definition of retirement is voluntary work.

      • The Voluntary Worker April 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

        MMM – yes, you mention it often. Commenters hadn’t been ;)
        I’ve been writing some articles to draw attention to the different definitions of retirement… I think yours is a good one.

  27. Derek April 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    I can honestly say, like the the majority of people on MMM, I wouldn’t find my life changing in any sort of way. I would still work as much as I do (averaging about 15 hours a week, I actually need the social interaction from it I’ve discovered), riding my bicycle everywhere and still travel the world. Most of the money would likely end up in 3rd world countries helping people living under extreme poverty, maybe start an NGO type deal.

    Also I’d still be wearing the same shirt and pants.

  28. Bella April 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Really? Is there no one else out there who wouldn’t love to not have to clean the bathrooms ever again?
    I would pay an honest wage.
    MMM – you state that time is your most precious resource – well couldn’t you use some of the money to get more time?
    Is there really so much wrong with providing a job (that you don’t want to do – like gardening, or floor mopping, or scrubbing grout) to someone who needs it – so that you can do things you WANT to do?
    No, I don’t think I’m above cleaning my own home – I clean it right now – it just would be cleaner if I paid people to do it.

    • mikeBOS April 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      Hiring a cleaning person to come by once or twice a week for a couple of hours doesn’t require millions. I think most of us could afford it. – If that’s really your thing.

      For me, the giving up of privacy and having to deal with managing an employee seem more distasteful than busting out the mop for 10 minutes now and then. You could also throw in a well-designed bathroom, a robot floor cleaner, and a self-cleaning toilet to minimize chores if you really hate it.

      • Mr. Money Mustache April 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

        I’m definitely in Mike’s camp on this one. First of all, I probably spend an average of only 5 minutes a day doing things related to cleaning the house. The secret there is not being a clean freak and feeling like you have to vacuum every carpet and clean every bathroom every single week. Remember, we evolved to live barefoot in a forest made of leaves and dirt, excessive house cleaning is purely artificial!

        Secondly, I LIKE manual labor including cleaning and cooking my own food. It’s satisfying and it breaks up your routine. It’s part of a balanced human lifestyle.

        I think of it this way: In a good life,you keep your body moving for most of the day anyway. You can spend 12 hours a day hiking around on the Hawaiian waterfalls and volcanoes, or 11 hours and 55 minutes hiking and 5 minutes cleaning your bathroom. Will you really achieve even more happiness by cutting out that last 5 minutes of cleaning?

        Finally, the privacy loss and hassle of engaging outside contractors to do something you are easily capable of yourself is significant. When I stay in a hotel, even for a two-week stay, I stick the do-not-disturb sign up the moment I get there, and don’t take it down until the moment I check out. I don’t need my bed made or my towels magically changed at greater frequency than that. It’s just a waste of time and chemicals.

        • riley April 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

          Exactly. I agree, “It’s a waste of time (mine) and chemicals.” However, it still needs to be done. Have been working on getting the whole family involved in the meaningless chores. I also agree it depends upon how much of a neat freak you are; which is why I prefer to spend my free time volunteering at school or outside running (if you’re out of the house, it’s state is irrelevant). Also, I too enjoy manual labor- like painting or mowing the lawn, shoveling the driveway- something that will stay clean longer than 5 minutes, that I can look back and appreciate the effort. The bathroom is not enjoyable- only clean until the next flush. Cooking would be okay as well, if the family sat down longer to eat it together than it took it make it :-)

        • Lee April 14, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

          I’m in a different camp. My camp is being married with seven children under the age of 11. I love my family dearly, but I don’t love cleaning. I didn’t love cleaning before I began my seven ring circus, and I really don’t love it now.

          Five minutes a day cleaning? There’s no way that my home doesn’t erupt in a stink bomb within a week if that’s all the time that was spent.

          Financial independence brings a maid service (to help hold back the tide of dirt, boogers, laundry, etc.), as well as some educational opportunities for my children.

        • Scott February 1, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

          I split cleaning into two kinds: the stuff with limits, and the stuff that eventually gets bad without ever visibly getting worse.

          If you stop doing dishes and laundry, there’s a very obvious point where you have no choice any more. (Well, other than the “buy more and throw out the old”, but even non-Mustachians don’t do that.) For things like that, I don’t mind doing dishes every day or two, laundry every week or so, putting books back on the shelf, etc.

          But then there are things like dusty shelves or discoloured grout. You can look at them every day, and at no point is it notably more critical than the day before, and those kinds of things are too easy for me to ignore. (How often do you need to toothbrush the join between the panels in the shower surround? I have no idea.)

          So my roomate and I have a service to take care of the latter every month. It turns out to decrease savings by .5pp, though, so maybe I should think about things in that unit more often…

      • jlcollinsnh April 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

        when my wife and I were DINKs we did hire a weekly maid and it worked just fine.

        It’s all about the balance of how you want to spend your time and money. In those days we were, purely by choice, working long career hours and enjoying it. the little time left we didn’t want nor did we need to spend cleaning.

        Now things are different and we clean our own house. no epiphany needed.

        what was an epiphany for me was the hotel maid service issue Mr. MM mentions.

        During my career I spent a lot of time in hotels and it wasn’t until the last few years that a colleague mentioned that he, like Mr. MM, hung the “don not disturb sign the moment he checked in. I’ve done the same ever since.

        Oh, and I still tip the maid.

      • Heidi April 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

        I have 2 kids-4 and 5 years. I think I would be shortchanging their education of life if I hired a cleaner. Sometimes the house is messy and at any time at least one room is messy, but we keep working on it and they get to understand chores before play and cleaning up after we do something.

        If we had more money, we would use it for short-term changes like hiring someone to fix things on the house now instead of doing it ourselves next year. So, I might hire a cleaner sometimes, but never on a regular basis.

    • Riley April 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

      Amen! I just posted above before I got to the end here. I feel as with or without FI, the homemaker job is something that you can never retire from. I’ve “joked” a couple times that I’ll be hiring a maid soon to clean the bathrooms, and then maybe it’ll get noticed (when the bill needs to be paid?). My SO did find it funny when I folded the toilet paper end into the triangle. I fantasize turning to my kids and stating, “I’m hungry. What’s for dinner? And, I’d like it in 5 minutes please.” So yes- extra millions = cleaning/cooking service so I’d have more TIME!

      This makes me wonder how MMM transition went when both parties decided to stop making an income? For me, deciding to be the one to stay home after kids was easy. The reality of what it was to be a parent, and the shift in the amount of home responsibility was not. Makes me wonder what will happen to the household responsibilities once the kids are gone? Don’t think I’ve seen any posts on the emotions related to “retirement” (early or normal time), and how it impacts your identity?

      • riley April 3, 2012 at 5:42 am #

        Just noticed how the title of the blog had been changed from “Early Retirement” to “Financial Freedom”; so maybe the emotions related to “retirement” no longer relate? (Did enjoy the post re: the emotional impact of downsizing.) Just thinking how I’m a product of a self-employed father, who will not fully retire, as he says, “Everyone I know who has retired is dead in 6 months.” Also, wife of a family businessman who’s contributing to society in a productive way by providing jobs for families. Both positions lend themselves to FI in a way differently than “working for the Man”; so neither’s lives would change that drastically with a windfall.

    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple April 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      Full disclosure: I already pay someone to clean my house. Started when my son was 1 year old. Now he’s 6. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I know that’s one reason why I am not and won’t be a super-duper MM anytime soon.

      I hate cleaning. Hate it. I spend enough time every 2 weeks just picking crap up and putting it away so that the cleaning people can get to the floors and the bathroom and the counters (OMG the PAPER!! The school just BURIES me in PAPER!!). Yeah, I could do it myself, but it’s cleaner if they do it. And it’s every 2 weeks, so the house gets plenty dirty in the meantime.

  29. Matt April 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    I see two different scales being thrown around in the comments… MMM’s original idea of $5–10mm, and the much-greater-than $100mm of the lottery. Just some quick math: An ultra-conservative 2% withdrawal rate on $100mm is still $2mm/year! That kind of money isn’t even fathomable to me. With a hundred million or more, you could literally “sponsor” a new MMM family (or two or three) every year forever.

    Random anecdote: a couple years after I graduated college, I was working my first “real” job, making about $60k gross annually. I got a free consultation from a financial planner (a friend of a friend, and many many years before reading about FI). The one take-away I had from that meeting was that if I worked a typical 35-year career, I would make about $5mm total. That perhaps planted an “FI seed” in my brain to some degree, as I thought: if I had $5mm now, then I could live at my current comfort level without working! Unfortunately, it took me many more years to actually learn and understand FI (and now I know that “only” $2mm with a 3% withdrawal rate will generate $60k/year).

    Anyway… I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but I’ve found that buying more “stuff” doesn’t make you any happier. Last year (before I was aware of FI), I was pretty liberal in my spending. Not get-myself-in-debt liberal, but not really saving any money (I had no debt and plenty of emergency funds, so why not, right?). I found ERE and subsequently MMM, and read YMYL. Now I’ve at least stopped buying myself all kinds of toys, and track all my money to the penny. And I have to say I don’t really miss buying thing. Honestly, yes, I still want a bunch of stuff. But not having it doesn’t make me unhappy, and in fact increases my satisfaction of what I have.

  30. mike crosby April 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Reading the comments, it appears that yes, if we had more money, we could do more things. But we realize that (too much) stuff is not the answer.

    It amazes me when I see a very expensive home sold, and the new owner tears it down to build another. Wants never end, but happiness and contentment can be achieved in a simple lifestyle.

    Even so, kings of yore could not dream what we take for granted.

  31. smedleyb April 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    You mean, who I am and what I buy aren’t the same thing?

    Novel. :)

  32. Adan Akerman April 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I’ve read for a while, loving every (almost?) post. I didn’t feel compelled to comment until I read about the mid-city orchard dream.

    THAT WOULD BE AWESOME! A functional public orchard that could maybe also be part of a functional public park? I look forward to hearing more about that, hopefully sooner than later. What a cool idea.

    Happy frugal dreaming everyone.

  33. Dan April 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine” — Jeff Spicoli

    ^^^This.

  34. Dan April 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    But seriously, I was thinking about this a bit this weekend when my dear brother, who is substantially higher on the financial income ladder than yours truly, asked me my opinion on their options for a new house; which came down to choosing between multiple $1-1.5MM spreads, some with their own guest-houses that a twice as big as my wife and my current apartment.

    Anyway, it got me thinking about what I would do if I made that kind of money.

    Would I want a huge house? Would I want BMWs? Expensive furniture?

    I recognize it’s kind of hard to make that judgement from where I am since I haven’t been acculturated into the level of consumption they’re at…but my general reaction is…heck no!

    I want less obligations, not more. I want less space/things to take care of, not more.

    If anything, it’d be cool to get paid (or win) $1M/yr just so I could get to my FI dreams quicker.

    But I wonder how much I’d be able to appreciate it that way…would I inflate my dreams if I could literally afford to?

    Truth is, I’d probably land somewhere in the middle. I’d inflate my dreams a bit from where I am now. I’d use the money to live a comfortably greener existence and experiment with buying my way to middle-class sustainability with goats and chickens and COB and solar panels (oh my). I don’t see myself ever wanting to drive a $100K car or live in a giant mansion. But it would be fun to live in a smaller house in a nicer part of Seattle or Portland. It’d be neat to drive an electric car and ride a Rivendell and buy only Made In the USA stuff and get all my produce/meat/dairy locally. It’d be neat to have a fund to help others with and to help clean up the city and maybe be a patron for some visiting monks/writers.

    But beyond that…I don’t really desire much else. Most of my FI goals are within reach…if only I can find the willpower to get there…

  35. rosarugosa April 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    This is a bit off-topic, and I know it’s a sexist remark, but only a guy could think that it takes 5 minutes to clean a bathroom :)

    • Mrs. Money Mustache April 2, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

      Hmmm… I’m a woman and I can honestly say that if I spent 5 minutes per day cleaning the bathroom, it would be impeccably clean. In fact, we have a whopping total of 4 bathrooms (ultra-luxurious, I know) and 5 minutes per day would be plenty for all of them.

      I probably have a different standard of “clean”, but nobody seems to mind (out loud anyway). We focus on cleaning the main floor area where most people are hanging out most of the time. That includes the kitchen, living room, dining room, play room, and bathroom. I can clean it all up in 20 minutes while DH is off dropping our son off at school. Every other week or so, we do a deeper cleaning, but this is really just swiping things with non-chemical cleaners.

      Honestly, I never understood the laundry and cleaning complaints… laundry is ridiculously easy, isn’t it? Cleaning is mostly just putting things back in their proper place and wiping some surfaces. Maybe you pull out some sponges and cleaner every once in a while and then clean the whole house when you’re having fancy guests over which might take up to an hour or so.

      Am I missing something? I think my standards are probably just pretty low. I tend to focus on clutter and the rest can wait … and wait.

      • Dancedancekj April 3, 2012 at 12:00 am #

        I think it’s just a matter of frequency, personally. If I clean about every other week or so, it takes me 5 minutes (or less). If I don’t clean for two months, then I have to spend a half an hour. Oh, and it takes me a bit longer to clean after I give myself a haircut :)

      • Bella April 3, 2012 at 9:32 am #

        We used to have cleaning people when we were DINKS – and while it took a while – I completely trust them. that is such a non issue for me. I’m not really a do 5min a day kind of person – I like to get it all done at once. I’m kinda with MrsMM on the clutter versus ‘cleaning’. But the dust and dog hair builds up. I know you guys don’t have dogs – but still, the carpets need to be vacuumed at least once every two weeks, the floors need to mopped (and the grout scrubbed) about that frequency. I guess maybe it wouldn’t bother me to spend my time on it if I weren’t rushing off to work, or tired from a day of work. Since we don’t have cleaners now – I am choosing FI earlier over having to clean my own bathroom – but if someone just GAVE me a million dollars tommorow (let alone 10million) – I have to be honest that I might make different choices.

        • Mr. Frugal Toque April 3, 2012 at 11:31 am #

          “I’m not really a do 5min a day kind of person – I like to get it all done at once.”
          I used to do this, but I found it to be an ultimately self-destructive way of life.
          Let’s say you’re making waffles and some of the waffle batter leaks out on to the counter. You could just wipe up that bit of batter with a wet washcloth.
          Or you could say that you like to do your cleaning all at once, when breakfast is all done, or in the evening. By that time, though, the batter has dried in to your counter top and will require a lot more effort.
          Silly example, you say?
          A little, but you see the point.
          When I had the “I clean up only on Saturday morning” mentality, it led me to let things pile up. Not only was each individual task harder (because every task in life hardens into a metaphorical chunk of crud in its own way), but seeing this great number of tasks was depressing in a way ultimately slowed me down.
          If, instead, cleaning is done right away, the messes are easier and the mental cloud of tasks piling up never gets to mentally debilitating proportions.

          • Erik Y April 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

            Mr. FT – I love this analogy, and especially this:

            “(because every task in life hardens into a metaphorical chunk of crud in its own way)”

      • Llama April 3, 2012 at 11:36 am #

        Yay! A picture for Mrs. MM!

        Regarding cleaning the bathroom, it takes me about 5 minutes to clean the mirror, scrub the sink out, change the towel, and shut the pocket door to the private half of our downstairs bath. I DON’T DO TOILETS. That’s men’s work.

      • Emmers April 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

        I think this is absolutely about standards-of-clean. For example, my family *never* mopped the floor. Just didn’t happen. We’d sweep, and wipe higher surfaces, and that was it. But if you actually want your floor to be clean-clean (not just moving the bacteria around), you need to do more intense stuff.

        Which I don’t do. :-D

    • riley April 3, 2012 at 5:19 am #

      Rosarugosa- Agree. Or to think that dirt is acceptable inside, but enjoy sweeping it off the driveway in your PJ’s? I guess both activities of moving dirt around show pride of ownership. We could all save money/time too by not mowing our lawns- and that could be done without winning the jackpot as well ;-) Better yet- I might just kill the green, and plant corn in the front yard.

  36. George Carlson April 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    I had to think a little bit on this. What would I do if I had gobs of money? It depends on how much. If I won that 600 million dollar lottery I would feel compelled to do something. Like creating the Trans-Continental Hiking Trail. Less money would proportionally affect the scope of the project.

  37. Marianne April 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    Whenever anyone asks me what I want or what I would do with a bunch of money or other such questions of this nature, I am always stumped. I never have any good ideas – I can’t even come up with stuff to put on my Christmas/ birthday wish lists. I always attributed this to a lack of imagination, not enough of a dreamer’s mentality and generally thought of it as a bad thing (somewhere along the lines of adulthood crushing my childhood innocence and ability to dream..). This post made me think that maybe what I’ve been seeing as a fault in myself is actually just contentment. I do feel content with what I have- I have a great family, house, kid, dog, two cars, some motorcycles, enough craft supplies to scrapbook through the events of the armageddon- I’ve got it all! Eventually we will have to move to a different house but I don’t even really want to- mostly because I love how inexpensive our housing is. I love that this post has just taken what I originally viewed as a personality flaw and turned it into a personality asset!

  38. Chris April 2, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    I would buy 5 acres on top of Skyline Drive in Eagle River, AK. I would build an off grid log house with a sunroom that overlooked the entire Anchorage Bowl. I would build a reasonable guest cabin next to my house and would build a second cabin in a distant location, in the woods, by hand in a craftsman log home style and enjoy every second of it. I would buy a couple of reasonable toys for the family like a couple of snowmobiles and four wheelers. I would share a handsome chunk of the money with family and friends, because, come on, it would be so much more fun to share your good fortune. Finally, I would invest the rest and live a quiet life off the earnings doing exactly whatever I felt like doing on a daily basis.

  39. Chris April 2, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    I forgot to mention, in terms of sharing a windfall. In my Pre-Mustachian days, I went to Vegas with my brother to spend a weekend with him after a painful divorce on his part. I won 2,000$ one night playing blackjack until 5:00 am (no really, true story, but this will never likely happen again). When I cashed out, for the night, I counted the money, in front of my brother and without flinching, gave him 1000$ of the spoils. I’ll never forget the look on my brother’s face when I did that. That was 2-3 years ago and he still tells that story to all his friends repeatedly. Sharing a windfall can be meaningful.

  40. Naomi April 2, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    “It may sound strange, but they really will start to slip away from you.. and you won’t miss them when they’re gone.”

    I *really* liked to hear this!

    I’m curious about your path to this point. We all know what the “after” looks like…you live on $2,000 a month. But what did the “before” look like? Was it $10,000 a month? $5,000? $2,500? How deep were the cuts?

    And how long did it take? Did you completely change your spending in a month? Or was it a longer process?

    Any withdrawal symptoms? Did you ever think “I won’t be spending $x on y ever again” and feel sad about it? (Forgive me if you’ve already answered these questions in another post.)

    Another totally awesome, inspirational post. THANK YOU!!

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      Actually, I’m still closer to the “before” stage, just because I grew up at least semi-frugal.

      We used to spend a bit more on travel and household furniture, etc.. plus the mortgage payment when we had one. So the top spending might have been $4,000/month. But most of the savings came for free in the form of no mortgage, not needing any more furniture, and having a kid that prevented us from traveling or going out to dinner as much!

      The other reason I think of myself as a work in progress, is that I still live a pretty cushy middle-class life. Big house, nice little car, nice food, travel, mobile phones, etc. My spending is low mostly because I’ve found ways to get this middle-class stuff more efficiently than average, not because I’ve given up very many of the luxuries.

      The REAL transformation will come as I start to lose the desire for even middle-class life and start to simplify things even more. But then I’d be less approachable to new readers. We’ll see what happens over the years!

  41. Gipsy queen April 3, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    10M$?
    Gimme Gimme Gimme! I have plenty of things to do with!
    1) Start a trust fund for the animals shelter in my hometown, which is constantly on the verge of bankruptcy. (Don’t blame them: too many animals, too few donations. If THEY could be FI, they wouldn’t have to worry so much).
    2) Establish a research fund to support the quest for technologies that will make pre-clinical triles redundant. (I’m a scientist, I know what makes us tick and how to make a difference…)
    3) Have a close look at reservation programs – most of them fail due to lack of monitoring.
    And…I’m out of money, with still so much to do.
    I treat money as a liquid sort of power to get me what I want. What I mostly want is a better world to live in, and to leave to my children. (Assuming I already have the FI to have my way with my time)
    Does this mean I’m still a long way away from “The mustache”?

  42. maverickjsp April 3, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    It seems as if a second school of thought developes with the move to un-earned excess financial means?

    A shift from FI to RI , R indicating Responsibility. Could be the reason many Mega winners end up worse off in the end and broke?

    Plus I think the bathroom could be cleaned in the amount of time spent surfing MMM? :)

    • Bella April 3, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      well yes it could – but the point was (and I’m sure many here would agree) that reading MMM is far more ENJOYABLE than cleaning bathrooms…

      • Mr. Money Mustache April 3, 2012 at 11:38 am #

        Also, if you read it enough, you might become convinced that you don’t have to clean your bathrooms as often. So MMM-reading can pay for itself, just like any other investment ;-)

  43. David Galloway April 3, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    One slight nit to pick….

    Many of us on the path of early retirement who want to build skills such as carpentry, basic mechanical maintenance, etc., don’t have the time (because we work 2-3 jobs) or hobby budget (because we have debt to pay/savings to accrue) to get the tools/materials needed to develop proficiency in these areas.

    I’m sure that you wouldn’t eliminate your tools or even your work minivan in the name of anti-materialism–if you’re going to be a skilled hobbyist/worker, you need proper tools to do the job. The question I’m faced with is should I try picking up bits and pieces of tools and knowledge as I try to build my ‘stache or should I wait until I have a sizeable fu manchu and then “do it right”?

    • Shiznik April 3, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      I think you should be constantly trying to learn new skills because most of the time these skills will help you grow your Money Mustache! If you become knowledgeable in areas such as car mechanics, carpentry, plumbing ect. you will save a BOATLOAD of money as opposed to other non-Mustachians that have to outsource these projects. Spend your free time reading/researching these skills instead of doing non-productive activities like watching TV or playing video games (I’m not saying you do these things all the time, I’m just assuming based on the average person) before you purchase any tools, and once you feel like you have reached a good novice level you can begin collecting basic tools and start tinkering. And once you get really good at it, you can start making money from it!
      Speaking for myself, I am very fluent in the ways of car mechanics and do all my own work. Last summer my car needed its intake manifold gasket replaced as it was leaking coolant into my oil, and to outsource this job a mechanic would charge $800 to do this work. I was able to fix her on up in my garage for less than $125 in materials and 5 hours of work saving myself roughly $675. This means I paid myself $135/hour, oh the power of insourcing!

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 3, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      I think of tools as similar to stock, real estate, or other investments. They pay you dividends much greater than their purchase price, in the form of savings on your own projects, potential income in creating things you end up selling, and in new skills, and even a great form of entertainment which helps prevent you from spending money on other things. Time spent tinkering in your woodshop is time you no longer feel like zigzagging on the lake in a jetski.

      So I never hesitate to buy great-quality tools that meet these requirements, just as I wouldn’t blink before transferring $10,000 of cash from the bank account to buy more index funds.

      As for the availability of time, that’s a tricky one. If you really have three jobs as a way of getting out of debt, you might be out of time for other things. But if combined with a low-cost lifestyle, this should be a very temporary condition as you will soon be escaping from the debt emergency.

      I think a limiting yourself 40-hour workweek is a good goal for the saving-for-retirement stage of life. It lets you maintain an actual life outside of work, with time to take care of your health, meet more friends, and develop skills outside of your job.

      When you use your leisure time well, you’re ALWAYS getting paid in one way or another – you just might not see the rewards immediately (cash, health, friends, skills).. but they do come back to roost eventually.

  44. Nathan April 3, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    As I read the article, I thought to myself, “So what would I do with a million bucks? Well, maybe I’d get a car…” And then I thought, “Nah. It would be too much hassle. I’d probably just keep riding public transportation anyway.”

  45. Matt G April 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    The survival mechanisms built into our brains tell us to harvest and consume as long as there are resources available. We live in a strange time in human history, where food and resources are abundant. We all have a mental disorder that keeps us gathering resources even though many of us have passed the point of being able to consume all that we’ve gathered. We want homes that have rooms that are perpetually empty, we want storage sheds stuffed to the gills with things we don’t remember we have, and we want more than everyone around us without considering that we are full.

  46. Landor 'n Stella April 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    Hmm, my list for this would go something like:
    1. Pay off all debts.
    2. Set aside/invest enough to live comfortably forever (FI, in other words). Comfortably would be something like exactly what we make now each year? We make more than enough to live on, and still have a bit of fun money to do things like travel a bit or treat ourselves occasionally. Of course we don’t do that right now because we have debt. Once it’s gone, though, I can see wanting to have these kinds of things within reasonable amounts.
    3. Buy a house in an area we want to live for cash (currently we rent in a place we don’t want to be forever)
    4. Invest an amount for each of our kids (don’t have any now, but planning on it. This amount would basically cover college and maybe enough for a house. I want to be helpful, not give them everything in life. Hard work for what you want builds character).
    5. Take the rest and do something like this (not necessarily in this order:
    5.a: invest some amount for a scholarship fund for future students
    5.b. invest some amount for a charity
    5.c. pay off our parents’ houses on both sides of the family
    5.d. Give some amount to all of our nieces and nephews, for paying for college.

  47. HumanCalculator April 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Keep it, money easily obtained is easily spent. I like to get to know my little workers before I put them to good use.

  48. BusyExecutiveMoneyBlog April 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    I would take care of several people whom we’re close to. Then, I’d get away from the stress, expectations, responsibilities for a good long while (maybe a year). After that, I’d begin deciding what the next chapter of my life would look like (not working). I know some people would get bored, but not me becaue I have a frame of reference from having been a wage slave all these years.

  49. Jill April 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    I am happy with my life, but if I had gobs of money I would do a few things differently. I would travel quite a bit, I would keep my small house but upgrade many of the things within it (like switch my carpet for hardwood, etc.) and have a wardrobe of clothing that wasn’t ill-fitting, outdated and often stained. :) I think I could accomplish all of this in fairly short order though and still have a lot of money left. I definitely wouldn’t be interested in fancy cars or multiple giant homes!

  50. Nathan April 4, 2012 at 6:00 am #

    Dear MMM,

    I love your blog, and so to do many of my 18-25 year old friends. I am so happy for your meteoric streak to blogging success. I can’t help but feel like your site fills a gap, others may have the same message as you, but you have flair! Anyway, the point is, I feel like your blog gives us young people a direction in life, a signpost to a life with meaning, so thank you for that!!

  51. croomsta April 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Is this a trick question, MMM? Like you, my heart goes pit-a-pat at income opportunities; unlike you, I can fill in the blank as to how I’d spend said money. Granted, we’re newbie MMMers, and not yet FI, so a small chuck would definitely go to paying off the mortgage & investing for FI. What else is there, you ask? Contributing to some of our favorite non-profits, including our church building that sustained damage from the earthquake last year that insurance doesn’t cover. And as long as I’m dreaming big, I’d buy some land & some buildings & set up a foundation for an artist retreat like Skowhegan or VCCA . I think I’ve gone over the 5M budget.

    That’s how I’d spend a windfall. If you’re talking how to spend money on “stuff”, we’re pretty happy with what we’ve got–more time is the only other thing we could ask for!

  52. Joelle April 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Sure, I can honestly say that I am not into consumerism. I have a cell phone because I am locked into a contract. I never use my phone and plan on getting rid of it when my contract ends, I certainly won’t be getting an iPhone. I don’t have a tablet or laptop, have an old used frankenputer (a tech-y friend mashed it together from old broken computers), I buy used more than new and love to DIY things.

    The thing is, I still have a long list of “needs” should I ever get lucky enough to win some major dough. I have spent 12/16 years raising my kids alone, I have a mediocre job as an admin and barely make $50K/yr. I have been through too many relationships with deadbeats that sucked me dry financially and have made a lot of poor money-management decisions in the past. I dream of one day having a home of my own (but never having enough to put money into savings kills that hope), I dream of a small economy car that is all mine, I dream of finally getting to go in a plane for a vacation instead of spending my vacation time cleaning the house.

    I would say that anyone who has grown up quite poor (my parents at one point had to scour the couch for change to buy a loaf of bread) is probably already “all grown up” in their consumerism. You don’t have to get to the point of being independantly wealthy or retiring early to get beyond the need for multiple houses, fast cars or expensive electronics. Never having the idea that you could ever get those things in the first place works too.

    Most people put themselves into debt so that they can show off to others. There are some of us though that live in debt just to eat and have a place to lay our heads.

  53. Barbara April 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Heck, I don’t need a jet or yacht. I need 6k for root canals and crowns that I’ve needed for 5+ years and can’t afford. I need eye exams for me (uncontrolled diabetes) and my partner needs an exam and new glasses. She also hasn’t gone to a dentist in 6 years. I would be happy with an extra 50K just to get our basic health needs taken care of.

    That’s what I would do with more money.

    • Sofie October 28, 2013 at 1:38 am #

      All of that except maybe the eyes can be fixed with proper nutrition. Avoid sugar, grains & processed foods, eat animal fats, shellfish, eggs, roe, organs. Weston A. Price cured toothache with such a diet.

  54. Monevator April 5, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    Hmm, even if I was utterly financial free to the extent you are, I think I could still use the extra money.

    Though as in your new fantasies, I wouldn’t spend it. I’d use it to double-lock my security by investing overseas — Australian property and the like — and probably buying a load of gold stored under the hills of Switzerland. You can never be too paranoid!

    I couldn’t agree more with the main message. Desires beget desires, everything we’ve ever seen from the rich shows us that. So you’ll do and have more. But you likely won’t be any more content — that comes from somewhere else.

  55. Lea April 5, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    The jackpot got so high that I don’t know what I would possibly do with that much money. I think I’d actually rather win $5 million than $500 million. With $5 million I know what I’d do: buy a house that’s a little more expensive than I was originally planning, invest the rest, maybe continue to work for another couple years, then retire at 30 and start a family. But with $500 million? I can’t even wrap my head around that much money!

  56. txmail April 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Just found this site via Reddit. Gotta say that I think I am somewhere between where you are and some place else. I do ok; and the only thing I cam focusing on is paying off my debt and getting a few rentals so I can spend my time working on stuff I want to. But when you say you wouldn’t change anything if a pile of money landed on your lap; well it makes me think that while you are Canadian you lave lost some of the “American Dream”. I know there is a limit of how much you can buy and use and fully understand the greatest gift is time. But still; $1M drops in your lap and not even a nudge from your neither region?

  57. Franco April 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    I would bury it in a field and organize a scavenger hunt for my kids and nieces and nephews. On second thought, they would be much more excited to find a skeleton or suit of armor than a briefcase full of money buried in the ground.

  58. Jon April 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Every year I get a little bit closer to having no wants. This just seems to be happening naturally. I’m perfectly happy with my modest 3/2 house, no need or even a want for a mansion. But I must admit, there is still a part of me that would love to drive a Tesla Roadster every day. :)

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 18, 2012 at 6:37 am #

      Glad to hear it!

      I’m with you on the Tesla envy, although I think I could be content just borrowing one for one day. The feast is in the first bite, as they say. After that it would become normal, since the thrill would have worn off, and I’d need to get back to biking everywhere anyway.

      There could be a downside to this plan, however: every other car I drove for the rest of my life would seem noisy and dead slow by comparison. Right now I have a great situation where my 105 horsepower car and my work minivan actually feel FAST to me. Probably shouldn’t screw that up :-)

      • Jon April 18, 2012 at 8:00 am #

        Agreed. If I could have one for a month, that’s probably all I’d ever want. My first car was an old slow Dodge Dakota truck my brother gave me. When I upgraded to a used ’97 Subaru Impreza I bought for $2,880, it felt like a dream car to me. It had A/C, much faster, better on gas, etc.

        But what happened? A couple months later, I was used to it, and it was not very special anymore. Now I look at the Tesla like WOW, but I’m sure I’d get used to it too, and then I’d be craving an Aston Martin. ;-)

    • TLV April 18, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      Last week I had a chance to race a Tesla from a stoplight – on my bike! I made it halfway across the intersection before they started moving, but they still beat me to the other side. Then I caught up to them again at the next stoplight. :)

  59. Heath May 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    “But after punching that guy in the face…”

    HAHAHAHA!! Oh man… That’s got to be one of your best face-punches yet. That guy totally deserved it too.

    I’m enjoying your blog like none other. It’s incredibly refreshing after all of the consumerist and gossip bullshit of which the rest of the internet seems comprised. Keep up the awesome posts, and apply liberal cursing and face-punching as needed.

    As for not wanting more… well I’m definitely still a Junior Mustachian there. I’m still at the beginning of my FI journey, so there are many things I haven’t yet worked into my life. OF COURSE with a large windfall I would invest enough right away to ensure a healthy income at a conservative (3 or 4%) withdrawal rate. I would also buy my own home in cash. I have no real debts so to speak, so that’s not even an issue. But then?

    I would travel more. I would probably hire contractors to fix up every element my house and work right along side them to learn how to do everything. I would also probably take music and cooking lessons for fun :-)

    I believe you that I will slowly let go of many of these wants as I continue to grow and explore my frugal lifestyle. Fingers crossed!!

  60. Kath1213 June 1, 2012 at 3:55 am #

    I’d honestly love more $ in my life.

    Took a $20K paycut almost 5 years ago to work for my dream company. And while it’s been fun and the best job ever, it’s lowered my standard of living to a dangerously low level.

    There’s a certain cut off level where $ CAN buy happiness.

    And I’m doing everything I can to make that happen.

  61. Corax December 30, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    “Sure, Mr. Money Mustache claims to be happy living on $2000 a month,…”

    Hey, my partner and I are happy living on €1000 a month, not because we are saving the rest, but because that is what we earn. And we are happy this way.

    Learn to be happy with next to nothing and the rest comes a’rollin’!

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