239 comments

How to Make Money Buy Happiness

What are you spending all that money on?

After reading this blog for a while, you already know what’s good for you, but there is still the odd slip-up. A few hundred disappear here and there for the odd fancypants luxury, or a few thousand on trips or keeping the BMW X5 around because hey, you deserve it, and Mr. Money Mustache can’t actually see you driving it and bike over to punch you in the face.

And if it’s not you, it is your spouse. You were born with spartan tendencies and actually enjoy line-drying your clothes and chopping wood on a crisp winter day. But he or she was raised differently and just feels better with those leather seats, or the extra-large sports television, or the nutritious $10 single servings from Whole Foods or the air conditioning set nice and cool all summer. You’ve tried to bring the issue up gently, but a marriage is worth more than money, right?

The best way to get to the root of all this spending is to realize what we are all really trying to buy. In fact, it is the reason for every single action we take in our lives. It’s happiness.

When you finally upgrade to that 4500-square-foot custom dream home you have always wanted, you are not doing so because it will provide more space for your family to gather, or for the killer parties you can host there.  You’re also not doing it to earn admiration and respect from your colleagues and neighbors. The whole deal is signed because of the feelings you anticipate it will bring you.

When we buy anything beyond the most basic ingredients for life, we are just buying feelings.

If this sounds like a stretch, consider the counterpoint: Let’s say that the mansion on the golf course did indeed have more room for family and friends, and it even impressed others. But it made you feel like a horribly wasteful idiot every time you looked around at all the empty rooms, and the worries kept you up at night. Imagine that its very presence in your life was a constant drain on your happiness. Would you still make the purchase?

Of course not! And indeed, this is exactly the feeling I happen to have about giant luxury houses, which is why we’re moving to a place that is 1000 square feet smaller next month now, despite an increasing level of wealth. Better feelings.

Two different people can have opposite feelings about exactly the same situation. And in fact, one person can completely reverse his or her own feelings about exactly the same situation in a surprisingly short time. This is an enormous clue in the puzzle we are trying to solve here.

So let’s solve it. If we are really just buying feelings, who has the best ones on sale at the lowest price? Different people approach this problem with different levels of sophistication.

At the bottom of the pyramid, you have people who seek stuff at all costs. Long ago, some of my rental house tenants could not pay the bills and had debt collectors coming at them from all directions. They spent their entire short tenure in my house trying to put up a smokescreen to dodge me, their creditors, past landlords, and everyone else. And yet inside the modern luxury house they had rented from me was the latest designer furniture, sleek electronics, high-end clothing and a completely customized brand-new Corvette. They were good at fooling me and fooling themselves, but as the sheriff unceremoniously kicked them out on the street after the eviction court case, they may have briefly realized they were not buying happiness.

Slightly higher on the consumer thrills ladder is the new slogan of, “Don’t buy things, buy experiences! Travel! Take Cruises! Go to all the happy hours!”

It’s a nice idea, and it does work to a certain degree: experiences are more memorable than things. After all, your favorite trip still glows warmly in your memory, even while that iPad2 you purchased just a few years ago is hopelessly outdated now and sitting in a storage bin under the shipping boxes from your iPad3 and iPad4.

In the mainstream media, the analysis ends there. Spending on experiences is better than spending on stuff, so just spend all your money on experiences and you’re set.

But there’s an even more satisfying thing you can do with money, which is rarely mentioned: not spending it.

Huh? But what about all the slogans “Money is no good if you don’t spend it”, “You can’t take it with you when you die”, and “It is better to spend money like there’s no tomorrow, than to spend tonight like there’s no money“?

It turns out that these catchy bits of folk wisdom aren’t in line with much of the science. More recent research on the matter* is revealing that people with money in the bank (or its more Mustachian form of productive, growing investments) receive much more happiness from it than people with the more fleeting pleasures of a high income or high levels of consumption of stuff or experiences.

From my own perspective as a lifelong saver, this seems completely obvious. The average consumer now lives a life that is balanced upon the razor-sharp bleeding edge of just-in-time cashflow. Incoming paychecks are closely matched with a nearly-equal list of mandatory outflows. Rents, mortgages, loans, utilities, subscriptions, gas, and “fun money”. If the inflow of money is cut off, even for such a trivial period as a single year (and let’s be honest, in most cases a single week), the consumer slips on the blade and you have a whimpering pile of entrails on the floor complaining about how difficult life is for the middle class these days.

While most people assume that this is just a normal modern life, it is actually a life of incredible and completely unnecessary stress. Families with young children get torn apart, abdomens balloon, arteries clog, 45-minute commutes occur, cars crash, and crimes are committed, all because of the imminent financial doom that lurks over almost every shoulder. Even your average earnest, educated, hardworking high-income adult endures daily stress, decreased health, greatly reduced freedom and a generally less happy life, all over the very simple issue of an extended shortage of money.

The solution is equally simple: keeping your money. Quite contrary to the bartender’s advice, every single dollar you manage to keep for yourself contributes to your wellbeing. The dollars bring peace, because they eliminate the worry of not having enough of them. They bring freedom, because you can wield them like a sword to cut new paths for yourself in life that were formerly closed. When invested properly, they multiply automatically and decrease the amount of your time you need to devote to earning a flow of them. You don’t have to be an early retiree to feel this effect, because benefits begin immediately. Every dollar you manage to save between zero and financial independence contributes to this peace and happiness.

Of course, it is possible to screw up even this simple equation, so beware:

  • Dollars saved beyond the level of “Enough” don’t bring you even more happiness, because Enough is Enough.
  • People with fully secure and happy lives may not need the psychological crutch of financial independence to live completely free from worries**.
  • And those who cross the line from “Frugal” to “Cheap” may end up compromising personal relationships in pursuit of dollars, which is an unprofitable tradeoff.

But the point remains: if you are currently in search of more happiness and wondering how to put your growing professional income most efficiently to work in this search, the first thing you should might look into buying with that money is Nothing.

 

This is just one paper from one individual, but I enjoyed the pretty thorough take on connections between savings and happiness: http://www.r2research.com/Home_files/Roth_2011.pdf 

 **For some of us, this can be a chicken-and-egg problem: I was more prone to worry in my youth, because I didn’t know much about life. The freedom offered by financial independence gave me time to relax, read, and build closer relationships. This led me to learning much more about happiness. Now I know enough that I could be happy even without all this money. But I give the money the credit for getting this whole process started. And now I get the fun of giving it all away over my lifetime!

 

  • Three Wolf Moon April 14, 2014, 12:19 pm

    Finally caught up! Read every article from the beginning of time, plus all of the comments – took a few months but it was well worth the time and effort. Just wanted to say thanks to MMM for typing shit into your computer from time to time – I’ve always led a somewhat frugal and efficient life (biked to work when it made sense, installed CFLs/LEDs), but you’ve helped me take it to a whole new level!

    Reply
    • Troy April 14, 2014, 11:15 pm

      I know how you feel. I spent a happy few weeks working my way through all the back articles. I was quite sad when I finally caught up and now I have to wait with the masses for each new post to emerge from the MMM laptop.

      Type faster!

      Reply
      • Andres April 18, 2014, 8:34 am

        You’ve missed the point:

        Dollars saved beyond the level of “Enough” don’t bring you even more happiness, because Enough is Enough.

        Information beyond the level of “Enough” doesn’t bring you even more happiness, because Enough is Enough.

        Read slower!

        :)

        Reply
    • Ken April 15, 2014, 12:58 pm

      Wow I’m working on reading all the articles, great encouragement! I love MMM!

      Reply
  • EL April 14, 2014, 12:24 pm

    Yes saving is the fastest route to reach financial freedom, but many people view saving the wrong way. The feel since they will not see it returned back to them until age 59.5, they lower the savings rate to enjoy those dollars now. If they only knew that saving more, will give you ultimate freedom. It’s a process not many can understand, but I’m glad I do understand the process towards building real wealth aka freedom.

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    • Jamesqf April 14, 2014, 11:11 pm

      Still kinda the wrong attitude to saving (and investing). Barring some sort of worst case scenario, I don’t expect to ever see back a penny of the money I’ve saved. (That’ll go to some deserving friends/charities when I eventually kick the bucket.) Instead, I’ll be letting that saved money breed, and happily spending the progeny :-)

      Reply
      • AJ April 15, 2014, 8:14 am

        Not sure I agree with that.

        YOU want your money to go to charity and friends and that’s great, but others may be content to spend it all during their (hopefully very long) retirement and die with just a bit more than zero left.

        Personally I have very little interest in leaving any sort of inheritance or legacy and I don’t think that’s “wrong”.

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        • Free Money Minute April 15, 2014, 10:27 am

          I agree with you AJ. It is up to you to spend, give or waste the money YOU earn the way you see fit.

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          • David B April 15, 2014, 12:20 pm

            I think the point is that if you plan to retire at 30 or some really early age, you need to save enough so that your portfolio will statistically grow over time even while taking distributions.

            When you need enough money to last 50 years, it is really hard to walk that razor edge and use the last of it the minute you die, so generally you’ll have more dollars when you die, than when you retired.

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        • Jamesqf April 15, 2014, 12:39 pm

          You entirely missed my point, which is that once you save a sufficient amount, you don’t ever need to spend that money, and shouldn’t want to (unless you have a really good idea of how long you’ll live). You treat that money as accumulated capital, and then can live your entire life enjoying a comfortable income without touching the capital.

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          • chc4444 April 16, 2014, 9:35 am

            Bingo !

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        • Justin April 15, 2014, 12:46 pm

          This is a fine idea, and people are of course welcome to find their own paths. Personally I have trouble trying to plan to be “near zero” when I die, since I have no idea when that will be, or what changes will occur in our society before then. We might wind up with universal health care, or a universal living wage, we might wind up living to be 150 with taxes based on net worth rather than income.

          We just don’t know, so trying my best to plan for “forever” seems prudent to me. Trying to hit zero just after I die sounds like a recipe for stress when 50 years from now the tax law changes, or some fundamental market shift occurs, and now I’ll hit zero 10 years earlier.

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          • Leslie April 15, 2014, 1:12 pm

            You are so right that things change dramatically over time. When I started planning for retirement 30 years ago the accepted paradigm was to use interest on savings for living expenses, which at the time was 3.5% for a savings account to 5% for a CD. LOL! The human brain can be a victim of “presentism” which results in assuming that the future will resemble the present and we plan according to what we know today. Tax laws and federal monetary policy can change drastically within the time span we plan on living in retirement. I don’t think I have the clairvoyance required to die with a net worth of zero so I prefer to err on the side of caution.

            Reply
          • Shane April 16, 2014, 11:24 am

            If you haven’t read it already, Stephen Pollan’s book Die Broke (http://www.amazon.com/Die-Broke-Radical-Four-Part-Financial/dp/0887309429) describes a strategy for extending your savings just the right amount, so you get to use every last penny without running out before you die. In the book Mr. Pollan says if you follow his plan, “The last check written on your account should be to the undertaker and it’ll bounce!.”

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            • Leslie April 18, 2014, 10:35 am

              I have read the book but Pollan recommends that people never retire as he feels it is an outdated concept. I don’t agree.

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    • Spectra April 15, 2014, 12:46 pm

      Thank you EL. I think this is a big problem that I’ve had in the past with family and friends who don’t see the point of being frugal. I always try to tell them how wonderful it will be to be FI but they just focus on the sacrifices needed now. But I think if I start explaining better that I can have this FI and wonderful feeling when I’m 40 rather than 60 maybe they’ll start listening to my arguments better.

      Reply
  • Mario April 14, 2014, 12:26 pm

    It’s very true. Here in personal finance, as elsewhere, there is a shocking amount of psychology built in.

    So much of the time when we buy things, we’re trying to overcome or block out some other thing that’s making us unhappy. In this case, the time (or even money) spent doing some self-reflection can go a long way.

    More importantly, our own self is the person we’re going to be spending the most time with throughout our lives. Doesn’t it make sense that we should learn as much as possible about ourselves?

    Reply
  • Tara April 14, 2014, 12:35 pm

    So true! I always felt the «buy experiences» push was just another way of getting you to part with your money. For me, stuff and experiences are both valuable, when chosen appropriately. Thanks for the reminder to just say no to both and enjoy already having enough!

    Reply
  • Christine Wilson April 14, 2014, 12:42 pm

    And so I need to get back on the saving bandwagon.. good article ;)

    Reply
    • Dragoncar April 18, 2014, 12:06 pm

      I know right? I rarely comment on these main articles, but this is one of the best ones I’ve read in a while. Because it’s so high-level, it’s great motivation to overcome frugal fatique without getting bogged down in the minutia of saving money.

      Reply
  • Mark Ferguson April 14, 2014, 12:47 pm

    Great points. I agree that saving is the first key to success. I also think that once of get a saving mentality it can be coupled with spending money as well. I like expensive cars and I have plans to buy one this year, but I also save a lot of money each year and invest in real estate before I buy anything expensive I think there can be a happy medium of saving and spending if you make enough money.

    I saw a recent study that showed the more money you have the happy you are contrary to previous studies. The multi millionaires they Interviewed were the happiest if the bunch. There conclusion was there was no level where happiness drops off after a certain amount of money. I agree. After all the more you have, the more you can give and being able to help others is a great way to he happy.

    Reply
    • Gerard April 14, 2014, 1:38 pm

      Citation, please! :-)

      Reply
      • Mark Ferguson April 14, 2014, 8:55 pm

        Here is an article that discusses the new study. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/science-money-makes-you-happier-2013-04-30
        completely agree that scientific studies on psychology are very tricky. I mostly use that study to counter the study that shows after a certain point money doesn’t make you happier. That study never made sense to me, the more money the more options, freedom and charity acts you can perform which in my mind makes me happier.

        as far as the car goes, I am not talking about buying the latest and greatest new car every year. I am talking about a 1998-2001 lamborghini Diablo. I have never bought a new car. I have been a car nut since I was five and a v12 Lambo has always been a dream. Irate a Countach until I found out I probably wouldn’t fit and they are not good driving cars. The diablo was a huge improvement especially when Audi took per in 98 and brought in some refinement. The Murcealogo does nt have the same Lambo lines and the new Lambos are too damn expensive and will decrease in value. I think the diablo is at the low point now like the Countach was a couple years ago.

        MMM I am also a strong believer in different strokes for different folks. For a long time I buried my desire and love for cars thinking I would never be able to own them. When I started changing my attitude and believing I could afford some of these cars some day my life took of and I have never been happier. I am not chasing happiness with expensive things, I am already happy, but a Lambo will make me even happier and fulfill a dream.

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        • Kenoryn April 15, 2014, 8:58 am

          Hard to separate the income issue from the what-you’re-doing-with-your-life issue. Not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship there, may be a common-causal variable. People making minimum wage at McDonald’s might be less happy not because they have less money, but because working at McDonald’s is not a very fulfilling way to spend your life. People who have started a very successful business that is making lots of money might be happy not because they have lots of money, but because they’ve worked hard and taken risks to accomplish a big goal and been successful. Might be better to follow people who didn’t have money before but have come into money from some external source, like a big inheritance or winning the lottery, and see how much happier the money made them.

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        • Danny April 15, 2014, 11:47 am

          Just because happiness and money are correlated does not mean that money makes an individual happy! I’m not making the old correlation does not equal causation argument, but something more subtle: most happiness has to do with your own choices and perception of well being, and if you can convince yourself that you have everything you need, you don’t need to spend years trying to make money.

          If making money is something you enjoy doing, I certainly don’t judge you for it – in fact I envy you for having talents that are so well rewarded in our capitalist society. But I think generally in life, HAVING high status makes you feel good – whether that means being popular, cool, or having more money. STRIVING after status can make you miserable. If you’re convinced you need more money or “cool points” to be happy, you will never reach that point.

          So I think the key thing is to be happy with your lot in life, and if your wealth increases along the way, all the better. Just be very careful not to tie in your sense of self worth with it.

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          • mark Ferguson April 15, 2014, 4:45 pm

            Great points Danny. I don’t think money will make people happy. But I do think money can make people with the right attitude happier.

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        • Leslie April 15, 2014, 1:28 pm

          Mark,

          We have a really old car that my husband fixed up. It is probably worth about 10K. When we drive it on the freeway in the Bay Area, guys in beautiful, Lotus and Porsche sports cars drive up beside us and give us the thumbs up. They have to slow way down to do so because our car only goes 50 miles an hour, and yes, we are in the right lane. I assume that these mega-fast car owners are happy too when I see their smiles and laughter as they admire my husbands’ handy work. It isn’t the price of the car but the ideas associated with them that make people happy and ultimately the places they travel too and with whom. It is about the stories and the great memories, even in a car that only goes 50 miles per hour. People who ride bikes are happy too.

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          • mark Ferguson April 15, 2014, 4:49 pm

            Leslie, That is very cool. I have a 1986 Porsche 928 that cost me $6,000 and I love that car. I am not saying a car has to be expensive to be cool or a great car. I am just saying my dream car happens to be expensive and I am not letting that stop me.

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        • David B April 15, 2014, 2:05 pm

          from the article “Of those making over $500,000, 100% reported being “very happy” and said they were “very satisfied” with their lives.”

          So they found the upper limit, 500,000 Those making 600,000 are no happier. Or their questions were not very good.

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          • mark Ferguson April 15, 2014, 4:54 pm

            There are many articles explaining that study. Many of the people surveyed in the top echelon were multi millionaires and were the happiest people they interviewed.

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        • Mr. 1500 April 15, 2014, 8:22 pm

          I have car dreams too. In my case, it’s an Acura NSX. It was a world-beater when it came out; light (aluminum) and fast.

          Even though one can find well kept examples for under $40,000, I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger. I just can’t bear the thought of the NSX pushing my retirement back another year.

          Now, after I retire, if I have the means and still have the desire, who knows. Not now though.

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        • Kevin April 15, 2014, 10:42 pm

          That study apparently doesn’t show what you think it does. For example, you wrote that it found that the multimillionaires were the happiest, but the study says ‘Of those making over $500,000, 100% reported being “very happy.”’ So how are the multimillionaires happier? Or the billionaires? And, of course, you’re not citing a peer reviewed paper, only a brief and inaccurate reporter’s summary of a study.

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    • JP April 14, 2014, 1:51 pm

      There’s an interesting argument made by Malcolm Gladwell about income and raising kids in his latest book, David and Goliath. Gladwell articulates that there’s an inverse U shape to income and parenting effectiveness. After about $75,000, it’s harder for parents to be effective. So, I think MMM’s philosophies about money also say there’s a point where too much isn’t a good thing for our kids. So, if the study you read says more is better (for you), it may not translate to what’s good for your family.

      Reply
      • Holly April 15, 2014, 6:53 am

        Sounds like an interesting study. But, does is show that parents who make more than 75K are less effective, or that parents that spend a lot are less effective? If you make significantly more than 75K but save the majority of it, I don’t see why that would make a difference.
        Obviously we all know plenty of people who make a lot more than 75K but live on 30 or 40K (including me!)

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      • Free To Pursue April 15, 2014, 10:46 am

        I loved that part of Gladwell’s new book. It made me think of this blog and what the mustachians are doing to raise their son. A big part of the problem with the children growing up in a wealthy family was the absence of barriers to desires, material or otherwise and losing the experience of having to work for something. It was interesting to read about a multi-millionaire who feels that his fortune is ruining his children’s lives.

        Reply
      • Rick May 10, 2014, 7:35 am

        Investing and getting “free” money is not always a good thing. In fact, its sometimes has psychological impacts on people. Because I invest in Monsanto and Dow Chemical, I may get a great return, but my wife may get breast cancer because these companies I invest in are dumping massive amounts of toxins in the soil and water.
        Companies like AstraZeneca poison the earth, and then come up with pharmaceutical drugs to solve the problems.
        Sometimes its good to understand that free wealth isn’t free.

        Reply
        • Chris May 12, 2014, 4:48 am

          That’s a really great point Rick. It relates to something I wanted to ask on this blog in relation to the usual recommendation to invest in index funds.
          Looking at this from the perspective of wealth accumulation only this might make sense. But as you point out, this is a very narrow point of view. What’s the point of having ‘too much money’ to then be able to ‘give’, as sometimes advocated, – and in the process invest in companies like Monsanto, companies that export weapons to the arabic world, landmining companies etc etc.
          I’d be interested to see what other people on this blog make of this!

          Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 14, 2014, 1:55 pm

      Mark has been talking about his expensive car purchase in these comments for most of the past year. I keep writing these articles to help him see the error of his ways, but no luck yet.

      An expensive car simply will NOT improve the overall quality of your life! It is a time-honored and scientifically proven thing. Although it may be difficult, imagine the freedom that you’d gain if you were able to *overcome* your desire for this car.

      Lifting that false curtain of materialism reveals a whole new layer of life that you miss out on if you keep attaching meaning to luxury goods. But until you make your first “kill” of a major desire, it is hard to imagine what the hell I am talking about here :-)

      http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/22/what-is-hedonic-adaptation-and-how-can-it-turn-you-into-a-sukka/

      Reply
      • Ruth April 14, 2014, 5:16 pm

        Dear Sir,

        While I personally agree with you that buying a fancy car is a sucker move, I hope you don’t mind me cautioning you in general about interpreting scientific studies. Not only are studies not always done correctly, but more important, no study I’ve ever seen found something psychological to be true for 100% of people. For example, Mark may be one of the minority of people who will experience higher quality of life by buying a fancy car. I say this as someone who tends to overuse “studies show” myself. No offense meant.

        Reply
        • Free To Pursue April 15, 2014, 10:49 am

          If someone is OK with the fact that the happiness associated with such a significant purchase is fleeting, go ahead. Buy it, knowing that after a mere few months, you start looking at other things you could have purchased with that money. The book “The Paradox of Choice” does a good job of explaining why that is.

          Reply
          • mark Ferguson April 15, 2014, 4:59 pm

            For many people that may be true. I have had a Mustang for 12 years and a Porsche 928 for 3 years and I still love them just as much now as when I bought them. I am a car person, many people are not. It is not for every one.

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            • M April 16, 2014, 6:59 am

              Mark, seems like you can’t win here. I’m married to a car guy. Except he builds fancy pants kit cars by from donor cars. It makes him happy and feeds his creative need to engineer things. Is it financially savvy? No. But he has a customer list and one car was used in a movie. So these babies help earn part of their keep. Live and let live around choices that bring others contentment.
              I drive a cheap car and bike for exercise. But raising our food (including livestock) makes me happy. It’s financially a sucker move. At least I acknowledge it.

              Reply
            • Jay R April 19, 2014, 8:22 pm

              Hi Mark,
              I feel urged to join in on the war against you buying an expensive car… (sorry!)

              I would expect someone with a true passion for cars to be involved in a car club, track racing, restoring, doing a mechanical course to service his/her own car etc etc…

              You only talk of your desire to ‘own’ this expensive car, due to its great quality. It just sounds like simple materialistic purchasing…

              Think of it another way – if I was hugely interested in buildings and structures due to their engineering beauty, is it critical that I own my favourite structure at massive expense? I don’t think so. I would rather explore my passion by learning more about the structure, meeting with the designer, even running a tour for people to share my knowledge and passion.

              If you truely care about this car, wouldn’t you rather see it being used how it should be rather than stored up in your garage?

              I had some lifelong (materialistic) dreams which helped motivate me to get my finances in order. Now I can afford those dreams, I accept that they had more value to me as goal posts than a potential purchase.

              If you actually tried I’m sure you would find more happyness per dollar somewhere else.

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              • Mark Ferguson April 21, 2014, 12:26 pm

                Hi Jay, Great point. It is hard for me to write everything about me without creating an entire article in the comments section. On my 91 Mustang, I installed the Vortech Supercharger, long tube headers, smaller pulley, power pipe, new injectors, bigger fuel pump, bigger throttle body, bigger mass air sensor all myself. I did take the car into my mechanic to make sure the supercharger was done right since I had to tap into the oil pan and that was a bit scary.

                On the 928 I put in the X pipe and belong to multiple 928 clubs as well as rennlist. I belong to Mustang works and a couple other forums for cars.

                When I buy a Diablo you bet it will be used and not stored in my garage. I buy cars to drive them.

      • Justin April 14, 2014, 6:37 pm

        One thing is certain. When Mark buys his tenth Ferrarighini, it will certainly make him more happy than owning merely nine Ferrarighinis.

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      • Jamesqf April 14, 2014, 11:01 pm

        I have to enter a qualified disagreement here. Buying a more expensive car may well increase happiness in some circumstances. I know I’m happier for having bought a relatively* expensive Honda Insight hybrid a decade ago. And if I could figure out how to fit the dogs in one, I’d be happier driving a Lotus, or a Miata. It’s not the money per se, but the qualities that money buys.

        *I say relatively, ’cause at $8500 used it was less than most people pay for their cars, but 2-3 times what I’d normally pay for a car.

        Reply
        • Mark April 17, 2014, 9:01 am

          Would you say your overall happiness is increased because of the Honda Insight, or that just in the realm of car-inhabiting, your Honda Insight is more enjoyable than your previous car?

          I think there is a difference between measuring your happiness in life and measuring the enjoyment one gets in one particular (narrow) area.

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      • R Patrick April 15, 2014, 6:34 am

        He really has his heart set on that Lambo. There comes a point with my patients where they are going to do what they are going to do. In their case it’s usually relapse on heroin or cocaine. Chart that you gave the usual teaching and guidance about how this is a bad idea and why and then let them go off and move on to the next patient.

        Many of them come back after the binge and go “So maybe that was not the best idea.” At that point you restart treatment. Some you never see again.

        At this point you’ve told him, half the guys in the RE/Landlording forum have told him. He might as well get the thing out of his system, blow the 100k or however much it costs and realize how expensive a toy it is, and then after he sells it come back going “Yeah you all were right.” Or he ends up like Leno with a team of restoration experts.

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        • Mark Ferguson April 17, 2014, 8:51 am

          I would love to be like Leno. He seems like a pretty happy guy to me. He has two or three Lamborghini Muiras (my all time favorite car). They run close to a million now for one of them.

          The Lambo can also be used for business. What better way to advertise open houses than to have a Lambo sitting in front of it attracting people? lol I also have a dream of opening a restaurant at some point in my life and that is another marketing idea for the Lambo. Sit it in front of the restaurant and guaranteed people will stop by to see it.

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          • insourcelife April 17, 2014, 9:32 am

            That might work on certain people I guess. I’ll tell you one thing for sure – if I saw my real estate agent in a Lambo, I’d fire him – GTFO! If I saw a Lambo parked in front of a restaurant it would NOT make me want to go into that restaurant any more than if it had a parking lot full of Civics.

            Reply
            • Frugal Paragon April 17, 2014, 9:35 am

              What’s wrong with a parking lot full of Civics? That says to me, “These people value quality.” Would make me expect a restaurant with good food but unpretentious decor!

              Reply
              • Mike April 17, 2014, 11:07 am

                I’d say a more accurate analogy would be an average looking restaurant with food that tastes like cardboard and is not very satisfying to eat. It would tell me these people are likely boring and totally uninterested in looking for better restaurants in the same price range.

                [The wife and I have friends with newish Civics, Corollas, etc that spend more on their cars per year than we do (maint, repairs, purchase cost, etc), and we have a couple older German sports sedans, and drive more miles per year]

                Why drive something that’s not fun to drive, when you can for similar money drive something fun? Obviously the same doesn’t hold true for a 10 year old Civic, but if everyone drove 10 year old Civics and didn’t buy new, we wouldn’t have many 10 year old Civics.

              • insourcelife April 17, 2014, 11:34 am

                Nothing wrong and that was my point. If Mark parks a Lambo in front of his dream restaurant it won’t make me want to go in despite his theory. I don’t use cars in a parking lot as a factor in my decision to go or not to go into a restaurant – Lambo, Civics – who cares?

              • Mark Ferguson April 17, 2014, 12:17 pm

                The point of putting a Lambo there would not be to try and show people it is a fancy restaurant. It would be on display so people could stop and look at it if they wanted to. Kids love cars and would constantly ask their parents to take them to the Lamborghini restaurant.

                Insource life you seem to have quite a prejudice against Lambos! Would you not judge a real estate agent on the work they perform and not the car they drive? I very rarely show houses myself, my team handles all of that.

              • insourcelife April 18, 2014, 7:05 am

                “Insource life you seem to have quite a prejudice against Lambos!” Nope, quite the opposite – I’m really into cars, including exotics like Lambos. However if Joe the Plumber showed up at my house in a Ferrari I’d be surprised and not in a good way. Similarly, I don’t expect Mark the Real Estate Agent to come to my house in a Lambo and expect me to list with him. For me at least, such displays of “wealth” are just that – displays, a shallow facade. Yes, you can call yourself a car enthusiast, but the fact is that exotics are generally perceived as status symbols. Not a good thing when you are working with clients in a service industry. There is a reason you don’t see Warren Buffett driving around in a Lambo.

                And for your restaurant – sure, I’ll come over and look at the Lambo, but like I said it won’t make me want to go in to eat, which I thought was the point of having it there in the first place according to your business idea.

              • Patrick-ee-oh April 18, 2014, 8:20 am

                “For me at least, such displays of “wealth” are just that – displays, a shallow facade.”

                Right. This seems to be the moral consensus.

                The newest form of displayed wealth is the income reporting bloggers who shun all things material. We require a whole lot deeper facade nowadays. Pageviews are a much bigger deal than dollars once you reach a certain level.

          • Leslie April 18, 2014, 10:33 am

            I don’t think your clients would want the car parked in front of their real estate open house to upstage their home. The exotic car sets up an expectation that the home itself has major bling going on inside. If it is an average house listing or nice but not a “wow”, it could lead to disappointment on the part of potential buyers. People base their decisions on comparisons much of the time.

            Reply
      • Mortgage Free Mike April 15, 2014, 7:39 am

        I agree that buying a fancy car is not the smartest financial move. But if one has reached “Enough” savings and they really want it, I don’t think it would have a negative effect on their happiness. Like MMM said, “Enough is Enough.”

        Reply
        • Kenoryn April 15, 2014, 9:04 am

          Except that once you have it, you adapt to having it, it ceases to bring you new happiness, and from that point on it primarily has the potential to bring you unhappiness, if you lose it. According to Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow, we feel losses more keenly than gains, so losing it will bring you more unhappiness than the happiness getting it gave you.

          Reply
          • Mortgage Free Mike April 15, 2014, 11:54 am

            I’m not saying it would make someone happier. I’m just saying if you have “Enough” savings as MMM says, buying a car wouldn’t make you unhappier. If you have the means and pay for it in full, is there a risk of losing it?

            Reply
            • Denise W April 15, 2014, 2:12 pm

              Yes, Mike, someone can crash into your paid for car, totaling it and making you crabby. This is why I prefer a cheap, paid for car, so I have little to be crabby about if it gets destroyed.

              Reply
              • Mortgage Free Mike April 16, 2014, 11:17 am

                I get your point, but I guess we don’t agree. There is a chance lightning could strike my home or it could catch on fire, but I didn’t factor that into my buying decision. I think what works for one person doesn’t have to work for everyone. We can both agree that paying cash for a car, no matter what type, is the way to go!

        • amy April 15, 2014, 11:38 pm

          And buying a car is not an irreversible decision. He can sell it as soon as owning it isn’t making him happy, if that were to happen. He may lose money, or he may gain on the transaction.

          Reply
      • Edward April 15, 2014, 2:05 pm

        I find Mark’s comment hilarious! Notice how it’s phrased: “I like *expensive* cars…” Not I like “beautiful” cars, I like “sports” cars, I like “sleek” cars, I like “Italian” cars. No, just the expensive ones. It costs a lot, so therefore I like it.

        Imagine saying that with almost anything else? “No, I only like expensive travel.” “No, that cauliflower and broccoli is no good. I like the expensive ones.” “That video game is more expensive than this one? Well, it must be better then–give it to me.” There’s some sort of disconnect there hinted in that slip, methinks.

        Reply
        • Mortgage Free Mike April 15, 2014, 3:24 pm

          I don’t know Mark personally, but I know people who have said they have “expensive” tastes. And yes, it’s a sign of a deeper issue– not necessarily a spending one. Sometimes it’s a preoccupation with one’s standing in society. I’m not saying this about Mark, but I know people like this.

          Reply
          • mark Ferguson April 15, 2014, 5:07 pm

            If you saw me in person I would look no different with jeans and a t shirt on. In fact that is how I go to work most days. I have no desire for expensive clothes watches, shoes or food unless it tastes really good. I like cars though and that is one of my passions. Maybe it is unfortunate I have such an expensive passion or maybe it is a good thing because it pushes me to do more than I would have.

            Edward, I think you are trying to dig a little too deep. Maybe if I said I “only” like expensive cars, but I did not. I said I like expensive cars because many of my dream cars are expensive. I never said I only like expensive cars. I own a 86 Porsche 928 I bought for $6,000 and a 91 Mustang 5.0 I bought for $8,000. I like rare cars you don’t see everyday. I like unique cars, I l like fast cars, I like Italian cars, I like old cars and some new cars, but not many of them.

            Reply
            • Ell Pol April 16, 2014, 7:06 am

              I have one car in mind – the GTR. Second hand, they’re going for around £30 000/$50 000 in the UK. Because my net worth is not even half of that at the start of my career, I won’t buy it…yet!

              I drive around in a car that cost £300/$500 and I don’t plan on having an intermediate car in the mean-time.

              It has definitely motivated me to do more financially and in my career. It is probably the reason that I found MMM in the first place! Even if I don’t end up buying it, the journey will have been worth it. So, I agree with your point about motivation!

              Reply
        • Mark Ferguson April 16, 2014, 7:41 am

          Edward, I didn’t say I “only” like expensive cars. The cars I like are usually rare and older which equates to expensive most of the time. I have a 1986 Porsche 928 that was $6,000 and I love that car. I have a 1991 mustang that I have had for over 10 years as well that I love.

          For many of the other comments I dot think more money equals more happiness unless an individual is already happy and secure with themselves. I completely agree that chasing expensive things to keep up with the Jones or look rich does not make you happy. Cars are a passion of mine and I think people should chase their passions. I dot care about fancy clothes or watches. I wear jeans and a t shirt or polo to work.

          Buying expensive things may be fleeting if you are only buying them because they are expensive and not because you love them. I have loved my cars for years and have a hard time selling any of them even the cheap ones. :)

          Reply
          • rob aka Captian and Mrs Slow April 17, 2014, 1:13 pm

            ha ha, me thinks you’re on the wrong blog, it’s the same reason I never make comments about TV here, anyways Financial Samurai might be closer to your taste. love his take on cars. Moostache with twist.

            Anyways glad your back on the saving money trip again. Frugality is useless if your not saving money. When horizon (think that was it) oil rig blue up in Florida and caused a huge slow down in a very frugal friends business, they had to borrow money to make ends meet. what they didn’t realise if things didn’t improve as fast as they did they would have lost the house.

            frugality isn’t much help without savings.

            Reply
      • Howie April 15, 2014, 2:22 pm

        Relating the notion of happiness and material acquisition has been, I believe, the ultimate point of your entire blog. However, it truly amazes me that the concept needs to be examined, analyzed, approached, discussed, and presented in so many diverse ways just to begin to get the point across. Our society has become so mentally entrenched – brainwashed – into thinking that stuff=happiness, that suggesting otherwise is tantamount to economic blasphemy. You’ve received the hate mail to prove it. Experiencing the joy of financial independence, with or without the added bonus of early retirement, is want on the average North American. Telling Joe Consumer that he’ll be happier without the toys, gadgets, appliances, cars, restaurant dinners, McMansions, jewelry, electronics, and other pseudo-luxuries, is like telling a heroin addict he’ll be happier when he stops fixing. Consumption is an addiction, and the illusion of happiness is the short-term high. It always ends in an inevitable crash and leaves its victims begging for more. But the craving never subsides on its own. One needs to develop the knowledge, from sources like yourself, along with the self discipline to fight through the early stages of withdrawal from the consumption high. Once the false happiness is removed, the deep and lasting pleasure of true happiness – that happiness that you speak of from buying nothing – slowly seeps in to permanently fill the void. The result is strength, dignity, security, self assurance, freedom from mental stress, and pure joy. However, one must have the courage to walk unperturbed through the gauntlet of evil – the advertising world, the media influence, peer pressure, the Jones’s, the little voices in your head telling you to “just buy that thing you so desperately crave” – and emerge on the other side as new, unencumbered, financially free soul. Once the urges are gone, we can all truly live a meaningful, fulfilling, and happy life. Sure, you can buy the odd “stuff” here and there – for a lark, perhaps – but you won’t “need” to as a means to experience happiness. Like any addiction, you can never be truly free or truly happy until you kick the habit.

        Reply
        • Free To Pursue April 17, 2014, 7:30 am

          The drug addiction analogy is priceless. It would seem impossible to give up the work-spend on stuff-work cycle to some, wouldn’t it? It would feel like such a loss. Impossible, even.

          Reply
      • desk_jockey April 15, 2014, 8:05 pm

        The ‘King for Just One Day’ article resonated with me. I dreamed of owning a Lambo too when I was a teen. Am past that now and wouldn’t like the hassle of having a high end sports car. My car fantasies now are more about eliminating one of the two regular cars that we do own. Still, I do appreciate the beauty and design of some of these cars. Nope, never will own one but maybe I’ll be king and rent one for a day (though even still, it would be a more modest car than a Lambo).

        Reply
      • Steve April 15, 2014, 9:14 pm

        I’ve never seen the study Mark is referring to — ever.

        Well, I did see one study suggesting that bloggers who spend the most money possible on servers that provide triple 9s uptime live a life like a Buddha.

        Reply
      • BPA April 16, 2014, 8:13 am

        I agree with MMM that if you need expensive material goods to be happy, you don’t “get it.” That’s okay and everyone has to live his own life, but if you need that, you don’t really understand the MMM mindset. It’s like people who think that living relatively frugally is deprivation.

        I feel very fortunate to not need a car at all to feel happy.

        Reply
        • Mark Ferguson April 16, 2014, 3:15 pm

          I think you are completely missing my point as are many people. No where not once did I say anyone needs a car to be happy. I don’t need a Lambo to be happy, I am already very happy and fortunate. But the Lambo gives me something to chase, provides motivation and is something I really love. Buying a Diablo will not make me happy, it will be an achievement, a milestone, something I dreamed of that I never thought possible until recently. Buying that car will not make me happy, it will be part of my happiness.

          For other people a car cannot do that, they may have other desires, other goals and they could include saving a certain amount of money or getting their kids through college, we are all different and all have different wants and needs.

          Reply
          • Stacey April 20, 2014, 6:11 pm

            Mark…I get it with the car love. My husband, also a Mark, is so damned JOYFUL with his E350 after decades in “Toyotaland”–I now face the fact he can’t be, nor does he want to be saved, from the Darkside :) He doesn’t golf, chase skirts, nor is a clothes horse. Our favorite things to do center on home and our boys. Net worth is comfortable and earning prospects for the next decade are excellent. Thus I am happy that he gets tossed a bone in the form of fantastic German engineering!

            An aside…the owner of one of my former workplaces has enjoyed collecting classic cars for over 2 decades. One of the best portfolios he has. So cars are not always a vice…

            Reply
      • Wrecked April 19, 2014, 12:09 am

        I can see Mark’s point of view to some extent. I am a die hearted car guy. For a die hearted car guy owning, driving and wrenching on your car can truly bring you happiness. I have had so many memorable experiences because of cars and made so many friendships. Driving the car you “love” can be a real stress reliever. This has nothing to do with impressing your neighbours , friends or strangers on the street. It’s a very personal thing. If you don’t get it that is understandable, not everyone will.

        Being a car guy doesn’t mean you have to spend your money on an exotic. A car guy could be driving a Civic that he has carefully modified into a weekend track car just as easily as he could be driving a Porsche or Lamborghini. In fact, I would say many if not most of the owners of the exotic machinery are not car guys, they are just money guys. But there are many rich car guys too.

        Reply
      • Tom Street April 20, 2014, 7:43 pm

        I tend to agree with you as I have preferred time and freedom over money for a very long time. In my earlier years, I did buy some expensive cars and cannot say that they increased my happiness level. But I wouldn’t say they made me any less happy either.

        And look at shopaholics. No doubt they get a short term rush from each purchase. But like all addictions, they constantly need to increase the frequency and expense of their purchases to achieve the same reward.

        Most of our society is in a kind of frenzy trying to maintain the high by increasing the quantity of stuff, food, fat, sugar, and luxury goods. I don’t this has ended well so far and will not end well for these people in the future.

        Reply
      • Mark Ferguson April 30, 2014, 8:50 am

        Let the bashing really begin! I have this car going in for a pre purchase inspection tomorrow. ;) http://www.catsexotics.com/web/inventory/All_years/All_makes/Diablo%20VT/All_body_types/All_vehicles/

        Reply
        • Jillian October 4, 2014, 11:05 am

          Go for it Mark & enjoy every moment! And to everyone else…how do Mark’s joyful purchases affect you & your own joy & financial baddassity? Live & let live…knowing that everyone’s joy affects each of us in a total synergistically fantastic manner

          Reply
          • Christoph October 6, 2014, 9:56 pm

            Well, live and let live to a point only. The other half of this humanistic axiom reads “as long as it does no harm”. I think senseless consumerism and especially over the top use of cars is beyond that line.
            To me it seems that in the United States there is a great emphasis on personal freedoms at the expense of considering the larger societal good.

            Reply
    • chc4444 April 16, 2014, 9:43 am

      If you must, I hope that expensive car will be a Tesla so that you can spend and help the environment at the same time.

      Reply
  • Ron April 14, 2014, 12:52 pm

    Well put. I wonder, why are we seemingly immune from the extensive social scientific research that convincingly demonstrates how fleeting consumer purchase related highs are?

    Reply
  • Trevor April 14, 2014, 12:55 pm

    It’s true. Since I started on the long road to mustachism I feel I need to buy less shit while improving my well being and happiness. I don’t need the latest car or gadget to earn a sense of well being. Now I take greater enjoyment in paying down my mortgage and seeing that balance ever decreasing!

    Reply
    • IMSHARPER April 18, 2014, 10:16 am

      I completely agree with Trevor … In the last year and a half I have completely forgone buying any new “technical” gadget that caught my eye as I may have previous to coming into this new mindset and finally finding MMM in December.

      My husband and I often discuss the fact that it is funny/wonderful how incredibly happy we are just the way we are living right now – not spending gads of money on anything we don’t need … preparing for a new baby in a frugal manner and looking forward mostly to spending lots of time together and with family in the coming year and saving as much money as possible to try our hand at “investing” lol… Anyone who knew me 5 years ago would not recognize me!!!

      Reply
  • David April 14, 2014, 12:56 pm

    Found your blog about 3 months ago and have been hooked ever since. I’ve compiled a greatest hits list, but in terms of content that brought out emotion in me, this post is the best I have read. Searching for happiness by buying stuff is something that a lot of people struggle with or have struggled with in their lives. Thankfully, I am past that point in my life now and I know that I will never return to that way of thinking again. I just want to say to you MMM, thank you for creating such a wonderful blog that is really reaching people and changing lives for the better on a daily basis.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 14, 2014, 2:00 pm

      Thanks David – while you’re a bit TOO kind there, your comment reassures me regarding an email I just got from a wise reader.

      Summary: “So, it seems like you’ve covered all of Mustachianism pretty well. What are your plans for the blog going forward?”

      He had a good point, and he expressed it very positively and diplomatically – this article is a total re-run for anyone who has been reading for a while.

      The thing is, I write the blog mostly for NEW people, because it is designed to try to create social change among people who see it for the first time rather than entertaining the same group of already-frugal people for years.

      But it could do a better job at both.. the secret probably lies in the more hardcore articles in my “Drafts” folder that take more effort than this one to finish researching and publishing. And making a good concise book out of this. :-)

      Reply
      • FrF April 14, 2014, 2:39 pm

        My story with the MMM blog is similar to Three Wolf Moon’s and David’s, meaning I read (nearly) all of the posts since the beginning of time and became an admirer of MMM The Man in the process :-)

        I’d be interested to know what MMM thinks of the Basic Income Guarantee ( = unconditional basic income). After all, it would free people and promote frugality because it would, in its barest form (without additional wage income), take care “only” of basic living and cultural expenditures.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache April 14, 2014, 3:12 pm

          In principle that Citizen’s Income is a fun Bohemian idea – Robert Wringham writes some fun stuff about it in his New Escapologist magazine.

          In practice, I would wonder if we are mature enough to handle it, though. Human nature as it relates to money and keeping one’s shit together is pretty awful without a bunch of training. And the good old-fashioned hard work required to earn your own financial independence provides quite a bit of that training, in my opinion.

          Reply
          • Joshua April 15, 2014, 2:26 pm

            There have been studies with animals to show that they would rather problem solve for food than to get free food. I agree that one would have to be very mature to accept money for no work.

            Reply
        • Brian Romanchuk April 15, 2014, 1:07 pm

          The problem with an income guarantee is that you need to tax back that income from most people, and so marginal tax rates have to go up a lot. That causes other problems.

          Guaranteeing a job is a cleaner way of assuring a minimum standard of living, with support for those who are unable to even work at the guaranteed job (disabilities). Plus, it keeps people who have not retired attached to the working world.

          Reply
        • Andreas June 26, 2014, 10:57 am

          If I may add my opinion: I believe that proponents of unconditional basic income usually neglect the effect it may have on the price level.

          Given an unconditional basic income, everyone would spend his or her time either working on what they love or working in jobs paying wages that are so high that one would gladly give up time that might be spent on hobbies.

          Hence, a lot of jobs that are simply “jobs” and do not qualify as hobby would require high payment to give enough incentive to work on them. Now, I think that most jobs producing the basic products required for living probably would not qualify as hobby (e.g. assembly-line work). Hence, such jobs would have to be handsomely rewarded in an economy with unconditional basic income.

          Hence, a lot of basic products required for living would become very expensive in an economy with unconditional basic income. As a result, the unconditional basic income would not be sufficient to live on. It would have to be raised. Hence, the wage requirements for non-hobby-type of jobs would rise, resulting in higher prices for basic products, resulting in an inflation spiral.

          Reply
      • Thrifty Drew April 14, 2014, 4:10 pm

        I agree with the David’s sentiment! Thank you, MMM for creating this wonderful arena where both longtime veterans of Mustachianism and novices/newcomers alike can gather, share ideas, and learn practical ways to live happier, more meaningful, and more frugal lives. I, like David, just recently discovered your blog. I’ve read and re-read all the posts and comments, oftentimes revisiting them and I’ve fully devoured all the ideas and meaningful discussion that goes on here. I almost cannot remember what my mindset was before I discovered Mustachianism. I’ve never carried debt but I am now ashamed of, and repent for, all the dollars wasted on fancy dinners out, expensive sports/concert tickets, long commutes, procrastination, and a whole plethora of other activity worthy of a MMM face punching!
        I noticed that from the ‘beginning of time’ (May 2011) through early 2013, you contributed at least 10, oftentimes more, fresh articles each month. In recent months, you seemed to have limited yourself to one per week (or 4 to 5 per month) on average. Though I know you’re out living ‘real life’ Mustachianism and enjoying the precious resource of time with the Mrs., Junior MM, close friends, and close neighbors, I hope and pray that you never grow tired of this blog! I hope you continue to provide us with your badassity wisdom and continue to write inspiring articles for years to come. Even though you have covered most of Mustachianism, I hope you continue to find fresh ideas to share or even provide new perspectives on old ideas. Though all of these ideas are old news to you and they’re a completely integral of your life and psyche, they continue to be reminders to the rest of Mustachian nation as we continue the never-ending task of growing and flexing our frugality muscles!
        Thank you for your time and thought that you put into this blog. Keep it up! We all appreciate it!

        Reply
        • Lisa Wysocki April 17, 2014, 9:25 am

          I am going to have to second your comment and give a big thank you to Mr. Money Mustache for devoting so much time and effort into this blog site. I have completely changed my way of thinking about money due to reading these articles. It’s like my whole brain chemistry has changed and I look at money in a whole new way. Many of the readers of this blog site are very smart people who have high income technical jobs and are probably very versed in investments. However there are some of us that don’t feel very smart, have no idea how investments work, how to budget, and how to save money. We are those former “humanities” majors who received degrees in ethnic studies, english, history, or psychology, which required little or no math skills. I read every article that Mr. Money Mustache is kind enough to write so I can learn valuable life skills and eventually gain some type of financial well being. I am far from there yet, but I make decisions everyday based on the principles from these articles. Thanks Mr. Money Mustache!

          Reply
      • Jordan April 14, 2014, 5:21 pm

        Oooh, a book!! That would be awesome. Maybe add some pictures for the people who can’t be bothered to read the blog, because there are so many words. :-)

        As I continue catching FIRE, I do find that the stuff I focus on evolves a lot as I get closer. For me it’s all about expanding my knowledge (thanks forums!!), increasing the different experiences I have, and trying new things that I was freaked out to try before. I still enjoy the blog, but find myself drifting more towards the forums these days. I love it.

        Thanks for continuing to do this, MMM…you rock!!!

        Reply
      • David April 14, 2014, 8:32 pm

        Can’t wait to get my hands on that book, from the local library of course.

        Reply
      • Claudia April 14, 2014, 8:37 pm

        I’ve been reading you for years, and you delight me with every post still. (Well, except the home repair ones,but I know many others enjoy them.) It takes constant inspiration and encouragement to resist the tyranny of the middle class lifestyle. I read some of your old posts over and over again.

        Reply
      • Marcus April 14, 2014, 10:02 pm

        Bring it on: I, for one, would love to read those hard core articles. If you are afraid of scarring away too many people, create a new subfolder for “older” readers

        Reply
      • Lightsabre April 15, 2014, 1:55 am

        This post is so valuable for me even if you have written something previously that is related. I found your blog 18 months ago. I like to visit a couple times a week (love the random article button) but I’m always particularly enthusiastic about reading anything new that you post.

        Bottom line, I still suck (although I’m improving) and anytime I read a post like this one it reminds me and builds conviction in the mustachian lifestyle. I started out loving the financial independence aspect of it and have grown to appreciate the ecological aspect too. I think the new posts are helping a lot of us to keep going further.

        Thanks for another great post and important reminder. Keep em coming if you can!

        Reply
      • Joseph April 15, 2014, 8:04 am

        I think your practical how-to articles keep your long term readers happy!

        This feel good article is nice but learning how radiant floor heating works, how to build an awesome custom shower, etc is just awesome!

        Though your previous post about a nail gun did inspire me – to buy a nail gun. :)

        Reply
      • Hanne van Essen April 15, 2014, 8:22 am

        Don’t worry about repeating yourself MMM. People go to church every Sunday not to hear a new story, but to remind themselves of the values they want to adhere to in life. I have been following your blog for quite a while, and I look forward to every new article even though the overall message is not new.

        Reply
        • lurker April 15, 2014, 8:34 am

          A BIG AMEN from the Choir on that one….go MMM!

          Reply
        • Bex April 15, 2014, 11:33 am

          That’s a good way to put it and an interesting way to think about it!

          Reply
        • Saskia April 15, 2014, 2:33 pm

          Yes, I completely agree–we need to be reminded of these things over and over and over again, so as not to slip back into old, bad habits. I’ve read every post, many more than once, and always welcome new takes on the same old Mustachian principles.

          Reply
        • KarenwithaC April 16, 2014, 8:24 am

          Another reason to hang out at the MMM website (or church) is the fun of being able to interact with a like-minded community. The MMM community rocks!

          Reply
      • Alek Hartzog April 15, 2014, 11:20 am

        Anytime I see an article that’s sort of a re-run, or 5 days go by without a new article I say “Darnit MMM step it up!”

        Then I realize you are probably off biking with your kid, working on a sweet project, or cooking a good meal and that this project which has helped so many of us is not your job, but a fun productive hobby.

        Thanks for everything do!

        P.S.- what’s happening with Kiss Trust?

        Reply
      • Spectra April 15, 2014, 1:17 pm

        How about an ongoing thread where we can submit ideas to you? I have lots of ideas that come at random times but a busy engineer has little time for a blog right now.

        Reply
      • Susie April 16, 2014, 4:23 am

        I’ve been reading for a long time and have read every article in the archive, but I still treasure each new one because it is not easy to be Mustachian when every single day I get distractions hurled at me from every direction. Obviously I am interested in new content/ideas, but it does help even us long-time readers to have the basics hashed out again once in a while.

        Reply
  • Laura April 14, 2014, 1:37 pm

    So glad to have found your website. My oldest of three daughters is graduating from college in May. She will start a job she loves in July and is making plans to move in October into a two bedroom apartment in Lincoln Park (we live just west of Chicago) with her long time boyfriend who also will start a job in July. Together they will be making over $100,000 per year. They are smart kids who will be lucky enough to graduate with no debt due to their frugal parents.
    I whole heartedly believe in many mustache ideas and my most important mantras to my girls has been that “One of the keys to happiness is spending less than you make”. And “You can’t always get what you want” sung like a Rolling Stone.
    My question is about how to get my daughter is read your website. I’ve made a few passing references to it but don’t want to cram it down her throat because then she will reject it for sure. And, how do I help her see how crazy it is to rent this apartment in Lincoln Park that will cost a minimum of $2000.00 per month.

    Reply
    • FrugalCdnEliz April 14, 2014, 2:15 pm

      Laura – I don’t have an answer to your question, but I wanted to let you know that my Dad always told me “happiness is living two pegs below your means.” Just like you told your daughter! The advice sunk in and I’ve been a hard-core mustachian for years (though I didn’t realize it until I found this site :). So you gave great advice, and hopefully it will sink in fully sooner or later. All you can do is give the tools..

      Reply
      • Ted April 14, 2014, 4:08 pm

        I like that: “Happiness is living two pegs below your means.” Just last night after a long day in the mtns my fiancee and I were thinking of getting some takeout for dinner. I finally convinced myself we could order in for delivery and when I asked her she said, “It seems ridiculous to have a person drive food to us.” To most people it probably wouldn’t seem crazy but to us it does. Even though we make good money and have a year’s salary or more in the bank, we couldn’t bring ourselves to pay someone to bring us food…and I am glad that I feel that way!

        Reply
    • Jamie April 15, 2014, 7:08 am

      I love this article from JL Collins on advice for his daughter. It’s short and accessible. Sorry, MMM, but I don’t know if you have one like this! http://jlcollinsnh.com/2011/06/08/how-i-failed-my-daughter-and-a-simple-path-to-wealth/

      Reply
  • Kenneth April 14, 2014, 1:37 pm

    I reread your linked post “Frugal to Cheap” just to make sure I haven’t crossed the line lately. Since I don’t eat leftovers off of plates left by the prior customers at my restaurant table, reuse my paper towels, or tip less than 15 percent, I don’t think I’ve crossed the line. Much of my family does, however (but not dear wife, who is on the same page as I am as we save relentlessly towards our retirement). Learning to not care what other people think is an art. I’m sure that for most of the people I know, I’m just a fleeting, passing thought (perhaps entertaining), if at all, in the course of the 60,000 or so thoughts entering our minds each day. Perhaps they think, from time to time, that I am cheap and eccentric. I try not to care, I’m living the life I want, purpose driven, accumulating investments, enjoying myself. So what if our restaurant bill is about $100/mo – it’s what I want, the level I am happy at. Far better than my former $500/mo habit.

    Reply
  • Pura Vida Nick April 14, 2014, 1:37 pm

    I like the second asterisk at the bottom of the article about the chicken and the egg. Which comes first, the freedom and then learning about all sorts of cool things like happiness, or the other way around? For each of us it is different, but I really enjoy freedom to learn new things, whatever those new things may be.

    Reply
  • Subversive April 14, 2014, 1:41 pm

    This is a great article and very motivating to myself. While I am not truly mustachian yet, I am working hard to rectify past mistakes so that I can stop with the long commute, etc. Love your site.

    Reply
  • Ben Updike April 14, 2014, 1:59 pm

    First time poster, long time reader. Right on again MMM. I wanted to add my thoughts because I think that experiences can and do bring happiness. The problem is that the people selling experiences want me to believe that special moments must be expensive. The happiness of experiences is completely unrelated to the money spent to have them.

    I have always enjoyed planning and making my own experiences more than buying prepackaged expensive experiences. Creating the experience yourself brings double happiness, once in the making, and once in the doing.

    When I travel, I learn about where I am going, create my own plan, which usually includes visiting friends and family, who add bonus happiness to the experience and reduce the cost at the same time. I don’t buy a pricey prepackaged tour. I love learning about where I will travel and selecting what to do as much as actually visiting the place. Double enjoyment.

    My wedding reception was in my in-laws backyard and about 300 people came. It was cheap, beautiful and one of the best memories of my life. My wife planned most of it herself, with the help of lots of friends. It was beautiful. It was also a good sign that my wife was more interested in people, than buying into the must-have-a-dream-wedding myth.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 14, 2014, 2:09 pm

      Totally, Ben! I agree that experiences are where it’s at.. I need to express that better in the article. I was really trying to speak out against the consumer tendency of using that slogan as an excuse to focus on the shallow tourist-trap experiences where they try to sell you photos of yourself.

      Travel has recently become much more fun for me, because I get a chance to meet and spend time with people who actually live in the places I’m traveling. Staying with people, learning about their town/country and helping them with their own projects is so much more satisfying and is a real experience to cherish, in my book.

      But anti-travel is also great: last year I set up a party at one of my own city’s beautiful parks, and a bunch of people showed up. Kids ran wild among the tall trees and adults had a great time drinking wine and staying up late. It was infinitely more fun than a steak dinner at the top of the fanciest hotel in New York.

      Reply
      • James April 14, 2014, 3:56 pm

        Thanks for the nuanced travel perspective… Your park party and Ben’s backyard wedding reception sound amazing! I can easily see how these kinds of non-travel experiences would trump many of the best travel plans.

        Reminds me of the Daniel Gilbert quote, “We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.”

        Reply
      • misterfancypantz April 15, 2014, 11:43 am

        Come to NY sometime and we’ll show you how much fun you can have here without spending much money at all.

        Reply
      • Ex-Sgt Pepper April 15, 2014, 11:41 pm

        My wife and I weren’t sure what to expect when we hopped off the corporate treadmill a couple years ago, rented out our house in CA, got an international health certificate for the dog, and began “traveling”. The reason I put it in quotes is because most Americans think of excursions, planned trips, even guides(!!), but our plan was to go to places we’d heard of and *live* for 3-6 month periods, instead of traveling through in 2 weeks. It’s only been (nearly) 2 years, and so far we’ve lived in a gorgeous jewel of a small Mexican beach town, a small colonial city up in the central highlands of MX, the “Space Coast” of Florida, and we’re in the middle of 3 months in S Africa. We’ve discovered a number of revelations: (1) people without much money are generally very happy people, regardless; (2) our budget is waaayyyy lower than we thought it would need to be; (3) *living* somewhere, anywhere, is very different than traveling through, where the tourism industry exerts enormous influence and takes every micro-opportunity to extract bits of cash from you, and you often resort to convenience (spend more) because you’re in a strange place; (4) that job you used to have that you used to describe as important, interesting, challenging, etc., well, a lot of that descriptive nonsense was just mental self-training (personal brainwashing?) to keep *yourself* engaged in the process. Sure, we’ve taken advantage of situations that not everyone has, e.g. our flights to S Africa were free on Amex points (~$2800), we could drive to Mexico from CA, we find rental deals from relatives and friends-of-friends, we eat a LOT of beans and rice and avocado (I make the beans myself in huge batches and freeze them). But these are not things that anyone else can’t do, too. And we’ve lived very well and managed to keep expenses down below $40k/yr. We could spend a lot less if we didn’t take weeks in each place with rental cars and hotels to explore more of the country we’re in, but this is definitely the kind of experiential consuming we can both never regret! Somewhere along the way, having a lot more time to read, I came across this blog and it has resonated strongly with me AND taught me a lot too. And like a good book, it lets you know that you are NOT alone! Thanks MMM

        Reply
        • dude April 16, 2014, 6:07 am

          Ex-Sgt Pepper, you just described the very life I aspire to! Looking forward to reading through your blog.

          Reply
          • ex-Sgt Pepper April 16, 2014, 6:30 am

            Thanks, dude, hope you enjoy it! All of the credit goes to my amazing wife, writing and photos, I’m just a cheap editor :). If you have any questions at all, I’m happy to answer. I was pretty anxious when we started this, I knew nothing but regular work life for the previous 38 years, now I wish I’d started sooner.

            Reply
        • Leslie April 16, 2014, 12:45 pm

          I so wish I could do this! DH is *not* a traveler and I can’t just leave him behind. Enjoy the life!

          Reply
    • Doug April 14, 2014, 9:05 pm

      What you described is much like how I travel. It’s all about travelling independently and cheaply, seeing, and doing what I want and learning a lot along the way rather than throwing money at an expensive package tour. There are so many ways to travel cheaply like camping, staying in hostels, cheaper hotels, staying with friends or relatives, travel during low season, the list goes on and on.

      So now the big question, do you save your money or spend it on travel? Why not save money on other things like not chasing status, investing that money for a good return, then spend some of it on cheap but enjoyable travel? There’s lots to see and do out there in the world and it won’t come to you if you stay put.

      Reply
      • mbl April 15, 2014, 7:13 am

        The best way that I’ve been privileged to travel has been for work.
        Got to live in Denmark in an apartment. Used the time to travel around on the train and buses as a relaxed pace. Had the time to see how people there actually live and the things that they do and value. A very modest and non consumptive way of living for most.

        Frugality and the happiness and contentment that it brings for many is a philosophy that they have to work towards as it doesn’t come naturally.

        Personally, I’ve been that way all my life. Did have parental influence but it was innate. It’s not something that is easy to impart to others as it has been said quite an emotional subject. Often many people feel as if frugality is something that will impose deprivation instead of the reality which is produce abundance. That being freedom, peace of mind, philanthropy, happiness from intangible things vs material things.

        Reply
        • Doug April 17, 2014, 8:06 pm

          Wow, you won the lottery finding a job where you get to travel! Some years ago before being as financially well of as now I applied and was interviewed for jobs that included a lot of travel. When asked about the travel I said I love travel and would like that part of the job. I suspect they didn’t believe me and I never got the job. with the knowledge I have now, if asked that question I would say I absolutely HATE travel. I would probably have been offered to job before the interview ended.

          Reply
  • Stephanie April 14, 2014, 2:08 pm

    Amen! We are actually having a no-spend month this month. We are pretty frugal anyway, but going a month without spending anything on food, household goods, clothes, entertainment, etc is really empowering. Instead of feeling limited, we feel free and in control. It’s actually a fun challenge to see how long you can live just fine on what you already have! We aren’t missing anything so far (except maybe some Cadbry mini eggs… mmmm).

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 14, 2014, 3:08 pm

      Wow, no spending on food for a month? That’s impressive – it would take some serious planning unless you are growing a lot of your own food.

      I seem to end up at the grocery store twice a week these days despite my best efforts to keep things in stock. On the positive side, this just means more mandatory biking and hauling of stuff up the hill in the trailer.

      Reply
      • Stephanie April 14, 2014, 3:55 pm

        There are some benefits of frequent Mustachian-style grocery trips! :)

        We do grow a lot of our own food. We have a sizable garden and can/dehydrate/freeze a years worth of everything from tomatoes to applesauce, green beans to jam. We have a food storage of staples like rice, beans, powdered milk, wheat, sugar and oats and we cook most everything from scratch. In the summer, when the garden is going strong, we want to keep our food budget at $100, which will cover meat, dairy and tortillas (haven’t quite figured out how to make awesome ones from scratch).

        Reply
      • Debra April 14, 2014, 7:07 pm

        Go to Northwest Edible http://www.nwedible.com/ for the Eat from the Larder Challenge!

        Reply
        • Erica / Northwest Edible Life April 16, 2014, 3:59 pm

          Whoot whoot! Yup a whole bunch of us are eating from the food stores we already have this month. Zero spend on food. Super fun if you want to join in. Details here.

          Reply
      • Luvmyk9s April 15, 2014, 10:41 am

        MMM- Been a reader for a year or so- LOVE the blog and still working my way through all posts since the beginning of time, but haven’t seen much on growing your own food yet… I’m assuming this is because most home gardeners usually end up with 10 dollar tomatoes once all expenses are factored in, but it can be done cheap/free and with almost no effort… or, as my Dad likes to put it, “You are the cheapest, laziest-ass gardener I have ever seen!” In my area, raspberries, apples, asparagus, etc…. small up front cost for plants and they produce every year with almost no effort… kinda like an investment account where you get to eat the dividends :)

        Reply
  • kbindrim April 14, 2014, 2:30 pm

    Each dollar I save/invest is a dollar I don’t need to re-earn. and freedom from needing money is the true path to happiness. I would have much more time for friends, family and doing projects I enjoy. These are principles I try to talk to people about, but I’m only 27. There is a a lot of people that believe you are an idiot if you’re not using a financial adviser/consultant. I believe everyone needs to know the basics of investing and saving, these are things that should be taught in high school.

    Keep the posts coming, they are very motivating. I believe this post is really close to the core of this blog and what it’s about.

    Reply
    • MarciaB April 14, 2014, 10:43 pm

      “Each dollar I save/invest is a dollar I don’t need to re-earn…”

      Brilliantly said!

      Reply
      • Jillian October 4, 2014, 11:19 am

        Agree…Brilliant!

        Reply
  • Pretired Nick April 14, 2014, 3:06 pm

    A couple I know of very modest means (retail store manager and nurse) who already have a ton of debt and a new baby, just announced via Facebook that they HAD to sign up for HBO because they got hooked on Game of Thrones during a free preview period.
    I could only shake my head sadly. I don’t know how they ever get to the place you’re describing.

    Reply
    • Justin April 14, 2014, 6:52 pm

      Nick, that show is pretty awesome (so says my wife and 4 million other insane people). And it’s way more efficient to watch the show than to read the books. And cable+HBO is what, only a thousand or two per year, right?

      Reply
      • Emmers April 19, 2014, 8:24 am

        Now I don’t feel so bad about dropping $60 on the DVDs! Oy.

        (It’s a great show, and the books are also great, and I own them. Consuming art/media is one of the things I’m willing to spend money on – but NOT in any sort of “subscription” format. That adds up far too quickly.)

        Reply
  • Troy April 14, 2014, 3:12 pm

    You know I like to give you a hard time about some of this, but this article was pretty decent. You still like to slam the big house and nice cars, but everyone has their own feelings, and those are yours.

    As I was reading I noticed you were getting close, but then bouncing off and going away from my opinion of what is most important.

    Balance.

    This isn’t about disagreeing with you. I think much of what you say is great. But there isn’t enough push or acceptance of balance as a reason for life’s choices…at least on here.

    I did notice you discussed “enough”. And I was glad to hear that. Though it runs counter to “every dollar you don’t spend adds to your happiness” After all, at some point in time you hit enough, and additional dollars don’t help.

    See, Triple M likes to live on the edges. The vibe of the blog is all about the extremes. That is where you and I differ.

    “some” of life I agree should be lived in the extreme. But other parts can be lived in the grey area. Or right freakin smack dab in the middle. Enough is certainly enough. And balance matters. It’s ok to like two opposite ideas at the same time. It’s even healthy.

    A reader can desire a new car, and give to charitible causes while excercising on a bicycle and still save a large portion of his pay for his future self.

    Not everyone gets happy saving at max power for 10 years so they can do whatever. Some of us figured out we can do whatever from the beginning.

    When you are convinced of your ability to save enough at a rate you are happy with, then you are free to do whatever you choose with the rest, without constraint. If that means a large home, or a large car, or a large company, or a large blog, or large trips, or a large gathering of friends so be it. While I agree with you that we all are seeking happiness, To me happiness is a life free of constraints.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 14, 2014, 3:23 pm

      Yeah, that kinda makes sense. I think where we differ is in ecological perspective. You place me in the “extreme” category for low consumption and frugality, whereas I place myself at the opposite extreme: even I live a super decadent and high consumption lifestyle that is unsustainable on a worldwide basis and I need to work to reduce it.

      To just adopt the free-for-all attitude of, “We should all live however we see fit and buy whatever we like” would be to ignore the science and physics behind our current predicament.

      I do believe in balance, however: even though I know I’m still consuming at an irresponsible level, I maintain it to keep a more normal family life, and also to have something in common with the middle-class folks I’m hoping to influence here. If they show up and see a guy living in a cave and milking goats, they won’t be too excited about Mustachianism.

      But a nice house, good times, travel, that just happen to consume 75% less energy than the average person at this income level? Hopefully not too far of a stretch.

      Reply
      • Christoph April 15, 2014, 7:51 pm

        That s a great response to all the “petrol heads” :) on this blog who think that as long as I can afford it it s ok. I agree, this is a very egocentric perspective on a problem that is much more far reaching!
        To say I can buy this car and give to charity ( to soothe your consciousness?) is outright ridiculous. What s the point of giving to charity if at the same time you heat up the planet and harm those people on the planet (the poor) you donate a few of your coins to while driving past?
        MMM , that asks for another blog elaborating much more on the ecological perspective,- that s just the point that needs to be made much more strongly for some people :)

        Reply
      • chris April 18, 2014, 9:30 am

        Our calibration of “Enough” has gotten completely out of whack. Even a life of luxury seems inadequate when compared with neighbors who live even more extravagantly. Our default tendency is to evaluate our well-being relative to what we perceive others’ well-being to be, rather than based on our own actual needs for safety, security, fulfillment and the like. This tendency is leveraged by advertisers to great effect, and to large degree abetted by our governments in their push to perpetually grow the economy through increased consumption and debt. The very concept of “enough” is inimical to perpetual economic growth.

        This tendency leaves us feeling unhappy and unsatisfied on a personal level and on the large scale it’s eroding the earth’s life support systems. The earth’s capacity to absorb our waste is currently the factor that determines “Enough”. In any case, WE don’t get to define it, at least in the long run. This is a message that very few people are receptive to hearing or accepting, even among this blog’s readership.

        Reply
        • Krishanu May 30, 2014, 1:12 pm

          Bravo Chris! Couldn’t have put it better myself, even if I tried.

          “Enough” has such a broad spectrum that it differs staggeringly among different kinds of people; even among people who are more or less “same” (similar education, similar jobs, living in the same neighborhood) “enough” is just too disparate, often edging slowly higher and higher.

          Reply
  • nameless just this once April 14, 2014, 3:59 pm

    I am a relatively new reader and FI since 2003. I just wanted to back up what MMM has said. Spending money does not equal happiness. I would also like to add a sketch of my own life to prove that point.
    About 4 years back I found myself in a hospital psychiatric ward for a sudden, unexplainable, rock bottom, onset of depression.
    I was interviewed by 2 DRs trying to help me. The first question I was asked was “how are your finances?” (Funny, I immediately thought it was “how’s your insurance?”) I told them that I had no financial concerns and was debt free. The Dr’s response was one of relief. He said, “that is so good to hear we will have you better in no time”. Days later, at my discharge interview I asked him why he asked about my money first & not my symptoms. He said that about 95% of the people he treats have financial issues/habits that have gone on for years and that the recovery rate for these folks tends to be 5 years or more because that’s how long it takes to straighten out their financial mess and change spending habits. He said when money is no worry, the patient can focus all time & energy to healing.
    Tests revealed a physical problem that manifested itself through depression type symptoms. Somehow I feel that if my finances were a mess, Drs probably would not have run as many tests and treated me for stress related depression instead of finding the true cause.
    I’d like to add–implement as many as MMM’s methods as possible–they work. I was nowhere near as hardcore as he, but I made FI before 40.

    Reply
  • Nick April 14, 2014, 4:25 pm

    Saving and investing became even more automatic when I made the conscious decision to “buy time”. It was a nice mindset hack that worked for me.

    Every $25-30,000 gets me a year. So every rental property or freelance project or dividend payment gets me a chunk of a year.

    As to what I do with that time, it’s my choice. Own enough rental properties (or whatever) and you can make that choice again and again.

    Reply
    • JMK April 15, 2014, 3:33 pm

      When we took control of our finances many years back, naturally we cut all the non-essential spending from our budget and upped our retirement savings and make extra mortgage payments several times a month. All good and all going in the right direction. At first it was a major adjustment, but when you cut out stuff that in hindsight wasn’t actually all that important to us, we really don’t miss it. The one non-essential we’ve kept is our annual trip with the kids. It’s usually 2 or 3 weeks in Europe (DIY not a package, but still). We do it because it’s the one splurge we acually enjoy enough to be worth the cost. We also acknowledge that those trips are delaying our early retirement by 3 years, and we’re okay with that.
      Our families have grown used to what seem like odd choices but I know we seem weird to those who don’t know us well. We drive old cars until they fall apart, we don’t even budget for restaurants or clothing because so little is spent on them that we just deal with it if and when it comes up. Then we turn around and head off on another trip and I know it leaves people scratching their heads. To us it seems perfectly logical. Every dollar not wasted on something we don’t value either goes toward early retirement or the next trip. We feel like we’ve found a balance that works for us. We’re traveling the world now while the kids are still at home, and still plotting an early exit from our office cubicles.
      It does mean that we scrutinize every non-essential expense in terms of the opportunity lost. At this point I don’t think I could even enjoy an inexpensive dinner out – in my mind I’m doing the math and seeing that as better used as admission for four to the Louvre in Paris. Italian shoes vs the gondola ride while in Italy? Whenever I’m the least bit tempted, which isn’t often, I always convert the cost of that shiney item into a lost travel opportunity and then walking away is easy.

      Reply
      • Stacey April 20, 2014, 7:19 pm

        It makes perfect sense to those who have read Your Money or Your Life !

        Reply
  • Jacob April 14, 2014, 4:33 pm

    I have been on the budget and saving train for almost a decade now. Now, just this past week, I was able to get this response out of my wife:

    “I like the idea of keeping our expenses low and enjoying what we have. We don’t need new stuff all the time, because then EVERYTHING has to be all shiny and new. When I used to work in a high-end retail store, I felt like I NEEDED all this stuff, but I am perfectly content with where we are, what we have, and want to do things inexpensively moving forward so we can enjoy our life more. And the idea of you not working for an extra decade to pay for our “stuff” is SO much better than anything we could buy.”

    I am ecstatic!

    Once you remove the addiction of luxury and societal pressures of “BUY MORE STUFF”, life gets a whole lot simpler, and a whole lot happier.

    As per usual, hit the nail on the head in this one. And hopefully that is the nail in the coffin of consumerist fallacies!

    Reply
  • Done by Forty April 14, 2014, 5:03 pm

    Pretty insightful stuff with the idea of buying emotions. And saving surely has a huge benefit for our happiness. I think you’re a bit hard on buying experiences though, only because there are plenty that provide fantastic value and, well, we ought to spend at least a bit of our money on good experiences. Within the context of a really healthy savings rate (say, anything above 60%) I think we start to see diminishing returns on additional savings, and good returns with some sensible spending on experiences (and possibly some things, too).

    For example, I recently bought my wife a build-a-bike at our local bike co-op. We got the experience of building the bike, and riding it…and of course, we ended up with one more possession, too. But in our household, we’re saving 80%+ these days; ought I have saved the money? I think the return on that $90 is better seen in the experience of building the bike itself and the countless future biking experiences, than I’d possibly get from banking the $90. All that goes to say, sometimes spending really might be the best use of the cash.

    Reply
    • Howie April 15, 2014, 2:44 pm

      …unless you only have $50.00.
      I think that’s one of the biggest problems Americans (and Canadians) are faced with today. They live in a world of financial and economic denial whereby they justify their frivolous expenditures while sinking deeper and deeper into debt. The use of home equity lines of credit has exploded in recent years, and the money that middle class folks are foolishly borrowing from their supposed “equity” is being pissed away on garbage like fancy cars, TVs, cruises, sofas, restaurant meals, jewelry, and other baubles and trinkets in a futile effort to find personal fulfillment and happiness. Some would say “it’s good for the economy”, but time will prove that an economy fueled by debt is as precarious as a house of cards. Sooner or later the chickens will come home to roost. So, nobody is saying that you have to save 100% of every last cent you earn. You need reasonable shelter, good food (by the way, the best food is NOT the most expensive food), a reliable and efficient, economical means of transportation, and something to do that productively and fulfillingly occupies your time, mind, and body. So if you have a pile of cash invested, and you use $90.00 for a do-it-yourself-bicycle that will bring you and your honey hours, days, weeks, and years of pleasure, exercise, and mutual fun-time, more power to you!!

      Reply
  • Dividend Mantra April 14, 2014, 7:44 pm

    MMM,

    Couldn’t agree more!

    Ever since I’ve started down this path I’ve felt better and better every single day that’s passed by. Now that I have six figures in the bank I feel like nothing can stop me. It’s almost like I feel financially invincible, and this is a wonderful stress reliever all in itself. No need to buy things or experiences when you’re already feeling on top of the world!

    Best wishes.

    Reply
  • insourcelife April 14, 2014, 8:46 pm

    “The first thing you should might look into buying with that money is Nothing”. What’s the second? That’s an equally important question. I remember deriving a lot of happiness from going out with friends and getting round after round of red bull vodkas. Now the emotional ROI is much higher from making an extra payment towards the only remaining loan – our mortgage. Or sending money to Vanguard… We tend to do house parties now instead of going out to expensive bars and restaurants. I was always wired for frugality so most of it is simply about maturing, especially with the birth of our son and realizing what really matters in life.

    Reply
  • Steven April 14, 2014, 8:53 pm

    Every dollar you manage to save between zero and financial independence contributes to this peace and happiness.

    I read the whole article and I think it can be summed up with the line above. Thanks for the reminder to pass on the new BMW and save a few bucks on my way to Even Steven and Financial Independence.

    Reply
  • StudyOfWealth April 14, 2014, 9:32 pm

    Besides keeping your money, don’t forget about another, perhaps equally satisfying, way of feeling happy may come from actually giving your money away!

    Yes, giving it away to your favourite charities. Supporting causes that you believe in, that are important to you.

    But it’s definitely a good idea to have enough money saved so you don’t get swept up from under your feet from the uncontrollable forces that surround your life!

    Reply
  • Yogidanon April 14, 2014, 9:32 pm

    Are you sure you didn’t write that study MMM, aka RR???

    Reply
  • Marcus April 14, 2014, 9:54 pm

    Followed up on the article you have recommended, and – being a nerd – looked into the reference list. Happy to say I found the “Journal of Happiness” – an interesting interdisciplinary peer reviewed journal that does pretty much what the title suggests. Happy reading, fellow happy nerds!

    Reply
  • Ed April 14, 2014, 10:14 pm

    This is one of your best post! I totally agree that material things are not the answer to the pursuit of happiness. That probably explains why most people in developing countries are happier than those living in first-world countries?

    Reply
  • Nigel April 14, 2014, 10:45 pm

    Something that I’ve found works pretty well for me: every time I feel tempted to spend money on something fancier than a 2-pound bag of dried beans or a new package of socks, I stop first and ask myself something along the lines of “will this purchase really make my life better? How much better? For how long after I buy it?
    This strategy recently stopped me from dropping a few hundred dollars on a flat screen TV to replace the perfectly functioning old school cathode ray set I bought about 12 years ago. Seriously, after the dopamine rush faded, how much happier would I really be with this thing in my living room? Would Breaking Bad episodes really be any better?
    On the other hand, about 14 years ago I put myself through this routine when I wanted to buy a big old tandem kayak for about $700. I finally convinced myself that yes, this thing would make my life happier to the extent that it was worth the expense. Fortunately, I was right – it turned out to be one of the best purchases I’ve ever made, and I thank myself for it every time I’m gliding along the surface of a glass-smooth lake (I live in Minnesota, we have a few of them) with one or both of the mini-me’s in the front seat. I only wish there had been Craigslist back then so I could have found one used.

    I love MMM’s assertion that the most valuable thing money can buy you is freedom – it’s something I think I’ve always vaguely believed but had never really been able to put into eloquent terms the way he has. But every once in a while, plain old stuff – like a kayak or a bike or a compound mitre saw so I can build a kickass adirondack chair – can make me pretty dang happy. It’s just sorting out that kind of stuff from all the other useless shit that I’m constantly tempted to buy that is the challenge sometimes.

    Reply
    • Krishanu May 30, 2014, 1:32 pm

      Not to encourage spending money on flashy electronics, but if you have a 12- years old CRT TV and let’s assume you just watch, say, 2 hours of TV a week (a movie on DVD), you are missing out on over 100 hours of HD viewing time per year. A new (not a latest model, or even a brand new – just a LED/Plasma TV, maybe from Craigslist) HD TV will give you a LOT more viewing pleasure. And keep it for the next 12 years!

      By the way, I’m from MN, know exactly what you’re talking about the lakes!

      Reply
  • innerscorecard April 14, 2014, 11:19 pm

    I’m very happy that you decided to criticize the fetishization of experiences and travel in mainstream media. I think that looking at these things (which I like in moderate doses) as the end all leads to the same “keeping up with the Joneses” that we’ve always had. But instead, with travel stories and concerts (or whatever) instead of with stuff.

    Reply
  • Henry Thoreau April 15, 2014, 1:52 am

    “While most people assume that this is just a normal modern life, it is actually a life of incredible and completely unnecessary stress.” In other words, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” (Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854).

    Ya it’s me, writing this comment from the next world, dear MMM readers, to say that once upon a time in North America there was an alternate way of thinking about life, one that didn’t call for “more, more, more.” This blog revives that tradition in a fun and lively way. I just want to say I’m laughing along with you as MMM exposes the hilariously unnecessary waste of human energy and the natural world that some call “normal life.” If I were still around I’d be throwing a few face-punches myself.

    Reply
  • Kristi April 15, 2014, 2:14 am

    I think that this connection takes most people a while to make. Especially because it’s so easy to allow yourself to enjoy those fleeting moments of joy from buying things. It takes a bit of soul searching and actually thinking of the value of the items that you buy before most people hit the point that they’re able to skip out on pointless purchases.
    I’m not completely there yet, I have a few things I spend money on that aren’t entirely reasonable. Half way there is better than nothing though ;)

    Reply
  • Catina April 15, 2014, 5:43 am

    MMM,
    I almost passed out when your site was down! :-)
    Wish you, and this article, were around 20 years ago. My life would be much different. Thanks for bringing true happiness back to life with this blog.
    C-

    Reply
    • JMK April 15, 2014, 3:44 pm

      Isn’t that the truth? If I’d known in my 20s the difference it would make to increase my savings, things would have turned out very differently. We thought we were very together because we only had a mortgage for debt and put 15% away in our very junior retirement accounts. Yup, all good choices according to generally accepted wisdom. Good choices if we wanted to retire at 65. We just didn’t realize there were other options. We’d never heard of anyone living a frugal sort of life and retiring in their 30s. I like to think if we’d known that was even an option we’d have gone that route. We wised up in our early 40s and will retire in our mid 50s which is better than most, but I still kick myself that I’d already be retired if I’d known the early retirement math a couple of decades sooner.

      Reply
      • Catina April 15, 2014, 10:11 pm

        I am right where you were…wising up at 40! :-)

        Reply
        • dude April 16, 2014, 6:18 am

          40? So that’s a picture of you in your 20’s, right? ;-)

          Reply
  • Karen April 15, 2014, 5:45 am

    MMM, you are a fantastic writer! I’ve been reading for a few months now and enjoy the articles and advice so much. Thank you for the article, and I’m so happy the site is back in action. Our family has been making some changes in the past months, it has been interesting and fun, and we’re getting closer to having a better inflow/outflow ratio.

    P.S. I get a lot of happiness from attending church and feeling connected to God / spiritual life. Have a blessed holy week, MMM friends!

    Reply
    • mbl April 15, 2014, 7:33 am

      Karen, Happy Easter to you as well.

      This reminds me of something that I thought of while reading this thread. The notion of having enough. At what point might you have the courage and fortitude to divest yourself of a portion of your wealth(think Gates Foundation…but of course on a much smaller level)?
      For those that tithe/give throughout their lives they have built up the fiscal muscle memory and habit of doing that. Just has saving/investing/living well below one’s means becomes ingrained or as I said earlier is innate.

      At what point is the responsible and moral action being to start a steady and generous program of personal philanthropy? I’m also referring to that which is over and above your gift of time. Whether that is a website, or volunteering of time to different causes or whatever has meaning for you?

      For all the sharing of FI success stories here and MMM’s success and FI…..who has the courage to give some of it away.

      Reply
  • Thrifty Drew April 15, 2014, 7:20 am

    My goodness. The big consumerist machine has even turned tax day (April 15th here in the US) into a “Hallmark Holiday.” An article came across the Yahoo! homepage titled, “Don’t Miss These Tax Day Deals.” The list featured anything from free cookies, half price liquor, discount massages, two meals for $10.40 at Boston Market, free paper shredding from Office Depot, etc. The sukkas out there will love these deals while the rest of us slap our foreheads and shake our heads in disgust.

    After I saw that article I had to come to this Mustachian safe haven for comfort. :)

    Reply
  • Kurt April 15, 2014, 8:53 am

    Of course you’re right, and that’s why the most successful advertising focuses on emotions, not product / service benefits.

    Reply
  • Amy April 15, 2014, 9:44 am

    Some might read this article as permission to go out and buy a fancy sports car. What I read is that amassing consumer goods is an investment in unhappiness. If more people really believed this, we could maybe save the planet. Maybe.

    Reply
  • Brian April 15, 2014, 10:21 am

    With money, people are buying esteem, plain and simple. They want to be admired and respected by their peers. What I find exceptional in your case, MMM, is that you’ve been able to earn the same esteem without spending.

    May we all learn a lesson here: to be admired by many, simply start a cult ; )

    Reply
  • SavvyFinancialLatina April 15, 2014, 10:27 am

    I enjoy reading our articles. It’s a good reminder that being frugal and thrifty is good. This is hard because everyone here always has the best stuff, cars, and house. I drove in the parking garage of my company this morning and saw Benz, BMWs, Escalades…. People live in McMansions. Temptation!

    Reply
  • Kathy April 15, 2014, 10:30 am

    Isn’t it interesting how other people are so much better at telling you how to spend your money than you can do yourself? Why are experiences now so much better than things? Is it perhaps necessary to appease those who can’t afford things? And what if you can’t afford a European trip, but you can get a big screen TV that you use every night? Of course, watching TV is now considered crass and unsophisticated. Just like drinking beer compared to wine. But I digress. Personally, I hate traveling. It is such a hassle going through airport security, taking off shoes, paying bag check fees, getting a tiny bag of pretzels on a 6 hour flight. Plus, I’m terrified of flying. So that pretty much ruins the whole experience for me because even after we arrive, I’m instantly thinking about the flight we have to take to return home. If I’d rather spend that money on a car, or a TV, or a kitchen upgrade, how is that an investment in unhappiness (Amy April comment above) It is rather presumptuous to tell someone else what will buy their happiness.

    Reply
    • Gerard April 15, 2014, 4:09 pm

      I think people say that experiences provide longer-lasting happiness than possessions because fairly-decent research seems to support that viewpoint. You’re comparing an experience you don’t like to possessions that you do like… kinda loading the dice there!

      Also, you know that you can travel without flying, right? :-)

      Reply
  • Retireme32 April 15, 2014, 10:38 am

    so…….Money can buy happiness……by saving it……Love it. :)

    Reply
  • Doug April 15, 2014, 10:53 am

    Before going to my main comments I’ll describe a parallel. If you live in a home where you use heating or air conditioning, and you insulate that home better, the heating or air conditioning system will run on shorter duty cycle (and use less energy) because of less heat transfer.

    Now let’s look at the economy in industrialized affluent countries. As everything got more automated in the last 100 years or so, less labour was required to produce goods and services. That labour got redeployed in other sectors producing new goods and services. For example, in the 1950s the railways replaced steam locomotives (very labour intensive to run) with diesel locomotives, or electric locomotives in some places, which are less labour intensive to run. The displaced labour went to producing new goods like cars, refrigerators, consumer electronics, and so on which made life better. This all made sense up until about the 1970s, when the economic system could produce far more than what was required to live comfortably. There are one of 2 ways to deal with such a situation, one is to have shorter work hours for everyone, and the other is to have everyone consume more and more and more and more and keep the economy growing to employ all that excessive labour. Most of society has taken the second choice. A small number of us, myself included, have seen the folly of this choice. I’ve actually questioned it all since I was a teenager, and am 53 years old now.

    Thus I, like many of us here, have in effect taken the first choice and saved excess money rather than squander it on junk, and now have more free time to do more or less what I want. For the most part I’m retired, but will work in paid employment every now and then when something comes up like it did in the last 2 months of last year. The freedom gives me infinitely more happiness than would a large house full of junk I’ll never use. To give you an idea of what I mean I recently came back from 7 weeks in sunny Australia while many people here in Eastern Canada bitched and bellyached about the unusually cold winter here. I’m now getting caught up on other things to do, like my income tax, and am in no real hurry to get back in the job market.

    Reply
  • Free To Pursue April 15, 2014, 11:14 am

    I could not agree more. I hope this understanding of happiness moves through the Western world like a virus. We would all be better for it.

    The feeling I get from inching ever closer to FI is unparalleled. I “gave up” fancy trips, fancy cars, expensive dinners out and it DIDN’T HURT one bit because it is so much more empowering to be free from immediate financial constraints. FI is the only way to live to ensure a boss, a bank, family member(s), social/status pressure, etc. does not determine what you will or will not do with your life. You can be full of social graces, but it’s nice to know you can “flip the bird” if you need to.

    As for the MMM blog, I read it as much for the “MMM voice” as I do for its contents. The themes recur, but when the melody is enchanting, listeners will always lend an ear.

    Reply
  • Adrian M April 15, 2014, 11:22 am

    I like to think I am partially responsible for the quote here :) “the nutritious $10 single servings from Whole Foods”. I remember MMM responding to my comment on “Why the Middle Class is Giving itself the shaft”. Try doling about 15 dollar single serves to a flock of ten kids :)

    Reply
  • Mr. Frugal Toque April 15, 2014, 11:50 am

    I’ve had this discussion with my manager here regarding my early retirement plans. He sometimes muses that giving me a raise is a bad idea, seeing as it will simply speed me on to early retirement. (We have a sort of dry, humorous relationship in this office.)
    I replied that it’s more important to understand that happiness and income levels only correlate up to a certain point where necessities are met and a bit beyond. After that, happiness goes flat relative to income.
    But … (BUT!) … if an employee has a machine that can convert money into happiness, perhaps via saving his largesse and speeding on his impending retirement, that employee would be the *best* employee to motivate with money.
    If it matters, this argument did not appear to affect my raise this year.

    Reply
  • Frugal Paragon April 15, 2014, 11:50 am

    Mr. FP and I lost a loooot of money in our twenties trying to buy a feeling by buying a house (twice). We were in a hurry to have that settled-down real-grown-up feeling. Then we wanted/needed to move out of state, the market had changed… and we lost our down payment (i.e., all our money) and our credit to boot (stopped paying mortgage, did short sale).

    So our kids were born in rental property… and that turned out to be fine. Turns out I enjoyed babies just as much without a yellow-painted classic-Pooh-themed nursery. (I joked that my nursery theme was “someone loaned me a bassinet.”) We might own a house again in the future, but only if makes financial sense. Not just for the feeling.

    Reply
    • Lorin April 19, 2014, 12:27 am

      +1 to your nursery theme! I’m on baby #2 sleeping in a 2nd hand pack and play instead of a “real” crib. Works great and cost us a fraction of what the cribs I saw in stores cost.

      Reply
  • Jon April 15, 2014, 12:28 pm

    I think some people will read this and think, “MMM is telling us to never spend money! No vacations, nothing!” That’s not what he’s saying though. Even MMM takes vacations! Like he says, it’s about saving so that you truly have enough. Enough is enough.

    This is really about putting as much money as you can towards financial independence and not living paycheck-to-paycheck because you’re spending all your money on expensive items and luxurious vacations every chance you get.

    Reply
  • Edith April 15, 2014, 12:35 pm

    This is all true. I stopped enjoying my brand new car after I discovered the MMM blog. Now I look at cyclists with envy and respect.

    Reply
  • Andy April 15, 2014, 12:51 pm

    I was actually reading this article at the same time as I got an email from someone in my building selling their used TV. I’ve been tempted for some time to get a bigger TV, but have been reminding myself that I absolutely don’t need it and my current TV works just fine. This for-sale offer was especially tempting because of the low price, but the timing was perfect because I had an MMM angel(devil?) freshly on my shoulder from reading this and it helped me remember that I’d deserve a facepunch if I were to throw my money away so carelessly. So thanks again, MMM, we all need more reminders like this.

    Reply
    • Mr. Frugal Toque April 15, 2014, 12:58 pm

      Let me add to your resolve: I once bought a big TV, because I wasn’t Mustachian yet, and “deserved it”.
      Now it just stares at me, saying “You idiot. How much sooner could you have paid off your house if you hadn’t bought me?”

      Reply
      • Matthew Pence April 16, 2014, 11:31 am

        >Now it just stares at me, saying “You idiot. How much sooner could you have paid off your house if you hadn’t bought me?”

        Forget the house! Think about resources that thing has costed you… some of which cannot be “earned” or “saved”… Things like time. There is no saving time for an emergency. You either invest it (in improving future instances of ‘time’), or you waste it.

        Then again, it could be just me that gets a really bad feeling of wastefulness and regret when I sit around “investing” time into something that provides zero or less return on my investment.

        Reply
  • Becky April 15, 2014, 2:18 pm

    I really appreciate you pointing out that spending on experiences is still spending. Both in the blogosphere, and in real life, “experiences” seem to have been quite popular for the past few years. I’ve noticed that on several financial sites, spending money on travel is somehow touted as acceptable, even if someone is still paying down massive debt – solely because it’s an “experience” and not “just buying stuff”. I don’t have anything against travel and agree that it’s pretty fun to experience new cultures and meet new people. But, especially now, while I’m paying off my mortgage, there are lots of inexpensive “experiences” to be had closer to home, and everyday moments to enjoy.

    Reply
    • Mortgage Free Mike April 16, 2014, 11:14 am

      Becky, I couldn’t agree with you more. When I was paying off my mortgage, I considered going to my aunt’s house a vacation! HA! I did take one trip toward the end of the mortgage payoff, but it’s when I knew I was going to reach my goal and the trip cost $1,000 for 10 days in Costa Rica. You have live a little, right? As you said, there are many experiences you can have in your own backyard.

      Reply
  • Mike S April 15, 2014, 3:00 pm

    OK, here’s an overdue “Thank You.” We’ve been followers of this blog since close to it’s inception, and though we’d already achieved FI before finding it, we attribute it to helping us craft a post-employment life that exceeds our expectations on a budget that underutilizes our portfolio.

    But the “Thank You” is actually on behalf of what this blog appears to be doing in our adult daughter’s life. After years of living paycheck to increasingly-robust paycheck, she has recently gotten on the MMM bandwagon, and after just a few months of putting the pedal to the metal, her consumer debt is gone. She just informed us she expects to retire her student loans within the next year, about 25 years ahead of schedule, and after that has plans to begin saving for a small condo. Her goal is to exit the rat race in her early-40’s, beating us by a good 10 years if she makes it. Years of financial ‘preaching’ from us went largely ignored, but just a few months of following this blog resulted in an entire lifestyle change.

    Reply
  • phred April 15, 2014, 3:11 pm

    I like leather. I stick to the vinyl on hot summer days.

    Agree that buying a pre-packaged ‘experience’ is a bigger waste of money than buying ‘stuff’.

    Reply
    • John April 16, 2014, 7:33 am

      You know you are being a complainypants, right? Unless you mean that you stick to your vinyl bicycle seat.

      Reply
  • Polly April 15, 2014, 4:02 pm

    I will temper my inclination to rhapsodize, but after years of thinking about changing, I’m finally changing. And it’s because I recently spent hours–in bed with my laptop, moonlight streaming through the window–reading every blog post here. Thank you! Other websites have led to small changes (shared fajitas rather than ordering my own), but your website has led to more substantial changes (canceled cable; switched to better plans for cell phone, internet, and all types of insurance; began making gifts; began cooking from scratch; stopped shopping for entertainment). So much extra money! So much extra time! And after this post, I’m less eager to pay for experiences. I live in a Salt Lake City suburb, and I find myself wondering if there’s anything MORE fun than grabbing the dog, the husband, and a picnic basket full of BLTs and snickerdoodles, and heading up one of the canyons for a springtime picnic. In the Honda Fit! I’m dizzy with anticipation!

    Reply
  • Vanessa April 15, 2014, 4:40 pm

    Every once in a while I will find myself slipping and going back to my old non-MMM ways but thankfully – BOOM! There’s the good old MMM face-punch in the form of an post! We don’t care if they are regurgitated or recycled. Some hard heads like me need constant reminders! I foolishly suggested drinks at Fancy-pants bar to a friend today who looked at me strangely and said – “You want to pay an arm and a leg for one glass when we can purchase entire bottle at Trader Joe’s for way less and drink comfortable at home?” That was before this article. I walk amongst MMM disciples.

    Reply
  • Darren April 15, 2014, 5:45 pm

    If we don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t have kids to put through college because we have none, have no country club dues… if we drive a 98 Honda Accord and live in a 700sqft apt (our house with the other apt rented) while the house it paid off, why can’t we blow a few dollars a few times a week eating out or on fairly cheap experiences or even travel? We are in our early 40s.

    One size doesn’t fit all. Spending depends on where you are in your financial independence (FI). I’m not there, but it is easily within earshot. Beside that, I’m in no hurry to retire because my job is just too easy and although I don’t love it, I don’t hate it either.

    We don’t subscribe to cable either and my employer pays for internet and phone and we have a cheap daily use cellphone that we use 5 to 10 times a month.

    Okay, just saying, I know you can’t tailor your posts for each and every category of reader.

    Reply
    • insourcelife April 15, 2014, 8:13 pm

      Darren, personally I’d say do what you want! From your post it’s obviously a conscious decision and not a mindless credit card swipe like it is for so many people. Huge difference there and we all need a break from our awesome “frugalness” once in a while, don’t we?

      Reply
    • just call me al April 15, 2014, 10:00 pm

      Here here. I admire MMM and all that he does. He is altruistic and his style is rare. He offers an archetype and some guidelines of a life well spent. And he has mostly catered to those in the money, because lets face it–he, too, is in the money. Now that the blog has exploded, he has some recruitment work for the enhanced army. It’s a good thing. Face punches are required for the newly enlisted. The site has a mission and the messenger preaching has an established doctrine. I read the first paragraph over my morning joe and nearly spit the screen. I happen to have that X5 parked, at least MMM reveres the engineering involved in that thing, but that is no excuse, he’s right about the waste and expense. Does the vehicle bring me massive joy and a life’s tank of never ending smiles? Only when I step on the peddle! So, yeah. I’m with you, one size will never fit all. We all have our weaknesses. But the letter of the law is not the spirit of the law. I like the spirit here. We all make our own money and spend it and save it independently. It is my mission to die with only 2 cents to my name (all final expenses covered, of course). Because that’s really all any one is worth. They can plop those final 2 pennys on top of my ashes. Those bitches are mine.

      Reply
  • Dad April 15, 2014, 8:42 pm

    Two comments from the article and comments section….

    1. If you choose to have a tv, an old cathode ray tube tv is not just as good as a flat screen HD TV. Sorry — but it’s not.

    2. If you surf the internet, an ipad 2 is in fact a good and worthwhile purchase. ( it doesn’t mean you should upgrade with each new iteration.)

    I can truly say years later I have never regretted those purchases for a minute.

    Reply
  • Dan April 15, 2014, 10:14 pm

    It is definitely a great feeling to not spend money and have the security of money in the bank. As I get closer to financial independence, I enjoy it even more!

    I try to focus on free or low cost experiences. Going to the park, the beach, tennis, playing cards, etc. i try to keep things simple and enjoy freedom to do what I want more than anything money could buy.

    Reply
  • Philip April 15, 2014, 11:58 pm

    This has to be one of my favorite posts in the past several months. Why? Because there is some actual, thankfully respectful, disagreement and conversation about what enhances different peoples happiness. Thank you Mark for sticking to your guns about your love of cars.

    For the past several months it felt like the majority of comments were simply concurrence with and cheering what MMM wrote. I was honestly losing some interest and was skimming the articles.

    I love that many of today’s comments are going against the “one size fits all” approach while still adhering to what one poster called the spirit vs letter of the law. Anyway, well done MMM!

    Reply
  • dude April 16, 2014, 5:43 am

    Amen, brother MMM! I remember those stressed out days of overspending early in my career. I was one car breakdown from a real shitstorm. Saving and investing and watching those assets grow has provided a new lease on life, and put me solidly on the path to FIRE. My happiest moments are invariably those nights sitting by a campfire, drinking beers with friends and exaggerating the tales of our rock climbing boldness that day — which costs almost nothing!

    Reply
  • Dan April 16, 2014, 6:56 am

    The more you get in the habit of saving, the easier it gets and the better it feels. I have found I keep needing less and less to be happy. I value free time the most and I am having more and more lately.

    It feels so good to not have any money worries and focus your time and attention on things that matter.

    Reply
  • Stan April 16, 2014, 8:09 am

    Happiness is being debt free, a paid off house, income to support yourself and being able to give to others that truly need and deserve help.

    Reply
  • Syed April 16, 2014, 8:53 am

    Wonderful article. Debt is indeed slavery and having money is indeed freedom. Many people scoff at the idea of money buying happiness, but having enough of it is the quickest way to find guaranteed happiness. It will give you peace of mind and a calm heart to better pursue the other sources of happiness in your life, be it family, religion or just chilling.

    Reply
  • George Seamans April 16, 2014, 12:01 pm

    I’m driving from London to Mongolia this summer (Mongol Rally). I imagine I will spend over $5.000 (hoping for closer to 3000) and that is making me feel guilty. We plan on camping out mostly and driving a relatively cheap Nissan Micra, but plane tix, visas, car, food, vaccines and some prep costs add up.

    I’ve been wondering if I should save the money instead, but I’m going to spend it on the experience. I am pretty financially secure; does this still sound like a waste of money?

    Reply
    • Ellie April 16, 2014, 12:36 pm

      Were you feeling guilty before reading this blog post?
      It sounds like an incredible adventure to me. If you can readily afford it, why are you thinking of denying yourself the experience?

      Reply
    • Jessica April 17, 2014, 6:07 am

      It sounds like the kind of thing I would want to do if I were financially secure. I don’t care about TVs or cars or expensive restaurants or skiing or Disney World, I save my money to some day take trips like that.

      Reply
    • LoneStarStateWorkerBee April 17, 2014, 1:00 pm

      Well, using the rule of 300, this will cost you roughly $16.66 a month spending in early retirement. So, if you really need that extra $16.66 then you will need to keep working longer to save the extra $5000.

      Whether that sacrifice is worth it totally depends on your personal situation. But this sounds like one of those “once in a lifetime deals” and personally I wouldn’t think twice about such a small step back for such a big and interesting trip.

      Reply
  • Sarah April 16, 2014, 12:25 pm

    I thought this was interesting piece…..http://tressiemc.com/2013/10/29/the-logic-of-stupid-poor-people/

    I also think it is a very valid insight as to why people buy shit, other than happiness. I guess when you are lower down on Maslows hierachy of needs these things can almost seem like an investment. I don’t know, I am still trying to figure it all out. While I love the saving and we are on decent money, I find it hard to believe that as animals living together in a society that the relevant status symbols pertaining to that particular society don’t matter.

    I recently just moved my daughter from a private international school in France to a local French school and I have noticed a strong distancing in the relationships from the friends that we made at the first school. It has nothing to do about money but rather status.

    Don’t we have “stuff” and behave in a certain way to show which “club” we belong too?

    Reply
    • CTY April 16, 2014, 3:59 pm

      Can’t say that the abandonment of the private school friends surprises me. But I do think your daughter will be better for it. The elementary school our children attended was an at risk school. Poverty, crime, broken families abound. Later years were in a very successful and prominent (though still public) middle school, with middle class people deep in debt for sure. High school ended up with all the kids together. The Mr & I volunteered extensively through all the schools. Funny how when we were at the high school the “at risk” kids always said hi and stopped to talk to us. The middle school kids acted as if we weren’t even there. Also most the volunteers were the parents/guardians/family of the poor kids. The middle class parents just wanted to write checks and bring in professional photographers for the events.

      Reply
  • Ellie April 16, 2014, 12:29 pm

    A week ago was my 60th birthday. I had 3 glorious days off from work. It was a celebration of life, friends, and doing what I love most: puttering around in my garden. Today I am back at work, bored, fidgety, unhappy and wanting to flee. I believe my husband and I have ‘enough’ money, because we saved and saved in our early years. Yet I cannot seem to pull the plug. My husband and our very conservative financial advisor encourage me to hang in there until I reach 65. I tell myself that there are family members I still want to help, which will not be happening when we begin living on our savings and investments alone, and other excuses to keep doing something I fundamentally want to quit doing with my life. So reading this MMM post has set off the internal dialogue. Ack! Thanks a lot, Mr. MM! ;)

    Reply
    • Stacey April 17, 2014, 11:13 am

      Ellie,
      Perhaps the best way you could help your family members is to introduce them to MMM. Perhaps it’s time to “teach a man to fish.” Go enjoy your garden!

      Reply
  • John Dwyer April 17, 2014, 7:38 am

    As far as a true MMM lifestyle I’m bought in. My biggest expense for activities is a can of tennis balls. I’ve got no debt or mortgage and quite a bit saved. However, my wife loves horses. To describe the finances of horses imagine taking a large 50 gallon drum and filling it with 100 dollar bills and setting it on fire. Well, a MMM response would be to get rid of the horse. The result being my next big un-MMM expense is a divorce lawyer. I have to agree that one MMM size doesn’t fit all.

    Reply
  • Eric April 17, 2014, 7:39 am

    **For some of us, this can be a chicken-and-egg problem: I was more prone to worry in my youth, because I didn’t know much about life. The freedom offered by financial independence gave me time to relax, read, and build closer relationships. This led me to learning much more about happiness. Now I know enough that I could be happy even without all this money. But I give the money the credit for getting this whole process started.

    Hey MMM,
    In regards to the second asterisk, you credit the money for providing the time to learn about happiness to the point where you know you could be happy without all the money. Reading through all 150+ comments, 90%+ are just focused on money. I get the feeling that some people get hung up on money = happiness.

    My question is: Do you think you could have reached this same point in your maturity to understand what happiness is if you didn’t have the money? I know ‘what ifs’ are hard and completely speculative but I’m interested.

    Reply
  • The Smaller Dollar April 17, 2014, 11:07 am

    You often see people with an unstable financial base turn cash into stuff as quickly as possible to do as you say, buy happiness. They try to skip the step of earning a solid living and being sensible with their finances and go straight to owning all the things on credit.

    Reply
  • Michael Santiago April 17, 2014, 11:33 am

    Thanks for the article. I especially enjoyed the paper you cited, gives us science-nerds something to process.

    My experience with things=happiness is often worse than just “they don’t buy happiness”. Last year I went on a buying binge of stuff online, and I was so excited to get all these things in the mail. Except that, when I actually got them in the mail, I said to myself “I was so excited about this?”. Felt a little sad even.

    I’ve had the same experience a few times since, and every time it reminds me of the true sources of happiness: friends, family, and money (in the bank!).

    Reply
  • Cara April 17, 2014, 1:36 pm

    MMM,
    Posts like this keep me coming back for more!
    Found out about your blog last May from Washington Post article. I was hooked immediately… read all previous blog posts in a few days and currently check your blog weekly to stay up to date on the latest. Since last May we’ve paid off a car, paid off ALL credit card debt, sold our home and are in the process of transferring to a new city. There my husband’s commute will be minimal and I’ll be able to bike our son to school and walk/bike to the grocery store. Our life has changed for the better in too many ways to list here. We’ve never been happier and I give you 100% of the credit! I can’t thank you enough for how you’ve helped to changed our lives. Please keep up the good work.
    SAHM/RN and Coast Guard Pilot in the Sunshine State
    P.S. Would love to hear more from Mrs. MMM!

    Reply
  • Tara April 17, 2014, 7:44 pm

    I would add that if it comes to a point that you have saved more than enough, find a respectable charity you believe in that spends its money wisely and donate to them. It’s amazing how great it feels giving your well-saved money to a great cause that you know needs the money! The smaller the charity, the more good your dollars do. :)

    Reply
    • lurker April 18, 2014, 8:30 am

      you can also look into the Slow Money movement and invest locally in small businesses you believe in…..

      Reply
  • Happy Wanderer April 18, 2014, 7:21 am

    Would love to hear more from people about frugal experiences/travel (live in Michigan) as I care much more about that then accumulating stuff. Less than two years from retirement and am a little nervous as I ponder the possibilities of the next chapter because all I know is what it is to work. This blog has changed our lives, attitudes towards money and we are in a good place financially. Thank you MMM and fellow Mustachians for your sharing.

    Reply
    • Ex-Sgt Pepper April 18, 2014, 9:21 am

      Happy Wanderer, to paraphrase Churchill and FDR, there is nothing to fear but fear itself! Traveling, especially internationally, is so frickin’ easy compared to even 20 yrs ago. As I mentioned above in a comment, my wife and I were also unsure what to expect, but quickly discovered that life is pretty much like it is anywhere else, with a bunch of usually interesting (sometimes frustrating) new things to get used to. We lived in two towns in Mexico for over a year, and spent a couple months traveling around most of the rest of the country, and LOVED it! The US hype about “dangerous Mexico” is just that, media hype. (Do innocent people sometimes get caught in the crossfire? Yes, in Mexican border towns and drug-kingpin towns, in Baltimore, in LA, Oakland, NYC, Wash DC, etc etc.) So – as far as being frugal, it’s pretty easy in Mexico. Just about everything is 10-25% cheaper than the US, so it’s way less expensive than California. The people are in general very kind and friendly, and they love to celebrate! Lots of holidays and lots of fireworks. It’s a great place to be retired. And there are many organizations that one can get involved in, because there’s a lot to be done there. My wife and I saved a lot by taking a vacation rental for the first few weeks (that can be done on sites like vrbo.com), then once we got there, meeting people and asking around will guide you to a place that’s for rent much cheaper. If you’re near one of the larger cities, there’s going to be a Costco (or a Walmart, but Costco’s better), so you can save a ton by stocking up on bulk food staples, these days they even have lots of organic stuff. Health insurance is easily affordable everywhere in the world (except US), you can check a really good UK company that we used and liked, Bupa, you can buy it locally, or just look for int’l health insurance on http://www.ehealthinsurance.com. We’re in S Africa now, and we’ve found that the dollar is strong here too, so our budget is way under what we thought we’d need. Anyway, there’s a decent newsletter that has a lot of info about many places — Live and Invest Overseas. Good luck, hang in there for the final 2 years, and get ready for life to get very interesting! Let me know if you have more specific questions…

      Reply
  • Angela M. April 19, 2014, 10:21 am

    MMM, I’m sure blogging takes an incredible amount of energy.
    But I just want to say that even though you may feel that you are saying the same thing over and over again- I benefit from this!
    I’ve been educating myself about finances for years now, but before I came across your blog, I was not even aware that people could reire early, or understand how that was done. Limited thinking! ;)
    In a world where it seems everyone is buying fancy cars, big houses, expensive clothes- your blog reminds me to keep focused on my financial goals. For beginners, it can be tempting to go with the flow. Hearing your thoughts on the FI-inspired theme grounds me. So as long as you keep writing this blog, I’ll keep reading. Thank you for writing!

    Reply
  • Phil April 20, 2014, 11:06 am

    I am 58 and all I can say is I wish this blog had been around 40 years ago though I am sure your concepts were well established even then. I too am one of the many trapped into a pay check to pay check situation at a job I grow to dislike more by the day due to circumstances and decisions made. I am however making sure my kids and grand kids see this blog so they too can gain financial independence before they are 40 or at least by 50. At the very least have the concepts in mind. Great blog, and I enjoy reading it, and shall continue reading it in spite of some times kicking myself for knowing better back then, but not living it. Am making changes I can to get a little more control over my future, and even though I don’t have a lifetime in front of me, will make the best of the time I have. Wish there was a blog for later in life starters!

    Reply
    • Jackie April 22, 2014, 6:41 am

      Right where you are at….we are learning much….but lots of regrets…..working every day at doing better. I have gotten very vocal with my kids…I don’t hesitate anymore to tell them what kind of future they could have with a few different habits. I hope and pray they are listening. I don’t want them to have to look at their old age the way we are looking at ours….with fear and trepidation. It can be so different for them.

      Reply
      • Living the life... April 22, 2014, 1:24 pm

        I spend most my money on women and race cars, the rest I waste.

        Reply

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