592 comments

Case Study: Average Everyday Complainypants Seeks Redemption

Average consumer's daily commute vehicles

Average consumer’s daily commute vehicles

Today’s case study is a classic, because it addresses a problem suffered by tens of millions of families: the chronic time shortage caused by a double income, double commute, kid-raising lifestyle. While some practitioners of this game do it by choice, many other would rather have more free time … if only they could afford it.

 

 

Dear Mr. Money Mustache,

I am new to your blog but have been seriously enjoying this new found financial porn on a daily basis. I think I have the basic principles down. Bike good; car bad. Mindful spending good; mindless consumer orgy bad. Early retirement good; endless wage-slavery bad.

Instead of sitting in my beige 8×12 government cubicle daydreaming about how cute I would look with a new red Guess bag and tall leather boots from the mall across the street…I am now in my beige cubicle fantasizing about a simpler life with a smaller home, more time at home with my tiny humans and more time to read.

At the risk of being labelled a complainypants, I genuinely do not understand how to move from this wageslavery to being a Mustachian. It seems to me to be bit of a chicken and egg conundrum. How do I live on 50% or less of my income while still being stuck in said cubicle with all the expenses that it incurs?

The Basic Stats:

  • I am a fellow Canadian and as such am exceedingly polite
  • I live in one of the coldest winter cities in the world (temperatures in January and February routinely dip to -40 degrees)
  • Aside from the extreme temperatures in which I live, I am otherwise average in virtually every way.
  • Average height, average weight, average number of kids (2)
  • Average home (1200 sq feet), average mortgage (260K, worth about 420K in today’s market)
  • Average income (75K/year, 165K/year household…although according to you…I have already made it big)
  • Average cars (2 –one 2006 Honda Odyssey mini van and one…wait for it…2011 Ford F-150 Eco-boost Extended cab truck)you saw that coming from a mile away didn’t
  • you?…but amazingly both are paid off)
  • Average commute time (20 minutes direct, 45 minutes if you include the kids daycare/school drop time. My husband works 15 km in the opposite direction so we can’t even car pool.)
  • And last but not least, average amount of consumer debt ($12000 on a line of credit).
  • We have an average amount of savings (120 000 in RRSPs and $12 000 in a few different savings places)
  • And best of all I am in 15 years into a 30 years sentence with Her Majesty the Queen to be given my golden hand shake at the age of 55 (ie 70% of my income for the rest of my life…or if I cashed it in today 280K)…which as you might guess, I am starting to think isn’t worth the next 18 years of my life.

 

A basic sampling of our current overall monthly budget is below:

 

Take-Home Pay$7500
Savings:
Retirement accounts, emergency fund, etc$500
Debt Paydowns$500
Spending
Mortgage$1400
Property Tax$325
Home Improvement /maintenance$300
Utilities$325
Daycare$1200
Groceries and Personal care$1200
Insurance (home, life, van, truck)$475
Gasoline$500
Parking$95
Charity$150
Kids' sports (hockey/swimming)$100 (we're Canadian - hockey is a fixed expense)
TV/phones/Internet$100
Miscellaneous (birthday parties, lunches out, hair cuts,
gifts, golf, hobbies, entertaining)
$330
Total Spending$6500

My days and nights consist of rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off.  How do I get from here to retirement and more time enjoying life with tiny humans?

Interestingly my husband is a structural engineer, who does carpentry and custom wood working on the side, which is his passion that he would like to make his career, he is not interested in ‘retirement’ he would just like a career change.

Sincerely,
Whiny in Winnipeg

Mr. Money Mustache Responds:

Dear WW,

While your situation sounds horrific to me, it is of course the standard situation for most two-jobs-plus-kids families. Let’s begin with the end in mind: getting you some freedom ASAP.

Right now, you earn $75,000 before tax or 45% of your family’s gross pay. Since you listed take-home pay at $7500, let’s assume you are bringing in $3400 of it.

Out of that, the following monthly costs might be byproducts of your job:

  • Gas and direct/indirect car costs for almost 2000km/month of driving around in a van: $1,000
  • Parking: $95
  • Daycare: $1200
  • Convenience foods and services that show up in your grocery and miscellaneous bills: $200

    Total: $2495

This leaves only about $1000 per month of “profit” from your job. So, including commuting and shuttling kids around to child care, are spending about 250 hours a month to earn $1,000 – or four bucks an hour. If you can think of better things to do than working for well under half of Manitoba’s minimum wage, you should quit immediately. Since this is what you wanted anyway, congratulations!!!

But it gets even better than that. Since it sounds like properties increase in price as you move towards your job downtown, they might well decrease as you move towards your husband’s job. If so, you could find a new place close to his work, and eliminate his commute as well – potentially saving the $600 per month he is currently burning up commuting in the opposite direction.

The savings from owning a less expensive house might free up an additional $200 per month in interest, since the equity from your current house would easily wipe your debts and you’d also have a lower mortgage payment.

So far we have only addressed basic strategy – the simple choice of where to live and work. There’s even more wealth on tap as soon as you activate a bit of Mustachian frugality.

For starters, since this is the MMM blog we’ll need to fix your insane choice of vehicles.

trucks

 

You have two kids, and yet you drive around in a BRAND NEW GAS GUZZLING LUXURY RACING BUS. The 2006 Honda Odyssey is not a vehicle for an indebted mother to use to drop the kids off and then head downtown. It is something a hopelessly spendy multimillionaire might use to shuttle around six pampered passengers on a cross-country roadtrip while hauling a giant trailer full of supplies. For two kids, you use a Toyota Yaris or similar. That will cut your gas bill down by 50%.

Your husband appears to be driving alone and not even a multimillionaire himself, and yet he has a TWIN-TURBO SIX PASSENGER RACING FARM TRUCK!!! Holy shit, brother, how many heads of cattle and pigs are you hauling on that roundtrip, while simultaneously carrying international heads of state in the stately cabin? That is a fucking ridiculous vehicle for ANYONE to drive except the rarest breed of Farmer/Diplomat, and I’m betting none of them also hold jobs as Structural Engineers.

So you’ll be selling that, and walking to work. For those rare times you drive, you can ask to borrow the wife’s manual transmission Yaris hatchback. You are also permitted to buy a used mountain bike, and if you’re REALLY getting serious with the carpentry, a 2001 Ford Ranger pickup, 2 wheel drive 4 cylinder manual longbed. You may weld a 12-foot lumber rack to it in order to outperform your current clown truck.

The savings on depreciation, fuel, and insurance will compound an additional $86,000 per decade into your family’s wealth.

Once you have these big wins in place, you’ll have much more time and energy to go after the medium-sized ones: your grocery bill can easily be cut in half, according to most Canadian Mustachian 4-person families. Restaurants and other takeout frivolities may drop as well, depending on your priorities.  Another $1000 per month is possible in this area, which will go directly to your financial independence fund.

When you add in Mrs. WW’s outstanding windfall of a $280,000 early pension payout, all my calculations indicate that you will be further ahead than you are today, even after ditching the government job. In fact, after a year of making these changes, Mr. WW may even start getting the itch to scale down his own job and do exactly as he sees fit as well. And that would be nothing to whine about at all.

Best of luck!

Do YOU see any parallels to your own life? It is almost always possible to avoid the two-commute family with kids if you make it a priority.

 

  • John December 10, 2014, 9:25 am

    MMM,
    Thanks for always bringing our eyes back to reality. I like your truth about vehicles.

    Reply
    • Ellery December 12, 2014, 5:46 am

      The ever-expanding girth of the American vehicle is a daily depressant to me. It’s not just other people’s choices; it affects my ability to feel safe on Boston streets with two small children with all these giant vehicles driving around, whose bumper my daughter’s head barely reaches. We cocoon ourselves in these monstrosities further harming the sense of community that we should be striving towards, not away from. (Not to mention, what a waste of money!)

      Reply
      • B December 17, 2014, 11:38 am

        I find it odd that your correlate our vehicle preferences to our sense of community. The best sense of community I ever had was growing up in a small town where ever family drove a pickup and an SUV or van.

        Reply
        • Megan January 12, 2015, 10:30 am

          She lives in Boston. Those vehicles are too large for an urban environment, where streets are narrow and parking is limited.

          Reply
        • Dave February 18, 2015, 11:59 am

          As Megan notes below, it really depends on your community. I grew up in a rural area so I know what you’re talking about, but large vehicles just don’t make sense for urbanites, and in the suburbs they seem to inexorably lead to less personal communities as they nudge planners to larger roads and parking lots (i.e., reduced density in favor of vehicles).

          Reply
    • RetiredToWin Alex April 13, 2015, 12:02 pm

      Yep, the “truth” about vehicles is that they are constantly depreciating money sinks that should be viewed, bought, evaluated and used for their UTILITY and not for public displays of class status, coolness or machismo.

      In our case, we’re happy as pigs in sh*t driving a 1996 Dodge Dakota and a 1998 Subaru Forester. Combined, they have over 380,000 miles on their odometers. They’ve both proven super reliable over the many years that we have owned them. Hell, we actually like them.

      I’ve calculated that owning those 2 oldie-goldies has reduced the size of our required financial independence stash by almost $300,000! Which means we’re already earlier retired instead of still grinding away at jobs waiting to get there!

      Reply
  • Michael December 10, 2014, 9:29 am

    Hey, MMM.

    I’ve been a reader for well over a year now. I follow the tenets, and am well on the road to early retirement and gobs of happiness. Truly obscene amounts of riches for today’s world. However, when I see articles like this, I still get a little queezy, because I know how privileged I’ve been. Most all of your posts like this (and most of your posts in general) are here to serve what appears to be middle class folks who are already kicking ass and just don’t know it. This story above? Easy. All your true readers knew what to do before you wrote it. It’s old hat. It’s definitely my bleeding heart, but I constantly wonder what advice you might give to people who truly can’t take your advice? It’s hard to save if you have nothing. Too many people in this country don’t have a lot of the options presented in your philosophies. Just as one recent example of what I’m talking about: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2014/12/linda_tirado_on_the_realities_of_living_in_bootstrap_america_daily_annoyances.html. Poverty is a real issue. It’s nice to say that my wife and I spend below the poverty line, but we’re only afforded that option because we actually take in over triple that amount! Many people in this country are stuck in a vicious cycle of povery, and it isn’t because they’ve got too much consumer debt from the gas guzzler they bought, or their cable package. It’s easy enough to give your brand of advice to couples taking in over $150,000/year with two ridiculous cars and nonsensical grocery bills. I would challenge you to provide advice to those who might need it a little more than them. Thanks for listening. Cheers.

    Reply
    • Jbo December 10, 2014, 9:41 am

      Dude! This blog, as has been pointed out many times, is not for people in poverty. Yes it is a sad situation that many people are stuck in, but MMM is not designed to cater toward every financial situation.

      Reply
      • Michael December 10, 2014, 10:02 am

        That won’t stop me from asking. I think a guy like MMM could do just as much good for individuals in poverty if he put his mind to it. Our country/world is only as great as the least among us. Finding ways to help/serve them, serves us all – just as biking to work and not being a sucka consumer does. Sure, it might not be his specific purview, but one article addressing the situation wouldn’t hurt, and could possibly do worlds of good. At the very least, it might give those more privileged and unaware among the readers a new perspective. At this troubled and divided time in this country, anything that could bring more people together, or at least make one another more aware of each other and their respective life situations, sounds like a good thing to me. Thanks.

        Reply
        • jeffrey C December 10, 2014, 10:31 am

          You’re right that a lot of the most tactical -level suggestions offered here are more challenging for those in an impovershed situation to apply. That doesn’t mean they can’t clean some insight by looking at the principles being advocated and examining where in the their financial situation/life they could make alternative choices. They may discover few options then those of us in more privilege positions, but I venture few would have absolutely no options to choose to live or spend different and take a small step toward a better financial situation. Simple example in the city where I live (Indianapolis). Local nonprofits discovered that people in poverty were spending too much of their food dollars on higher cost empty calories because they had never learned how to cook and more effectively shop for groceries. Classes to address this need were immediately created.

          Reply
        • Frugal Bazooka December 10, 2014, 11:26 am

          Poverty is an interesting concept in this country. Little kids and severely disabled people who are in poverty have no options – their parents or disabilities – have placed them in a financial situation that is defined as poverty or lack of money. The kid is stuck and they can’t do much about it until they get old enough to attend school.
          On the other hand, healthy, mentally stable adults are not in poverty because of a flawed system or bad luck. They are in poverty for a variety of reasons that are mostly self inflicted – the most prevalent being a lack of education – which limits job opportunities. Why did they not receive an education? Was it their parents? Was it their teachers? Is it the horrible schools? No, lots of kids get good educations from horrible schools IF THEY WANT IT. Why do so many high school kids and adults view education as a burden instead of a passport to a better life? I will never understand that conundrum – nor accept it as an excuse.
          There is a didactic that is taught in American schools and esp colleges that goes something like this: “The system is so stacked against the poor and uneducated that they don’t have a chance to get out of poverty unless the gov’t helps them out” – in my opinion – this is total bullshit.
          The irony is that never in the history of this country has there been so many gov’t programs and opportunities for success than there are today, and yet the stats for poverty are reported in the media as a continuing serious problem.
          My feeling is, If you choose to not attend school and get good grades, that’s on you.

          I feel for kids in poverty but the able bodied, able minded adults, I have zero sympathy for and no amount of proselytizing by MMM is going to change their bad life habits. Personal success – financial or otherwise – never has and never will be created from external sources like a gov’t program or a guru based web site. Expecting an adult to get out of poverty by reading a self help website is a tall order indeed.

          Having said that – it can’t hurt right??

          Reply
          • JB December 10, 2014, 11:34 am

            We have the richest poor people in the world. Exclude the truly homeless and most people have a roof, running water and electricity. Try living in the slums of Rio or India. THAT is poverty. Why are the poor so fat? They apparently have enough to eat. Or the kids are getting free food at school. We have a free education from K-12. Get the HS diploma as the bare minimum. If you work a MW job and never get a raise, that is your problem, not your bosses.

            Reply
            • Eric December 11, 2014, 11:44 am

              They’re fat because they eat very cheap food, which plays havok with their blood insulin levels, and makes them pre-diabetic or diabetic. It has nothing to do with being well fed.

              Reply
              • Leo December 11, 2014, 7:57 pm

                Fast food is not cheap. If they ate actual cheap food staples they wouldn’t be fat.

          • BCB December 10, 2014, 12:28 pm

            This is an extremely naive perspective. This sounds like someone looking down from the ivory tower of privilege and suggesting that everyone should have done as well as you have because it was so easy for you.

            There are many roadblocks that a person attempting to escape poverty runs into. Here are some examples: lack of a mentor, lack of confidence, lack of intelligence, lack of connections, lack of nutrition, lack of money to invest in oneself, discrimination, addiction, lack of proximity to opportunity, etc.

            I agree that some of these may be self-defeating and there are certainly people who could help themselves out more than they do, but to suggest that every person who is in poverty deserves to be poor is quite heartless. Particularly if you are from white-picket fence suburb A with parents with high paying jobs who supported your activities and paid for your college, etc.

            I am from a relatively poor town with uneducated parents but I do recognize the privilege I experienced growing up such as being naturally good at school, having access to inexpensive post-secondary education, lack of discrimination, etc. It was not easy per se but I had a lot of help along the way.

            Poverty cannot be explained by just saying people are not trying enough; it is a societal problem that we should all feel some responsibility for and find ways to help others.

            Reply
            • JB December 10, 2014, 12:43 pm

              lack of mentor? Please. That is a crock. There are millions of people that have succeeded without a mentor. The problem is when a successful poor person makes it, they leave the area they grew up in. I never said they deserve to be poor, but the choices that are made keep them in poverty. Don’t have kids if you aren’t married, finish HS. Those two decisions will increase your chance of not being in poverty. How hard is it to keep your legs closed? Yes, it might be harder to finish HS if you have parents that aren’t around or in/out of jail or on drugs, but you can’t help every single person in the country. The opportunities are there. there are stories of people overcoming the obstacles in their lives.

              Reply
              • Megan December 10, 2014, 12:53 pm

                Poor people are fat because they eat fast food that has tons of calories and is not healthy for them. America is the only country whose poor are fat. A $1 at McDonalds is why poor people are fat. They’re not fat because they have enough to eat. They’re fat because shitty food is what is available in their price range.

              • BCB December 10, 2014, 1:27 pm

                If every person you know is poor and every adult you know has a crappy deadend job, that is a lot different than going to the country club on the weekend and rubbing shoulders with the mayor and other well-to-dos. It is also different than all of your parents friends having reasonable middle class jobs and college educations.

                Since we have started to discuss teenage pregnancy, that is a great example. Poor children are much less likely to have access to birth control. Also, in a wealthy family, there may be enough support for a teenage mother to successfully complete high school and college. However, if the home situation is such that the young mother cannot rely on family, then she will have to drop out of high school and live the consequences of that.

                I am not suggesting that we reach out to every poor person (there are too many poor people), but to suggest that all poor people are morally inferior is basically BullShit!

              • JB December 10, 2014, 1:31 pm

                Guess what, you don’t need birth control if you raise your kids to not have sex until they can take care of themselves.

              • wayof infinity December 11, 2014, 6:31 am

                JB you have missed the point. We can all agree that education is an enormous separator between the haves and have nots, but, this extends far beyond formal education into incredible life skills. You state that “you don’t need birth control if you raise your kids to not have sex until they can take care of themselves”. The point is that many underprivileged do not receive this kind of education. I agree with some of your previous points, and tend to be wary of excuses on an individual to individual basis. But, to not acknowledge that there is a larger systemic issue, that includes income inequality is folly. I imagine this will be the tact that MMM’s future article will take.

              • anonK December 11, 2014, 5:22 pm

                While I don’t necessarily believe your argument (“if you are poor, help yourself, get an education, and stop being poor”), I believe the arguments made against you even less:

                – the poor don’t have a mentor. So what? To do what? Encourage them to finish HS and learn a trade? Look at the people 5 years ahead of you; they have to work for a living. Consider it. The public library has plenty of mentors, and is available for free.

                – the poor have MW jobs. FALSE. suburban kids have MW jobs (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/02/who-earns-the-minimum-wage-suburban-teenagers-not-single-parents), and they get raises quickly (https://www.epionline.org/studies/r16/). It is the ‘first rung of the ladder’.

                – poor people are fat because they “can only afford McDonalds”. BULLSHIT. This is a bag of lentils (http://www.amazon.com/Spicy-World-Masoor-Indian-Lentils/dp/B000K89490/ref=zg_bs_16322081_7). This is a bag of rice (http://www.amazon.com/Nishiki-Premium-Medium-Grain-15-Pound/dp/B004NRLAVY/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1418342902&sr=1-1&keywords=rice). This is a nutritionally complete month of food. For anyone that disagrees, consider that it is the diet of most of the world. My household currently makes ~$180K, and lentils/rice is a dietary staple (nutritious, cheap), and I have lived for 1+ month on this combination on several occasions through graduate school. “Woe is me, I am fat because I’m poor” is bullshit.

                – The poor cannot afford birth control. Firstly, this is bullshit (planned parenthood will give you 12 for free just for stopping in). Secondly, the rich couldn’t afford condoms just 100 years ago. Thirdly, did the abstinence option disappear?

                – the poor have no opportunities nearby. MOVE. Moving across the country in pursuit of opportunity is the American way.

                – lack of money to invest in oneself. Lincoln famously educated himself with a library card, in addition to many others (http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com/2012/01/02/10-impressive-people-who-educated-themselves-with-only-a-library-card/). The library is warm, and only requires your time.

                – lack of connections. If you work a MW job, show up on time, do a good job, and spend your spare time at the library, you will have them. Seriously. A friend of mine was “working poor” for a year until presenting herself well before the company president. You get an audience with the company president by doing a good job and being reliable.

                – Addiction. Bad choices, plain and simple.

                Don’t get me wrong: I won a genetic lottery by being born to smart parents in the USA. However, if you were born in the USA, try not to screw up the number of opportunities that society has given you.

              • Brooke December 12, 2014, 11:45 am

                Uh, whoa there. Your question “how hard is it to keep your legs closed?” is RIDICULOUSLY SEXIST. Are women the only one with baby-making genitals? Don’t think so. Why didn’t you also ask the question “how hard is it to not get a woman pregnant?”. Sexist pig who completely lacks empathy.

              • JB December 12, 2014, 12:38 pm

                men are too stupid to use condoms and women have all the control over consensual sex. Yes, it is that easy to just say No and keep your legs closed. There is no other way to get pregnant. Birth control isn’t 100% effective. Abstinence is. Yes, it takes two, but men don’t get pregnant. Look at the story from Memphis, One guy has impregnated 15 women to the tune of 25 kids. Whose fault is it? the women do not have to have sex with this man. Who are the dumb ones to do it twice?

              • JB December 12, 2014, 12:40 pm

                and why should I be empathetic to someone making horrible choices? You know you are poor, you know you can’t afford a baby, yet you go out and have unprotected sex? Who doesn’t know about birth control in this day and age when it is free?

              • Brooke December 12, 2014, 4:16 pm

                The responsibility to not get pregnant should not be left solely on the women’s shoulders. It is ignorant men like yourself who put it there. MEN should be responsible for the insertion (which is NOT a passive act) of their penis JUST as much as women are responsible for receiving it. In addition, men will say anything to be able to get laid, including that they’ll pull out, that they love the woman, that you can’t get pregnant your first time (yes this is a pervasive opinion among poor, uneducated youths), and to a young woman who so far in her life has yet to have someone say they love her, these things are powerful. There are SO many stories from young women who say “he told me he loved me” as a reason for pre-marital sex. SO maybe it should be on men to keep their mouths AND pants closed.

                Oh also, your little gem of a comment “Guess what, you don’t need birth control if you raise your kids to not have sex until they can take care of themselves” is also insanely crazy. You can raise a child to do the right thing, you can shelter them from temptations, you can teach them as much as you possibly can, and they will still make mistakes. Abstinence teaching is proven time and time again to be absolutely ineffective, just look at Texas as an example. The state leads the country with pre-marital sex and teen pregnancy and has a state-wide mandate that only abstinence can be taught and contraceptive training is not allowed. Backwards, stupid, and ineffective. The key is mentoring both at-risk women and men BEFORE they make bad choices, pushing contraceptives, and implementing sex ed courses that actually make sense.

            • Michael December 10, 2014, 1:42 pm

              I’m right there with you, BCB. At first I thought your use of the word heartless was quite harsh. But, after reading some subsequent comments, I can see that some people need some more love and empathy in their hearts before they can see that there is no easy fix. Saying, “people should help themselves” is an easy fix. It ignores reality, and the complex and systemic oppression placed upon too many in our society.

              Reply
              • Nigel December 10, 2014, 4:56 pm

                Megan said re. McDonalds:
                “They’re fat because shitty food is what is available in their price range.”

                Actually, fast food is very expensive compared to (dry) beans, (dry) rice, cabbage, carrots, frozen green beans or spinach,, etc. Maybe some chicken if you’re feeling fancy (boneless skinless breasts are $1.98 per pound at Walmart). I love fast food (unfortunately) but when I eat it I end up spending 4x what I’d normally spend cooking at home.

              • Jim December 11, 2014, 1:39 am

                We have quite a lot of obese, poor people here in the UK. A government minister just got in trouble because she said poor people can’t cook. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/dec/08/poor-cannot-cook-peer-eats-words As an example, she said that the porridge she’d made for herself for breakfast had cost about 10 cents. She had a point, but she was slaughtered in the media for making it! Poverty is a massive issue and the only answer I have to it is education. On that basis, the MMM blog delivers, even if it doesn’t apply to everyone.

              • theFIREstarter December 24, 2014, 3:06 am

                @ Jim

                Why do you think she was slated in the media?

                1. It was the easy line to take rather than tackling the real issue. Easy story / lazy journalism.
                2. Perhaps more importantly, the media is completely in the pockets (either via advertising or other more direct associations) of big coorporations such as McDonalds and therefore they have huge incentive to keep up the narrative that the good life is impossible unless you are spending big $$$/£££.

                If they ran the story saying, yea she has a point, poor people please have a look at resource X and Y and educate yourselves how to cook, or better still start a campaign for free cooking classes for those on benefits (etc) then the ultimate outcome of that if successful would mean less £££ for their corporate sponsors, and therefore that is why they would never run the story with that perspective.

            • Frugal Bazooka December 11, 2014, 9:25 am

              Nothing you’ve stated disputes my point. My point is many people in poverty choose paths in life that keep them in poverty. Instead of focusing and succeeding in school they avoid school like some kind of plague forced on them by the state. I’m not sure why people fail at school. Even struggling students, if they kept trying in school they would benefit from the experience – rather than drop out or fail and limit their opportunities. To not expect the individual to find a way to succeed, is to deny his or her ability to succeed. I choose to believe that every single able bodied and able minded individual has choices, esp today with such a panoply of gov’t and charitable agencies willing to help.

              Day after day recent immigrants become millionaires in the US because they are willing to work their asses off to learn the language, work at any stinkin’ job they can find, work for 12 hours a day, avoid drugs and alcohol, and most importantly attend FREE, TAX PAYER FUNDED SCHOOLS. They jump on every opportunity and never complain or whine about ivory towers and the rich. Instead of complaining they are out in the world trying to figure out a way to become rich, no matter how poor they are at the moment. Why are they so willing to risk their time to achieve success?
              There is an ever growing segment of the American population that not only has given up on themselves and their potential for success, but now expects the gov’t to shelter them from their own lack of desire or interest in succeeding.
              In the past, maybe in the days of the Robber Barons, a certain amount of poverty was inevitable because society and the elite class actually did create a social system that overwhelming benefited the rich. Those days are long gone and to blame the current economic system for poverty today is nonsense.
              For a person born into poverty it’s obviously much harder for them, but to deny there are opportunities to do so is a disservice to that individual who is looking for a way out. As the original poster pointed out, maybe reading some MMM crafted esp for those in poverty would be an inspiration for a kid who wants desperately to get out of poverty. I believe that kid has an excellent chance to get out of it, and I want that kid to believe it too, because that will give him/her the best chance to actually succeed.

              Of course there are myriad anecdotes about how people fall on hard times and end up in poverty. That is not the topic I’m discussing, my interest is in the people born in the cycle of poverty and how they can get out.

              Reply
              • BCB December 12, 2014, 10:18 am

                I find this comment much less inflammatory than the initial comment, Frugal Bazooka. We probably agree more than we disagree. I just don’t think we can oversimplify the issue by saying that people just need to try harder. My point on the ‘lack of mentor’ argument is basically if you’ve never seen someone try hard and acheive success in your own life, then the pay off is not clear and that makes it less likely you are going to work hard. (Immigrants often emigrate with this as their primary purpose with good results as you state. They probably have friends/family member who have done so.)

                I really think lack of a role person is the root cause of so called “cycle of poverty.” Many poor children think that the only way out of their current situation is some form of a lottery ticket, whether that is an actual lottery ticket, or success in the enternainment business, sports, etc. In other words they pursue things that are extremely unlikely to deliver, because these are often the only “bootstrap” stories that children of color (and I concede that race based poverty is often what people talk about when we talk about poverty) see as people like them going from poor to wealthy.

                Getting an education, learning to run a business, etc. are much (a million times more) more common ways to escape poverty, but poor kids just don’t have the role models in their life to realize that the true way to escape their situation is by these means.

                MMM methods could work for poverty situations. I think the most powerful concept that he embodies is a positive attitude. Even if you are poor (which may make it more difficult to have this attitude), appreciating all that you have is an extremely poweful way to consume less and save more.

              • Frugal Bazooka December 12, 2014, 3:38 pm

                BCB,

                If we sat down and talked we’d probably agree on 95% of the issues we discussed. The fact that we’re both at this site speaks volumes about our positive attitude about life and people.

                My first post was slightly strident because I get peeved day after day reading the lies and manipulations in the media that send the message out to people struggling in life that there is no hope…that there is nothing they can do to make their lives better. That’s a lie that undermines so many people’s hopes and dreams that it’s painful. I will always believe that a vast majority of people can change their lives for the better and I want that message to get out to those people who need to hear it. Since it doesn’t get out thru the print media or the networks or cable or ANY media other than the internet – well that’s the frustration that makes me feel like Howard Beale in NETWORK!
                ; )

            • brooke December 12, 2014, 4:23 pm

              Oh also, your little gem of a comment “Guess what, you don’t need birth control if you raise your kids to not have sex until they can take care of themselves” is also insanely crazy. You can raise a child to do the right thing, you can shelter them from temptations, you can teach them as much as you possibly can, and they will still make mistakes. Abstinence teaching is proven time and time again to be absolutely ineffective, just look at Texas as an example. The state leads the country with pre-marital sex and teen pregnancy and has a state-wide mandate that only abstinence can be taught and contraceptive training is not allowed. Backwards, stupid, and ineffective. The key is mentoring both at-risk women and men BEFORE they make bad choices, pushing contraceptives, and implementing sex ed courses that actually make sense.

              Reply
              • Tony H April 24, 2015, 8:36 pm

                Have you heard of someone called Ben Carson?

                He was a successful person from the getto that har no mentor. His mother was a single mother and on welfare.

                Do a Google search on Dr Ben Carson to find out how uneducated you sound. Good luck!

              • Kay in Mpls September 8, 2015, 2:21 pm

                Hi brooke. Thanks for speaking your mind. Where is MMM though? I’m reading all the posts and many comments from beginning and this is one of the most mean spirited threads I have seen yet. I’m not planning to comment on any one person’s “side,” just wanted to make a call somewhere in here for the more fair minded dialogue I’m used to on this blog.

            • Caroline Devitt December 15, 2014, 1:28 am

              Actually, it’s not true that “America is the only country whose poor are fat.” The same’s true of many countries these days.

              Reply
          • ABC December 10, 2014, 12:48 pm

            “….. stats for poverty are reported in the media as a continuing serious problem.”
            How do you suggest it to be reported?

            Reply
            • Frugal Bazooka December 11, 2014, 10:42 am

              I would report it without the editorial assumption that in each and every case it’s the “system” that is creating poverty. I would report it without including the side by side comparison to the wealth of others which has absolutely nothing to do with poverty.
              And I would find a way to include information in that article about how others got out of poverty and a list of gov’t programs that are avail to assist people in their efforts to get out of poverty. In other words I would inject hope and optimism into any story that purports to be stating the facts about poverty. I rarely read facts in the media anymore without a nonsensical political narrative attached to the “facts”

              Reply
          • Kenoryn December 11, 2014, 9:08 am

            “Why do so many high school kids and adults view education as a burden instead of a passport to a better life? ”

            You get your ideas and concepts about life from the world around you. All the poor adults were once poor children; they probably never had any successful people in their lives, probably never saw any examples other than what their own families did, and their families’ friends. They learned at an early age to distrust people, and that the world is a harsh place. When would they learn the lesson that hard work and education gets you ahead? They have no example for that. They see their parents working hard at crappy jobs and getting nowhere. Where would they get the belief that they themselves could be capable of more? Why would it even enter their heads?

            One of the most fundamental issues with poverty is soft skills – the basic life skills that those of use who were taught them from an early age take for granted. Basic things like self-control, getting along with others, etc. This isn’t just a matter of learning, in the same way that you might learn your times tables. It’s physiological. Consider:
            http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/12/15/poverty-negatively-impacts-childrens-early-brain-development/63305.html

            Consider also the broader trends that can be seen in children from poorer and wealthier families. Do you think it’s pure coincidence that children from poor families do worse in school? Is it that they just happen to be lazy, while kids from wealthier families are just, coincidentally, better at applying themselves, with no connection to their upbringing? You would have to be insane to believe that. It is clearly ridiculous.

            Our minds are subject to all kinds of environmental influence that we are not even aware of. For example, black students score lower on standardized tests if reminded before the test that they are black. Do you think poor students could be affected by the knowledge that they are poor? Do you think growing up feeling inferior could affect your behaviour and outlook and skill development? Of course it does! Here is an interesting article you might want to read on the subject of social influence on performance. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/opinion/sunday/intelligence-and-the-stereotype-threat.html?_r=0

            One last thing to bear in mind here is your own cognitive bias against the poor. Here’s a link to the “just world fallacy”, the belief that people who do well deserve it and people who don’t deserve that too, on a fantastic website that is great reading if you are interested in learning about and learning to compensate for/overcome your own biases and faulty thinking.
            http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/07/the-just-world-fallacy/

            Reply
            • Frugal Bazooka December 11, 2014, 10:59 am

              Kenoryn

              Great post and I appreciate your point of view. Rather than focus on my cognitive bias or your cognitive bias – which will not help a kid in poverty succeed, I rather focus on how I can help a kid get out of poverty.
              IMO academia spends a lot of time trying to explain the reasons for poverty and but never enough time explaining the solutions. I agree that a strong healthy family unit is a major factor in reducing poverty – but that’s a tall order to solve. I rather focus on the individual who seeks a better life and is willing to put up with a lot of shitty circumstances to dig themselves out of it.
              I want to empower the individual to overcome whatever bullshit they were born into by doing just 3 things: 1. stay in school and out of trouble 2. avoid bad personal choices that increase the likelihood of them staying poor and 3. learn to use the system to their advantage. to learn to manipulate the fuck out of the system so they find a way out of poverty.

              This is no easy road, but it IS possible and I will never believe otherwise. Worrying about how unfair society is, the flaws in the “system” and people’s biases one way or the other serves no purpose – changes nothing – and achieves nothing.

              Telling a kid in poverty that they can succeed if they bust their ass and do the right thing all the time can, in my opinion, achieve something.

              Reply
              • Kenoryn December 11, 2014, 5:33 pm

                I like your practical approach! I do, however, think that understanding the obstacles that people who grow up in poverty face is critical to helping people overcome those obstacles. And as long as people believe that poverty is solely the result of an individual’s poor choices, then nothing will be done to solve the larger problems that perpetuate poverty.

              • Frugal Bazooka December 12, 2014, 3:25 pm

                Kenoryn

                I completely agree that identifying the problem is the first step. The next step is empowering the individual. One of my goals in life is to do both of these things for as many people as possible. So far I’ve been able to help a few people get their lives on track…hopefully more to come! : )

            • Margaret December 11, 2014, 8:11 pm

              Um….I grew up poor in a trailer park. My parents were the definition of the working poor, but please don’t tell them. They worked long hours, and as many as 3 jobs at once to provide a life.

              While we were monetarily poor, we were by no means poor. We were loved and provided for. There was love and laughter in our house, but I as I grew older, I knew we were lacking money. Utilities were cut off periodically, and I could not do the activities my friends could. Even so,we were expected to do our best in everything – school, church, jobs. Our character was developed and expectations were set. Government assistance was for other folks who truly needed it.

              Fast forward to now – I am certainly not poor, and have a very, very comfortable life. I have worked very hard, and have been very blessed as well. I have been defeated and still looked to the future. The recession was a very difficult time for my family for a number of reasons. At the very hardest, I took a retail job for $8.10/hr. I worked hard, and soon was managing the store. Along the way, I have had dozens of people work for me of at the same wages. And I have financially mentored dozens through my church and Habitat. I have learned this – people are what set their minds to be. Successful, entitled, smart, dumb, victims, whatever – you can mentor them and some REALLY want change, but others simply want you to do something for them.

              The real riches in this country are the free opportunities afforded us every day. We can put the effort in or not. The other real opportunity is that we can start each day anew – be something we weren’t, something more than we were yesterday. But is does take effort. There are plenty of assistance programs – I know because I had to fill out paperwork for many people – some who were just in hard times and many whom for which it is a life. And in my personal experience, 60-70% of the folks are in the system for life. They can tell you all the loopholes and how to sell your benefits for drugs, what makes the gov’t give you more. You name it. Those folks are far more interested in “scoring” brand name sneakers and what’s on “whatever housewives” than figuring out how to be a more valuable employee. If you suggest they take a free class or get a GED, you will get a lot of excuses. When you’ve come out of poverty yourself, you recognize excuses.

              I don’t want children or people to suffer or go hungry, but we are really not understanding true suffering here. There are truly bad circumstances here in the US, but not as often as you would think based on the numbers. Much of the poverty in the US is self-inflicted under-achieving, because we sanction it. I know here in FL, we provide $500-$700/month in support to mothers whose children have the ‘diagnosis” of ADHD. Guess what we have an epidemic of? And I had an employee whose 16 yo son rec’d $700/month for schizophrenia (he isn’t – mom admits it), and he couldn’t make more than $1640/month and keep his check FOR HIS WHOLE LIFE. I asked here what she was going to do if he had gifts that might allow him to make $50k a year – would he change his thinking? She went blank – she couldn’t answer. And he’s a lazy worker. I know because he worked for me for week at holiday.
              We provide a lot of support and access here, and lots of people figure that out and succeed, others just use it to coast along. It is good to expect that more people strive and succeed at being a better version of themselves – whatever their gift, and not make excuses for their decision not to.

              Years ago, I learned that we make our job everyday by what we bring to the table. It is true. It is an attitude and a desire to be excellent that sets good workers, and those who get ahead, apart, regardless of pay scale today. I have promoted many an $8.00 worker of all shapes, sizes and colors, and it ALWAYS had to do with attitude and integrity. If you want to break the cycle of poverty, start with the lesson that you CAN, but you have to DO.

              Poverty isn’t just about money – it is about the tragedy of not bringing your gifts to fruition. The tragedy of living a life far less than you were created for. We all bring something special to the table of life – regardless of the economic value of it. What a total waste not to express it.

              Reply
              • Frugal Bazooka December 14, 2014, 10:54 pm

                Great post. I am inspired by people like you.

              • vickie December 16, 2014, 9:55 am

                Amen!

              • Matt G December 17, 2014, 4:11 pm

                I was also raised in a trailer park, a bad trailer park, with drug addicts, alcoholics, and child abusers. But I still came out okay. I am one of millions of people that were born into poverty and worked my way out of it (with the support of a great family and almost infinite opportunity provided in the USA).

                MMM is strongly against the ‘poor’. The poor are people that spend more than they make. The poor are people that make excuses instead of taking action. The poor are people that blame others instead of taking charge of their situation. The poor feed their addictions to fancy things, drugs, and immediate gratification instead of sacrificing for their future. The poor help themselves instead of helping others.

                Just because you don’t have money doesn’t mean you’re poor. You’re poor when you adopt a poor mindset. In fact, there are a lot people that make a lot of money that are poor. Look at the typical middle class family as an example of that.

          • Jaclyn December 11, 2014, 6:57 pm

            Spoken like a true person who has never had to spend a day in your life worrying about where your next meal is coming from, how you will pay for electricity, hot water, and for a roof over your head. Education is a luxury. If your basic needs are not being met (food, water, shelter), you cannot worry about things like college. Hell, you can’t even worry about high school when you have to work just to make money to eat.

            You’re right. Education can do wonders for a person’s livelihood. I am living proof. But I was lucky and someone took me in when I was 16 and showed me that life didn’t always have to be a struggle. After my basic needs were met, they were able to teach me the importance of an education.

            I am going to leave it at that because this comment has me so pissed off I cannot even handle it.

            Reply
          • Cheryl December 14, 2014, 6:34 pm

            I generally agree with you – there are a lot of people living in the American version of poverty with no excuse at all. I completely disagree with the idea that government programs or blogs (why are those even being categorized together?) don’t help. People are frequently in poverty due to a lack of education, and I would consider signing up for programs or doing lots of research online to be ways of getting education.

            Reply
          • James December 15, 2014, 1:55 pm

            I’m with you. Grew up in poverty in the US. I mean, I literally starved, went without running water, electricity, and telecommunications. Dropped out of high school illegally at 14. Got my GED at 17 and went to university. Got a degree in Computer Science with a mediocre (3.01) GPA. Making 70k/year now, due for a raise by end of year to somewhere in the 75-80k/yr range at age 26.

            Not everyone can succeed, but virtually anyone can succeed. The reality is that if people actually pushed for even moderate amounts of success and took advantage of the options available to them, they could have it.

            Reply
          • Vince January 16, 2015, 11:41 am

            You touched on education as a start to break the poverty cycle. In Indiana, the highest per pupil expenditures are in the large metro schools while the more rural schools are doing a better job on about half (in some cases) to 3/4ths of the same amount. A key to the better education is parental involvement. From what I have been able to observe, the better schools have a higher parental involvement in the school and in the child’s life. Hillary Clinton might have been correct with her “It takes a village”, but if the parents are not there, then the village means diddley squat.

            Reply
        • Mark December 10, 2014, 2:15 pm

          I would say that when the middle class gets its financial act together, that WILL help people in poverty a lot. When you have fewer middle class folks dependent on paid employment, at least some of those jobs can be taken by those currently stuck on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Furthermore, more people freed from paid employment means at least some of those folks will be willing and able to help those less fortunate. Just because all of these effects are indirect doesn’t mean they’re not powerful.

          Reply
          • JB December 11, 2014, 8:14 am

            If everyone kept their cars for 15 years, the auto industry would crash. If everyone quit going out to eat, many restaurants would close up. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Portion sizes are huge, most of the food is average. My wife is a pretty good cook and I don’t know what I really get at a restaurant she can’t make that isn’t complicated.

            Reply
            • James December 23, 2014, 8:33 am

              Fortunately, none of those things will ever happen. If there’s one thing you can count on it’s American consumerism. So don’t worry about it.

              Reply
          • Liz December 12, 2014, 6:04 pm

            That has to be the weirdest comment I have ever read on this blog. So because I am middle class, I am supposed to give up my job so a poorer person can have it? If this isn’t what you meant, please clarify….

            Reply
            • Mark December 16, 2014, 5:27 pm

              Heh, ok I’m frustrated. That’s not what I meant. If more middle class people become financially independent like MMM, or quasi-independent (i.e. don’t need to people working full time), that automatically frees up more jobs for people who need them. People don’t have to give up their jobs to help poor people per se for it to have this pleasant unintended consequence.

              Reply
              • JB December 19, 2014, 11:51 am

                if you are a mechanical engineer and you go start a consulting business, an uneducated person isn’t going to slip into your job. Also, there are only so many jobs out there that will service so many people. The world only needs x amount of accountants and lawyers. We also only need x number of ditch diggers.

          • James December 15, 2014, 1:57 pm

            Maybe a few, but the reality is that the majority of people who are currently well-paid enough to bootstrap their way into early retirement are engineers, nurses, accountants, and similar high-demand professions. We could graduate twice as many of these per year as we are and it would still take a decade before the market for them was saturated.

            Reply
        • Guillaume December 10, 2014, 5:44 pm

          Then visit the early retirement extreme website where Jacob lives on 7k per year

          Reply
        • Prudence Debtfree December 10, 2014, 8:30 pm

          Just to let you know of a great way to help low-income families (and/or frugal up your own grocery bills): Good and Cheap is a cook book designed by a student getting her masters degree in nutrition who wanted to provided a way for people using food stamps to eat sufficient and healthy food. “Eat well on $4 / day” is the idea. You can purchase copies for yourself at $20 each and for low-income families at roughly $5 each. Here is a link to order:
          http://www.leannebrown.com/buy/good-and-cheap
          (No one is making money from this. Not even the author.)

          Reply
          • Leah December 10, 2014, 10:45 pm

            Thanks! This cookbook looks great. There’s also PDF you can download and share for free!

            Reply
            • Prudence Debtfree December 11, 2014, 2:07 pm

              That’s right. The only downside to the free PDF is that the people who would most benefit from it don’t necessarily have computers and printers. But for your own frugal groceries, it’s great!

              Reply
          • Chris December 16, 2014, 11:45 am

            Thanks! Saved this to print later!

            Reply
        • femmefrugality December 11, 2014, 7:23 pm

          Wow, these comments really spiraled out of control. Anyone who thinks all public schools are created equally is crazy. The more money they have, the more likely they are to provide a better education, or heck, even just get the classroom under control. On top of that, it’s hard to focus on education when you’ve got a slew of other possibly life threatening situations going on in your neighborhood and possibly even home.

          There’s also cultural barriers. The subtleties we pick up simply by growing up middle class aren’t inherent in human nature; they’re learned. And when you’re interviewing for a job or trying to rub shoulders to network, their absence will be noticed.

          In order to get by, some poor depend on welfare systems. These systems are set up to discourage savings. Reach a certain point of assets, and lose your benefits. Lose your benefits, pour your savings into day to day living until you’re back at zero. Reapply for benefits. Rinse and repeat.

          This is an extremely complex situation. And to tell others they simply need to work harder is patronizing and missing a huge chunk of the picture. That being said, there are ways to dig out. And it does involve a lot of seriously hard work. Like others have said, use the system for all it’s worth. Welfare, financial aid for college, scholarships, job training programs…so many opportunities for aid are afforded to you when your income is low. Use them to raise your income. Because if you’re really, seriously poor, that’s the only way to get to a point where you’re able to use MMM’s sage advice. Raise your income.

          A lot of people in poverty don’t know about the programs that are available to them. The ones I have told about them can’t believe it’s true. Literally, can’t believe it’s true. Because they’ve felt so held back their entire lives that opportunities that sound too good to be true probably are. And most of the ones I do know work incredibly hard. Arguably harder than a lot of middle class people. And they do it just to stay afloat. There are opportunities out there. You just have to know they exist.

          Michael, if you have anyone specific in mind I’d be happy to help try to figure out what programs could help them get to a point where increased income is possible. So they can save. So they can stress less about getting by. So they can live better. It’s not a matter of working hard. Many are already doing that. It’s about directing your energy towards working hard at the things that will get you ahead, even if that entails using welfare programs to get there. Even that’s not always a fool proof solution. But you stand a lot better of a chance.

          Reply
          • Prudence Debtfree December 11, 2014, 8:15 pm

            Love this comment, Femme Frugality!

            Reply
          • Maxim Ч. December 13, 2014, 6:38 pm

            They work harder…but they sure as hell don’t work *smarter*. Generally, the more money one makes, the less hard one works.

            Reply
          • Michael December 16, 2014, 4:31 pm

            Fantastic comment/perspective, Femme Frugality. I don’t necessarily have anyone specific in mind. My wife and I both work for non-profits, and we see/help a lot of individuals and families who are struggling. We know a lot about the resources available. It’s just difficult, as you said, to get someone to divert energy to the right or most effective opportunities. Cheers.

            Reply
          • 9 O'Clock Shadow December 19, 2014, 3:42 pm

            What a great comment FF! Belief that you can change your situation from wherever you start is a simple and powerful Perspective. It is exactly why the “I did it so why can’t you?” posters here believe they can be dropped in any poverty-type situation and ‘make it’ – and I believe them too.

            When you’ve informed someone of the benefits available to them, and encouraged them to apply you are changing their Perspective. In cases where they don’t believe it is true, it is a radical shift. But if you gloss over the differences in someone’s situation, particularly if they are feeling hopeless, you will lose their trust, no matter how sound your logic is. The best path forward is to gauge the receptiveness of that person and advise accordingly, as so many here have written. And with that, the status of the person becomes irrelevant. You’re just there to observe, reason, and most of all to help.

            Compassion, Observation & Logic. It’s like having an electric car with snow tires AND All Wheel Drive !

            Reply
        • Noa February 23, 2016, 1:58 pm

          He has already posted a case study for two people making minimum wage, and it uses the same tactics and shows it works well for them too:

          http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/26/reader-case-study-minimum-wage-with-a-baby-on-the-way/

          So do some reading before you do the requesting. lol

          (I am reading all articles chronologically, which is how I knew that article existed.)

          Reply
      • Kenoryn December 10, 2014, 10:41 am

        While I agree that when you start out poor, you incur more expenses and it’s even harder to dig yourself out, I find it hard to sympathize with this particular article. She starts out by talking about losing her truck because it was towed. If she’s that hard up, you might first of all make really sure you don’t get your car towed, or even get a parking ticket, because that’s extremely expensive, but whatever, people make mistakes – but why does she own a truck?? A truck of all things? She did not work at a job that required her to own a truck, and with a 6-mile commute, she should not have owned any vehicle at all, at least until she had some savings built up. She could have sold the truck and bought a bike and decent used raincoat, and voila. Thousands of dollars of savings. No showing up to work soaked or sweaty (or leave five minutes earlier and bring a change of clothes in a ziploc bag in your backpack). That would be the obvious Mustachian advice to give for this situation, and if she had taken it she would have lost neither her truck nor her job and she would have had thousands in savings to cover unexpected emergencies. All her problems would be solved. Her $5/week savings would turn into $40/week with the money she’s not spending on gas and insurance. Super easy. With that extra money you can afford to, for example, buy the better quality toaster as she mentions in the article (but, obviously, you should be buying used anyway!)

        People who don’t have a job and can’t find one, or who already have made mistakes and have a lot of debt to service such that they are already living a Mustachian life and still not able to make ends meet – that’s where it gets hard. For them MMM gives advice about increasing their income, per the end of the minimum wage case study article. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/26/reader-case-study-minimum-wage-with-a-baby-on-the-way/

        Reply
        • Nick December 10, 2014, 12:39 pm

          | She could have sold the truck and bought a bike and decent used raincoat, and voila.

          you’ve never been to Winnipeg. Only a few of us cycle in the -40 winter and it’s not that cheap. Studded tires, proper clothing, goggles are a must, etc.. AND ONLY if you have a decent route. My bikes usually only last 3-4 years as they rust out.

          Reply
          • Kenoryn December 11, 2014, 8:35 am

            I think you are confusing the article I was commenting on (by Linda Tirado) with the MMM post. The article’s author is in Utah.

            Reply
        • Kelly December 11, 2014, 12:39 pm

          The only fault I can find with your logic is this – sometimes people buy the vehicle that’s offered to them. The cheapest out-of-pocket vehicle at the time might have been a truck. That’s been true for me before. Also, you can’t ALWAYS reasonably live where you work, esp. if you’re very low income. So walking/biking 10 miles might be what they’re facing at that point. Also – not terrible if you’re working a sit-down job, but many low-wage jobs are very physical, so fatigue is a real issue when you’re talking about a 20 mile bike ride on top of an 8 hour shift on your feet. All this would be radically different if she lived 2 miles or less away (not always possible in a poor, rural community), but then you still have to contend to grocery shopping when the bus only runs once every 2 hours.

          All I can say is – poverty is exhausting. Anyone who says differently hasn’t been there.

          Reply
          • Kenoryn December 11, 2014, 5:44 pm

            It certainly is exhausting, and one of the privileges of the middle class is that they are able to make financial mistakes like the author of this article with no serious consequences, whereas the poor have to get everything right.

            The author did specifically say her commute was 6 miles, which isn’t short, but certainly isn’t unmanageable. When she lost her truck she walked that distance, which is a little silly as it would probably take 2 hours. She would have been much better off selling the truck and biking, or even buying a scooter, at least until she could save up enough money to buy a small efficient car and still have a cash cushion.

            Reply
        • Leo December 11, 2014, 8:12 pm

          Yes those were my thoughts as well. I think even more importantly is the attitude that saving is impossible. Of course you won’t save anything if you’ve already decided that saving is impossible.
          I’m also bothered by her logic against saving: “Of course you will never manage to actually save it; you’ll get sick at least one day and miss work and dip into it for rent. Gas will spike and you’ll need it to get to work. You’ll get a tear in your work pants that you can’t patch.”
          Yes those things might happen, but with some savings, that thing will not mean losing your job, they will just mean losing a bit of money. And when you can manage to hold your job down for some time, you can start to look at getting a raise, or moving to a higher paying job. Of course the start is going to be hard, and the savings small, but if you never start you will never get anywhere.

          Reply
      • Jen December 13, 2014, 7:58 am

        I agree, that’s not what this blog is. I have to chime in because I am a divorced mom of two who makes about $20k a year and gets about $400 a month in child support. I also used to be married and have a wealthier lifestyle so I have a unique perspective of living on both ends of the spectrum.

        First of all, this blog fills a unique niche, people who SHOULD be able to live very nice lives on their income, but often don’t. When I worked for a big 4 accounting firm ten years ago, I was struck by how many of my colleagues were completely broke, even though they made good money. This blog is great for people who need to get their acts together.

        There are also tons of other blogs aimed at those in poverty, I know because I read many of them as well. Because I read a variety of blogs, I have managed to take a lot of their ideas and cobble together a nice lifestyle for me and my two kids. Most women in my situation are paycheck to paycheck, but my retirement is fully funded, my home is paid off (I moved to a low cost of living area after my divorce on purpose) and my kids want for nothing. My daughter takes piano lessons and my son takes classes at the local college for gifted kids (he’s ten). Unlike when I was a kid, they have never known what it is like to have their utilities shut off or to go hungry. In fact, we are headed to Florida for vacation in less than two months!

        I also have a job that is fairly flexible and I can mostly work while my kids are in school. If I needed more money to live on, I would have to commute 40 minutes away to the nearest larger city and get home at 6:30 every night instead of 4:00, like I currently do. No, I am not able to put away $5000 a month like many of the more well-heeled readers of this blog, but by applying mustachian principles I have a lot of freedom.

        Reply
        • casserole55 December 16, 2014, 6:00 am

          Jen – Your story is truly inspirational. Congrats on a life well-lived! Have fun in Florida!

          Reply
    • Le Barbu December 10, 2014, 9:57 am

      In fact, some peoples are just “built” to seek for poverty. At my job, a single mom with “low income” (1/3 of mine) is leasing a brand new car every 3 years, make some bathroom renovations (big$$) and drive twice the distance/year than my 2 cars family fleet?? On top of that, her mortgage rate is 6,3% (mine is 3.5%) and she’s clueless when I try to introduce some MMM tips. I feel real bad about it since it is a truly good person and we carpool together, so, we share a lot and it makes me sad about her situation. I mean, I would not sleep at night, I don’t know how she does?

      Reply
      • wwax December 10, 2014, 11:33 am

        You may not be the right person in the right place to help her learn differently. She may not think she has a problem that needs solving, according to everything she’s been taught since birth she is doing all the right things. Instead of telling show. Live your life as an example and let her ask questions instead of trying to teach someone that is not yet ready to learn.

        Reply
        • Le Barbu December 10, 2014, 2:41 pm

          I know I cant help in any way but feel sad about it. You are right when saying “she’s been taught since birth she is doing all the right things”.

          In fact, she told me “I am doing pretty good managing money”. WHAT! I was just thinking, it’s not because you did not bankrupt yet you can proclaim yourself “good at managing money”.

          Are those peoples happier than us, being clueless? I feel so sad about that kind of story, especialy when they are real good persons…

          Reply
          • Rob in Munich December 12, 2014, 1:45 am

            Holy crap, this is a discussion that would be better off in the forum than here

            Reply
          • Cheryl December 14, 2014, 7:00 pm

            Been there! It’s incredibly difficult and awkward to try to give a friend financial advice unasked!

            I’ve got a friend who recently immigrated over and is still trying to get on her feet, financially. Her habits aren’t really that bad – no debt, picky about buying clothes even though she loves them – then she tells me she buys an $80 bottle of perfume every month and gets a massage once a week! She’s currently carless, but only because she can’t afford one until she’s got all her various immigration lawyer fees paid off. I’m car-free by choice and tried to sell her on the idea of biking, but she’s convinced it’s a death trap no matter what I say. Oh well, at least she knows to prioritize the legal fees instead of running out and getting in debt over a shiny car.

            Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache December 10, 2014, 9:59 am

      Hi Michael,

      First of all – Jbo is right – this blog often tells stories of rich people, because it’s an anti-consumption blog at heart and we are the ones doing all the consuming.

      But second – the principles work perfectly for broke people as well, and that Slate article is actually bullshit. It’s an accurate reflection of the problems poor people currently encounter, but it is totally missing the point. But it will take me a whole article to explain it. It’ll be called “Mr. Money Mustache vs. Income Inequality”, and I think it’s long overdue.

      Reply
      • Michael December 10, 2014, 10:03 am

        YES! That’s exactly what I’m talking about (see above reply). Thanks, MMM. I can’t wait to read it. Have a kick-ass day.

        Reply
      • mike December 10, 2014, 10:41 am

        I would like to see that also.

        Reply
      • LennStar December 10, 2014, 10:45 am

        I would like to read it. Because most of the people aren’t rich or even average.
        For example, in Germany 2013 the *average* income was 30.000€ (already not including the top incomes). The *median* (or middle income) was 20.000€. – thats before taxes and social payments, which start at 20% and increase.
        [Coincidentally these numbers are just a _tiny_ bit rounded and VERY easy to work with]

        So half of the population earns less then 20.000 while the “tax minimum” or “existential minimum” is a bit under 10.000€.

        So lets say you earn a typical moderately good income of my region – 1200€ on your hand (or bank account).
        Fortunately we also have low rents, so low in fact that additional costs are a big chunk. Lets say you need 500€ for all living costs, including heating, for the smallest type of flat.
        That leaves you with 700€ for ALL costs. Take away groceries and a few “necessities” like phone and internet and clothing, and you are at 500€ left – and you havent paid for anything except existing.

        Its hard to get “rich” with that. Not to mention the guys (or more likely woman) who get only 900€ instead of 1200€.

        Now put in a suboptimal situation (someone who you have to care for, including the need for a car to transport to the doctor (or pay a lot every time for the taxi) or just the single mom with 2 children who can be happy to have even this job) and you are quite stuck.

        Reply
        • Christof December 10, 2014, 11:06 am

          Earning 1200 and living off 700 is a 40% saving rate. According to

          http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

          that is around 25 years of saving to retirement, so well in your 40ties if you don’t waste your time. That is still 20 years earlier than everyone else. In addition you can get a so called mini job which lets you earn another 450 Euros tax free by cleaning in the evenings. That shaves off another ten years.

          Is it easy and effortless? Not at all. But quite possible, indeed.

          Reply
          • LennStar December 10, 2014, 3:10 pm

            Its actually quite a bit lower.
            For once, I havent covered ANY expenses outside living – no restaurant, no presents for anyone, no museum, no bike – nothing.

            More importantly if you stop working (and be “rich”) you have to add health insurance (or cover the expenses, I prefer the save variant), which is I think a bit above 400€/month.
            So you need about 1000€ at least until you get into the normal retirement age of 67. That makes 300K instead of 210K. 7 more years.
            And we are still talking only about existing.
            And most people dont start at 20 or younger.

            Reply
        • JOey December 10, 2014, 11:37 am

          The beauty of living in Germany is that you don’t need a car to bring somebody you have to care for to the doctor. In most cases these transports are paid for by health insurance and conducted by ambulance or taxi. (There is a detuctible of 5 euros.) That’s also one of the reasons why taxes and social payments are so high.

          However early retirement is extremely hard in Germany. That’s because a large chunk of your income goes into a government pension system. This system is not based on capital at all. So if you retire early you simply get a lot less than you paid into that system because the country thinks you should work until 67 (the retirement age is slightly lower for people over 52). And there is no opt-out.
          The 2nd reason why this blog isn’t very applicable in Germany (or Europe) is that many of MMM’s wise rules are simply considered common sense there and followed by virtually everyone.

          Reply
          • JB December 10, 2014, 11:48 am

            it is also very expensive to drive a car in Europe so that is why Public Transportation is more efficient and used. Germany is a small country compared to America. German are frugal by culture. Lots of services are “free” but really you pay for them in higher taxes. There just isn’t the room to have 4,500 sq ft houses everywhere like in America. Not that Germany is land locked, but when I was there, it seemed very zoned, very few subdivision like in America and that is fine. You create population density by keeping people living close together. That is why PT works better in Europe. Real Estate prices are high due to lack of supply.

            Reply
            • Christof December 10, 2014, 3:23 pm

              My impression is that people in the US have no idea how good their public transport systems are. Sure, in some cities like Los Angeles it’s horrible. But I’ve been using public transport in San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago, and it’s just like in any Germany city. You don’t have a long distance train system like we do, but you do have a pretty efficient aircraft system.

              Higher taxes is another myth. It really depends on how your income and assets are structured and what you count as taxes. Our actual tax payment, including sales tax (or VAT) is between 35 and 40 per cent and we are – statistically speaking – a high income family. That’s inline with what I hear from my US friends. Germany has higher VAT, but lower property taxes. We have higher income taxes, but there’s no state tax. There’s less variety in Germany. About the only variable tax is a business tax, everything else is more or less the same no matter in which state you are.

              Healthcare and pensions are not paid from taxes, but they are often included in statistics showing “payments to the government” which is then treated as taxes. Those two are high. They are 35% of the gross salary. But health insurance, social security and 401K/IRA contributions in the US are high, too, unless you opt out which is harder in Germany.

              Germany is smaller. About the size of Texas with a quarter of the population of the US. That’s why we don’t have as large houses. The relative growth is the same, though. In 1960 each person had an average of 19 square meters, today it’s 45 square meter.

              Reply
              • Rob in Munich December 12, 2014, 1:54 am

                From the numbers I’ve seen taxes (including healthcare costs) are about the same, earn the same in the US or Germany and you’ll take home about the same.

                And for sure Germany has got best health care in Europe and Canada. The US is better only if you have money.

              • JB December 12, 2014, 7:57 am

                outside of the NE with Boston/NY/DC and Chicago, most PT in the rest of the US is pretty bad. We are so spread out most cities don’t have the population density to support a great system.

          • theFIREstarter December 10, 2014, 4:52 pm

            Ha ha Joey!

            I think us Europeans are a lot better at avoiding the volcano of exploding wastefulness, USA has forgotten frugal badassity very quickly over the last few generations.

            Many people in the UK still need all the help they can get though, and many countries are trying to copy America’s model of conspicuous consumption, which is sad to see.
            Let’s hope the MMM mentality takes over the world before that happens!! :)

            +1 for the Income Inequality article, love to hear your thoughts on that one MMM. Cheers!

            Reply
            • Matt December 10, 2014, 5:11 pm

              In America i still feel that everyone can achieve financial security. Europe is socialized and redistribution of wealth results in not trying to get ahead in life. I see that happening here in America and it is sad. It’s becoming that it is more beneficial to do nothing than working hard. Redistributing is wonderful to the ones getting it. What happens when the person you are taxing to death quits the race or runs out of money? the 1970’s was a time like that. America should NEVER go done that road. Europe may like their free time but their economy shows it. People don’t push themselves and save than enjoy FI they want it the easy way. redistribution

              Reply
              • Jim December 11, 2014, 1:53 am

                That made me laugh. The statement “Europeans may like their free time, but their economy shows it”, is like Homer asking Lisa Simpson if the Germans have a successful economy because “we give them money”? I’d tend to agree that the consumer society in America has failed. As has free market capitalism, not that many Americans will admit it. The biggest redistribution of wealth in history happened when we bailed out the banks, the biggest exercise of socialism ever seen. But we had to bail out the banks partly because of runaway consumerism, the need to have the bigger house, the bigger car and incurring personal debt to get it.

              • Mr. Money Mustache December 11, 2014, 10:21 am

                Jim, while I agree with some of your points, you might want to read “Stress test” by Timothy Geithner to understand more about the financial crisis.

                The bank bailouts were actually a transfer of bank shareholder wealth BACK TO TAXPAYERS, because the government made a $150 billion profit on the deal by the end of it. They were also a backstop that prevented a massive depression that would have cost the poor people much more.

                The bigger systemic issues are still valid – I just think people should discuss them without the open wound of the Treasury’s response to the GFC clouding the judgement. Good policy strategy during a financial crisis is way different from good policy during healthy boom times (i.e. right now).

              • Dylan SMith December 11, 2014, 8:27 am

                The hardest working Europeans are also the poorest (the average Spanish working person works more hours then their German counterpart).

                I used to live in the US. I used to make more money living in the US, but in the s/w development world in the US you’re expected to work around 20 hours unpaid overtime a week (60 hours a week) and have 10 days of paid vacation. After leaving the US, I now work a 37.5 hr week and am not expected to work overtime, and I get 30 days paid vacation a year (plus bank holidays). If I stay another 4 years at my current job this increases to 35 days. While my gross salary isn’t as large, I am MUCH happier and I would never go back (and I bet I’m making significantly more per hour). GDP per capita isn’t everything. I feel much richer living this lifestyle.

              • Frugal Bazooka December 14, 2014, 11:01 pm

                lol, MMM careful, you’re injecting facts into a very emotionally charged issue. People don’t want to hear that the gov’t did a good thing by bailing out the economy, esp since Bush started the bailout. How great is it that the whole TARP question confuses the shit out of conservatives and libs at nearly the same rate?

                lmao

        • ABC December 10, 2014, 1:32 pm

          You’re confusing median and average.

          “So half of the population earns less then 20.000 while the “tax minimum” or “existential minimum” is a bit under 10.000€. “

          Reply
          • JOey December 10, 2014, 2:41 pm

            NO.
            “The *median* (or middle income) was 20.000€. – thats before taxes and social payments, which start at 20% and increase.”
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median

            Reply
        • RR December 11, 2014, 2:59 am

          Is this incorrect then?
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_countries_by_average_wage

          I see here an average of 2.000€ net

          Reply
      • Gaga Honk December 10, 2014, 10:52 am

        I’m looking forward to this future article as well. I’ve been reading a few articles recently about poor people in cities and poor people in city problems, and car ownership seems to be a constant cause of difficulty. Car breaks down, poor person loses job. Car is driven faster than speed limit, or car can’t pass vehicle inspection, poor person gets expensive ticket for speeding or driving without proper inspection, then maybe poor person doesn’t get to court (often because of car problems) and runs up court fees and other expensive penalties related to the failure to appear. Car accident, insurance rates increase, poor person gets poorer. That’s just a few of the examples I can remember off the top of my head, but it sure seemed like it was possible to trace back most of the problems I was reading about to car ownership.

        Reply
        • tallgirl1204 December 11, 2014, 9:26 am

          I have a friend who is a bankruptcy lawyer. He said “it always starts with a car. They buy a car, can’t keep up the payments and take it back to the dealer. The dealer agrees to re-sell it, BUT the dealer will come back to the original owner to recoup any shortage between what the dealer sells it for and what the original owner still owes.

          The dealer has ZERO incentive to get a good price for the car, as the original owner is still on the hook for the difference. So the dealer gives someone else a “deal” and the original owner is on the downhill slide– if they couldn’t make the payments, they can’t make up the difference either.

          And so they end up in my friend’s office.

          Reply
        • Cheryl December 14, 2014, 7:17 pm

          This is an easy one: Don’t own a car!

          *insert lots of people protesting that they approve of bikes in general but THEIR PARTICULAR SITUATION makes biking completely impossible.*

          Yes, yes, cars are very convenient. But you really CAN survive without them! Remember that time you imagined what your life would be like if you’d been born in a dusty third world country, or maybe a slum, but obviously you’d pull yourself out of it and be successful? Possibly there was some rap music playing at the time? Yeah. Well, do that. Cars are convenient, not necessary, and if you can’t afford one then don’t get one.

          *Cue chorus of protests about how unsafe biking is.*

          Shut up and do your research or I will kick you in the shins.

          Reply
          • Lina December 17, 2014, 1:34 pm

            I hated my car payments so I sold the car. Last weekend when I was counting the cost of my vacation to Hawaii I realised that it was approximately the equal of the yearly cost of a car. I much prefer an exprensive vacation instead of car payments.

            Reply
      • MTH December 10, 2014, 11:06 am

        MMM stole my comment. The nerve of this guy.

        “It’s impossible to win, unless you are very lucky.” A timeless classic.

        Reply
      • EDSMedS December 10, 2014, 11:15 am

        “MMM vs I.I.” = Woot! This promise is a great christmas present! I look forward to nitpicking!

        Reply
      • wwax December 10, 2014, 11:33 am

        Can’t wait for this article.

        Reply
      • Steve December 10, 2014, 3:53 pm

        “The principles work perfectly for broke people as well”….if the broke people can follow them.

        A while back there was a forum thread about the MBTI profiles of this blog’s readers. A very large proportion of commenters were INTJs or something similar to that. INTJs make up 1-2% of the population, which shows what’s pretty obvious already: the readers of this blog are an absurdly non-representative sample of the population. Basically, the blog attracts super-rational engineer and programmer types, like you and your wife. And it’s no surprise that the “extreme” version of this blog, ERE, is written by a theoretical physicist.

        One thing the engineer/nerd personality type has in abundance is intelligence. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average IQ of the people commenting on here is in the 125-130 range, with a lot of people significantly above that.

        A bunch of things come with intelligence: for one, the ability to imagine situations years or decades away, which some academics call “future time orientation”. Dumb people live in the moment. Telling them to resist some temptation because of its consequences in thirty years is like speaking gibberish to them. They literally can’t imagine things that far into the future. That’s an exaggeration, but the trend is there.

        And resisting temptation is itself related to intelligence; there’s a growing body of academic research that links impulse control to cognitive ability. Smart people are better able to control their impulses. Sure, anyone can improve at that, but some people have a big advantage, like great athletes learning to play a new sport.

        So intelligence brings with it a number of traits that make a high-savings lifestyle easier. And nerd types have another “advantage”, if that’s the right word for it: a lower-than-average orientation towards status signaling. The stereotype about poorly-dressed engineers is pretty accurate. A lot of the MMM strategy involves trading status for savings. The reason consumers want F-350s is that, in their circles, F-350s are badass and bikes are for wusses. They could still ride bikes, but they’re normal they’re paying a psychological price for that. Engineer types find it far easier to take the low-status alternative. They’re not making a big sacrifice, because they’re sacrificing something they don’t actually care about much.

        I see a lot of contempt in the comments for people living paycheck to paycheck, but the situation is more complicated than some people here seem to admit. “If I was them I’d do XYZ” isn’t necessarily helpful, because you aren’t them, and you have a different utility function than they do.

        Reply
        • BCB December 10, 2014, 6:10 pm

          I think the allure of proclaiming Mustachians as smarter (and let’s throw on better-looking) than the rest of humans in appealing but it is probably not necessarily true. The studies on impulse control (the Marshmallow Experiment) did not look for intelligence as a primary outcome but instead for life success. This makes sense because people that see the benefits of delayed gratification see the benefits of going to college, which (for better or worse) is the primary selection mechanism for success in America. I think someone with a low intelligence can probably see the financial benefits of not driving a truck but he/she probably won’t be looking for this information on an online forum…

          Reply
          • Steve December 10, 2014, 6:49 pm

            The marshmallow experiment showed a correlation between subjects’ abilities to resist temptation as children and their life outcomes later on. One category of life outcomes measured was SAT scores, and people who resisted temptation better had higher scores (i.e. were smarter). But there’s a ton of evidence that people’s test scores tend be fairly consistent over time- small children’s intelligence tests are correlated with their SAT scores later on. So basically the experiment showed that smarter people are better at resisting temptation.

            By the way, I’m not at all trying to say that MMM readers are superior beings or something like that. I’m saying that they have unusual preferences, and that as a result they make unusual choices. The internet helps weird people find other people who are weird in the same way and reinforces them in their weirdness.

            Reply
          • Why Did I Why December 11, 2014, 10:48 am

            If you disagree that Mustachians are significantly above average in intelligence and impulse control, you’re simply revealing how detached and insulated you are from normal people.

            To Steve: +1 everything you said. They’re different people from Us, and they’re oriented differently. If only they had some peanut butter, We could teach them to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, if they had some jelly. And bread. You can’t get there from here.

            Reply
          • Doug December 17, 2014, 11:42 am

            Quite frankly I don’t know if we mustachian types are much more intelligent than average or not. I don’t consider myself to be of exceptional intelligence, maybe a bit more than average but definitely not a serious MENSA candidate. I think where I excel is just plain, ordinary, vanilla, bore you to tears common sense. In spending I look for the cheapest and most cost effective, and don’t give a damn about status or conspicuous consumption, never did and never will. In investing I buy into weakness and sell into strength. Recently I’ve been buying XEG-T and USO-NY (oil and oil companies). Why? Because they’re on sale now! It’s that simple.

            Reply
        • Kelly December 11, 2014, 1:14 pm

          Oooh, well done! Astutely analyzed!

          much of the advice I see here reminds me of a time I was working at a store in the mall. It was about 10AM, and I was tired and yawning. I mumbled something about it feeling early. THe customer bridled and huffed “It’s 10 AM! It’s almost lunchtime! How can you say it’s early? You must have been up partying too late!”

          I replied – “Sir, what time do you usually get to bed?”

          “9 PM, every night. And I get up at 6.”

          “Oh, see, I was still at work then. I was at work until 10:30 actually, because the mall is open late around Christmas and we have to be here when they’re open. When I finally got off work, I had to go home, get dinner, do some cleaning, wind down, and then I could get to sleep. It’s often around 1 before I can actually sleep, because I’m trying to take care of everything. Then this morning I had to open the store at 8, so I’m still feeling a little foggy from the weird sleep pattern.”

          “Oh – why don’t you work a regular schedule? They can’t put you on regular hours?”

          “No, because this is my other job, and I have to schedule one around the other.”

          I think then he started talking about how I needed to get just one good job and get on a steady schedule, at which point I may have just groaned. Because my other job was my dream job at the time – acting and getting paid for it.

          It irritated me no end that this guy somehow knew what I should be doing with my whole life, when I was chasing my dreams. All because I dared to say I was tired.

          Reply
        • Lee December 11, 2014, 1:44 pm

          Very insightful comment. But then, I’m an INTJ.

          Reply
          • Monica December 15, 2014, 7:13 pm

            Lol. Another INTJ here but more poetess than engineer. On Sunday, I stopped for lunch (a sandwich + a beer + tip in Los Angeles = $15). While I am doing really well with the big stuff like minimizing consumption/maximizing savings overall, I still have a lot of room for improvement on the small stuff. As I ate (at the bar), I watched a young woman outside the restaurant decked out like a “gothilla” (i.e., black torn tights, misc died hair in hot pink and blues, torn jean shorts, etc.) panhandle with a sign that relayed how she was “poor, dirty and needing money” or something. What actually caught my attn was not her or her sign, it was that the entire time I ate, she was chain smoking cigarettes, talking on a cell phone incessantly, and drinking bottles of sparkling water. I am blessed enough to earn well upwards of six figures but choose to drive a modest yet lovely and reliable 15 yr old car, use Republic Wireless and live on about 30% of my take home pay. And frankly, there is a LOT of room for improvement in those numbers. I’m working on it because I love the principals of consuming less and contributing more, etc.

            I can see what some are saying, “they can’t help it” due to lack of intelligence, self will, vision for future, history of abuse, addictions, etc. But, the fact is, CHOICE plays a big role as well. We ought not discount the role of bad behavior/choices as a causal factor. There’s a good mix of personality, intelligence, and will power along with some flat out laziness that directly impacts the lives of many of the folks I personally know who struggle paycheck to paycheck. A couple years ago, a friend of mine called crying and asked me for several hundred dollars because his wife was in hysterics because their three kids had to have a ‘roomful’ of Christmas presents despite an otherwise perceived meager existence. I grew up in squalid conditions and horrible poverty myself and thought, that though I don’t personally need or value Christmas presents like those, maybe I’m flawed because I never had any. I gave them like $500 out of compassion for their pain but it was completely contrary to my own values because of what they wanted it for. I fear sometimes that I am too tough on others because of what I myself have survived. But, truly, I regret the decision. I would never do so again because I think that action was actually detrimental in the long run. Joy is not spending oodles of money or having a truck you can’t afford or a one week vacation for a family of five (different family but very current and true) when they are struggling to pay the mortgage. It’s as though people have commonly accepted that it is your “God given, American right” to have these luxuries. And, the thought of being deprived of them should elicit compassion from all those around them. The man asking for money for Christmas presents drove a vehicle worth ten times mine on bad credit (albeit my chariot is prob valued somewhere between 2-3k whereas he drove a Pathfinder that was only a couple years old).

            The question becomes then, how can people who don’t help themselves be helped by those willing and able to help? I think this blog and others like it that communicate a different vision of what life can be, are honestly way more effective in the long run toward creating sustainable change than handing dollars out a window… Maybe if this way of life becomes one that is oft talked about, the concepts will at least gain attention as viable alternatives. We need to shift the dialogue and expectations of this great nation of ours away from TV/reality star lifestyles to one that is more rational. And for that, I give my absolute admiration to folks like the MMM family and Jacob at ERE and Glen at tosimplify.net for making these alternatives public. What a tremendously great service to all.

            Reply
        • TrixieLou December 12, 2014, 11:10 am

          I agree with your analysis Steve. And just to check it out I took the test again as I couldn’t remember my results, only to confirm I am a INTJ.

          I am often frustrated seeing young adults making dumb ass consumer choices that restrict their futures just to get that momentary thrill of ownership of this shiny thingy or that. Many North Americans are chasing that temporary lighting up of the brain chemistry one gets by owning something and plunge themselves into years of debt to pay for it.

          I think I like this blog so much because it offers relief from a culture that is everywhere bent on consuming. I get how for many the message here is like speaking gibberish to them.

          But for those of us of like mind, or who are ready to hear the message, this blog and the comments are so refreshing. Discovering this blog was such a relief to me as it provides a community where I feel I naturally belong. And an internet site where my bullshit detector is not always ringing. Along with the occasional face punch to tighten up my lifestyle choices.

          Reply
        • Frugal Bazooka December 14, 2014, 11:05 pm

          Steve

          awesome post…it reminds me that no matter how similar humans are it often feels like we’re all living in multiple parallel universes.

          Reply
          • Kathy Abell December 15, 2014, 12:47 am

            NOW I finally understand what those astrophysicists mean when they talk about multiverses … !

            Reply
        • theFIREstarter December 24, 2014, 4:22 am

          Steve, great comment!

          Some people (the majority?) will find this site and then complain and say it won’t work for them, bla bla bla, I guess that is plain bad luck and they aren’t the right sort of person.

          Let’s not forget there are surely loads of INTJ or near enough INTJ types that have been caught up in the whole consumer lifestyle, maybe even living paycheck to paycheck or in debt, or ever in poverty, but haven’t yet discovered the tools to get themselves out of it. This site and ones like it give them the light bulb moment and then the tools to get on the right path (if/when they finally discover it).

          So basically I agree with you, telling certain types of people to just stop buying consumer rubbish, stop eating junk food and tone down the car use just won’t work. But I think it is relevant for a larger percentage of the population than just INTJ 1-2%. Much larger in fact!

          Full Disclosure: I just did the test linked to above and it came out INTJ (only 1% pref on the J) which is interesting because I did it about a year ago and was something different, maybe ENTP, INFJ or ENTJ. So basically I can swing either way on 3 of the properties depending on how I am feeling that day :) , but always end up with a strong “N”.

          I am thinking that a strong “N” is the greatest indicator of whether mustachian type suggestions will work for you, which adds up to 26.9% of the population so still a minority, but it’s good news for many people out there (If true!)

          (I think I read that Steve Jobs was an ENTJ. Not sure if he was frugal but very successful and I can see him being a mustachian type! I am also sure there are succesful people from all other types anyway!)

          Added up the percentages from this link by the way: http://www.ryzhakov.co.uk/how-to-be-normal-when-you-are-a-misfit-frances-ha/

          Reply
      • Blerina December 11, 2014, 3:01 am

        MMM, I very much enjoy your work and thank you very much for it. It is for me a constant source of education and inspiration.

        My twopence contribution to this conversation:

        Poverty is as complex as it seems straightforward, and for those that are not under its regime, it takes some education and imagination to understand. Empowerment, is key for people to get themselves out of it. I love this model http://www.fii.org/ for the results it produces and for the lessons it teaches to both those that are poor and those that want to do something about poverty.

        My paternal grandparents were both illiterate and had a hard time feeding their family of six children (after WWII) and the countless people that would just drop in without knocking if they passed by the door at mealtime; the meal will be stretched with more water or portions would become smaller, or my grandmother would simply not eat… My grandfather was the only breadwinner, as a farm labourer. However, they send their four boys to university (with state funding; the perks of socialist regime!) and their two girls in professional schools short of university (their understanding of gender equality only got that far). All of the six children, and their numerous children who have children themselves today, are middle class (own their homes, have SME of their own, or a career), even if they live in a country that has gone through turmoil and has a shaky economic performance (Southern Balkans).

        It is possible to get out of the poverty MINDSET. Sure you need help to start but keeping to it is your job, and is quite doable.

        PS. My grandmother was disabled.

        Reply
      • Franco December 11, 2014, 12:31 pm

        “the principles work perfectly for broke people as well”

        That’s right. The principles don’t change, just the amounts. Both poor and rich people spend too much on phones, cars, convenience foods and lots of other things.

        My wife and I have three kids, our combined income is way below the poverty line and I’ve still found this site very helpful and thought-provoking, as well as entertaining. Our income won’t allow us to save up half a million in a Vanguard account in nine years like MMM, but because of this blog I am way more attuned to all the ways we can put the dollars we do save to work.

        Really looking forward to the Income Inequality article.

        Reply
        • Joshua Sheats December 11, 2014, 1:12 pm

          Not to pimp my own stuff…but to pimp my own stuff. I got so tired of this minimum wage crap argument that I created an authoritative resource on how to get rich with a minimum wage job at Walmart.

          I’ve received a ton of emails from people saying it has helped them re-think the whole thing.

          Consider the formula: http://radicalpersonalfinance.com/my-plan-for-how-i-would-become-a-millionaire-with-a-minimum-wage-job-at-walmart-rpf0043/

          Reply
          • mrs.m180 December 12, 2014, 4:03 pm

            I was so excited to read this article (having had the same argument hundreds of times with deaf people), but then it was a podcast. :( Do you think it would be possible to create a transcript at some point? I lack a headset.

            Reply
            • Joshua Sheats December 15, 2014, 9:44 am

              At some point, I’d love to make it a transcript. Just haven’t spent the money on it yet. At a couple of bucks per minute of transcription, it’s a ton of cost to have transcripts created for my 1 to 2 hour shows! Sorry!

              Reply
      • Dan January 7, 2015, 9:02 am

        Without taking away too much of the credit from MMM, I think 90% of the articles, examples, and individual lessons can be boiled down to something Cato the Elder said about 2300 years ago: “Emas non quod opus est, sed quod necesse est. Quod non opus est, asse carum est” (Buy not what you want, but what you need; what you do not need is costly even at a penny”).

        Reply
        • Strabo February 2, 2015, 6:19 am

          Yeah, but Cato the Elder also advised you to let unproductive and old slaves starve to death instead of wasting money on them, so I still take his advices with a grain of salt.

          Although great cabbage recipes.

          Reply
    • CT Mommy December 10, 2014, 10:50 am

      Mr MM also did a case study on a minimum wage couple and one on a couple in debt…search Hair on fire on blog’s search tool and it should come up.

      Reply
    • Edward December 10, 2014, 11:50 am

      It’s not enough to get the most amazing financial advice in history for free? MMM must now solve poverty, world hunger, global warming, AND the conflict in the Middle East? Better get crackin’ MMM–your armchair critics are disappointed in your performance. The Pope, Obama, and the Dali Lama can’t do it all themselves, you slacker!

      Reply
      • mike December 10, 2014, 12:48 pm

        Hear, hear Edward.

        Speaking of MMM solving all the world’s problems, I wish he had a “Like” button like The Daily Mail. That way I could “like” your comment. When I read an article I really like there, or I know the comments are going to be juicy, I go to the comment section and I’m allowed to choose “Recent Comments”, “Most Viewed”, etc.

        Reply
    • SteveCW December 10, 2014, 12:12 pm

      I feel like a lot of low wage people make some fixable income mistakes as well though they are on a much smaller scale than owning overpriced vehicles.

      The common ones are probably, paying too much for electronics. When I used to have a minimum wage job there were a lot of people working with me that had families, yet they still had money for big screen TVs to watch the Sunday football game and probably had kick-ass cable subscriptions. Not all of them of course but quite a few.

      Also you see a lot of low wage workers rolling around with i-phones on a phone plan.

      No doubt if your only available employment in this country is working minimum wage jobs then you are working harder than most people, but you also should be able to find a lot of government assistance for housing , medical and child rearing.

      While I don’t think people in this situation will ever really be investing, maybe at least you could help show them that they don’t need to be trapped by payday loans and credit cards and save a little bit of cash for inevitable emergencies or recreation.

      I think this blog could potentially help anyone able to maintain a stable job and income full time.

      Reply
    • Danny December 10, 2014, 12:14 pm

      > Most all of your posts like this (and most of your posts in general) are here to serve what appears to be middle class folks who are already kicking ass and just don’t know it.

      Yes, that is basically the whole point of this blog.

      > This story above? Easy. All your true readers knew what to do before you wrote it.

      Yet people keep coming back to read it. If we’re being honest, the blog has probably already covered 95% of what needs to be said about early retirement. But you have to keep posting to keep a blog relevant, to keep people reading your original message. In the blog world, go dormant and you’ll fall off of Google results, which is akin to death.

      I personally keep coming back to reading the blog because it reminds me why I’m saving. It’s like going to church to be reminded of your values.

      Why doesn’t the blog cover how to live as a poor person? Probably because MMM is keeping the blog focused and sticking to what he knows, like any decent writer should.

      I’ve never understood the kind of attitude that says, “You’re privileged, and you should feel really guilty about it!” There’s no actionable advice there, no suggestions to improve problems in America. Just generic, inapplicable criticism.

      Reply
      • Jeffrey C December 10, 2014, 7:15 pm

        I think of it as “I’m privileged and lucky and I try to have empathy for others who aren’t.” I don’t feel guilty about my status, but I’m not going to make others feel guilty about theirs either when I have no idea what, if any, options have been available to them throughout their lives.

        Reply
      • Why Did I Why December 11, 2014, 11:00 am

        Don’t write about living in poverty because you don’t know about it? “Sure, but those are the easy cases”

        Decide to write about poverty? “Hey Mr. Privileged, you don’t know what its like, I’m so stressed at my minimum wage job I need my TV and cable to unwind”

        Can’t win with these folks.

        And it’s not even that you need the high paying job to live a good life on $20k, it’s that you need to be rather disciplined, patient and smart. The job market in most western countries is actually quite fair, so disciplined, patient and smart people usually end up making a lot (even when setbacks such as taking care of a sick parent upsets the traditional HS->college->profession path). Unfortunately, those who could use MMMs advice the most (living paycheque to paycheque, low earners), are the least likely to be able to take advantage of it as they don’t tend to be disciplined, patient or smart. For redundancy: Disciplined, Patient and Smart.

        And the woman in the slate article needs a bicycle and a raincoat. Less than $100 total, used.

        Reply
      • Her Grace December 14, 2014, 10:15 pm

        I’m a faithful reader who didn’t know a lot of what MMM preaches before I started reading his blog. My cousin pointed him out, and I went hard-core, and now I’m happily Mustachian.

        It all comes down to awareness and education.

        When I was a child, my father got injured and was out of work for a while. We lived in poverty. Boy, did it sting!

        In university, I spent a few years as an impoverished student because I was not financially savvy AT ALL. (Woe, my ignorance.)

        Post-uni, I got a job with a decent wage, but was frivilous in my spending.

        Twenty years later, I am now educated, thanks to MMM, and I’m much better off. I’m looking at early-ish retirement BECAUSE I GOT EDUCATED.

        Sure, I practiced a brand of frugality in my poverty years, but that was due to necessity and lack of choice. The moment I wasn’t so poor, I went back to foolish ways.

        I believe that MMM can benefit those in poverty by educating them on ways of good, better, best.

        Last year I read an articles (not related to finances, but to making choices) called “Good, Better, Best”. (Go google it, if you like. It has a religious slant on it, but the advice is sound for all walks of life.)

        We all make choices. Lots of people make poor choices, which is why they struggle to make ends meet on a US$100K+ salary. Some choices we make are good. What we need is the wisdom to stand back from our choices and determine if our choices are good, better, or the best we could make.

        That’s what MMM’s advocating here. I’m always pointing the impoverished to his blog.

        Sometimes we can’t help finding ourselves poor (like when my dad got injured and couldn’t work). But if we have the best mindset, we do not have to remain in poverty for long.

        It is the difference between me blowing $40K one year with nothing to show, and me now able to live plust invest with $30K.

        Reply
      • frugal Bazooka December 14, 2014, 11:23 pm

        You can thank the media for this weird illogical logic that goes something like this: “if my neighbor has more than me, even if I don’t want what he/she has, life is unfair and either I should get what they have, or they should not be able to have it”

        The media has always had this attitude tucked subtly just below the surface of many articles on poverty and other economic hardship issues. It’s gotten exponentially worse within the environs of the internet “news” as college interns turned writers/bloggers have taken over a lot of the articles about economics (small e). That point of view veers from redistribution on the mild side to full confiscation on the far side. I always wondered what Arianna Huffington (worth half a billion) felt about the redistribution question her namesake often lobbies for.
        Of course anyone with half a brain knows that one person’s wealth has nothing to do with another person’s lack of wealth, but try telling that to someone who is looking for someone to blame. It’s a shame because a lot of energy is wasted on complaining, energy that could be used to improve lives.

        Reply
    • EcoCatLady December 10, 2014, 12:29 pm

      Michael, while you do have a point, I am living proof that early retirement can be achieved on a significantly smaller budget than the examples given here. Is it harder? Absolutely. Is it doable? Without a doubt!

      I started out my “professional career” (running a non-profit folk music school) in the early 1990’s making about $8K per year. Over the next 16 years I slowly… slowly worked my way up to the point where I was earning big money – $45K annually! At that point I had enough money between passive income streams and savings to quit my job (at age 39.)

      What it basically boiled down to was making good choices. In a certain sense, I think that if you approach it right, earning less can actually be helpful, because by default you’ve never adopted a spendy, spendy lifestyle to begin with. For me, the trick was to keep my spending low as my income increased. By the time I quit my job I was saving about 70% of my income. And to add further irony to the whole thing. My income actually increased dramatically for the first few years after I quit my job because making money was infinitely easier when I only had myself to worry about and not an entire organization. After a few years of that, with my savings bumped up significantly, I put everything into auto-pilot mode – which still earns me comfortably more money than I need to live on.

      No matter the income level, the same basic principles still hold – you simply cannot spend beyond your means. In order to do that on a slight income you have to employ some out-of-the-box thinking, but it can be done. Maybe you can’t afford an apartment and you’ll have to content yourself with renting a room in someone’s basement. Maybe you can’t afford to own a vehicle, or have a smartphone, or any of the other countless luxuries that people in this society seem to think are required for life! And maybe the standard “job” model isn’t the best way to build up a cushion – In my early days I built up a nice cushion by working seasonal jobs where my room & board were included. I worked at a summer camp for 3 months – all of my living expenses were taken care of and at the end of the summer I walked away with about $1500 – all of which went directly into savings. Not a bad deal…

      Anyhow, I could blather for hours on this topic, but suffice it to say it can be done.

      Reply
      • Barb December 10, 2014, 3:28 pm

        I really want that “like” button too so I can note how much I love this comment and Ecocatlady’s story!

        Reply
        • Mari InShaw December 11, 2014, 6:33 am

          Agreed! On other blogs I think people say : THIS!
          I bow down to you EcoCatLady and your ability to save, spend less, and have a cushion that you can put on auto-pilot. What MMM needs to do is gather your story and others like you to show it can be done, even on a low income.

          Reply
        • EcoCatLady December 11, 2014, 5:27 pm

          Awwww shucks…. Thanks for your kind words. To be honest, I think my “secret to success” is a deep and abiding hatred for societal BS. Seriously, I found “normal” life to be so incredibly horrific that I was willing to do just about anything to get away from it!

          Reply
          • Elizabeth December 11, 2014, 6:28 pm

            EcoCatLady, hear hear! I found ‘normal life’ in North America so unpalatable that I ran off to Asia over a decade ago – and haven’t looked back.

            Reply
    • Mike December 10, 2014, 1:23 pm

      Let’s face it; not everyone can be saved. Some do not have the mental / physical means and there are safety net programs for them. Others refuse to heed good advice. The concepts of MMM are simple and can be followed by anyone willing to do the work; Maximize Earning Potential. Minimize Spending. Maximize Your Life. It’s just that simple; for some, it allows them to retire in 7 years. For others, they may still need to work 35 years to retire, but they will have much more security in their life. There is so much free or low cost education available on the internet, in libraries, and in public schools, that there is no excuse for not increasing your earning potential (I do not say income; you ought to be able to earn more without working more hours / week). It takes time. It takes practice. It takes dedication and a strong attitude.

      Reply
    • Alice December 10, 2014, 3:31 pm

      I just wanted to make a comment about poverty line. We have 11,000,000+ illegal immigrants in this country. They come to get a better future for their families. They do not speak English, have low education but their willingness to do anything gives them a huge advantage over very poor segment of Americans… who are just NOT TRYING. We have government housing, free school system, scholarships and financial aid for higher education, food stamps, unemployment insurance, welfare and Medicaid, free counseling and advice for any life situation, etc, etc, etc.
      If with all that help a person who was born in this country is struggling with poverty then that person is simply not trying.. and this site is not for them.

      Reply
    • Josh December 11, 2014, 9:55 am

      He did a case study maybe a year ago about a couple who both worked minimum wage jobs and the wife was expecting a baby. Life changes there would have helped them too. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/26/reader-case-study-minimum-wage-with-a-baby-on-the-way/

      I realize that most of us have never experienced true poverty, and hopefully, never will. It feels like walking on egg shells when you hear about someone’s life and you don’t know if you should give advice without being condescending because you haven’t lived in their shoes.

      Reply
    • Dragline December 11, 2014, 10:47 am

      While there are many impoverished individuals, Linda Tirado ain’t one of their true representatives. She makes a good living selling her “story”, though. Please don’t feed that beast — like the Rolling Stone UVA story that was recently disavowed, public support of fictional narratives only makes it harder on the people who are actually suffering.

      http://blogs.houstonpress.com/artattack/2013/11/that_viral_poverty_thoughts_es.php

      http://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=5650&p=81923&hilit=tirado#p81923

      Reply
    • BMN December 12, 2014, 11:29 am

      Hi Michael – check out this MMM case study from back in 2012, I think it’s what you’re looking for:

      http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/11/07/reader-case-study-yeah-but-how-about-a-difficult-life/

      Reply
    • casserole55 December 14, 2014, 6:11 am

      Way back in 2012 MMM presented a case study of a family that had about 50k income and 5 children. Check it out. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/11/07/reader-case-study-yeah-but-how-about-a-difficult-life/

      Reply
    • Moorm December 15, 2014, 12:43 pm

      I’m amazed that this lady considers her $75k salary ‘average’. I make a third of that, and I’m still saving %50.

      My roommate makes around the same as I do, but he was raised by poor people, and so has no money at all. Although he does have a very impressive DVD collection…

      Reply
      • Eldred December 15, 2014, 8:11 pm

        I’m amazed(and impressed…and jealous) that you can save 50% of a $25k income! How much is your rent, if I may ask? And I’m ‘assuming’ you don’t have a car either?

        Reply
    • Arnold22 December 19, 2014, 6:14 am

      Hello Michael, I mostly 2nd your question. Differing on one point, The words “in this country”. It has political overtones as in poverty is only a problem “in this country”, it’s an issue in virtually every country. So I repeat your question purely from a non-political, strictly financial point of view.

      Reply
      • sarah December 23, 2014, 11:27 am

        This is a great conversations above! I’ve read most arguments, and I do feel like there’s one point no one made fully yet.

        The people you are surrounded by, more often than not, determine your success. It’s the most logical reason why all of the above problems discussed above keep happening, ie: dropping out of school, teenage pregnancies, eating nutritionally poor diets, staying in minimum wage, etc.

        ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ Jim Rohn

        If your parents, your siblings, your extended family, your closest friends are all doing the above things, how likely is it that the average person will decide to choose an opposing path? And in this argument, I’m not talking about outliers. It’s not that it can’t be done. It’s not that there aren’t beautiful success stories (even in this comment feed). It’s only that it takes a stronger will, a more creative mind, higher confidence to see yourself taking a path no one around you is taking.

        I’ve seen this theory change my life, even in much much smaller ways. When I’ve changed my immediate friend group from one less supportive/more negative to one of people who dream big/think positively, I’ve seen INCREDIBLE changes in the type of opportunities that come my way.

        http://lifehacker.com/5926309/how-the-people-around-you-affect-personal-success

        Reply
    • Megan January 12, 2015, 10:38 am

      Case studies that discuss how to achieve mustachianism when you’re poor:

      “But How About a Difficult Life?”: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/11/07/reader-case-study-yeah-but-how-about-a-difficult-life/

      “Minimum Wage with a Baby on the Way”: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/26/reader-case-study-minimum-wage-with-a-baby-on-the-way/

      “How Can I Climb Out of the Gutter?”: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/08/29/reader-case-study-how-can-i-climb-out-of-the-gutter/

      Reply
  • EL December 10, 2014, 9:29 am

    Good advice for Mrs. winey. After seeing the numbers 1000 bucks a month is not worth it. Her situation is better than the usual I will say, even though she drives two insane vehicles. If she sells the house and moves to a new cheaper dwelling, she will need another mortgage, and qualifying on 1 income might be hard. These banks aint loyal at all. Solution would be if she can find a market that a house can be purchased with the profit from the sale of the old house. Selling all those things and getting rid of daycare will solve a big budget issue, and she can save more. Another thing Mr. MMM or the lady did not mention is the income minus expenses still has 1000 unaccounted for? People think its ok to not do a 0 sum budget for some reason.

    Reply
    • bthewall December 10, 2014, 10:28 am

      “If she sells the house and moves to a new cheaper dwelling, she will need another mortgage, and qualifying on 1 income might be hard.”

      Easy fix. They should sell the house and buy another one before she quits.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache December 10, 2014, 12:30 pm

        Also, Mr. WW’s income is still quite high and they’ll have a great downpayment. It should be pretty easy to qualify even with just that, especially in a cheaper area.

        Reply
        • George December 10, 2014, 12:50 pm

          If the husband’s job is in the direction away from the city, they may even be able to find a decent place to buy outright with no mortgage using the money from their old house plus some additional cash (i.e. proceeds from selling the luxury bus).

          A new house with no mortgage would help this case study family free up another $1400 per month that then could go straight towards building the stash.

          Thanks MMM for another great article, all your advice makes prefect sense.

          Reply
          • Huck December 11, 2014, 7:19 am

            But even if they could pay cash they should still get a 30 year mortgage and invest that cash instead.

            “free up $1,400/month” to build the stash, by dumping a stash into a house that you can get with a government subsidized mortgage? Bad idea!

            Reply
            • George December 11, 2014, 8:32 am

              Oh are we going to start this debate again?? Gee it has only been argued about 1000 times in the forum already, and by a poll taken, over 70% of Mustachians preferred to pay their mortgage off early rather than take the 30 year mortgage and invest the extra money.

              http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/let%27s-settle-this-with-a-vote-invest-or-payoff-debts/

              The 30 year mortgage route would probably yield better results in most cases, although it is more complicated to implement. It would depend on the interest rate that they could get for the mortgage and future market returns, I know in the US the interest rates have been low for awhile, I am not sure what they are in Canada right now.

              Reply
              • Huck December 11, 2014, 8:40 am

                There’s nothing to debate; paying off the mortgage is dumb and a waste of money (and thus FIRE years).

                This place is about maximizing efficiency. If anybody use free newspapers as toilet paper to save $1/month, but then waste $10s of thousands by paying off a mortgage they are dumb and have some seriously messed up priorities.

            • Dylan SMith December 11, 2014, 9:06 am

              To quantify the bad idea, here’s some back of the envelope calculations. If he took a $200K mortgage for 30 years, the repayments would be $843/mo assuming a 3% interest rate average. The total repayment at the end of the 30 years would be $303480

              Two scenarios:

              1. Take mortgage of $200,000 for the house. Put the $200,000 stash into an investment that ends up returning 6%, and leave it there to compound.

              2. Buy the house cash, and put the $843 a month into the investment.

              After 30 years option (1) will mean your investment is worth $1.18M. Option (2) will mean your investment will be worth about $862K. Subtract the cost of the mortgage interest off option (1) (about $103K) reduces option (1) to about $1.07M – in other words, getting a cheap mortgage and dumping a $200K stash into an investment returning 6% will mean you’re about $245K better off!

              Of course there’s some element of risk here, for instance if interest rates climbed to 6 or 7% you might end off better off with option (2), but you can always change strategies halfway through if interest rates become unfavourable and pay the mortgage off.

              Reply
              • Jason G December 11, 2014, 4:27 pm

                Don’t forget option 3: Renting

                There are some cities where renting is the better deal when you look at the total costs of owning a home (insurance, property tax, routine maintenance, etc.). The renting option also results in an extra 20 percent of investment in the stock market, because no massive down payment is needed when you rent.

              • brydanger December 11, 2014, 4:56 pm

                I got excited about Jason G’s answer until i realized we weren’t talking about the same renting. so…

                Option 3B- Rent the current house.

                Depending on where she lives in Winnipeg (and since her house is worth 420k, about 100k higher than the average, I’d say she’s in a better part of town) she likely can rent the house for more than current mortgage payment.

                Even if it only breaks even today, purge some belongings, downsize to a smaller home closer to work/school (using savings for a down payment) and rent the house out longterm.

                Immediate income from the house that should grow steadily over time (everybody loves winnipeg now that the jets are back) and you have the ability to write-off maintenance/depreciation.

                A decade or so later the rents will make her forget why she was ever working for the queen’s retirement AND someone else is paying (or has already paid off) the mortgage on her first home.

                This is worse case scenario. Best case, she lives in a great part of town and can rent the house out short term via airBnB (or other) and she’s raking in the profits right away.

                Yes, theres an increased liability and overall debt, but without risk there’s no reward… and i hardly call debt someone else pays for a liability on our books.

            • Anom December 11, 2014, 12:36 pm

              A “30 year mortgage” is not available in Canada, so there’s that issue.

              Reply
            • Patrick December 11, 2014, 2:35 pm

              Check out “RBC Mortgage rates” – you can google it.

              In Canada, today, I can get a 25 year mortgage at ~3% but the rate is only locked in for 5 years. After that, I have to renew the mortgage and I’m at the mercy of interest rates of the time period. So it’s definitely beneficial to pay off the mortgage hella fast in case 5 years from now interest spikes like the eighties with rates like 15%, then paying off the mortgage will have saves tons of money.

              If I want to lock in for 25 years, I would pay 9% interest. That’s just the way it works in Canada.

              My jaw dropped when I heard in the US people are getting 3% locked in rate for 30 years. If I could get that, you bet I’d invest the difference instead. But 9%? No way.

              Reply
              • JB December 19, 2014, 11:56 am

                The problem is most people aren’t disciplined enough to save the difference or not spend the money on a home upgrade 10 years later.

        • Daryl December 11, 2014, 9:03 am

          We made some lifestyle changes last year. While we still owned out current home with a nice low mortgage payment of $430/month, my wife was able to qualify for a second mortgage on her income alone. We purchased our second home for 190,000 with a 40,000 dollar down payment. My wife was making about 60,000/year when we applied for this 150k mortgage. We also live only about an hour from where WW lives so there really shouldn’t be any problem.

          Since this time we have sold our first home and used it to make a nice lump sum payment on our new mortgage.

          Reply
    • Claire December 10, 2014, 11:01 am

      They did do a zero sum budget. $6500 was listed for expenses, $1000 was listed under “savings” although $500 of that was actually debt repayment, so that really should be called past spending hangover. $6500+$1000=$7500.

      Reply
    • OhYongHao December 10, 2014, 1:07 pm

      Is it hard to qualify with one $90k income? I’m in the US but I qualified for our $219k house with a single income of $75k, with a larger down payment it would have been even easier. After selling their current place ($420k less $260k mortgage means $160k), and moving to somewhere a little less (not sure about Canadian market, but let’s pull a number out of our collective asses) at $260k, they have $100k mortgage, or pay off consumer debt of $12k and now they have a $112k mortgage, payments are now cut in half.

      When a bank sees a $260k house with a $112k loan and a single annual income equal almost to the loan being requested come through their underwriting department which stamp do you think they reach for? This also doesn’t take into account the $400k they’ll have sitting in investments sitting there also ($280k pension lumpsum + $120k already invested).

      Reply
  • EarlyRetirementGuy December 10, 2014, 9:38 am

    Its funny (well saddening actually) that so many of these case studies seem to focus around the not-fit-for-purpose cars :/ Why do people keep buying them?!

    I’m always surprised to read these calculations which show just how much money some people are paying purely to fund their work. Cars, petrol, tolls, parking, lunches and childcare! It seems most of the time working is just to earn enough to fund the work! Crazy.

    Reply
    • skunkfunk December 10, 2014, 12:06 pm

      Guilty as charged, my car habit will add around three years to my working life unless I do something about it. Never mind me, I’ll just keep kicking that can down the road, along with the housing situation.

      Reply
    • Eldred December 10, 2014, 1:14 pm

      I used to have a 40-mile one-way commute. One summer, the predictions were that gas would go up to $8/gallon. I used to joke that if that happened, I couldn’t afford to keep working there. Fortunately, those prices never happened…

      Reply
      • Kathy Abell December 11, 2014, 1:37 am

        Eldred – Don’t you mean “Unfortunately, those prices never happened…”? If gas had reached $8/gallon, wouldn’t that have triggered your escape from wage-slavery? ;)

        Reply
        • Eldred December 11, 2014, 9:02 am

          No, having to quit a job at that time would have caused *serious* financial hardship. I still would have had to find employment that paid the bills. In Michigan, it has been very difficult to do that recently…

          Reply
          • Tomsang December 13, 2014, 9:11 am

            I think her point was that it would have caused you to reconsider where you live. Maybe you would have moved to a more prosperous area vs. your current situation.

            Reply
            • Eldred December 13, 2014, 10:44 pm

              I’m not sure how you get ‘moving to a more prosperous area’ from what Kathy said… Besides, at the time she didn’t know where I lived. And a more prosperous area would have meant more expensive housing, so I’d be in the same type of situation. I couldn’t have moved at the time anyway. Still can’t, but maybe in a few years…

              Reply
  • JB December 10, 2014, 9:51 am

    Daycare isn’t forever.

    Reply
    • MO December 10, 2014, 12:56 pm

      I was just thinking this same thing. Sadly, reading this case study felt very familiar. I often feel like a bad Mustachian, but also feel stuck on this same hamster wheel. Daycare should be done in a few years, and taking time off is the end of a career in my field as you lose all of your certifications and qualifications.

      Reply
      • Huck December 11, 2014, 7:23 am

        Unless your job is cleaning toilets, I think taking years off will severely hamper your career in any professional field. I’d rather say the $1200 in daycare gives a return of $1000 extra, almost 100%!

        Reply
    • CK December 10, 2014, 4:23 pm

      …but neither is time with tiny humans.

      Reply
    • Katie December 12, 2014, 9:55 pm

      Yes, this. Women often leave their jobs because they barely cover the cost of daycare, only to find that they would be better financially served by working through those years. If you have maybe a year or two of daycare left, consider staying. So many women are financially hurt by thinking purely about their current paycheck and daycare costs. You have to think longer term- and don’t forget to include benefits, retirement contributions, and the like in your calculations.

      Reply
      • Trifele December 14, 2014, 5:53 am

        Interesting current article in the New York Times on this very topic:, in the ‘Upshot’ column. It is called “Why Women are Leaving Jobs Behind”:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/14/upshot/us-employment-women-not-working.html?abt=0002&abg=0

        Some countries (not the US) do a pretty good job at supporting working women through the years of pregnancy and raising small children, so they are better able to maintain their careers.

        Reply
      • martha December 14, 2014, 10:21 am

        Exactly. I fell into this trap, quit working, and happily stayed home with my kids. Nine years later I tried to reenter the workforce, and could not even get entry level positions. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing – negotiate for part-time, or some working from home. But if there’s one thing I would tell every new mom, it’s NEVER STOP WORKING. Even if it’s just one day a week, you need to keep a foot in the door.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache December 14, 2014, 10:27 am

          I would disagree with that advice, because it creates fear that keeps many people working unnecessarily for decades.

          Instead, I’d say “Keep your skills useful and keep in touch with friends who have good jobs”. My wife, for example, hasn’t worked in the tech industry for 10 years and STILL gets hints dropped that she should come back at a higher salary. I also get to turn down the odd sweet opportunity because of the opportunities of this blog. Neither of us kept working, but both of us just naturally kept in touch with people who always seem to be looking for good workers.

          The difference? I think it is in thinking like a company owner instead of an employee. People looking for employers to give them jobs often have a hard time, while people with independent interests who keep cultivating them after retirement still find a market for those skills.

          Reply
          • casserole55 December 17, 2014, 5:51 am

            And don’t forget the value of being with your child 24/7 during the first years of his or her life, which was the original goal of the MMMs. We accomplished this via an unconventional method. My husband left a job teaching music in public school for a job in a private boarding school. He made about $28,000 /year, but we got a very nice apartment, free utilities, as many dining room meals as we wanted and many other advantages (free use of gym, pool, hockey rink, etc). We lived in a community with 20 faculty kids under 5 so life was an endless play-date. Our only bill was phone. We did this until our son went to kindergarten. We were able to put 50% down on our house with the money we saved. I only needed to bring in $10,000 when I returned to work.

            Reply
  • Steve December 10, 2014, 9:53 am

    Not sure about her husband’s retirement plan, but getting a guaranteed 70% of final pay when she retires at 55 is quite valuable – unless Canada defaults, she can have both longevity insurance and maybe inflation insurance (if the payment is COLA). Maybe he should be the one to quit his job and shuttle the kids around…

    Reply
    • HenryDavid December 10, 2014, 10:18 am

      Yup, this is worth strongly considering. A home-based custom woodworking business could scale up as the kids get older. Where I live, good contractors of this kind can write their own ticket and choose their work hours. Depends in part on the trade-offs involved in locating closer to one job versus the other . . . but it’s definitely worth doing the math and consulting your hearts on this scenario too.

      Reply
    • John December 10, 2014, 10:25 am

      Steve,

      I think you missed Whiny’s original point. She doesn’t enjoy her work and feels guilty that she isn’t spending more time with her children. She is trading her life for the next 15 years, and the prime parenting years with her children for a pension. It is a high price to pay.

      r/John

      Reply
      • CT December 10, 2014, 12:43 pm

        It seems to me that him quitting work would free up time for her to spend with the kids. Her commute is reduced by 50 min a day; she would not have to spend her time prepping the night before/morning of to get them ready for daycare (saving at least 1/2 hour more/day). If he makes the morning meals (15 min/day) & 1/2 the dinners (2 hours/week) she’ll gain more time. That’s about 14 more hours per week to spend with them & just may be enough. She’ll get added morning & evening time with them; he’ll get to ease into his career change.
        Of course this is only doable if they follow MMM’s streamlined budget.

        Reply
    • Kenoryn December 10, 2014, 11:34 am

      It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition – she’ll get less or more pension depending on how long she works there. She could take the payout now, or she could leave it and collect it as a smaller pension at 60. For my pension, for the formula is 2% of the average of your highest 5 years’ salary, x the number of years you’ve worked there, = annual pension. So even now she is probably in line to get about $22,000/year in pension. If they won’t need any more than that, and they probably won’t with their existing savings/husband’s contributions factored in, why work any longer?

      Reply
    • longwaytogo December 10, 2014, 12:16 pm

      Exactly what we did, My wife is a teacher (55% -60% of final pay at current plan). So I stay home with the kiddies and watch my sisters two kids. Because she gets summers off and tons of holidays I still do a fair amount of construction work also.

      Unfortunately we have been anything but Mustachain in our past life so I will have many more years of work ahead once they start public school but working out great for us now.

      Reply
    • Opuscat December 11, 2014, 12:38 pm

      It’s kinda off topic but I’m curious how being in slavery to the Queen for 30 years at 55 produces a 70% pension. Current pension rules have changed such that you need to be 60 but given her employment started before that, 30 years service to her majesty usually gens a 60% indexed pension upon retirement at 55. I agree that’s still quite valuable assuming no default or change for currently employed individuals.

      Reply
      • Gerard December 14, 2014, 9:13 am

        I’d assume it’s a pension like Ontario teachers have, where you can start collecting your “full” pension (is that 70%?) when your current age plus your years of service add up to 85. Typically a 55-year-old with 30 years of service.

        Reply
        • Opuscat December 16, 2014, 6:57 am

          I just assumed “slavery to the queen” meant a job with the federal government. Years plus service is now 90 but for her it would be 85 yes … but it’s 2% per year with 30 years service, 35 years is 70%. I believe the Ontario Teachers pension is also 2 times service and would also be 60% after 30 years but I’m not sure if there’s an age factor.

          Reply
    • SomedayStache December 11, 2014, 1:21 pm

      Yes this! This was my first thought and I’ve been perusing the comments waiting for someone to bring it up – why does MMM recommend the man keep working at his job? He’s the one who already has outside interests that could bring in money.
      Freed from the stresses of daycare drop-offs and trying to get dinner on the table, whilst watching the weekend clock tick away trying to finish errands…she would probably be a much more relaxed person. Coming home to a clean house with dinner on the table and able to enjoy those kiddos.
      I’m speaking from experience as a working mom with a stay-at-home husband trying to bring in some side money but mostly too busy right now raising kids. We are a one income household – but definitely two working parents. I just work outside the home and he works inside it.

      Reply
      • Steve December 12, 2014, 9:14 pm

        Well, the internet caters to the masses. In a MMM world, everything is solved by cutting costs. My comment was specifically to what I saw in the case study, that given this information, I would question the suggestions given and maybe offer up an alternative that they could have everything (and more) by focusing in on that sweet pension :)

        Reply
    • parkette December 11, 2014, 1:31 pm

      As a similar slave to Her Majesty, there is another option on the table- leave without pay for the care of preschool aged children. You can be granted leave until the kids turn 6. This is also pensionable time, so if you can find the cash you can buy back those years and return to your job when the kids are at school. You can’t work for the Feds but you can take on other work during that time if needed.

      We’re giving this consideration as we’re not in a position to FIRE yet but want the flexibility to move closer to my husband’s family in Australia for a couple of years before school starts, without giving up job security and building a beautiful pension.

      Reply
  • JB December 10, 2014, 9:55 am

    Eliminating poverty is something no country has mastered. We will never have 100% employment. If everyone stopped eating at McD, BK and most fast food, where would all these people work? It is those of us that can afford to eat out that keeps them in business with a job. Education is key and you don’t have to go to college to get a degree that gives you a leg up. You need to attend a fancy college to get ahead. Read the article below. Too many people are wasting money on private colleges when Junior college is just fine

    http://www.thomasjstanley.com/blog-articles/602/Where_Did_the_Designer_of_Your_Cars_Engine_Attend_College.html

    Reply
  • kikispal December 10, 2014, 9:56 am

    Super article with some important points. Unfortunately the lump sum value of her pension isn’t exactly a windfall. A portion will have to be placed into a LIRA/LRSP which can’t be accessed until age 55. The other portion will likely be taxed at her highest marginal rate. Her pension statement will tell her what amounts are within tax limits (which must be directed into the LIRA/LRSP) and which amounts are outside of tax limits (fully taxable). Not sure if these considerations were already made in the $280,000 figure she gave you, but she should be made fully aware of the effects of taking out the commuted value of her pension. Hope this helps!

    Reply
    • Chris December 10, 2014, 10:23 am

      Can’t she just roll it over to the Canadian equivalent of an IRA so she has no taxable implications? MMM was saying that this can be used in the retirement phase, not right away…

      Reply
    • HD December 10, 2014, 10:33 am

      Spot on.

      You beat me to it ;)

      Reply
      • SoCold December 10, 2014, 2:16 pm

        She’d have to have the contribution room available to avoid tax. Unless their existing RRSP is her husband’s, she may not be able to shelter the full amount.

        Reply
    • Jason G December 10, 2014, 10:43 am

      I actually think this case study is to aggressive in my opinion. 280k might compound enough to take care of her retirement at age 55, but her poor husband will be farther away from early retirement as a result. Most of the husbands income will be funding the family’s living expenses. He will be lucky yo save 20k a year. I think they should get rid of the cars, possibly move to a smaller house, and plan on reaching early retirement TOGETHER in ten years. A lot of women can “retire” now at the expense of their husbands potential to reach early retirement, but I find it extremely selfish of the wife unless her main motive is related to the upbringing of their children. The men in the world want early retirement too!

      Reply
      • BCB December 10, 2014, 11:36 am

        I think if you have young children, retiring one spouse has a better ROI in terms of allowing the children to spend significant time with one parent. Most of us lack the badassity to FIRE before having the kids like MMM but one spouse FIRE is better than none while the kids are young IMO.

        This, of course, depends on people priorities. I think that there is a lot of value in having one parent home to mentor the child. This, however, implies that the stay at home parent is going to interact with the child and not just sit the little ones in front of th television!

        Reply
      • Marcia December 10, 2014, 12:03 pm

        Selfish? YMMV, but the working spouse certainly gets the benefit of the SAH spouse.

        A lot less stress with much of the home care done by the at home spouse. Whatever the “goal” is, the at home spouse takes care of the kids/ household generally.

        “early retirement” sounds great except when you realize it means laundry, homework, oil changes, yard work, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, plumbing, PTA volunteering. I’m sure my spouse would love to not have to do any of the shopping, dishes, or laundry, which get crammed into nights and weekends.

        Reply
      • insourcelife December 10, 2014, 12:25 pm

        “Move to a smaller house”? A family of four living in a 1,200 sq. foot home is already living in a smaller house. If I recall correctly, MMM’s family of 3 lives in a 1,500 sq. foot home now. Maybe they (the subject family) can find a cheaper home closer to husband’s work but personally I wouldn’t go for anything smaller than 1,200.

        Reply
        • Rachel Erin Horsting December 10, 2014, 3:46 pm

          I’m sorry, but house size comments always get me. I now live happily in just about 1100 sq. ft with a family of six. It is the largest place we have every lived in. When we had 4 we lived in half this square footage, and with five we lived in 800-900 sq ft, and our apartment was considered HUGE by our neighbors (this was in a neighborhood right outside the walls in Rome). I thought MMM’s previous house was absolutely absurd for someone with his values, but at least he right out admitted it was insanely luxurious.

          Small houses are a great way to reduce your need for stuff, your heating bills, time spent cleaning, and so on. If the layout is right, there are a lot of advantages. And we even love to throw parties and entertain =).

          Reply
          • brydanger December 10, 2014, 9:11 pm

            Couldn’t agree more.
            Yes, house size comments are a trigger for debate given a huge variety of preferences… but a smaller house may easily be the biggest factor for changing finances and lifestyle. In our case- downsizing (and using our home creatively) is almost the entire reason we can live free.

            I completely understand why people are accustomed to and enjoy larger spaces, but once you factor in that luxury costing you decades more of work (which typically means you are also out of that home more than you’re in it)… I just struggle to see the attachment.

            For us 480sqft is home (and luxurious at that).

            Reply
        • Jason G December 10, 2014, 7:01 pm

          @insourcelife,

          Yah 1200 sq. is about right. That particular component of my response was poor reading comprehension on my part.

          @ Marcia

          The working spouse does receive some benefit, but in reality maintaing a house , especially a 1200 sq. house, should not take much longer than six hours a week. I can keep my bigger house relatively clean with two hours a week of chores. Yard work is an hour a week and I practically have a Forrest in my back yard.

          Taking care of small children is a full-time job, but when the kids start going to elementary school the stay at home parent has the better deal. When the kids are teenagers the stay at home parents total contribution is questionable.

          My life partner and I have discussed rotating the stay at home parent position every two years. However we will likely power on through with our full time jobs so we can both retire in our mid 40s.

          Reply
          • Marcia December 14, 2014, 10:28 am

            Hm. I would argue that when kids are teenagers, it’s even more important to have a parent there – not necessarily “at home” but more “at home after school”, and studies bear this out too.

            As far as house maintenance goes, sure keeping it clean and all won’t take that much time (if you aren’t dealing with very small children), but laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and dishes still can take up quite a lot of time.

            Not to mention volunteering, which a lot of SAHPs find themselves involved in at the school.

            Reply
  • JB December 10, 2014, 10:04 am

    Does anyone let their kids walk or ride their bikes to school? When did driving your kids to school become so prevalent.
    There are 3 elementary schools within 2 miles of me and the line of cars dropping kids off is insane. I see parents walking with the kids, but geez, I walked a mile to school in first and second grade without my parents. I google mapped where I grew up to see how far the school was and it was about a mile. Felt much longer….

    Reply
    • CTMommy December 10, 2014, 10:47 am

      Sadly in our district children are not allowed to walk to school unless it is under 0.5 miles and their are sidewalks the whole way. I guess this is due to narrow winding roads and crazy drivers making it unsafe for kids (or anybody) to walk. It also seems that many people are opposed to letting their kids take the bus to/from school as well. My son is in Kindergarten and I drop him off at school (on my way to work anyway) and he takes the bus home. Many of the parents of his classmates feel it is “unfair” to make their kids sit on a bus for 30 mins or have the kids so over scheduled that they have to get picked up to make it to after school activities on time. We do live in a ridiculously affluent area and send our son to a small religious school so I don’t know if this applies to other areas as well. I even had one of the parents ask how we “afford” his tuition (they are both high up on the corporate ladder at a major international company and easily make 4x what we do and complained that they can barely pay the tuition payments) my reply was that we don’t have a vacation home in FL, a nanny, 4 cars for a 2 driver household and that education is a priority to us. I think that many if these people still can see the forest through the trees so to speak.

      Reply
    • LennStar December 10, 2014, 10:56 am

      I was brought to kindergarden by my mother, but I walked back to home alone.
      Granted, I mainly had to walk on a footpath around a school plus 200m and I had to cross only one road (GDR, not many cars anyway), sometimes I would not even met one driving car, but I was not even 6 at that time I started.
      And then I would fire up the oven at home, all alone.

      Do that today as a parent and you would get some heavy legalities thrown in the face.

      Reply
      • Marcia December 10, 2014, 11:59 am

        my spouse walked to school in kindergarten! My hubby walks our son to school once/ week (0.75 miles), but it’s not a very safe walk (little/no sidewalk, people driving too fast, no separation from cars, narrow road with blind spots). I wouldn’t let him walk himself.

        If we lived past the narrow part, I’d let him walk.

        Reply
      • Karen Bradsell December 10, 2014, 12:01 pm

        It is not safe for children to walk by themselves. A sad situation, but true?
        Karen

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache December 10, 2014, 12:22 pm

          Nope, not true – if you look at the stats and ignore the TV news, the US has its lowest level of crime per capita in generations. Kids are safer than ever. See the Freakonomics books for details on this interesting effect.

          Reply
          • JB December 10, 2014, 1:24 pm

            Exactly. There aren’t kidnappings every day, the media is just everyere when it happens anywhere in the country. The stats show there is the same level of child predators as there were in the 50’s and 60’s.

            Reply
            • skunkfunk December 11, 2014, 10:04 am

              With kids scared and less likely to walk, that does make any that do stand out a bit more.

              Reply
          • anonymouse December 12, 2014, 7:24 am

            It’s not crime I’d be worried aboutbut cars. And while the rate of fatalities on the roads is also slowly going down, it’s still the leading cause of death between ages 2 and 40 or so. So lobby your local government for safer sidewalks.

            Reply
            • JB December 19, 2014, 11:59 am

              We have a ton of sidewalks in our area. No country roads, no Freeways to cross. a few major roads, but there are stop lights near several elementary schools. Most are in the middle of the neighborhood.

              Reply
          • valletta January 21, 2015, 4:15 pm

            Just want to point out that the 70’s weren’t perfect either. As a young girl walking home from school I was followed dozens and dozens of times by boys and men in cars, who stopped to flirt, asked me to join them, etc. This was in an affluent area int he Bay Area, not a bad neighborhood. It got scary sometimes.
            And it started when I was 10!

            Once, I was followed into a grocery store and when I told the manager a man was following me do you think he called the police or my parents? No, he showed me the back door and told me to run home. Yikes. Just the memory gives me shudders.

            Reply
        • Kim December 10, 2014, 1:00 pm

          Not true – read Free Range Kids for more stats on the safety of walking to school vs. putting your kids in vehicles and driving them to school. We live within 1 mile walking distance of two preschools, two elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools and you best believe we’ll be walking. Even in hot-as-balls Orlando Florida.

          Reply
        • Marcia December 10, 2014, 1:50 pm

          Depends on the location and the age of the child. There have been actual studies done where they figure out the age a child is able to safely cross a street by themselves. It’s around 10 (meaning, for some kids it is 6, but nearly ALL kids can do it by age 10).

          Of course more than one kid walking together, it would be sooner than age 10.

          Reply
    • noreen December 10, 2014, 11:23 am

      My son’s school (k-8) requires children in grades k-3 be picked up by parents, in person, either at school or at the bus stop. He is taking the bus this year (he’s only 5), but he is looking forward to finding some friends that he can walk to school with in a year or two. (We live slightly more than a mile away; he would have to cross three streets and the majority of the way has a sidewalk.)

      Reply
      • Krista December 10, 2014, 4:07 pm

        My kids school district also has the rule that kids in K-3 must be picked up from the bus stop by an adult. You know what? I kicked up a fuss with the district and my kids were allowed to walk themselves home after school. The following year, I noticed that the bus sign up form included the “special exemption” to allow all parents to decide whether their kids needed to be picked up from the bus stop or not.

        IMO the real travesty isn’t that kids are being babied more than in past generations, it’s that their parents aren’t speaking to change all these silly rules.

        Reply
        • Doug December 12, 2014, 2:10 pm

          Wow, on my first day of kindergarten in 1966 my mom walked with me to school, and after that I was on my own. It’s a wonder no bleeding heart liberals sent the Children’s Aid Society to intervene on my behalf. I’m still getting over the trauma of having to walk to school on my own and assume such great responsibilty at that young and tender age.

          Reply
    • Neil December 10, 2014, 12:22 pm

      I’m happy to see the number of kids that walk to school in my neighbourhood, where I just moved a few months ago. That said, the push here is to close down neighbourhood schools and open new regional schools that are walkable to fewer people – sometimes nobody. (A result of stupid provincial policy that considers school capacity and utilization based on square footage (and therefore penalizes wide hallways, stairwells etc that are common in pre-boomer buildings), and considers a new school the better option if it’s only twice as expensive as retrofitting the existing building.) So the system is making it ever harder to walk to school, at least in Alberta.

      But yeah, treating school-age children like babies is the new normal, and I find it pretty annoying. As a new Dad, I made sure that “Free Range Kids” was part of my pre-parenthood reading material, and hope to incorporate those principals into my lifestyle, in the same way that I try to keep my family’s consumption under control.

      Reply
    • Holly December 10, 2014, 12:25 pm

      Unfortunately, it’s just a different world today. I would never let my daughters walk to school while they are in grade school- there are just too many scary, predatory people out there. On the other hand, I think walking to school is great! I just choose to walk with them.

      Reply
      • DrFood December 10, 2014, 3:06 pm

        It’s not a different world, other than the media coverage. Kids are safer now than they’ve ever been (if immunized). See the comments above.

        Reply
        • Holly December 11, 2014, 9:56 am

          Yeah, I really don’t care what the statistics say. I take a lot of chances in life, but try not to take chances with my kid’s safety when I can help it. I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to my kindergartener during her walk to school while I was sitting at home for no reason. I work at home so I have the ability to see my children safely anywhere they go. I choose to take advantage of that fact and I sleep great at night because of it.

          Reply
          • Leo December 11, 2014, 9:24 pm

            Yeah, I really don’t care what the statistics say.

            That’s fine, but at least admit it to yourself. Don’t start the argument with some nonsense like “it’s a different world today”. Yes it’s a different world, it’s a world that is much safer than it ever has been.

            Reply
            • Marvin mcdude December 12, 2014, 4:30 pm

              Leo, there’s a difference between being right and being correct. Holly’s not trying to win an argument here, so don’t worry – you’re still undefeated in arguments on the Internet.

              Reply
              • Holly December 15, 2014, 1:52 pm

                Yes! Definitely not trying to win an argument. Besides, how could I win an argument with a random stranger on how to parent/take care of *my* child? I don’t feel comfortable letting my five-year-old walk to school by herself. Perhaps it’s the media hype, but maybe it’s because her school is on a major road and she is a trusting, sweet soul who I cannot stand the thought of losing. Either way, I don’t need anyone’s permission.

              • Leo December 16, 2014, 1:25 pm

                Leo, there’s a difference between being right and being correct. Holly’s not trying to win an argument here, so don’t worry

                I don’t care in the least about what Holly does with her kids. What I was responding to was the misleading statement she is using to justify her actions, which is to imply that the world is too dangerous these days. It’s provably not, but of course everyone is entitled to be irrational in the face of that proof.
                Just like I am irrationally paying off my mortgage rather than investing the extra money. I don’t pretend that it’s somehow a good idea, I’m just assuaging my own irrational fears.

              • Holly December 22, 2014, 5:27 pm

                Leo,
                Serious question: Do you have kids?
                In spite of the statistics mentioned here in this thread, I do feel as if it is a different world. Several little girls have disappeared in my state in the past few years and the perpetrators weren’t always caught. Perhaps there aren’t more abductions than there were years ago, but I perceive the threat as very real when it comes to my old children.

                Walking your five-year-old to the bus stop or school because you are concerned for them is not irrational. It’s just what parents do.

              • Thirty something August 17, 2015, 12:22 pm

                Agree to disagree.

                We have 3 kids in 2 different elementary schools. I wanted our kids to walk to school (4 blocks, one busy-ish crossing in Queens, NY). The school objected, so I wrote a note. They changed their mind and accepted our decision. I think I’m helping my kids AND teaching them some responsibility by not walking them everywhere. I walked a mile to school by myself when I was in 1st grade; surely my kids can survive 4 blocks. I talked to them about what to do, then followed a few times from a safe distance to observe, then turned them loose.

                I just listened to the TED talk about dangerous things kids should do – pocket knives, play with fire, throw spears, etc. and I think it’s a great idea to let the kids take some responsibility. Every parent should decide – but I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt and teach them that they are bright enough to figure things out.

    • Mrs PoP December 10, 2014, 12:41 pm

      In college I volunteered as a walking school bus “driver” a couple of days per week – I don’t know why these programs aren’t more common as the kids loved it and it was a great fun for me as a “driver” as well.

      Reply
      • OhYongHao December 11, 2014, 11:44 am

        My friend inadvertently did that for a couple weeks when his son was suspended from the bus. He would start walking with his son, and by the time they are at school another 10 kids have joined them. It’s similar to the Portland Bike Train that some kids take to school. A couple responsible adults on bikes riding along a route to pick up kids and see them safely to school.

        Reply
      • Zambian Lady December 11, 2014, 2:36 pm

        It seems that some kids do enjoy walking. I used to have a young lady that helped me back home who would walk my young niece to and from school every day. If I had to take my niece to school when, I would drive her so that I could continue on to work. She would complain all the way to school saying she missed her friends. I had never realized before what walking to school meant to her.

        Reply
    • EcoCatLady December 10, 2014, 1:20 pm

      Eee Gads! These comments are horrifying! I walked to & from school every day from Kindergarten until I graduated High School. And from the time I was about 7 years old onward I was a “latchkey kid” – no daycare expenses for my single mother. Talk about force feeding the car-culture Kool-Aid from a very early age! I think someone should do a study comparing the “dangers” of walking to school vs. the very real health risks imposed by a sedentary lifestyle!

      Reply
      • CT December 10, 2014, 1:48 pm

        Take the bus–No thank you. As a kid I rode the bus to school everyday because we lived so far away–I know what goes on on buses. Driver’s eating, texting while driving, playing with the radio–aggressive driving to keep schedule, refusing to stop at every stop, not following speed limits or stop signs; then there’s the bus itself with broken seats pieces, aisle that are not clear; books fly when brakes are slammed on, wet seats (who knows from what), bus fumes in the bus. And then there’s the kids–overcrowding, walking all over while the bus is moving, rough housing, fights. Also harassment by bullies, boys grabbing girls, kids on drugs who want your money, kids stealing/smashing your lunch for fun.
        Our kids walked or rode bikes (with one of us until high school) despite living far enough for a bus.

        Reply
        • OhYongHao December 11, 2014, 11:51 am

          It sounds like you had a horrible experience on your bus. Mine did have some of the bullying going on, but the driver always made it the utmost priority to follow all safety rules and see that we were mostly obeying the rules (as kids we always tried to get away with as much as possible). We lived about 12 miles from our high school, and our primary/middle school arrangement required a similar amount of mileage, it wasn’t a quick drop off.

          I did try to walk home a couple times, usually made it halfway until an outstanding citizen would see me walking along the highway and stop to pick me up.

          I’m not arguing for riding the bus rather than walking or biking, just that your experience is just anecdotal and not necessarily representative of all bus drivers.

          Reply
      • Green Girl December 10, 2014, 1:54 pm

        @EcoCatLady – You are so right. Recently, I told a colleague that I sold my car, so I bike and walk everywhere. He was very concerned about the safety of commuting by bicycle. This came right after he told me that both he and his wife have diabetes.

        Reply
    • Colleen December 10, 2014, 1:52 pm

      My sister-an law and I had our kids start walking home from the local grade school and mini-van moms would stop and give our kids rides because they thought we had FORGOTTEN to pick up our children. They looked at us like we were crazy as we kindly asked that thet refrain from driving our kids home. People were shocked that we MADE our kids walk home ALONE! It was six blocks. Sigh.

      Reply
    • Lisa Miss Provision December 10, 2014, 3:27 pm

      We live 1000 feet away from the school, but you have to cross a road with a yellow stripe. The children are NOT allowed to walk to school. I let my 5th grader walk (he hated the bus) and the principal called me up personally to let me know that was against school policy. NO walkers.

      Reply
      • TomTX December 11, 2014, 12:59 pm

        Well, that’s a good time to ask him how much he is going to pay you for your time and mileage. The school should have zero authority after the kids leave.

        Reply
      • Doug December 12, 2014, 2:03 pm

        Since when is what kids do outside of school time and off school property actually school policy? If the kids go somewhere in the evening or on the weekend, should the school pay for the fare to take a taxi cab?
        I would let him keep walking to school, and if the principal gives you a hard time, say YOU pay for a cab to send him home. I would also have a word with your school trustee. If I were in your shoes I wouldn’t let this horseshit go unchallenged. Heads would roll before I was finished with the school board.

        Reply
  • Deanno December 10, 2014, 10:05 am

    The whole All Wheel Drive, or personal truck, SUV, CUV thing always made me so angry. The pseudo off-road station wagon and oversized tire heavy minivan (SUVs and CUVs) were created as a direct result of the genius of the US government. They created CAFE standards (corporate average fuel economy) and for years they only applied to cars. The GAS GUZZLER TAX only applies to cars also! Yup, you heard right.. Trucks, SUVs, CUVs are not subject to gas guzzler tax. Pretty retarded isn’t it? And now CAFE does have some influence on personal trucks, but get this, the bigger the truck THE LOWER THE MPG REQUIREMENT. Who the F runs that place?
    There are no vehicles that put everyone else at such an obvious disadvantage more than the personal truck/jacked-up microvan. Headlights and bumpers at eye level, 2000lb more curb weight at LEAST. Then some states allow morons to put LIFT KITS ON THEM. Their argument -“Waa, are they gonna take semi’s off the road too?” News flash moron, SEMI’s have underride protection, and bumpers more in line with cars hardened crash points.. So in an intersection, a car driver has less of a chance getting killed when T boned by a semi than a Jacked up F350.
    Add to that it doesn’t even add any capability. Now you can’t reach into the bed of the truck, the center of gravity (which was already too high to begin with) is now EVEN HIGHER, the gas mileage made WORSE. If anything, bumper height laws should be federal, just like red tail lights and turn signals. Trucks from the factory are ‘voluntarily’ responsible for crash compatible structures, but this is all pointless when a redneck jacks it up.

    CAFE led to the death of the station wagon. I hope they start coming back for all of the irrational idiots out there who think they need a 10000 lb towing capacity for 2 kids and a bag of chips.
    The structural engineer doesn’t need a personal truck. Is he towing 747 parts or what?

    Reply
    • B December 10, 2014, 12:15 pm

      Tell us how you really feel.

      Reply
    • DrFood December 10, 2014, 3:10 pm

      Preach it!!

      I love station wagons, hadn’t thought about why they are so rare these days. . .

      Reply
    • Deanno December 12, 2014, 3:34 am

      Think about how CAFE works.. A station wagon is classified as a “passenger car”.. So it was always subject to much higher MPG requirements.. This was implemented at a time where gasoline engine tech wasn’t nearly as good as it is today.. Station wagons were a bit bigger and heavier and cost more for the Automakers to make them meet those pesky requirements. Trucks at the time? 0 safety and CAFE requirements. Put a box with a back seat on a shorter super basic old tech super dirt cheap truck frame, softer tires, softer suspension, viola: a CAFE dodging passenger vehicle, AKA the Ford Exploder (Explorer). Profits over lives. Triple the driver death rate of a mid size car and 4x the kill rate of other drivers. Profits over safety. Just have the lawyers blame Firestone for the rollovers and put a sticker on the sunvisor that says to avoid sharp turns too fast. Lawsuit averted.
      Anyway, Same thing for a jacked up Honda accord (crosstour).. Jack an Accord up 2 inches and you now have a ‘light truck’/instead of a passenger car. Now that CAFE finally applies to trucks (albeit less strictly) one would think this is better for the world right? Wrong. Now the automakers can make BIGGER TRUCKS to have an easier MPG target to meet. So dumb.
      The very regulations designed to lower fuel consumption did nothing but make it worse than it was in the 70s now that 50% vehicles are personal trucks and jacked up minivans with big bling wheels and a nixed (more useful) sliding door.
      So if you wanted to know what REALLY happened to the station wagon(same or more cargo space, way better and safer driving dynamics, way better efficiency), look up CAFE and blame the bonehead oil money loving government. /rant

      Reply
  • Chris December 10, 2014, 10:20 am

    When you break out the spending vs. the take home pay, it’s amazing how much you’re “saving.” If I didn’t have to go to work every day, I could easily make over $1k per month on eBay! I’m averaging that in gross sales already and that’s part time. Now if only I wasn’t making way way way over that at work, it would make the decision seem so much easier!

    Reply
    • Marie December 11, 2014, 7:52 am

      In your case it comes down to a decision about which you value more: your time or your money. If having a high paying job gives you less freedom then you’re doing it wrong.

      Reply
  • HD December 10, 2014, 10:29 am

    “WW’s the outstanding windfall of a $280,000 early pension withdrawal, all my calculations indicate that you will be much further ahead than you are today, even after ditching the government job”

    Mrs WW needs to provide a bit more details but she already has 120 000 in RRSPs. That suggests that she might not have much RRSP contribution room left.

    When/if she quits, she will be required to transfer that early pension withdrawal into her RRSP. If she doesn’t have enough room for the transfer, she will be slapped with nasty tax bill on that $280 000.

    I am not a retirement/tax expert so anybody with more knowledge is welcome to chip in.

    Best,

    HD

    Reply
    • Blair December 10, 2014, 10:53 am

      It gets moved to a LIRA. When I changed jobs that’s what I did with my pension. No tax until its withdrawn (like an RRSP/RRIF).

      Reply
    • Gmullz December 10, 2014, 11:25 am

      I know for me personally my pension contributions deduct from my RRSP contribution room. My annual contribution room is much lower due to my pension contributions.

      So it would only make sense that upon withdrawal a pension can be transferred to an RRSP without any immediate tax implications. However, I do believe there is a limit on how much can be transferred from a pension to an RRSP, regardless of the contribution room. I’m not sure what the limit is…

      Reply
  • Jeff December 10, 2014, 10:30 am

    Interesting article, but I don’t quite follow your math. Where did you get $1000 savings on “Gas and direct/indirect car costs” from? I can’t see that in her spending costs. Also, you claimed an additional $86,000 per decade by switching to one small car; those two numbers combined (the $1000 and $86,000) seem high.

    I don’t know Canadian / Winnipeg real estate, but it seems that a less expensive house may be the biggest quick financial gain, though it entails the emotional costs of new neighborhood, schools, etc.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache December 10, 2014, 12:29 pm

      When you drive a car, it costs about 50 cents per mile in the US, and much more than that in Canada.

      Much of this is the fact that you are using up a vehicle (an Odyssey costs $40k there and depreciates to nearly zero within the first 200k km (so there’s 20 cents/km right there). Fuel is 50% more in that country, tires are $500 a set, maintenance is way up there as well, etc.)

      When you save/invest $1000 per month for 10 years, you end up with 120,000 of basic dough every 10 years. But it starts compounding at 7% (typical for long-term stock investments including dividends), so you might typically end up with 172 times the base amount by the end of it all.

      Reply
    • dave35 December 10, 2014, 5:26 pm

      My entirely oversized house was $210K, and expenses are currently covered by tenants. $250K buys a really nice infill house or older mansion in the West End (towards downtown) or a very nice smaller house in Wolseley or St. Boniface (nicer neighbourhoods surrounding downtown) that will be walking/cycling distance from everything of interest. Some of the newer suburbs are silly expensive in comparison, $350K+ to be a long drive from any useful infrastructure. I can’t really offer specific advice as I don’t know where Mr. WW’s job is, and I can’t figure out where they live based on the info given, but this is a very cheap city for the most part.

      Reply
      • Blender February 6, 2017, 9:01 pm

        A new neighborhood just started in development near my parents home. Average price is looking to be over $500,000. Half of the designs are over 2000 sq ft. It’s nuts.

        There are no dedicated paths to the nearby shops so most will be driving the 5 minutes to the store and anything else of interest is a 15 to 30 minute drive away. It really is insane.

        Reply
  • Lance December 10, 2014, 10:32 am

    Wow, tons of opportunity for this family. Yes the situation is tight, but mainly because of choices in spending….you have so much potential to be rich and have extra time in life. Once you start to live the life of financial freedom you will only wish you had started earlier. Some people see only challenges, but there is so much potential to make a big difference. Got to love money, time and freedom more than stuff. Make the choice…and be rich and free!

    Reply
  • BCB December 10, 2014, 10:41 am

    The combination of the picture of a peeling out Ford truck and the statement ‘Holy shit, brother, how many heads of cattle and pigs are you hauling…’ more than made my day!

    I found this link in the forums and thought it would be fun to bring it to more peoples’ attention. http://www.nytimes.com/video/business/100000003261636/paycheck-to-paycheck.html?em_pos=medium&emc=edit_fs_20141208&nl=video&nlid=68866712

    Forum link: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/antimustachian-wall-of-shame-and-comedy/living-paycheck-to-paycheck/msg478674/#msg478674

    Reply
  • TuxedoEagle December 10, 2014, 10:47 am

    If the Case Study subject is still actively coming to the MMM website, I would invite you to post your Case Study with some more details on the “Ask a Mustachian” thread on the forum. There are a lot of helpful Canadians that could give you some great advice on how to execute these recommendations. A few of us have made these choices ourselves and live better today!

    Reply
  • MJB December 10, 2014, 10:48 am

    I noticed “Birthday Parties” in the set of misc. expenses. Seems Nord American families are in an arms-race to out kid-party each other anymore. Growing up, sure it was neat to have a McD’s gathering with friends, but not because of McD’s. A cake plus pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey has suddenly become another occasion to buy a bunch of toys and pre-packaged theme material. “Just wanna hang with all my friends, mom and dad!”

    It’s also a bit crazy how childcare keeps parents chasing their financial tails. In this case it may help to have an in-home nanny, at least reducing the time/car-clown expense with drop off/pick-up.

    Reply
    • Marcia December 10, 2014, 11:56 am

      Depends on the area, but a nanny is easily 2 to 3x the cost of childcare in my location.

      It would save 5 hours a week of commute, but at the cost of $350/week (additional).

      Reply
      • Neil December 10, 2014, 12:32 pm

        It depends on the number of kids. Here you pretty much break even if you have 2 kids in care, since the wages of nannies are kept artificially low through built-for-the-rich immigration policy. That said, I’d rather do daycare for social reasons, even if it means some extra travel time. I am, however, only on lists for daycares within walking distance of either home or work, so no need to car clown it on a daily basis.

        Reply
    • Sprinkles December 10, 2014, 3:28 pm

      I’m glad someone noticed the “birthday parties” line item as well.

      I’m in my early 30s. My parents never once had an over-the-top birthday party for me or my siblings, but yet – the parties were just as fun. Our parties were pretty low-key and family-centric. My dad (who has since passed away) loved to decorate the house with streamers, balloons, etc. Some of my favorite memories of my dad are how much he enjoyed decorating for each of our birthdays. :)

      Anyway, back to the topic. I have many friends who have young children and their parties are (in my opinion) way over the top. Most of them look like pages off of Pinterest and I know for a fact they spend a ton of money throwing them. But it’s not just throwing the birthday parties – it’s attending them, too. It seems like my friends are constantly attending birthday parties of their children’s “friends” (the kids are between newborn and two years old…so can they really have friends at that age?). Obviously, the price of going to a party includes a gift, maybe admission to a particular place, money for games, tokens, etc.

      I’m sorry, but as a future parent (at least I hope to be), I’m not buying into this crap. I’m also not giving into the “but you HAVE to have an SUV to haul your kiddos around – it’s the ONLY safe vehicle!” school of thought either.

      Reply
    • OhYongHao December 11, 2014, 12:32 pm

      Growing up I attended 1 McDonalds birthday party, and the Chuck E. Cheese party was strictly family. I always envied friends who had birthday parties and wanted to attend, but was rarely invited. I did have a couple chances to attend when I was older between the 5th and 8th grades, these parties consisted of a bunch of us sitting around a TV playing multiplayer FPS and eating pizza. In High School the parties turned into LAN games at various houses. None of these ever had presents exchanged.

      It wasn’t until my friend had kids that I started to see the crazy birthday party everybody bring some token present thing happening. As a childless couple it puts us in an odd spot where putting money into any of these has no reciprocal affect. I object to getting shit a kid doesn’t want or need, but have gone in with the parents on getting things like a microscope with a 50 sample kit. I may never understand the desire to spend so much on a party.

      Reply
  • Mr. 1500 December 10, 2014, 10:55 am

    One thing that she stated resonates with me because I’ve often used the same excuse; she states that her vehicles are paid off.

    I’ve said this same thing to myself to justify keeping our 2 vehicles. However, it’s a bit ridiculous because I work from home and the wife doesn’t work at all. We could easily get by with .5 vehicles.

    She (and I) should consider the cost of keeping the vehicles: insurance, maintenance and the money she’d have if she sold one or both.

    Reply
    • LennStar December 10, 2014, 11:02 am

      Especially the last. You could get 10.000 out of selling the big and buying a small – not to mention insurance and fuel savings.
      How old are you?
      How much does it add up until the normal retirement age considering every future car? 30000? 50000? With interest? 100K? 200K?

      Reply
      • Mr. 1500 December 10, 2014, 11:40 am

        Exactly, it’s what you could have done with the money. We bought our Honda Element new in 2003 (another dumb move). I like to tell people it cost me 50K because that is what the money would be worth today.

        That Indexview tool that MMM blogged about recently is a prefect tool for quick calculations like this: http://thume.ca/indexView/

        Reply
    • Holly December 10, 2014, 12:28 pm

      Same here. We have a second car, a 2007 Dodge Caravan. The insurance is cheap, but I rarely ever drive it since I work in a home office. Like maybe once per week. I often think we could easily share a car, but then there will be this one crazy scenario where we need two cars occasionally. It’s easy to just keep it since it is paid off and has been for some time.

      I go back and forth with it. I have a family member who might be needing a vehicle soon (and can’t afford one) and I am considering gifting it, at least for a set amount of time. That way we could experience the one-car life and see if it really works.

      Reply
    • Everett December 10, 2014, 3:31 pm

      If you have unused vehicles that you aren’t using, but don’t want to part with, consider renting them on RelayRides.com. Depending on the vehicle and your location, you may even make money faster than your vehicle in depreciating.

      Reply
  • Alice December 10, 2014, 10:58 am

    For the WiW, your kids will grow up before you know it and they will not need a small house and you there all the time. And restrictive budget which you will end up living on for the rest of your life because you will take early pension now .. you will regret. In 10 years when your kids are older teens and you are living in a tiny house and have to stick to a small budget you will regret leaving your cushy gov job… and sabotaging your retirement.
    the next 15 years will be challenging with young children regardless of keeping a job or not. I am suggesting do what MMM is advising, sell the cars you do not need, get a smaller/cheaper house.. but do not quit your job with guaranteed pension. Trust me, biking is not that much fun when you have to.. instead of want to and when its cold and you are 55 years old…

    Reply
    • Marcia December 10, 2014, 11:53 am

      I don’t understand why a small budget is permanent. She can always go back to work.

      Reply
      • Alice December 10, 2014, 1:52 pm

        Its not easy to just “go back to work”… definitely not in the same salary and not same cushy job as she holds now. … plus in 15 years she can retire with guaranteed pension of 70% of salary + all the savings.. that is much different then GOING BACK to work in 10 years at much lower salary and competing with much younger people for the same job and no guaranteed retirement…

        Reply
        • Kate in NY December 11, 2014, 7:20 am

          While I don’t agree that WiW should stay in her beige cubicle for the next 15 years, running around like a chicken without a head, I do agree that the Mustachian lifestyle can be more challenging with teenagers, however badass one’s parenting has been up until that point. I used to take pride in the fact that my kids did not have the latest gadgets, that they had jobs and responsibilities at home, that they were pretty unmaterialistic for kids growing up in a fairly affluent NY suburb – and that they seemed quite happy and well adjusted for all their material “deprivations.” I am sure that deep, deep inside, they are still those lovely, unspoiled children – but it does become harder when they become more “wanty” – and more vocal and assertive in their wantiness, and when their friends DO have all the latest phones, clothes, etc, and their parents do not expect them to work for those things. I love my life and I’m glad that I was able to be at home with my kids for many years – wouldn’t trade it. But now sometimes I think – wow, it would be kind of nice to go to an office and hang out with grownups all day, have more income, pay for some more college for the kids . . . I am working part-time (SAT tutoring) but it’s not so easy for a 45 year old to just head back into the workforce. Just something to think about – keeping your options open for down the line.

          Reply
          • pope December 11, 2014, 10:00 am

            Kate provides a nice honest look at some real world life with teens.

            Reply
          • EMML December 14, 2014, 11:57 am

            “Wanty”–I love it! I’m starting to get this more from my 4 year old. I bet teens have a lot of this. Thanks for sharing your experience. It helps me shape my future ER plans.

            Reply
          • anotherpolitecanuck December 14, 2014, 12:17 pm

            Too true Kate,

            A friend of mine works for the government here in Canada took 6 months off by reducing her pay for a period of time so that she would continue with a steady income. They rented a spot on a ski hill and spent their winter on the mountain. What she learned is that she does not want a vacation spot to manage, but would rather rent short term ski trips and that she was looking forward to returning to the stimulation of work.

            My children are almost out of the house. One is graduated and traveling. The other is soon to graduate. Soon they will both be following their own paths and that is a good thing. What once took time in parenting is now largely freed up. And frankly, hands on work at parenting really decline sharply once children are in high school.

            So I am left to sorting out what I wish to do with my free time. I am in my mid 50’s, financially independent and do not need to work. I have reduced how much I work a lot over the last 2 years. I have complete control over this as I have been self employed for the last 15 years. But now I am wondering what I would like to do with the years ahead. It’s not dissimilar to when I was a young adult trying to sort out what career path I wished to take. After much thought I have decided I will work to at least pick the low hanging fruit which doesn’t take more than a day or two a week.

            I do not have any work pension but work alongside many government employees. They are retiring with $40 – $50 K pensions in their mid 50’s. That is a tough amount of security to walk away from. It takes some courage to do so. That’s why I wonder about whether dad “retiring” to the home to start up a side business might not be a good fit. Either way, life is too short to continue work if you don’t like it. But I don’t get that WiW necessarily hates her job – just the stressors that go with having to do too much while her husband also holds down a full time job.

            I think it’s a trade off that has to be made – and the question is how important is the security of a good job with a great pension to this couple versus the freedom from the 9 to 5 while little ones are at home.

            Reply
        • Dr Bill December 11, 2014, 12:59 pm

          @Alice: you bring up an excellent point, to a point. Is the Canadian retirement system as fully funded as ours is? So now, is the promise of a future retirement system more valuable than the personal desire to be with her tiny humans? What will the retirement system really look like in 16 years? What if her life experiences chosen now redirect her to an entirely different and more satisfying career path? Wisdom for the current moment will not be the same wisdom for a future moment; taking the Wisdom for now may render the future wisdom to be pure Folly in that future. I’m all for choosing wisely in the now for the now, and for not looking back after the choice is made. Pillars of salt and all that….

          Reply
  • Tim December 10, 2014, 11:15 am

    I live in Kansas City, where our winters are quite mild compared to Canada, so I don’t know much about extreme cold or massive levels of snowfall. Does commercialism (or consumerism) slow down in the winter in the place that WW lives, or in Canada or colder climates in general? It sounds like -40 degrees (which is interestingly equal for F and C) is enough to get me to stay home. And that brings me to the woodworking/carpentry career idea, would Mr. WW be doing his job during that time? I just wonder if it would provide challenges, although I’m sure a structural engineer would know.

    Reply
  • Steve Adcock December 10, 2014, 11:26 am

    Dual incomes should make it EASIER to say and achieve financial independence, not tougher.

    In our house, we living off of my salary and we save my wife’s salary – 100% of it. I found a work-from-home job that cut our monthly gas expenses down by half. We have no kids.

    We’ll be ready to retire in no time.

    Reply
    • TomTX December 11, 2014, 2:35 pm

      Having kids radically changes the equation. Both available time and money. Daycare for 2 can rapidly make career #2 worthless.

      Reply
  • mr magoo December 10, 2014, 11:33 am

    Yeah, I do! I used to work from home, so we (one child) moved to shorten my wife’s commute to 10 min from 45. Then my job evaporated and i got a new one with, wait for it, a 45 min commute back to where we used to live. Oh the irony. Well, its actually a 75 min commute since I bus it, which keeps our cost to about $115 per month, but the time cost crushes me. My wife loves her job, I don’t dislike mine but i cant say i LIVE it, and the time commitment is shredding our (OK my) quality of life. I bring in about 55% of our 180k-ish income, and we’re not quite there yet in terms of me being comfortable quiting. If the status quo continues, that would happen in 3-5 years. Our savings rate is somewhere around 40%, and if I quit I think we could cut our burn rate by maybe $1500 a month or so, and we’d need to make some bigger changes to stay cash flow positive but could probably do it. I’m itching to try self employment but fear is keeping me on the fence.

    Reply
  • Alex Krizel December 10, 2014, 11:34 am

    MMM,
    As usual with vehicle-related articles, I humbly disagree.
    To me, it’s about safety and nothing else.
    I know you point out that you are more likely to die of heart disease from driving everywhere (and lack of exercise), but you always seem to forget the point that not all accidents are the driver’s fault.
    how many families packed into a Prius are reduced to their component molecules by some drunk in an SUV while they are stopped at a light?
    NHTSA has stats, but you can always look up stories in local papers using bing (or google or whatever you prefer).
    If these people were in a different vehicle (say an SUV), would they have faired better?
    There was an interesting article in the Reader’s Digest about 10 years ago showing how teenage car fatalities have increased in proportion to the cars getting smaller.
    By the end of the article, the author said he is getting his daughter a Hummer.
    Does he work for Big Oil?
    You also mention the chances (or lack there of).
    Chances of hitting the PowerBall are slim, but people still win.
    Chances ARE slim, but they are not zero.
    I wonder how I would feel burying my child and looking at the few extra dollars on my bank account.
    Point is, we all have our vices.
    Mine is to be overly worried and to go to extremes.
    What I drive has the tops of people’s heads at my knee level.
    That alone (also the reason school buses are so high up) gives me an advantage over mostly anything on the road.
    So while I agree with quite a bit of what you say, I still have to disagree on this point.
    I have seen what a sub-compact being hit by an SUV turns into.
    I was in the SUV.
    At under 25 mph, the car (a Neon) was totaled.
    I also see people filtering through the ED.
    You can almost always tell which people involved in an MVA were in the tank and which were in the tin can.
    Again, show me that I have zero chance and I’ll be in a Yaris before the day’s end.
    Otherwise, I will not be the one.
    I am not invincible, but my chances are better.
    Lastly, your graph on types of vehicles versus fatalities is a bit misleading.
    Superimpose it on area, driver, etc. and it will show a more accurate picture.
    But if you still want to use it, remember, a cargo van is safer than any other type of car.
    Seems we should all be in those then.

    Be well and Happy Holidays!

    Alex

    Reply
    • BCB December 10, 2014, 11:46 am

      By that logic, we should all get the largest most inefficient vehicle until an even more rediculous vehicle comes out… Or maybe we should just all drive dump trucks or cement mixers because if I get into an accident with my F350 and my oposition just happens to be a bull dozer I am at a disadvatage. And even if I drive the bull dozer, I would be no match agains a 3 mile long locomotive!

      The point is that arming up against some theoretical foe is really just fantasy safety because you will never be the largest. And even if you are not the largest, if something flies through your windshield, you are toast anyway. Or maybe you should have a 20 inch thick windshield. I could go on and on.

      And if everyone arms up we just have a bunch of hilariously large vehicles for carrying no more than 2 people.

      This is a Cold War I don’t with to participate in!

      Reply
      • BCB December 10, 2014, 11:59 am

        * ridiculous

        * And even if you are the largest

        My apologies; I was trying to get my word in as soon as possible.

        Reply
      • ezra December 12, 2014, 8:51 am

        a brinks armored truck for sure, glass is super thick and bullet proof!

        Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache December 10, 2014, 12:05 pm

      That sounds more like anecdotes than math, Alex. Given a finite budget, a a smaller car allows you quit your job earlier and drive less. In many cases this will cut your driving in half or more, and meanwhile the difference between the safest and most dangerous vehicle is only 2x.

      In this case study, the mom is driving over 6x the amount I do, just for commuting and child care. Plus she is forced to go out in snow (much more dangerous) when a financially independent person would be free to stay home.

      Add in some driver safety training (easy to increase your safety another 2x), choosing to not ever use your phone while driving (how many have made this choice?), and the fact that you want to avoid hurting others, and there really is no sane reason to drive anything other than an efficient, modern small car on those rare times you drive.

      Driving big trucks for “safety” at the expense of every other living thing on the planet is absolute fucking bullshit. It’s the ideal personification of the OPPOSITE of everything the 400-odd articles of this whole blog is about.

      Reply
      • BCB December 10, 2014, 12:52 pm

        ”Driving big trucks for “safety” at the expense of every other living thing on the planet is absolute fucking bullshit.” AMEN!

        Reply
        • EcoCatLady December 10, 2014, 6:53 pm

          ditto!

          Reply
          • Patrick December 31, 2014, 8:44 am

            Amen brother. I once took a philosophy course in college. They said the lowest baseline for morality is to see what happens if everyone does it.

            So if we all upsize vehicle to the maximum then the vehicle safety will smoothly follow the wealth curve with the richest being the safest on the road. Readers here are pretty well off. Is that the kind of world we want to create for those around us? We decide by our actions.

            Instead, “GET ON YOUR BIKES AND RIDE! ”
            -Freddie Mercury, Fat Bottomed Girls.

            Reply
    • Kmp2 December 10, 2014, 12:11 pm

      So why do you drive a car anywhere?

      The latest statistics I saw (at momentum mag), was 9 deaths per million trips for driving, and 0.4 for taking the bus. If you truly want to reduce your risk take the bus.

      Reply
    • Le Barbu December 10, 2014, 12:12 pm

      Alex, come on !

      Reply
    • Kenoryn December 10, 2014, 12:18 pm

      If safety is your #1 concern, you shouldn’t be driving an SUV. You should be driving a Tesla. And you should invest in courses in defensive driving which I’m guessing have a much higher safety return than driving a bigger car.

      Plus, as per BCB’s comment, it’s an arms race. If no one like you were out driving SUVs, then no one would have to get an SUV to protect themselves against the other SUVs. The answer is not “everyone should drive SUVs”, the answer is “no one should drive SUVs”.

      Plus, driving is dangerous no matter what vehicle you’re in. If you can retire earlier and stop commuting at all by ditching the expensive SUV, your overall reduction in driving time in your life is probably a more significant safety increase than the small-car-to-SUV tradeoff. Even better if you go SUV-to-bike because of the very significant safety risk that inactivity poses.

      You could also consider it from this perspective: would you rather be killed in an accident, or kill someone else? Many people would rather be killed.

      Reply
    • Marie December 10, 2014, 12:25 pm

      Fortunately, MMM also has her cutting out most of the time the kids spend in the car. Remember, to cut your chances of getting killed in a car accident in half it is just as effective to cut the amount of time spent driving in half as it is to double the safety of your car.

      Everyone puts a different premium on safety, but make sure that you include reality in your calculation. Every two hours you spend driving your large van is equivalent to one hour in a compact. Don’t ever assume that being in a van means that your risk of fatality goes to 0.

      Reply
    • danny December 10, 2014, 2:53 pm

      >There was an interesting article in the Reader’s Digest about 10 years ago showing how teenage car fatalities have increased in proportion to the cars getting smaller.
      >By the end of the article, the author said he is getting his daughter a Hummer.

      So, would the author want a world where every other dangerous as hell teenager on the road has a hummer and his daughter has a tiny, 10-year-old compact car? That’s what he’s doing to other people’s children, and it’s utterly selfish, oppressive behavior. The idea of every child on the road driving a killer tank terrifies me.

      > I have seen what a sub-compact being hit by an SUV turns into.
      > I was in the SUV.
      > At under 25 mph, the car (a Neon) was totaled.

      And that’s an argument FOR buying SUVs? “People nearly get killed, but it’s okay because it’s not me!”

      Reply
      • pope December 11, 2014, 10:17 am

        I love how the commenter suggested Readers Digest and Bing as the go to sources.

        Reply
      • CPacat December 12, 2014, 12:08 pm

        A teenager was texting in her SUV when she drove headlong at 30mph into a big maple tree on my front lawn. So I’ve seen what an SUV turns into when driven into a stationary tree by a reckless teenager.

        The tree won.

        Her SUV was totalled. She was bleeding. She peed herself. And everyone in the neighborhood stopped on their way home from work to find out what happened (including her father), while she waited for the police and ambulance.

        Reply
        • Mark Anderson December 18, 2014, 10:18 am

          That settles it. We all need to be driving trees. Where can I find a Groot-for-hire.

          Reply
          • BCB December 30, 2014, 10:19 pm

            Awesome! :)

            Reply
    • Hugerat December 11, 2014, 8:13 am

      “If someone’s going to die, at least I’ll be the one doing the killing!”

      Fabulous argument.

      Reply
    • Cheryl December 15, 2014, 10:52 am

      Everyone else already made all my points, so I’m just going to say:

      This is why we can’t have nice things.

      Reply
  • Brett December 10, 2014, 11:44 am

    Feels good to see an article about somebody from Winnipeg! For some reason, it just feels like we’re all on the same team or something, so its nice to know that somewhere close by someone is growing a Money Mustache as well. Keep on fighting the good fight :).

    Reply
    • Mike S December 10, 2014, 12:19 pm

      Winnipeggers represent!

      I started commuting by bike year round a couple years ago and it’s been great. Winter is definitely challenging at times, but it keeps me slim and fit.

      Reply
      • Another Pegger December 10, 2014, 9:19 pm

        Why are we not having a meet up if there are that many of us???

        Reply
      • David Cain December 11, 2014, 1:14 pm

        Thought I should put my hand up too.

        Hey Mike!

        Reply
        • Mark N. December 11, 2014, 3:09 pm

          Yeah Winnipeg!
          I’m having a small world moment here. Mike, this is Mark, your old bud from elementary school. David, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and had no idea you’re a Winnipegger! Thanks for the great blog.

          Reply
          • Mike S December 12, 2014, 11:14 am

            Well I didn’t realize there were so many people from Winnipeg that read MMM. I started a thread in the meetup forum to see if we can get one going.

            And hey David and Mark, sheesh.. I’m having a mini reunion here.

            Reply
  • Frugal Bazooka December 10, 2014, 11:46 am

    Wow. Two income earners making well over $100,000 and barely able to save? lmao.
    This is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel when it comes to fixing the problems, but sometimes we don’t see the forest for the trees and having someone punch us in the face with some truth is all it takes. Hopefully they heed MMM call to action. If they do, no doubt they will be living a life of extreme happiness AND building their millions for future versions of them.

    And btw, why ARE Canadians so polite?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache December 10, 2014, 12:12 pm

      My wife has a funny observation about this: when an Air Canada flight takes off and gets comfortably enroute, people wait until they reach maximum discomfort and then very tentatively peek backwards to the row behind them. If the person isn’t too big or burdened with kids, they ease their seat backwards just a bit.

      On US flights, as soon as the gong goes off, the seat in front of you slams back to the maximum extent, so you’d better hold on to your drink and your computer.

      It’s not universally true of course, but an interesting difference in culture. It seems to go along with how they’re willing to vote high gas taxes upon themselves – more costly for them personally at the expense of better for society in general.

      Reply
      • Pinkytoe December 10, 2014, 2:03 pm

        Recently returned from out first trip to Canada and immediately noticed how polite and pleasant folks were that we interacted with.

        Reply
      • Frugal Bazooka December 14, 2014, 11:50 pm

        We’ve had a lot of smoke filled dorm room discussions (even though college was a few…ahem…years ago) about how Americans unique attitude evolved and one of our conclusions was that anyone bull headed enough to risk life and limb to cross an ocean with absolutely no prospects for future success simply to pray differently was bound to turn out slightly more aggressive than the average pilgrim.
        I’ve met 3 Canadians in my life, 2 were in the rock band RUSH and the 3rd was a guy named CAM who rode his bike from Canada to the Southwest. All three were all so polite I thought they were goofing on me, but no…they were really just very sincere and polite people. Whatever is in the water up there should be spread around the world…

        Reply
        • Eldred December 15, 2014, 6:31 am

          Wow – I’m jealous! Rush is my favorite band… I’ll guess you met Alex and Geddy, since Neil usually stays to himself?

          Reply
          • Frugal Bazooka December 17, 2014, 12:37 am

            You are correct sir. This was a few years back, right before they blew up in the US. I met them at a radio station interview and they could not have been more kind and polite. Of the several well known musicians I have had the chance to meet over the years, they were by far the most humble and least self aggrandizing. The Hemispheres Tour was rock candy for guitar players such as myself.

            Reply
            • Eldred December 17, 2014, 6:21 am

              I once owned a Rickenbacker 4001 bass because of Geddy. I currently own a Geddy Lee Jazz bass. :-)

              Reply
              • Frugal Bazooka December 22, 2014, 1:12 am

                That is a an awesomely “twangy” bass if I remember correctly. I also seem to remember he used these massive bass pedals that resembled the pedals on an organ, only they were hooked up to a lot of 15″ bass speakers. He had to use the bass to play bass lines, but also hold down the rhythm guitar wash while Alex played lead. Not an easy task for a lead style bass player such as Geddy.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque December 11, 2014, 7:56 am

      Just as an additional data point, I spent some time in Taiwan with a short stop in Japan last summer.
      I have some bad news.: the Canadian level of courtesy is *not* the outlier.

      Reply
      • OhYongHao December 11, 2014, 12:45 pm

        Glad you got to make it to the Beautiful Island, Formosa. I lived there for 6 years and I tell you, I have not figured out how to say no to someone yet. I can argue till my face turns blue and somehow I still can’t say no. This is in the context of say, who pays for dinner. Their healthcare is probably similar to the Canadian system, with universal healthcare that costs roughly $17/mo/person, and employers tend to pick up half of it.

        Taiwan is part of our FIRE plan, with cost of living for two being around $12k USD a year, it means we hit FI at the point where we can retire to Taiwan, retirement is then a decision of how much longer we want to stay in the States.

        Reply
    • Anom December 11, 2014, 4:03 pm

      A Canadian colleague of mine that is working in the UK at the moment came to Canada for a visit and remarked “I knew I was home when I stepped on someone’s foot by accident and they apologized”!

      Reply
  • Marcia December 10, 2014, 11:47 am

    Of course I see parallels. As a 2-income 2-kid family.
    Our cars are of course older and smaller.
    But our commutes are similar.
    When we had one kid, or even for a couple of months with 2 kids, we managed to bike to work 1-2x a week. I’m not sure why I haven’t managed it in the last 1.5 years. It seems like the extra time would just add more stress, but I always found biking to work to be a big stress reducer.

    I think I should try to do it over the holidays, when only one of us is working. If I can just get going again, I can keep it up.

    Reply
  • Mrs. WW December 10, 2014, 11:52 am

    First of all: Mrs. WW and Mr. WW is my and my husband’s handle, thank you very much. Sure, I’ll share but you could have at least ASKED first! : P

    Secondly, is it the Canadian in you that lets you be such a jerk and yet so darn likable?! Painfully to the point yet somehow still polite, even with the language? I just know I love it.

    Thirdly, I agree with the previous commenter and your reply about needing to do an article focused on the poor and how to embrace mustachianism. There needs to be a wake up and I somehow think you’re the only one who can really take it on. I try to, we went from poverty to riches ourselves and saw how the others were acting and how they are all still in poverty, but I don’t know if I can tackle it well enough. If you want inspiration you can always meander over to my blog and check out our story that I published not too long ago. But if you’d rather save time, I’ll spoil the ending for you here: it’s working hard and dreaming big and not letting imaginary obstacles stop you. There you go.

    Reply
    • Mari InShaw December 11, 2014, 10:34 am

      Mrs. WW, not to be confused with the WW who is the topic of MMM’s post, all I can say is WOW. Your husband is just WOW in how he turned your family’s fortunes around.
      Yes, getting out of poverty can be done in America, but it is sort of like losing 100 lbs, too hard.

      Reply
  • Sarah December 10, 2014, 12:10 pm

    It’s funny—someone basically said, “Your kids won’t be little very long, so don’t quit your job because you’ll regret that it’s gone.” I would said, “Your kids won’t be little very long, so quit your job immediately because you won’t be able to get that time with them back.” Your husband still has an awesome income; you guys can do this!

    Reply
  • power suit recall December 10, 2014, 12:13 pm

    There are a couple of options WW might want to consider that allow her to spend more time at home AND keep the pension. This applies to Canadian Federal Gov’t workers.

    – Leave Without Pay: Care and Nurturing – Up to 5 years off (without pay) to take care of children under the age of 5.

    – Self Funded Leave Without Pay – Work for a number of years at a reduced salary and take time off *with pay*. It’s basically salary averaging for the whole period to minimize the tax burden.

    – Simple Leave Without Pay – Leave for a year, then come back (or don’t).

    – Reduced Hours – Go to 60%, 80%, 90% or whatever is desired. Work less, get paid less, keep the pension.

    Maybe this could be used to “test the waters” of early retirement.

    Reply
    • L December 10, 2014, 4:02 pm

      I use the reduced work week – 60% when my kids were small, 80% now that thay are in school full-time. It’s not perfect, but it helps a lot with the stress of being a working mom!

      Reply
    • Pat December 11, 2014, 6:11 am

      +1
      More time at home, foot still in the job market.
      Down the road, her CPP will not be hurt too much because it account sfor lower income during child-rearing years. She will still have her pension available when she wants it, not locked in to a LIRA with withdrawal restrictions.
      As well, lots of SAHMs find they miss the job – the intellectual stimulation is not appreciated until it is gone. Selye talked about stress and eustress (good stress) – we need some stimulation in our lives, it is up to each person to figure how how much is just right, and how to achieve it.
      Definitely change vehicles. We had a van when our DD was small, and it was a terrible decision. A good hatchback gives passenger and cargo room. In Winnipeg I might go for AWD on top of having snow tires, for the extra traction, but that is still a lot less than a van. A bit bigger? A CUV, but it is easy to get pricy in those.
      And there are all the obvious places to save that are discussed in the forums – they are well worth a read.

      Reply
    • Hunniebun December 11, 2014, 8:13 pm

      This sounds like you are or were a fellow public servant! I am requesting to work 60% starting in September 2015 when the cost of daycare goes down (there is no part time daycare available, you must pay to keep a full time spot, otherwise I would do it immediately, but as MMM points out if we maintain the status quo (which we won’t) I would be working for free to take a 40% pay cut) I have done income averaging in the past and extended my parental leave by 6 months after each child (having 1.5 years off twice for a total of 3 years in the last 5) This has reduced our savings (since we were living like clowns the whole time) but was worth every penny. I am so thankful to have all these options! I am hoping to take this coming summer off as well…but only if I can get our poop in a group enough in the next 6 months to be set for the part time work in the fall. Right now I actually work 90% and my full income would be 82500. It all seems like a delicate balance with time vs money.

      Reply
  • 9 O'Clock Shadow December 10, 2014, 12:30 pm

    I like the rationality and precision driving the goal of cutting expenses by $1000/month. This gives you the flexibility as a family to reach the cost savings through the method you’re most likely to follow! MMM would have you cannonball into the early retirement lake ASAP by quitting (you’d survive BTW….then thrive), but maybe you can’t quite work up the nerve to jump in.

    Dressed up as a humble brag metaphor, the following 9 O’Clock Shadow water-saving story is a timeless fable for making adjustments to a new level of comfort that requires less.

    January 1st, 2013 I decided 2 unproductive consumption habits were going to get the toss:

    1) Running the tap as I brushed my teeth for 2 minutes.
    2) Showering with the water on full, every day, for up to 10 minutes (or longer)

    These were replaced with:

    1) Brushing teeth without tap running (duh!)
    2) Navy Shower (1-2 minute rinse, water off and lather, 1-2 minute rinse)

    The result? After 20+ years, I no longer take long showers and don’t miss it! The $ savings? We have consistently used 15% LESS electricity as a household as per our energy bills over the same period in 2013! I also save time, as with one bathroom, a toddler that loves bath time, and a wife with long hair I used to have to wait for the hot water to heat up. Not once over the last year have I had to wait, as I only require about 4 minutes of warm water to get me zestfully clean.

    So dive in, or stop running the water while you brush your teeth. Either way, hit the $1000K in savings per month at a sustainable (for you) level of comfort and the decision will be easy.

    You’ll also no longer feel stuck (which I read as the fundamental problem in your letter)

    Good luck and happy showering (Clown Car selling / Grocery Bill cutting / Commute reducing / Smaller house owning… etc).

    Reply
    • Cheryl December 16, 2014, 7:32 am

      You should check out the no soap thing. There are a lot of websites that can explain it better than I can, but the basic idea is that soap really doesn’t do anything but damage your skin, and you really don’t need it at all! When you’re in the shower you just scrub with a washcloth or hands, and that’s that. I started a bit over half a year ago as a random experiment, and found that it really made NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL! Actually, I lie: the difference is that I spend way less time in the shower and haven’t bought soap since. And my sweat seems less sticky and gross, but maybe that’s in my head? And if anything, my skin’s better. I still have the bottle I was on, and use it very occasionally (after getting covered in bike grease or similar), but I anticipate months and months before I need a new one. Does soap go bad?

      I also tried the no shampoo thing, with less success. But I did discover shampoo doesn’t really need to be a daily thing, and only use it about twice a week now.

      In case you’re now picturing a filthy grunge monster and preparing to flee – no. I shower daily, use deodorant, and never feel grungy or gross! And I work with high school students, they’d EAGERLY tell me if I smelled!

      Reply
      • 9 O'Clock Shadow December 19, 2014, 3:51 pm

        Cheryl, you’re an inspiration.

        Bingo on the shampoo reduction! I started every other day, then alternating the shampoo with conditioner. Cutting my shampoo use by 75% without any negative effect is amazing! The conditioner use has also reduced by 50% this way as well.

        I read up about soapless living and most of the articles highlighted the need for a healthy microbiome on skin to ward off any one particular bacteria from dominating. While I might try this, my 2015 shower ritual will be modified to add a 2.5 gallon bucket filled with warm water for teeth brushing, shaving, then a peaceful washcloth clean followed by a showerhead rinse. In that specific order of course! Don’t reverse it – Ewww!

        It’s all about building habits that support more time and use less resources. It is just a way of showering, but it has already strongly influenced the design (in my head) of what my ideal bathroom will be built like in our next home.

        Perspective is everything. How else could I write about showering to strangers on the internet with a clean conscience?

        Reply
  • Cheap Mom December 10, 2014, 12:31 pm

    The double income trap is definitely a real one. The costs add up. It’s sad to me when I hear that people can’t afford to stay at home with their kids if they want to. I’m sorry, but if your single income family would still be making $90K a year, you can afford to stay at home. You might need to give up luxuries, but your life will be filled with so much more.

    (I’m a stay at home mom, but I completely get people who keep going to work after having kids. Even if it costs them money overall. It’s definitely not the right job for everyone and it’s not a strictly financial decision)

    Reply
  • Josh M December 10, 2014, 12:32 pm

    Yeah Winnipeg! Glad I’m not the only one. One or two points are off in the article though- in Winnipeg, housing prices definitely go up as you go out, not the other way around (with the exception of one or two neighbourhoods in the downtown and inner suburbs). If you work in the downtown, as it sounds like you do, I would suggest Wolseley as a great place to live- good schools, good cycling, walking distance to virtually all services, and housing prices starting in the low 200k range (for houses that need a little work, even lower for houses that need a lot). And cycling wasn’t discussed nearly enough in this article! Winnipeg is actually a decent cycling city, in spite of the cold and snow. One of you (whichever isn’t driving the kids around…) could easily be biking to work. And don’t give me the distance argument! I used to commute by bike from North Kildonan to U of M (only Winnipegers will know how far that is…). Anyway have a good one Mr. and Mrs. WW.

    Reply
    • hunniebun December 11, 2014, 9:32 pm

      I agree! Yeah Winnipeg! It is a great city and we do cycle a fair amount in summer, primarily for recreation rather than transportation. Pre-kids we lived near corydon and I cycled to my job downtown. Two moves and two kids later, the thought of cycling to work is overwhelming. I never honestly never thought of Wolseley, I was thinking more of River Heights, Norwood flats or the Corydon area where we used to live, which can be pretty pricey. However, my better half works north of the city and most family/friends live to the north as well, so we live in NK halfway between. At this point changing day cares and schools would be challenging, so I think we will tackle some of the low hanging fruit right now (since there is so much of it) and think long and hard before uprooting. We have clearly made some errors by making hasty decisions and purchases without weighing the long term costs, so I don’t want to do that now, even if the intention is simplification. Do you, or anyone you know cycle commute with kids in a trailer? I have to admit that this is something I haven’t seen, nor have I heard it discussed here. I just wonder how to fit the back packs, lunch kits, art projects etc, plus work clothes etc. for my self. I also wonder about missing time with them during the commute. In the mini bus, we sing, we play games, I hear about their days, we plan our evenings etc. If they are in the trailer, I would not be able to hear them and navigating the rush hour traffic with them behind me would require constant vigilance. I would be so interested to hear from anyone who does this because the more I think about biking to work again, the more appealing it sounds, but maybe now is not the time. Anyhow, thanks for the encouragement. I hope to report back in a 6 months to a year with much progress!

      Reply
      • Kelly December 12, 2014, 12:21 pm

        I’ve used a trailer before, and I hated it for that very reason. That’s why I swallowed hard and bought a cargo bike that puts my kids in a box in front of me. I went with the cheapest model I could find (Virtue Bikes – http://www.virtuebike.com/bicycles/2014-virtue-schoolbus-0 ) and it STILL cost $1,000. The fact that I put that much money into something also guilts me into using it more than I would if I had just hacked a bunch of bike parts together or hitched a trailer to my crappy trash picked bike. (Both of which I’ve done, but I did them less.)

        If a bike that wide looks too hard to manage, a lot of bikers with kids use a “longtail” like this – http://www.xtracycle.com/ the kids sit behind you on the bike, and the bags all get attached to the frame under their legs. It’s all do-able. If you want some serious inspiration on family biking, google the name Emily Finch. Car free with 6 kids.

        Reply
        • hunniebun December 18, 2014, 12:36 pm

          Wow! I have never seen anything like either of those set ups. The Virtuebike looks pretty cool! But it does look hard to handle…but maybe takes some practice. There also doesn’t appear to have any protection from the elements (rain/snow) or projectiles (like rocks and gravel spit up by vehicles. I would love to know someone with this bike so I could try it out in a low traffic setting! Thanks for the suggestions. I am going to google emily finch for sure :)

          Reply
          • Kelly December 18, 2014, 1:09 pm

            I should have mentioned that – for an extra $50 I got a very nice, heavy duty rain cover for the Virtue. They don’t advertise it on their website, but the dealers can order one for you. Most front loading kid haulers have something similar. example – http://bakfiets.nl/eng/accessoires/cargobike/long/silver+coloured+tent/#0

            As for handling, It’s not as hard to manage as you might think, but you need to take corners slowly.

            Reply
  • smbysw December 10, 2014, 12:34 pm

    I’m impressed that she’s able to pay only $1200 a month in childcare for two children. Around here the average cost of childcare for 1 child is $1500-2000 (some women and families I know are saving significant amounts not for early retirement but to be able to pay childcare costs once they have kids).

    More broadly: I understand the math that says it’s actually financially better for her to stay home than work in the near term, but doesn’t that leave her incredibly vulnerable if her husband goes nuts, or leaves her, or gets sick, or has an accident of some sort that leaves him disabled? We know from the economic literature that women who leave the workforce to raise children take a significant hit on their earning potential when/if they come back, and that it also tends to be harder for them to find jobs because of employer biases.

    Reply
    • BCB December 10, 2014, 5:21 pm

      That is a great point about vulnerability. Apparently in the early 2000’s there was a small movement of high-powered women who left their jobs to take care of their young childeren (featured on some primetime show, 60 Minutes maybe). There was a recent follow up in the NYTimes that featured some of the women and almost all of them were divorced with a really difficult time reentering the workforce. Many of them would have been CEO level by this time if they had stayed at their former corporate job but were now at sales type jobs. Thus, suggesting that the female should quit and become stay at home mom may not be the most prudent decision for everyone. Part of the problem, from what I understand of these featured women, is they married a bunch of big-headed corporate Jack Offs, so likely with this carpentry loving DH this is less of an issue.

      Reply
      • Elizabeth S. Bernstein December 10, 2014, 10:10 pm

        That article made a huge impression on a lot of people, thanks to being such a masterful exercise in spin.

        There are a great many women at all income levels who leave their jobs to take care of young children; it’s not at all a fringe phenomenon. There are men, too, and even couples like Mr. and Mrs. MM who were both home with their son practicing equally-shared parenting. The author of the 2013 follow-up in the Times says she contacted twenty-two women who had been featured in the 60 Minutes story. Of those she told us about precisely three, one of whom was divorced – a woman who used to earn $500,000 and live in a custom-built six-bedroom home and was now reduced to living in an apartment overlooking a parking lot. (Wonder what MMM would say about any of that).

        The most remarkable thing about the story I think is how the author convinces the reader to see the fate of the women as something to be avoided at all costs, almost completely burying the fact that her own subjects didn’t regret their decision. Almost no one remembers the article for the fact that the women, “for the most part, told me that the perils of leaving the workforce were counterbalanced by the pleasures of being able to experience motherhood on their own terms.” Nor for this observation way towards the end: “Not a single woman I spoke with wished that she could return to her old, pre-opting out job – no matter what price she paid for her decision to stop working.”

        I love MMM’s blog precisely because it is so strong on the value of life experiences over money, and because it has no use for fear-mongering along the lines of “Stay in that cubicle, you don’t know what might happen down the line!” MMM has said that he and his wife both trust that if something were to happen to one of them, the other would make out fine. It’s an attitude I find enormously refreshing.

        Reply
        • BCB December 12, 2014, 3:31 pm

          I’m glad to see that perspective Elizabeth. I must admit that it has been some time since I read the NYTimes piece so I don’t remember the details well and you are probably right about the author shifting the audience’s focus. I still think that the decision to leave the workforce does need to at least involve some decree of consideration as to whether the spouse that you will be dependent on will be there for you in the long haul. I personally think that financial independence as a shared goal is probably exceedingly good for relationships; you are prioritizing what makes you happy and not just blindly buying crap, being constantly stressed out by work, constantly being away from one another, etc.

          Reply
    • Huck December 11, 2014, 7:45 am

      This bugs me too. The benefit of daycare is not simply current salary – $1200/month. It’s the ability to keep up with her career (because seriously when is the husband quiting ever considered..?), be able to support herself should something happen, medical/pension benefits etc

      Reply
      • acorn December 11, 2014, 10:41 am

        In my case, if I had looked at only the short term when I had my kids, I would have missed out on a lot of pay increases and retirement savings if I had left my job. By the time both of my kids were out of day care (8 years total), I was earning 3x more than when I had my first son. No way could I have re-entered the workforce after such a long absence and earned that much, plus I would have missed out on a lot of savings.

        Bottom line- work or don’t work, but look at the long term vs just today’s balance sheet.

        Reply
        • SoCold December 11, 2014, 5:08 pm

          Great point!

          Reply
  • BikeCommuter December 10, 2014, 12:35 pm

    What are your suggestions if someone has purchased a new car with a 5 year car loan. I found this blog shortly after purchasing a new car and trust me – I wish I had read this blog before that purchase. However, it seems I would actually lose money from selling it at this point then just keeping it. My interest is 0.9% so not bad, but would like to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks for the great posts as always!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache December 10, 2014, 8:24 pm

      You’ll lose more money for every day you keep it – my advice for all new car owners looking to get ahead financially is the same – sell it quickly, buy a car you can easily afford without a loan, and then treat it well.

      Still going strong with my nearly-new 2005 economy car, bought used in 2008. Depreciation has been less than $500 per year so far.

      Reply
      • Gavin December 11, 2014, 7:02 am

        MMM – Would your recommendation be the same for someone who has a fuel inefficient car (~20 MPG) but received the car for free as a gift?

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache December 11, 2014, 10:13 am

          Yeah, quite possibly. It doesn’t matter where your car came from or how much you owe on it. All that matters is whether or not it has the right performance – in terms of how expensive it is and how much fuel it uses.

          If you’re driving much, it is generally profitable to switch to an efficient car – they can be had at almost any price level.. especially if you do the sell/buy transaction on Craigslist (sometimes Kijiji in Canada) rather than at the stealership.

          Reply
      • BikeCommuter December 11, 2014, 12:48 pm

        Where is the best place to post an ad? I know you’ve mentioned Craigslist and Kijiji (I’m in the US though). It would be a bad idea to try to sell it a used dealership – correct?

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache December 11, 2014, 12:56 pm

          You got it – your local Craigslist and the nearest larger city’s Craigslist if applicable, under “cars – by owner”.

          Ads are free and you should include the maximum number of really good photos. Clean it up real nice and take pictures in a clean area front of a scenic background like a park, not in a driveway or sitting at the curb. Also a complete description with miles, features, whether or not you have service records, etc.

          Good luck!

          Reply
        • DC Jr Mustashian December 13, 2014, 2:41 pm

          It’s going to be tricky for you to sell at this point because you will need to pay off the car loan in order to get a clean title, which will be needed before you transfer. After posting on craigslist and finding a buyer you’ll want to meet them at the DMV so you can do the paperwork with the buyer to transfer the title and tags.

          Much easier to do all this at the stealership, but they will give you only half of the car’s value.

          Reply
          • rpesek6904 December 14, 2014, 7:34 am

            Take it to Carmax and they will give you an offer to purchase your vehicle. Car max gives better value than a regular dealership but less than you will get on Craigslist. However, they have the ability to pay cash – which many Craigslist buyers won’t be able to do. Anyway, they will give you a price for your vehicle immediately. You can then use that as a bench mark for setting your price online and knowing your lowest selling point on Craigslist.

            FYI, I sold a Lincoln Navigator 6 months after buying it (and owning in cash) because I started reading this website. So, you aren’t the only one who made bad car decisions in your pre-mustachian days. It’s best not to worry about what you might “lose.” Instead, focus on making your new car decision efficient and consider any losses as sunk costs.

            Reply
            • BikeCommuter December 15, 2014, 4:11 pm

              Nice to know others managed to get out of a similar situation! Thank you for the advice and I will look into my options.

              Reply
    • Neo Godless December 11, 2014, 9:39 am

      If you have a $25000 new car, in 5 years it’ll be worth $12000 (maybe?) Given this math, the depreciation is $217 per month (average) though it’s steeper in the beginning. So in addition to interest and higher insurance, you’re losing $217+ each month keeping it.

      If you took that same $426 payment and invested it in the stock market, averaging 7% per year in appreciation, by the end of that 5 year term, you’d have $30,500. With your current scenario, at the end of that loan, you’ll have a $12,000 car and no cash to show for it.

      Sell the car. Buy a $5000 car. You’ve still got a $7000 buffer. Anything more than $18,000 as a sale price for your car is bonus!

      Reply
    • Jason December 11, 2014, 10:16 am

      A $25k car that will be worth $12k in 5 years loses on average $217 each month to depreciation. The sooner you sell it, the sooner you can divert that car payment into savings and start putting your money to work for you. Interest is just one of the expenses of a new(er) car. Higher insurance is another.

      Reply
  • Faith from Home Ec @ Home December 10, 2014, 12:40 pm

    I taught Home Economics for 10 years and then 5 years ago started staying home with my boys. I have three of them now. There are so many ways to cut costs and live on a small income. We are far from perfect and not saving as much as I would like to, but know that we have and can live on a small income. My husband is in the last year of his PhD so we live on a graduate teaching assistanceship salary. We know that when he graduates and gets a higher paying job, we can still live on a small portion of his salary and sock away quite a bit into savings and retirement. We still have savings and retirement from when we were both teaching high school too. Our boys are not hungry, (I am a really good cook and can manage easily on a small grocery budget. I have some great recipes at http://www.homeecathome.com) wearing rags, or without basic needs. We buy a lot of things used, consign or outright sell things we don’t need or use anymore. My husband rides an old bike he has had since high school to campus even in the snow (he loves the exercise too). We rarely eat out at restaurants and if we do we use half price deals from our local deal site. We garden in the summer. If something needs repairing, my husband fixes it. He repaired our washer and dryer this year by looking up the problems online and then figuring out how to fix them. There are great tutorials online with step by step instructions to fix just about anything. I helped him with these repairs which saved us hundreds of dollars.

    I could ramble on all day about ways to save money and go to one income. Loved this post! Plus who are the best possible choices to raise and love their own children? Parents, not day care centers.

    Reply
  • Anonymous December 10, 2014, 12:45 pm

    You seem to have missed one detail in the article: the $12k of consumer debt, being paid off at $500/month. That needs to go away immediately; it sounds like there’s more than enough savings to do so instantly, but even if there weren’t, with that level of income, that’s an extremely fixable problem within a few months at most.

    Reply
  • Sue December 10, 2014, 12:48 pm

    Mr. MM
    You have mentioned the advantages of using bike in so may articles.
    I do not know how to bike.
    How many seniors use trikes. I have not seen anyone in the area I live in.
    Help me with this.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache December 10, 2014, 8:21 pm

      Hi Sue, you might talk to Jason at https://www.ebikekit.com/

      Among other styles of bike, one of their specialties is fun mobility for people who have never biked before, or lack the physical fitness to do so right away. They have some great electric trikes.

      But there are plenty of fully pedal powered trikes out there (at much lower cost) if you’re fit enough to go without assistance. I’d encourage you to look around, since there is a great world out there if you have never experienced it!

      Reply
    • KF December 11, 2014, 11:06 am

      My grandmother used a tricycle (step-through, non-electric) in her 90’s, and loved pedaling around her neighborhood. Even if you don’t see anyone else, why let that stop you? You could start a trend!

      Reply
    • mareofnight December 11, 2014, 11:40 pm

      I’m a college student living on campus, so I don’t see many seniors period. But, I’ve seen several of these http://www.walmart.com/ip/17206769?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedItemId=29020969&adid=22222222227022336136&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=42530199392&wl4=&wl5=pla&wl6=58080938011&veh=sem locked in the bike racks on campus. So there must be some young adults who like having a tricycle. (Or maybe it’s the professors; I don’t know.) The basket looks good for carrying heavy textbooks.

      Come to think of it, I wonder if they handle the snow any better than bikes. It gets cold up here, and my first few attempts at riding on mostly-cleared bike path have included v-brakes failing when wet, and both wheels slipping out from under me in opposite directions (while crossing a snowy intersection). I don’t think I’ll be brave enough to ride on the road in winter when I start my job, at this rate. (I might walk instead.)

      Reply
  • Mortgage Free Mike December 10, 2014, 12:51 pm

    Love the example, however I consider the $1,200/month daycare cost a shared expense and certainly not a byproduct of just HER job.

    Reply
    • Andy December 11, 2014, 8:03 am

      Mike,
      Certainly it’s a cost that they share, but I think MMM’s point was that it’s only a necessary cost while they both work. If one of them can be at home, it’s no longer a necessary expense, so it makes sense to factor the entire cost in a comparison between her current job and a possible future with no job. By quitting, they save all of htat money, plus the driving money and other things MMM mentioned. So you put all the potential savings side by side with what she’s bringing in at her job now to see if it makes sense to continue.

      Reply
    • Self-Employed-Swami December 11, 2014, 8:21 am

      Actually, the daycare expense is a byproduct of both of them working. Get one stay at home parent, and that cost goes away. This reader wants to stay home, so he ran the numbers with her staying home, but it works both ways.

      Reply
  • Petra December 10, 2014, 1:07 pm

    I want to wish WW good luck!! Hopefully it’s at least very clear that there is freedom. Freedom to make changes to their current life. It’s sometimes difficult to see that when you’re in the middle of it; and also making the changes isn’t the easiest thing. But there are possibilities and perhaps after changing things they can conclude that life is better. I hope so!

    Reply
  • Syed December 10, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Really enjoy posts like these which go into the nitty gritty. And which usually end in realizing how much freakin money big cars take up. Big cars = much less money. They cost more, waste more gas and are more expensive to insure. Doesn’t seem to be worth it.

    Reply
  • Bud December 10, 2014, 1:26 pm

    This case study reminds me how hard lifestyle inertia is to break free from the more ensconced you become in your life. Their transition would be so much easier if they were 25 with no kids and renting an apartment. But now they are mid-to-late 30s, have established careers and are halfway to a full, juicy pension. They own a home, and probably have some affinity for their neighbors and neighborhood. They have 2 kids who probably like their school and friends. Mr. and Mrs. WW need some sort of jarring event or must harness an unbelievable internal drive, or years are going to continue to tick by making such a change seem that much more unpalatable (or even impossible). I know sometimes I find it hard to generate momentum towards even small life changes (getting quotes for and changing auto insurance recently was like pulling teeth for me for some reason).

    Reply
  • Christo December 10, 2014, 1:32 pm

    Great article, but one thing I don’t understand: How is someone supposed to walk to work in “one of the coldest winter cities in the world (-40 degree weather)?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache December 10, 2014, 8:16 pm

      Ahh, I’m glad someone asked that. You need to put on “clothes” when traveling outside in such an environment (roughly the same weather I lived with for my first two years after graduation). Walking in cold weather is a hell of a lot more fun than driving!

      Reply
      • Jack December 11, 2014, 1:51 am

        Speaking of cold weather clothing and cutting costs…

        There is a fellow in Utah named Jim Phillips who may be of interest to your readers. Jim and his
        dad were avid snow campers who got tired of being cold. Over the years they perfected the “Phillips Arctic Living System” (P.A.L.S) consisting of open cell polyurethane foam – the same stuff used to upholster furniture. Using home made clothing made of this stuff they went on a two week camping trip in Alaska during the winter without the need of a camp fire. The bush pilot
        that dropped them off took a photo of them before leaving them to give to authorities, so sure was he that they would perish in the arctic winter. They were waiting at the appointed pickup time
        much to his amazement two weeks later. (They had a great time on that trip)

        We purchased a set of his 1/2 inch foam long johns to experiment with. They ain’t pretty – you
        look like a tele-tubby wearing them. But they keep you warm and dry. We spent a winter with
        the thermostat set down to forty degrees – you could see your breath in the house! But the house
        doesn’t care and we were warm and toasty that winter and our propane useage was insanely low.
        You know it is cold when your tooth paste freezes! Extreme measures such as this helped us to pay off our mortgage in under five years.

        Jim did an experiment for a local newspaper on a dare. He cut a hole through the ice of a pond and
        immersed himself to the point of hypothermia in his clothing. Climbing out he squished out as much water as he could from his foam clothing and got active to generate body heat. Then he spent the night sleeping on the ice in his foam sleeping bag. By the next morning he was not only alive, he was dry.

        My point is many of the luxuries we count as essentials are optional when you have the proper knowledge and equipment.

        Reply
      • L December 11, 2014, 6:25 am

        As someone who grew up in Winnipeg and has lived in Ottawa most of my adult life, it isn’t even close. Winnipeg is far, FAR colder than Ottawa, and for a considerably longer amount of the year. The roads are also not plowed adequately, and the sidewalks not at all in many places (at least this was true during the years I lived there).

        On the other hand, the transit system is adequate and far cheaper than driving, with much less risk of severe frostbite compared to walking.

        Reply
        • Blender February 6, 2017, 9:15 pm

          The transit system is terrible for anyone living in the suburbs. Especially for shift workers. I spent a month using transit before biting the bullet to drive and pay for downtown parking. Luckily since I was working for the government my parking fees were significantly reduced ($3.50/day).

          Bussing to work required 1 transfer. I’d catch the bus at 5:30 am and arrive at work around 6:20 am. Not bad.

          However bussing home required 2 transfers. I’d catch the bus at 6:40 pm. First transfer was a 40 minute wait since the rush hour route is over. 2nd transfer required me to phone the bus that was active in the area since the normal route busses no longer run. Time home: 9 pm.

          Driving to work I’d leave at 6 am, arrive at 6:20 am.
          Driving home I’d leave around 6:40 pm and arrive at home at 7:00 pm.

          Bussing = 3 hours
          Driving = 40 minutes.

          Reply
          • Mr. Money Mustache February 7, 2017, 8:07 pm

            Yikes! It sounds like the problem is the suburbs, rather than the public transportation – even a 40 minute drive is a life-crusher.

            Reply
      • Eldred December 11, 2014, 7:55 am

        Oy – you have a WILDLY different idea of ‘fun’ than *I* do… I would MUCH rather drive than brave zero degree temps(or even *20* degrees) by walking…

        Reply
        • Cheryl December 16, 2014, 7:54 am

          I thought so too, until I tried it.

          I HATE cold! DETEST it! I’m on my first winter car-free right now, and thought for sure I’d wuss out and be searching for a cheap car by now. But I’m not tempted at all! The reason is that when I bike I’m exercising, and I heat right up! Indeed, I remember a lot of morning previously, shivering in a car and waiting for the heater to warm up, then get the car heated up. My jacket, on the other hand, heats up practically as soon as it’s on, and I’m often sweating and thinking I should have gone with one less layer after all within two miles.

          Granted, I live in Dallas, but we do get freezing temperatures mornings, and I’m a wuss. If I, with my wussy, heat-adjusted, cold-hating self, and my wussy Dallas-level jacket, can be comfortable, anyone can buy some decent gear and be comfortable! That’s what the gear is for!

          Now, anyone got any advice for biking through the 105 degree summers?

          Reply
          • Eldred December 16, 2014, 8:16 am

            What kind of jacket(s) to you have? I’ve never been TOO hot when biking or walking in cold weather. And I can’t seem to find gloves that keep my hands warm for longer than about 5 minutes. :-(

            Reply
            • Jonathan December 16, 2014, 9:13 am

              I can’t speak for the jacket, but I picked up a pair of Pearl Izumi PRO Softshell Lobster Gloves ($80) for my 16 mile bike commute. It was hard to pull the trigger because of the cost, but I’ll make it up in only 8-10 rides into work.

              My only complaint is that my hands sweat even when the windchill was 18F. That’s a good problem to have though.

              Reply
            • Kelly December 16, 2014, 11:02 am

              It’s all about layering. Long underwear to start, or a tight-fitting shirt and leggings, heavier pants and a medium/heavy weight shirt (fleece is nice), and a windproof type coat on top, maybe rain pants too. Two pairs of socks, or one good pair of cold-weather wool hunting socks, and a thin pair of gloves inside heavy hunting gloves/mittens. If you’re at a loss, head to your nearest Gander Mountain, Bass Pro, or Tractor Supply – you’ll find everything you need to stay warm outdoors for 8+ hours at a time!

              Reply
            • Cheryl December 17, 2014, 11:36 am

              Being from Dallas, and detesting cold as I do, I can’t give cool detailed answered like everyone else. It’s a jacket. What kind? Um… fluffy? : D Nothing fancy.

              Gloves are AWESOME! I went to my bike shop and they had each pair labelled with what temperatures it was best for. So, ask your local bike shop or other outdoors shop, they’ll know what you need for your area.

              I also second the “layers” suggestion. I put on some leggings under my sweat pants as needed, and sometimes stuff a raincoat/windbreaker around my jacket, and even put a sort of ear-muff-headband-thing on under my helmet. This being Texas I can get away with not worrying about extra cold-resistant socks or shoes, scarves, or any sort of mask arrangement. But the point is, those things do exist for you unfortunate northerners!

              Reply
      • Lisa December 11, 2014, 8:16 am

        I agree with MMM. I lived in Yellowknife, NWT, Canada (North of 60 degrees) for 6 years where temperatures are frequently below -40C. It was far better to walk or bike (yes, bike) to work than it was to try to drive in an ice block with 4 square tires! If dressed appropriately, walking was warm and comfortable – the car, not so much. Interestingly, Yellowknife is rated in the top 5 for places in Canada to walk or bike to work despite it’s long, cold and dark winters.

        Reply
    • Winnipegger December 10, 2014, 9:15 pm

      I do it all year around. You buy a good set of winter clothes and put them on. In fact, I rarely wear anything more than jeans for my footmobile commute, though many people I know wear longjohns or skipants. Add a down jacket, toque, scarf, good mitts and some boots rated to -30 and you are ready to roll.

      Also, walk faster. It keeps you warmer and gets you out of the cold quicker.

      Reply
    • Winnipegger December 10, 2014, 9:16 pm

      I do it all year around. You buy a good set of winter clothes and put them on. In fact, I rarely wear anything more than jeans for my footmobile commute, though many people I know wear longjohns or skipants. Add a down jacket, toque, scarf, good mitts and some boots rated to -30 and you are ready to roll.

      Also, walk faster. It keeps you warmer and gets you out of the cold quicker. And it sure does beat sliding around in your car or siting on a seat that is -40C as well.

      BTW, MMM: It’s Winnipeg, not Winnepeg.

      Reply
    • David Cain December 11, 2014, 1:27 pm

      HAH! HAHAHAHA!

      Many of our fellow Winnipeggers actually WORK outside every day. I did it for ten years and I knew a ton of workers who have done it for thirty or more. Any cold is manageable. Long johns and wool socks do wonders, especially when you’re only outside for thirty minutes instead of eight or ten hours.

      Reply
    • Kristina December 11, 2014, 2:15 pm

      While I haven’t spent a winter in Winnipeg, I did grow up in Edmonton and spent a winter in fort Mcmurray… Let me tell you when the plastic door handle, windshield wiper, shifter, trunk release etc. breaks off in your hand when your trying to jump start your car because you parked just a little too far from the plugin, or turned it off just a little too long, or let the tank fall under half full… Walking is soooo much better! And you really should be prepared to dress the same way in case you have car problems anyway.

      Reply
    • Dylan Smith December 12, 2014, 6:41 am

      By putting one foot in front of the other, repeat, until work is reached!

      Smart-alek comment aside, Billy Connolly (the comedian) once observed very accurately, “there is no bad weather, only the wrong clothes”. A good wind proof and warm jacket, hat, gloves, etc – basically skiing gear, will allow you to walk places in very cold weather while remaining reasonably comfortable. Any clothing made to keep you warm at 12000 feet in the middle of winter will work and it’s available from most outdoors types stores.

      Reply
  • Alex December 10, 2014, 1:38 pm

    Just to complain a bit… this article shows why a single child is cheaper, and again indicates that the MMM family has some single child blinders on. One of the biggest reason people with 2+ children drive vans – or SUVs if they’re extra wasteful – is because it is relatively common to cart around both the children AND their friends (or family if they’re local). A 5 seater Yaris barely lets one child bring a friend along, and forget it if both kids want to bring a friend (maybe a mustachian would throw them in the trunk?). How do you think that goes over? No Jimmy, you can’t bring a friend to the movies today, it’s your sister’s turn… It could easily start heading in the direction of cheap if you are rarely able to take up your fair share any carpooling duties for sport practices and the like. Alright, done with my rant. At very least I’d like to impress that for a family of four a five seat car is probably not reasonable, and a van or 3rd row station wagon at least is a borderline requirement.

    Reply
    • Marcia December 10, 2014, 2:03 pm

      Hm. So I have two kids and our cars are both 5-seaters – a Honda Civic and a Toyota Matrix. And they are FINE.

      I get what you say about carpooling. It’s nice. We carpool to school with the neighbors. They have a minivan (and 3 kids). So it’s easy for them to take their 3 kids + my one school aged kid + another neighbor kid in their 7-seater.

      For me, when I do pick-up, I have my 2 kids + their 2 school-aged kids, so one of the kids is in the front (it’s a short trip).

      Carpool duties are exaggerated. People don’t carpool very much here – in fact when I suggested it could be a way to reduce tardiness, a bunch of people said “carpooling? That’s a great idea!” Plus, we have two cars. We do a lot of activities with my son and a friend, and it’s easy to fit our 4 +1. It is rare for us to do anything with more than one extra kid anyway. And in the very rare case where we would want to – we have two cars.

      Generally our “fun” tends to be walking to the park anyway. Our kids are 6 years apart in age, so our events tend to be separate. In my experience, the frequency of carpooling does NOT warrant a mini-van.

      Unless you have 2 kids roughly the same age, and they are involved in traveling soccer, and their best friends are involved in traveling soccer, and you all carpool 2-3x a week, it doesn’t seem worth it.

      For the same reason, we don’t stress when we have visitors. We take two cars. And we put them up in a hotel. No need to pay extra for a 3rd bedroom that goes unused except for one week every two years.

      Reply
    • Phil Pogson December 10, 2014, 2:19 pm

      My 7 seater Kia Rondo7 is super economical – just no excuse for a gas guzzler. With all the seats down in the back it fits a full size refrigerator in. (just sayin’)

      Reply
    • Kenoryn December 10, 2014, 2:26 pm

      Wow, this comment sort of blows my mind… that it should be considered a bare-minimum living standard that we all must be able to cart around all our children plus at least two extra people at any given moment – just in case? How did families survive 30 years ago before everyone had vans?? How did they survive 100 years ago when NO ONE HAD CARS?? Surely it can’t be done!! We had a Hyundai Pony growing up for 3 kids. We had swimming, skating, horseback riding, gymnastics, music lessons… How on earth did we cope? How is life even possible when there is only room for one extra child besides your family in the car??

      Talk about first world problems!

      Reply
      • EcoCatLady December 10, 2014, 8:53 pm

        lol – gotta second this sentiment. But Alex, you’re helping me understand why so many people are stuck and miserable. I mean if acting as chauffeur for not only your own kids, but half the neighborhood as well is some sort of minimum requirement for modern middle-income motherhood, well, sorta seems like actual meaningful change would be out of the question.

        Seriously, I’m just utterly blown away by the assumptions built into this rant. I mean, when I was a kid, going to the movies was a BIG treat that we got to enjoy a few times per year, max! Can’t imagine being allowed to bring a friend along. When did kids get to start dictating the agenda like that?

        Perhaps people don’t need financial advice so much as they need a primer on how to set limits for themselves and their children and break away from herd mentality.

        Reply
        • Alex December 11, 2014, 3:37 pm

          I knew after submitting that the movie theater would be jumped on :P Just nitpicking to avoid the point that a small 5 seat car doesn’t allow you to drive 2 adults and 4 children or barely even 2 adults and 3 reasonable sized people anywhere, say the park or hiking! My neighborhood must be a lot different than yours because there are a lot more than 4 children running around.

          What did people do before the van? Well I remember the days of the Buick boat when there with bench front seats, and more importantly 5 kids crammed in the back without seatbelts. Or heck, we could just emulate a 3rd world country and smash 40 people on a truck designed for 5… good idea. Some “safety” features clearly are wasteful, but I wouldn’t consider a seat and seatbelt for every person one of those things.
          I’m jealous you managed to raise two teenage children who never want to bring friends along when the family goes out on the weekend / are happy spending every weekend within a few miles of the house…

          Reply
          • EcoCatLady December 11, 2014, 5:14 pm

            Alex, I did not mean to be unkind with my comment. I guess it just seems to me that the whole idea here is that if you want to have finances that look different from the typical middle class family (lots of debt, little to no savings, living paycheck to paycheck etc.) then you’ll need to live a lifestyle that looks a bit different from that of the typical family.

            The fact that driving so many kids/people around on a regular basis (regardless of the destination) seems to be a non-negotiable facet of your life (and presumable of the lives of a LOT of people in this society) just boggles my mind and makes me feel very, very sad. I’m sure that those sorts of “packed to the gills” lifestyles make people feel that they “fit in” but I just have a hard time believing that it truly makes people feel happy.

            Reply
          • Megan January 13, 2015, 1:15 pm

            Very strange ideas here. They might be common, but they are definitely strange. We have two five-seaters. My poor kids must be so deprived that they don’t even realize it. I can only assume you hold so tenaciously to this idea because the evidence that you’ve bought into it is sitting in your driveway–and showing up as large monthly debits on your checking statement.

            Reply
      • JB December 11, 2014, 7:43 am

        100 years ago kids were working on the farms and not going to the movies. A) they didn’t exist, but B) the Leisure class hadn’t really happened yet. People were spending most of the day cooking for that night. Kids played with a stick and a ball. They had no choice. Living in a small house, you had all of outside to play in. If it was winter, they were probably in the house just sitting around. I don’t agree with parents complaining about money, yet have the kids in 3 sports that require extensive travelling.

        Reply
    • woodnut December 10, 2014, 2:35 pm

      Gotta disagree, a 5 seater is definitely reasonable for a family of 4. Before discovering MMM, my wife’s old car needed replaced. The kids were getting older, started to have friends over, etc, so we decided to replace it a 3rd row SUV (I’ve already face punched myself). We’ve had it for 18 months. I figured for the number of times we “needed” the 3rd row it has probably cost us about $1000 per use. I could have rented a gold plated Escalade with diamond studded spinners, each time and still come out money ahead. We now have a fuel efficient 5 seater wagon for her, and the SUV is for sale.

      Reply
      • Alex December 11, 2014, 4:05 pm

        Well if you only spread the cost over 18 months and compare two far ends of the spectrum (an SUV and a small cheap 5 seater) you’ll get a pretty expensive 3rd row. With 2 older kids I know we don’t average much more than a week between using at least 6 seats. Just for comparison sake between a cheap minivan and a cheap 5 seater, the difference new appears to be about $10k and 20mpg vs 35mpg, so over a 15 year life at 10k miles/year you’d save on the high side $3500 a year, or $70 per week/use, not saying that isn’t a good chunk of change, but that number drops significantly if you bought it used and sold it when one kid gets off to college.
        Also, not particularly to your point, but note MMM suggests they go down to 1 total car, and admittedly this couple can’t currently carpool, but if you are trying to go down to 1 total car then you are extra likely to have 2 adults in the car.
        Anyhow, my main point was that it is quite reasonable to have a 7 seat vehicle and there are quite reasonable vehicles fitting that description.

        Reply
    • Three Wolf Moon December 10, 2014, 8:44 pm

      It’s easy to let both your kids invite a friend to watch a movie, even as a Yaris owner – have the friends ride their bikes to your house where you pop in the DVD you got from Redbox on your bike (or in your Yaris if you live hopelessly far from a Redbox). Drive them all to a movie theater? Not a Mustachian outing I’ve ever heard of!

      Reply
    • Huck December 11, 2014, 7:33 am

      What kind of lazy ass kids are DRIVEN to the movie theater?! And 5 of them at once? We biked to the movies when we were kids, from age 10 or so this is perfectly reasonable. Unless they’re 4 years old (and then why can’t they watch a movie at home..?).

      Reply
      • JB December 11, 2014, 7:40 am

        Many of the movie theaters around us are few and far between now. You can easily live 10 miles away from a theater and would have to bike on heavy traffic roads. If you live within 2 miles of something, there is no reason to drive kids there.

        Reply
        • Jason G December 11, 2014, 5:04 pm

          Netflix.

          Reply
        • Eldred December 12, 2014, 11:09 am

          I was curious, so I looked at the distance from where I lived as a kid to the nearest movie theater at the time(it’s closed now). 9.6 miles, or about 41 minutes per MapQuest. But I would have been 13 or younger, living in Detroit, biking to Livonia to see a movie. I’m not even sure my mom would have LET me make that ride at age 10, truthfully. Where I live now, there used to be 2 theaters within a mile. They both closed 20 or so years ago. From my house to the nearest theater is now 8.7 miles, through heavy traffic, and the next closest is 9.2 in the other direction, through even WORSE traffic. If I had young kids I probably wouldn’t allow them to ride to those places, either…

          Reply
    • Cpacat December 12, 2014, 12:44 pm

      I don’t get it. My family never owned a big van, and we did plenty of stuff with friends. Once in awhile, it was a struggle, but we survived. Rarely did my brother and I both want our friends along on the same outing, and if we did, sometimes it necessitated two cars (or they just packed us in like sardines and broke the one person per seatbelt rule.

      I remember going to a friend’s cottage once, and we had four kids, two adults and two dogs shoved into a five-seater. There was also a cat floating around in the mix, without a carrier, but she slept up under the rear windshield. We made it and had a grand time.

      Reply
      • SoCold December 12, 2014, 4:46 pm

        You made it, but plenty of kids riding on laps or in the rear of station wagons didn’t, back in the good ‘ol days before mandatory seat belts for each passenger in a car. Packing in like sardines may save a bit of money, but it’s incredibly dangerous and stupid.

        Reply
        • TrixieLou December 14, 2014, 7:00 pm

          Growing up my dad would head to the lake for a dip in an old farm truck with lots of kids piled in the back of it – no seats – no seat belts. I think the way we bubble wrap our kids these days, discourages kids from learning any common sense and how to keep themselves safe. That includes not jumping around in the back of an open pickup lest you get tossed out with a bump in the road. The odd trip where people are squeezed in makes for good memories and I expect doesn’t significantly increase your odds of catastrophe. Mind you, I’ve been driving for decades accident free so maybe I simply underestimate the risk that at the very occasional time someone is over passengered mayhem will follow.

          Reply
          • SoCold December 15, 2014, 12:27 pm

            Your comment immediately brought to mind Rick Hansen, a Canadian hero who raised millions of dollars for spinal cord injury research back in the 1980s. He became a paraplegic at age 15 when…he was thrown from the back of the pickup truck on his way home from a fishing trip. So he (and many others) may have a different opinion on the relative safety of riding in the back of a pickup truck unsecured.

            Seriously–this isn’t about “bubble wrap” and “common sense”. The common sense is that riding unsecured in a moving vehicle is incredibly dangerous. Physics is not on your side in the case of a sudden stop. The main reason vehicle fatalities have dropped so much in the past two decades is mandatory seatbelt use. You shouldn’t cram kids into a car just to save a few bucks. It’s not worth it.

            And this idea that “I did risky thing X and wasn’t hurt, so thing X must not be risky” is not a good way to measure risk. My neighbour’s kid fell out of a second storey window and came away with a few scratches. Should I tell my kids they can start jumping headfirst out the window, since the neighbour kid didn’t get hurt?

            Reply
    • Geek December 13, 2014, 9:17 am

      “A 5 seater Yaris barely lets one child bring a friend along, and forget it if both kids want to bring a friend”
      Not hard to bring multiple friends when you’re walking.

      “No Jimmy, you can’t bring a friend to the movies today, it’s your sister’s turn”
      No Jimmy, you can’t waste all that money at the movies. Also, why do you keep asking me to drive you everywhere?

      “It could easily start heading in the direction of cheap if you are rarely able to take up your fair share any carpooling duties for sport practices and the like.”
      I can’t even.

      Reply
    • Megan January 13, 2015, 1:37 pm

      Uhhh, several very pragmatic solutions come to mind for your movies dilemma. I would like to preface them with the notion that kids will survive if you tell them no. In fact, boundaries are good for children. Not hearing no will make their lives harder. Fact. Ok, solutions: leave one child with other parent for some one-on-one bonding; call the friends’ parents and arrange to have the friends dropped off and then picked up after the movie; explain to each child that only one child will be bringing a friend this time, but the other one can bring a friend next time (you could do this by flipping a coin or making it merit-based); lastly, make it a family affair. Your kids will habituate, and you can always have their friends over for playdates. I’m honestly having a difficult time seeing how going to the movies without a friend is a sacrifice.

      Reply
      • Eldred January 13, 2015, 3:18 pm

        Except for once or twice, whenever I went to the movies as a kid it was just me and my parents. Based on some of these responses, I’m starting to feel cheated.

        Reply
  • SoCold December 10, 2014, 1:39 pm

    I think you owe it to her to re-run your analysis with the $280K pension payout taken out of the equation. That money will not land in her pocket if she leaves her job. If she takes a lump-sum payment she’ll have a hefty tax bill and the final sum will be significantly reduced. If she transfers it into another retirement account it won’t be available for current expenses. Either way, she seems a long way from FI to me. Sure, cut the car expenses and dial back grocery spending (but this is Canada–it’s challenging to feed a family of four on $600 a month, so be realistic about the potential savings). But how long to pay off that mortgage and debt on one income?

    Also, what is the “hourly wage” value of her employer pension contributions, dental plan, extended medical, disability plan, life insurance, CPP contributions and other benefits that are provided through work? There’s more to a salary (especially in a CDN public service job!) than your take-home, after expenses wage. $4/ hr is not a fair way to look at it IMO.

    Reply
    • Mr. Frugal Toque December 11, 2014, 8:01 am

      I get the funny feeling that “Mustachian Canadians” includes yours truly.
      We do manage to feed a family of four on about $600 per month.
      This includes a fair amount of meat, shrimp and whatever kind of fish and other seafood Mrs. Toque feels is appropriate to get nostalgic flashes from her favourite childhood meals.
      We buy a lot in bulk, a lot from Costco and we don’t splurge on some expensive cut of meat because of a passing fancy at the grocery store.
      If we wanted to cut our costs further, we would reduce our meat consumption and teach our children more about the deliciousness of chick peas and various other vegetarian staples.

      Reply
      • SoCold December 11, 2014, 10:24 am

        But I do all those things and can’t comfortably go below $900/ month for food in Ottawa. Here are my tactics:

        -Monthly Costco shop for staples/ bulk items, including meat
        -Make sandwich bread in $10 garage sale bread machine (bulk ingredients from Costco)
        -Make yogourt, salsa, hummus, sauces and most dressings from scratch
        – Almost all meals cooked at home, including lunch for two working adults + two kids (I may buy lunch out once a month, ditto my spouse)
        -Meat/fish/poultry-based meals 2-3 times per week, tops
        -Lots of bean-based meals made with dried beans I buy in bulk
        -Almost no takeout/ prepared meals (exception: my kids love Ikea meatballs, so I stock up on those. But they’re not terribly expensive)
        -Not typically buying organic/ gluten-free/ fancy (I do sometimes, but it isn’t a priority)

        So where do you shop, besides Costco? I live in Ottawa. I’ve been tracking this so closely for the last year and even with all those frugal tactics I can’t get below $900 without getting into deprivation. Maybe my kids are a little older than yours so our family needs more calories/ consumes more food? Active 10-year-old boys are food furnaces. Anyway, I don’t see a path to a $600/ month grocery bill for us without a radical change in diet (cut dairy?). What am I missing? Honestly, I would love some tips.

        So when I say feeding a family of four for $600 is a challenge, I’m speaking from experience. Maybe our friend in Winnipeg, will make it work. But I wouldn’t bank on 50% savings until she’s tried it out.

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

          That is strange. I’m living in Ottawa with a 6 and 9 year old boy. We all participate in martial arts for several hours a week, so we’re burning calories for sure. I imagine they will start to eat more as they get bigger.
          We go through 8L of milk per week, although I drink soya milk.
          Meat is also purchased in family packs and then portioned out and frozen when we get home. We do our shopping in one trip per week, where we visit Costco and one or two other grocery stores where there are relevant, sale-priced items.
          Meals are made at home so that there are 1 or 2 servings left over for our lunches (I never buy lunch while at work). We don’t even make our own bread very often, so you’ve got us beat there (although I often make peanut butter covered pancakes for breakfast for the kids, which is pretty cheap).
          Maybe I’ll start a forum thread with my week’s shopping list on it. That might be fun.

          Reply
          • SoCold December 11, 2014, 11:44 am

            That would be great! I have to admit I’m getting frustrated with my spend because it seems stuck. No one else I know cares that much about their grocery spending!

            Reply
        • Patrick December 11, 2014, 2:16 pm

          Another Ottawan here. I live near somerset&booth with my girlfriend and as two adults we spend $300/month on food. $150/head is reasonable I think.

          However, we really don’t each much meat and every time I look at the prices I feel there’s no way we could and stay under $150/person/month. Maybe once a week we eat meat.

          Since we don’t own cars and cycling to Costco is not bike-friendly, I just bike down to the Superstore on Richmond for 99% of my groceries.

          I’ve been building a spreadsheet with food costs after every grocery trip and TONS of food are under $2/1000kcal (which adds up to $5/day at 2500kcal/day or $150/month). I need to eat on average for $2/1000kcal. Some foods are over, some under. All meat is over, but cheap cuts of pork are usually the cheapest per calorie. For above average foods, I usually eat a lot of veggies in summer and less veggies in winter due to cost.

          My main calorie staples are nuts, seeds, grains, legumes and olive oil (all WAY, WAY below average) which I balance with celery (almost infinite cost per calorie) and other veggies I pick up.

          Reply
          • SoCold December 11, 2014, 5:28 pm

            If it was just me and my husband I think we could spend at that level. But my kids won’t eat the cheap, delicious curries and bean burritos (yet–we’re working on it!). They would survive on cheese alone if I let them. So much expensive cheese…

            I guess it could be worse. I once worked with a guy who had four teenage boys. Told me they had two fridges and spent about $500 a WEEK on groceries. He said it was like living with a plague of lotuses.

            Reply
            • Jonathan December 12, 2014, 9:00 am

              You aren’t the only one who has kids that basically survive on cheese. That’s something we’re working on.

              Reply
            • Patrick December 12, 2014, 10:25 am

              We actually eat quite a bit of cheese, it’s usually around $3.50/1000kcal which is not that bad, and when I went to Costco a year ago to scope out the prices (to see if it was worth it or not to suffer through suburban hell and high speed collector roads to shop there), it was $2.57/1000kcal so your kids could eat 100% Marbled Cheddar from Costco all month and still eat for ~$150/month each assuming they eat slightly less than 2500kcal/day.

              That’s assuming the 907g blocks of cheese are still $9.49 at Costco.

              So unless you’re feeding your kids fancy artisanal cheeses, I think something else is driving your food cost average up. Could be Ikea, not sure, depends how often you go. I think it’s a given that at $150/month per person, we never eat out. Maybe twice a year.

              Reply
        • Becky December 17, 2014, 2:11 pm

          I agree. I live near Winnipeg and do all my grocery shopping there. We are also a family of four, and my kids are in their teens. We spend $1,100/month. I have worked very hard to reduce my grocery expense and this is the lowest I’ve been able to achieve. It does include paper products, soaps, and socks – incidentals. I make bread, cook from scratch and nearly never eat out. In the end, what I’ve decided to do is move out of town and start a small farm. I am currently spending 1,000/year on milk alone. I’ve got two heifers that I’m hoping to be able to milk – if so the cows will pay for themselves in 2 years.

          Reply
  • SavvyFinancialLatina December 10, 2014, 1:48 pm

    Well, I know a lot families that are in a similar situation. Not saying we’re perfect because we are not. But I do know a lot of coworkers who drive really big fancy cars, spend a lot, etc. They seem to do it though. Who knows what their bank accounts say!

    Reply
  • CTY December 10, 2014, 2:08 pm

    I love the case studies–I think I learn more from them then hypothetical situations.
    An exercise in a college finance class was to breakdown your financials and your financial goals; they were turned in with no names on them just college ID #’s. in a plain envelope. They were swapped with another class & advice was given. In the end you got your envelope back and your eyes were opened.

    Reply
  • Phil Pogson December 10, 2014, 2:15 pm

    Welp…..we have moved house – saved ourselves $80 per week. The new house is on the kids school street – so no more travel costs there.
    Next on the list is rationalising the cars – one has been sold off – 2 more to consider.
    MMM – know that your blog changes lives and paradigms in a practical way.

    Reply
    • Happyback December 11, 2014, 9:23 pm

      Ditto!
      I moved (1/3 size home-on kids’ school’s street, too!), sold the12 year old Suburban, and got a VW diesel (paid cash). I’ve trimmed, Craigslisted, etc. It feels awesome to be free!
      I AM MUCH HAPPIER. 7 children, and they all are happy with the changes. Not a single complaint about sharing rooms, or not being able to cart friends. Just happy.
      Thanks MMM and Mrs. MM! I needed the face punch!

      Reply
  • Tawcan December 10, 2014, 2:47 pm

    70% income for rest her life after age of 55 sounds like a pretty good deal to me… this is assuming the government doesn’t change any rules or regulations I suppose. Definitely a good call on selling the truck. Seems like a huge waste of money as a daily commuter. Reducing the amount of vehicles will drop down their insurance cost too.

    Reply
    • John N December 10, 2014, 3:06 pm

      70% of current income would be amazing. 70% of accrued pension I could understand. I qualify for 65% at age 55, but of my accrued pension NOT my income. In my pension scheme you have to work for 40 years to retire at just 50% of your current income (this is one of the few remaining final salary schemes in the UK). In this scheme your accrued pension at 55, after working since age 25 would be 30 years x 1.25% x say 40,000 = 15,000 per year. At age 65. Take it at age 55 and you’d only get 65% of that ie 9,750.

      Reply
    • brydanger December 10, 2014, 4:43 pm

      right, assuming…
      – assuming regs/rules don’t change (and luckily she’s from canada, where the government and people voting will (likely) continue to take care of citizens).
      – assuming inflation doesn’t change what she’s able to afford with that 70%
      – assuming she doesn’t mind waiting until her kids are adults to spend days with them.
      – assuming she makes it to 55 and is healthy enough to enjoy it.

      I don’t mean to sound harsh…but isn’t the basic point to make decisions based on being happy today (or as soon as possible)?
      Part of what drove us to leaving the rat race is a lack of belief in any of those assumptions. That any of the rules wont change, that our retirement age wont change, that our savings wont be taxed more, that social security will be gone or that we will even still be around, much less healthy enough to enjoy it.

      I choose freedom now… If i’m going to be broke and working, id rather wait until i’m old and unable to do much anything else anyway!!

      Reply
  • Matt December 10, 2014, 3:40 pm

    The truck is a waste of gas to commute to a job that doesn’t require that type of vehicle. i think that a mini van and 2006 model is not a waste. As a family vehicle it makes sense. They should just keep it until it doesn’t run anymore than look at replacing it. As far as the poor or low income I feel as a society we need to support them and build programs government or private organizations that help people out of low paying jobs. Too many programs keep people from getting better paying jobs because they lose benefits. Just like Obamacare I don’t need to work but since i lose my health insurance through the company (I’m part time average under 30 hours per week) I’m cutting down my hours even more to get tax credit. I’m adjusting my efforts to max my benefit. How’s that helping the economy and country? I need people on the spend and work treadmill to keep my portfolio growing so I’m financially independent. Our economy is built on consumption.

    Reply
  • Okara December 10, 2014, 4:00 pm

    Besides moving to a less expensive location thus eliminating the need for two vehicles, it may be worth investigating if there are co-op car sharing organizations in the area. Vancouver has a few, in particular MODO. For purchasing a co-op share you have access to a vehicle 24/7 if you need it. I live in a very densely populated area, lots of apartments (condos, rentals, co-ops) with a fairly decent transit system. No need for a vehicle except for an occasional trip for major shopping or visiting friends elsewhere than city core. Parking is at a premium anyway but Modo has a few hundred reserved spots in apartment parking lots, back alleys and side streets. Modo is partnered with similar organizations in Canada (incl. Winnipeg) and the USA. It’s an alternative worth considering, imho.

    Reply

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