140 comments

Grim Comedy from Mr. Money Mustache’s Junkmail

Ahh, consumerism. The growing Mustachian Army fights and slashes away great swaths of it, night and day. We wake ourselves from the nightmare of our irrational desires for 400-horsepower SUVs and 4000 square foot houses.We advance further to slice the enormous lovehandles of fat from our daily routines.

We disband our armies of domestic housekeeping servants and stop requiring slaves to tend to our whims for food, coffee and fingernail therapy when we’re out on the town. And then as our own lives become as light and free as a speeding bicycle on a mountain road, we start freeing our friends and family from their own bonds. It feels great, and the legion of liberated souls will soon number in the millions.

But yet the ridiculous attempts of the consumer world to ensnare victims go on in the filthy back alleys we have yet to address. Like a pack of giant freak-of-evolution-Wormsnakes slithering in a vast river of urine and feces, there are still companies out there trying their darndest to sell people stuff they don’t need, regardless of how much it will destroy their lives or the planet which provides all of our shared wealth.

I sometimes try to deny it, circulating in my privileged life of bicycles, library books and You the Mustachians. I pretend that the shopping malls have closed and the former customers are all out there chipping up the asphalt to plant great community gardens. The Escalades are all gliding slowly along their Final Conveyor Belt, about to hit the carbide blades of the grinder which will shred them for reprocessing into wind turbines and solar panels.

But yesterday, someone had the nerve to stuff the mailbox at the Mustache residence full of colorful flyers advertising a huge array of Absolute Crap. And these flyers reminded me that that our work here is far from done. And they enraged me sufficiently that I was forced to grab a pair of scissors and some school glue in order to make the following Infographic for you. Study it, and try to keep a handle on your pulse rate, for it is horrifying indeed:

Grim comedy from my mailbox – click for larger

Is that advertising insane, or is it Maddeningly Insane?

Are people out there still buying scaryass white-bread fast food and jugs of “soft drinks”, a substance only barely less toxic than drain cleaner? The food is sold with big closeups of deep-fried batter, when instead the image should be of the decaying 720-pound corpse of a man who died in his mid 40s of diabetes and obesity complications.

If you need food when you’re not at home, you look in your backpack and pull out your bag of almonds or the tupperware full of spicy Indian food you made last week. Of if you’re rich, you find a place where some humans will cook food for you from recognizable ingredients.

Check out that radio in the middle. Aaron’s is selling its financially illiterate customers a $289 radio for $720, by printing the “monthly cost” in big letters so they think of 60 bucks. When instead the offer should have them thinking of a homeless shelter or a grinning bankruptcy lawyer.

If you need a radio, you open up Craigslist and click “For Sale -> Electronics”. You’ll find something just as sweet well under $100.

And the televisions. You can choose from 73″, 82″ and 92″.. so you can make the football players REALLY BIG in your tiny living room with a floor littered with unpaid credit card statements.  You don’t have TIME to read a book on how to manage your money or comb the listings for an apartment within biking distance of work. There’s too much good stuff on TV, and your favorite team just made the playoffs! Plus, since you paid over $4800 for the TV set even before counting the $1400/year Digital Premium Package, you really need to get your money’s worth.

I find all of this stuff really funny, even as I find it supremely unjust. Logically speaking, none of the shit in my infographic should even exist. Why would anyone enter debt slavery just buy a product that offers only superficial pleasure while simultaneously destroying their lives?

How could any company owner feel good about offering such products for sale, and applying marketing finesse to further grease the funnel which sucks in vulnerable customers?

Although it’s all within the rules of the free market which I love so much, it’s really no different from a Mental Mafia that preys on financially unsophisticated people.

“Hey! Let’s gather a bunch of smart people – marketers, lawyers, and MBAs, then back them with a bunch of money to fool people into signing contracts where they legally have to pay us most of their income for life! We’ll offer the token of worthless trinkets or short-term loans as our ‘product’, but the real product will be chains and handcuffs! We’ll make a killing!”

I simply cannot imagine how this feels like a good idea to the people in that boardroom. To compare, I sometimes imagine that I could write so persuasively that I could offer an e-book of my own stuff on this blog, and sell thousands of copies at $99.99 each. It would target the most desperate of readers, promising them the tools to get out of debt and a lifetime of financial independence. With proper desperation, I could extract an outlandish price from everyone.

Would I do it?    FUCK, NO!!

Wake up, rich people of the boardrooms. Congratulations, you’re smart and you’ve mastered the system. You can influence people and apply yourself to make as much money as you could ever need, in almost any field in existence.

SO WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SELLING POISONOUS WHITEBREAD BURGERS AND RIPOFF $720 BOOMBOX INSTALLMENT PLANS!?!?! WAKE UP AND DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL WITH YOUR LIFE, IDIOTS!!

Sigh.

I suppose my ranting like this is a little like getting mad at a mosquito for wanting to steal my blood. In a capitalist free market, resources flow to incentives with almost biological efficiency. If one boardroom stops offering the predatory installment plans, it creates an even more profitable hole for someone else to fill. Prices rise until enough supply materializes to meet demand.

But You and I will still keep trying, hacking and slashing. With enough cultural change, the market for Things that Wreck your Life can be marginalized and stigmatized almost into oblivion. Just as the business of Professional Assassin is generally frowned upon and represents only a tiny fraction of our economy, so we can crush things like high fructose corn syrup beverages, Escalades and Hummers being deployed to carry only a single real estate agent, and 300%-annual-interest contracts on disposable consumer trinkets.

Are you in?

  • Kevin November 9, 2012, 10:43 am

    I’m sure your 401(k) portfolio disagrees with your rant…

    Reply
    • Mr. PoP November 9, 2012, 11:16 am

      Mr. M is pretty persuasive, but I’m not worried about my 401K just yet. I’m sure there would be a lot of pain if the world transitioned to a low-consumption lifestyle, but I suspect things would be better after the transition was made.

      Does anybody know of any studies on low-consumption states/nations and their level of happiness?

      Reply
      • Ginger November 9, 2012, 2:03 pm

        Yes, there have been. Look at Japan, they have a great savings rate but their investment returns are god awful. I am happy being frugal and the rest of the world not being. If everyone bought used, the price of used items would go up or would not exist because no one bought them the first time. Us frugals need the non-frugals.

        Reply
        • Jimbo November 9, 2012, 2:21 pm

          Japan a nation of non-consumers?

          Please clarify… Because no. People buy everything all the time everywhere in Japan and litterally (as in litterally) work themselves to death.

          So, I will disagree on this example.

          Reply
          • as November 9, 2012, 8:33 pm

            You might be a few decades out of date. Japanese are so price sensitive these days that they have no inflation, because stores can’t raise their prices 50 yen (= 80 cents) without making customers uncomfortable.

            These days two of the most popular Japanese store brands I can think of in the US (Uniqlo and Daiso) run entirely on being frighteningly cheap.

            Reply
          • Danielle November 11, 2012, 10:40 am

            Yes, after the Japanese economy tanked (well before our own) the younger generations lost interest in spending their money and working long hours. Now the older generations malign the younger ones for not spending their money to patriotically improve the economy.

            Reply
            • Jeff November 12, 2012, 7:37 am

              I get the same kind of grief from my in-laws when I tell them I’d like a smaller house.

              Reply
        • Elizabeth November 10, 2012, 5:13 am

          That “everyone buys used” market happened at my university. Textbooks that weren’t in great shape sold for up to 80% of their original price because we had such thriving used book stores. (This was before online sales sites, etc.)

          As a seller, I loved it. As a buyer… well… not so much… ;)

          Reply
  • Kevin M November 9, 2012, 10:44 am

    I love infographics, yours was especially informational! :)

    Reply
  • Faun November 9, 2012, 10:46 am

    And yet there’s a Google ad on the right side?

    Reply
    • Dan November 9, 2012, 10:51 am

      Eh, that’s like how my mother has candy all over her house. I don’t whine to my mother that there’s candy everywhere because I’m not going to eat it. The candy has no effect on me.

      Why not let adwords put ads next to a post telling you not to click it?

      Reply
    • MoreKnown November 9, 2012, 10:58 am

      I’m torn on this. Promoting mindless consumerism is bad, but I like the way that Google’s ads promote relevant offers. On posts and pages that talk about wine and food, for example, they tend to link to offers promoting food and recipes. That seems pretty cool to me.

      That said, I use an ad blocker. When I visit the MMM site (or any site, for that matter), I don’t see display ads. Nobody really has to anymore. Add-ons are pretty easy to find that block that kind of stuff out if you don’t want to be bothered with it.

      Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 9, 2012, 11:05 am

      Re: the ad box – I’m in no way against commerce and advertising. We talk about earning and investing all the time. I even let you own a smartphone! This is Mr. Money Mustache, not Mr. Communist Crewcut.

      It’s the predatory products I’m trying to skim out here. And I have blocked the maximum allowed number companies from the adsense rotation – if they let me block more, I would. And note that the income is not being used to buy me cars and trucks – it’s doing more useful things than that.

      Update! Wow, just checked the adsense admin interface, and they’ve added unlimited blocking! It is great fun – I’ve already erased about 300 annoying ads from rotation – the lawsuit peddlers, financial swindlers, and much more. There seem to be a huge number so I’m not sure if I can get them all.. but in theory it would be fun to create a mostly-relevant adsense box. Other bloggers might want to log in and check out the new “allow&block ads -> ad review center” feature.

      Reply
      • Matt November 9, 2012, 11:42 am

        MMM, next April 1, I think you should do a joke post where you say something like the extra income from the blog was too tempting, and you couldn’t pass on getting a new luxury SUV… get fancy with the graphic editing and show you and your family driving the SUV across town on a fast food tour, indulging the gluttony you’ve been suppressing all your life. And take up smoking too. Load up the back of your new SUV with a bunch of stuff you bought with multiple credit cards. Have your whole family getting esoteric spa treatments.

        I think you could whip something up pretty quickly that would at least be amusing to your core audience. Done right, it could actually be some good satire, maybe going beyond an April Fool’s joke.

        Reply
      • Greg November 9, 2012, 12:47 pm

        I think you mean Comrade Communist Crewcut :-)

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache November 9, 2012, 1:24 pm

          Yeah!! CCC would make an excellent alias for this new character. Who wants to reserve the domain name? :-)

          Reply
          • Comrade Communist Crewcut November 11, 2012, 5:31 pm

            Domain rights should be held in common! True socialists refuse to fuel the parasitic DNS rentier class, you capitalist pigs.

            Reply
          • Joe November 12, 2012, 12:42 pm

            I registered it!* Let me know what to do with it. I’ll just redirect it to your site for now.

            * For 99 cents

            Reply
      • Cline November 10, 2012, 5:01 am

        I think of this as Darwinian economics (I need to copywrite that). Survival of the smartest. Not to sound condescending, but most folks buying this crap are being subsidized by tax dollars this gets money back into the economy. I used to be against the state run lotteries as a tax on the mathematically illiterate but then saw the numbers and saw that it was mostly folks that otherwise did not contribute to the tax base. Expecting to have the majority of the world live like us is unrealistic and as someone else has said if idiots didn’t buy new stuff used stuff would not depreciate

        Reply
      • Captian and Mrs Slow November 10, 2012, 4:04 pm

        Maybe you should one of those blog ad campaigns, they buy/sell adds on your behalf, from what I’ve seen the ads are of better quality.

        Reply
    • Jeff November 12, 2012, 7:38 am

      Those google ads are targeting your likes and dislikes. If you don’t like what you see, you only have yourself to blame.

      Reply
    • eric January 3, 2014, 3:49 pm

      You should download Adblock Plus. Its free and ensures you dont have to see a cluttered page. Plus no one makes money off of you.

      Reply
  • Sarah November 9, 2012, 10:50 am

    Yep.
    I surround myself with like-minded people. I’m always amazed that companies like those can stay in business… who buys that stuff? Who falls for that advertising? I guess there’s many people who still do.

    Reply
    • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies November 9, 2012, 11:11 am

      We try and surround ourselves with like-minded individuals for the most part, but you’d be surprised how much stuff people buy just to buy!

      As they say, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Guess there are a disappointing number of fools left in the world.

      Reply
  • October MacBain November 9, 2012, 10:52 am

    “Like a pack of giant freak-of-evolution-Wormsnakes slithering in a vast river of urine and feces,”

    I was eating my lunch when I read this. :(

    Reply
    • Diana November 9, 2012, 9:38 pm

      Perfect!

      Reply
  • Patrick November 9, 2012, 10:54 am

    If it’s any comfort, I also vacillate between sadness, smugness, anger and happiness, because I think I am smarter than the “system” which enslaves people.

    However, you make the assumption people want to be “free”. That they want to eat healthy, exercise, budget, and be mustache-ian. I’m not sure that is the case.

    Reply
    • April November 9, 2012, 7:06 pm

      Agreed. The companies don’t make people buy their products. If a person is stupid enough to pay 300% interest for a radio, they will likely spend their money stupidly–if not on this radio on something else.

      People need to take personal responsibility for their choices. What fires me up is when people blame the payday loan place for their mounting debt. Last I checked, the payday loan place didn’t hold a gun to their head and make them sign on the dotted line.

      Reply
      • TS November 9, 2012, 7:26 pm

        Agreed, to a point – it’s not a fair fight though. Companies utilize unimaginable resources to attack a person’s resolve. One moment of weakness here and there, and you’re mired in the rat race. Work until you’re exhausted to try and recover for your past mistakes, or youthful ignorance, and in one low point, perhaps you upgrade your car – because you DESERVE it – and you’re screwed again.

        It starts with children, and they don’t stand a chance unless we point it out to them.

        WRT to the communism quips: this ISN’T capitalism we see around us – it’s a twisted parody of it. Capitalism is somebody working hard to offer the best value they can to someone, while others are trying to do the same. What we have instead is a fight to offer the worst product/service possible, for the highest possible price, and to control the market in such a way to destroy actual competition.

        Reply
      • Doug November 10, 2012, 9:55 am

        That’s totally consistent with my observations. Tomorrow is Rememberance Day, or Veteran’s Day. It’s a day when we remember people who fought in wars, some who lost their lives and many others with severe injuries, to preserve our freedom. In Western countries we have a lot of freedom of choice, and shouldn’t want it any other way. It’s up to YOU to decide whether to use YOUR freedom of choice wisely or foolishly. It’s not real freedom unless you are free to make bad choices as well as good ones.

        Reply
      • Mike November 14, 2012, 5:58 pm

        Companies have become quite sophisticated in how they market products to consumers, spending millions on research to figure out how to persuade people to part with their cash.

        Yes it’s a free country, personal responsibility, all of that. That said though, if you study psychology, the art and science of persuasion, marketing theory and tactics, etc., you’ll discover that people are not as rational as we’d like to believe. That *YOU* and *I* are not as rational as we’d like to believe. Emotions play a huge part in decisions. Willpower is something that can become exhausted. Yes, even you, Mr. or Ms. “I’m 100% logical all the time and only do smart rational things”, are susceptible to persuasion tactics, and you’re also very good at constructing a rational story about why you did what you did AFTER THE FACT.

        There is a game being played all around you, and quite frankly, the personal responsibility card plays right into the hands of the corporate marketeers (and the politicians, and all the others out to influence you). Pointing out the tactics being used against people is no different than showing Neo the cracks in the Matrix so that he’ll realize the illusion. Tactics for shielding yourself and others from these persuasion tactics is a quite valid defense mechanism.

        Reply
  • MiniMMM November 9, 2012, 11:01 am

    Well, yesterday was the first time that McDonald’s reported a global monthly year-over-year same-store sales decline in over nine years.

    Reply
  • Jimbo November 9, 2012, 11:06 am

    Au contraire, my dear MMM!

    With the passing of bill 64 in Colorado, the market for these culinary offers is gonna EXPLODE!

    Just kidding. Around here, you can get a sticker that says ‘no flyers’ on your mailbox, which makes dropping flyers in it illegal, and worthy of a fine for the responsible marketing agencies.

    It’s a start…

    Reply
  • woodpecker November 9, 2012, 11:06 am

    MMM,
    great (and funny) post, I often feel the same anger, although advertisment seems to be even more aggressive in the U.S. than here in Germany – but sadly Germany is catching up quickly…

    If it was my decision, I’d propose to ban advertisment at all. It is of no or very limited use, it produces false desires and incentives and we all have to pay the costs of it included in the price for almost any non-local products.

    Bunch of suckers! ;)

    Cheers,
    Woodpecker
    http://www.gooddaytolive.net

    Reply
  • Tara November 9, 2012, 11:11 am

    Great rant – I look at 99% of the advertising I see and feel nothing but annoyance and total disinterest. Seeing misleading ads like the radio one make you wonder, are people that stupid? Unfortunately yes, some are. And I agree with Patrick above about how people don’t necessarily want to be healthy, exercise, budget and be mustachian – they want life to be easy.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 9, 2012, 1:41 pm

      I’d have to disagree. I think people want to be Happy.

      They absorb advertising that tells them that making things easy leads to happiness. So they embark on a lifelong quest from convenience, comfort and easiness.

      Of course, all of that is false, so they end up less happy. To be happy, you need to have control over your desires and some of your behaviors, which externally translates into health, wealth, and effort.

      So people really DO want these things.. but only after we teach them that those are what lead to happiness.

      Reply
      • Julia K. November 9, 2012, 1:56 pm

        Well said, MMM!

        Reply
      • Aaron November 9, 2012, 2:01 pm

        I have to recommend for the Netflix streamers out there check out the documentary “Happy”

        It’s awesome. It is enlightening. And I think it is a good precursor for other friends and family members that can open them up to more “mustachian” lifestyles.

        Reply
  • Chris November 9, 2012, 11:11 am

    I’m in.

    Reply
  • rjack November 9, 2012, 11:15 am

    MMM – I’m with you. When I see most advertisements, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. I wonder how anybody could fall for such crap. The only thing I can figure out is that people that spend money on crap think that it will make them happy. It is like a simple equation:

    More Stuff = More Happiness

    The scary part is that many people operate based on this equation and don’t ever question it.

    I went to India on business twice around 2000. I truly was a stranger in a strange land and I learned many things:

    1) Many Indians lived in little shacks with few possessions. Many of these same people seemed happy. That is when I realized how little you need to be happy.

    2) Some of the people that I worked with were highly educated and really good software engineers, but they made a fraction of what I make. That is when I realized that we live in a global economy and I competed with workers all over the world. I needed to up my game to stay competitive.

    3) There were still remnants of the caste system in India. You were born into a caste and this severely limited your opportunities. I realized that I was really lucky to be a citizen of a great country where it is easy to start a business, where there is an abundance of high paying jobs, and where there are social programs to help people. My country is not perfect, but you should see some of the other shitty countries out there before you judge too harshly.

    Reply
    • Dave November 10, 2012, 8:56 pm

      So true. I am a veterinarian and go to Mexico a couple times a year, where Mexican vets, just as skilled as I,make 1/10th of what US vets do. They would be considered below the poverty line in the US, but they are middle to upper middle class in a society as poor as Mexico. They also seem pretty happy with their career choice, something I rarely see in a US vet. Who are not un-coincidentally saddled with about 200,000 dollars of school loans.

      In other words, wealth is all relative once you have met your basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. And no one really needs a 92 inch TV.

      Reply
  • StashinIt November 9, 2012, 11:24 am

    ARGH! That “white bread, white-flour breaded factory formed chicken all with shitty bland toppings” still looks delicious!

    Crappy over-price food, I’m weak! Lazy, weak. BuT IT WaNT IT WAnT IT WANT IT!!! ARG!

    Still thinking about how shitty it really is helps, slightly, it’s just so engrained after a lifetime of eating like shit.

    Reply
    • TS November 9, 2012, 7:30 pm

      Because the corporations have you hooked on a drug – sugar. At a certain quantity, it’s not a food anymore.

      They design their meals to target the addiction centre of your brain. That’s why those who aren’t addicted think it looks disgusting, and those that are think it looks yummy.

      Reply
      • StashinIt November 11, 2012, 9:20 pm

        Hello, my name is StashinIt and I’m a fast-food-aholic. It’s been 12 days since my last happy-meal (Tear stained sack of horror).

        ..

        You’re right TS it is like an addiction. The not-so-funny thing is that I tell myself that the “chicken sandwich shaped object” is the health option because I’m not getting the “pound stack of meat, cheese, and broken dreams” which is always prominently plastered all over the windows.

        I have started and boycot on soda and now only drink water/tea/coffee/milk and I’m conscientiously trying to eat meals where meat is not the center of attention. Sounds like it’s time for me to up my game and full out boycott the fast-food establishments (alters of antimustachianism).

        Reply
    • Jen November 10, 2012, 5:11 pm

      I kind of agree, I am mostly a mustachian person, I like to cook and to eat healthy but I still have a desire once a week or so to go through a McDonald’s drive thru and get something awful! I think it stems from my childhood, where going to McDonald’s was pretty much the highlight of our lives. Sad, but working on it.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache November 10, 2012, 9:25 pm

        A drive-through? You mean you actually have a craving to idle your car through that little driveway thing and then order food from a seated position without even getting out of the car? Hopefully this weekly desire doesn’t translate into a weekly action!

        The very idea of drive-through-ANYTHING blows my mind.. they must all be destroyed. The car is only used in situations where no other alternative could possibly be arranged. At all other times, it is off and you are outside of it!!

        Reply
    • dragoncar November 12, 2012, 4:51 pm

      Yep, I’m in for two of those sandwiches.

      Reply
  • Gerard November 9, 2012, 11:31 am

    I agree with pretty well all of this. But I wish everybody (even MMM!) would stop using the word “toxic” to mean “nutritionally empty food I happen to not like”. It’s like the Godwin’s Law of nutrition.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 9, 2012, 1:33 pm

      Aww, sorry Gerard – that means a lot coming from you. If it’s any consolation, I didn’t know other people were overusing the word. And I did mean it literally – as in, “it does massive damage to your body to consume so much liquid sugar”, as opposed to just “nutritionally empty calories that will make you gain a bit of weight if you overdo it”.

      I even “like” Coke, in the sense that I find it delicious. But I still don’t drink it, because if you’re going to ingest a really unhealthy substance, it might as well give you some sort of fantastic voyage in return, not just a larger hindquarters.

      Reply
      • Gerard November 9, 2012, 2:15 pm

        OK, got it! I just find the term encourages people to think of their eating as Avoid That One Terrible Thing!!!!!!! instead of Enjoy All This Other Awesome Stuff. But in this case, all the stuff being advertised is pretty nasty shit, so I see where you’re coming from.

        Reply
      • Bob November 9, 2012, 4:49 pm

        Haha. +1 for unhealthy substances that come with fantastic voyages. ;)

        Reply
    • Emmers November 9, 2012, 6:57 pm

      Overuse of “toxic” makes me think of the people who are so worried about “omg chemicals!!!” all the time. (Pick better vocabulary, people!)

      Reply
  • Erica / Northwest Edible Life November 9, 2012, 11:37 am

    ::sigh:: While I love me some Peak Oil science, nothing warms the cockles of my heart like all caps, bolded f-bombs and insults directed at self-deluding consumerism. It’s like a big ol’ cup of homemade peppermint cocoa or a plate of roasted chicken….it just feels like coming home again, ya know?

    Reply
    • gitstash November 9, 2012, 2:39 pm

      Haha! Well said!!

      Reply
  • Holly@ClubThrifty November 9, 2012, 11:39 am

    I’m just glad I hate shopping. If I *need* something, I will buy it…but I don’t need much. And for everything that comes in the door I insist that something else goes out. I don’t like stuff.

    I work too hard for the money I make to waste it on crap.

    Reply
  • Sweta November 9, 2012, 11:43 am

    MMM, great article. You need to write more articles like this where you make fun of mindless consumers.

    Reply
  • EngGirl November 9, 2012, 11:57 am

    What really bothers me is when I see advertisements aimed at children. The other day, I HAD to go into the mall to buy a stamp and mail out some important documents. As I started my get-in-and-out-in-4-minutes challenge, I walked past a store for pre-teens which had a colourful display of cashmere sweaters. Beside the table was a giant poster saying “Why pick one colour when you can have them all!”, and another showing a pretty girl saying “I need them all!”. These kids barely have a chance, bludgeoned with TV advertisements, and told that the only way to fit in is to own more crap. And the one girl in a thousand who likes science experiments more than endless shopping is made to feel like a freak. I applaud parents who manage to minimize their kid’s exposure to crap like this.

    Reply
    • Erica / Northwest Edible Life November 9, 2012, 12:29 pm

      There’s tons of evidence that girls like math and science every bit as much as boys, and do just as well at it, all through early childhood. Latent sexism doesn’t catch up until about 8th grade. I’m guessing, based on the EngGirl handle, that you managed to navigate that gauntlet and ended up in the sciences. Awesome! I think your statement betrays that you may have been on the receiving end of some of that latent sexism, but I would encourage you to reconsider assumptions like only 1 in a 1,000 girls is more interested in science than shopping, so that the next generation of girls has it a bit easier.

      Reply
    • Clint November 9, 2012, 12:54 pm

      It’s only going to get worse as the holidays approach. I will say our school system here does a pretty good job of educating kids about marketing tricks, hopefully helping kids realize exactly what an ad is trying to do and how they shouldn’t fall for it. But you’re right. These lessons eventually get lost in the sea of shiny crap you can buy at the mall.

      Reply
    • Jamesqf November 9, 2012, 2:41 pm

      “And the one girl in a thousand who likes science experiments more than endless shopping is made to feel like a freak.”

      Not to mention the one boy in – oh, maybe a hundred – who likes science experiments better than watching sports.

      They’re lucky if they have parents who will minimize their exposure, though. More likely is that the parents will join the rest of the world in making the kid feel like a freak.

      Reply
    • EngGirl November 12, 2012, 7:44 am

      Let me clarify (just because I would hate to have people thinking that I was being sexist). The only reason why I said “girl” instead of “boy” in my above comment was that I was thinking about the advertisement which was directly marketed to young girls. If I had seen an advertisement directly aimed at boys, I would have made the same comment. Trust me, I know that girls can like math and science just as much as boys do.

      Consumerism doesn’t discriminate – although the genders might have different products marketed to them, at the end of the day, we are all pushed to buy a bunch of meaningless crap. Thank goodness we can use our mustaches to block the advertisers, whether we are a Mr. or a Mrs. MM.

      Reply
  • Mr. Risky Startup November 9, 2012, 12:13 pm

    My favourite post to date. LOL!

    Love the hand-made infographic!

    Reply
  • bogart November 9, 2012, 12:24 pm

    On a semi-related note, I have taken, when standing in line at a grocery store, to watching what the person in front of me is buying and thinking about how much of it I would eat. I am no pristine body-is-a-temple consumer of food by any stretch of the imagination (could someone just hand me that Reese’s cup — thanks!), but it’s always interesting to me to see what proportion of food others are buying that I would just not consume. Now some of this is cultural differences; there are ethnic foods that I haven’t learned to prepare and wouldn’t think about preparing (and some I wouldn’t want to try; plus, I’ll admit to being puzzled that chicken feet seem to sell for more per lb. than do, say, chicken leg quarters in a local mainstream grocery store near my home). Some of it is I’m probably seeing a person having a bad week and buying their comfort foods (i.e. not their average daily diet), but some of it definitely astonishes me, where it seems like 80% of what they’re getting I would just not consider consuming in any circumstance this side of the post-apocalypse.

    Reply
    • TomTX November 10, 2012, 9:45 am

      That reminds me of the fellow in front of me at the grocery store:

      Several loaves of white bread
      5-6 boxes of prepackaged cakelike treats
      24, 20-oz bottles of soda
      One pack of pseudo-cheese slices
      …and the most godawful cigarette stench I have smelt in decades. I work with some smokers, and this was a whole different ballgame.

      Reply
    • David Horne November 10, 2012, 6:32 pm

      I have done this, although I’m not sure that you can judge a person’s eating habits completely by what they have in their shopping cart for on trip, it does seem indicative.

      The one person that stands out to me was rather overweight and riding around in one of those electric scooters and had three things: a case of ramen noodles, a case of soda and a bunch of bananas.

      Reply
  • Doug P. November 9, 2012, 12:25 pm

    Awesome! I will print it to pdf for my 8 year old, do a little F-Bomb erasing, then share with him. I think then that I will go through recent mailers or maybe the Sunday paper and see if he can help me find other examples of such advertising attacks.

    Reply
    • Snow White November 9, 2012, 3:51 pm

      Great idea! Hey MMM…we need PG13 versions of some of your articles for the kiddos. Just kidding…I have some white-out around here somewhere…

      Reply
  • mike crosby November 9, 2012, 12:29 pm

    Gotta love my MMM;-)

    “Like a pack of giant freak-of-evolution-Wormsnakes slithering in a vast river of urine and feces,” That is how I need to look at that stuff that comes to my mail. Analog spam.

    But really, before I read this, my attitude was it must be a good deal if they’d go through all the trouble to deliver it right in my mail box. Thanks again MMM for keeping up the good fight.

    Reply
  • SMART Living 365 November 9, 2012, 12:34 pm

    thanks mr money mustache for another great post that reminds us that “junk” does NOT equal happiness. It’s true that the advertisers are taking advantage of people’s desire for a happier and more fulfilling life–but until people wake up and are willing to become conscious about it–all the rest of us can do is to continue to put the message out for people to find. The good news is that those of us who KNOW that stuff and money doesn’t make a person more happy are enjoying life right now! Here’s more in an article I wrote on my own blog called, “When is enough, enough? And Five Tips to Help Find Out!” If anyone’s interested it is here: http://smartliving365.com/?p=789 Thanks again for your great RANT! Keep up the good work…

    Reply
  • CgK November 9, 2012, 12:46 pm

    Mr. Money Mustache, you are on fire today! And hilarious! This post was just right for me, as I was just shaking my head that Target published it’s black Friday ad today. Now people can plan to go shopping on Thanksgiving, instead of hanging with loved ones and being grateful for all the riches we already have.

    Reply
    • Sarah November 9, 2012, 1:23 pm

      Even better, Wal-mart has announced they will open at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day for Black ‘Friday’. why spend a whole day being grateful for what you have when you can get a jump start on buying MORE crap? I personally never understood the whole Black Friday phenomenon as it takes the parts I hate most about shopping (spending, pressure, crowds) and raises them to the power of crazy. I have gone with family in the past, and start to feel really stabby after about 5 minutes.

      Reply
    • Joe November 10, 2012, 8:02 am

      Your comment may be only in half-jest, but I had a relative at a Thanksgiving dinner in recent years leave early to go shopping!! I was flabbergasted. I thought, “holy cow, this stuff DOES happen”.

      Reply
      • Sweta November 11, 2012, 5:06 pm

        Yeah it does happen. My mom was at a Thanksgiving party last year and one of her friends rushed through dinner and then left early, with her husband, to go meet their daughter who was standing in line at Walmart.

        Reply
  • AngelfishTitan November 9, 2012, 12:59 pm

    Haha, I thought this was going to be about the hate mail you get maybe even the one you posted in the forums.

    Still a great post that makes you think. I am definitely one of the people who is starting to forget how much other people really consume in a normal day and am astonished every time I go to a family function.

    I live nowhere near a modest lifestyle but it always annoys me to hear my family complain about how they barely make do while running two ACs, drink in one hand, and cigarette in the other.

    Reply
  • Lina November 9, 2012, 2:09 pm

    I have a “no ads, please” sign on my mailbox so I only receive advertisement that is directly addressed to me. Last week I blocked the tax authorities from selling my address and information to information companies that are selling the data forward to different companies that want to advertise to different demographic groups. So in a month or two I will hopefully only get stuff from companies that I have chosen to buy from.

    It’s good for the environment and saves me from dragging the crap to garbage room.

    Some countries have forbidden ads targeted to kids.

    Reply
  • TB at BlueCollarWorkman November 9, 2012, 2:18 pm

    I love everything about this post. Everything. We still have lots to do, a long way to go Mr. Mustache. The SUVs are coming off the lines still in droves, and my aunt still gets her manicure every week while trying to pay her lease car bill every month, and still not thinking about retirement savings even though she’s 51. … people are still out there buying into all the crappy ideas about what makes us happy and getting deeper into debt and unhappiness while doing it… we got lots of work left, man, lots.

    Reply
  • Spork November 9, 2012, 3:01 pm

    The “monthly payment gag” extends a lot further than your $720 radio. I find myself pointing that out to “educated middle class” folk all the time.

    “Can I afford $X this month?” greatly trumps the bottom line of “is this car/house/toy too expensive at $XXXX”.

    Reply
  • stellamarina November 9, 2012, 3:03 pm

    It starts young. Had to take my grandchild to pre-school this morning. We had to stop at the local store to buy a spam musubi (google it…popular in Hawaii) for her lunch….because ” that is what all the other kids eat.” Also a few of the other girls have Cheetos…..so could she have some of those too. She got the spam musubi and a no on the cheetos from Grandma.

    Reply
    • Jen November 10, 2012, 6:08 pm

      We were just in Hawaii and got to try the Spam musubi, good stuff! :)

      Reply
  • S Becker November 9, 2012, 3:45 pm

    on my beloved HGTV cable channel today was an obscene show entitled “Posh Tots” about a firm that designs rooms for children whose parents say the budget is “limitless.” Some of these kids were too young to be aware of the decor; the older ones were worse because they accepted it as something to show off to their friends. I had to turn it off.

    Reply
  • Fastbodyblast November 9, 2012, 3:54 pm

    Why not write an e-book and charge a more modest amount? You have a LOT of great information and posts on this blog. An e-book could give new readers a reference point of the most important points and skills to get started.

    I am sure long term readers would not mind one bit if you were to put the profits into your charitable works rather than pocketing the cash for yourself. Its not an e-book that would be a potential problem but rather how it was marketed and what you would do with the increased ‘stash’.

    Just a thought.

    Reply
  • Happy November 9, 2012, 4:03 pm

    Hohoho this post made me Happy. I’m trying to imagine a world where we only made stuff we needed. How different would that be?

    Reply
    • biored November 13, 2012, 10:50 am

      I think that’s called “Communism”. Understanding “wants” vs “needs” is critical. But let’s not pretend as though even the most frugal amongst us doesn’t occasionally engage in self-indulgent frivolity to satisfy a “want” that goes beyond just what is “needed”, like “fingernail therapy”, as Mr. MM put it. An occasional pedicure doesn’t break the bank (at only $20) and does wonders for stress relief (but be sure to go to a salon with full body massage chairs!).

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache November 13, 2012, 11:06 am

        Only 20 bucks? As in the amount it takes to feed me for a week? :-)

        Just kidding – sorta. $20 doesn’t break the bank for a financially independent person, but for a person in a debt emergency (credit card or car loans, for example), justifying a luxury expenditure as “only $20″ is exactly the kind of thinking this blog is written to address. Sure, it may relieve stress, but so does a run or a workout. Finding less costly ways to fill our wants and needs is exactly what recovering from consumerism is about.

        Reply
        • biored November 13, 2012, 12:48 pm

          I’ll give you that, Mr. MM! When I was digging my way out of the hole, I went for runs to work through stress, ate peanut butter and jelly 6 times a week, had a roommate, and NEVER indulged in a pedi! The result was 20K in credit card debt gone in 14month (I did NOT have a good excuse for the debt either). Half my net every month went on debt. IT WAS AN EMERGENCY!!! Now, we are free of ALL debt (not just credit card), we paid cash for our wedding, and have a tidy savings going (we are going to try and pay cash for our first house!). So now, a pedi every now and then is a guilt free indulgence. :)

          Reply
  • Heath November 9, 2012, 4:24 pm

    I’m in!

    Reply
  • chad November 9, 2012, 4:47 pm

    Whatever you do MMM, do NOT do a reverse DNS lookup of my IP address. And no, I can’t take anyone off of “the list.”

    Reply
  • ultrarunner November 9, 2012, 4:53 pm

    I’ve been trying to help a friend move towards Mustachianism and was going over some *stupid fucking expenses* today… so here’s a quick correction in your post:

    That Digital Premium Cable package you mention, at least in Broomfield, CO, is $189.99/mo + $250/yr for the football package. Yes, friends, $2529.88 per year! Who the bloody hell would pay that to watch fucking TV????

    Ok, carry on.

    Reply
    • Walt November 10, 2012, 3:20 pm

      Holy fuck!

      I got twitchy at $120 a month, and we’re down to $75 for internet and minimal cable tv. Still seems high but wow. $189?

      Reply
      • Matt November 12, 2012, 7:18 am

        That’s quite good value if you sit on your backside in front of the telly all day…;)

        Reply
  • TwoPupsOnACouch November 9, 2012, 5:14 pm

    What you said!
    The small town I live in has TWO Aaron’s AND a Rent-A-Center.
    This in a town where many residents can no longer afford basic needs. Insanity.

    Reply
  • lurker November 9, 2012, 5:48 pm

    I’m in….I am a sucker for a well-placed F-bomb.

    Reply
  • Sergey November 9, 2012, 6:21 pm

    MMM, why don’t you write a book and sell it for “just 24 monthly payments of $9.99″? You could ask Aarons or whatever to carry it, so that their customers can educate themselves and stop making bad decisions? :)

    Reply
  • TS November 9, 2012, 7:15 pm

    MMM, you know very much, but there is one concept that you have not fully grasped yet – and that is of the Psychopath.

    The Psychopath is one who feels no empathy for those around us, no remorse at those they hurt, and only views other people as pawns to be moved in order to acquire what they want – usually power, status and wealth. They are all around us. Not many, really, but enough that you always have to be on guard for them.

    I urge everyone reading to do some research on psychopaths, and understand how to identify them, and cut them out of your life, however you can. They can wreak unbelievable misery. MMM, you learned that lesson through your house company.

    One of the most interesting aspects of capitalism is that its a system designed to make the psychopath thrive. The VPs and CEOs of the world are those who can make decisions about business without regard for other concerns, or worrying about the human consequences of their actions. The corporation is the home of many psychopaths, as it’s an ecosystem full of incentives allowing them to bubble up to the top. Watch the documentary, “The Corporation” for more detail.

    The flip side of this is that capitalism and corporations are also a fascinatingly useful way of harnessing the power of psychopaths in a society; much better than the fiefdoms and waging war that they used to do. Now they can battle for power and prestige in a virtual battlefield. The battle can’t be allowed to spill over into real life, though.

    The US founding fathers understood this dynamic, I believe, and that’s why they tried to create a system of widely distributed power. Methinks they even realized it would only work for so long before it had to be renewed – psychopaths constantly try and consolidate power.

    You’re absolutely right though; these people wage a psychological war with the population every day, to convince everyone they are weak, worthless, inadequate – and that buying more stuff will help. As course it actually has the opposite effect, as you have explained so well throughout your postings.

    I love the blog; just discovered it a couple of weeks ago, and have read pretty much every word since.

    Reply
    • Snow White November 10, 2012, 5:52 am

      Corporations are people too… ;)

      Reply
      • lurker November 10, 2012, 7:06 am

        certainly explains why corporations are sitting on record cash hoards and no raises are being handed out, except to the psychopaths at the top….one cure to the economic doldrums we are in might be to give raises to the folks who are working their butts off at corporations everywhere…

        Reply
        • Geek November 10, 2012, 9:23 am

          Psychopathy isn’t black and white, everyone’s a bit grey on the spectrum.

          Reply
          • Jamesqf November 11, 2012, 10:35 am

            Yeah. I think the problem here is less psychopathy than short-term thinking. I mean, if you came right down to it, I’d probably qualify as a borderline psychopath: I don’t like or empathize with most humans, don’t really do guilt or remorse, etc. But I’ve learned that acting as though I am a nice, helpful neighbor pays off in the long run.

            The problem with the “psychopath” corporate managers (and a lot of individuals) is that they act as if the external world has no memory: that if they screw customers over today to make their quarterly reports look better, they can come back and screw the same customers next quarter, and the quarter after that…

            Reply
  • Mr. Frugal Toque November 9, 2012, 7:54 pm

    One of the most fascinating and useful (in hindsight) classes I ever took was a grade 12 English section in which we took turns dissecting 30 second television commercials. The teacher did one for us,then we had to go home, record one and present it to the class with similar analysis.
    Every sexual innuendo, happy-smile-after-product-shot, gasp for air and odd word usage were shown in slow motion or discussed at length. When each presentation was done, the teacher would point out some little advertising tricks we’d missed.
    To this day, I can’t look at a television commercial without thinking “I see what you did there” or, at least, these days, “Hey look! Bullshit!”

    Reply
    • lentilman November 9, 2012, 9:34 pm

      We had the same project. I remember being amazed when I realized that the ice in some of the drink advertisements was not photos of “ice” but was artist representations of ice and contained subliminal images of death, danger, and sex. Wild stuff, advertising.

      Reply
      • chad November 12, 2012, 9:34 am

        Whoah, really? Is there anywhere online where I could learn more about this? That is crazy!

        Reply
  • baughman November 9, 2012, 8:08 pm

    What I love most about this blog is that it confirms that there remains at least one small pocket of sanity in this world that we live in. Thanks for reaffirming that to me.

    Speaking of obesity…walking in public these days, it’s amazing to see how pervasive this has become. Observing a non-trivial portion of the population leaning backwards (to compensate for the mass protruding from their midsection) as they exhaustedly shuffle from their leased SUVs to the Walmart scooters is a little disconcerting.

    When will we snap out of it? When will we realize that we can’t buy happiness with an infinite supply of trinkets? When will we realize that health and mobility bring us more happiness than momentary bouts of pleasure as we ingest copious amounts of high-fructose corn syrup into our bodies?

    And the dumb-simple irony of all of it is that good physical and financial health, which ought to be highly correlated with happiness, can be achieved with the simple act of practicing frugality (i.e. spending less than we earn), eating our broccoli, and getting off the couch (i.e. burning more calories than we consume).

    Wake up drones!!!

    Reply
    • Slackerjo November 11, 2012, 6:59 am

      I know what you mean about the obesity thing. I recently lost 40lbs (25 to go) and losing weight has made me more aware of how most people are packing on the pounds. It makes me crazy to see people younger than me (45) walking with canes or using scooters. I see young people, under the age of 30, massively overweight relative to their age (ie, 60lbs+) and experiencing the health problems of people twice their age. It’s a good thing we don’t have World Wars any more as a) nobody would rush out to join up b) basic training would have to be 6 months long just to get recruits slimmed down.

      Sadly, seeing a man or woman over 200lbs is normal but I sense in a few years 300lbs will become the new “norm.”

      Reply
  • Joe @ Retire By 40 November 9, 2012, 9:26 pm

    I have never seen installment advertising. I guess this is why we need basic math. Drop outs are the victims here.
    I’m not above fast food when I’m traveling, but we don’t eat those junk food when we’re in town. There are too many good restaurants here and we only go out once a week.

    Reply
  • traineeinvestor November 10, 2012, 12:41 am

    Two reactions:

    1. I’m cheering for (other) people to continue exercising theing consitutional right to pay the stupid tax. Coporate America needs the income if it is to create jobs and pay the taxes demanded of them and if they can keep my retirement nest egg ahead of inflation all the better

    2. why, of why, would anybody actually waste some of their very precious time reading advertising junk? I can usually gloss over the adds on printed pages and web pages alike (%^$#% pop ups excepted) without really noticing and habitually mute the TV when ads come on.

    Reply
  • Elizabeth November 10, 2012, 5:25 am

    MMM, you would have loved a credit card offer I got in the mail a few weeks ago which said something like: “With these low introductory rates, now you can afford to take that end of year getaway to the islands or make the holidays extra special this year.”

    I had a good laugh, but then I realized there must be people out there who feel they must spend a lot because it’s Christmas or feel they “need” or “deserve” a holiday they can’t afford to pay cash for.

    Where did we get these ideas, anyway? Oh wait — I know! :)

    Reply
  • Will November 10, 2012, 6:42 am

    Great article. Lets not forget the ridiculous and absurd car dealership ads…that would be great fodder for your financial propaganda canon.

    Went to car dealership to buy Honda civic with 50,000 miles (98′).

    Guy wanted $10,495, then offered me financing. Just to humor him I asked rates, and he replied “7.14% APR”. Are you f#*%# kidding!

    Ha ha

    Paid $8200 cash. Period end

    Reply
  • Mrs EconoWiser November 10, 2012, 9:06 am

    I’m in! Recently we decided to cancel our newspaper subscription in order to save both trees and money. Plus, I decided not to visit the beautician anymore. We’re getting there…slowly but surely…
    I do find it more and more difficult not to tell people they’re acting like complete idiots, though. Yesterday, for example, at a pot luck dinner I was taken aback by the fact that our host started to throw leftovers in the bin. WTF? I rescued some food and we will be eating from those leftovers during this weekend.

    Do you tell people there’s another way? If yes, how do you tell them? I don’t want to be “that person” at parties…

    Reply
    • Margaret @ Live Like No One Else July 9, 2013, 7:18 am

      Ha, that’s funny (well not really). Such a waste of food. I have the perfect comeback for that as we raise chickens and I just tell them that I’ll take them off their hands to use as feed for our chickens..LOL. But I will also remark in a very surprised tone, “Don’t you eat your leftovers?” People just don’t use their heads!!

      Reply
  • Ric November 10, 2012, 10:06 am

    Great post. Great info-graphic.
    So where do I go to get one of those TVs?
    :-)

    Reply
  • Sue November 10, 2012, 11:17 am

    First visit to your blog… interesting..:-)

    I’ve got some home-made chicken soup simmering away (one free range chicken has done me 4 days of meals (roast,salad, curry, soup including some for the freezer) so better make this a reasonably brief post.. No television to watch, but Italian tv, is worse than US TV, (based on limited experience in both cases). Yes, really!;-)

    We get leaflets through the door too, but they can be useful if you’re disciplined. This summer I bought my first smartphone as I needed one of the facilities that they offer which an ordinary mobile phone doesn’t. A bit of research and it turned out ok, plus they were throwing in a free suitcase and bluetooth earpiece. Given that my existing suitcase has a handle repaired with halyard rope (plus my Mum goes tut tut all the time), it was a good buy. Unlocked of course, so I can use it cheaply with different sims in two different European countries.

    Serious question as I’ve only been a tourist in the US, but don’t people first sort out their health insurance rather than spend money on crap? It’s not an issue over here, and it’s not a major worry in most European countries as you don’t face disaster in the absence of insurance. But if we did need to pay, I’m sure the worry factor would result in an even more sclerotic economy as people would be saving so much for a rainy day.that no spending and circulation of money would take place. If I do a bit of extra work over my basic income it gets spent: mainly locally in the town restaurants or ski-slope bars. The multiplier effect in action!

    Reply
  • Charlie November 10, 2012, 11:22 am

    I must admit I am puzzled by your disapproval of paying others to prepare food.

    First, obviously, while a lot of things are not necessary and can be cut out, I trust we can agree that food is necessary. Either I pay somebody to prepare food for me, or I must prepare it for myself.

    Second, quoting Wikipedia, “In economics, the law of comparative advantage refers to the ability of a party to produce a particular good or service at a lower marginal and opportunity cost over another. Even if one country is more efficient in the production of all goods (absolute advantage in all goods) than the other, both countries will still gain by trading with each other, as long as they have different relative efficiencies.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage

    If I am frequenting my local neighborhood restauranteur for breakfast, lunch and dinner so that he can get on with what he is good at, making food, while I can quickly get back to what I am good at, computer programming, it would seem to me that both people in this picture are putting their skills to good use.

    I know you would (will?) reply that I have other intangibles to gain from preparing my own food. I can learn to become a better cook myself, gain the satisfaction of becoming more well-rounded, and perhaps pay better attention to the ingredients I am putting in my body.

    I grant you all those things (although my local restauranteur is very much into organic, healthy food!). Still, this does not change the general picture I see of trimming the ‘fat’, so to speak, by using resources efficiently.

    In the era of the american revolution, and perhaps today in more rural locations, I can see the appeal and the value in doing everything oneself — going off the grid, growing your own food, the whole nine yards.

    Living in cities, to me, implies specialization and trade. Cities create an enormous amount of wealth. Recently, our species’ migration to cities, which has been underway for hundreds of years, passed the fifty percent mark. For the first time ever, more humans are living in cities than are living outside them. There is a simple reason for this trend: people are finding real tangible benefits by making this move.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 10, 2012, 11:36 am

      Uh-oh.. welcome new reader!

      In the area of food preparation, for most non-millionaires the savings is significant enough that you earn a great hourly rate for making your own food. Plus, cooking is fun and occupies your time in a productive, sociable way that helps you recharge from work (you can’t make a good life out of programming computers for all your working hours)

      We still do some specialization and trade, of course. I let the electronics companies make my laptop computer and farmers make most of my food (especially tropical stuff). But by insourcing your high-wage service tasks, a balanced life does tend to get you to financial independence much more quickly.

      http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/13/domestic-outsourcing-practical-or-wussypants/

      Reply
    • Jamesqf November 11, 2012, 10:55 am

      It’s not so much the money (for me, anyway) as that “quickly get back to what I am good at” thing. (Though I am good at cooking, too.) How much of your time do you spend in the non-productive and non-interesting process of obtaining food other people have prepared?

      Suppose you eat fast food for lunch: quite apart from questions of nutrition & taste, how much time (and perhaps incidental expenses like gas & car maintenance) do you spend going from your work to the fast food joint & back? OTOH, a sack lunch could have been made at home, microwaved at the office, and eaten at the keyboard, taking you away from programming for maybe 5 minutes.

      Same is even more true about going out for dinner. You must typically drive to the restaurant, wait to be seated, wait for the server to bring menus, wait for the order to be taken, wait for food to be prepared and brought to the table, wait for the check when you’re done eating…

      Reply
    • econberkeley November 14, 2012, 5:00 am

      Charlie,

      Food costs account for 18% of the costs for the resturants. Rest of it is rent, overhead and labor. Plus, it takes time to drive to the restaurant and wait for the order and so on. You also need to pay for gas. If you add all these up, it comes to a considerable amount of time and money. Last time, I cooked two big size dishes (10 servings each) at the same time. It took me an hour and a half including preparation, cooking and cleaning. Let’s say 20 servings equal to $160. I probably spent $20 for ingredients so I saved $140. I made close to $100/hour after tax for my efforts. I am not making that much money at my work so it definetely makes sense to cook my own food. Also, restaurants do not use the best ingredients for their cooking. I get to choose the vegetables,meat I like. I also use very good olive oil. When you go to the restaurant, you have no control over what they use. It is also easier to eat healthy food whn you cook it yourself. Very few restaurants offer healthy food choices.

      Reply
  • Dmitry November 10, 2012, 12:45 pm

    Haha, love your art, man! Well done!! :)

    Reply
  • Derek P. November 10, 2012, 1:36 pm

    This post totally suits my situation I had this morning while shopping for groceries with the GF on how strong marketing is these days. We walked into the store to buy either bread or pancake materials and milk. As I am grabbing the goods, she’s complaining that she spends a lot more money on food while I’m around, then picks up a bag of sweet potato chips that’s in the middle of store and wants to buy them. They are about 5 dollars for about a 1/2 lbs (250 g) worth of ‘healthily food’. In my hand is about 3 lbs of food (mostly just the milk), worth a total of 5 dollars too. Fuck that noise, you know what we walked out of the store with.

    You have to be so freaking careful not to get screwed over by companies for overpriced crap food. They’ll try to rape you any chance they’ll get for your money and to ruin your health.

    I swear these processed food companies are own by drug companies…. When they’ve pumped your body full of sugar crap food they’ve got the products to cure you of your high blood pressure and diabetes too.

    Reply
  • Jennifer November 10, 2012, 2:21 pm

    Saw a funny “news” story this morning and thought of this post. A truck, possibly driven by a drunk driver, veered off the road, crashed into a McDonald’s parking lot, and was eventually stopped by a tree. A man who was in the drive-thru at the time of the crash was interviewed. As he described what happened he exclaimed, “If it hadn’t been for that tree, that truck would’ve hit us and killed our whole family”- while he waited in line to feed his family crap that will eventually kill them too.

    Reply
    • lurker November 11, 2012, 6:56 am

      kill them and their budget too…is that unhealthy crap even cheap anymore???

      Reply
  • plam November 11, 2012, 4:46 pm

    This post made me think of a write-up of the inventor of Pinterest. I “like” the last line:

    ‘There’s a lot of value in, as ­Silbermann puts it, “helping people to discover things that they didn’t know they wanted.”’

    Complete profile at: http://www2.technologyreview.com/tr35/profile.aspx?TRID=1292

    Reply
  • AussieJulie November 11, 2012, 6:44 pm

    I love getting junk mail. I collect it all for the month then send it back to the business owners with a note. It goes like this

    Dear Businessman

    Please do not send me any more junk mail. I am not interested in recieving it. it wastes my time, just like I am doing now with yours.

    Regards
    No junk mail sign on my mail box.

    BUT – I don’t put a postage stamps on it. To get the mail the business has to pay for postage and a penalty for no stamp. Costs them about $3.00 in the end and I feel very satisfied.

    Reply
  • Darrow @ CanIRetireYet? November 12, 2012, 5:56 am

    I’m in. And I agree, in a free market, resources tend to flow for short-term gains. We all must consume to live, and we all have our extravagances. The problem is when reckless consumption becomes a lifestyle. I want to live in a free system, so I think voluntary education and change ala MMM is the best way. Making it culturally uncool to consume conspicuously or stupidly is an achievable goal. A blog with great writing is the perfect platform to achieve this. And let’s not get attached to the outcome and become bitter or cynical, like some of those in the boardroom. Let’s laugh at the comedy, and ourselves, as much as possible!

    Reply
  • Joe November 12, 2012, 12:14 pm

    I got halfway through the comments before I realized this article was posted on 11/09/12. Where’s my Monday Morning Mustache post?

    Reply
  • JaneMD November 12, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Those is a total marketing fail. They didn’t do any research. If they were high-tech and sh*t, they would have targeted MMM with Lowe’s coupons, energy saving devices, and cycling related equipment. This is the 21st century. Dropping fliers like that is killing a tree for nothing.

    Reply
  • 101 Centavos November 13, 2012, 4:06 am

    We must, check that, we *are* years behind trends … we recently upgraded to a 32″ flatscreen.

    Reply
  • swimming_naked November 13, 2012, 7:22 am

    I wonder if the reason people buy books that “promise to get you out of debt and give you a lifetime of financial independence” is that they have bought into the idea that “you get what you pay for”.

    If I pay a guy $100 to clean the leaves out of my gutters, have I gotten what I paid for? I’m not all that talented, but I think I can clean leaves out of gutters like one bad mofo.

    The axiom should be “you get what you WORK for” and not “you get what you PAY for”.

    Reply
  • Freeyourchains November 13, 2012, 9:33 am

    I also get mad at consumerism after my big change in lifestyle after learning the truth about finances, markets, capitalism, financial slavery worker-consumer-taxes system.

    Luckily for me, my eyes began to open at age 22, while surfing blogs on finance during work with machines that are so efficient and high quality, true work is done in less then an hour a day; yet, overlords/bosses/CEOs require and pay yourfor your presence/slavery to do orders at will for $.

    Reply
    • noob515 November 13, 2012, 2:06 pm

      To Slackerjo, there was an article several months back about how very few people trying to join the military are actually qualified. Basically, once you weed out all the people who don’t have a GED and have a clean enough criminal record (the military looks past quite a bit, surprisingly), a vast majority of candidates are TOO FAT to join. Sadly, I have a friend in this category. He also smokes a lot and guzzles Mountain Dew.

      In addition to the Aaron’s of the world, my town has a lot of the “your job is your credit” car dealerships and “paycheck loans” type of places. Because of course you should take out a high interest LOAN on your hard earned money and go out and buy some shiny status-symbol vehicle. -barf-

      Reply
  • Edward November 13, 2012, 1:27 pm

    Why is it the first posters to a blog always try to find a way to call an article hypocritical? Are they out there waiting, with “Devil’s Advocate” written on their briefcases, ready to pounce as soon as something shows in their newsfeeds?

    Anyway, great article! I always mistakenly think the world has evolved past processed, chemically enhanced foods and gross unchecked materialism. I get lulled into a false sense of security by reading things here and in other online communities and with my sensible friends. …Then I go to the mall and BAM!–it’s worse than ever before in history! Shopping carts overflowing with junk, people lined up for McBurger, zombies piling into the Wal-Mart.

    The population in my city has gone down 6% since I was a kid in the 70s. But shopping sure has increased!! It’s crazy out there–the stores and junk food shops are packed all the time. :(

    After a visit to the third level of hell, it takes me days to go back to denial.

    Reply
  • Matt G November 13, 2012, 6:00 pm

    I ran across this today and had to pass along with this article. Ripping apart the Williams & Sonoma Catalog…

    http://deadspin.com/5959212/the-haters-guide-to-the-williams+sonoma-catalog

    Reply
  • Artis November 14, 2012, 9:02 am

    When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.

    This is precisely why I believe in regulating the market. Yes, free market is an awesome force that has brought a lot of good. But I also believe that the government has to step in when it’s time to slay the dragons. Free market fundamentalists are against regulation in all cases, and in all circumstances. That’s no surprise, since it’s a blind faith.

    For them, the market is a God that rewards the worthy and punishes the unworthy. The rich will inherit the kingdom of God. Hence, they deserve all the money they can cheat out of these poor bastards. They are, by nature, smarter and stronger than the debtors.

    The market fundamentalists are also wrong on human nature. Our species lack true sapience. We do not posses, on average, the capability to build wisdom and thus exercise sound judgments. We are driven by the biological mandate to garner resources to ourselves and generate new biomass (procreate). That is our deepest drive.

    So is it the market that knows best? No, it should be obvious that it does not. Anti-trust, healthy and safety regulations, banning child labor, stopping the “too big to fail”, requiring businesses to follow privacy laws etc. — the government can do a lot to make this “free” market palatable. We’re all the better for it.

    Reply
  • Warren November 14, 2012, 2:31 pm

    As outlandish as this statement is going to sound: I can see times when a rental television actually *IS* a Good Idea(tm).

    Like that one gathering a year at your house when everybody wants to watch football after Thanksgiving Dinner.

    Rent it for that week, and then take it back.

    It’s akin to renting a car when you travel – yeah, a couple hundred bucks for a car for a week is bad compared to owning one and using it forever. But when you’ll only be there a few days, it’s a highly worthwhile trade.

    Reply
  • Fu Manchu November 15, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Just a quick word of advice: anyone looking for an easy way to opt out of junk mail, try the free “Paper Karma” app for your phone. As someone on the other end of Direct Mail (somewhere that sends it), I can tell you that it works and is effective. All you do is snap a photo of the junk mail and it can figure out who they are & where the opt out should be emailed to. Assuming the company is compliant, they will remove you from their list.

    Disclaimer: I didn’t create this app or anything like that. I just think it’s neat.

    Reply
  • Jen November 15, 2012, 7:51 pm

    So looking forward to FI. Must feel great to have time to do junk mail scrap-booking.

    Reply
  • Shiznik November 16, 2012, 12:50 pm

    I’m in!

    Reply
  • Trudy November 27, 2012, 3:56 pm

    Over 100 comments (I think, they all blurred after awhile and I lost count) and not one person said how proud Joe Dominguez would have been over that collage – and MMM. Joe was sidelined from writing for the newsletter (I think) when he titled one big article “QUIT YER BITCHIN”. I miss him so much – MMM is a perfect replacement.

    Reply
  • Miki December 11, 2012, 11:38 pm

    This post was FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!! MMM you are a very funny writer and I’ve been reading as many posts as I can get through in one sitting. I often thought all these things when those flyers came in the mail and wondered who bought this stuff, it truly is insane. I laughed the entire way through. Thanks for this!

    Reply
  • Helen Wallace December 29, 2012, 9:33 am

    Well you probably won’t see my comment there are so many — but go Mr MM this is my favourite post yet!!

    Were you channeling my other favourites and Max Keiser and George Carlin??

    Love it !!

    Reply
  • Victor April 13, 2013, 8:16 pm

    JUST ADD PUKE! Classic.

    Reply
  • Michele May 16, 2013, 9:50 am

    I like the idea of making fast food restaurants post pictures of extremely obese individuals on all of their marketing with a big sign saying “Our food causes obesity!” It would be similar to the types of advertising restrictions that tobacco and alcohol companies are required to use in their marketing. “The Surgeon General…”

    Reply

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