147 comments

The Tyranny of Having a Real Job

A few weeks ago, a scary piece of paper came in the mail, addressed to Mrs. Money Mustache. It was a order that she report to the downtown Boulder courthouse for jury duty in early October.

The letter was careful to remind us that jury duty is an essential part of our justice system. Without randomly selected juries for court cases, we couldn’t hold fair trials, and a fair justice system is essential to a free society, and blah blah blah. While we were in full agreement with the philosophy of jury duty, it didn’t make the order to appear at 8:30am in a far-away city on a school morning any less damned inconvenient.

So on the appointed day, she zoomed off to the courthouse early in the morning, while little MM and I did our best to get him fed, clothed, and off to school on time without Mama’s help.  It was kind of fun, although we did forget his backpack, causing a stir in the morning lineup and requiring me to bike home and back to the school to deliver it.

Unfortunately, Mrs. MM had been selected for one of the biggest and most complex court cases in Boulder’s recent history – the “Michael Clark Murder Trial” that is all over the local news these days. The lawyers had pulled in over 300 potential jurors and were painstakingly questioning all of them to narrow it down to the required 14. So it would take three days of sitting around in a courtroom, to even find out if she would be on the jury. And if she did end up getting selected, she would be committed to three weeks of daily trips to Downtown Boulder. About 15 miles away, at the peak of rush hour each morning, resulting in a one-way trip of almost 40 minutes. Then a return trip home at 5:25 PM, through the peak of evening traffic, and another 40 minutes.

All told, she’d be spending up to 18 days in court if selected, with a total time commitment of 157 hours and a total travel distance of 450 miles. Since her time is worth at least $50 an hour, it means she’d be spending $7850 of her time on the case, as well as $225 in driving costs (or more likely a single $88 monthly bus pass). The daily stipend for jurors is $50 after the first three days, meaning she’d get only $750 of this back.

With the appropriate amount of self-mockery, we whined and commiserated about the incredible inconvenience and hardship that had befallen our family. Eighteen family breakfasts would have to be sacrificed. Her daily tradition of a smothering kiss battle with her son just before he and I bike out of the garage to head to school would be missed. She would still be out of town when school ended each day, so I would have to do the after-school pickup as well. Her personal time during the day would be sacrificed, and by the time she got home each night, her son would be almost ready for bed.

At the end of the third day, she came home with the great news that she had not been selected for the final jury. Freedom had come early! All of us were overjoyed. Although she only made the trip three times, our family life had been shaken to the core. Every routine had to change. We had been living the tragically inconvenient life of a household with only one stay-at-home parent!

But wait! The horror story continues. Mrs. Money Mustache was so unprepared for the demand of being in far-away Boulder at 8:30 in the morning that she drove the car to that city for the appointment. All three days! The quarter-tank of gas we had been nursing since returning from our last family vacation in early September was suddenly burned up and she had to actually waste $35.00 of otherwise-useful money filling up the tank! On the first day, she arrived unprepared for the rainy weather and with inadequate food for 9 hours in a courtroom, so she found herself outside at lunch, freezing cold and looking for food. At this point she actually got back into her car and drove it to a restaurant in hopes of finding some lunch!!!

Written with fewer italics and exclamation points, this could sound like an average American day at work. But to both of us, the story is horrifying and nothing similar has happened to either of us in the preceding ten. The sloppy, desperate inefficiency of that first day in Boulder left us both with an odd combination of lighthearted laughing and filthy guilt. Yet, much like even the most mundane events that happen in the MMM family’s lifestyle, it provided some extremely useful life lessons which we can reflect on for our own gain. And those lessons are:

  1. Holy Shit, People with Real Jobs have unknowingly adapted to deal with mind-blowing inconvenience! 
    I mean come on – going away after a rushed breakfast, being forced to drive every day, and coming home only as the sun is going down? Every day? WHAT KIND OF LIFE IS THAT?? What do you do if you have kids?? And yet, millions of people do it every single day.These people, even as they whine that they cannot accomplish tiny things like riding a bike to the grocery store or living without cable TV, are actually doing something infinitely harder every day. They deserve to be congratulated, and reminded of their own accidental badassity. But then they need to be punched in the face, in order to realize that if you can handle a full-time job, you can DEFINITELY and very easily handle every other suggestion that Mr. Money Mustache makes here on this blog.  Compared to commuting daily to a 9-5 job, everything I suggest is a teeny tiny laughable mickey mouse effort. You can read the whole blog, implement everything 100%, and be retired in 5-7 years. It’s way easier than this habit you have now, of missing out on every day’s joy of  a leisurely breakfast that begins a yet another fantastic self-guided day.
  2. Most people handle the logistics of working in a perpetual “emergency last-minute survival mode”. The key to getting ahead is to Optimize.
    Mrs. Money Mustache set her alarm clock too late. She had to rush through breakfast and run out the door. There was no time to bike to the bus stop and take the express bus – she had to drive directly to the court house. She forgot to bring warm clothing. She forgot to pack a lunch. And we live extremely far from her temporary place of “work”. Everything was done in the most inconvenient, inefficient, and expensive way possible.This happens to be exactly how most people handle their work on a permanent basis. If she really had a job in downtown Boulder, she would get a bus pass and learn when to set her alarm to allow a proper breakfast and a morning walk to the bus stop. She’d get her food situation organized so there would be no need to go out looking for food at lunch time. We’d start shopping for a place to live within a few miles of her new office. If housing was too expensive close to work, we’d consume less housing(i.e. a smaller apartment or rental house) to make up the difference. Hell, even if we insisted on being crazy consumers and owning a large house in Longmont and commuting to Boulder (which thousands of people do), we could do much better than our current situation. Check this out:
 

Here we have a map of my town, Longmont, relative to Boulder. At the closest point, the cities are about 10 miles apart. But if you live in the downtown area where I live, you have to poke along for 12 minutes through traffic lights and other junk even to get to the Southwestern edge of town, where the road to Boulder begins. On top of that, the houses downtown are expensive, while you can get large, well-built modern houses down at the corner, still within easy biking distance of grocery stores and schools, at a much lower cost.

So why, in Flying Feathers*, are so many of my neighbors commuting from downtown Longmont every day to work in Boulder, instead of moving at least slightly less ridiculously far away? They say it’s because they love the ‘charm’ of the historic district and the ‘quality of life’ it offers.  But I can’t help but suspect that their perception of Increased Quality of Life is only imagined, a delusion made possible by Decreased Quality of Math.

I mean, a downtown commuter is spending an extra 24 minutes per day, 23 times per month. That’s 9.2 hours, or about $460 per month at $50/hour. (And yes, your time IS worth $50/hour – more on that in an upcoming article). On top of that, they borrowed an extra $100,000 for their house.  This is costing them at least $333 per month in interest and property taxes. Adding in the extra driving cost at a conservative $100/month, and these neighbors are wasting $893/month or $154,489 every ten years after compounding, just to live another part of the same town. 

The key to all of this “getting ahead” business is to never settle for inefficiency, and always strive to optimize. You won’t be able to do it all on the first day, but over time you can make small tweaks, which make your day just a bit more efficient and stick to your lifestyle as useful habits. As these solidify, you’ll free up more time, money, and energy to continue making bigger changes. You’re getting stronger, and yet your life seems easier.  Eventually you’ve got everything dialed down on autopilot, and yet your life is less stressful than it was when you were wrapped in a perpetual bubble of purchased convenience.

Some people say I am too extreme in my optimizations. “Waah waah, my quality of life will be affected if I don’t get to live near the fancy hipster pubs and coffee shops!”.

To them I say, “you’re the extreme one, for what has a bigger effect on your quality of life: spending every single day in a car and an office building just so your headlights can light up the trunks of big trees of the historic district as you drive home red-eyed and tired each night ? Or being willing to make some changes NOW, to optimize your work situation, in exchange for a permanent life of freedom?”

In the end, we all get to make our own choices, which is a beautiful thing. Just remember that the choice of permanent full-time work so you can “buy more of the things you love” is costing you a lot more than you realize. And that every step you take towards optimizing your working life will cost you less than you think.

 

* that’s my new swearword. Please consider it to be  just as profane as “the fuck”.

  • Dillon October 15, 2012, 6:17 am

    Funny and entertaining read.

    Side note: I’m not sure if the article order was on purpose to leave such a cliffhanger (gasp!) or not but yes, FLYING FEATHERS YES, I will be reading the article dealing with opportunity cost at $50/hour so I can fully absorb the words above. Not that I am crossing my arms dumbfounded in disbelief, I just look forward to seeing your rationale. If the ‘cliffhanger’ was on purpose, then bravo for knowing your audience well enough and props to maximizing your own “satisfaction” utility. Sounds optimal to me.

    Reply
  • Grant October 15, 2012, 6:34 am

    a) your court system pay a shit amount of money for performing civic duty.

    b) you’ve changed man! Just say “fuck”!

    Reply
    • Grant October 15, 2012, 7:10 am

      (replying to myself – how sad!)

      I just had to check how much they pay here in Aus, turns out it is:
      Days 1 to 10:
      $104.75 a day All jurors
      Days 11 to trial end:
      $235.65 a day Jurors who are employed
      $104.75 a day Jurors who are not employed

      Still not a full salary, but most (larger) companies pay you the difference.

      Reply
      • Jeff October 15, 2012, 8:15 am

        Actually, most large companies in the US also pay you the difference between your jury stipend and your normal salary. In the US the jury stipend isn’t meant to take the place of your normal salary, rather it is to defray the direct expenses incurred as a result of your jury duty. E.g. meals and transportation.

        Reply
    • CincyCat November 14, 2012, 12:53 pm

      Hamilton County Ohio pays $19 a day. Not $190, but $19.00 (nineteen dollars) per day. And many employers do not make up the difference. Although Ohio law prevents them from forcing you to use vacation time, you can choose to use it voluntarily.

      Reply
      • BCB November 11, 2014, 7:23 am

        I thought that I had read all of the best of your writing and then I click on the ‘Random’ button and stumble upon this beauty! I appreciate that you have so many of these “wake up, you all are the crazy people” articles. If I had known ten years ago what I have read on this blog, I would have definitely planned my life much differently (in terms of career choice) and not incurred the enormous student loan debt for my professional education, which has doomed me to at least a full decade of this ridiculous full-time work that you describe in this post. On the other hand, there is no reason to be a complainypants; I do like my career; I just feel like my time would be better spent pursuing life rather than a career like I have done so far.

        Reply
  • Ottawa October 15, 2012, 6:44 am

    MMM! I’ve read it all; I love the blog! My family has 5-7 years to go – until FI. All thanks to the ‘ENLIGHTENMENT’ you have provided. We are indebted. You can camp in my backyard anytime – I’ll even make you and the family coffee and breakfast!

    But…what the fuck!* Your linguistic badassity has just plummeted to distinctly desperate depths – the English lexicon has been offended by the substitution of one of its most profound (when used sparingly) words. An adjective, noun, verb; indeed: Even a a fucking adverb.

    Why is this so? Have the language police shackled your voice? Tricked you into feathery fluffings? My God man – you can do anything you want on your blog so I say: Fuck it! (I almost forgot the interjection!)

    *you cannot make me say Flying feathers.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 9:18 am

      Ottawa and Grant – I hope you are joking about my language preferences changing.. because I sure was!

      Of course I’m not going to stop swearing! I just happen to like birds, and THEY find it pretty flockin’ offensive when one of them starts talking about Flying Feathers, because that is obviously something that only happens in times of great danger – possibly even death!

      Also, by putting the actual f-bomb in my footnote, you were supposed to laugh and say “Hey! He was pretending to protect our delicate eyes from the word “Fuck”, but then he made us read it right at the end! Mr. Money Mustache is not reformed after all!

      Reply
      • Ottawa October 15, 2012, 9:39 am

        Of Course I was Joking and yes I laughed! It just so happens that I enjoy light banter about the merits of strategically optimized lexicon for maximum effect!

        Reply
      • Anonymous October 15, 2012, 7:04 pm

        Reply
      • CincyCat November 14, 2012, 12:55 pm

        And here I thought this was an attempt to “clean it up” for the sake of Mini Money Mustache’s little pitchers. ;-)

        Reply
  • Jessica October 15, 2012, 6:48 am

    Just specifically on the jury duty, we were aghast to find out that here in Ontario, not only are we obliged to attend jury duty as part of our civic responsibilities (and I’m 100% in support of that) but we’d get no reimbursement for travel, parking or any sort of payment until after 10 days when we’d get CA$40 per day. We’d be losing $1000 per week just on lost pay let alone all the other expenses you lay out! So if called up, we’d have to cite family hardship as a reason not to attend. Which means that juries are skewed towards salaried employees and retired people.

    Reply
    • plam October 15, 2012, 9:11 am

      I’m pretty sure that there are way fewer jury trials in Canada than there are in the US, though. Even as a non-citizen I got more than one jury duty summons in the US over 6 years (checked off the “not a citizen” box); but I’ve never received one in Canada for the other 12 years of my adult life here.

      Reply
      • PJ October 15, 2012, 9:17 am

        I’m not sure if it’s fewer jury trials or some other reason, but I’m in Canada too, I’m 41 and have never yet been called for jury duty. My sister has only been called once – that was for the Paul Bernardo trial, and her experience was much like Mrs. MM’s. There was a large pool called as they expected to have difficulty finding non-biased people. She sat around for a few days, learned a bit about how juries are chosen, then got dismissed.

        Reply
  • Liminal October 15, 2012, 7:21 am

    As long-time reader (though, first time commenter), I just wanted to say that although I appreciate the blunt, colorful language that accompanies MMM face-punching on a regular basis, “Flying Feathers” cracked me up. Because it is so rare for MMM to use alternate epithets that do not involve the standard swearwords, I think “Flying Feathers” further highlighted the absurdity of that kind of living situation and will be stuck in my head for a long time as an example of a THING THAT SHOULD NOT BE DONE.

    So, gold star, if that was indeed what “flying feathers” was supposed to accomplish.

    But, if it was an attempt to tone down the language of the blog for those who complain about the “profanity” here, please don’t. Sometimes we all just need to be told when we are being fucking stupid. No mincing words. No pulling the facepunches.

    “It’s way easier than this habit you have now, of missing out on every day’s joy of a leisurely breakfast that begins a yet another fantastic self-guided day.”

    Do want. I may print this sentence out and paste it somewhere I can see it every time I think about putting something off that I know will get me closer to financial freedom.

    Reply
  • rjack October 15, 2012, 7:31 am

    MMM – Typo alert – change “we did forge his backpack,” to “we did forget his backpack,”

    I recently retired but I used to commute 45 minutes each way to work. It sucked big time! I only put up with it because I liked the company and people I worked with, but now that I’m retired, I can’t imagine doing that ever again.

    If I decide to get another job, it is going to be close and/or accessible by public transportation.

    Reply
    • Erica / Northwest Edible Life October 15, 2012, 9:51 am

      No that’s one of the reasons it takes the MMM family so long in the morning – they have to mine the neighborhood for appropriate metals, bike the ore back home, fire up the backyard smithy and hammer out a new backpack on the ol’ anvil. This goes hand in hand with the welding hobby, naturally. ;)

      Reply
      • Mrs. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 9:55 am

        Indeed! I do find forging a new backpack every morning to be quite stressful, but what can you do?

        Reply
        • Erica / Northwest Edible Life October 15, 2012, 10:51 am

          Yeah you should really watch all that backpack forging stress. It’s probably taking years off your life. ::eyeroll::

          Reply
      • Jamesqf October 15, 2012, 12:08 pm

        Oh dear, and I was thinking he meant “forge” as in “embroider fancy designer label on cheap thrift store backpack to attain kid’s style cred” forge.

        Reply
  • Mia October 15, 2012, 7:31 am

    Flying Feathers, really???
    I understand, MMM , that you are trying to get blog certified by Chase, Amex or whomever , but rather do not put anything than such lame substitute.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 9:26 am

      ENOUGH OF THIS BULL-DOODY! I AM NOT TRYING TO WIN THE APPROVAL OF ANY FUCKING CREDIT CARD COMPANIES!!!

      :-)

      Please, let Mr. Money Mustache operate the keyboard in the way he best sees fit. If you don’t like the expression “Flying Feathers”, go watch a midair battle between a hawk and a cute little sparrow, and feel awe at the violent profanity of Mother Nature Herself. It might even make you swear in appreciation.

      Reply
  • Holly@ClubThrifty October 15, 2012, 7:40 am

    Good post!

    Just remember, not everyone who works a 9-5 is incredibly inconvenienced or living a miserable lifestyle. My husband and I plan on retiring early but we are not there…..yet.

    We get up at 7:30 and spend some time with our kids, feeding them breakfast and getting them ready to start their day. Since we work together, we drop the kids off at daycare then head to work. It’s exactly 8 minutes from our driveway to me sitting at my desk with a cup of coffee. We carpool….in a Prius! When we get off work we pick up the kids and have an enjoyable evening.
    I agree with you that commuting is bull$hit. I used to drive an hour each way to work many years ago and I will never never do that again.

    Working a job doesn’t have to be miserable. It is just important to make your life work as well as possible with as little inconvenience as possible.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 9:27 am

      Great attitude Holly.. I can see you’ve optimized away much of the potential shittiness of your double-income-plus-kids arrangement, which is exactly what I’m trying to suggest with this article.

      Reply
      • Holly@ClubThrifty October 15, 2012, 10:04 am

        Yes, and as usual you did an awesome job of suggesting it!

        About ten years ago, I was a nanny for a dual income family. They lived in a huge house on 8 acres in the country and they both commuted about an hour each way to work. They also insisted on sending their kids to private school which was about 45 minutes away even though there was a very nice elementary school about 5 minutes away. The result was that they were spending 3-5 hours a day driving back and forth to work and driving their kids back and forth to school. They mostly only had time to eat fast food as they were always on the go. They never had any time at home to enjoy because they were always driving everywhere. They spent huge on items like 4 wheelers for the entire family, huge playsets for the kids, and toys out the wazoo but they never had time to enjoy any of it with their children because of their long commutes and hours and hours away from home.

        I didn’t have kids then but I knew that I would never want to live like this. What use is having the huge house stuffed with toys if you never have time to enjoy it? And how is it worth it if your kids only get to play with their nanny while you are constantly away from home? I always thought that they were trying to buy happiness…but the truth is that they all seemed miserable. The kids lashed out because their parents were never home. The parents seemed overworked and never had any time to spend together.

        They are divorced now.

        Reply
        • Marcia October 15, 2012, 1:50 pm

          OMG, that sounds awful!!

          We’ve got the ability to adjust our lives around our kids too. And it’s incredibly important to me.

          One “negative” is that my husband isn’t quite as “dedicated” as he could be. At his level in the company, he’s expected to be there or put in 50-60 hours and always be available for travel. And well, he’s not. (One customer complained to his boss when he refused to stay an extra 2 days on a trip “just because we might need you”. Mind you, we had a SIX WEEK OLD BABY and a six year old and he’d already traveled 25% of the baby’s life at that point.)

          But we don’t really care about that. He’s good at his job, they have to deal with his availability.

          Likewise, I’ve cut my hours. I’ve got a few friends who continued on the full time path after kids. Kiddos get dropped off at daycare at 8 am and get picked up at 5:30 or 6 pm, then it’s dinner, etc. My baby is asleep by 7:15 pm. I can’t imagine only spending an hour with him. Of course, it means I make less money and FI is further away. But it also means I don’t feel like I need to jet off to Hawaii every year on vacation to “recharge”.

          Reply
          • Holly@ClubThrifty October 15, 2012, 2:31 pm

            It’s hard to find a balance. That’s for sure. We both work full time Monday-Friday, 9-5…but since we work so close to home we pick up the kids and are home by 5:15. They are starting to stay up later now but when they were babies it made me so sad to put them to bed at 7 and barely have any time to spend with them. I suppose that is the trade off that I make. Unfortunately, I can’t alter my hours or work alternative hours at my job so I am really stuck with 9-5.

            But we still make it work. I spend mornings, evenings, and weekends with my kids. Since I work, I get to save for their college and we get to go on vacations 3-4 times a year. And to be honest, I always have to remind myself that I dont think I would be happy staying home. My kids were particularly whiny yesterday so I was more than glad to return to work today!

            But, I know women who love every minute of staying home and cannot stand to be away from their children. I think it’s just a personal decision. Since my husband and I work together, I feel like I have a slightly different situation. I get to be with my hubby and best friend all day at work then with the kids at night.

            Reply
            • JaneMD October 17, 2012, 11:35 am

              Our problem is on a similar vein. My hubby works 60 hours a week as a lawyer and I work 50 hours as a doctor – not counting overnight call. The kids average 4 days a week at daycare. Our time suck is the 6 miles to daycare because we live in an urban area its a 40 min round trip. On the days the kids are home, the car drives nowhere.

              If I do overnight call, the kids go to daycare. I spend that day making all the meals and lunches for the week and getting the grocery shopping done. (And also apparently reading MMM)

              Reply
              • Holly@ClubThrifty October 17, 2012, 12:16 pm

                Would you ever consider paying to have a nanny at your home?

                The family I worked for- while not a great example in many ways- did have me as a nanny in their home…so at least they didn’t have to add daycare into their crazy commuting situation.

                You might check out how much that would cost and if its something you would want. You could save an hour and a half of each week day of your life! You may also save your sanity!

            • Marcia October 18, 2012, 1:22 pm

              Yes I know for sure that I can’t be a SAHM. It’s just not in me. I’m an engineering manager at a startup company. Hubby is also an engineer.

              I enjoyed my half days, but can’t manage a group on that. This is my first week back at 80%, and it didn’t go well. Hubby was traveling, both boys got fevers ( I’m typing one handed on the iPad with the sleeping three month old in my arms. He won’t nap any other way today.) and I got a stomach bug. Maybe next week will be better.

              I do most of our cooking on weekends too. I get off work at 3:30. I pick up the baby at four…that includes the last bathroom break, packing up the car with breast pump, computer, and bag. The drive is only 15 min. Then I pick up the first grader and the neighbors first grader at school and am usually home by 4:45.

              I am reminding myself that the first year of nursing and pumping craziness goes fast. I’m learning to help my son read while nursing a baby. And I’m making big use of the crockpot and rice cooker.

              Still, I’m considering cutting back to half time again. We will see how the winter goes.

              Reply
              • JaneMD October 18, 2012, 1:56 pm

                To Holly,

                We have discussed the nanny option, but our current daycare only costs around $1500 per month for two kids, which includes diapers and food. No one is going to nanny 4 days a week for that salary. My daycare provider is legit with a tax ID number and only takes up to 6 kids. My better chance is convincing her to move from her rented house to a closer one as I have more children . . .

                Also, I sleep at home during the day after I take overnight call. I’m not sure I’d like the kids to be here while I am getting the other parts of our life moving.

  • Shiznik October 15, 2012, 7:52 am

    Very good article I enjoyed it, but “flying feathers” made me feel like mother goose got worked up instead of MMM.

    Reply
  • Kevin M October 15, 2012, 7:57 am

    The comment about rushing through breakfast hit me as one MAJOR reason I want to start my own business. I’d love to be able to wake up, eat slowly with my kids, take them to school and then come home and start working on MY schedule.

    Reply
    • Andy October 15, 2012, 10:52 am

      Good rationale for starting your own business, but be aware, many small business owners become consumed in their business. I have worked for a number of small to mid-size contractors, and they are constantly worried about generating new clients, getting paid, paying their employees/taxes, and a lot of other crap.

      It was normal and expected for these guys to take phone calls at 11pm, have meetings on Sunday mornings, miss out on family stuff, etc.

      I have also known people who went from owning their own business to being a mid to high-ranking executive for a company. #1 motivation for the switch: tired of ridiculous hours, sleepless nights, and loss of time with kids

      Reply
  • Adrienne October 15, 2012, 8:01 am

    My own personal favorite fake swear these days is “shut the front door”. The article makes me ever so glad I work from home….

    Reply
  • Joy October 15, 2012, 8:23 am

    I have been ordered to Jury Duty 3 times.

    I was chosen to serve twice.

    It was inconvenient. It was emotionally painful.
    Sitting through these cases and, deliberating a verdict
    is difficult work. I cried. I lost sleep. I was angry and, sad.

    How do you put a price tag on that?

    It has to be a labor of love. The love of justice.

    However, I learned justice is not black and, white. I learned
    that others were considered guilty by association. In one case
    a business owner lost everything due to the actions of his employee.
    Sure the guy had Insurance, it wasn’t nearly enough. He was covered
    for 2 million. The verdict was 7 million.

    Truly heartbreaking.

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 8:37 am

      Despite the inconvenience, I ended up walking out of there having learned so much. The jury selection process was so interesting and the discussion was thought-provoking. I felt like I was in school learning about the justice system. I love to learn new things, so it was pretty invigorating.

      Even though I wasn’t selected, I ended up thinking about my beliefs and many of the ideas presented quite a bit over those few days.

      The worst part, by far, was the commute. I made the choice to drive (the bus is $5 each way), but if I had to do it for an extended period of time, I would have definitely opted for the bus and a monthly pass. I much prefer public transit to driving myself as I find it a lot more relaxing — plus, it would have allowed me to get a couple of good walks in my day.

      The reason I was so disorganized the very first day was because I had completely forgotten I had Jury Duty until I was reminded by my telephone alarm! Days 2 and 3 went much better…

      The thing that I hadn’t counted on was missing my son so much. When I got home each night, I really felt like I needed to spend quality time with him and he ended up going to bed later (and thus having trouble in the mornings waking up) because of me. And, I also missed out on my workouts because I didn’t want to be away from my family during the tiny window of opportunity I could be with them.

      Flying feathers (and anything to do with birds in general) is frequently used around our house, by the way. Note that the article still contained swearing. :)

      Reply
      • Eschewing Debt October 15, 2012, 10:53 am

        I have heard many working moms complain about not being able to spend quality time with their children. They end up doing exactly what you just said: Having their kids stay up late to make up for it. But then the poor kids are tired the next day, which can cause them to struggle in school. I truly believe any family can have at least one parent at home raising the kids if that is what they choose. I know I certainly could not handle having a daycare or nanny raising my children!

        Reply
      • Mandy Knight October 15, 2012, 5:50 pm

        I may be run out like a skinny model in a weight watchers meeting but I liked “flying feathers.” We have some kids friendly phrases in our home too. My favorite is hokey dinah!

        Reply
    • Bella October 15, 2012, 11:38 am

      Thank you for pointing out that yes, it is a labor of love – of the justice system that we enjoy in the US. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than a lot of the other more (shall we say…) efficient systems.

      Reply
  • Ron October 15, 2012, 8:57 am

    Wondering how to adapt “flying feathers” to different contexts. For example, if I wanted to write, “Thanks for the fucking great post,” would I write, “Thanks for the fly feathering great post.”?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 9:31 am

      Hmm, good question Ron. I think it might be, “That post was pretty feather-fluffing great!”.

      Reply
    • cptacek October 16, 2012, 9:59 pm

      “That post sure made the feathers fly!”

      Reply
  • Him @ Make Love, Not Debt October 15, 2012, 9:02 am

    Shocking news: some people actually like their full-time, real jobs. While we currently have to deal with a soul-sucking commute, our full-time jobs are incredibly fulfilling, rewarding, and mostly worth the inconvenience. It took us a while to optimize our life, but I’m sure that any lifestyle take a little while to optimize, even yours.

    Making fun of the strawman zombie, sheeple middle-class is easy and, most of the time, quite entertaining. But not all of us are that way.

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 9:23 am

      Remember that we haven’t worked full time jobs for a long time, so our perspective is very different than yours.

      Also, we have a kid, so every minute we spend commuting and working is time away from him. For me, that’s a HUGE inconvenience. I’m very happy to be able to pick my son up after school and not have to scramble to find daycare on snow days, etc.

      I know that people do this all the time and enjoy it, but until you’ve seen the other side, you may not understand how much time is really spent working for most people. That’s basically your whole life and that’s why so many working folks “live for the weekend”.

      The point of the article was to show how difficult this lifestyle seems from our perspective. It’s also meant to show that you’re already doing something ridiculously hard, so all the changes that are mentioned in this blog should be relatively easy in comparison.

      Working for a living for 40 hours a week is so ingrained in our culture that people get really defensive about their work. Your comment is a prime example of what a lot of people are probably feeling, but what if it didn’t have to be that way? What would you do with your free time?

      Reply
      • Him @ Make Love, Not Debt October 15, 2012, 10:03 am

        “What would you do with your free time?”

        Grow a mustache? ;)

        I think what I’m trying to get across is that a full-time job or working for someone else can be something that people genuinely like. In fact, many people even thrive under those conditions.

        However, we do have a little one now and are thinking about alternative working solutions. We both love to be with the little guy, but we both love our jobs. We also love that the kid is in daycare. It’s difficult to find a balance among all of the available choices.

        Interesting that this post is more about the use of “flying feathers” vs your view on the everyday American lifestyle!

        Reply
        • Mrs. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 10:49 am

          Haha! Thanks for your response.

          I understand what you’re saying. I loved my last full time job too. In fact, I found it extremely rewarding and made a lot of great friends there. I even wrote a post about it ages ago: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/09/mrs-money-mustache-the-secret-life-of-frugality/.

          Leaving your job is not the easiest choice. When you’re a parent, you might be happy to take a break and leave the house for a bit – have some adult conversation, etc.. Being at home and raising your own kid is, for some people, a harder choice (MMM even has an article about this that I keep bugging him to finish).

          But, of course, this blog is about early retirement, financial independence, and having freedom and choices, whatever those choices might be.

          Reply
          • Marcia October 15, 2012, 1:54 pm

            ” Being at home and raising your own kid is, for some people, a harder choice”

            Very true for me. I LOVE my kids. But to be at home with them 24/7 would drive me stark, raving mad.

            But working 40 hours a week with kids stresses me out and turns me into someone I don’t like either.

            Reply
            • Margie October 16, 2012, 7:14 am

              I couldn’t agree more. I have been home with my kids for 8 years (ages 4 & 8). This is the first year both kids have been in school from 8-2:30 and I didn’t even realize just how hard it’s been until I had a few hours to myself to think about it. You can lose yourself completely taking care of kids 24-7 if you don’t have family nearby, or create a network of support. It’s certainly not for everyone. On the other hand, we’ve been able to adopt a much more mustachian lifestyle by having to adapt to one salary and having more time to shop wisely, cook nightly, clean our own house, etc.

              I served on a jury a few months ago. While my son wasn’t in school yet, I had arranged for a friend to watch him. He, of course, got sick the night before and my husband had to call in sick (for the 1st time in 8 years). Not knowing how many days it might continue was very stressful, but it was only a one-day case. It gave us a lot of insight into what it will be like when I go back to work.

              Reply
          • eldub October 15, 2012, 2:06 pm

            I’ll add my two cents to Mrs. MM’s comment: “Being at home and raising your own kid is, for some people, a harder choice”.

            I have twin 18-month old boys and have been back at work now for six months after my year of maternity leave (yay Canada!). I never would have thought it until I had my own, but holy crap I am not cut out for stay-at-home parenthood. Even if it was financially advantagous (I think it isn’t, but I’m sure Mr. MM could face-punch some enlightenment out of me). Regardless, my daycare provider is amazing and my boys love her. I look at her as an extension of our family and am happy that my boys are building an attachment to her, just as I am with their grandparents. I am a much happier person and a better mother since going back to work and getting a break. My job is way easier than being with them 24/7. I’m sure some will be offended by that, and I would have been too, before I lived it.

            I for one will be anxiously awaiting Mr. MM’s article on this one.

            Reply
            • Grant October 15, 2012, 8:20 pm

              I hear ya!

              My wife and I have both worked part time since she returned from maternity leave with our first child, and when the twins came along, I kept doing part time PLUS we moved back to our home town to lean on the family for help.

              My wife now works 2 days in the office (over night stay – work is a 150km train ride away from home), and 2 days from home, I am home fulltime with the kids, and the older daughter is in preschool 3 days a week. I’ve been full time primary carer for almost 2 years now, and expect to do it until the end of 2013 – I initially didn’t think I would last 6 months! The real difference is the awesome support we have received from family. I have friends who do not have local family that have not had a “night off” in years – very tough.

              The cool thing about my wife’s current working arrangement is that she sees the kids more at the moment than if she was working a full-time job here in town. Plus her Sydney part time salary is a good 30% more than a full time Newcastle salary. Win-win! (also meant I got to escape from a job I was hating at a convenient time!)

              Reply
    • Jamesqf October 15, 2012, 12:23 pm

      “…some people actually like their full-time, real jobs.”

      Yeah, I used to, and I like my current telecommute & set my own hours work. But the trick is arranging things to avoid as much of the soul-sucking commutes (and meetings &c) as possible.

      It’s also a reminder that what creates quality of life is different for different people. I’d hate having to live near the fancy hipster pubs and coffee shops, myself, and would willingly pay higher real estate prices to get away.

      Reply
    • dottie October 17, 2012, 7:36 am

      “dealing with a soul sucking commute” is “mostly worth the effort” of a fulfilling full time job…. I disagree

      Reply
  • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 9:22 am

    All right – your comment shall be disregarded, because indeed it was tongue in cheek. The Mustache family knows that they have it pretty good these days, even in the event of jury duty.

    You see, we really DID notice the inconvenience of being forced to commute to another town. And Mrs MM did indeed drive there initially (which I might not have done myself). But over time, systems thinking would have made us optimize away the inconvenience in order to make the best of it.

    Which is what the whole article was supposed to be about – acknowledge the initial inconvenience of any new situation, but then work to fix it over time.

    Reply
  • Jesse October 15, 2012, 9:22 am

    I would be interested in seeing the amount of years shaved off the end of MMM’s life from the perpetual stress she appears to put herself through by anxiously worrying about every nit-picky spending decision. It isn’t financial independence (IMO) if the smallest deviation from a well thought-out plan causes that much stress.

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 9:30 am

      Haha! Excuse me Jesse, but do you know me? If you did, you’d know that I hardly ever stress about anything (I’m assuming when you said “MMM” that you were referring to me, since you wrote “she” afterwards).

      There’s nothing in this article that conveys I worry about every nit-picky spending decision… Quite the opposite. I’m sure you’re referring to the “Dairy Queen” article, where a bunch of people that don’t know me decided that I get stressed out easily, when in fact, they just don’t understand my type of humor.

      The whole point of this blog is to create a stress-free lifestyle in fact!

      Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 9:38 am

      Indeed – Jesse is totally misinterpreting the entire message of Mustachianism here.

      1) We don’t worry about money. We have a ridiculous overabundance of the stuff, so spending decisions will never cause stress for the rest of our lives.

      What we DO care about is waste. Things that are a waste of time, a waste of the Earth’s resources, or just plain irrational. When we encounter things like this, we work patiently to optimize them away. We’re also fond of writing a humorous rant about them on this blog. These are not stressful activities, they are joyful ones.

      2) Stress is something you feel when you have not learned to deal with your life yet. It’s a misplaced human emotion meant to help you through a serious crunch or a fight-or-flight situation, that has no place in our cushy rich-world lives.

      So while I do still feel stress occasionally because I still have much to learn, it is usually only for a few minutes before I identify the feeling.

      Then I can remind myself, “Oh! That’s stress. Let’s check, are there any saber-toothed tigers crouching overhead, about to bite me? No? OK, I guess I don’t need to be stressed right now”. Then I can let this stress go. Aaahhhh.. much better.

      Reply
      • Ben October 17, 2012, 1:47 pm

        I think this topic deserves its own post!

        My girlfriend and I sometimes get stressed about the expense of things and if we’re doing well enough at optimizing our lifestyle. Personally I think I handle it better than she does (but it’s not really fair, I have $100k in investments whereas she still has a bunch of student loan debt), but we still could both be much better at not sweating the small stuff.

        I think it’s important to minimize spending and kill bad habits to reach FIRE but at the same time not stress out over it, and that can be difficult. My approach nowadays is if I can convince myself the plan I’ve set in motion will pay off enormously well over my lifetime, a small $20-50 mistake here and there isn’t going to ruin everything.

        Reply
      • Joy Host October 17, 2012, 10:11 pm

        RE: MMM’s mini-post on stress, and remarkable humor:
        AWESOME.

        Reply
    • Doug October 15, 2012, 9:50 am

      The “stress” of reducing the expenses in my life is miniscule and practically nonexistent compared to the major disruption in my life caused by a job, especially a full time one. In fact the experience of reducing expenses by reducing the amount of junk and clutter in my life actually reduces stress so it’s a win-win situation.

      As for the language used here, who the flying feathers cares?

      Reply
  • Erica / Northwest Edible Life October 15, 2012, 9:44 am

    Bah hah hah. Just here to support your right to use whatever language you like, including both “flying feathers” and “fuck.” Hell, I’m ok if you go with “fucking flying flaming flamingo feathers.” Or, branch out to non-alliterating swearing phrases. All good, man. All good.
    After homeschooling my daughter for a year and then returning to “normal” school, the total complete ridiculous inconvenience of the typical school year schedule hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s not the *having* of a job, or the drive or rushed breakfast or whatever, it’s going from self-determining to institution-accommodating in your daily routine. I understand completely what you’re talking about. I used to joke about our “civilized” days of homeschooling when we could wake up at 8:30 or whenever the sun smacked us awake and get rolling with book-learning around 9:30. Now alarms and bus schedules and school bells tell us when to wake up, when to sleep and when to eat. We’re cogs in the much larger schedule machine. THAT’S the difference, in my opinion.

    Reply
    • Gerard July 1, 2014, 12:56 pm

      “Fucking flying flaming flamingo feathers” is way funnier if you imagine it being said by Daffy Duck.

      Reply
  • Joe @ Retire By 40 October 15, 2012, 9:55 am

    Heh heh. Sorry about that small inconvenience. I got called for jury once when I wasn’t a citizen. I told them and they never called me in again even after I got naturalized. We live about 10 minutes walk from the court house so commuting won’t be a big deal. It will cause a havoc on Mrs. RB40’s schedule though. I’m a stay at home dad now and she’ll have to take time off to take care of the kid.
    It must be nice to be able to send the kid off to school. :)

    Reply
    • Leigh October 15, 2012, 3:15 pm

      You might be able to claim hardship for that and get out of it. I know my mom always declined jury duty due to her being at home with us and my dad not being able to take time off.

      Reply
      • Mrs. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 4:20 pm

        We were specifically told that being a stay at home parent is not a valid reason for missing jury duty. I guess you’re expected to find childcare for those days.

        Reply
        • GizmoTX January 18, 2014, 4:54 pm

          Maybe this is a CO thing. TX allows SAHPs to opt out until the child is 12.

          Reply
  • slowitdown October 15, 2012, 10:03 am

    I think that there will always be people who miss the point. Some will miss the point that you can live a full and happy life without constantly purchasing and commuting, and some will miss the point that having a little fun with swear words makes life interesting. Some people miss the point because they don’t want to see the point but would rather continue spending, spending, spending as though that’s what makes life worthwhile.
    BTW, I just got called for jury duty in Ontario. I feel like a bad citizen but i don’t want to do it because it will disrupt my life and i will get paid squat.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 10:11 am

      Yeah – from what I’ve heard so far, I like the Australian model best.

      Jury duty places a heavy burden on people who are randomly selected, while those who are not selected pay no price at all. That is exactly the type of random shafting that most social programs try to alleviate (via things like universal healthcare or social safety nets).

      So I’d prefer that we would actually PAY jurors a reasonable wage (say, at least $200 per day, starting at day 1). And we pay for this out of microscopically higher taxes for ourselves. Then if you get jury duty, you still get paid, so it’s all good.

      Right now, some employers make up the difference, but I don’t feel that is quite as fair – you’re putting the full burden on the entrepreneurs who own those companies.

      I don’t want to pay for one of my employees to miss 3 weeks of work for court based on the roll of a dice. I’d prefer that EVERYONE pay equally for the justice system, since we all benefit equally. Any way you slice it, jury duty is going to be costly, so the issue is who should we make pay for it?

      Reply
      • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies October 17, 2012, 7:11 pm

        At least in our area the jury selection process has improved somewhat so as to waste less time for people. If you get a post card in the mail for jury duty, you have a seat number. Then you call the evening before you’re supposed to show up at the courthouse (which for us is almost an hour away…), and there’s an automated voice message saying which seat numbers need to show up and which can disregard their jury duty notice and consider it fulfilled.
        When I got my post card in the mail, I was number 2XX out of 6XX, and the when I called in, they said only 1-1XX needed to show. So I and about 400+ other people didn’t need to waste time, gas, and inconvenience our coworkers or employers (or whoever we might have had commitments to that day) because the court did a little forward thinking and said, “Oh, we don’t have enough cases to justify this big of a jury pool today…” Perhaps the closest to Mustaschian government bureaucracy can get?

        Reply
  • Tyler Karaszewski October 15, 2012, 10:07 am

    I just quit a job with a long commute to take one with a flexible work-from-home schedule. There are some things I’ll miss about it, especially some of the people, but I won’t miss the commute.

    It’s not very mustachian, but I’m thinking of signing up for a co-working space close by, so I can still go be around professional people during the day and hopefully make local business connections, but totally on my own schedule.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 10:12 am

      Sounds pretty Mustachian to me – more like an Investment in your career than a luxury purchase.

      Reply
  • Doug October 15, 2012, 10:09 am

    If you want some good reading on this topic I recommend The Joy of Not Working by Ernie Zelinski. Another of his books I haven’t read (not yet, although doing so would be like preaching to the choir) is How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free.
    See? There have always been other mustachians among us.

    Reply
  • Robert Coffin October 15, 2012, 10:22 am

    Thanks for all the great advice MMM. I log in to your site everyday on the edge of my seat for a punch in the face. Ever since I started reading your blog I have gone from paying a little bit higher then bare minimum on my debts to having 2 credit cards paid off along with a loan and spending 50% of my income paying down my Car Loan, Student Loans, and my last credit card. I have been looking for a house closer to work (40 min commute one way) and just found one in Brighton for 71K. It needs a lot of work that I plan on doing myself on the weekends to grow my knowledge and ‘stache. I’m about 10 miles away from work but I’m 100 pounds overweight so biking should really start to help my health issues. I could have moved closer but I would have paid another 50K for a house that’s way too big for me and would provide less of a work out. If everything goes to plan I am 33 and will retire with no mortgage and no debt by the age of 45 at my current salary. Thanks to you and your family I will be able to find financial independence and get off the crazy hamster wheel and truly enjoy the world as nature intended it. You are an inspiration to us all.

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 10:33 am

      Wow! What an incredible story! I think it’s safe to say that you’re the one that is an inspiration. Great job sweeping all the excuses to the side and going for it 100%. Keep us posted on your progress!

      Reply
      • Robert Coffin October 15, 2012, 12:58 pm

        Thank you so much for the kind words. I will definitely keep you updated on my goals and progress. Debt, weight, house, and Stache.

        Reply
    • Erica / Northwest Edible Life October 15, 2012, 10:49 am

      Plus by then you’ll be fit enough to face-punch people who tell you all about how you were just different and privileged and special while listing all the reasons they can’t save money or lose weight. Nice!

      Reply
      • Robert Coffin October 15, 2012, 1:03 pm

        I can only hope that I will live up to MMM’s reputation. I also have 6 nieces 23 and younger that I hope to inspire. That way they can avoid the pitfalls and pain that ingnorance and greed has brought me early in my life.

        Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 11:39 am

      Robert, are you just writing this excellent comment so you can win the MMCA for today? Nah, I believe your story is real and you WIN: MOST MUSTACHIAN COMMENT OF THE DAY!!!!!!!

      If you’re ever in Longmont, get in touch – lunch and a bike tour are on me :-)

      Reply
      • Robert Coffin October 15, 2012, 1:12 pm

        I would be honored to have lunch and go on a bike tour. How about I make this interesting to help further my goals. I’m going to start riding my bike and when I close on my house and move to Brighton I will start riding to work. Once I get into good enough shape to make the 30 mile trip to Longmont and back we can meet up for lunch and I can put another Badassity notch in my Belt for making the trip without a car. Further proof of what a Mustachian Apprentice is capable of achieving :).

        Reply
        • Joe October 15, 2012, 2:58 pm

          MMM, is it possible to award two MMCAs in one day, to the SAME PERSON?! If not, I think you should bend the feather flappin’ rules and give Robert a second MMCA. This guy is badass^2!

          Reply
  • Bob October 15, 2012, 10:23 am

    MMM, I’m with you on the mind-blowing inconvenience of full-time employment. I don’t seem to have adapted to it; in fact, I’d say I’m hyperaware of it, and it gnaws at me constantly. If I had few interests or hobbies outside of work, and my job were an integral part of my self-image, I probably wouldn’t mind spending most of my time on most days doing my job. But I DO have outside interests – a ton of them – and every working day feels like a battle for autonomy as I attempt to squeeze in these interests (not to mention the busywork required by life) under the crushing weight of full-time employment.

    I don’t care what anyone says; 40 hours a week is an absurdly large time commitment! The only thing that keeps me going is the reminder that I’m trading a ridiculous amount of time for a ridiculous amount of money. Last month I put away $4300. Onward to freedom!!

    Reply
  • Noel October 15, 2012, 10:58 am

    So so true. I live 0.6 miles from the office and bike or walk every day. Lately I have had to go to a different office (just south of Boulder actually) once a week. Usually I ride my bike to the bus (which my employer pays for) and get some reading or email checking done on the way there, so it’s not terrible. Last week I had an “emergency last minute survival mode” situation where I had to embark on a quixotic quest and drive myself up there to save time. After being stuck behind a gravel truck and waiting through three light changes at one intersection, I got to work 20 minutes late with the conclusion that commuting sucks, even once. So, I feel your pain. Fortunately for me that group is moving next month to the same building as me.

    Reply
    • AKing October 15, 2012, 4:47 pm

      As a Spanish teacher I would like to applaud your use of “quixotic quest.” ¡Bien hecho!

      Reply
    • TomTX October 17, 2012, 8:55 pm

      I live 4.5 miles from work, but occasionally have to go “downtown” for a meeting or training. At least I’m on the clock for that, but commuting really does suck.

      I figured last year they’d have to pay me an extra $40k/year to make me willing to work downtown. I’d be blowing an extra 2 hours a day, plus the bus pass I would buy. $30k would go directly to the Fuck You Money pile ;)

      Reply
  • Jimbo October 15, 2012, 11:16 am

    Does anyone know if there is a way to VOLUNTEER for Jury duty? In the states or in Canada?

    It seems like this would also be a good way to do it..

    Just a thought.

    Reply
    • Dillon October 15, 2012, 11:20 am

      Maybe if the person on trial gets to pick if they want a jury with volunteers or randoms

      Reply
    • Gerard August 22, 2013, 9:39 am

      I would worry that most of the volunteers would be there to advance their own messed-up ideas of justice, either “hang ‘em all!” or “he seems like a nice boy”.

      Reply
  • Stacy C October 15, 2012, 11:39 am

    Just read your post and went back to my inbox to find this e-mail promoting an upcoming race in our city. It was just too funny, considering your new swear word, so I had to share.

    http://www.theflyingfeather.com/

    Reply
  • Kristen @ Babe With a Budget October 15, 2012, 11:45 am

    Just found your blog – you are a fantastic writer. Flying Feathers and all.

    Reply
  • Tara October 15, 2012, 11:47 am

    I served on one jury and will never do it again. It totally disgusted me with the «justice» system… basically it’s how much justice can you afford? The guy with the best lawyer wins. No thank you.

    As for the tyranny of full time employment, hear hear! I am looking forward to leaving my full time job and 1.5 hour daily commute next summer after I finish saving up my FU money. Having done this for the past 25 years I am experienced with setting the alarm for an appropriate time to allow me to have a leisurely breakfast in bed, get ready for work, pack my lunch, and arrive at the office in time. But that doesn’t make it any more enjoyable. I can’t wait for it to end!

    Reply
  • Abigail Whitney October 15, 2012, 12:04 pm

    I’m interested and intrigued. BUT we live in a two-income family. We live in a suburb of Ottawa (Barrhaven), my husband works in Kanata (27 km away) and I work in an office on the way into downtown (Dows Lake – 18 kms from home). If we were to relocate how do we choose where to relocate to? Neither job is completely “safe” (what is these days?) so that isn’t something we can go by. Plus – and to complicate things- we are a blended family, so there are our “ex’s” to think about as well, and their access to our boys, not to mention their connections to the communities we live in – school, friends, hockey,etc.

    How do you weigh all this? There are intangibles as well as the hard costs.

    I’d love to hear from you/your readers!

    Abigail

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2012, 1:16 pm

      I’d personally move to Kanata (right near the March Road exit). Husband could bike to work, and you’d have easy access to rapid transit to get to Dow’s lake (the OC transpo 96 might work). You could then go down to one car, and bring a bike on the front of the bus. Or in the worst case, drive :-)

      Barrhaven is not close to anything – I’ve always felt that place should still be a totally separate community, free from Ottawa commuters it is too far from most of Ottawa for easy bike commuting.

      Reply
  • bogart October 15, 2012, 12:13 pm

    A nicely thought-provoking post, at least for those capable of being provoked to think, which the comments seem to suggest is about half of those inclined to comment ;) .

    An objection, however, to the application of this claim: “if you can handle a full-time job, you can DEFINITELY and very easily handle every other suggestion that Mr. Money Mustache makes here on this blog.” Not, note, an objection to the claim itself — rather, to the implicit (yet applied) implication (haha! I’ll see your flying feathers and raise you a Department of Redundancy Department! Take that!) notion that you are here advocating the substitution of one (set of) stress(es) for another. But no! You are advocating the addition of complementary stresses! If I already *have* a full-time job the income of which I need, you are now advocating, moreover, that I *add* the stresses of spending less and/or saving more. Sure, over time the idea is to eliminate the job stresses. But they won’t vanish just because I (e.g.) start packing my lunch. And now I have to pack a lunch!

    I’m picking, in the spirit of the tone of the thread — I hope that’s obvious. But the complaint is a real one; the logical fallacy about which I grumble is one pervasive to much discussion (including on this site) — the “Oh, I might as well eat this Big Mac, it’s less likely to kill me than I am to have a fatal accident on the drive home from McDonalds, now that I’m here,” coupled with the complete failure to acknowledge that the Big Mac is being added to, not substituted for, the danger of the drive. And while the complaint may be trivial in the context of this application, where it truly does bug and worry me is the folks I see here and elsewhere who say (in effect) “Oh, I’ll just forego health insurance, because in so doing, I’ll get 2 years closer to FI, and once I’m FI my fitness will go up, and my stress down, and I won’t need health insurance anymore!!!” Um, no.

    So, sure — plan, tweak, improve (but also, a point not emphasized, though described, in this post — cut yourself some slack when you screw something up). But don’t take as substitutable things that are additive (don’t embrace a Decreased Quality of Logic, even if it is the contemporary standard) and don’t embrace stresses (or risks) that you can’t actually manage.

    And yes, I do realize that that is as much or more an argument for Mustachianism as it is one against it.

    Reply
    • Jamesqf October 15, 2012, 12:34 pm

      “…you are now advocating, moreover, that I *add* the stresses of spending less and/or saving more.”

      The question, though, is why those should be stressful. In my experience, anyway, if you have anything approaching a middle-class income, you can reduce stress by not spending as much, even if it’s only the occasional stress of shopping, trying to find space in closet or garage for new purchases (or turfing out old stuff to make way for new), not having to stress over credit card balances, etc.

      Reply
      • bogart October 15, 2012, 1:00 pm

        @Jamesqf, the basic pretext (though in fairness presumably one he’s detected from whineypantsness resulting from having issued such suggestions) was MMM’s — i.e., ” … you can DEFINITELY and very easily handle every other suggestion that Mr. Money Mustache makes …”

        And, sure: spending less and/or saving more is not necessarily stressful. It can be stress-reducing, even “in the moment.” But, for example, I rode the bus to work today — saving money in the form of wear-and-tear on my car and gasoline, and making the world safer for democracy, I mean, polar bears. Heck maybe both. But wait! Per MMM’s logic this cost me a noticeable amount, actually, as it doubles my r/t commute time from about 1 hour to about 2. Also, it leaves me feeling vaguely queasy — motion-sickness — moreso if I try actually to work on the bus (I did, and survived, reducing the lost efficiency cost — but net of that, the out-of-pocket cost to me of riding the bus if my time is worth $50/hour is actually more than $30 even after subtracting the per-mile full cost of my commute. And just to be clear, for sheer enjoyment I much prefer any number of ways to use my time including, driving to work, enjoying my comfortable car, the lovely scenic rural route I traverse — but not on the bus — and the news on NPR. That said, I am trying to ride the bus (or telecommute) 1-2 days/week because doing so is consistent with *other* things I value, including (but not limited to) saving money — the out-of-pocket kind, not the theoretical kind).

        Or, I saved our family money when we returned from a weekend trip yesterday and I had ready the ingredients for a quick-to-pull-together dinner; almost certainly a net stress savings, but still something I had to find the time in my workweek last week to plan for, versus spending (more time and money during) a (readily available, unlike the work week time) Sunday evening running out to the local restaurant. Not a big deal, but yes, I can understand how people (myself among them) sometimes find ourselves dashing out to purchase food prepared by others simply as a time- and, yes, stress-saver.

        I’m totally with you on skipping the shopping, and the debt (heck, it’s skipping the shopping that makes my meal planning difficult: turns out many grocery items are most readily available in stores), but not everything that saves money reduces stress in the moment, even if it does contribute to longer term goals. Those seeking to reduce spending/save money while working are, per MMM’s own description, often adding one set of stresses to another.

        Reply
        • Jamesqf October 15, 2012, 5:02 pm

          So obviously riding the bus doesn’t work as a stress-reducer for you. I think you missed something important somewhere along the line. It’s not (IMHO, anyway: MMM can correct me if I’m wrong) about becoming a miser and putting a dollar’s worth of work into saving a dime, it’s about mindfulness.

          In your case, you need to get from home to work (and back again). The unmindful thing would be to become one with the mainstream, and commute every day in your 15-mpg Chevy Mastodon or Ford Brontosaurus, thinking – no, KNOWING – that that is the only way a real red-blooded American could possibly behave. You’ve obviously gotten beyond that, and now only have to discover what works best for you.

          Reply
          • bogart October 15, 2012, 6:53 pm

            Right, right — no disagreement there. My objection to the “if you can do that (work a day job), you can do this” claim around which the post is premised, though, stands to the extent that “this” and “that” aren’t alternatives but combinations — and I don’t think it’s possible to say that they’re not, given e.g. this claim, “Compared to commuting daily to a 9-5 job, everything I suggest is a teeny tiny laughable mickey mouse effort. You can read the whole blog, implement everything 100%, AND be retired in 5-7 years [even though you’re working the day job during that interval].” (emphasis added). Look — I’m here because I like the (general) message of the blog and find its approach refreshing. But just as I am trying to ride the bus a few days a week, downsides notwithstanding (and hey — today en route home and between buses, i.e., connections, I walked past a band practicing which was GREAT. A lovely refreshing moment I would not have experienced in my car and would not have sought out.), I do, all the same (like the blog or not) think it’s reasonable to point out the downsides … including errors in logic (and especially this sort, which I’ll admit is a pet peeve of mine due perhaps to its prevalence). Thus my grumbling!

            Reply
            • Georgia October 16, 2012, 10:13 am

              @bogart
              I had the same sorts of thoughts reading this post: That, basically, MMM is saying, “Hey, you’ve already demonstrated that you’re capable of doing something that’s very onerous, so of COURSE you can do something that’s only mildly onerous.” Yet, I think the reason that so many people don’t implement these “easy” money-saving strategies is because they’re already overwhelmed by the difficult things they’re doing. Nope, it’s not hard to make a tasty, healthy dinner at home. But it feels a lot more difficult if you’ve just done the much harder tasks of working a job you don’t like and commuting. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and.

              Reply
            • Mr. Money Mustache October 16, 2012, 2:18 pm

              Bogart and Georgia – I did think of that angle when writing this.. but you’re missing the whole second point: most people don’t bother to optimize their work time, or their free time. Thus, they are left feeling tired and out of time from their job and other things.

              The solution is to always find ways to make your work life more efficient (cut out commuting, bring your own lunch, use your free time at home for advancing your career or learning new skills rather than TV, stay in shape, etc.). By focusing relentlessly on efficiency, you get time back, which you can reinvest in still MORE Mustachian efforts, which compound further.

              Remember, I did all these tricks while working a more-than-full-time job as well (and before that, while getting a more-than-normal-difficulty degree while simultaneously earning the money to pay for it).

              Reply
  • Executioner October 15, 2012, 1:21 pm

    Coincidentally I just wrote on my blog about how my own full-time employment history has contributed toward my path to financial independence. As I am currently too lazy to attempt to become self-employed, I’m planning to continue to work full-time for the near future — until our FI fund can start to step in and take the place of my salary.

    As good as my employer has been to me through the years, I do wish that there was an opportunity to do what I do on a reduced schedule. I would love to work 3 days/week, for example. I think it would be a lot more enjoyable to work part-time for 10 years than full-time for 5 years. Unfortunately, my employer offers full-time opportunities only.

    I’m considering asking for a part-time schedule at some point anyway. I’m going to wait a few more years until our income-producing assets are more substantial. At that point I may be so ready for part-time work that I’d consider a change of employment anyway. If my current employer agrees to let me go part-time, then great. Otherwise I’ll find some part-time work elsewhere, with the understanding that it would most likely include a significant reduction in hourly compensation and employer benefits. I think the improved quality of life from having more free time would more than offset the reduction in pay.

    Reply
    • mojosail October 15, 2012, 4:05 pm

      Good point embedded in there. I have been minimizing my commute since the seventies. Bicycled most of them. Always deduct the time, expense and hassle of the commute from the rate of pay. Currently it is a 4 minute walk Monday-Friday. IF it is difficult to shorten the distance, then the next best thing is to minimize the frequency you do it. I worked 4, 10 hr. days for several years. One job, 12hr shifts. With today’s employment opportunities, or lack there of, you need to think/search creatively. I was subpoenaed to court tomorrow so need to check and make sure the battery in the 240D is up. Been a while since it’s ran.

      Reply
    • TomTX October 20, 2012, 6:35 am

      Everything is negotiable. Remember this.

      Once you’re comfortable (or ready to jump ship for part-time work) you can approach your employer about going part-time.

      They can do it. Especially for a valued long-term employee.

      Reply
  • Alexandria October 15, 2012, 2:02 pm

    I understand the point of the article, but also agree stongly with some of the comments about liking the full-time job. We are all different people, which is why I like this blog because it doesn’t usually seem a “Beat down the people who do LIKE to work,” kind of blog. I don’t relate this jury duty experience at all what it is like to be a working mom with a spouse at home. I am sure I would find this jury duty experience just as horrific as MMM, since my working life is nothing like this. But I totally get the point. Most of my friends live in emergency mode, plain and simple. That is no way to live. Nothing about this jury duty experience reads how I would choose to live my own life.

    This is a funny and timely post because my spouse just got served with jury duty. My thought was, “Hey, we can actually do it this time,” after being excused many years for him being the caregiver of small kids. Anyway, I told my spouse about this post and how my bubble was a little burst. He didn’t imagine it would be a big deal, but we do live very close to downtown. I don’t foresee any commute. I don’t even think we will have to arrange for 5 minutes of childcare. So, just crossing my fingers that our experience is a little more positive. :D

    Reply
  • Morticia October 15, 2012, 2:26 pm

    We bought out house 20+ years ago to be within 2-3 miles of both of our jobs. Then my employer picked up and moved 10 miles away, which meant my sitting through an average of 25 (yes) traffic lights and burning up a lot of gas, not to mention an hour a day of commuting. Bicycling just was not an option, no safe routes across bridges with no bike or even walking lanes. Then my once wonderful job turned bad, but by that time, I had enough time in to retire with a pension, our house was paid off and not having to drive that much anymore is wonderful. I am starting to look around for another job BUT its going to be within easy commuting distance, bicycle or walking is possible. Last week, I drove out to my old workplace to meet a friend for lunch and did not enjoy the drive at all, and seeing how it put 20 miles on my car just for lunch.

    Reply
  • lurker October 15, 2012, 3:24 pm

    yeah what if jury duty is a welcome break from the horrors of my online/cubicle sweatshop existence???? I was actually put on a criminal case last time and it was fascinating…and I was paid to do it…wow I have to get out of this place if its the last thing that I ever do (my job, not this fucking great blog!)

    cheers to all.

    Reply
  • Lucas Smith October 15, 2012, 3:40 pm

    MMM – Just so you know, “flying feathers” doesn’t bother me a bit. You arn’t bad ass becuase you swear, but becuase of the content of what you say and do.

    Reply
  • ErinG October 15, 2012, 3:53 pm

    My state (Rhode Island) pays a generous $15 per day. They throw in the stupendous perks of FREE PARKING or FREE BUS PASS! Whooo hoooo. I’ve had to serve twice, so thank goodness my employer pays regular salary for days on Jury duty as one of my benefits.
    OK! I’m getting off the computer to go pack my lunch!

    Reply
  • Dividend Mantra October 15, 2012, 4:46 pm

    “I mean come on – going away after a rushed breakfast, being forced to drive every day, and coming home only as the sun is going down? Every day? WHAT KIND OF LIFE IS THAT?? What do you do if you have kids?? And yet, millions of people do it every single day.These people, even as they whine that they cannot accomplish tiny things like riding a bike to the grocery store or living without cable TV, are actually doing something infinitely harder every day. They deserve to be congratulated, and reminded of their own accidental badassity. But then they need to be punched in the face, in order to realize that if you can handle a full-time job, you can DEFINITELY and very easily handle every other suggestion that Mr. Money Mustache makes here on this blog.”

    Classic, MMM….just classic!

    I certainly think the same thing to myself when people look at me with pure bewilderment when they find out I don’t have a car, or share a small two bedroom apartment with my girlfriend, or pack lunch everyday.

    Them: “But will you still be taking the bus to work everyday 10 years from now…and packing lunch everyday?”

    Me: Umm, no I won’t.

    Them: “Ahh, so what’s the point?”

    Me: Well, I won’t be taking the bus to work because I won’t be working anymore….and I won’t be packing lunch anymore because I’ll be eating it at home.

    Them: “Hmm…….no comment.”

    Reply
    • Heath October 16, 2012, 7:23 pm

      I agree, that particular MMM quote was absolutely a classic!

      Reply
  • carolinakaren October 15, 2012, 6:29 pm

    I have to side with the MMMs on this one. I still work, but only part-time and I live for my days off. I am extremely blessed to have a stable well-paying job, but that doesn’t make me hate it any less! I remember something in Darrow’s guest post about no matter how fullfilling the work wouldn’t it still be better to do everything on your own time schedule? Hell yeah it would be better! I’m doing everything I can to make it to FI, so I can prop my feet up every morning and drink my coffee VERY SLOWLY. :)

    Reply
  • geek October 15, 2012, 6:46 pm

    I am ashamed a bit – I moved further from work (moved to Seattle from Redmond) for the neighborhood (hipster coffee shops, etc) and increased my pet costs hugely because now we can’t drop by home to walk the dogs at lunchtime.*

    So now we hire a walker.
    Not my best face punch avoidance decision, that move.

    It’s good that I really enjoy the dogs, and the neighborhood, but I may have to rent this place out and move back to Redmond in a couple of years :)

    *I’m happy to have the dogs, and not ashamed of that part of my decision.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 16, 2012, 9:13 pm

      That is a truly tragic tale, Geek. I’m dropping a spring-loaded boxing glove in the mail right now for you.

      Especially since Redmond, and indeed the entire Seattle Metroplex is already such a hip, vibrant area that you can pick ANY part of it and still be better off than most of the country.

      Eliminate your commute, girl!

      Reply
      • Geek October 16, 2012, 10:49 pm

        I’m working on the back-to-the-eastside plan (there’s a lot of convincing to do). I think FI won’t take a hit beyond age 36 or so, but we could always do better.

        I still think of Redmond as boring, which is very odd of me. It’s not. Sadly logic doesn’t win every battle.

        Reply
  • Jen October 15, 2012, 7:15 pm

    Moving to a home that is cheaper AND closer to work is a no brainer, but what if these variables are inversely correlated?

    My husband and I work in the Central Business District of our city. We used to live in the outskirts and commute 20 miles each way every day. Then we decided to move closer and sell our car. Now I walk to work and he takes a short bus ride. But our housing is almost 50% more expensive than what it was. My rationale was that instead of spending money on a car, we pay more mortgage, which goes mostly into home equity, which we can later cash in. Car expenditures (and time wasted commuting), on the other hand, are money down the drain. But maybe there are other variables to consider?

    Reply
    • Jamesqf October 15, 2012, 10:18 pm

      How much is an hour or so of your time worth? However long it took you to commute the 20 miles vs the walk/bus ride. Then there’s the changed quality of life in the different places – which of course is subjective.

      Reply
  • Petra October 15, 2012, 11:45 pm

    What an insanely inefficient system to force 300 people to come in for 3 days (at $50 per hour, that cost society at least 3 days times 300 people times 10 hours times $50 is $450000). 300 is wayyyy too much.

    Reply
  • Mrs EconoWiser October 16, 2012, 4:04 am

    I cycle to work which is a very common thing to do here in The Netherlands. My husband has a foldable bike and he cycles to the railwaystation, folds the bike in and takes it with him on the train, has time to fiddle around with his laptop (working on an idea for a side business, he has a lot of fun doing that) during the ride and has another bike trip to work. So in our case, it ain’t so bad. Although early retirement sounds even better ;-)

    Reply
  • Overtime October 16, 2012, 12:52 pm

    I’ve been using shuttlecock in the place of shit lately. It sounds even worse than the original, but it’s not.

    I’m retired for a year and a half, dont wait, do it now.

    As for jury duty, I’m still waiting to be called. Do a you tube search for Doug Stanhope’s view of jury duty for a laugh.

    Reply
  • partgypsy October 16, 2012, 1:06 pm

    If it makes your wife feel any better I was able to get a deferment of for jury duty for a court case 50 miles away (over an hour driving one way if the speed limit, who knows in rush hour). If I was chosen I may have to serve up to 6 weeks service, and be paid $40 a day, plus 55 cents a mile commute. I was so glad I got a postponment, but don’t know what I’ll do when I get called when my postponment runs out, in particular because I am the primary breadwinner, we have children who go to school, and one car.

    Reply
  • Mo October 16, 2012, 5:55 pm

    I love your blog, but it seems like there isn’t much of a “happy middle” here. I have a job that is awesome and is not very demanding on my time either. I have a lot of freedom with how I spend my time, and a lot of freedom with what I do. Sort of the benefits of both worlds I suppose.

    Reply
    • Grant October 16, 2012, 9:54 pm

      I don’t think we come to MMM for “happy middle”… We come to him for mutha flying feathers awesomeness!

      MMM isn’t going to be able to account for the minutia of everyone that needs a punch in the face – he is going to show what is possible, and challenge you to push your boundaries. It’s more about understanding that your situation is your decision, and that no amount of whinypants behavior is going to change it.

      Reply
      • Mo October 17, 2012, 7:56 am

        Hmm…I’m not sure I follow your response completely, or maybe there’s a semantic thing going on. I enjoy living frugally and live pretty barebones for the simple fact that I’m not into “having stuff”, it doesn’t provide happiness for me whatsoever. I love Mr. Mustache’s point of view on this regard.

        However, I have no interest in retiring early at all. I only have about 6 or 7 hours in the week where I’m bound to do something at work, and the rest I do completely what I want and how I want it. Moreover, in those 6 to 7 hours, I spend my time doing things in a way I want to, and enjoy every minute of it. I don’t commute to work, I walk. I don’t set an alarm. I don’t really have much of a boss. There aren’t really many regulations on when I can take vacation either, and there’s LOTS of vacation time.

        I guess my point in summary is that there are some kick ass jobs out there that give you freedom very close to or even arguably at the level of retirement, that are also extremely enjoyable jobs. It might be worth considering gunning for those too.

        Reply
        • Amanda October 17, 2012, 9:37 am

          IMO, one of the main points is Financial Independence. Independence implies a freedom to choose your own life. If you have a job and choose to keep it because you enjoy it , rock on. I’d guess that the vast majority of us do not have such jobs.

          Reply
          • Jamesqf October 17, 2012, 11:24 am

            More to the point, once you have a measure of FI, even it’s only at the level of being independently poor, you have a great deal more freedom in choosing just what you will work at, and how you will go about doing it. E.g. if management insists you be there 8-5 every day, you can just tell them to shove it.

            Reply
        • Use it up, wear it out... October 17, 2012, 11:39 am

          I’m dying to know what your job is.

          Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache October 17, 2012, 12:20 pm

          Indeed! Sounds great, Mo, and congratulations. That is how I feel about my current “jobs” of carpentry and writing as well. No need to quit something you love. But I’m still glad I don’t depend on the money from these jobs, because I wouldn’t be able to practice them in the same way if money were a factor.

          Reply
          • Mo October 17, 2012, 4:02 pm

            That is the key there I think, and you’re absolutely correct. Part of the freedom is not having to dependent on an outside source for income, even if you know it will be there permanently until you retire.

            Reply
  • Matt October 17, 2012, 10:16 am

    What do you propose people do when their employer moves to a distant location that would add at least an hour each day to your commute? I don’t want to move from my urban bikeable bus-connected office to a suburban office park, and it comes at the worst time when my new wife and I are in the final plans to go to one cheap car so we can grow our mustache faster. The problem is they don’t take people seriously about this stuff because so few people understand it… I guess the recourse is to find a different job?

    Reply
    • Heath October 17, 2012, 10:20 am

      Yep. Sounds like a solid option would be to find a new job. Perhaps make the sacrifice initially and commute during the job hunting phase, so you don’t lose any income (though 2 extra hours of commute per day would put a serious burden on you). The upside is that the biggest raises you’ll ever get in your lifetime can come from changing jobs! That’s how it’s been for me every single time.

      Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 17, 2012, 12:17 pm

      Yup – in my case that would be a real life trigger: I’d either negotiate a work-from home arrangement, get a new job, or commit to moving close to the new location of the job (maybe even do it by renting out my house and renting at the new location, to allow a quick return to the city once a new job was procured). Looking back, I’ve always moved to coincide with each new job, because I never let commuting become an option.

      Reply
      • Matt October 17, 2012, 3:40 pm

        Luckily I am able to WFH 3d/week so it lessens the sting (and I just started on a new team with some promise and more daily satisfaction in what I do). So I might hold off on the search for now, but I won’t get used to it. Being in my mid-20s, I’m probably a decade away from having a true mustache…. but I gotta keep it building!

        Reply
    • Grant October 17, 2012, 3:01 pm

      This happened at my previous place of employment – a lot of people started working from home, and on the days they had to come into the office they figured travel time was part of their working hours (note there was a high leve of dissatisfied workers, telco vendors – suck the life out). I was in the opposite situation – work went from about 12km away (and backing onto bush land which was good for pre-work mountain biking), to being about 4km away. I was very annoyed – even took up “running” to work! How drastic is that!

      Reply
  • totoro October 17, 2012, 3:17 pm

    I think that what some folks are reacting to here is that a job is not tyranny for everyone. Some of the blog swings from raising awareness on what the toll is for a job/lack of FI to obscuring the fact that many people get quite a bit of meaning and joy from their work and don’t necessarily want to stop.

    What is interesting is how we adjust, within limits, to different ways of daily life. Working families are the mainstay and they are not all stressed out of their minds. Some of them enjoy their jobs and working while their kids are at school, particularly when kids are older.

    Of course, when it becomes too much to do or you end up doing too little that you enjoy, stress sets in. This does happen quite a bit too. But not everyone is out of balance when they submit to “the tyranny of a real job”.

    In terms of adjustment, I’ve always found it pretty simple to adjust to doing less. Changing a fairly relaxed routine for a routine with less flexibility feels difficult, and then you adjust

    That said, I sure enjoy working from home. I am not FI but my job is so flexible and enjoyable that I can renovate homes and volunteer at the school and make a living. It is part of what I planned when I went into business for myself and it has worked to a great degree.

    Once a month I have to travel for work but I am very well compensated for it, including travel time, and this allows even greater relaxation when I return.

    I do want to reach FI, not necessarily to retire, but just to have the added freedom and expansion of other interests. In addition, I would like to not feel the pressure of managing high responsibility one day.

    There are many ways to make a good life. Knowing what makes you happy and meeting it is key.

    PS. If you don’t want to be called for jury duty become a lawyer. Automatic out.

    Reply
  • BC October 17, 2012, 8:06 pm

    My husband and I are all about being “optimized” working parents and so we always rent our housing close to our jobs and plan to do so until we are sure there won’t be a need to move (he is a tenure track prof and I currently work from home). Our son attends a preschool 2.5 miles away and the university is 2 miles from our current residence. I can’t imagine it being any other way.

    Since my son was born (two inter-state moves ago) I’ve had to work and so protecting the time that I do have with him has always been my highest priority. By avoiding long commutes and a work situation that requires long hours (and fancy clothes…) our work-day routine is pretty pleasant, but we worked really hard to get to this place (my husband with his education and me getting established in my career to be able to telecommute 100%). I now have the goal of having a teacher’s schedule, without being a teacher, in 2 years with shorter work days and summers off. 9-month staff appointments in higher ed are possible and so I have my sights set on obtaining this. This would be a better match with my husband’s 8-month per year work schedule too.

    To keep our work days running smoothly the laundry gets done on Friday and I stock the fridge/pantry for the week on Sunday night. My husband and I each get a cash allowance for pocket money. This old-fashioned trick makes us feel like teenagers but helps us stay on track with packing lunches and cooking dinner at home when we might be feeling tired/stressed from work and be tempted to buy food out. It’s too painful parting with the cash so we always eat food from or at home.

    And that’s how we do it!

    Reply
  • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? October 19, 2012, 5:50 am

    Great post, thanks. We live about a 5-minute walk from one of the best views in the eastern U.S. Difference in housing cost between where we live, versus living AT the view: about $500K+. And we get free exercise every time we go for the view. Plus it’s always new and exciting for us.

    Once you’re freed of the tyranny of needing to “own” a piece of that historic district, or that beautiful view, or that slice of beach — which is a dubious concept anyway — you are free to use your resources much more intelligently. And you might actually get to spend more quality time enjoying those special places….

    Reply
    • Gerard Van Herk September 26, 2013, 7:11 am

      This is wise. Thanks.

      Reply
  • Istanbul October 19, 2012, 11:22 am

    Such an amazing article!! I have been wondering about this for a long time. The last place i worked, my supervisor came around 6:30 and left after 6 pm most days. On top that, she lived about 30 miles/ 45 minutes away. Sometimes, she was stuck in office waiting for the traffic to open up. I never understood the logic behind this. I am sure her quality of life sucked the big time. My manager even worked longer hours. They were most likely doing this to get aheads, but still it did not make sense. Also, with such high income taxes and low capital gains taxes, i really do not understand the point of working such long hours. The more you make, the more you pay in taxes. I, on the other hand, lived 5 minutes to work. My house was still quite big and newer compared to average house in us since i live in a high pay/low cost of living area. Also,since I drive less, i have less chance of having an accident, pay less in maintainance,depreciation and gas. It is no brainer. With my spare time, i was able to get a great deal in refinance and negotiate a lower price for our new car. I also have more time backtesting value stock strategies and read personal finance blogs such as this one. I especially like learning new skills that i can use over and over again such as repairs, painting and investing. I am also healthier since i have more time to work out. I can lower my cost of living even more if i do not work. Houses are very expensive in places where there are a lot of jobs so when you retire you can choose a place where housing is not expensive. The second reason houses are expensive for workers vs most retirees is the availability of good schools. The areas with great schools usually have very expensive houses. The trick is to find work and school in a well developed suburb with lots of jobs,great schools with good quality affordable housing. That would be the sweet spot. In texas and few other states, it is easier to find such areas. In other areas, it may not be that easy. In those states, it makes sense to downsize and be close to work.just my 2 cents

    Reply
  • Kevin October 21, 2012, 2:20 pm

    MMM, love the site and the basic concepts of Mustachian-ism, but some of the numbers in this post are a little loose and don’t back up your overall thesis. For example, you compared the $225 driving costs to an $88 bus pass – however the RTD bus pass from Boulder to Longmont runs double that cost – $176. The Driving vs Public Transit cost is very quickly competitive. This is before you add the additional costs of public transit – time, additional intermediate stops, waiting for routes that run only every 15mins in commuting hours (compared to on-demand with your auto), missed or late buses, commuting to the route itself from your home to the line, as well as from the terminus to your final destination. The 20 minute drive to Boulder is now easily 1 hour each way. At MsMM’s $50/hr hourly rate, this adds to the price of your bus pass dramatically. And this is before including the taxes sent directly to RTD, including the additional 0.4% sales tax you have been paying for a choo-choo train from Longmont to Boulder which will likely never be seen in your lifetime. Big fan of the bicycling, but I find advocating public transit, particularly in this example as questionable at best.

    Also, if the ranch homes in SW Longmont are “large, well-built modern houses down at the corner, still within easy biking distance of grocery stores and schools, at a much lower cost” compared to the houses downtown, how did you and the Misses’ come to live in one of those charming historical houses close to the coffee shops downtown? Have you considered selling or renting your current home to acquire one of these bargains by the faltering Twin Peaks mall? I believe people consider commuting as well as a whole host of other factors (rightfully) in where they establish their home. And if one of those factors is a hipster coffee lounge, well then God Bless America :)

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 21, 2012, 7:59 pm

      Well, Kevin..

      1) you can generally get bus passes far cheaper than sticker price if you find a way to get in on a group Eco pass.
      2) I took that bus to Boulder for about a month when I first moved here and it was almost as quick as a car. You put your bike on the front to create faster connections.
      3) You can work while you’re on the bus.
      4) Fuck the complaining about the Fast Tracks system, that’s off-topic.
      5) The reason I live downtown is because I rarely go to Boulder.. otherwise, I’d live in Boulder, or in the SW corner as noted in the article. The reason I pay more to live here is because money is no longer much of a factor for us. But it was a huge factor when saving for retirement.

      People consider mostly the wrong stuff when deciding whether or not to commute, which is why everyone ends up broke and wondering why. If my numbers were really that sloppy, I wouldn’t be Mr. Money Mustache. Which is the whole reason for this blog!

      Reply
      • frank July 23, 2013, 4:09 pm

        OK OK.. I admit it I’m becomming dangerously addicted to this site.. I’ve always wanted to retire early and live on way less that $25k. I always targetted $2M to be able to retire.

        I’ve never thought of .. well why?.. I’ve got about 1.2M now and the Wife want to work for a while.. why the heck am I leaving my house at 5am to drive 80 miles??????

        When should I retire.. do I really have enough.. the big fear is that maybe it isn’t.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache July 23, 2013, 5:40 pm

          Holy Shit, Frank!

          1: Congratulations – you are doing great.

          2: You need to quit RIGHT NOW. I’ll be waiting on the road at mile 79 of your commute and if I see you driving to work unnecessarily ONE MORE TIME, I’m going to stop your car with my sandal-wearing foot, haul you out, and punch you in the face. It will be with the greatest respect and love in my heart and solely in the spirit of education. But still, it will need to happen, because you are done working, my man.

          Reply
          • frank July 23, 2013, 5:47 pm

            Haha.. well I got a little project to finish here.. a bit more research to be sure $1.2M is enough.. Wifey makes about 30K and we got 15K in rent.. hoping to not have to touch the stash unless the roof blows off (which I will replace myself.. We built the whole house with our bare hands.. told you we’re cheap).

            Yeah I think I’m close..ish..;)

            Reply
  • frank August 5, 2013, 12:38 pm

    OK plans have been made..

    1) Airplane will be sold this weekend.
    2) clean out hangar and return to its owner and save $140 a month (ASAP, but as soon as someone shows up to take over the lease or Dec 31st when lease is up).
    3) Retirement financial plan appears to work (live off Wife’s earnings/benefits, plus a little rental income, don’t touch the ‘stash’, and keep it growing until Wife is ready to retire)
    4) Retirement date set of April 30th 2014 (assuming they don’t tick me off before then).

    Is it hard to focus on work right now?…Heck yeah!

    Reply
  • Norman Frank April 8, 2014, 6:22 am

    I hope Mrs. MMM took a book to read while sitting there waiting. At least some hand work to occupy her time there. Seems the court believes that retired people don’t have anything better to do than sit on juries, so it seems we get called more often. At least now I have learned to plan ahead and take my lunch, ride the golf cart to court, and take a book to read. The next time I’m taking some para-cord and a book on how to tie knots and actually learn something on their time.

    Reply
  • Parker May 13, 2014, 12:18 pm

    Wow, there was a lot of whining in that blog post. It’s only jury duty. Suck it up!

    Reply

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