Give Yourself the Gift of Not Worrying About Money


This wine rack in J.D. Roth’s place (which is also where I am sitting as I type this) summarizes the philosophy nicely.

For most people in this country, financial problems are caused by not thinking enough about money.

One of the guys I hire occasionally to help me build houses, for example, is permanently broke and always requires full payment in cash at the end of each workweek. Yet at the beginning of each workday, he arrives with a fresh cup of Peet’s coffee from the gourmet shop he drives past on the way to my construction site, and a $5.00 pack of cigarettes that will get smoked in a hands-free manner as he runs the saws and nailguns with those talented hands.  He makes casual purchases without worry, but then must confront a gut-dropping wall of worry whenever the money runs out, which is every Thursday.

Although white-collar professionals may scoff at the obvious folly of this particular lad’s behavior, they tend to follow exactly the same script by signing up for monthly payments on cars and furniture, and voluntarily creating car commutes that send even more money up in smoke than a daily pack of cigarettes. The money may not run out every Thursday, but it does run out every Recession, when the job evaporates or the housing market crashes. Same problem in a different package.

But you’re totally different. As a fellow Mustachian, you join me in peaceful laughter at all forms of self-imposed money shortage. Those problems are not part of our world. You make a good income, but continue to ride your bike, cook your own food, and conduct your commerce on Craigslist. This creates an incredible money surplus, which increases your net worth more every month than the average person saves in a year. Even if you’re just starting out, financial independence is less than ten years away, and if you’re an old person in your 30s who has been doing this for a while, it is even closer. So how could life be any better?

If I could go back 12 years to visit my past self in the midst of this scene, there is a bit of wisdom I would love to share. It wouldn’t be stock tips or the sports almanac that Biff used to make himself rich in Back to the Future. Rather, it would be a bit of mental adjustment that could make the journey even more fun. It would a message something like this:

Dude. Chill out. You’re already rich, and thus it is time to start living that way.

This seemingly Antimustachian sentiment is not an endorsement of bullshit luxury spending. You don’t suddenly “Deserve” a new Mercedes, and you’re not about to go hire someone to cut your lawn and fingernails for you. But what you can do is give yourself permission to stop worrying about money, forever.

Once you have established the habit of non-ridiculous living and the correspondingly pumped set of frugality muscles, you are out of the woods. Riches are inevitable. You may not see it yet, because you are still climbing the ladder. Your naturally cautious and calculating nature requires you to hedge all bets thoroughly.

But you know that spreadsheet of yours that predicts a net worth in the millions in a surprisingly short time? That shit is for real, and it really does tend to come true. There is a future you out there, that looks almost exactly like the present you except with slightly grayer hair and more experience, and the future you has more money than you know what to do with. How does he or she live that future life?

Bringing that visualization back to your present life, you can use the knowledge to relax a bit. When you are faced with an unexpected expenditure or an unavoidable ripoff, you can laugh it off rather than pounding your fists against nearby objects.

Suppose you somehow end up downtown, and your spendy friends want to go to hit the $50.00 restaurant, sip a few $7.00 drinks and then take a taxi home. You’re out of your element: there is no nature around and there are no bikes in sight. Everything is bullshit. People idle their cars in unnecessary lines and pay $25.00 to park them in frustrating concrete mazes. How do you react?

The old me would start to sweat. “Inefficiency! Irrational spending! A week of grocery money flying out the window! Must escape situation and be unhappy until inefficiency is resolved!”

The new me would react differently. “Hey! I recognize this situation. It’s one of those ‘lots of money’ deals, and money happens to be one of my specialties. While my friends are about to spend 10% of their entire net worth this evening, I will lose a negligible fraction of a percent, and still go to bed tonight further ahead than when I woke up. So I might as well have some fun with it, because my financial position is so secure.”

The key bit of wisdom here is to take the relaxed perspective of your future rich self, and transport it into your current frugal one. You don’t have to start deliberately spending more, just deliberately worrying less.

As an advanced Mustachian, Money is your specialty. You are an expert at earning and accumulating money, and not wasting it. It will never be a problem for you, and this is a rare and incredible advantage. But in order to maximize the advantage, you need to convince your naturally cautious mind to let go of worry and embrace the surplus. Start feeling rich. Allow yourself to laugh at your occasional mistakes and indulgences. Notice how much better life feels with this constant companion.

But then when you’re done reveling in your wealth, you can fold up that fat wallet of yours, return it to its designated pocket in the backpack and hop onto your commuter bike so you can get back to work.


  • Dividend Mantra May 29, 2014, 1:05 pm


    Another classic!

    I recently decided to give myself this greatest gift by quitting my full-time job in the auto business so that I could focus solely on writing, investing, reading, and other passions that require little or no money. I loved being able to save 50-70% of my net income every month, but I realized as you put it: I’m already out of the woods. Full financial independence will eventually come my way, but the path I’m on now will be slower and much more enjoyable. I’m taking the scenic route, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Once your finances are on auto-pilot, you’ve got some sizable income-producing assets providing you some wind to your sails, and your frugal muscles are being flexed regularly…the input through manual effort can be reduced somewhat.

    Best wishes!

    • MarciaB May 30, 2014, 8:02 am

      Hey DM – good for you! I’ve been enjoying following your blog and am thrilled for you that you’re on to a new phase. Huzzah!

      • Dividend Mantra May 30, 2014, 2:29 pm


        Thanks so much for that. Appreciate the encouragement very, very much!!

        Best wishes.

    • Pura Vida Nick May 30, 2014, 3:04 pm

      Dividend Mantra,

      I like that you’re taking the scenic route. Like you, I’m not fully financially independent yet but I admire that you took a leap of faith into the unknown so you can focus on other things. Good job!

      • Dividend Mantra June 1, 2014, 7:08 pm

        Pure Vida Nick,

        Thank you for the support!

        I think we always have to keep in mind our worst-case scenario. And when that scenario is simply going back to work, there’s not much to lose. :)

        Best wishes!

    • ThriftyD June 4, 2014, 12:18 pm


      What you wrote is spot on! Even though we’re not all completely financially independent yet and many of us are just beginning (myself included), just having that right mindset of striving towards financial independence brings complete contentment. We don’t feel we need to keep up with the rat race or live paycheck to paycheck like the majority of the middle class stressed out complainers. We’ve dialed it down so much and learn to appreciate all the joys that people stuck in that middle class rat race take for granted or can’t even stop to appreciate. The scenic route mindset washes over us and all our worries diappear.

    • M.A December 9, 2014, 1:37 am

      Hi Mr.MMM,
      You are awesome! We need to wake up every morning and get conditioned that we will not be brought down by Visa or Mastercard and we do not need to consume to ‘fit’ rather be financially independent. This is a VERY tough habit to form because the simple mind starts to think of oh the Rewards earned from that swipe and how simple the mind that takes seconds to judge someone who is carrying a $100-$250 MK purse rather than think of these other consumers as slaved to the market… and the mind suddenly wants to hit the mall and stroll around then get hungry buy a cup of SB and end up buying that coveted MK purse and a credit bill waiting for next month because you made the purchase after the current month’s statement… You have conditioned yourself at an early age and it takes a more philosophical approach as well which gets very tough when you are part of the society known for indulgence… Because of more people like you, you are changing simple minds to think more and pause before making any purchase. Thanks for this and will update my post once I have digested that ‘less is more’ concept. :-)
      – Consultant from Greater NHi Mr.MMM,
      You are awesome! We need to wake up every morning and get conditioned that we will not be brought down by Visa or Mastercard and we do not need to consume to ‘fit’ rather be financially independent. This is a VERY tough habit to form because the simple mind starts to think of oh the Rewards earned from that swipe and how simple the mind that takes seconds to judge someone who is carrying a $100-$250 MK purse rather than think of these other consumers as slaved to the market… and the mind suddenly wants to hit the mall and stroll around then get hungry buy a cup of SB and end up buying that coveted MK purse and a credit bill waiting for next month because you made the purchase after the current month’s statement… You have conditioned yourself at an early age and it takes a more philosophical approach as well which gets very tough when you are part of the society known for indulgence… Because of more people like you, you are changing simple minds to think more and pause before making any purchase. Thanks for this and will update my post once I have digested that ‘less is more’ concept. :-)
      – Consultant in NYC -

  • Lee Lau May 29, 2014, 1:09 pm

    The one thing I clued into as a young lawyer on articles getting paid a pittance to start was how insidious recurring expenses are that that become habitual or periodic payments either by sheer laziness or by peer pressure. Things like

    – going out for lunch (10 bucks a pop)
    – daily coffee ($ 3 a pop)
    – cell phone plan ($ 40/month)
    – your morning cinnamon buns ($ 2 each time)
    – Parking (300/mo)
    – monthly health and fitness club (60/month).

    Then when I started to think in after tax dollars suddenly riding my bike everywhere and not insuring the car became not an exercise in being an eco-hippie but was just fulfilling my self-imposed stereotype of cheap Aznness (approx 600/mo or 7200/year or approx 11k in after tax dollars – Canuck taxes approximation). Now that I realize the more politically correct term is Frugality or Mustachianness I guess that makes it a good trend and that after all MMM and I were just ahead of our time.

    Its been said before and will be said again but there’s so many more ways to get those little simple pleasures with just a minor bit of effort and that roll into huge savings down the line. Want a coffee? Make your own. Want a cinammon bun? Buy day-olds or make your own. Want to stay fit. Ride your bike you hippie!

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 30, 2014, 10:06 am

      Wow, great story Lee. $300 parking! I still like to use my rule of thumb: if you have to pay to park your car somewhere, it is a sign you have taken it somewhere that cars don’t belong.

      • Eldred May 30, 2014, 10:25 am

        HA! That’s pretty interesting thinking… :-)
        I wonder if that parking was related to home or work? I know in some places like New York residents have to pay for parking. When I worked for University of Michigan, we had to pay about $550 per year for a parking permit. We called it a ‘hunting license’, because that didn’t guarantee actually FINDING a spot in the lots.

        • Lee Lau May 30, 2014, 11:14 am

          Eldred – the parking was for work. If it was for home, I’d have gotten rid of the car. As it was I only insured the car in summer and didn’t drive it in winter.

          • Eldred May 30, 2014, 12:17 pm

            Wow, mine would have been just the opposite. If I was going to attempt ‘car-free’, it certainly wouldn’t be during the cold and lousy weather of the WINTER…

            • Lee Lau May 30, 2014, 1:17 pm

              Well I worked long hours because I was really into it. Knowing there wouldn’t be much time for exercise I made my commute into exercise and had lots of wet and cold weather riding gear so that was OK.

              In summer there’s more time to do stuff and I had a truck with a bed where I could sleep so I bike raced and car-pooled and could sleep in the truck bed anywhere for discreet dirtbagging.

              Probably would have been a tougher commute if it was really cold although I did bike commute in a Calgary winter for a work term in minus 30 till I discovered that bike lube and grease didn’t work real well when it got super cold.

          • Free at 55 June 3, 2014, 12:05 pm

            In Canada the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) – our IRS equivalent – is lobbying for legislation to make free parking at work a taxable benefit. The thinking is that employees that get their employers to cover parking expenses at third party lots in essence receive a taxable benefit. CRA is extending that logic to put their greedy little hands into the pockets of employees who park for free on the properties of their own workplace – even though it is not a paid parking lot! Another reason to live closer to work, and walk or bike. (I myself have not fully evolved yet, and still drive 10 minutes to work, but park for free.)

            • Diedra B June 5, 2014, 8:50 am

              down with the CRA! Next they’ll be taxing you for the rain that falls from the sky.

              • AB August 13, 2014, 12:04 pm

                The state of Maryland already taxes us on the rain!

      • Turner nation May 31, 2014, 1:11 am

        Ha ha that is funny, our last move we choose our placed based no car (everything walking bus) instead of two cars requiring parking spots. So this weekened had to do the Munich Frankfurt run (only 400k but very stressful, traffic road works etc) and it was WTF I am so not used to driving!!!!

        We went from 2 tanks or so a week to usually less than a tank a month. Not driving is freedom!

      • insourcelife June 2, 2014, 12:10 pm

        Nice rule of thumb! I try to avoid paying for parking like a plague but still manage to pay for it monthly. I commute 20 miles to work downtown and pay $50 per month for parking which is actually less than half the going rate. At this point there is no other sensible solution but I’m looking forward to the day when this annoying expense is banished.

        • danideskjob August 14, 2014, 2:24 pm

          $50/month for parking?! Goodness. Where I live it’s upwards of $28/day for parking downtown. That fact alone will keep me on public transit for the duration of my working years. Sure, it’s 2 hours on the bus every day, but I just can’t imagine being able to justify the parking expense.

          But fingers are crossed that you’ll be able to get rid of the expense soon!

  • Tara May 29, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Thanks, I needed that. Being a natural worrywart, even though I have «made it» and could go forever on the money I currently have, I continue to worry about money. You are absolutely right, I need to relax and deliberately worry less. No sense ruining all my hard work to get to this point only to spoil it with worry!

  • Jordan Read May 29, 2014, 1:21 pm

    Ah yes. This might stir up a bit of controversy over on the forums, but I think you’ve got it down. Frugality is the new Fanciness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean being almost militant about it (most of the time). Sure, there are things that really “grind my gears”, but I think the daily dose of understanding how far ahead we Mustachians are, is a great way to remind ourselves to relax.

    Life is freaking awesome!! Also, that fancy spreadsheet that shows us how far ahead we are should always have a column for fun, after all, why else are we doing this?

  • Eric May 29, 2014, 1:25 pm

    MMM, nice counterweight to some of the recent articles aimed primarily at new readers. You’re doing a nice job of maintaining the blog’s attractiveness for old and new readers alike.

  • Eldred May 29, 2014, 1:34 pm

    I’m wondering about this line: “Even if you’re just starting out, financial independence is less than ten years away,”
    How much are you talking about saving every month, and what’s the goal number at the end of that time? Looking at the paltry amount I could save every month(even if I did absolutely *nothing* for fun), It’s going to take me a lot more than 10 years, and maybe more than 20. And I’ll be 51 this year. :-(

    • PeachFuzzStacher May 29, 2014, 1:44 pm

      What I got from “ten years away” is that since you are mindful of making sure you are progressing forward in finances, your life will only continue to get better. Ten years from now, you will be drastically more equipped. Ex: You are saving paltry amounts now, but saving none-the-less, and know how to keep expenses low. Should you pursue any higher paying opportunity in the future, you know how to not blow it away on buying stupid things.

    • Josh May 29, 2014, 1:49 pm

      To sum this up from quite a few articles on here, what he is referring to is SPENDING PERCENTAGE versus INCOME.

      This is not based on an AMOUNT because the percentage works no matter what your income is.

      If you total combined spending is 25% of your take home pay and you save the other 75% (what being mustachian is all about) then financial independence is less than 10 years away, regardless of income.

      You can run the math on $100,000 and $10,000 – it will come out the same. Approximately 10 years later, your “savings” will make you $25,000 or $2,500 per year (respectively) in interest with conservative rates.

    • Cdub May 29, 2014, 2:00 pm

      It refers to the The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement post (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/) .

      If you are really serious about making the changes to save over 50% of your income then you can do it. Major lifestyle changes would need to happen. (moving, etc…)

      • Eldred May 29, 2014, 10:30 pm

        Thanks for that link. I could currently save about 25% of my take-home pay. I’m debt-free except for my house. Mortgage is about 25%, so if the house was already paid for that would get me to 50% savings rate. Unfortunately I can’t sell it, because I’m underwater. And I’d still need to pay rent or mortgage somewhere else, so the net wouldn’t quite be another 25%. However, I was recently able to get off the ARM I had, and get a fixed interest mortgage.
        My commute is currently about 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic and construction. When I was making $19K more a year, my commute was as high as 63 miles one way. I know I need to make more food at home instead of hitting fast food places as often as I do. It’s an addiction that I’m working on. I don’t really spend money on clothes, and I don’t have any kids or pets to spend money on. But do you guys spend money on *any* weekly fun activities? I like to bowl, and between dues and jackpots that’s about $400/mth. I occasionally WIN money, but that’s the amount I budget for. I can’t imagine NOT doing that, because I really don’t do anything else. I work, and I bowl. That’s pretty much my life…
        I’m also trying to sell a bunch of books, CDs, and DVDs to get some more money. Any suggestions on how to do that besides Amazon? Thanks!

        • Mari May 30, 2014, 7:38 am

          Besides Amazon there is Ebay and Ebay’s stepchild Half.com.

          • Eldred May 31, 2014, 8:51 pm

            Sorry, I should have mentioned those as well. I’ve had stuff on Amazon, Ebay, Half, Craigslist, and Ecrater. Sales have DIED. Either people just don’t buy books, CDs and DVDs anymore, or people just aren’t interested in MINE, even at $1 or less for most…

            • Mark AW June 3, 2014, 2:00 pm

              Donate them and claim them as a tax deduction. Based on your mortgage, you are probably itemizing already…

              • Eldred June 4, 2014, 6:41 am

                I may end up doing just that. If I ever decide to sell and get a less expensive place, it will probably be much smaller and I’ll have to eliminate the ‘clutter’.

        • clint May 30, 2014, 10:34 am

          Two things come to mind: Figure your mortgage principal portion as part of your savings right now and feel better about how much you are managing to save and how much more you’ll be saving tomorrow.

          And $400 a month to bowl is a luxury you can’t afford. Consider treating yourself to bowling every now and then and use the time away to consider other, maybe healthier activities, such as walking and biking. The health and savings benefits really do provide a rush, though maybe not at first.

          This coming from someone also turning 51 this year and still trying to cut out more of the monthly expenses to save more and retire worry-free.

          • TheGmain June 4, 2014, 12:02 pm

            Never heard the idea of using the principal portion of your mortgage in your savings calculation. It makes sense to me as I sit here and think of it. Is it a generally accepted practice to count this towards your savings percentage goal? Or — is it an “accounting” trick to help someone feel better about hitting their goals. I suppose in the end it doesn’t matter but I am very curious. Thanks!

        • Anne May 30, 2014, 11:58 am

          $400 a month is pretty spendy for bowling- could you cut back to a once a week league (or even two once a week leagues)? DH and I bowl weekly in a league and the more serious folks do 2-3, but if a league is charging more than $15-$20 a night the place $ pot is either way too big or the house is keeping way too much and it’s time to find a new one. So I’d cut back on (but not eliminate) bowling and use some of that time to develop your cooking skills, just about ANYTHING you make at home is going to be healthier (and cheaper) than fast food.

          • Eldred May 30, 2014, 12:27 pm

            I’m currently in three leagues, but only paying for two. The third league I was only supposed to be a sub on, but one of their bowlers went out with medical problems. Since they needed me to bowl, they paid for the spot. We did well this season, so they want me back in the fall as well. I’ve had other people who keep asking me to bowl, but I keep turning them down because I can’t afford that many leagues. I’d be bowling every night of the week if I accepted all the offers. But I love the competition of leagues and tournaments, and the social aspect of leagues.

            • nm_dude May 31, 2014, 9:28 am

              Eldred, I bowled regularly until a knee ligament sent me immediately into retirement, but the social aspect was indeed the best part of the “sport”. Can you turn some of the activity into a regular income? Turn some of the cost into some mustachian income? And cut one out of five or six jackpot tournaments that are your adrenaline rush? BTW, I was a 195 ave league bowler where most averaged over 200–understand it well. Here’s to your current and future spending and savings success!

              • Eldred May 31, 2014, 8:57 pm

                I don’t know how you’d make it regular income, since there’s no guarantee that you’ll win. You may bowl the best game of your life, but unless you roll 300 you can still be beaten. Currently I’m at a 221 average, which seems to be limbo. Too good to get pins for handicap jackpots, not good enough to roll 270+ to win the scratch jackpots. I’ll have to see what happens in the fall. I’m already committed to my Thursday league, and the Friday team will probably come back as well. But since that’s one I was paying for, I may tell them to put me as a sub and not a regular bowler. That’s $26 per week.

            • HattyT May 31, 2014, 9:03 pm

              I’ve heard of someone saving money bowling by signing up to be a substitute.
              Might you do more subbing and less regular league time?

              • Eldred May 31, 2014, 9:28 pm

                I’m actually a sub on a Monday league(the captain REALLY wants me to bowl full time, but I told her I can’t afford it. Same thing on a Sunday league. I’m also technically a sub on the Wednesday league, even though I bowled the majority of the season. And they know that I can’t afford to pay a regular spot, so they will probably pay the spot again this season. One problem I just thought of is that I bowl with the one guy on Wednesday as well as Friday. If I tell the Friday team I only want to be a sub, he might expect me to use that money to pay on Wednesday as a regular…

              • Tony June 2, 2014, 1:51 pm

                Why not make some money giving bowling lessons?

        • Danny June 2, 2014, 3:30 pm

          While I’m pretty frugal myself, I’m going to go against the trend and say keep on bowling if that’s your scene. You’re already nearly saving 50% of your income. The minimalist goal should be to maximize your happiness given your income, and inclusion in a social group that meets regularly is way more important to your happiness than extra money in the bank will be.

          In fact, “joining a group that meets just once a month produces the same increase in happiness as doubling your income” (source below). It would be foolish to sacrifice that just so you could quit working earlier – and retirement won’t make you happy if you aren’t already.

          That being said, there may be ways to reduce those costs without sacrificing your inclusion in the group.


          • Eldred June 3, 2014, 1:42 pm

            Hi Danny –
            No, I would only be able to save about 25% right now if I work on it. The 50% would be if I didn’t have a mortgage(or any lodging cost). But I *am* trying to brainstorm on how to increase that without giving up my life.

            • Danny June 3, 2014, 1:59 pm

              As others have pointed out, the principle you invest in your house is savings, though. A house is an asset! Investing $1000 in your house is similar to investing $1000 in the stock market. So make sure you count that in your percentage. After all, if you own your house outright, you’re much closer to early retirement because you have the bulk of your housing expenses covered.

              • Eldred June 3, 2014, 2:09 pm

                Oh, ok. I must have missed that(or misunderstood). Yeah, that makes sense.

              • Monica June 3, 2014, 2:15 pm

                I appreciate you saying that, Danny. I get frustrated sometimes with my mortgage here in Los Angeles. I have a great rate on a 15yr loan (2.75%) but the principal is high even for a modest home (<1300 sq/ft) because I have always made it a priority to live close to work (5 miles).

                I try to tell myself what you just said, that the principal I pay (plus addl each month) is a form of diversification. There has been really good appreciation on the house over the past 10 years and I lean towards wanting to relocate somewhere nicer/greener/cheaper but it's a lil scary as I was born and raised in this town…

                Still knowing that most of 1/3 of my income is not just getting incinerated and is mostly invested is a reassuring thought.

        • tlord June 7, 2014, 2:49 pm

          $400 for bowling, per month?!

          Hey, $400 is less than I’ve spent on a lot of things — I have no moral high ground on which to stand to complain; your life, your priorities, etc. But it sure sounds like a lot to me! How does that break down?

          When I was in Seattle, I bowled weekly (well, I probably got there 2-3 times each month) with friends, at an alley where several friends and I were part of what was technically a league team, but we only gathered to bowl and spend time in common, not to play other teams. A few bucks a game, occasionally went in on some fries or other healthfood … More than $10 would have been the rare exception, but that’s because I rarely played more than 3 games. Might have spent $10-15 some weeks on a social gathering before or after, but not often.

          (I used the lane’s house bowling balls, and my shoes were inexpensive ones, though I definitely came out ahead vs. rentals … they were also to me a lot better looking than most ;)) Probably about half my friends there had their own bowling balls; I thought about it and might one day make that plunge, but I haven’t been bowling for a while and that group in particular sort of dissolved after many years of fun.)

          At the way I was doing it, $4800 would have kept me in bowling until retirement ;)

          • Eldred June 9, 2014, 8:18 am

            Dues for my Thursday league are $20/wk, and I may spend $20-$50 on jackpots. Dues for the Friday league are $26/week, and I may spend $17-$30 on jackpots. That’s actually MORE than $400 per month, but I usually use winnings to make up the shortfall. Either that, or I won’t get in all the jackpots in a given week. But even that pales in comparison to the Monday league I sub in – $20 dues, about $90 if you get in all the regular jackpots, and $1 for every partner you have in mixed doubles.

        • Kenoryn June 19, 2014, 9:57 am

          Sounds like you could use to diversify your hobbies. :) After all, once you retire you’ll have a lot more free time for them! My personal favourite is veggie gardening – both rewarding and profitable! Easy and cheap to get started in, learn as you go. Not a very social hobby though. For social hobbies, if you have any musical inclination, I recommend learning an instrument. An up-front cost to buy an instrument, but then you can learn for free, learn with others who are learning, join groups, join ensembles, get together with friends and jam, etc., all free. Or if you get good at it, you can make money from it. The mandolin player in my band is 50, and has been playing about 8 years. We make about $25-$75 each per show we play.

          Another good one is construction. Learning construction skills is a good investment in your ability to take care of yourself, and allows you to invest in your house. It’s also quite social because you’ll find everyone wants help from people with these skills, and you can collaborate on projects, and people will pay/trade you things for them, plus you can volunteer on community projects. Also very rewarding. Maybe you could start by air sealing/insulating your house, and cut utility bills as well!

          • Eldred June 19, 2014, 12:18 pm

            Actually, I *am* a musician. I play guitar, bass, keys, and drums. In fact, a guy I was in a band with 20 years ago asked me to play bass for a couple of shows that his regular bass player can’t do. I’ve also been talking with a couple of guys about putting together a project that can play some gigs every once in a while. As for insulating the house, I figure I’d have to hire that one out – at least sealing around my basement at the sill plate. I couldn’t do the professional expanding foam, and it’s too much for spray cans. And I don’t have the experience to do the blown-in insulation for the walls. I may try to find a machine for the blown-in cellulose in the attic, though.

    • Wagy May 29, 2014, 2:02 pm

      In one post (perhaps many more), MMM talks about saving/investing 5K per month-minimal. At first I looked at our spending and said – holy heck, how will we do that – and then I made it a goal I knew we could accomplish, and in May we put away almost 6K, and the plan is for the same or more in June. Gotta figure it out and go for it. Ridiculous confidence is necessary.

      • Eldred May 30, 2014, 7:36 am

        Yeah – I don’t even MAKE $5K in a month. Right now I’m trying to get to savings of $1K per month, which would be about 1/3 of my net. I would consider that a victory, then I could go from there…

        • George Baldwin May 30, 2014, 2:12 pm

          No worries boss. I only make about 3k a month and save 2k. The good thing is that it is not about how much money you make, it is about what percentage you save.

          • Eldred May 31, 2014, 9:08 pm

            How are you living on only $1000 per month? That’s amazing! Do you have to pay rent/mortgage? Seems like rent, utilities, and food *alone* would be more than that, and that doesn’t even count transportation… Right now: Mortgage is $820, utilities are $456, food is $200, fuel is anywhere from $200-500 depending on what else I have going on that month. A couple of years ago, I had to budget $600 for fuel just for my commute(63 miles one way). Now I’m working 13 miles from home, and was lucky to find THAT.

            • Fred Tracy June 6, 2014, 9:14 am

              I also only live in $1000 a month. Actually, my mandatory expenses are probably like 5-600. It depends on where you live..

              For example, my mortgage is $232, but I rent out a room in my house for $300 a month. One of the benefits of living in an area where housing is really cheap.

              Utilities are typically about $100 total, split in two. Food is what I splurge on. But I live 20 miles from work and gas is still only maybe $100, though I drive a Prius.

              My budget including about $300 of “fun” spending is still under $950. I would not tolerate an $820 mortgage or that level of fuel (or utility) costs, but then again, you may have a family or just enjoy having a nicer house.

              $2000 a month really isn’t bad at all compared to most folks.

              • Eldred June 10, 2014, 8:44 am

                Wow – $232 for mortgage?!? I couldn’t even get a studio apartment for that low…in the ‘bad area’ of town…
                That $820 is for a 3BR, 1400 sqft ranch-style house in a suburb of Detroit. No family. I’m still amazed at how low some of you guys can get your utility bills. It’s not like I have wild disco parties every weekend or anything. $100 for elec and gas? Awesome…!

              • Marie June 12, 2014, 6:06 pm


                I’m in Michigan too!

                I live in an apartment, though I’m thinking about finding a small house. Gas in the winter is pretty expensive.

                I looked at your numbers, and I have a suggestion. Mr. M’s early posts talked about how to drop utilities bills – things like switching your cell phone plan to a Airvoice or Republic Wireless plan (spend $25 a month and save $40), also cutting your cable/internet down to just interet ($20 a month instead of $120), air drying your clothes and keeping your tv unplugged when you arent using it (electricity savings, I pay $15 per month in electricity for my laptop and refrigerator and occasional night lamp), possibly consider dropping netflix and downloading movies/shows of Pirate Bay (not Mr M suggestion but is my suggestion), etc.

                If you implement some of these things your utilities can drop to $105 ish.

                The utilities cost breaks down to:
                $120 – gas for the house (summer, $20)
                $110 – electric (40)
                $65 – cell phone ($25)
                $21 – netflix (0)
                $140 – cable/internet (20)
                $456 – total
                The $120 is my ‘budget plan’ payment, and the electricity is my self-imposed budget plan. Current month’s bill is $81, so I may drop the budget to $90 for a few months.

                I’ve been reading Mr M for over a year now, the first 6 months were fuzzy as I was working full time and totally discouraged about finances, but then I sold my car, moved to a new city, started biking, realized how little money I spend beyond food and housing, and have started to understand the fun of having my money pile.

                So good luck to you! I’m always inspired when I see new people on the blog! Maybe you can consider finding a roommate, that would make your finances much easier!


            • Jeff Y June 6, 2014, 10:30 am

              Eldred – I’m guessing either he has paid off his mortgage or is counting the principal as savings.

              Of the costs you listed above, two things jumped out at me. First, that seems really high for a utility bill. We just got our May utility bill and it was just over $30. Granted, we live in an apartment, but we also try to avoid turning the heater/cooler on. During the summer, we open the windows at night, and during the day we use a standing fan if it gets too hot. Second, your fuel cost seems high (especially the upper end of the range). What kind of driving do you do (other than your 13 mile commute)?

              • Eldred June 9, 2014, 8:05 am

                The utilities cost breaks down to:
                $120 – gas for the house
                $110 – electric
                $65 – cell phone
                $21 – netflix
                $140 – cable/internet
                $456 – total
                The $120 is my ‘budget plan’ payment, and the electricity is my self-imposed budget plan. Current month’s bill is $81, so I may drop the budget to $90 for a few months. My house is not very well insulated, so that’s the cause of the high gas bills…

              • Eldred June 10, 2014, 8:48 am

                I just realized I never responded to the driving part. April and May I tend to do more driving(tournaments and rocket launches). And besides work, I have my bowling leagues and trips to cemeteries to help those doing genealogy research. But overall, I’m home much of the time, plopped in front of my computer. Maybe I should keep a driving log, just out of curiosity.

            • Eldred June 20, 2014, 2:10 pm

              Odd – it wouldn’t let me respond directly to Marie…
              Not sure how you’re dropping my heating cost from $120 to $20. Sure, it might be only $20 in the summer, but the winter goes back to $200+. So the $120 budget plan means I can afford it year-round. But I’ve considered dropping cable TV – if I could watch the Formula 1 races(and other auto races) some other way, I’d probably cancel it. I’m trying to figure out how you only use $15 in electricity? I don’t think a clothes dryer uses THAT much electricity. At least I *hope* not. I’ve swapped out all my incandescent for CFL. Not sure I’ve seen a decrease in the bill from that, because I’m good about turning off lights when I leave a room. I may drop cable and keep netflix, but my internet is still going to be about $50 through Comcast. Every little bit helps, though. We’ll see how the summer goes with energy savings..

        • Turner Nation May 31, 2014, 2:04 am

          It makes a big difference where you live, Garth had this to say in his latest blog post (greaterfool.ca)

          Miles away (3,600 of them, actually), lives Stephen. He and his wife don’t earn $170,000. In fact, the household income is just $45,000. But on Grand Manan Island, an idyllic bump in the Bay of Fundy on the NB/Maine border, that’s enough to accomplish what Marie only dreams of.

          “I am 27 years old and my wife and I have two children, ages 1 and 2. We drive a paid for car and have 11 years left on our mortgage (which was originally 15 years after placing 20% down). We also have 6 months emergency savings. My wife and I live a financially responsible, frugal lifestyle. Currently I have 25% taxes withheld from my pay, then CPP and EI are taken out, leaving me with around 69% of my income to live on. My wife and I believe in giving 10% to our church (religious or not, all financial experts believe that giving is part of a healthy financial plan) and we put 10% of our income into a retirement plan.”

    • Carlos May 29, 2014, 2:08 pm

      Time to financial independence is primarily determined by your savings rate. I believe 75% gives you 5 years, 50% gives you about 20. I don’t have a reference on hand so the figures may be off.

  • Brett May 29, 2014, 1:42 pm

    Nice article! Really inspiring for the early days of my journey. Its easy to get caught up in pessimistic market return forecasts and worrying about (relatively) small unavoidable purchases. Good reminder that I’m already way ahead of the game, and nothing is realistically going to be able to stop me.

  • LAL May 29, 2014, 1:47 pm

    I know people talk about the latte factor, but seriously to me it’s always been about the big ticket items. Buying a car with a $500 payment. Or a huge house? Or commuting 1 hour+ and spending $1k/month in gas. Or a nanny + daycare because you work so much you can’t do pick up and drop offs at daycare.

    • Mike M May 29, 2014, 6:53 pm

      It’s both, really. I mean, you’re absolutely right – choosing your house, your car, and your mortgage wisely is easily the most important thing you can do to get on the right track. And they’re big ticket items that you don’t have to revisit every day. But bullshit like lattes, restaurants, unnecessary clothing, gadgets, subscriptions, and cell phone plans can easily total into the hundreds upon hundreds of dollars per month.

      • Diedra B June 5, 2014, 9:43 am

        Mike you’re totally right. Everything adds up. With some crazy life stuff happening over the past couple of months I was stunned to see our food bill approaching $900 for just one month. Know why? Paying others to cook our food for us.

    • Turner Nation May 31, 2014, 2:10 am

      Funny you’d mention that as Elizabeth Warren talks about that extensively in her book, the two income trap and it’s flat out wrong that wrong that the middle class is going broke because they spend too much at the mall. The reason people are going broke is because they want good school districts for their kids and horror of horrors healthcare.

      That book totally transformed my thinking, but I’m glad I read after MMMs blog as it is somewhat depressing.

      Still highly recommended reading.


  • Kirk May 29, 2014, 1:49 pm

    I took a bus to work when I used to work downtown, . Every second winter a blizzard would roll in midday and around 1pm management would finally tell us to go home. I found out the first winter that bus drivers don’t necessarily come in to work on blizzard days, and bus schedules are never met. I was out in the cold for three hours before a bus came by. The next blizzard was different. After being dismissed, I walked several blocks to the nearest hotel, found a cab, and took an easy ride home. That one ride cost me more than a month of bus fares, an enormous expense which I could have sweated, except I had built that cab fare into the yearly commute budget. Looking out the back window of that taxi, I enjoyed that winter afternoon while all the other drivers cursed their slow slippery commute.

    • Chad Brick June 1, 2014, 1:53 am

      I once jogged 1.5 miles in my work-casual clothes during a typhoon because the train had been shut down. I was NOT going to wait 1.5 hours in line at the taxi stand and pay $15 in order to save myself a drenching. In hindsight, it was kind of funny anyway.

  • Mrs PoP May 29, 2014, 1:50 pm

    Mr PoP is great at reminding me about this kind of stuff. When we hit something unexpected or unaccounted for, I let it get to me more than I should sometimes, but he’s always the one saying “This is so far beyond a rounding error to us. It’s beyond worth stressing out about since it’s already done and unavoidable.”

    Together, I think we reach the balance where optimizing is best done in the planning/before stage, and living without worry is best done in the moment.

    • Hannah June 2, 2014, 8:51 am

      I always get bent out of shape when a budgeting mistake or emergency spending is my fault, and my husband gets bent out of shape when its his fault. We try to remind each other of the fact that we put ourselves on solid financial footing so that we don’t have to get angry about this stuff- I think that its helping us.

      In the last few months we forgot about his school fees, had a computer die (’04 it had a good run), had to buy two plane tickets home for a funeral, and forgot about some upfront costs associated with selling our place in Minneapolis. Despite each of these several hundred dollar expenses, we’ve realized that our frugality the rest of the time made it possible to absorb these easily.

      No, its not the same as going out for drinks or whatever, but it is nice to not have to worry about money even when you are in a one income + daycare expenses situation.

  • Oh Yonghao May 29, 2014, 1:50 pm

    This has been a struggle for myself. I remember my first budget was pulled so tight I constantly worried about money, but at the same time spent countless hours projecting how much I will have saved up in x months or y years. I kept turning down invitations to restaurants or movies and quietly socked away more money.

    An epiphany hit me one day when I realized that my budget could have one more category, I call this the “Fun” category. I put $75 a month into this category and when we want to go do something fun we dip into this and don’t worry about the money so much. We’ve gone to Sushi restaurants, wine tastings, the occasional movie. Sometimes fun is getting that antique desk my sweetheart has been wanting, or going out camping.

    Last night I had fun going out to a small bar with a bunch of other Mustachians and Mr. Money Mustache himself. Using his formula for what this costs is about $13k in 10 years for $75/mo worth of worry free fun. I find that doing these activities less often actually makes them more fun and memorable. Imagine going out every day for sushi, you might get bored of it, or even going every week, it just becomes routine. Not only that it costs a lot more than once a year. What we do is make the free or very inexpensive things the normal padding in our fun and save the expensive fancypants dinner out as the special occasion.

  • Wagy May 29, 2014, 1:59 pm

    The less worry my husband and I have over money, the more opportunties open up for us to make money. It’s truly wonderful to cut out the expenses and open up the doors for additional income generating opportunities. Now I’m picking projects to be a part of my life, not for the $ but for the challenge. I thankfully am learning to stop going after the cash, & now it’s about LIVING DA LIFE while stashing the cash! Wonderful article – as always. PS – I love love love the RANDOM button!

  • Catherine Marie May 29, 2014, 2:01 pm

    Mr. Money Mustache;
    You don’t know me, but you’re fast becoming one of my best friends!
    I’ve been lingering around here for a while but have yet to post anything until now. Thanks for changing my behaviours and opening my eyes to my spendy, dumb-ass ways. I’m on board 110% now, and this article has solidified things for me once again. I feel safe and secure under your pr0tective guidance, and under the toasty umbrella of money I’m building for myself. Merci!

  • Adam May 29, 2014, 2:10 pm

    Thank you for writing this! Very refreshing. As someone a year into mustachery (celebrate my one-year stubble next month), I’m often too absorbed with my balance sheet… I can’t see the forest when I’m inspecting every goddamn tree with a magnifying glass!

    I just need to kick ass 95% of the time, and I’m good as gold. :)

  • LandonT May 29, 2014, 2:15 pm

    Yeah MMM! I stumbled onto a $9000+ tax bill this year due to some bonuses and long term incentives that weren’t taxed at the time I received them (my RRSPs are already maxed out). At first I was shocked, but I realized that if I just transferred a bit of money from another account I could pay off even a $9000 surprise without much worry. I think the average person would have spent all the money they were earning to create a $9000 tax bill and would have been put in a bad financial situation come tax time. My mustachian ways (big thanks to MMM!) allowed me to sail on through and watch my investment accounts continue to grow.

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods May 29, 2014, 2:15 pm

    This resonates with me–I often say that Mr. Frugalwoods and I don’t “worry” about money, because we don’t worry about how much money we have (plenty, thanks to extensive saving and investing), but I DO fall victim to worrying about spending money when I don’t want to. We had to take a $30 cab ride home from the airport the other day (it was too late to take the bus) and I’ve been fretting about it ever since.

    I should review all of our spreadsheets and sigh with relief. Yes, we ARE still on the right track–unwanted cab rides included. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement!

  • Melissa May 29, 2014, 2:16 pm

    I know that I can get a bit obsessed with not spending money sometimes and if an unexpected bill comes up I can see that months saving rate dropping down. Recently, I have tried to “let my hair down a little bit” as I kinda figured that I am probably saving a hell of a lot more than my friends and work colleagues are so I am not doing so bad after all!

  • FI Pilgrim May 29, 2014, 2:25 pm

    While I agree with everything you say, the hard part for me is actually “letting go” after so many years of saying “ahh! money pit!” to myself. Some things are obviously an entire waste of time, energy, and/or money, but other niceties like you mentioned are OK if you are financially independent and understand how it fits.

    Convincing myself of this is going to be very difficult though.

  • CT May 29, 2014, 2:32 pm

    The timing of this post is perfect. I still have to practice calming myself but you have reminded me that I have come a long way. Just last week I found out i wasted about $168 + tax on my car. It is an old VW from the last century and here in CA needed to pass emissions (test $29). Well, being a new resident of CA I took the car to be tested and it failed. Once it fails state law requires a “failure” report to be generated ($139 extra) right then. A failure also forces the repair at a state endorsed “Star Smog Station”. So off to the “Star” I went. The guy there was real nice to me and gently told me that state requires a “Star” smog test (can’t use the other report) and then the “Star” fail report again too. There were several other customers there standing around who lamented with me & started to complain. The attendant again apologized for the wasted money, I just said– lesson learned and that for now on I will start at the “Star” station. The good news is that the repair itself was only $8.25. Not too long ago I would have lost sleep over it. Here’s the kicker the car failed because it was running too lean–meaning the gas mileage was too high. Oy ve!

    • doug May 29, 2014, 8:05 pm

      Running too lean doesnt mean you are getting extra mpg. It means extra air is making it into your cylinders and the computer compensates by adding extra fuel. So your mpg actually drops.

      • 9 O'Clock Shadow May 30, 2014, 8:41 am

        Running lean for me meant that there was not enough fuel going into the cylinders, allowing combustion to reach very high temperatures = more NO2’s. I failed the Ontario Smog Test because the high temps basically melted my catalytic converter. Cause? I hit a dead raccoon on the highway at night and it destroyed my front oxygen sensor, which sent my Volvo into default high Oxygen save-the-warp-drive settings.

        I think you’re right about the mileage though – lower net fuel was burned, so I probably had less power and definitely did not get higher mileage.

        MMM – there have been a few posts about cars – could you do a “Who Are the Mustacians?” type post called “What do Mustacians drive?” I think a sizeable proportion of us would learn a lot – and possible change for the better as well.

        BTW I think you’re 2-3 posts away from Levitating.

      • CT May 30, 2014, 6:36 pm

        I hope that’s the case because my current mileage is about 30mpg. Getting more mpg would be awesome. Almost make me want to drive more ;0

        • Joggernot June 11, 2014, 6:58 pm

          Try going to ecomodder.com and looking at the top for driving hints to gain mpg. There is a wealth of information there for the reading.

  • Rand McNalley May 29, 2014, 2:51 pm

    I love this advice and have made big changes in the last 18 months (largely thanks to this site and what it inspired) however there remains one problem. No matter how frugal I try and be, there still has to be a certain, minimum amount of money to pay the bills. (no cable, no car payments) Mainly, mortgage, utilities food. I’d love some help of how I can earn just a little more.

  • BNL May 29, 2014, 3:12 pm

    Thanks for the reminder, MMM.

    I was just shopping Craiglist for a new (used) guitar, and had my normal response of “ugh! I hate spending money, is this worth it?” Then I reminded myself that I’m rich and retired, and a one time expense on a used item that I’ll likely sell in a few years for a similar price after many hours of fun bonding with my kids isn’t such a bad thing. This is a line of thinking that isn’t at all natural for me, but the more used to it I get (while not going overboard) is kinda fun. :)

  • Widerhaken May 29, 2014, 3:31 pm

    The one aspect of these splurges you failed to address is ensuring that they don’t become regular expenses. Sure, spending an unexpected $100 on a night out with friends isn’t that meaningful, but doing it every week or month adds up fast and is suddenly meaningful.

  • Three Wolf Moon May 29, 2014, 3:53 pm

    I remember when I stopped worrying about money. It was a few years ago, and it happened when we got the last of our monthly bills set up for automatic payments from our checking account. After a few months I noticed that no matter how loose we got with our (mostly frugal) spending, I still had to move some money into investments to keep the checking account from getting a silly amount built up in it. Life is good!

    Also, noticing the recurring plug in the article against ridiculous car commutes, I came across this story (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/29/steep-economic-toll-of-crashes/9715893/) during my brief check of the news today – thought it might serve as another reminder to those who feel unsafe commuting on bikes that being in a car isn’t all that safe either…

  • Mr. 1500 May 29, 2014, 4:08 pm

    Despite having a net worth (including non-investment assets) of over $1,000,000, I worry about money daily. My parents weren’t good with money, so it was a constant struggle growing up. It sucked.

    Even now when I can see my parents’ problem was (is) severe lifestyle inflation, the fear of not having money terrorizes me. When I have nightmares and wake up in a cold sweat, I’m not falling or naked in public, I’m broke.

    While I hope to get over this someday, it’s also powerful if you channel it right. I channeled it into my investment and savings accounts.

  • jlcollinsnh May 29, 2014, 4:20 pm

    Early this week my wife decided she needed a coffee to go in the morning. So she pour some from the pot she’d made into a travel mug and set it aside. And promptly forgot it when she left. She doesn’t usually take coffee to go.

    That night she complained about having forgotten it. Our daughter, who is home visiting, said “Why didn’t you pick up a cup from Dunkin’ Donuts?”

    She said, “I don’t buy coffees from those places.”

    Now at this point in our lives we can buy pretty much anything we want. No small part of the reason is that we never fell into the habit of wasteful spending. And we learned if you forget the coffee at home, going without is no big deal.

    Of course, as this post so eloquently points out, if you avoid wasteful spending in the beginning you wind up with a purse that continuously replenishes itself when ever you chose to spend.

    I kinda wish she’d gone ahead and bought the coffee if she’d wanted it. She’s earned the right.

    But I’m glad she didn’t do it in front of the children. :-)

    • Angela May 29, 2014, 5:28 pm

      The last line in your comment made me laugh.

      Great article and perfect timing. Today I bought lunch at Quiznos and I was thinking I shouldn’t be in here, it costs too much money. The thing is I am a PB sandwich girl and I have brought my lunch to school and now work for the last 12 years almost every single day. You are right, it is okay to spend excessive amounts on lunch every once in a while. ; )

    • Maverick May 30, 2014, 2:39 pm

      jlcollinsnh: So your daughter hasn’t adopted your financial ideas in your letter to her yet? :)

    • MJB November 20, 2014, 8:25 am

      Super helpful example, JD. In recent weeks I’ve been mercilously making over our household budget (much thanks to MMM and yourself), which included reducing our weekly dining out (fun money) allowance to $50. Here in Minneapolis, there’s an explosion of James Beard quality corner restaurants. It’s cold, and we need to get out of the house from time to time, so you can see the inevitable situation…

      My wife is along for the makeover journey, which is great, but is concerned about going as low as $50/week. Did I mention we can easily *walk* to a half dozen of the tempting eateries?? At any rate, good to see we’re not alone in the struggle to balance these admittedly fun experiences vs. radical savings (and freedom!) We’re now challenging ourselves to find cheap date night offers – and avoiding the latest craze I’ll never understand, of $12 craft cocktails (*choking from the absurdity of THAT one!*)

  • Neil May 29, 2014, 5:57 pm

    This seems like somewhat dangerous advice. While I’ve started down the mustachian road, I do sometimes find that not worrying much can cause a less than ideal results. Yes, I can save more every month than most do in a year, but it’s still well below the 50% or so required for the awesome graphs to apply (more like 30%). I’m not sure how I feel about that, since my life is pretty awesome in its current state, it definitely means more working years than ideal. Worrying more now could make the difference between early retirement at 40 and early retirement in the more typical 50-55 range.

    • Jen G May 29, 2014, 11:01 pm

      I guess it depends who is reading. It is perfect advice for someone like me who is well on their way to financial independence (many would claim we have arrived) but spends way too much time stressing about finances and whether I’ve lived frugally enough that day. Time and energy that I can’t ever get back. It isn’t healthy when you have to check your net worth spreadsheet in order to calm yourself down…regularly, sometimes daily. This article was a great reality check for me.

    • Danny June 2, 2014, 3:59 pm

      You should look into a philosophy like stoicism and learn how to not worry. Work hard and do your best to prepare, but try not to worry about the whims of fortune. In fact, worrying is irrational: it involves trying to control things you cannot possibly control. Freeing yourself from anxiety makes you better suited to actually address things you do have control over.

      Who ends up doing better on a test: the person who stresses out about it well in advance and then frantically crams at the last minute, or the guy who quietly studies for it 30 minutes a day for a month in advance? The latter guy is probably much happier with his life, too.

      Here’s a relevant MMM article: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/07/how-big-is-your-circle-of-control/

  • aaron barton May 29, 2014, 6:11 pm

    Like I always tell my friends: I worry about money so I don’t have to.

    • Eldred May 30, 2014, 7:40 am

      Dave Ramsey: “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else…”

  • Mr Michael Musctachio May 29, 2014, 6:25 pm

    Can you write an article on how to handle family members that do not share our views of extreme early retirement?- One of my biggest early retirement fears is the expectation that I will be bailing out other family members that are irresponsible w finances that live month to month. I have several family members that perpetually borrow money from my parents. I expect their requests to shift to me if I my early retirement plans become known. Kind of like the family members that come out of the woodwork when someone wins the lottery. These are a few of the issues I anticipate if I tell people about early retirement- I am afraid that if these things come up and I stand my ground it will cause resentment and money may drive a wedge between my extended family- Just curious if anyone in early retirement has experienced any of these??? Thanks

    • Mr. 1500 May 30, 2014, 6:53 am

      I deal with the same nonsense. My family knows I”m doing well, so they seem to think that it’s OK to let me pay for stuff.

      I don’t have one real good solution for you, but some random suggestions. Lay down the law the first time they ask. If they ask to borrow money, gently steer them to Prosper or Lending Club. Offer help with the loan application process. When my family says, “Let’s go out to eat!”, I respond with, “We already have dinner planned at home. Want to join us?” I also like to point out to most of the people who want to borrow money that they have nicer cars (“You could trade in that new Accord for a used Civic!”). After a while, they seem to get the message.

      • The roamer May 30, 2014, 8:15 am

        Wow that’s great advice. I am also worried about that stuff specially since my sibling and parents don’t save. Sigh. Now if I could figure out how to cut the cord with someone I’m already helping. The conversation on the forum about what is your responsibility financially to family really hit home. It’s difficult to help people who don’t want to help themselves and at the same time are making you miss out on your own family because if the extra financial requirements… Ugh pit in my stomach just thinking about it. Thanks mr 1500 this will help me prevent future requests.

      • Mr Michael Mustachio May 30, 2014, 3:21 pm

        Thanks for all of the great suggestions! This is very helpful!! I try to help by encouraging them and trying to provide general advice about their situation also recommending books to read that will teach them about living a more frugal lifestyle. I am pretty sure I will be asked for assistance when I semi-retire- However I am not an enabler of their behavior and will not be responsible for their irresponsibility.

        In addition to financial assistance from time to time, my parents cover a lot of the expenses when they visit “out of guilt they won’t get to see their grandkids” which isn’t too bad 1X/year. I recommend that my parents only travel to visit them and not encourage this too often or it will be expected of them every visit.
        I will also recommend Lending Club to my parents as a means to end the personal loans that become gifts…

    • Keith Schroeder May 30, 2014, 9:14 am


      Just because someone asks you to borrow them money doesn’t mean you must do it. Saying “no” to such a request is the greatest gift you can give them.

      MMM already wrote a post on your topic if interest:



      • ms.b May 30, 2014, 11:30 am

        I really liked this post, because I have actually had NIGHTMARES about winning the lottery due to the very issue of family members. lol

        However, since I’ve been slowly converting (I’m a very low income non profit worker trying to morph out of the car (necessary now, but working on it) and silly commute lifestyle. A little tough since I work in bad neighborhoods where I feel useful, but am not committed enough to actually live in them.
        I had a turn on the family mooching idea though. I’ve had the funny circumstance that my siblings are such ridiculous blowers of money that when I balk at spending money stupidly, they think I’m broke and try to give me some!
        My category of expenses I hate are the family dinners to really crappy places, like Shoneys and Denny’s. A good dinner I will pay for, but why pay 10 bucks for crap I could make better at home? Drives me NUTS.

      • HealthyWealthyExpat May 31, 2014, 1:32 am

        Yes, I think all “loans” to close friends or family members should come with the expectation that they won’t be paid back. A few years ago we had a friend in dire need and we decided to give her some money. We never expected to get it back and haven’t yet. But since we decided at the outset that we wanted to help her and did not expect the money back, there is no remorse and our relationship is good. Maybe some day she will pay us back when she is in a better financial position. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter.

        However, when asking for a “loan” is a clearly recurring event, use the most important word that you can ever learn: “No!” Offering advice in finding a solution will be a much better long-term solution. As the saying goes, “Teach them to fish…”

    • GizmoTX May 30, 2014, 1:15 pm

      Are the “borrowers” actually repaying those “loans”? We had to learn that payments to family members should always be considered gifts and decide accordingly. Trust me, the resentment & changed attitude happens regardless of whether you help or not. Stand your ground. You worked for what you have.

    • Miser Mom May 31, 2014, 1:36 pm

      I’m going to agree with Mr. 1500 up there about pointing at belongings. If you can honestly say that these people are spending money for cable/cars/alcohol/whatever that you don’t indulge in, it’s easier to say no.

      Only once or twice I’ve had my grown kids ask me for extra money. One daughter (not legally my daughter; we’re helping support her because she has no other family) got a bunch of money from us to help with incidental school expenses. But when she started hinting that wasn’t enough, I gently pointed out that she was spending some of her money on trips with friends and meals at restaurants. I explained that we don’t spend money on ourselves in that way right now, so it doesn’t make sense for us to spend money on someone else in that way either. (But we’d be glad to help her get a job, cook meals at home, blah blah). She hasn’t asked since, and she isn’t at all resentful.

      • mable June 1, 2014, 3:47 pm

        Part of the reason we could retire early is that my husband worked in the arctic, in unbelievably harsh conditions and so was subjected to 70 below ambient and 130 or more below wind chills. When people ask to borrow, I imagine him out there, working a job he hated in order to give us financial security( I worked, too, but at a normal job and made far less but I was also in charge of squeezing every penny out of what we did earn). I tell the person asking for money that I did not watch my husband endanger his life and health in order to fund anyone else’s life—back then or now. It makes it much easier for me to turn away from requests. The one exception was when a sibling was very badly injured in a bike accident—we paid his deductibles because although he had savings they quickly ran out in the face of all the medical stuff insurance would not cover. He had planned and saved, it was just that none of us realized the true costs of being ill/injured. I will not, however, cover the cable/iPhone/vacation “needs” of someone else with the blood sweat and tears of my husband’s labors.

        • Lisa June 2, 2014, 1:11 pm

          Mabel that is beautiful! Precisely how I feel about my husband’s military service. He didn’t do 2 years in a war zone and continue to work 60 hour work weeks stateside for that money to be frittered away.

    • Hugerat June 3, 2014, 9:02 am

      Coming a little late to this discussion. My idea of family may differ from yours, and I know you mentioned that this is immediate family for you so that makes it harder. But family for me means people who respect eachother and family members should never make improper or unfair requests of eachother. You shouldn’t feel the least bit guilty to politely but firmly decline these requests and stating exactly why you are doing so. People who would take advantage of you are no family at all.

      • Captain Flavor Savor June 5, 2014, 8:51 pm

        This has been a big concern of mine as well particularly my 80 year old father who has little savings and not long term care insurance. I am his only cushion and have given him emergency cash when needed as he recently went through a nasty divorce, heart attack, etc

  • Devin May 29, 2014, 7:05 pm

    The art is in the balance of being mindful, but not to the point of worry. This is what I would tell my younger self. It probably would have freed up the time used on excel sheets and calculations and permutations that always said the same thing. YOU ARE OK. Just stop and relish in the moment and then move on to having some enjoyment. Perspective is invaluable in times like these. Better to learn it no in my thirties than twenty years later.

  • Erin May 29, 2014, 7:36 pm

    Excellent timing. Took a trip this last weekend with my husband on a budget airline, staying at a $10/night hotel where we opted for the fan instead of AC (we live and travel in Thailand), and were planning on meals averaging $1.33 per person. When we arrived at the airport we realized he had planned on checking a bag (which he always does in business trips and gets reimbursed). No big deal, throw away the full-size toothpaste, no major loss. Except, he had packed his ultra-manly utilitarian save anyone from death at a moment’s notice pocket knife, which he loves, and also cost $50 (I won’t get into that). So we checked a bag for there and back for $38.
    It’s the unnecessary dollars spent that drive me the most crazy, and I may have reiterated that to the poor guy a time or two, but in reality and compared to the big picture, not a big deal. We’re so lucky that those types of expenditures don’t set us back or make any real significant difference in our lives. It’s just money, not happiness.
    Thanks for the timely post. We snapped a picture we think you’ll like and will send it over soon.

    • Maverick May 30, 2014, 2:36 pm

      I have Swiss Army knife/money clip and had to do the same thing because I won’t part with it either. :)

  • Self-Employed-Swami May 29, 2014, 7:42 pm

    Thanks for this article. I need permission to not worry, and not feel guilty about the 5% of the time that I’m not super frugal.

    I’ve been feeling guilty lately, about some of the purchases I’ve made for myself (A nice leather jacket that will hopefully last for 10 years for example) all the while, watching our net worth climb by thousands a month, as we roll around comfortably in our semi-employed lifestyles.

    Thank you for giving me permission to give myself permission, to not feel guilty or worry.

    • Gerard May 30, 2014, 3:00 pm

      Leather jacket’s definitely one of the better buys I’ve made in my life. Ramones style biker jacket with the zippers, bought nearly 30 years ago. Saved my shoulder from turning into road pizza in a crash some years back, and has really held up well. Now it doesn’t quite fit across my expanding belly, but younger members of my family are starting to eye it covetously, so it’s got a whole nother life ahead of it. Original cost: $90.

  • Kraig May 29, 2014, 8:14 pm


    Love this. I’m in the process of rebuilding my income as an independent entrepreneur instead of an employee and naturally, have worried like mad. This is a good message to me and many others: to STOP worrying because wealth is inevitable.

    Among all this worry, I’m on track to enough revenue to support me this year and to start saving big amounts of cash again, like I’m accustomed to. No need to worry as I’ve got my money mustache already partially built.

    Thanks for the great post. Talk to you soon!

  • LisaL May 29, 2014, 8:46 pm

    Anita Bell, author of several self help finance books here in Australia, recommends the concept of Sanity Money. A small weekly allowance for each member of the family. You can spend it or save it for a bigger treat. The number one rule is that no-one can comment on what you’ve spent your Sanity Money on.

  • Mr. Boots May 29, 2014, 8:57 pm

    Whew. I finally made it through all of the posts “since the beginning of time.” Glad to be reading them “live” now. Can’t thank you enough for all the great advice, MMM!
    This is a good one for me to make my first comment, since after a year of being pretty obsessed with mustachianism, life has improved substantially. It’s nice to be reminded that we don’t need to beat ourselves up about every little expense because we’re doing just fine. Especially when it comes to outings with friends – if you’re stuck at a fancy restaurant, you might as well enjoy it (and the company of your friends) rather than stressing about how you could have had the same or better experience for about 1/4 of the price by just getting together in a friend’s backyard instead.
    My wife has a bachelorette party to attend soon, and she’s growing frustrated with the wasteful spending being suggested in the maid of honor’s email chain (limo’s, house rental, fine dining, etc.) Hopefully this article will ease her worries…although I still can’t help but cringe at the limo idea.

    • Barbara May 30, 2014, 1:44 pm

      Hey Mr. Boots, do you have a car? Usually people rent limos because they don’t want to be drinking and driving. How about you and maybe one of the other husbands offer to be chauffeur for the night? You could really polish up your cars, dress up in a suit, offer them champagne, etc. might be fun, and a lot cheaper than their hiring a limo.

      • Mr. Boots May 30, 2014, 5:04 pm

        That’s a great idea, Barbara. I would definitely do that and have fun with it. Plus it would probably be a dream come true for them to be chauffeured around by the husbands for a night! Unfortunately the party is several hours away (another wasteful bummer). On the bright side, most of our friends are married so there shouldn’t be many more of these in the future. I’ll definitely keep that idea in mind though – might make a nice creative birthday gift someday. Thank you!

  • Klaas May 29, 2014, 8:58 pm

    It’s definitely a case of seeking the golden mean. You can get really lost down both extremes, but the middle isn’t free of danger, either. I’ve recently found myself picturing a world in which rising income and the end of certain major expenses (daycare. so horrifyingly much money.) leads to major progress in the reasonably near future. But since I’m not that much of a worrier to begin with, that rosy picture tends to push my present self too far in the direction of feeling flush and getting a little lax in my attitude toward spending decisions. And where I am right now, I could set myself back significantly if I take my future wealth too much for granted.

  • Some guy May 29, 2014, 10:35 pm

    Nice post. I believe that many (most?) people targeting very high savings rates on a less than absurd income are the type that see money as security for whatever reason. I know that this is a typical trait among children of alcoholics for example. It’s hard to see that security has been attained in these cases. I came around to relaxing when I crossed into being FI, but it’s always there somewhat. Setting up “discretionary accounts” with an automatic transfer of fun money for the wife and I helped allow some “non-optimal” spending.

    Many years into saving 75% and learning how to invest and the NW growth does seem to match the excel predictions somewhat. It still seems strange to see it go up as much in a month as we live on in a year, like it shouldn’t be possible given my rather low income past. The peace of mind of being financially secure and working part-time in a field I enjoy is worth not having the fancy car.

  • Connor May 29, 2014, 11:24 pm

    After three years reading this blog, I now consider myself a Mustachian. Of course combatting the popular culture indulgence machine needs a lot of anti-consumerism-blog-post firepower, but this article adds the yin to the yang. After all, the point isn’t to win the game of who can spend the least but to realize freedom, and compulsive fretting about every penny isn’t freedom. It can be a hard balance to work out but as a compulsive saver my whole life I’m starting to get it.

    Towards that end it’s also important to realize that one person’s fancy phone is another person’s exotic vacation is another person’s private preschool is another person’s 1981 Ferrari. The bottom line is it’s great to see so many people enjoying the good life.

  • Ken May 30, 2014, 5:51 am

    That is exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my life. While I just got the hang of this Mustachian lifestlye, I felt worried and wanted to hit the accelerator on my life until my student loan debts went away. But, you’re right MMM, I am already on the right path, so I might as well enjoy the ride (on my bike!), especially in my mid 20’s!

    You mentioned it in a previous post. You can live like a fancypants millionaire 1-2 times/month with friends from out of town and live like a Spartan warrior in the meantime by myself.

    • greg May 30, 2014, 8:00 pm

      right after getting out of school I felt pressured by others into spend-y situation … but with just a few more years I have found good company that will accommodate my preferences, and I fell that my situation is much better off for it.

      Poking around a bit and trying to find new friends is also fun (IMO) even if they don’t end up being that great in the end.

  • Lugo May 30, 2014, 6:08 am

    After working 30 years, tomorrow is my last day at work. I will take a long vacation and retire to something meaningful after that. Thanks for the encouragement and advice MMM.

    • Eldred May 30, 2014, 8:24 am

      Awesome – congrats Lugo! Do you have any idea what your ‘something meaningful’ will be?

      • Lugo May 30, 2014, 9:05 am

        Perhaps volunteering; perhaps working @ something I really like. In the meantime, I have a lot of projects to complete @ home.

    • Free To Pursue May 30, 2014, 8:31 am

      Congratulations Lugo! Woot woot!

    • greg May 30, 2014, 7:57 pm


  • Marianne May 30, 2014, 7:52 am

    What a nice post to read on my birthday! I’m currently traveling on a summer excursion around the United States, and will soon depart for Europe. I was torn at first when planning these trips because I am definitely spending a lot of money. Thing is, I’m still on track to retire in 10 years and my net worth is still increasing! It’s true for me that when I got my spending habits down, I had room to fit in little luxuries. For my birthday, I just had some cinnamon tea that was on clearance, I’ll go on a hike in the mountains, and I’ll cook a $1 per serving dinner – and I’m happier than on any previous birthday. Thanks for the article!

  • ForestBound May 30, 2014, 8:01 am

    Thanks MMM! Great article.

    I worry too much. Intellectually, I know I will be fine. Emotionally, I’m a person who needs security, and in life there are no guarantees. Stock markets crash. Medical emergencies happen. Even being frugal most of my life and running the numbers and KNOWING I will be okay, I still worry. I worry about others, the people I love that aren’t as frugal. I worry about the “what if”s. I just have to admit I’m a worry wart.

    Maybe I should meditate. Or even better, have a glass of wine.

  • JoyBlogette May 30, 2014, 8:05 am

    Thank you. I am such a big worrier. I worry about everything. We just bought a bike trailer a few days ago and I found out yesterday that I could have got 10% off. Since I can’t return it, I have been beating myself up on the extra money spent all day. Just yesterday I was euphoric about my purchase, and now it’s been “ruined” I really need to just let it go and relax. Thanks for the reality check.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 30, 2014, 11:09 am

      Congratulations on the bike trailer! Bringing one of those things into your life is like winning the lottery – no regrets necessary, just get with enjoying your increased wealth.

    • Jennifer May 30, 2014, 5:13 pm

      Check with the store- sometimes they will reimburse you for the difference. Doesn’t hurt to ask.

    • Rolo May 30, 2014, 8:40 pm

      Did you make the best decision given the information you had _at the time_? Good! You can’t beat yourself up for not being omniscient. (I have to remind myself of this at times…and MMM’s blog, “The Nagging Voice of Success” is dead-on…turned getting “down” on myself into a “hell yeah!” self-motivator)

      • JoyBlogette June 3, 2014, 1:20 pm

        Thanks for the comments. I am currently LOVING the bike trailer again. Phew.

  • Chris May 30, 2014, 8:10 am

    We’re getting ready for another move with the military (hopefully our last before retirement) and I’ve been a bit distressed with all the additional expenses we’ve had lately. Good reminder to step back and see the bigger picture. Another blogger once mentioned that the journey to FI is the best part, so enjoy it! I try to do that everyday.

    PS-It was great to meet you in San Fran MMM.

    • Three Wolf Moon May 30, 2014, 7:20 pm

      Chris –

      Where is your final move to? I retired from the USAF from Sheppard two years ago, and I still remember getting ready to go there and talking about it being our (hopefully) final move.

      • Chris May 30, 2014, 9:08 pm

        We’re headed to AFFSA (Air Force Flight Standards Agency) at the FAA in OKC. OKC is home so it will be good to spend more time with family.

  • Dave Lalonde May 30, 2014, 8:18 am

    I read somewhere that people might cross frugality with cheapness. But I think frugality is just about having the mindset of being smart in your financial decisions. It shouldn’t mean that you should be cheap in order to save. Great read! Thanks.

    • Rolo May 30, 2014, 8:49 pm

      Likewise, there’s giving spending due consideration/being deliberate with spending (whether opting out or opting for a more efficient alternative) which is not to be misconstrued with _denying_ one’s self.

  • Free To Pursue May 30, 2014, 8:29 am

    Wow! Did this post ever resonate with me. I know I have “arrived” in dealing with unforeseen expenses/losses based on a recent experience:

    I lost $1,500 and didn’t even flinch.

    Here’s what happened:

    I sent my gold away – jewelry I hadn’t used for years and it got “lost in the mail”. The value was $2,000 selling price and, as a consolation, the company gave me $500 for the negative experience.

    I don’t know if they received it and scammed me or if someone at the post office helped themselves. Either way, the point is it does not matter. Such an experience would have filled me with anguish and stress a few years ago. Now, I laugh it off and just move on.

    My good habits and FI have given me the ability to roll with what life brings my way, both the good and the not so good.

    I feel incredibly lucky. Thank you for continuing to spread the gospel MMM. We are indeed all rich.

    • JoyBlogette May 30, 2014, 8:37 am

      I found this inspirational. I hope one day I will be able to just laugh things off and move on.

      • Free To Pursue May 30, 2014, 11:08 am

        Glad you found that little story useful JoyBlogette.

        A book that helped me get there sooner than later is “The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” by William B. Irvine. You can skip Part 1 (history of stoicism mostly) and head right into the good stuff in Parts 2 & 3. Definitely worth the read (and MMM has also a posted it some time ago as a suggested read).

        • Barbara May 30, 2014, 1:50 pm

          Free to Pursue, you are my hero. My husband and I are totally and completely FI, and I would be a mess over $1500, even though it would not affect my life one bit.

          • Free To Pursue May 30, 2014, 8:20 pm

            Hi Barbara. Thank you for the kind words.

            I would have to say it was in how I approached it that made the difference. When I sent the jewelry in the mail I decided it was risky and that I was, in essence, letting it go. What would come back would come back and the burden of hanging on to the material goods was more of a burden than worrying about the money coming back. I figure the worst that could happen was that I would get nothing back but that my home would be free of “stuff” I no longer valued.

            Looking at scenarios from a “what’s the worst that could happen” perspective has been powerful for me. It’s liberating because real life never quite measures up to just how bad I can imagine any outcome could be.

            All the best to you as you tackle the challenges life will inevitably send your way. Hey, what’s the worst that could happen? ;)

            • Barbara May 30, 2014, 8:40 pm

              All the best to you as well.

              • caz June 2, 2014, 9:36 am

                Hi and thanks to all, MMM for hosting a brilliant blog and to Free to Pursue and Barbara especially. I’ve been FI for a few years now, retired for the third time and not going back, but still find it really difficult to embrace this joy! I guess the long years of training have left a mark that can’t be erased, so maybe now have to re-train to look the other way? I know it makes sense, you are so right, it’s just hard to do!

  • Chattanooga Cheapster May 30, 2014, 9:00 am

    Setting clear goals and understanding how any spending impacts those goals relieves a lot of stress. My budget is not where I want it to be, but it’s getting there. That knowledge allows me to accept some blips here and there. This has been helpful as of late. I’ve had a few things happen that have made life a little crazy for my family. We’ve had to go “off budget” for a little while. Normally this would stress me out. Not so much now that I’m content with my finances and understand what going “off budget” means to my future goals.

  • Evan May 30, 2014, 9:39 am

    “If I could go back 12 years to visit my past self in the midst of this scene, there is a bit of wisdom I would love to share….it would be a bit of mental adjustment that could make the journey even more fun. It would a message something like this:

    Dude. Chill out. You’re already rich, and thus it is time to start living that way.”

    This doesn’t sit right with me. I would think that if you told 12 year ago MMM that message maybe you wouldn’t be in the situation you are in today? Maybe the 12 year ago MMM would have started with just a little bit more consumerism (which turned into a little bit more by year 11 ago MMM, etc). Lifestyle inflation could put your current blog posts in the “I am getting ready for FI” vs the current “I am FI”

    I know it is a different view than the 60 comments in front, but it is what my gut is screaming at me.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 30, 2014, 11:18 am

      Ahh.. but what I have found is that becoming relaxed has not really increased my spending. You can see it in the family budgets these days, which seem to remain around $25k even with our ridiculous spending on groceries and travel and keeping two unnecessary vehicles in the driveway. There is a difference between these two things:
      1 – forcing yourself to spend more (and it really does seem to require forcing once you build up the healthy frugal habits)
      2 – allowing yourself to relax and enjoy the inevitable imperfections in life where your frugal ways can’t be applied perfectly.

      I’m advocating #2 rather than #1 here. Remember, this particular article is targeted at my fellow super-spartans, rather than people still recovering from spending problems. For anyone who would still deliberately visit a “Drive-Thru” for any reason, it is still practice time rather than relaxing time :-)

      • Leah May 30, 2014, 11:56 am

        True. I was agreeing with Evan in my head while I was reading your post.. if I allowed myself to relax right now I would quickly find myself overspending. I guess I’m still in “practice time.”

        However, my super-spartan husband could use a little relaxation in his life. I feel rich with abundance (we are saving money left and right!) and I’m going to encourage him to stop being concerned when money comes up. We are doing great and should enjoy our time now!

      • Matt June 7, 2014, 7:04 pm

        I agree once you accumulate enough assets to cover your working income there is a time that you have say to yourself it”s OK to spend some money on luxuries. I’m at that point now and find that I even if I know I have enough money to cover me until 100 years old I still wouldn’t just spend to spend. That financial independence really takes the pressure off me and makes my part time job just that Part Time. When I want time off I just put request in and don’t worry what size my pay is for that week. Being careful with your finances becomes a lifestyle but I don’t want it to be my main focus anymore. People working to that point just keep doing it and the reward is great.

  • Aaron May 30, 2014, 10:39 am

    I’m sorry, but if I could go back 12 years, I’d definitely be telling the young me to not spend a nickel and put everything into AAPL and PCLN. I’d be FIRE’d by now and probably have enough to start a private foundation.

  • Mark May 30, 2014, 11:55 am

    How timely. Thanks for the reminder that it is OK to let up on the badassity sometimes. We have to drive to St. Louis to pick up our son who is hitching a ride home from his east coast college with a friend. The Giants happen to be in town (our favorite team) and so we are splurging on tickets to a baseball game and staying in a pretty nice hotel to boot. As soon as I bought the tickets I had buyer’s remorse but you helped me remember that sometimes it is OK. I’m on track to FIRE in 46 months and this is not going to derail that one bit.

  • Even Steven May 30, 2014, 12:15 pm

    For so many of your readers this is probably spot on. Myself, I’m not on this chapter of the book, I’m still the guy trying to stay on the plan, I have some leaks that need to be made sure they are more than just patched up. I bought a morning coffee for the last 3 weeks because my coffee machine was broken, I see things increasing in certain areas. We are still on our plan to financial freedom and I don’t plan on driving to the City for drinks, parking, and a possible taxi home, I’m still making the decision to have a pint after work, outside and within walking distance…..I’m still working on flexing the frugal muscle. Thanks for the article always a fun read.

    • Rolo May 30, 2014, 8:56 pm

      “I bought a morning coffee for the last 3 weeks because my coffee machine was broken,”
      Heh…you actually typed that. :-D

      • Even Steven June 1, 2014, 8:10 am

        3 of the biggest expenses are house, car, food. If I start eating out every day, I increase my spending and that shortens my path to FI, yes I really think about and type that stuff;)

  • Vitai May 30, 2014, 12:26 pm

    I desperately needed a post like this to help me let loose. I am in constant worry about where my money goes and every stupid little purchase. I probably will be after I finish writing this comment, but at least in the back of my mind, I’ll be able to have this post etched in, reminding me that it’s OKAY to spend a little extra here and there when the situation calls for it. Thanks MMM!

  • Bob Werner May 30, 2014, 12:37 pm

    My Doctor Daughter who is 300K in debt always shows up with a cup of Starbucks and only drinks half of it. She will never worry about money because she has a license to print $200 every hour she works. She will be in debt the rest of her life and be comfortable with it. I, on the other hand, spend $1.00 on 100 bags of tea per month and feel I am living in extravagance.

    I’m also more on the 300K positive side of the ledger. The world could go the crap and I wouldn’t need to alter my lifestyle. I could literally sell everything and take a camping tour of the world for the next 2o years. If my daughter has a bump in the road, which always seems to happen, she will have a big surprise.

    When the friends want to get together for an expensive outing I usually suggest they come up to my 5 bedroom house and spend the day and night. We take a day trip in nature, I pay for all the food that I cook for 3 meals and they bring their suds. Everyone has a great time and I spend less that I would have for one meal and 2 drinks for my wife and I.

    Thanks for pointing out the folly of eating out at semi expensive venues. Not that I’m opposed to it. I just think people with significant negative net worth should think it through a bit more.

    One of my other children still thinks that people that live in big fancy houses and drive expensive cars are all rich. She doesn’t understand the difference between living like your rich and actually being rich. “My dear daughter, those people aren’t rich. They are up to their eyeballs in debt.” “But Dad, what would you know, you drive a clunker.”

    Net worth is a hard concept.

    • Barbara June 4, 2014, 3:55 am

      Bob, I can tell you’re concerned about your daughter, and like you, I think she’s way over her head. I am a doctor, and I just finished a semester of teaching doctors to be, and they’re ALL in huge debt, but can’t wait to finish so they can start to taste “the good life.” At the same time (and as we already know), health care is changing dramatically, and there’s no guarantee that she’ll be able to make that much money and service her debt, much less her lifestyle. It must take a lot for you to keep quiet.

  • Frank May 30, 2014, 12:58 pm

    Haha.. great article, I retired in January this year and yesterday my net worth was just shy of $1.4M mostly in stock ETFs. My Wife is still working and in theory (because of smallish pensions within 8 years) we should NEVER have to touch the stash.

    Now given this, guess what happens when I feel myself being sucked into a ridiculous money wasting opportunity?

    I literally break out into t a cold sweat, and I have to fake my pleasure lest it spoils the occasion for my friends!

    How silly is that?.. but old (frugality) habits die hard.


  • Kush Sharma May 30, 2014, 2:40 pm

    Great post! This is EXACTLY how I feel about my situation now. I’m not earning anything close to what my friends do at their soul-crushing jobs. But I’m a million times happier than them because I know how to save money in situations that contribute to my growth. I can afford to not work for a month or two without any worry.

    Frugality is not deprivation. It just allows you to be rich right now,And rich not just in monetary terms but in every sense. I can devote my time to my blog and that’s something I love doing, and I know it will eventually bring me more money that I can ever imagine. But the key is that I’m not desperate for that to happen, as I’m already happy with my life.

    • Eldred May 31, 2014, 9:21 pm

      I have a question. How do you keep from feeling deprived? Seems like someone who is used to fast food or gourmet coffee everyday would feel deprived if they can’t have it anymore. Or someone who enjoys going out to lunch with friends at work. So how do you not feel deprived when you have to STOP doing something you enjoy?

      • Kush Sharma June 1, 2014, 3:29 am

        Eldred, there’s no doubt that you have to let of certain things or habits. But it’s a trade off which is worth it because you realize that these things are nothing as compared to the freedom you experience. Where ever you don’t feel this trade off, then that’s a need for you so you can go for it. But if that’s happening more often then it should be happening, then it’s better to first reflect upon your life and see what exactly you value and what you don’t. Because I feel many a time people have their genuine priorities in the wrong order.

  • Jennifer May 30, 2014, 3:44 pm

    Great post. We just got back from a camping trip and decided we would like a bigger tent for our growing family. I found a high quality one I really liked for $650. My past self would never have made this purchase, but I thought about it and realized that this purchase will last a lifetime and I’m still spending way less than everyone with their big trucks required to haul their huge campers and fifth wheels.

  • Hrothgar May 30, 2014, 3:48 pm

    This will perhaps be useful if I get rich, but I’m not right now. I like the articles that help me better. Just thinking that I will have money, will not help me. After all, saving, investing and keeping cost down are central elements here. If we focus on those simple frugal rules the rest will follow.
    On the other side, I found that planing ahead and visualizing how life would be is a great tool. What do you want to change in 2014 ? What will life be liken in 2 ½ years from now ? – And how can that be accomplished ? Sure, It would be nice not to worry, but worrying will wear out once the cash flow is there.

  • Evan May 30, 2014, 5:24 pm

    23 year old hypocritical oil industry engineering intern who spends most of his time reading about other forms of energy finds MMM about a year ago – blows mind. Summarily:

    -wins girlfriend over to the light side of the force
    -commutes on bicycle through Canadian winter, loves it
    -finds other bicycle enthusiasts via community non-profit bike shop who teach said intern bicycle mechanics
    -spreads message of efficient living throughout yuppieville, to the occasional bewilderment of figuratively monocle wearing population and the douchebaguery emitted by young spendthrifts. Ends up making friends with like minded people.
    -becomes keenly interested in finance
    -book reading increases exponentially over time. Though the exponent is still low, the library sure is big.
    -becomes more excited for the future. A happy camper.

    This article kind of kicked ass with regards to thinking about beating yourself up for less than attractive purchases, but in the spirit of long term thinking… Huzzah! Have extra motivation to get your hands dirtier the next time you get a tool in your hands! Thanks MMM for the face punches, and may you and your family continue to prosper and live in good health and happiness.

    • Lee Lau May 31, 2014, 2:24 pm

      Not that you need any reinforcement but good for you. Hard to break free from conventional thinking in the oilpatch. Very tough for many noobs there to remember its a boom and bust cyclical industry and that you’ve got to save through the good times for the inevitable bad times.

      And best of all there’s now bike lubes that work through -30 deg C/

  • Bakari May 30, 2014, 5:41 pm

    I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt – but I do worry how I will avoid looking like a hypocrite to the friends I am trying to convince of the Mustachian way when they ask what my new (to me – actually 12 year old) carbon fiber racing bike with Rolf aero wheels and Dura-Ace component group cost, and I have to admit I handed over 10 shiny new hundred dollar bills for it.

    • nm_dude May 31, 2014, 9:44 am

      Bakari, go buy yourself a $200 runt bike so you can ride with your frugal brothers socially, and save the power bike for your serious mustachian excursions. :-)

    • Brett June 4, 2014, 12:12 pm

      Hey Bakari!
      I’ve reduced my car-driving drastically in the last few months per MMM, but I’d like to get a better bike to cut driving out altogether.

      How the heck did you get an awesome carbon fiber bike for 1k?! Craigslist?

  • G-fiberific May 30, 2014, 6:01 pm

    I’ve been in a saving/spending rut pretty much my whole financial life and up until about 7 years ago I finally got enough grip on my finances to start saving and keeping it. I’ve always kept a tight reign on spending for up to a few months at a time, but then end up, in my mind, splurging. One example: I had saved up $10k within my last year in the military only to blow it in the first 2 months of getting out. It feels almost like a pressure cooker that pops its financial lid, and then having the whole buyer’s remorse over the lost $$$ that seemed to fly away and feeling like I’m starting all over again. “What the heck did I spend it on?!?”

    This just happened again over the past couple months, but this time I don’t regret the disappearing act that happened because my home feels so much better for it – new furniture and organizing the garage. Much to my delight I found my stash is still growing, even with the unplanned expenses. Add to that the peace that comes from having the home feel more put together and clean than ever before. For the first time in a very long time (ever?) I can park a 2nd vehicle in my garage.

    • greg May 30, 2014, 7:57 pm

      “disappearing act that happened because my home feels so much better for it – new furniture … I can park a 2nd vehicle in my garage” — it’s a great feeling to be able to do this, but as the article points out, it’s an even greater feeling when stuff like this is, in most reasonable senses of the word, truly negligible.

      Trading in the second car for a bike might even have a greater effect if you’re up for trying it out!

  • Edith May 30, 2014, 6:30 pm

    I’ve always said: the only use of money is it’s ability to stop worrying about it. Being frugal is not worrying, is a lifestyle, and it allows you to not worry. :)

  • Dingo May 30, 2014, 7:19 pm

    This really hit home, Just recently finally pulled the trigger on updating my 1924 4 bedroom 1 bath house to add a second bathroom. $30k well spent to make the house actually sellable 3-4 years when we plan to downsize!

    Took a ton of time for me to feel comfortable with that level of spending, even though with our nest egg we could have afforded it years ago… Sometimes spending is worth it!

  • greg May 30, 2014, 7:53 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been seeing these changes in myself, but just as you have anticipated I am quite wary. I will still be a tad cautious, but things really have started looking like they are described above.

    This is a welcome kick into the real benefits of the long, personal re-training!

  • TheSurferbum May 30, 2014, 8:36 pm

    Nice article. This one definitely hits home for me. I have never had issues saving money, however I have always had “issues” spending money.

    The true value of money is not always evident to everyone, which can lead to some frustrating situations…Better to relax and realize that as long as the exceptions don’t become the rule everything will be just fine…

  • EricL May 31, 2014, 12:05 am

    Amen. I’ve been debt free for years but I vividly remember how it felt to be underwater. The stress, the phone calls, and the ever present dread and staring at it without action like a bird staring at a snake. I don’t know how other people with more debt than I had cope. There’s enough stress in life as it is. Living frugal has its sacrifices but I could never describe any in my life as tradgedies with a straight face.

  • Ken May 31, 2014, 12:28 am

    I love this post

  • Monica May 31, 2014, 12:54 am

    Thought I should say thank you for bolstering both my bank account and my spirits with your blog. I was feeling pretty down about a few things that hit recently: about getting shafted by an ex bf for $2000 whilst trying to help him out on top of my 13 year old dog getting hit by a car and requiring expensive vet care and surgeries…

    This article is a great reminder that our journey to FI will hopefully only happen once and that we should try to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Maybe it’s not about the destination as much as it is about how you get there…

    It also certainly helps knowing that things like dating the wrong guy need not happen again…bygones… All the while, taking your advice has been adding $s back into my account on a recurring basis. I switched to republic wireless after reading your article five months ago. I’ve been saving over $60s every month since. I loooove republic wireless!!!! Going forward, just taking that step will recoup losses from aforementioned jerk in three years on its own… And that’s not even calculating compound interest of investing those $$s (@ 5%, break even = 2.5 years).

    But wait, that’s not all, folks. Invested my too excessive emergency fund after a bit of mmm blog bolstering a few months back… And was pleasantly surprised to see the value having increased approx $1200 as of today….

    All said, not only can I forgive myself freely for my lapse in judgment, my life is steadily improving, that financial mistake has been already nearly been cancelled out with mmm inspired gains and most importantly…. I am walking ( soon to be cycling) down a path of long lasting peace and happiness… Thanks, MMM.

    Tomorrow’s adventure? Dusting off that bike I bought ten years ago and haven’t ever used yet to take an exploratory victory cruise to my office (five miles each way) … Looking forward to switching up my commute in the near future….


  • HealthyWealthyExpat May 31, 2014, 1:17 am

    May 31. Time to update the spreadsheet for this month. Think I’ll make myself a cappuccino first to help wake up from that dinner party we hosted last night. MMMM, awesome food and great company. Wow, that spreadsheet looks good this morning too. Think I’ll go for a bike ride to work off some of the excess nutrition from last night, clear my head, and celebrate the bottom line the sheet that is higher than last month. LIFE IS GREAT!

  • EL May 31, 2014, 6:04 am

    Financial Worries can never really go away fully, and it is best to learn how to manage them. If you have little money you worry and desire to increase it, if you have too much you worry about losing it on bad investments. I agree with MMM that if you stop listening to media, you can then focus on any personal finance task to get over the worry syndrome. The best thing anyone can do to stop worrying is to control spending, so when those unexpected expenses arrive you can smile while you write the check.

  • Mags May 31, 2014, 12:01 pm

    Thanks for a great post. I have finally made my way through all the posts and so, for the first time, had to wait for this one. Our family has muddled our way to being close to FI (we could probably retire now but we haven’t disciplined our frugality muscle sufficiently!). This post resonates with me because, as someone who tends to worry over the things that could go wrong financially and in life, I think the principles you advocate enable one to establish the discipline which is needed to gain a sense of control over our lives and finances, thus enabling us to cope when life’s hiccups do eventuate. With a little bit more rigorous application of Mustachian principles we should have the condidence in our discipline and control to make use of the financial position we’ve made for ourselves.

  • Mike May 31, 2014, 12:34 pm

    I sincerely believe that people in the future will look back at our current culture and remark at how strange it is that we all worry so much about money. Life is easier today than it has ever been in the history of the world. Part of this has to do with humanity’s unending want for progress. But quite a bit of it has to do with lack of perspective. We should all take time now and then to show gratitude for how lucky we all are.

  • Sue May 31, 2014, 2:12 pm

    I was getting a coffee the other morning (yes I buy one every morning at a local, privately owned cafe) and a woman in line said to me ‘Biking in the rain- impressive’. I replied ‘It’s May, it’s a drizzle, I do this year round’. I thought- Really? Anyone could do this. I live in Vancouver BC, it’s a great city to bike in. People are so scared of perceived discomfort. To me being on a stuffy, overcrowded bus is far more uncomfortable, or even worse stuck in traffic and then driving in circles looking for parking, ugh!

  • Mortgage Free Mike May 31, 2014, 2:35 pm

    Awesome post. I agree 100%. My motto is: If you can afford it, you can buy it. That doesn’t mean I go on shopping sprees. That’s not my nature. It does mean that I don’t need to spend time worrying about spending money every so often. After all, I could be putting that “worry” time to better use.

  • RapMasterD May 31, 2014, 5:17 pm

    Great post. But the subject is a tougher one for me. Since ‘discovering’ this blog several months ago we’ve probably chopped about $800-1000/mo from our expenses…minimum. But there are three glaring face punching line items we haven’t budged on so far because my wife and I both work long hours, have a young kid, and have limited socialization time. A) Gardening service; B) House cleaning service; C) Ridiculously expensive gym, albeit with nice outdoor pool.

    Last year, we saved 41.62% of net. If we didn’t have those three items in the mix we’d have saved 44% of net. My inclination, after the summer, is to bag the gardening service. But that only takes us up to 42%…sort of a rounding error. If I cut out the cleaning service that only takes us up to 42.4%. And then I’m spending about four-five hours per weekend not with my kid…when I’m typically gone from the house for 13.5 hours each day during the weekday. And if I cut out the big money suck, our gym, my wife, who is mostly frugal, gets very unhappy. I’m trying not to agonize over the gym in particular (which YES, I now ride my bike to on the weekend…). So, I think I will stop agonizing, and pull out the lawn mower. Every little bit makes a difference. P.S. Nice shaking your hand and chatting, albeit briefly, at the SF Meetup eight days ago, Pete. And yes, I rode my bike there, as well.

    • Cecile June 2, 2014, 9:33 am

      I’ll probably take some flack for my comment, but I’m going to comment nonetheless. My recommendation would be to avoid rocking the boat and keep the two services and the gym. Double income, long hours and a kid is a challenge. If you are saving over 40% already, your are already winning the game and the additional savings from canceling the services and gym appear to be rather small as a percentage of your current annual savings.

      The point of life is not to save money as quickly as possible, it’s to enjoy your life along the way. If the two services reduce your stress levels and free up a little of your time to spend with your family, they’re worth it. Similarly, if your wife enjoys her gym membership and you can easily afford it, keep it. Health and fitness are important, and fitness classes are a great sanctuary for overworked moms.

      Cut spending where it makes sense for your family at this stage if your lives and careers and don’t sweat the expenses that help you keep things under control.

      • marciaB June 3, 2014, 3:47 pm

        I completely agree with Cecile and think that a savings rate over 40% is already fantastic and that these few things help preserve quality of life for you (time with family). Also, you are employing local people, and that’s wonderful. At some point the frugality button is not the default one to push every time.

    • Cecile June 2, 2014, 9:51 am

      Quick follow up comment. If by lawn service, you mean chem service, by all means cancel it ASAP. I had assumed you were referring to a lawn mowing services.

      Also, I think it’s important to differentiate between (1) spending money on services,which helps support people in your area, and (2) buying stuff, which ends up in a landfill . I never feel guilty about (1), whereas I avoid (2) to the extent possible and use Craigslist, buy used etc. where possible.

      • RapMasterD June 2, 2014, 8:58 pm

        Hi Cecile — Thank you so much for your thoughtful and well-written responses. No no no…we’ve got a local guy, super nice, who mows the lawn, turns the soil, trims the shrubs and definitely does not apply chemicals. I appreciate your perspectives on purchasing ‘services’ versus ‘stuff.’ Cheers.

    • Dan June 3, 2014, 8:40 pm

      RapMasterD – I met you at the gathering at Heron’s Head, and count me among the crew that thinks you’re doing just fine, especially given where you live and what you’re up to, lifewise.

  • Derek May 31, 2014, 8:55 pm

    I think your wife made a comment one time that it actually hurts you to spend money- glad it isn’t really so :D
    I hated thinking about money from an early age – budgeting, planning etc etc- My solution was simply that if I always live way beneath the means, I’ll never have money worries and no longer have to spend any mental time on it. If something pops up that I need to(or really want to after running it through my spending money checkpoints) spend money on unexpectedly , I don’t give it any other consideration than thankfulness that I have the ability to pay for it and then can forget about it immediately afterwards. Enjoy your travels!

  • Rhonda June 1, 2014, 3:38 am

    I am so intriqued by the many of you that have achieved FI early on in life…well before retirement. Here’s my situation…and to boot, I’m Canadian living in Ontario. There is absolutely NO WAY I can live on 1/3 of my paycheck unless I move to the trailer park! I believe I have cut my expenses down as far as they can go, minus getting rid of my cell phone plan, which by the way is $60/mth & I rarely use the thing! That’s the cheapest I can find. Regardless, mortgage payments take 1/3 of my paycheck on their own. I have accelerated weekly payments, which is fine but doesn’t enable me to save 50-75% of my paycheck. My other bills include hydro/water, gas, water heater rental, netflix & my cell. I do not drink coffee, do not drink or eat out. I wear a uniform to work every shift so I do not spend much on clothing for myself or my 2 teens. One works & buys all her own stuff. One doesn’t care much what he wears as of yet! SO, when I read all your posts I am amazed at how you save so much and am still looking for that magic potion that is going to help me bump my savings to 50%. My current savings rate is about 20%. From what I gather, saving in Canada is much harder ;( ugh! But just means it’s more of a challenge!! Bring it on!!

    • G-fiberific June 1, 2014, 9:01 am

      Hang in there Rhonda! I’m about in the same financial boat with the percentages, and I have to say that looking at the monthly bills without the mortgage makes me want to pay it off fast! For me, the difference between paying off the mortgage fast or pay it off on track while continuing building the stash is 5 vs. 10 years left on my 15 year mortgage. My wife would rather see the stash grow.

      When I need motivation to keep from feeling like I’m not making any headway, I look at the bills without the mortgage and know that I’m on track to get in the sub-50% expenses. To me, when having the stash got really cool is when having a large expense no longer seems to hurt the stash’s bottom line anymore.

      Keep the eye on the prize and enjoy the journey to the destination. ;-) We all have this as long as we keep our regular monthly expenses down.

    • M June 1, 2014, 2:33 pm

      Rhonda, don’t allow yourself the notion that it’s harder to save in Canada. That’s a whine, and it’s hard everywhere. What you’re trying to accomplish is outside of the cultural norm so your independence-muscle could use some flexing to think differently. Keep looking at ways to do things that don’t require spending money (and the required HST). Watch your thoughts when you go without some tiny luxury; if you’re still okay a few minutes later, then the item was a want not a need.
      Keep at it, you’re moving in the right direction.
      PS: I get you concerns, truly. I live in ON, too.

    • MarciaB June 3, 2014, 3:50 pm

      Rhonda – remember that every dollar you put towards the principal on your mortgage counts as “savings” for the calculation. Why? Because you’re building equity, and a dollar in house equity is the “same” as a dollar of portfolio. Add those dollars in and see what your savings rate is!

    • Econowiser June 4, 2014, 1:19 am

      Hi Rhonda,
      I have to agree with all the other commenters here. Your statement might prevent you from seeing opportunities to “get there”. I used to be a complainypants about my situation here in The Netherlands as well. Houses are so expensive, waaah waahh, we have to pay more fees when investing, waah waahhh, it’s impossible to reach FI with our stupid tax system…waaaaaaah WAAH!!!
      I gave myself a kick in the butt for being such a complainypants. Fuck all the yes, buts….I am going to do it! HA! (And well on my way ;-) )

    • David B June 5, 2014, 7:50 am

      Don’t knock moving to help your situation. I know moving to a trailer park is a joke in your comment, but doing it, or something like that could help you get FI years sooner. My wife and I moved out of our house and into one much smaller. We have to do without a few things until I can add them on, but it is worth it as it has gotten us closer to our goals and now we have about 4 years left to work instead of 10

      • Carbonero June 7, 2014, 5:42 pm

        I agree with David B on not dismissing moving. From what I have experience since immigrating, “renters stigma” is alive and well in Canada, and it is really hard for most to even consider selling their homes and renting, even if it makes financial sense. It need not involve a trailer park – I know it would be WAY more expensive for me to carry the costs of owning the same place I rent. I live in Vancouver, where that ratio is perhaps worst in the country, but from what I have seen at least Toronto is pretty crazy, too. With the price to rent, price to incomes, ownership rates and other indicators of the housing market in Canada, I would suggest renting does come with less financial risk as well at the moment.

        I hear plenty of arguments ofr owning – that kids need to grow up in a stable home, that you have a sense of pride in owning your home, etc. – I think these should be up for questioning against a financial analisys of your situation and your goals. It sounds like your mortgage interest (and property taxes, maintenance, and host of other costs associated with your “owning”) are the major cost compoent of your budget, so clearly one to analize without any preconceived ideas.

    • Nigel June 5, 2014, 2:31 pm

      Hi Rhonda – regarding the cell phone, do you have access to cheap pre-paid phones in Canada? I spent $10 (US) on a Tracfone about five years ago – it’s totally lame compared to today’s smartphones, but it still works just fine for talk and text, and I just buy a $20 or $30 airtime card a couple times a year, because like you I don’t use it much. If it finally kicks the bucket I can just transfer the number and purchased minutes to a new one (they still sell for $10 today!). You might want to check a Walmart or equivalent type store near where you live and see what they are selling – just double-check the coverage areas before buying, though. Not a big-ticket item, but if it works out it could put a ~$600 dent in your annual spending. Good luck!

    • Slappy January 11, 2015, 9:59 am

      Hi R, I live in Ontario, & pay $25 per months cell with Kodoo. (With data). My son is with Virgin & pays $21 per month (with data). .


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