Is Mr. Money Mustache Ruining Your Marriage? (Part 2)

Scene from a recent sunset, where I paddled out on the lake and wrote down a few things.

In our last episode, we reviewed a particularly spirited example of the classic battle over frugality, cheapness, and the freedom to spend one’s own money the way one sees fit. Some version of this same clash is surely occuring a thousand times over in every city of the world on a continual basis, for it lies at the root at human nature itself. This is why I find it so interesting.

For example, while some couples end up at war and never get anywhere, others find that frugality brings peace. Check out this quote from an email someone sent me the very next day in response to that last article:

“My wife absolutely loves Mustachianism too, even though she has never read your stories or visited your website. She just loves the man I’ve begun to transform into (biking to work, fixing things in the house, carpentry, no more TV, long walks, etc.)”


Another woman shared her story of sudden Mustachianism-induced change the same day:

“Since then, we have sold the SUV and bought a used compact car, paid off all of our debts, sold the house and gotten another (1000 sq ft total!) in the city, close to transit and work, and live on 30% of what we used to. I have lost 30 lbs in the process, hubby lost 40 lbs, happier and feeling so much more accomplished. (…) I’m not planning on retiring soon as I’ve made my priority working one day per week for now until my daughter gets into school, but with the changes I will have my home paid for in 5 years and will be retirement ready by 48. This is truly a 180 degree change from before.”


We could write a whole encyclopedia about personality types, feelings, and relationship dynamics before we even got to the start of what is going on here, then move on to take an expensive series of counseling sessions. But to take a massive shortcut and just go right to the answer, I believe that the biggest cause of fights like this is in our different responses to authority.

Through a combination of genetically-inherited temperament and socially programmed character, we all end up at different places on the obedience scale. Some kids actually listen to their parents and do things like eating whatever is put in front of them at dinnertime, whereas my own son will gladly enter a battle to the death before accepting verbal commands to do something he feels is irrational or unfair.

I could write this off as childish, but unfortunately I am the same way*. If a person or society  imposes a rule on me, it had better have some identifiable logical reason behind it. Otherwise, I find myself digging in and willing to fight against it – quite enthusiastically to the death if required. Watching the response of Gimli (that Invincible Dwarf with the Giant Beard in Lord of the Rings) when the prospect of battle comes up, I feel an eerie kinship with the diminutive badass.

So let’s suppose you are the frugal one in your relationship, and your spouse is prone to wasteful spending. Hey, I’m on your side too – most of the shit we spend our money on is rubbish and you end up richer and much happier if you just simply stop buying it. But how do you spread this obvious logic to your spouse?

Well, for starters, you don’t do it by watching over his or her spending and then nagging every time you see something you don’t like. While this is your natural temptation, and it does work for those who happen to have obedient spouses, it will backfire miserably for the other 75% of us. This is because you are trying to impose authority on someone who does not like to be bossed around. Note that in the success stories above, each side was fueled by the positive results of frugality rather than just obediently following the instructions of a spouse.

So instead of nitpicking the symptoms (individual spending decisions), you need to address the root cause: Your Goals in Life.

Your first task is making sure you both are working towards the same common “Why?”

This step may take minutes, or it may take years.

There are plenty of good Whys out there, but they can be elusive at first. My own Why is simply “to live the best life possible”, from which stems a desire for health, personal growth, free time to explore my interests and even more free time to raise my son. I found that none of these could be optimized with a full-time job getting in the way, so my very first task was eliminating dependence on that job.

When you add in the environmental side of things and the fact that to waste natural resources is quite simply to be an asshole to all other humans and other living beings on the planet, the choice for me became even clearer.

Some people might get stuck with irreconcilable differences at that very first step. A vegan might find it unacceptable for moral reasons to live with an omnivore like myself, for example. And I’m personally stubborn enough that I couldn’t live with someone who insisted on a full-sized SUV for personal transport. Better to just sidestep such lifelong conflicts instead of spending a lifetime fighting them. But if you’re already locked in with a wife and kids, it is time to be more patient and creative because honoring your responsibilities comes above serving your own personal ideology**.

Once you can agree on your definition of The Best Life Possible, it often helps to start by Painting the 10-Year Picture.

For example, one brilliant reader named Andy wrote in and shared a story of his own success at flipping the frugality switch. His approach in a nutshell was, “If we keep doing what we are doing now, here’s where we will be in 10 years. But if we do it this other way (sell the expensive car, pay off our debts, live a different way), we will be over $200,000 further ahead, which will make our lives much better.”

He conveyed this message by giving a slightly silly Powerpoint presentation to his own wife. And the results were so good, he sent in the slides to share with you:

Make Our Money Sing: A Money Mustachian Adventure

Most people cannot see the connection between lattes, sandals, V-8 engines, and a million dollars. But it’s really there – changing relatively simple spending habits will indeed make the difference between Broke and Millionaire over a reasonably short time period. A slideshow like that one makes the math clear.

Other people might be more impressed by emotional appeals rather than monetary ones. The fact that you start living more happily immediately when you spend more time outdoors, for example. The relationship between debt, stress, and death. The idea of retiring in your 30s or 40s instead of after you get your discounted senior citizen bus pass. Or the incredible benefit of not having to worry much about money and careers when you’re busy with the bigger job of raising your kids.

All of these things are the direct result of living a frugal lifestyle, which is in turn just a slight change to a few dozen little daily life habits. These little changes are ridiculously effective, and also ridiculously easy, which is why I find it ridiculous that almost everyone is broke in this country except those with such ridiculously high incomes that they can’t manage to spend it all.

But the enforcement over those little decisions needs to come from within each person, rather than from an outside authority or an angry budget. You can make yourself save, and Mr. Money Mustache can make you save because you’re reading this freely and then independently deciding whether or not to implement it. But your husband or wife can not make you save. At best, they can only inspire you to want to save.

On the other side of the coin, the Frugality Enforcers among us may need to sit back and do their own math. If you are already saving over 50% of take-home pay, for example, the odd indulgence will not derail your dreams of early retirement. And if your income is really high, you can indulge almost constantly – you just have to be a bit strategic and avoid the biggest money pits like luxury cars, long commutes, and yachts. My own frugality is hampered by my taste for luxurious housing and food, for example. But by approaching these luxury add-ons as part of a generally calculated and frugal lifestyle, the bank is not broken and the family’s spending still ends up around $2000 per month.

In fact, I find that allowing yourself to be imperfect enhances the experience of being human. Beer and wine are bad for me, but I still get drunk occasionally. I know that luxury is just another weakness, but I still indulge in it occasionally. The key to all this is to acknowledge that you are doing something unnecessary and slightly wimpy, laugh at yourself, and then do it anyway with full gusto. Then you’re free to get back to your normal disciplined self in regular life.

Strategy for Frugality Without Deprivation:

Start with your regular life. Start introducing challenges for yourself which build your Frugality Muscle. Embrace the successes and laugh at the inevitable failures. Note how quickly this becomes fun and makes life worth living. Now throw in the odd unnecessary luxury and laugh again at how large and decadent your life is. You could do this all day. What were all those other people whining about who said this would be hard?


*And have been since birth according to Mom. This is why I cut my own son some slack for his stubbornness, and attempt to use rational logic rather than fist-backed discipline to do my half of the family’s management.

**Which sounds a bit Unyielding and Old Testament, but the science on happiness seems to back this up: being honorable and consciously choosing to serve others leads to a happier life, because you’re constantly challenged and reassured that you are doing the right thing. Making selfish choices is like having that third piece of cake: thrilling initially, but quickly followed by a much longer period of unhappiness and repercussions.


  • Stephanie July 30, 2014, 6:19 pm

    Aligning dreams and starting with a goal was exactly what I though the couple in the last post needed to do! It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind to something. Challenging yourself with how frugal you can be is actually a fun exercise.

    We’re getting rid of law school loans by being crazy frugal. When you and your spouse are on the same page, you can make a pretty powerful team!

    • Money Saving July 31, 2014, 10:57 am


      Exactly! My wife and I have been getting closer and closer aligned with frugality and efficiency. Because of this, she is now able to go part time and spend more time with the kids and we are going to be able to retire 2 years earlier than planned! All because we took the time to get on the same page.

      • Elephant Eater August 2, 2014, 8:40 am

        This has definitely been our experience. At first when I started reading this blog, ERE and others like them I was actually driving my wife and I apart as I became a bit obsessed with it. Since I’ve been able to get her to see why I wanted to do it, it has become another challenge for us to take on together and has made our relationship better while also improving our finances.

        • Joe August 4, 2014, 10:26 am

          Yeah, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be if you’re not on the same page. Fortunately, my wife has always been pretty frugal so it wasn’t a big deal for us. We also are doing pretty well financially so we don’t have to cut everything out. I cut my own and the kid’s hair, but she goes to a nice salon once in a while. She needs to look professional for work. Anyway, I think it’s best to marry someone with similar financial value, but not everyone can be that lucky.

          • Money Saving August 4, 2014, 11:33 am

            My wife is naturally pretty frugal as well. She likes to shop at yard sales and came up from a pretty poor family. I lucked out here as well as 80% of the work was already done for me :-)

  • Carlos Rendon July 30, 2014, 6:26 pm

    Your advice reminds me a lot of the advice in Your Money or Your Life, which also reminds me of Mindfulness meditation. They talk about just being aware of what you are doing and how you feel about it, not necessarily trying to change anything. Once you are aware of things, you often magically auto correct.

    Gee, I sure do spend a lot on this, is it proportional to how happy it makes me? Huh, I guess it doesn’t make me happy, somehow it’s less appealing than it was yesterday.

    • Adam July 30, 2014, 6:35 pm

      I was thinking about the connection between Your Money or Your Life and this post in particular as well. I think making the connection between life hours and expenses can be very helpful when approaching a hesitant spendypants. This could be particularly effective when it comes to recurring payments. For example, for someone who nets $25/hour, a $500 per month luxury car lease payment means he or she effectively loses 20 hours of your life every month for the privilege of driving in something that provides diminishing marginal utility. 20 lost hours every month over the course of years really adds up.

      • Miss Fit July 31, 2014, 9:11 am

        There’s a calculator (Time For Money) for the iPhone that shows you how much something costs in hours and also translates your monetary budget to hours. It can be very eye opening to look at your finances from a time standpoint.

        • Jazzy October 2, 2014, 9:52 pm

          Hey Miss Fit, thanks for the heads up about the app. Just downloaded it and can’t wait to use it. I’m very visual, so this will help drive the point home for me. Thanks again!

      • mountainjillian July 31, 2014, 12:50 pm

        Adam, the hours of your life argument is SUPER HELPFUL! That’s a cool way of reexamining your expenses.

  • Stephen July 30, 2014, 6:33 pm

    A fascinating look at the underlying principles of the mustache. The part that sticks out to me is the simple step of determining the ‘why’. My wife and I have spent a lot of time thinking through this part of the equation. The interesting part is that our reasons are quite different. My wife’s primary why is to have more time, live a healthier lifestyle, and to be able to stay at home with the kids. My why is driven by the painfulness of the waste around me and simple inefficiencies that many people live with. The great part is that a simple lifestyle allows us to both achieve our goals at the same time. Oh, and being outside is great. All that talk about CO made us visit- that whole state is built for people that live outside.

  • deepseafalcon July 30, 2014, 6:36 pm

    another great article, thank you!
    I especially appreciate that you are lately promoting to occasionally indulge, or allow some “waste” … made me think about my own habits. I am likely overdoing it here or there, driving my better half nuts (who is really also quite frugal herself) … and creating unneeded strain. So thank you.
    Looking at the math, I am wondering about one thing though: 70k debt, paid back over ten years at 1.9k monthly …. leads to an interest rate of 25%!?! wondering if that can truly be the case, or the provider of this PPT made a math error … or did I??

    • CalculatedAgain July 31, 2014, 6:18 am

      Looks like it. Either it’s all credit card debt, or there is some math error..

    • Rich August 1, 2014, 6:12 am

      The PPT didn’t say it would take 10 yrs to pay it off. It just looked ahead 10 yrs and said that at that time the debt would be zero. It might hit zero at the 8 yr mark, or 5 yr mark. Looking back at it again, I’m guessing it will hit zero by the 8 yr mark, since it points out what 8 yrs of debt repayment will total.

      • deepseafalcon August 2, 2014, 11:09 pm

        well, I guess it doesn matter …. at the end …. the strategy to use the liquid savings to repay debt, and focus on dept elimination asap … is sound.

        bit I am still wondering about the math:
        it says 70k debt
        23.4k debt repayment p.a.
        ==> at this rate, I would have expected any reasonable dept to be paid off after around 3 years
        but then it says “8 years of debt repayment = 187k” … really?
        that would translate to a whopping interest rate of 30% p.a.!!!
        if this was true, I would highly recommend this couple to not only pay off the debt asap, but refinance first! there should be plenty of options out there to do better than that, including zero interest credit card intro offers like Chase Slate or others

  • jessica July 30, 2014, 6:55 pm

    This is really great. (As a post and a follow up)


  • Loretta July 30, 2014, 6:55 pm

    “…honoring your responsibilities comes above serving your own personal ideology.”

    This phrase is so true, and actually doing this makes for a much more peaceful marriage! I tend to get on my soapbox about environmental issues (no need to nag about frugality as fortunately my husband is naturally fairly frugal) and was giving him a hard time over his choice of coffee brand: he insisted that I buy a non-Fair Trade/organic brand, and I was insisting that he had to drink what I thought was the ‘right’ brand. We had months of sniping and bad feelings over this (oh the pettiness!) until I realised that making him happy by doing what he asked was more important than my principles. I buy fairtrade loose leaf tea for ME though:-). Again, he loves his cable TV (ruinously expensive in Australia) but as he is the bread-winner and makes a good salary, I have to stop nagging him to get rid of it. I’ll just keep borrowing my books and DVDs from the library.

    • Kenoryn August 2, 2014, 5:49 pm

      I get the point about choosing your battles and not causing strife over little things. But in this case I feel like principles win, since technically you have no responsibility to honour by buying a certain brand of coffee. (And since you’re the one doing the shopping I think you have the right to get what you prefer.) Still I feel like there must be a happy medium on that one… there are so many fair trade/organic/shade grown coffees out there these days, surely he could find one he likes!

  • Dividend Mantra July 30, 2014, 7:04 pm


    Awesome stuff. Another classic!

    And that slideshow was just genius! Big props to the guy who put that together. I’ll have to remember that little tip if I ever run into a scenario where a little convincing is necessary.

    I actually have a post all drafted up that’s going live tomorrow. And it follows the same lines. I think it all comes down to the hedonic treadmill. Some people fail to realize that they do in fact have this baseline happiness level. The big SUV and fancy house may seem nice for a while, but eventually their happiness reverts back to where it was and they’re stuck holding the bag (the bag being massive debt and a brutal work schedule). Some people continue running faster and faster, but others (like yourself) realize that’s pointless.

    Great stuff. Keep it up!

    Best wishes.

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods July 30, 2014, 7:18 pm

    Yep. The stubbornness gene is certainly correlated, to some degree, with the counter-consumption frugality mindset. I can attest to that attribute in my own dear, sweet husband :).

    You hit the nail on the head (per usual) with the “Your Goals In Life” root cause. Our rationale and approach to early retirement is pretty simple. We don’t want to work for the next 30-40 years, be miserable and thus inflate our lifestyle to soothe the balm of our job-hatred, and exhaustedly retire at 65 to a homestead in the mountains to live a simpler life. Through frugality, we’re just going to cut out that whole middle part and bolt into it at age 33.

  • insourcelife July 30, 2014, 7:41 pm

    This: ” If you are already saving over 50% of take-home pay, for example, the odd indulgence will not derail your dreams of early retirement.” In my humble opinion MMM can and should emphasize this point more often. The constant face punching has its merits but showing the other side once in a while can be very motivating as well. People might not want to be constantly told to drop that latte or ride a bike to work or hundreds of other little things that make sense but may not be for everyone. Truth is, once you are at a 50% or higher savings rate if you want to buy that coffee once in a while you shouldn’t feel or be made to feel guilty, you are doing great as is. You are afraid to ride that bike to work? No problem drive your car and you will still retire early if you want to. Our savings rate hovers around 65% so if my wife wants to go out for an expensive dinner with her girlfriends I’m not going to bitch about it even if it falls outside of my definition of what’s reasonable.

    Personally, I would look at the table in http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/ then pick the Savings Rate and the corresponding Years to Retirement that I’m comfortable with, achieve that savings rate and then not really worry about other expenses/indulgences that crop up as long as the savings rate remains on target.

    • Marie July 31, 2014, 10:11 am

      I think this is exactly right and a good thing to note for the original couple in particular–maybe she came off poorly, but her husband is also making the family use an inflatable sofa, which seems crazy to me.

    • Adam July 31, 2014, 5:27 pm

      ” You are afraid to ride that bike to work? No problem drive your car and you will still retire early if you want to. ”

      What are you afraid of? A life lived in fear is a life half lived.

      • insourcelife August 1, 2014, 7:16 am

        While I’m not afraid to ride a bike sharing a road with cars, there are many that do. Look up any article MMM posted about biking and you’ll see lots of replies from those that will not do it no matter how much nagging is dished out. Some are afraid because there is zero biking infrastructure – I can sympathize with that as that’s the case where I live. To go 4 miles from my house to an office park you have to be on a 4 lane road with a 3 foot shoulder where cars are flying by at over 50mph and then navigate a cloverleaf clusterf$#%^ entrance/exit ramps on a bridge over an interstate. Some might have a disability preventing them from riding. The point is, bitching about biking vs. driving and “fear” won’t get them on a bike. What I’m saying is that a better approach would be to focus the conversation on the savings rate and let these “indulgences” be. If someone is saving 50% or more and wants to drive a car or go out to eat, just stop your nagging – they are doing GREAT already!

        • BananaMuffin August 1, 2014, 9:45 am

          I believe you need to take these suggestions and advice and apply them liberally to your own situation. Everyone’s story is different and one size doesn’t fit all. The point is, if you realize the end goal and can manage your path to getting there effectively, most certainly a savings rate > 50%, you don’t have to feel guilty if you’re not following the suggestions 100%. I view most MMM articles from a philosophical viewpoint and am totally on board. From a practical and implementation view, I choose to do some and choose not to do others. and of course… your mileage may very.

          My story: I’m frugal, wife hasn’t totally bought into it yet. The arguing over money isn’t worth it. 3 kids approaching college age(14,17,18), because of our past savings rate, college is for the most part already paid for. Now I’m focusing on what to do in retirement (I’m 50). I like my job and get paid well for it. At a loss at what I want to do in retirement. But I know that until I know, continuing saving for the future opens up more and more options and that’s a good thing.

      • Barb August 1, 2014, 4:55 pm

        I”m going to suggest that having a single fear (or vice) does not a life lived in fear make.More importantly, it’s possible to “live the party line” and be successful without doing every.single.thing suggested by any specific person or blogger. For some people following that party line rigidly may be the kick in the pants they need. For others, fear of not being able to do it all may hold them back from doing it at all. I say that as a regular reader and rare commenter on MMM.

        I am afraid of biking in traffic, as well as around the block. I also have a late life fear of flying (probably from living overseas for ten years and flying thirteen hours every time I wanted to visit family). I absolutely refused to touch (even with bags) the raccoon my three dogs jumped in the backyard. On the other hand, I’m not afraid of taking the subway in New York alone, no matter the end destination, I leave my car and house unlocked in a inner suburb until I go to bed, and I’d be happy to have a pit as my next dog, if I didn’t have three already. I’ve hitchiked and hosteled across Europe alone.

        I have severe knee damage so badly from falling previously that if I fell again, I could end up in the scooter category. I however, am not the best example. Some people live where there are no bike paths, some live in weather completely different from what we have in Colorado. Personally I have lived in Washington DC (great bike paths in the suburbs but deathly in other areas as my late husband could have attested to), Germany (safe everywhere and legal everywhere and bikes allowed on trains and streetcars), Connecticut (yea, right!!!) and southern Texas with triple digit weather for three months.

        My general feeling is that we’re all allowed our own fears, vices, hobbies and versions of needs and wants as long as we match our personal savings rates (or know the consequences) and are on the same page as our partners.

    • JB September 5, 2014, 12:58 pm

      I need to ride my bike to work more once it cools down a bit in the fall.

  • Catherine Jean Rose July 30, 2014, 7:58 pm

    Just returned from visiting a friend on the East Coast. She and her husband live in a 1.2 million dollar home in the suburbs, are members at the local country club, own a Porsche, Mercedes, and $100,000 sports car he just bought during what she calls his “midlife” crisis. I asked him how fast his new car goes (figured my husband might want to know). He said he really didn’t know b/c he’s always stuck in traffic with it. Comical. But wait, it gets better. She knows how frugal I am. We often have a good laugh over it. During my visit she constantly pointed out how “cheap” her husband is and how proud I should be of him b/c “he’s just like me”. Pffft. Examples: he brings hotel shampoo home from his business trips, uses one paper plate five times before throwing it away, and turns the A/C down from his iPhone at work so she’s always hot and sweaty in their 4000 sq ft McMansion. I thought, “Honey, your husband knows NOTHING about frugality.” I believe my grandma used to call these kinds of behaviors, “penny wise and pound foolish”.

    Worst part of it all was during the entire visit the guy never exhibited any genuine happiness. He was constantly preoccupied or agitated or I don’t know what. It was sad. His kids barely know him. His son would say, “Watch this dive, or watch this soccer kick.” I’d ask, “Did your dad teach you that? Does your dad play with you?” Kid would say, “Nah, so -and-so coach taught me.” I so badly wanted to play that song, ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’. Uggghhh.

    So what do you do when BOTH spouses embrace the consumptive lifestyle? I wanted to counsel the whole family. Instead, I returned to my modest – almost paid off – home, retired (@ age 44) husband, kids reading free library books on the couch, and financial independence. Thanks for the affirmation MMM. You certainly bring sanity back into the lives of those who seek it!

    • jessica July 30, 2014, 8:35 pm

      Oh man, that’s sad.

      I grew up with parents like that. I think it’s not all there fault. Once you’ve set up that life, with the friends and social circle, kids included, it’s really hard to scale back. American salaries and access to Stuff make it really easy to soothe our emotional deficits, continuously up until and after the mid life crisis car. Is there a problem? Throw money at it!

      Have you had a discussion with your friend about her rudeness. I can’t tell if it’s judgmental, misunderstanding, or maybe jealousy? It’s easier to be unhappy with her spouse and then blanket anyone that doesn’t spend lavishly as the same, unhappy. Which is ironic because it’s the stuff making him unhappy. Regardless, it’s not very classy to speak like that about ones husband or friend. If she’s saying it to your face then it seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding because I couldn’t be friends with someone like that if it is ill-willed.

    • MrsMoreWithLess July 31, 2014, 9:49 am

      Makes me think of the classic children’s book The Biggest House in the World. One of my favorites. A great book for teaching kids about mustachism.


      • saralibrarian August 1, 2014, 9:28 pm

        Thank you so much for this suggestion! We are big MMM followers and recently moved closer to our workplaces to reduce commutes but ended up in a bigger home that will suit our needs for a very long time. My four year old is obsessed with being in a “big house” and I would love to nip that in the bud. I just reserved this book from my library. Leo Leonni is a classic.

    • Marcia July 31, 2014, 4:15 pm

      That is happy and sad at the same time. Happy for you, sad for your friend and her kids.

    • JB September 5, 2014, 1:02 pm

      That has always been my issue with fast cars. Where can you really drive them fast without getting a ticket. I tell my wife to be thankful I don’t like boats or watches. Those can be saving killers. Maybe the 1.2M house could have been a $3M dollar house and they scaled back. :) We have a 2,400 sq ft house and I wonder when we will move to scale back a bit. We have no kids with a 4 bd room house. one bedroom is an office, one a guest room and one a guest room/office. Taxes will probably be $7,000 a year when we retire.

  • Schmidty July 30, 2014, 8:13 pm

    Posts like this and the positive responses to them normalize my frugal lifestyle when it feels like everyone around me is in consumer mode. This has refocussed me on my goal and reminded me that I should go outside and enjoy the summer–now. I’m going for a bike ride. Thank you.

  • Ms. Must-Stash July 30, 2014, 8:50 pm

    Just turned down a job offer today that would have paid “more” – but currently I work almost entirely from home, and the new job would have entailed a 30-mile commute (15 mi. each way) 4 days a week. Do the math and it’s surprising how “more” becomes “less.” Also by losing at least two hours each day (including having to wear actual clothes, pack a lunch, and then actually do the commute) – I would end up losing a full 8 hours a week – equivalent to working an entire extra day every week! I celebrated my decision by working the entire day outside at my patio table, in my comfortable work-from-home clothes, admiring the flowers in my garden and enjoying a delightful breeze.

    It’s so true that the more I flex my frugality muscles, the easier and more natural it becomes. That being said, I’ve also mentioned that I’m a big fan of monthly “mad money” for my husband and occasional eating out / other fun stuff. Just like everyone is saying, the crucial thing is to get the big goals to line up. As long as you’re in good shape there, it’s delightful to enjoy some small luxuries every now and again.

    • Tim July 31, 2014, 3:04 pm

      I had to weigh these options not long ago…. I used to live in the mid-west and I was living in a GREAT neighborhood 3 miles from work. Many days I would run and cycle to work easily and going by the grocery store on the way home.. I had no commuting costs to speak up. Except in the dead of winter then I would resort to driving… November thru most of March…

      I recently took a job in California north of LA a bit. I’m making a little bit more annually with my new job.. but you factor in expenses and commuting and other things and at the end of the day I am making less… (I did know this going in as I had worked out the numbers…) I do attempt to cycle to work 3 days a week. I am challenged with this due to 105 degree heat in the summers… but I am keeping in mind I expect I will be able to do this year around even in winter… so somewhere in there that seems to offset the 5 months of year I had to hang up my bicycle in the Midwest.

      However, the I couldn’t pass up this job opportunity. It is a career defining position with a company that is doing things that have never been done before and is laying the ground work for future commercial space travel.

      A good thing that has come out of the higher expenses that I knew I would also encounter it is in another way forcing me to be even more Mustachian in other areas that I haven’t been before. Great Stuff!!!

      • LadyStache August 2, 2014, 1:11 am

        I’m on your team, Tim.

        I moved from a city where I was working from my apartment full-time, with a very frugal lifestyle, to Silicon Valley for a job promotion with my employer. I grew up here, so I was fully prepared for the high home prices and the massive commute – big change from no commute! I had to move further out of town to afford a home; my childhood neighborhood is in the range of $2M now. Yes, 2 million dollars for a 2500 sq ft house. I know. You definitely “can’t go home again” if you grew up in SV.

        But my new higher salary and benefits far outweighed the downsides, as did the opportunities for upward mobility at my job, and the chance to see all my old friends more often.

        My hubby and I are a SINK couple (with me working) for the moment, and life couldn’t be better. With all the years of working at home and saving like fiends, we have a good ‘stache growing on the side. I’m enjoying the new challenges of finding different ways to be mustachian, since riding my bike to work (30+ miles one way!) is out of the question. I still work from home 1-2 days a week, and carpool the rest of the time. I have a garden, and swap goodies with my neighbors who also have gardens and chickens.

        I have no regrets about this move, as we now have a home of our own (in a place where 2 bd apartments are $3000 or more) and among other positives, we did the math and found that if I work a few more years I can still retire early and pay off the mortgage in time to enjoy the rest of my life.

        Some may see “Silicon Valley” and immediately call our decision stupid, or face-punch-worthy, but it’s about the long view to us. I’d rather take this chance now, work my butt off with the best job opportunity offered to me, and get FI the way we want it, despite the higher cost of living. It’s a trade-off worth making for us.

      • LadyStache August 2, 2014, 1:13 am

        I’m on your team, Tim.

        I moved from a city where I was working from my apartment full-time, with a very frugal lifestyle, to Silicon Valley for a job promotion with my employer. I grew up here, so I was fully prepared for the high home prices and the massive commute – big change from no commute! I had to move further out of town to afford a home; my childhood neighborhood is in the range of $2M now. Yes, 2 million dollars for a 2500 sq ft house. I know. You definitely “can’t go home again” if you grew up in SV.

        But my new higher salary and benefits far outweighed the downsides, as did the opportunities for upward mobility at my job, and the chance to see all my old friends more often.

        My hubby and I are a SINK couple (with me working) for the moment, and life couldn’t be better. With all the years of working at home and saving like fiends, we have a good ‘stache growing on the side. I’m enjoying the new challenges of finding different ways to be mustachian, since riding my bike to work (30+ miles one way!) is out of the question. I still work from home 1-2 days a week, and carpool the rest of the time. I have a garden, and swap goodies with my neighbors who also have gardens and chickens.

        I have no regrets about this move, as we now have a home of our own (in a place where 2 bd apartments are $3000 or more) and among other positives, we did the math and found that if I work a few more years I can still retire early and pay off the mortgage in time to enjoy the rest of my life.

        Some may see “Silicon Valley” and immediately call our decision stupid, or face-punch-worthy, but it’s about the long view to us. I’d rather take this chance now, work my butt off with the best job opportunity offered to me, and get FI the way we want it, despite the higher cost of living. It’s a trade-off worth making for us.

        • tim August 2, 2014, 1:34 am

          Ladystache Sounds like the two of you made the right decision!!

          OH How I miss the garden back in my previous home. I rarely bought produce as I grew most everything I wanted and froze it for use thoughout the year.

          Not much grows here in the desert… but I might try next year.

          One of the benefits of living in a place where Everything is more expensive… is that I do plan to leave here once things with work and life seems to be on the outs… The next place I move to will surely be cheaper and thus all the financial planning will go even further. So there is an upside to it from that sense I think.

          • LadyStache August 2, 2014, 3:29 pm

            Great plan Tim!

            We kind of went the other way – we plan to stay here after we reach FI.

            Even though I have a crazy commute and the higher costs that come with being near SV, we chose this town and our little 900 sq ft house to be “retirement friendly” for when we’re not working anymore. Except for my drive to work, we don’t need a car at all to get everywhere here, even the hospital and all the recreation areas. Our home is small enough to maintain cheaply, it will be paid off sooner rather than later, the taxes should be manageable, there is no HOA, and we can grow our own food in the yard.

            I’d be curious to hear what MMM and the other mustachians think about this plan, as it’s kind of backwards from MMM’s philosophy of living near work, downsizing later, and all that.

    • Marcia July 31, 2014, 4:27 pm

      I just had a conversation with a coworker about this early last week, as he is thinking about buying a house an hour away. Of course, it’s the difference between affordable and not.

      I have another friend/ former coworker who is interviewing for a job an hour away. She’s not happy about that, but she has been unemployed for a year and needs income.

      It’s a topic I think about a lot. I live 10 miles from work. My husband and I work a block from each other. We drive separately – our schedules are different because of school/ childcare drop off and pick up schedules – it’s not possible to do both and work an 8 hour day (and currently our companies will not let us cut our hours).

      I really wish we had purchased a house near where we work. At the time we bought the house, it was between our jobs, closer to his, and he biked. That company went out of business. In theory, I think that having your house and work be near each other is ideal, but in reality, people don’t necessarily stay at the some job for long periods of time. That makes it harder. If you are a homeowner, when do you cut and run? Selling/buying a house incurs quite a bit of expense, and of course you may be underwater.

      If we lived closer to work, our house would be larger with a garage (simply because the houses are 2 decades newer), our commute could be done by bike or on foot, and we’d have much less driving overall. But at our prices, the real estate agent’s fee is $40,000, and it means pulling our son out of his current school and finding new child care. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me. At least not yet. Plus, I hate moving.

  • Cynthia July 30, 2014, 9:05 pm

    I’ll start out by stating that I love your website and the whole mindset that it encompasses. When I first read the previous post I realized that these two people were out of sync with each other, and that is not a good recipe for a happy marriage. They need to get their goals aligned before they can work out their reasons for her unhappiness.
    My situation: I’ve been married for 41 years (!), and amazed my poor hubby put up with me for that long. We are both retired, with nice pensions and plenty of $$ stashed away. So we don’t need to be really frugal, but I still have pangs when we do have to take money out of the IRAs, even though the spending is perfectly justified. (house repairs, so we can fix the house to sell it and leave So Cal and go to CO, where my daughter lives w/ granddaughter and future grandbaby). I can’t wait to downsize and live in a smaller house, walk everywhere, revel in the CO outdoors, and cut my cost of living by about 25%. But the big issue is that my hubby and I are in perfect agreement. This complaining lady needs to figure out what is going on in her marriage, ’cause it ain’t good! I’ll spend money on something if I think I really believe it makes me happy, but only if the hubster agrees. That’s the point, both partners have to agree on the need for both spending and frugality. That is what makes for a happy marriage and a long successful life.

  • Mike July 30, 2014, 9:07 pm

    The ** you shared is very deep. I was looking for that. Thank you.

    • debt debs July 31, 2014, 6:26 am

      I agree. I liked that part. “being honorable and consciously choosing to serve others leads to a happier life, because you’re constantly challenged and reassured that you are doing the right thing. Making selfish choices is like having that third piece of cake: thrilling initially, but quickly followed by a much longer period of unhappiness and repercussions.”

      Also the part about how you deal with your son because I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

      • Jason July 31, 2014, 10:49 am

        The ** mainly made me want to eat cake…

  • Claire Bonk July 30, 2014, 9:09 pm

    When my husband and I first met, I wore ski clothes that I had owned for 16 years but lived on $40,000/year. He lived on less than $30,000 but had super nice high quality gear. A match made in heaven. He has learned to appreciate that old is sometimes better than new and I have cut down other spending.1

  • Megan July 30, 2014, 9:15 pm

    This is one of the better posts you have done in a while, MMM, and I generally like them all. I think you captured the philosophy and motivation so well and I also love the fact that you acknowledge and embrace our human foibles. Sometimes it can be off-putting and demotivating when starting this journey to compare yourself to the super mustachians on the forums who can always find a place to cut, a side of your face to punch, etc. Most of the times it is good, but like with a diet or starting an exercise regime, you have to build in failures and indulgences otherwise you won’t stick with it in the long run. Thanks for this column. I am sure it will go a long way for those half of couples who are trying to get their other half on board.

  • Carter July 30, 2014, 9:36 pm

    I think we need a dating forum to link single MMMers. So hard to find women who share my enthusiasm for the MMM lifestyle.

  • Eve July 30, 2014, 9:54 pm

    I do have to say though that it is helpful to have one spouse be a bit more Mustachian than the other. I am totally on board with this philosophy in spirit. I see the value, and I want to accomplish paying off debt and being able to retire early. But in practice, I find it really hard to buckle down. My husband has always been much more naturally in line with these practices, and so it helps a lot for me to be accountable to him. He’s not a dick about it, but he’s good at reminding me WHY I shouldn’t be wasting money at Old Navy or Target when I get the urge to shop for stuff I don’t need.

  • Mike July 30, 2014, 10:53 pm

    You know Pete, for 2 years I haven’t had an alcohol drink. (Not that I have a drinking problem, I’m just careful with my health.)

    Perhaps this Friday, I’ll go to my local beautiful clubhouse overlooking the valley, waterfalls and golfers, bring my 2 dogs, and drink a beer. Cheers, my friend.

  • George July 30, 2014, 11:16 pm

    so you did not take off the full 2 weeks? It is ok by me (and possible others), you are allowed to take a vacation to relax from the constant blog writing. In fact, I am ok with closing the blog during the summer months (June-Aug) if you want, that gives you a break and us the readers a break from worrying that we missed a new article. After all, the sun is shining and there is plenty of outdoors fun stuff to do.

    The only thing I ask is that a clear “re-open” date be established in writing, i.e. Sept 1st would work well. Something about the start of September always invokes a sense of responsibility or work should be done. If people want more action in the mean time, there is always the forums to check out. Cheers!!

  • Sara July 31, 2014, 5:07 am

    Good points, MMM. 5 years ago my marriage ended. I was in my late 40s, had been a stay at home mom for a long time. We lived frugally, though, and separated frugally as well. I went to grad school on scholarship, while I worked part time and collected alimony and child support. Took a job with a start up just a couple of months out of school. When I left the marriage I had $400 dollars. My refrigerator that I had bought used died and I couldn’t replace it unless I charged it. I borrowed the money from a friend at no interest, bought the cheapest one I could find. Five years later, I am still not making great money but I have solid work experience and some great volunteer work as well. But the truth is within 5 years with an income the first two at around $25000 (sometimes lower) and now at $50000. I own my 4 year old car outright, no debt of any kind. Still have my 790 (probably higher now) credit score. I have purchased everything we need, including several luxuries such as an expensive camera, annual series of classical concerts, and a personal trainer. I am about to buy a modest house in a relatively inexpensive area where I figure I can live for the next 30 years or so. I don’t drink much or smoke anything, I eat cheap but healthy food, my high credit score has kept interest rates low when I have decided to finance (such as my car at 1.9% but now paid off). I did get a windfall inheritance but it wasn’t that large and it simply moved my financial goals about one year and a half. My favorite (and cheapest) local supermarket sent out coupons for $10 off $100 purchase — one coupon per week for 10 weeks. A very nice deal if I couple it with loss leaders or buy things that normally don’t go on sale at great prices. But I couldn’t use all of them, because spending $400 a month to feed the three of us (and one little cat) was too much money, even when I stocked up on things. Whole foods diet, cheap or free (and very enjoyable) entertainment (even the symphony only ends up being around $20 a ticket and the ushers will often move me from the cheap seats to the ones in front if there is space), very heavy library use, cheap redbox movie rentals if the library doesn’t have what we want, no cable, furnishing the entire house with yard sale purchases, cheap cell phones (love the Republic wireless plan), cheap town recreational sports for my kids and lots of fulfilling and cheap recreational interests (quilting and other sewing, knitting, cooking, lots of homemade music, gardening, photography, journaling walking and running, reading and reading aloud to and with my kids, etc.), living in a tiny rental house (under 500 square feet with no additional storage), hanging laundry, and lots of other frugal hacks learned over the years. Anyway, I can’t say we suffered, it was all a lot of fun and now we should be moving into a larger house (1300 square feet) within the next month. I estimate that mortgage can be paid off in 12 years at my current salary, but I don’t plan to stay at this salary at all. I figure with a little effort I can make at least 15K more a year with a lateral career move and also pick up some benefits that I don’t have now such as a 401K. I max out my Roth IRA every year and will continue to do that; my investments are well researched and appropriate balanced. I am still kind of shocked about how successful the frugality and smart planning has been for us. If I had known at 20 or 30 what I know now, I certainly would have been retired a long time ago. (Actually when still married we were living entirely on savings/investments/pension, none if it in large amounts). mmm is right. This stuff works.

    • Barb July 31, 2014, 3:18 pm

      You GO girl! I felt inspired just reading about your accomplishments!

  • EarlyRetirementGuy July 31, 2014, 5:13 am

    I’ve only recently started my journey and trying to convince the other half to come along for the ride has been difficult. Instead of nagging about spending I’m trying to “be the change you want to see” by demonstrating to her that I’m perfectly happy without the spending and she can be too. I’ve also started mentioning about the future goals, especially as she wants a child and I’m sure would love to be able to stay at home with it each day.
    Bringing a partner along can be a challenge at first, but i’m sure its well worth it in the end!

  • Vilx- July 31, 2014, 5:37 am

    Another way to look at this:

    Everything that we do is because of motivation. And motivation can be either positive or negative (or the proverbial carrot and stick). When we do X because of positive motivation, then we want the reward that we get when X is done. When we do X because of negative motivation, then we’re afraid of the punishment that will befall us if we don’t do X. Note that both positive and negative motivations can be internal or external. I’m not just talking about the external motivation here.

    And the thing is – if you want to motivate another person, then it’s much easier to come up with a negative motivation (threaten them, often unintentionally, indirectly or subtly) than it is to come up with positive one (tempt them).

    But negative motivation has negative side effects. It will cause the person to resist, and even if it’s successful, the person will only do the minimum amount of work needed to avoid the punishment, since it would be pointless to do more. And in the longterm negative motivation causes either apathy (it doesn’t work anymore and you need stronger and stronger threats) or general unhappiness and fractured relationships. And more deviously – fear reduces rational thought. The extreme example – panic – makes this obvious, but even light fear will drastically reduce mental and creative capacity. This is why negative motivation works badly for tasks that require cognitive skills. Such as, say, figuring out how else we can save while being happier.

    Positive motivation on the other hand has the exactly opposite side-effects. It makes person want to do as much as possible, to increase the reward as much as possible. It also gives a nice, happy feeling because you keep having pleasant thoughts about the reward. However it is also easier to abandon sometimes, because if you don’t do X, then you’re not any worse off. You don’t get the reward, sure, but you also don’t get punished.

    So, to really get someone on the Mustachian bandwagon, you need to tempt them. Don’t ever threaten them with “don’t you see how BAD it is, when we spend”. That’s negative motivation with all the negative side effects. You need to get them salivating over all the sweet, sweet rewards that they can get from being frugal. But that’s much harder.

    And, to add to the difficulty, not always a positive reward results in a positive motivation. For example, take a typical employee whose boss tells him than they will get a raise if they perform well on the next project. Sounds a lot like positive motivation, but it’s not. The employee will actually experience fear, not temptation. He won’t be tempted to “get the raise”, but rather he will be afraid to “lose it”. From his point of view, the reward is almost his, he just needs to avoid screwing up. And that’s negative motivation.

    Good luck!

  • Zoltan July 31, 2014, 5:47 am

    Another great article! Greetings from Hungary! Yes, there are MMM fans over here, too (at least one).
    My transformation to a Moustachian happened about 5 years ago and I had to make a very hard decision: I divorced my wife partly because she did not share my view of future (she is a big spender and very materialistic). Luckily we did not have kids. This may sound brutal but believe me this was the best decision of my life. Since then I have married a fantastic girl who thinks the same way, we have two beautiful baby daughters. Finding the right partner is absolutely crucial. We have no debts whatsoever, we live in a beautiful not-too-big house nearby a lake and we are saving up as much as we can. We still have at least 7 years to financial independence but at least we have a common plan.

  • dude July 31, 2014, 7:05 am

    It’s been really gratifying to see my wife slowly but steadily coming on board. When she saw her 401k balance recently (after I suggested changes and increased contributions), she was pretty surprised. And more and more, she’s learning from her friends how little they have and how deeply in debt some of them are, and it’s given her a ton of satisfaction to not be in their shoes. She acknowledges my efforts for that, which is nice. She recently got a significant pay raise and said she intended to save/invest all of it. That’s my girl! Believe me, she wasn’t always this way — she was $25K in credit card debt at one point on a $60K salary. And spent, spent, spent. But as she’s seen what saving can do over the last 8 years of our marriage, she’s really turned it around. If she can do it, anybody can.

  • Jeff July 31, 2014, 7:19 am

    This article is awesome, thanks! Even more impressive was the slide deck – that guy knows how to build a solid presentation. +1 for the correct use of Powerpoint!

  • Tim Stobbs July 31, 2014, 7:55 am

    Just a note on the ‘why’. It doesn’t actually need to be common for your plan to move forward. For example, in our case my wife can’t give a crap about retiring early. Not interested as she loves her job and doesn’t get what everyone else is whining about. So were my dreams crushed? Nope, we found another angle that means much more to her: freedom from money worries. She grew up in a single parent household where money was always an issue. If the washer broke they couldn’t afford to fix it without help from family. So she loves our ‘early retirement’ plan after I explained for her it would be the ‘never worrry about money again’ plan. So our reasons on the why are totally different, but they can work together to get a similar result. Hopefully that helps a few people out there. Good luck.

  • postconsumerlife July 31, 2014, 8:05 am

    Great advice. Should be read by everyone considering marriage. Going into it, you really have no idea how important it is to be on the same page. Ruin my marriage? MMM is like free therapy for mine. Many times, your posts are a launching point for important discussions and realigning of goals.

    But my favorite part of the post is how you honor your kids’ questioning of authority. It’s one of the things I love most and hate most (when it’s me she questions) about my eldest daughter. Tough quality in a kid. Awesome quality in an adult. If she makes it there.

  • SavvyFinancialLatina July 31, 2014, 8:08 am

    I talk to a lot of people at work and they all say they can’t retire because they don’t have enough money. It always surprises me because our company pays fairly well, and most of them are part of a dual income couple. So where is the money going??? Some of our visitors have commented our parking lot is full of really nice cars. They are right. My boss just recently told me he plans on buying an Audi, but he always complains how he will never retire. And during bonus and salary negotiation time, he says are you glad you received a raise? A measly 1-2% raise at that. It’s so odd! And it has put into super saving mentality. I don’t want to be stuck in corporate forever.

    • Kay July 31, 2014, 4:07 pm

      Do you work in my office? I constantly hear co-workers say they don’t know when they can retire while they drive leased cars and buy $400 handbags. In one recent discussion my boss scoffed at the idea that I could retire if I had $1 million. I keep quiet about my plans for early retirement as well as my lifestyle at work. Most people just don’t understand.

      • Blair July 31, 2014, 10:49 pm

        It reminds me of the people at my office who think they get an “extra” check when there are 3 Fridays in a month.

        • mariarose August 9, 2014, 3:55 am

          ? When are there not 3 Fridays in a month?

          • Patrick August 9, 2014, 2:03 pm

            Assuming they are paid every 2nd Friday, then for August 2014 (for example) they would be paid 3 times that month (the 1st, the 15th and the 29th).

            Some people actually do imagine they get an “extra” check that month. “Yay! I deserve a treat!”

  • GB_Levi July 31, 2014, 8:22 am

    Yet another great post MMM. For me, being frugal has been relatively easy all my life. I grew up in a relatively wealthy middle-class family and always had a sense of guilt when my mother would spend money on me. My wife, on the other hand, grew up with a family that didn’t have much money. So when the two of us started to become wealthy, I actually found pleasure in acting poor (opposite of my childhood) while she found pleasure in indulging (opposite of hers). Not that she spend tons of money, but more than I would have liked.

    Being naggy certainly didn’t help. I found much more success helping her see the big picture. “Should we buy this new $3,000 couch?” “We could, but I really like our couch and would rather spend time going for walks than sitting inside”. I find that framing the naggyness with the big picture in mind really helped.

  • bob werner July 31, 2014, 8:30 am

    What if spouse does not want 450K in 10 years? Some spouses do not get the difference between having money and not having it. “So we have money but drive shitty cars and live in a subpar house?” “umm, I’ll take the very nice house, nice cars and lattes over a number on a piece of paper.”

    • quiviran August 2, 2014, 7:20 am

      Depends on the meaning of “have the money”. If it means “we have cash to buy the house and car free and clear”, then go for it. If it means “we can qualify the loan and earn enough to cover the payments”, then spouse is completely missing the point of MMM. It’s about freeing oneself from the bondage that “covering the payments” brings with it. The “numbers on the piece of paper” are measures of how far away that freedom is. Voluntarily enslaving oneself is sometimes necessary, but should always be done with a worthy goal in mind.

  • Wade July 31, 2014, 8:36 am

    I have some work to do. My wife enjoyed Pt. 1, but I think she was on the side of the complainer lady. I asked her to read Pt 2 and she declined. Sigh. I have some creative work to do to get us to a more “Mustachian” existence.

  • misterfancypantz July 31, 2014, 8:37 am

    MMM… I have never felt more Mustachian than I do now after reading this post… I have always connected with your ideas about saving and living beneath your means, but never considered us even close to Mustachian due to our spending levels and some other “bad” habits. However as a high income and net worth family we definitely spend a lot more on the luxuries we find important and since we can afford them we rarely think twice about it.

    Your perspective on this is eye opening and comforting.

    Thanks for always being inspiring to people in all walks of life

  • Going2ER July 31, 2014, 8:57 am

    My spouse and I are not always on the exact same page, but getting closer. We each get a monthly allowance that we are free to spend on anything, it can be a latte or saved up for a new car, if that’s what we really want. We are a one car family, and have been for a number of years, I work 26Km away from home so it is currently a neccessity, although I am trying to get work to move me closer to home, which would be ideal. DH works within walking distance and we live close to downtown so we are also close to the library and grocery stores, we really don’t spend much time in other stores. Because of our allowance we don’t feel like we are deprived, we have the option to get treats and I think this saves alot of friction in a marriage. Like all things in a marriage money should be discussed and sometimes compromises are necessary, but such is life.

    And to the original poster in part 1, I am the female and I am the one who is more frugual, so no, MMM is not a hard sell to the females.

  • Big-D July 31, 2014, 9:30 am

    I know some religions have a 10 commandments, but these are the 20 which I strive to live. This goes along with what you are saying in terms of responses to authority (#1 – #4) below.
    1) We all have a genetic makeup which helps us determine who we are (personality, health, etc.)
    2) Our personality and temperament are derived from your upbringing, and all social interactions.
    3) Our personality, responses, memories, perceptions are all the sum of our experiences.
    4) With extreme effort, where you come from does not have to define you going forward if you have a goal in mind (and drive to achieve it).
    5) Life is a journey and a series of choices.
    6) Life is like walking down a corridor of doors (being different possibilities). Many times the doors are left opened, but through action or inaction, doors can close. If you enter one door, you enter a new corridor of doors, with different possibilities awaiting you.
    7) When choosing a mate/partner, you want someone who has similar to you in the following ways (or have understandings in place prior to making the relationship official) as it will stave off 95% of all fights:
    * Child rearing (methodology, how many, how to raise them, etc.)
    * Religion
    * Money (how much, how to life, lifestyle, etc.)
    * Ability to communicate (Can you have rational conversations? Can you talk about the weather? This is all you will have when you get older)
    * Attraction (and sex drive)
    8) Every time a person gets angry at you, the reason is they feel they have a right to something, and you are impeding their right to what ever it is. I have never found a case for this to be wrong (be it armed robbery, too much spending, etc.)
    9) Have a goal in life. IE. Have a 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 year plan
    10) When choosing a career, college degree, etc. pick something you can stand which will help you get your goals.
    11) Spend less than you earn.
    12) Pay off all your bills every month.
    13) Only take on debt if it aligns with your long term goals.
    14) Do onto others as you would have them do unto you. (This is family as well as strangers)
    15) Do things for others you don’t want to do, as it will come back to you 10 fold.
    16) There will always be someone richer, smarter, faster, better than you at almost everything. What do you don’t see is how miserable or what the sacrificed to get to where they are at.
    17) No matter what you do, try your hardest, and it will work out.
    18) Practice makes perfect. You need to spend 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.
    19) Everything in life is balance of trade offs. If you spend 5 hours video gaming, you are not spending 5 hours w/ the family or 5 hours learning a new skill
    20) Always strive to learn new things, or understand things more deeply. There are many levels to everything, and understanding what makes up a problem, solution, etc. makes you a more well rounded individual.

  • Niusha July 31, 2014, 9:33 am

    MMM, I think when you say “But if you’re already locked in with a wife and kids…” it’s better to change “wife” to “spouse”. With “wife” it feels like your audience is only men which we all know is not true.

    • Red August 4, 2014, 10:18 pm

      Good call.

      • Vickey November 5, 2014, 12:31 pm

        Yes, and make that “partner”, as not all committed relationships have been formalized by church or state, nor are they all hetero.

  • The Roamer July 31, 2014, 9:43 am

    This was a great post. At some point I realized I had to stop nagging my spouse.( I’m still working on it) amazingly it was the hypermiling challenge that open the doors and now today we were talking about getting into peer lending. It has been a journey.

    I like what other have said about figuring out your saving rate goal and then relaxing. My problem is that if I can up it I want to, cutting out any extra work time but we are hovering around 60% so really I can and should chillax.

    Also that PowerPoint was amazing! Thanks so much Andy and thanks MMM for sharing. You ate right MMM your temperament has so much to do with behavior. It amazing I still find it so curious your family dynamic with food, you always alude to the fact that you prepare separate meals for little mm. (that seems like such an American practice, I know your Canadian). I’ve always been of the you eat what everyone else eats and I feel like in most parts of the world that is the practice. But I usually draw the line at food that I myself can’t stomach. However I also read a parenting blog and the author pretty much agrees with your perspective ( offer your kid healthy options and trust your child to eat what he needs) so I’ve been loosening the reins I certainly don’t want my son to have a traumatizing experience with any one food and then close the door on it forever. You should check it out MMM I think you’d like it. Google Janet Lansbury .

    Ok great post. It’s great to hear your voice again.

  • Paul July 31, 2014, 9:58 am

    We have an uneasy peace in our family regards frugality. We have managed a great deal on a middle-of-the-road income. I was able to stay home with the kids for twelve years while working odd jobs (editing, beekeeping, writing) on the side. I can now work part time and still be home for my kids when they get home from school. We have paid off our house and have zero consumer debt.

    However, I would classify myself as a minimalist and certain habits of my wife’s drive me crazy. Chief among these is the grocery list. I shop by deciding how much money I have in my grocery budget and then plan accordingly. My wife writes whatever she wants on “the list” and tells the kids that they should write down what they want on the list. It’s a fundamental difference in ways of life. If I run out of milk, and I only have twenty dollars left in the food budget, I either don’t buy more milk or make soy milk. Now that I’m married – and while I sound like I’m complaining, I’m happily married for 18 years – if I don’t come home with milk, or anything else on the list, it’s a major issue. I simply cannot get my wife excited about living on a budget. I think it boils down to a difference in family background. When we visit my in-laws, I hear my mother-in-law constantly saying “put it on the list.”

    We have the same issue with stuff, to a lesser degree. Granted, I would use the same stuff until it was literally unusable, whether I had the money to replace it or not. My wife does like to shop, but she does do it at thrift stores. We now have three couches. My wife wanted a leather couch. We found one at the thrift store that looked horrible. We offered $75 for it, and they accepted. I picked it up on my bicycle using our bikes at work trailer. It cleaned up to look almost like new. I am constantly trying to dump possessions, and my wife is constantly trying to fill the house back up. I’d like a relatively empty, Zen-like house. My wife likes full and plush.

    My wife is grateful for my frugality, and she likes the fact that I manage the money. (She was bouncing checks regularly when we first got married), but I can’t get her excited about approaching savings as something we can do together. I have to squirrel money away behind the scenes while buying everything on “the list”.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 31, 2014, 12:59 pm

      That’s a pretty interesting story, Paul. I’m like you in the furnishings department (I like airy indoor spaces and hate tripping over things), but like your wife at the grocery store (never had a budget and enjoy bountiful food). But with the help of Costco and cost-per-calorie calculations, we still come out OK.

    • Miss BNE August 1, 2014, 11:36 pm

      Maybe some sort of nesting mentality going on there? I used to be like that until i read an anti-consumerist book that suggested a 3 month no spending challenge or something like that?. Can’t say I made it all the way through the challenge but gee it opened my eyes and made me more aware of my spending.

  • CT July 31, 2014, 10:07 am

    Excellent post! Very well said. I am, by nature the kind to live & let live; controlling anybody is just not in me. My husband, although not wasteful, also is not very frugal. If he decides he wants something the price doesn’t even factor into it. He has what I call American Entitlement Disorder (AED), the rationale of this disorder: I work hard, I should have/deserve it. I could pitch a fit and forbid such purchases, but what good would come of it?
    As posted– these purchases are not enough to derail us. We are debt free and I (he has a few too) have enough daily frugal habits well established to see us through.
    Thanks for the reminder and the “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar approach”.

    • Barb July 31, 2014, 3:35 pm

      I never heard of American Entitlement Disorder but my husband freely admits that he has G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). He has a high end camera and some how “needs” new lens and other photography related gadgets when they are first released. He is aware that reading photography forums creates a sense of urgency and desire and he rarely succumbs but he still longs for the stuff. We have no debt and both retired early so he can buy whatever he wants so I never encourage or discourage him. Still….an interesting term for it and we both use it to defuse our spendy desires. My syndrome would involve craft supplies…..

  • Prudence Debtfree July 31, 2014, 10:22 am

    I am finally getting this stuff – and I hit my fifties last year. I’m glad that it’s never too late to make a start, but I do regret the fact that careers, job loss, and money stress were very much present as we raised our children. What an immeasurable bonus to have financial freedom – or at least a very solid financial foundation – before raising children. It’s something that I used to think only the aristocrats among us could do.

    • Theobromine August 11, 2014, 9:32 am

      Yes, MMM please see if you can encourage the “starting over” crowd. Failed or stalled careers, jobloss, medical bills, divorce, moves that didn’t work out and bad credit suck up a lifetime of money and motivation.
      We all want to keep getting back up for another round – but I meet many middle-agers that have no hope of retirement and are just getting by or are needing help from family and governnment. I don’t want to be one of those people – and have tried but failed to pick jobs or investments that didn’t steal my future -again and again. I don’t need you to roll your eyes – it can happen and does all too often-you just don’t know or see it. I’m checking out your system to make a run for it again and its my last ditch effort. Yard sale is my middle name. The kids are gone and 2nd hubby and I are all go for the gold -but we live in a depressed area where pay and opportunity is low and taxes are high. Just letting you know that we are not all spring chickens anymore but still appreciate any encouragement and advice. I know people determined to die with as much debt as possible – but my stress levels are too high with debt and I need to get them both under control. Becoming a subscriber and pushing the reset. Thanks in advance.

  • Mike B July 31, 2014, 10:35 am

    MMM had a suggestion in one of his articles a while ago that really connected for my wife and me: Make a list of everything that you could do with your free time. Sort it by cost. Do the free/cheap ones (or better yet, do the ones that make you money).

    Once you have a list full of free museum visits, hikes in the park, etc., it became hard to justify mindless consumer experiences (“shopping,” movies, casual dining). The remarkable thing too is that often times the free experiences as fun or more fun than expensive ones. I enjoy going to the free outdoor movie watches where you pack your own picnic far more than $10 movie tickets and movie theatre junkfood.

  • Michelle July 31, 2014, 10:58 am

    Loved the slide “No more Whole Foods–this place is killing us.” I was just thinking the same thing last night.

    • Tricia July 31, 2014, 2:49 pm

      I found the Whole Foods slide interesting as well but for a completely different reason. I started shopping Whole Foods rather than the Safeway because, for me, it is close enough to walk to vs. driving to the Safeway. Ditching the whole car thing. ..

      Knowing I have to haul everything home… I started buying only what I needed for that weeks recipes from the bulk bins. I didn’t change what I chose to eat, I just bought 2 cups flour vs. 5lb bag sort of thing. And after all is said and done a few months later – I ‘m eating organically, seriously cut down on food waste, walking more and saving about 30% off my previous grocery bill. It surprised the hell outta me.

    • jessica July 31, 2014, 5:49 pm

      I really don’t think whole foods should be classified as a grocery store. It gets away with it, but it’s really a specialty market. But yeah, when I do go there, it’s so good. I find I don’t like Going there often because the novelty of fresh baked food wears off.

    • k August 1, 2014, 1:11 pm

      that’s why it’s called Whole Paycheck.

  • Brandon July 31, 2014, 11:13 am

    Just yesterday I was working on my house that I am in the process of flipping. It was a perfect Wednesday afternoon with cooler than normal weather for July. I began thinking about how much fun it would be if just one of my friends could be here with me, instead they are locked away at their job, working 40+ hours a week, spending their life doing something they don’t want to do. If they could just figure out how to live a good frugal life like I have, we could be out enjoying a relaxed afternoon, laughing, working, and making money at the same time. Then today I read this MMM article and it says, “These little changes are ridiculously effective, and also ridiculously easy, which is why I find it ridiculous that almost everyone is broke in this country except those with such ridiculously high incomes that they can’t manage to spend it all.”

    Wow, that’s exactly what I was thinking! If my friends could change their life a little bit just as I have, we could all be enjoying our free time and living life. Please keep on giving out this good advice and spreading the word Money Mustache… maybe someday we can all have friends that can enjoy life with us!

  • FI Pilgrim July 31, 2014, 11:21 am

    It’s amazing to me how many people never ask “why?” They just grow up, work all the time, and consume. My wife is totally on board with my desire to get to “enough” so that we can break free from financial slavery.

  • Free To Pursue July 31, 2014, 11:48 am

    I couldn’t agree more. My husband has always been frugal and he knew that pushing me to share his perspective would not work because I’m stubborn as hell and do NOT appreciate being told what to do. Instead, he patiently let me “discover” the benefits of frugality on my own.

    Now that I’m a convert, well, let’s just say he’s one happy worry-free fellow. I might be even more frugal than he is :).

  • Edith Esquivel July 31, 2014, 11:52 am

    I believe Mustachianism gave me the goal. I didn’t have debt, I had an emergency fund, savings, paid up house, car, and when a lot of well-paid extra work started coming in, I didn’t feel motivated to keep working more than my 8 hours. Mustachianism gave me a reason I had never thought of: financial independence, in the real sense of the expression. Before, I thought financial independence was the ability to get a job. How silly! But maybe I was not the only one. So this mustachianism allowed me to see the whole picture, the whole meaning of money. I feel empowered, clear, motivated. Thank you.

  • Frugal Paragon July 31, 2014, 11:54 am

    I was the first one to find MMM, but once my husband came on board, it was awesome–no more ME being the naysayer for things he wanted! There’s an outside authority now! I think it was just too abstract for him to see that small sacrifices (a) weren’t really sacrifices at all and (b) would be worth it later. Neither of us is perfect, but we hold each other accountable–I try to do that without being the “boss.”

  • CathyG July 31, 2014, 12:24 pm

    Great article and one that resonates with me – especially the bit about response to authority!

    Money management is a very tricky business when you have a one-earner family, with one member a dyed-in-the-wool Mustachian, and the other a spender. Since the earner is Mustachian, and the spender is not…(and spender has her own unique set of baggage surrounding the money=love problem) it can be a sticky wicket at times. However, I must say, the JOY that I witness when my dude is saving money is very real and tangible. And slowly, I am learning to change my habits to help us as a family to cultivate that kind of joy and contentment.
    I have an incredible talent for finding ways to spend money. Thankfully my spouse has an innate ability to see the long game, to put money away, and then show me the benefits! Since he is the earner, it’s sometimes easy for me to feel like he has “authority” over the spending. But he reminds me that we are a team, and my contribution, while not measured in dollar bills, is just as great.
    I have to remind myself at times that frugality is not a personality flaw – but rather something that makes him such a great guy to be married to. He’s got the long game plan for us – and it doesn’t include credit card bills or long hours of work.
    And, just for the record, Mustachianism has not ruined our marriage! Having a community, a name, a WAY to identify the life-goals and strivings, has been an amazing gift to us. I may still be a “wannabe”, and definitely have a long way to go, but damn! I think I have some peach fuzz.

  • Okara July 31, 2014, 12:51 pm

    Interesting discussion going on here. I guess it’s a matter of this couple learning the difference between frugal and downright stingy. However, it appears they have other issues besides internal spending policies, primarily a lack of will to discuss mutual goals and how to achieve them as a team. So many useful suggestions in the above articles and replies that I won’t belabour the point.
    But heck! if it was me, I’d go at that stupid blow-up sofa with a steak knife, buy a good, used second-hand one and make some big comfy cushions to match. (With an old sewing machine and decorator fabric found in the discount bin).

    • tallgirl1204 July 31, 2014, 3:13 pm

      I’m with you, completely. Really? A blow-up sofa? I think this is an example of two people who are frugal in different ways, each trying to impose his/her “right way” on the other.

      Our current sofa was a freebie from the neighbors; all that was wrong with it was that it didn’t suit them any more. It is way comfy, and better yet is about 30 years into “off-gassing,” so that my husband feels satisfied we’re not being poisoned by chemicals (this is something I don’t buy into so much; on the other hand he was insistent on glass baby bottles, about one year before the BPH issues in plastic bottles because widely publicized, so maybe he knows stuff I don’t).

      And maybe this is the point: when you live with someone, you have to spend a fair amount of time considering that they know stuff that you don’t and vice versa, and if you think your way is best, you need to figure out how to share that in a way that still honors their thinking.

  • Dean July 31, 2014, 12:57 pm

    Did I view his slides correctly? No more going to the dentist? I’m not sure I can go along with that one…

    • Rachel July 31, 2014, 1:37 pm

      I think it was eliminating dental debt. So they probably had work done on a payment plan.

      • Dean July 31, 2014, 8:42 pm

        I didn’t get that feeling, but I hope you’re right.

  • Marcia July 31, 2014, 1:11 pm

    I LOVED the power point file.

    So, yeah, my husband and I are both stubborn. We both can follow directions and authority, with differing tolerance for BS. We both want to know “why”, but eventually, if my boss insists he wants it done a certain way, I will give in.

    This has not necessarily boded well for me, because often I am right. And I am told I should have fought harder (so, telling you that my way is better three times was not enough, should I do 5? If I really believe in something, I’ve learned to just do it anyway.)

    My husband is MUCH more likely to fight harder.

    Likewise our kids are stubborn. Our oldest is 8, and he will eventually give in, much like me. Our 2-year old is showing signs of being more like his father. But it’s still early. On the food thing, he’s much less likely to give in.

    When it comes to lifestyle changes…we’ve always been frugal and our mustachianism has waxed and waned from time to time. When it comes to things like giving up cable, he had to percolate on it for two years before he agreed. Likewise, we are currently percolating on getting rid of our land line. We both work full time and with the kids, I see that we are “hiring out” a lot more than we used to. I worry that it will become that thing that we do (or don’t do), but maybe it’s just temporary. I see my husband working much longer hours than he did a few years ago – bringing work home, traveling more, working nights and weekends, taking very little vacation. I cannot browbeat him into taking more time off, I just need him to realize that he needs it.

  • BobToday July 31, 2014, 2:10 pm

    Lol about the powerpoint presentation.
    I almost regret that I already have convinced my girlfriend into mustachianism.
    Now I have to search for another reason to make her a powerpoint presentation.

  • First Time Commenter July 31, 2014, 2:18 pm

    Does anyone have tips on how to gently explore the idea of investing with your SO, and also allaying their fears about living on piles of saved income?

    I’m one of those frugal-from-birth types (call it rebellion against my parents if you wish), my husband has not always been this way but I managed to turn him most of the way around through being a positive example (yay!). When we were both earning a steady income we spent one income and banked the rest, so have built up a pretty nice stash without really trying. We have two years of expenses saved, assuming spending at our current frugal level (expenses around $1500-$1700/month including rent, I’ve crunched the numbers, it can’t go lower than this). We’re currently in a SINK situation since we changed cities and he hasn’t found a job yet, so our savings is only like 15%-20%, but that will improve.

    My thought is, we should do something with this money besides keeping it in the credit union. Low-risk investing, making plans to save up for a house (I guess it could be a down payment, but I would want to put *at least* 50% down and that isn’t possible in this city with what we have). But he is TERRIFIED of investing and losing everything. I will be the first to admit that I know very little about investing, but I also know we can do better.

    He’s also terrified of either one of us not having a full-time job even though we’re STILL saving even on a single income and I desperately want to transition into part-time work or freelancing. (Side note: it is nearly impossible to get a part-time job as an adult apparently. I told all my temp agencies flat-out “I’m not taking a temp-to-hire unless it’s PT” and they kept saying there are no PT jobs and “how will you support yourself on PT?” Which is why I’m currently working as a full-time temp, argh.) He refuses to just live on the money for awhile, and I’m worried that even when the stash grows (which it definitely will if we both wind up having to take full time jobs) there will still be a lot of resistance to not having a job, because, “what if the worst happens?” And I’m sorry, but retiring or going freelance at sixty isn’t good enough for me. I need to do it within the next five years. For me, working until I’m sixty IS the worst thing that can happen!

    It’s just frustrating because I feel like our lifestyles are almost totally in sync (even if I’m still a bit more frugal than him), but he just has these fears that I don’t know how to handle. He also says that working “isn’t that bad” which makes me feel like a whiny baby. I just don’t see why I have to delay or cancel my dreams because of his fears. /rant

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 31, 2014, 2:44 pm

      That’s a perfect question, because the next article will be about investing in the current financial environment.

      If you’re saving steadily but then just letting the money sit in a credit union as inflation drains it away, you are missing out on the whole benefit of saving. I think of uninvested cash as a bit of an Emergency, with a similar nagging feeling to that of Debt.

      • First Time Commenter July 31, 2014, 3:27 pm

        Awesome, looking forward to reading it! The problem is, he wants NO risk when it comes to investing. Not even the hint of risk, which locks out a lot of options. :(

        • JP August 2, 2014, 6:42 am

          “The problem is, he wants NO risk when it comes to investing.”

          This desire is proof that he does not understand inflation. Money kept in cash has a guaranteed VERY HIGH risk of inflation and long-term loss of value.

          If he believes in math (which is a thing I think everyone should believe in, but then as a person with two degrees in the stuff I’m obviously a convert, and I would say that, wouldn’t I), then THE INTELLIGENT ASSET ALLOCATOR by William Bernstein is an excellent introduction to investing. But he would need to be the kind of person who once took and enjoyed a statistics class, to make that the book for him. If he just believes in math and either never took any statistics classes or had a really hard time with statistics, something gentler on the graphs and models would be better.

          • Horatio August 14, 2014, 1:43 pm

            The article:


            Might be worthwhile, I saved that in my favorites bar for when I forget or get afraid of the market. Also, the links at the bottom to jcollinsh’s articles are great as well. Everything is laid out in a nice simple way.

            I had to convince my wife to invest (and even now, she wants to see it grow (daily, not yearly)…

            Also, you could mention that the only truely risk-free asset is Inflation protected treasuries. Assuming you go for the “anything that would make those be worthless would probably have destroyed us all anyways and so knowing how to farm might be a good second hobby” idea :D

      • JToday August 4, 2014, 4:35 pm

        I’m looking forward to this next article. I find myself in a somewhat similar situation to “FirstTimeCommenter.” My wife and I are relatively young (27), and have been working out of school in “grown-up” jobs for roughly four years. (Me for four, my wife for less than that as she decided to stop working to be with our 2-year old daughter at home.) Outside of contributions to my 401k, we were stashing cash like it was going out of style. At first, this was motivated by wanting to save up for a downpayment on a house, and saving up for the contingent plan of potentially attending graduate school.

        We have now bought the house (six months ago), and the idea of graduate school has been largely put on the back burner due to some larger-life realizations that there is joy to be found in something other than work, and that our income is already more than adequate to accomplish our financial goals. The deferred income for a couple years in grad school would take over 10 years to pay off by my count.

        Anyway, now that the dust has settled on the home purchase, we are realizing an embarrassing amount of cash sitting around. From the perspective of “fear” that FirstTimeCommenter reports in her husband, I am very comfortable with putting in a chunk of money to index funds every month (dollar cost averaging). I am much less comfortable with taking a large chunk of cash (approximately 2-3 years of expenses) and dumping it all in at once. Hearing about record highs in the market makes me pretty nervous about that.

        Maybe I’m trying to time the market. Maybe I’m just scared. Either way, I’m interested in this next article.

        • Horatio August 14, 2014, 1:45 pm

          You could use it to pay off anything left on your house… That is a guaranteed riskless gain of whatever interest rate you have on your mortgage.

          Of course, if you have no mortgage, EVEN BETTER and I WISH I WAS YOU. :D

        • JB September 5, 2014, 1:04 pm

          That has always been my issue with fast cars. Where can you really drive them fast without getting a ticket. I tell my wife to be thankful I don’t like boats or watches. Those can be saving killers. Maybe the 1.2M house could have been a $3M dollar house and they scaled back. :) We have a 2,400 sq ft house and I wonder when we will move to scale back a bit. We have no kids with a 4 bd room house. one bedroom is an office, one a guest room and one a guest room/office. Taxes will probably be $7,000 a year when we retire.

    • tallgirl1204 July 31, 2014, 3:30 pm

      So, I don’t know your whole situation, only what you’ve written here, but I wanted to throw out some ideas about your working-part-time vs. full time. First, I don’t see how old you are– but you say you don’t want to work until your sixty, and that you “have to” stop working full-time in the next five years. If, like me, you’re 55, there isn’t any middle ground. However, if you’re 30, it seems to me that you could say “hey, I’ll keep working full-time FOR NOW, and we will re-visit this after you get a full-time job, and again, at least once a year. My goal is to stop working full-time in less than five years– preferably, two years.”

      And then your husband has some work to do– he feels afraid of what would happen if at least one of you doesn’t have a full time job, so he needs to nail one down. Once he has that job, his fears may soften. Many people (I’m one of them, and I’m female) have a lot of their confidence and security bound up in having a job. It sounds like his is shaky right now.

      Lastly, your own goals seem at odds with each other. Having two years’ income saved up really isn’t all that much, when you’re talking about wanting to set aside a 50% down payment for a house– and especially because you want to quit working full time. Seems like you two could stand to sit down and write out your goals:

      — buy a house– save xxxx$ for a 50% downpayment
      — 1 spouse works part-time freelance
      — create a “stash” of $xxxxx
      — freelance work brings in $xxxx
      — ???

      So much of how this plays out depends on how old you are right now. If you are 55, with no house and two years’ savings, I am sorry to say you working until you’re 60 and maybe beyond (it’s not all bad; that’s what I’m doing). If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you have a lot of opportunity to work together to make a great future. Good luck!

      • First Time Commenter July 31, 2014, 4:29 pm

        Yeah, that comment was a little scattered. Let me try to unscatter it a bit:

        I’m 32, he’s a little older. Child-free by choice. No debt of any kind, car-free, etc. The “gotta stop working FT in five years” was mostly hyperbole, but also… not? I just really, really HATE working forty hours a week, especially when it feels like everything I save just goes into the “money chute” of our credit union account and I never see it again. My self-worth is tied up in my real career of fiction writing (and I have had some success in this field), and I’ve never met a day job I’ve more than tolerated. The few times I have had the pleasure of working three or four days a week, it vastly improved my mental and physical health. I would like to take it easy and pour more of myself into my real work instead of this cubicle crap.

        That’s where we differ. He doesn’t love working but he tolerates it better than me. Right now he’s freelancing but it’s not going too well, and my ability to make freelance money is probably higher than his (I have other talents besides the writing). FWIW, he has said that once he finds a FT job that I can go freelance for awhile, but I think I’d feel guilty about that. I find it hard to believe that somebody couldn’t hate FT work with the heat of a thousand suns, but he swears it’s not a sacrifice for him. I will probably take him up on it, however, if/when he gets a job.

        I don’t feel homeownership is a necessity, I’m more saying “well, I can’t invest this stack of money like I want to, so we might as well sink it into a house and avoid inflation.” He doesn’t think inflation is a big deal. I know two years’ expenses isn’t a ton of money but it’s not a negligible amount either. I more worry because, what if we save five years’ expenses? Ten years? Is he still going to act like that’s only an “emergency fund” and not want to tap it or invest it? He said that we need to have a million dollars in the bank (not invested, in the BANK) before we can retire but based on reading MMM I know that’s not true.

        There’s also a bit of a cultural constraint here because he thinks investing is for “rich people.” Neither of us grew up rich, but my family was more well-off than his (though not frugal AT ALL). I know that’s what drove his original spending behavior and I have to tread lightly when talking about anything involving money. He’s a nice guy, I swear! There’s just this HUGE money hang-up, especially when it comes to investments.

        • JPresby August 2, 2014, 6:57 am

          Does he write too? If so, you might be able to explain the long term value of stocks in terms of building up your back list and getting more and more royalties from that long tail of sales.

          Could you split your savings money? If you could invest “your” portion of the savings in, say, a Vanguard low fee index fund and invest “his” portion in a savings account, after a year you could show a side by side comparison.

          Could you at least get the savings account money into CDs? Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are FDIC-insured up to $250k and available through pretty much every bank and credit union. The rates of return are super low, but they may be a half percentage point or more better than your savings account rate of return. http://www.bankrate.com/

        • quiviran August 2, 2014, 8:35 am

          To get past the fear:

          Read “The Coffeehouse Investor” by Bill Schultheis
          Get a Vanguard account
          Take MMMs suggestions on the VPGFX, VPGDX and VPDFX funds. You’re young, so go for the higher return funds, let the dividends reinvest.

          Using this general strategy, your money should be pretty safe. If you should “lose it all”, it would be part of a larger, national problem that would render bank accounts pretty unsure also. That’s a different world altogether.

        • chacha1 August 7, 2014, 1:10 pm

          Thanks for that clarification, because I saw the bit about the partner who is NOT working full time telling the partner who IS working full time that “working isn’t so bad” and I got all growly.

    • Tom July 31, 2014, 4:43 pm

      Start investing a small amount. Plenty of brokerages have no transaction fee index funds with low initial investments. Revisit it after a period of time and show him that your funds didn’t drop to 0 in that time, and ramp up from there. Preferably, you’ll have a decent year and can show him how your thousand dollars invested out performed x dollars in the savings account, and go from there.

      • insourcelife August 1, 2014, 7:54 am

        I think that a good way to dip your toes in investing without taking on too much risk is through bonds. We have about a year worth of expenses saved up and while some cash is always liquid I put the rest in a tax exempt bond fund. It has been paying at over 3% for several years now with monthly dividends deposited like clockwork – much better than any savings account. I feel great at tax time too since ALL interest is tax free (federal AND state), while I’d get taxed on any savings account interest. If I need this money I can sell today and have cash in my savings account tomorrow – liquid enough for us. Sure, there is a chance that the principal value might go down but it’s still less risky than something like a stock index fund and the percentage decline would be much less. Dividends earned would probably make up for most of the loss anyway. I think it’s a good place to stash your emergency cash, especially for someone apprehensive about investing.

        • JPresby August 2, 2014, 7:05 am

          That’s a great suggestion. I know of a couple who invested in bonds and no stocks and built up a healthy retirement savings for themselves. Emotionally they had more confidence in bonds because they chose a broad selection of municipal to federal savings bonds and were investing in “government” instead of in companies.

          Bonds could be a gentle first step into long-term healthy savings.

      • JB September 5, 2014, 1:06 pm

        Bonds are not great right now. You can do a boring S&P Index fund. Just set it up to buy automatically each month. Or twice a month.

    • Vickie August 1, 2014, 6:44 am

      I feel your pain. I, too, have a fearful spouse. He is not afraid of investing in real estate since he can personally control many of the variables. However, he is fearful of me quitting my full-time job with benefits. He is worried that even if we have enough income to pay our living expenses and buy health insurance, the future is too uncertain and maybe the cost would go up (for the insurance) and we would not be able to afford it later on. How do I fulfill my dream of early retirement when over 1 million in assets and annual expenses of approx. $24,000 plus whatever insurance would cost is “too risky” for him to contemplate? I have reached the point that I plan to retire in 2 years (when my daughter is finished with college). If he can’t handle it, then he can find a new wife. I hate to do something without being in agreement with my spouse, and he is great about frugality but this seems to be something he just cannot get past. Any suggestions?

      • Mike August 1, 2014, 10:47 pm

        Sure, just explain to him that in the case of the worst happening, you could always go back into the workforce as a last resort.

        So, with that as a fallback, what’s there to be fearful about?

      • JPresby August 2, 2014, 7:21 am

        That’s a hard one. I feel for you and sincerely hope you can work out a compromise as a couple. (Divorce would likely destroy your savings on top of the horrid emotional trauma. So I really, really hope that is not in your future.)

        Perhaps there’s a certain amount of extra that would be comfortable for him… Like if you had enough to pay double the current premium amount or something like that?

        When you reach age 65, medicare becomes an option for your healthcare. He might not realize that safety net exists. And if either of you becomes disabled, medicare can apply before 65.

  • Esther July 31, 2014, 8:28 pm

    MMM, I love that you related this post to people’s different responses to authority. It perfectly aligns with Gretchen Rubin’s writing on The Four Tendencies, i.e. four different responses to internal and external rules. Upholders obey internal and external rules, Rebels are automatically inclined to reject both, Obligers follow external expectations but not their own internal rules, and Questioners question everything and only follow what makes sense to them.


    I think you are a Questioner. I’m a Questioner too (though I lean towards Obliger tendencies). Being a Questioner means your posts are refreshing and challenging for me. It can help so much to realise that people – sometimes our life partners – have different tendencies to us.

  • Karla July 31, 2014, 11:38 pm

    This is my first time commenting. I have been steadily devouring previous posts since I discouvered your blog a couple of months ago. I have a seven year old and a nine year old. My nine year old daughter has very good saving tendencies while money seems to “burn a hole in the pocket” of my seven year old son. My husband and I have opened an investing account in each of their names, and we have made a rule that they must put aside 10% of their money (gifts from family), in this account and the rest is there to spend (although not reckelessly – with some guidence). I have been wondering if you have any suggestions for instillng good saving and wise spending habits in children. Our family already does many “mustachian” things.

  • Zoe August 1, 2014, 5:55 am

    Today my husband and I are celebrating our 1st Wedding Anniversary. If I hadn’t discovered MMM sometime back in May, I would probably have bought him some meaningless trinket that he would have enjoyed for five minutes and then forgotten about. Instead, I took the time to make him a meaningful (and free) gift that made him all emotional. Tonight, instead of the expensive restaurant outing we would normally have gone for, he is cooking dinner for me, and I am much more excited!
    He used to be the frugal one of the two (although I had “taught” him to spend more money over the years, something which I now regret) and so he’s delighted that I’ve joined the fold. I never thought I would be the one making changes, but I think we’ll both be much happier (and richer) for it.

  • Dollarbill49 August 1, 2014, 9:27 am

    Great post MMM. You should write more often from the middle of a lake!

  • Netrun August 1, 2014, 10:21 am

    While I am a big fan of the site and agree with most here that the thoughtful message you have posted here is a good one, I do have a small reservation. Posts like this one seem to pull you towards focusing on the cash aspect of living frugaly and cutting things out whereas I find that I am most inspired by your posts where you set out to do something YOURSELF and revel in the heartache it takes to accomplish as well as the success. For me, this embodies the new take you bring to the early retirement blogging community – the enjoyment level of doing things yourself, the pride you feel in the things you learned to do the wrong way until you found a better way, AND the money you saved or avoided spending. That’s a trifecta that I find incredibly addicting.

  • EL August 1, 2014, 10:33 am

    That is funny how part one was negative and funny, part two is positive and motivating. After reading both I find the second post gives a better explanation that the wife in the first post must read. Nobody can be forced to change to frugality, it has to come from within or else you will find things hidden in places all over the house. Secretly stashing products all over the house is financial infidelity, and I wonder why most people can’t see that. I agree with everything you said about having different personalities, but one thing that is constant is honesty is always the best policy. Getting on the same page will give the best results, and here’s to hoping all wives and husbands will see that one day.

  • mikepm711 August 1, 2014, 11:01 am

    I have to say reading the past two posts makes me feel better about my situation. I first read about MMM in the interview he did for the Washington Post. I was instantly hooked and showed it to my wife, saying we could quit working in 7 years. However she dismissed it, saying it wasn’t realistic and didn’t apply to us. Since then I have read all the posts from the beginning and have tried to adopt many of the ideas here to cut costs and increase savings. I found the my wife has agreed with most of them, without knowing where the ideas came from. I make random suggestions as if they were my own ideas, she likes some and not others. Instead of aiming for early retirement, we are saving to be able to both work part-time and to be in a secure position if I were to lose my full-time job. She is already working part-time. Overall, I think we’re heading in the right direction.

  • Cruz is growing a mustache August 1, 2014, 2:00 pm

    Jr. Mustache here beginning his journey and reading through all the posts. I think the sequel to this series should be “How MMM is Saving my Marriage”. I bet you could gather many stories from you readers on how applying the principles you share has resulted in a more fulfilling life/marriage.

  • Green Girl August 1, 2014, 3:36 pm

    I’m so glad you brought up the environmental impact. Sometimes it is hard to get people to care about the environment, but it is important that they see the personal benefits such as living an MMM lifestyle with the ultimate in freedom and health! Nice ‘office’ picture by the way. I love it. :)

  • CincyCat August 1, 2014, 4:44 pm

    MMM, I can’t thank you enough for this follow up! Especially this part, “Well, for starters, you don’t do it by watching over his or her spending and then nagging every time you see something you don’t like.” This, this, this, x100%. Also loved the part about realizing that the obligations one agreed to when entering into a committed relationship: namely, to treat loved ones with respect, outweigh dogged devotion to ideology (reading between the lines). It’s far better to live the life & walk the talk than to lecture, nag, criticize and (when that fails) take away any say-so with the purse strings.

  • Frugal Abroad August 1, 2014, 8:41 pm

    What do you do if your significant other talks the talk of frugality, but doesn’t walk the walk? My honey is also an MMM reader and fully agrees with all of the ideas. He loves to talk about minimalism and alternative lifestyles… But it’s all talk. We both discovered MMM at the same time, and after one month of reading I went from breaking even each month to saving around 50% of my income each month. Before, I always just thought my income was too low to be able to save, but MMM opened my eyes to all of the waste in my life. My honey on the other hand.. reads the blog, reads other similar blogs, shares them on facebook, talks about it with me and with friends… We have talked about our goals, and our goals are aligned… But with him it’s all talk. I haven’t seen him take any action or make any actual lifestyle changes. He spends tons of money eating out, buying drinks at bars, making impulse buys on Amazon. And it’s really hard for me not to “nitpick the symptoms” because I’m scared. I’ve agreed to spend my life with this person who shares the same goals and dreams as me, but it seems that he’s making zero effort to actually work toward those goals or dreams or to become more frugal.

    • Mike August 1, 2014, 10:58 pm

      Try to talk your husband into the “ALLOWANCE” system. Meaning: He gets an agreed upon allowance each month that he can spend as he likes and you say nothing about it. Once that allowance is gone, he MUST stop frivolous spending for the month.

      Also, an off-setting amount of money from his pay will be put into an Mustachian account towards the goal of FIRE. That’s over and above him maxing out a 401k or whatever else is available to him.

      • JB September 5, 2014, 1:16 pm

        Allowances are for 10 year olds. Be adults and agree on a spending plan.

    • First Time Commenter August 2, 2014, 4:01 pm

      This might sound a little condescending toward the partner but… be a good example. When I moved into my husband’s house, all of my belongings fit into an SUV (not mine). He always thought that was a little strange especially for a woman (yeah, sexism, but also kind of true?) but I was only 26. As the years went on, he realized that I wasn’t changing my lifestyle, wasn’t buying an incredible amount of stuff even when my income was higher, and didn’t seem to care about things like dinners out or jewelry or any of that. I sometimes got a little mad about the amount of things he bought (he’s a nerd, well we both are, but he collects things like comics and “collectibles” whereas I am perfectly happy with getting my SF books from the library), but I tried not to show it. I definitely tried not to show it because at the time he was making 2x as much as me and our finances were still separate. He’d try to buy me things and was offended when I said I didn’t want normal girlfriend/fiancee gifts until he woke up and realized that it wasn’t because I was rejecting HIM, I was just rejecting the idea of owning STUFF. Somewhere in this we exchanged our bank account information and he was honestly gobsmacked that I’d managed to save over $16k over three years of working an entry level job when he had several thousands in debt and no savings. After that, I noticed his spending lessen, even though our finances were still separate and I never asked him for specifics. He paid off the debt in months. (I offered to do it for him before we got married but he wouldn’t let me.)

      Then… we moved. And he had so much stuff that we had to get the largest truck available and we still had to make two trips at the cost of several hundred dollars extra. After that, he had a real come to Jesus moment and decided to start shedding his stuff and putting things into savings. When we moved across the country a few years after that, we were able to fit everything we owned into the second-smallest moving truck and it was way smoother than the previous move even though it was almost ten times the distance.

      We still have more “stuff” than we need but it’s reduced by at least 75% of what it was. And I think it’s because he saw the example of someone who was perfectly happy to own a “mere” SUV of belongings, who didn’t care about presents or dinners out, and spent only what she needed to survive. If it were up to me we’d live in a yurt or something, but this is a good compromise. Sexism again, but I think a lot of men, especially men in their first professional jobs, are in “peacock” mode where they feel they have to impress their partners and live up to the whole American Dream bullshit. So when you as the partner don’t act impressed with that, just keep doing your own thing, it eventually sinks in. Not right away, but eventually. I will say that we didn’t combine finances until he was debt-free and the spending was 90% under control.

      Also, start planning things out. We’re not tempted into the convenience of eating meals out because we plan our meals, so we know exactly what we’re eating every day of the week, and know exactly what to buy at the store. If you’re going out to eat with him, stop doing that. Keep a nice supply of cheap beer/wine at home. I think most people when given the choice would rather eat a meal at home with their partner than eat out with friends.

      • marciaB August 6, 2014, 9:31 am

        “…peacock mode…” Fantastic!

  • Marcus August 1, 2014, 9:56 pm

    Wait, what? Where’s the “Next post” button? Does this mean I’ve finally caught up? No more 12-post binge reading sessions? No more “read through all 200 comments”? Huh. I guess I’ll go punch myself in the face and open a Vanguard account.

    • Lorin August 1, 2014, 11:52 pm

      Time to join the forums!

      • The Roamer August 5, 2014, 12:16 pm

        Lorin or anyone really. Can you give me more feedback onthe forums. I’ve ventured over there a handful of times and for the most part find it overwhelming to read and navigate. Any advice on how to make it the most useful?

  • Jason August 1, 2014, 11:32 pm

    I love your comment about being responsible if you have a wife and kids. I’m pretty sure I overshot the mark here when I started diving into frugality, and probably didn’t take the time to work through the things that my wife genuinely values spending money on. We’ve always communicated really well though, and I think we’re finally back on the same page having really talked through what’s important to us as a family. It really does come down to aligning your values with your spending, and not forgetting how to have fun along the way – and I’m so glad you reinforced this.

  • Barbara August 2, 2014, 7:35 am

    Hey there. Great article. I’ve been thinking about this because I think there’s another aspect of our personalities to consider in the negotiations towards frugality. And that is our sense of being OK with ourselves.

    My parents are very frugal (bordering on cheap). While I didn’t always enjoy wearing homemade clothes or being yelled at about leaving lights on (and I have a really strong rebellious streak which got me smacked around quite a bit–this was the 60’s), I’ve grown to appreciate the fact that my parents put all 4 of us through college, and I remind my siblings that the best present they have given us is their own financial independence. (My parents are in their 80’s now and comfortable. We’ll never have to take care of them.) I was always kind of a nerd, so I didn’t know much about clothes or shoes or cars till I became an adult, and I was perfectly content to read library books and walk or ride my bike to my friends’ houses.

    Not so my siblings. But it’s not rebellion. The lack of material things when we were growing up (my parents’ cheapness) created a hole in their souls. They NEED the expensive clothes, fancy handbags, brand new cars. They’ve chosen their homes based on what the outside world would think about their neighborhood. They lease their cars. Two of my siblings have been on the verge of bankruptcy. The worse their situation gets (and it has gotten bad–hair on fire bad), the more they feel they “deserve” a nice car, a fancy dinner out, a designer bag, etc. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), they are all married to people who share their values. But they live in fear of the next big thing.

    Recently my youngest sibling (with whom I’ve shared this blog–she seemed open to it) decided that she’d like to do some planning toward retirement. (If they’re lucky and plan well, we’re talking at 65ish, but still, they weren’t anywhere near on that road.) They downsized their house, and have made some other adjustments to their lifestyle to help them put more money away. I’m really proud of her and my brother in law. And I think seeing us retired comfortably in our 50’s (we’re not mustachian by any stretch, just pretty frugal and good at saving) has been a good influence I think.

    With the people we love, change can come frustratingly slow. All we can do is live well, set a good example, and love them.

  • Scott Lunt August 2, 2014, 7:36 am

    Andy (or anyone who knows), how did you do those nifty pie charts and graphs? I’m working on the same exact presentation for my wife. Thanks!

    • CincyCat August 2, 2014, 8:47 pm

      In Microsoft PowerPoint, there is a nifty little gadget called “Smart Art”. This will allow you to add graphics that show lists, process, relationships, etc. Also, if you look in the “Click here to add text” area, you’ll see a little icon with a bar chart in it. That’s a chart builder widget. All you do is put in your data points & labels, and it puts a chart into your presentation automatically.

  • Will_edit_for_food August 2, 2014, 5:47 pm


    I’ve been reading your blog for a month, and already I find it invaluable. That said, I don’t agree that the problem with the married couple in part 1 is a problem with “authority.” To me, their conflict lies elsewhere.

    The article didn’t specify what the husband said to the wife. But if he didn’t explain that they need to save thus-and-such dollars as part of a plan for an early retirement–but a portion of their earnings can go for play or unanticipated necessities like a sofa–then he’s missing the point of frugality.

    As you said, “my own son will gladly enter a battle to the death before accepting verbal commands to do something he feels is irrational or unfair.” That’s because most people don’t enjoy doing things we feel are irrational or unfair.

    However, if my parent/husband/boss/friend explains the reasons why I can’t buy a new sofa is because we’re saving money for early retirement/great vacation/PlayStation 4, that would go a long way toward earning my good will. It seems that the husband has not described his motivation and plan clearly to his wife.

    I consider this problem a failure of communication, not a response to authority. Luckily, this problem is easily solved with one good sit-down–or better yet, an _awesome_ slideshow.

  • Alfredo from Mexico August 4, 2014, 11:12 am

    And since education of the children is very important, it can be a source of conflict. But my wife and I are thinking about the Ivy League Syndrome and are deffending against it. And here is a link that MMM will like.


    • JB September 5, 2014, 1:11 pm

      There are very few reasons to send a kid to an Ivy college if your local college has the same programming. Accounting and Engineering are pretty universal. Unless they are a genius, most colleges will be just fine.

  • uniFI August 4, 2014, 11:53 am

    ‘Making selfish choices is like having that third piece of cake: thrilling initially, but quickly followed by a much longer period of unhappiness and repercussions.

    Years ago I named this the Little Debbie Effect. It is a universal truth!

    My Grandmother liked to give me a box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake rolls as a treat, even as a college student. Ironically, she was a make it from scratch Grandma, but still. So I’m driving back to school on a 2 hr road trip. I get hungry. The Swiss Cake rolls are whispering to me from the passenger seat. I eat a pack. Then another. Full feeding frenzy ensues and a third pack goes down. Then I feel like crap and wish I’d never touched them.

    There you have it. The Little Debbie Effect!

    • JB September 5, 2014, 1:10 pm

      That is why you put them in the trunk. :)

  • Zax August 4, 2014, 11:59 am

    I’m doing pretty good at ~40% savings. But gah i just can’t give up the cable/internet! I read like a fiend too but i do enjoy decent TV shows (with the occasional trash show thrown in). The misses would kill me if i got rid of it :)

    I know this costs me an arm and a leg but i can’t seem to channel my inner MMM for this bad boy.

    • Lee August 12, 2014, 4:42 pm

      You should just try it for a few months. Last year my husband and I decided to give up internet at home (and since we don’t even have a tv, that was how we watched shows too) in order to get rid of some debt quicker. I was shocked how little I missed it. And I re-kindled my love of reading. We turned it back on after several months (at a cheaper rate!) and I occasionally think about doing it again. Anyway, the point is you don’t have to commit to cutting it out forever. Choose a shorter time that you can agree to do as a trial and you may surprise yourselves.

  • LeisureFreak Tommy August 4, 2014, 4:48 pm

    I am fortunate my wife is on the same page as I am and that was a big deal for us to retire early. I know many whose partner have a spending weaknesses and it derails their chance to jump out of the Rat Race. I do indulge some with spending in support of my hobbies but its all part of my retirement budget and if I need to cut back I can. Once you make it to retirement it is fun to be able cut loose once in a while from total frugal mathematical financial logic and just enjoy the experience. It is an adventure. Cheers!

  • Parker August 6, 2014, 11:08 am

    That’s an awesome slide presentation. I loved the high 5 bear! I have ran my own version of this presentation in my head since the end of last year. And in my version, I will have no mortgage by 47 years old (currently 39), and have about $115K in my Roth IRA (+whatever I get from my Federal savings plan and pension). The best thing is having paid off my debts last month, I feel so unburdened!

  • EmmaS August 8, 2014, 10:24 am

    Just curious: What’s wrong with sandals?


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