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Reader Case Study: Young Man Saved from Jeep Suicide

j1Beneath all the fluff, this blog exists for only one purpose: to encourage people to change their behavior. So naturally, I am very happy when I hear from people who are actually making big changes.

And I’m even more excited to hear about people making big changes early in life, because then they get to enjoy many decades of benefit from those changes. Freedom, unleashed creativity, lower stress and much better health – all by just redesigning your own life to be more efficient.

This brings us to our latest case study, where a new reader hit a crossroads and could have gone either way. He made it to adulthood with a good education and a solid job. And somewhere in there, he had a buried instinct to make smart decisions, but social norms had him traveling down a different road – the one that leads to a lifetime of being broke.

[Update: after publishing this post, several people wrote in to point out my title was a bit insensitive. I looked into their claims and I agree – because of the incorrect parallel between my joke about financial suicide (where we have a choice in the matter) and actual mental health in humans, where people often don’t have choices. More info on the issue here.]

The following conversation has been edited a bit for length:


Good evening Triple M!

I have been obsessively reading through your archives for about 3 weeks. I have finally reached a point where I am compelled to reach out and see if you are interested in doing a case study, me being your next victim.

Firstly, a little bit of background. I am 25, single, college educated, fully-employed, and love long walks through the mountains. My upbringing was not very frugal, both of my parents worked hard, but they also spent hard. Reading this blog has been the gasoline to a little, itty-bitty fire that I had deep down inside me. I knew the right thing to do, but was so unsure, and always got grief for my “fantasyland” ideas– even from my parents. This blog has provided a community and case studies showing that it can and WILL work.

Secondly, I have made some fucking STUPID mistakes. When I say stupid, I mean STTTTUUUUUPPPIIIIDDDD. College credit cards? Check. Crazy loans for school for better housing? Check. Brand new car with bad terms? Check. Personal loans? Check. Spending on useless garbage that I have nothing to show for? Double-check.

Now, most of these sins in the way of the life of “mustachianism” occurred during college and the 2 years after. But I am still paying for them now. I am 25, soon to be 26. Single. No kids. I live in a 1-bedroom apartment as close to work as I could find that wasn’t $1,100/month.

Job Stats:

  • Income: $50,700 – a good salary for my section of the country (Northwestern PA).
  • 11% of base income goes into a 401(k) with my employer matching 4%. Great.
  • Now for the part that makes this all unique: a Bonus of 15-25% of our base salary goes into an Employee Stock Option Program. 100% vested after 6 years, I am in year 1 of this company.
  • Total Annual Income:  $50,700 + 4% + 20% = Roughly $63,000 ($52,000 after tax)

The Debts:

  • College: $44,440  – interest rates vary between 6-6.75%
  • Car: $21,710 – 2015 Jeep Wrangler JK Bought new at 5.09%, 25,000 miles on the odometer
  • Credit Cards: $9,990 between 15.99%-24.99%
  • Personal Loan: $8,300 4% interest only loan. Comes due in full 02/2018
  • Total Debt: $84,440

The Month-to-Month:

  • Rent: $480/mo.
  • Internet: $50/mo.
  • Groceries: $160-200/mo.
  • Car Insurance: $100/mo.
  • Electric: $30/mo
  • Gasoline: $140/mo. (50 miles round trip, no chance of moving closer, piss-poor MPG)
  • Car Payment: $400/mo.
  • School loans: $185/mo. (for 20 years– paying off higher interest first, this is lowest interest)
  • Personal loan: $30 (5% interest only loan. Cash backed)
  • Credit Cards: $300/mo.
  • Cell phone: $80/mo.
  • Total Spending = Roughly $20,520 per year 

No cable. I don’t drink unless its free. I am reasonably healthy and workout daily with a workout set I have acquired through the years.

The only other thing I do a lot of is travel! Love it, can’t live without it.

I have cut down my stupid spending drastically. I embrace your challenges and see how well I can do. This is my new idea of fun. I get the weird looks, snarky comments, and general distrust from the Jones’ family.. and I LIKE it! It’s fuel to the fire, baby.

With dang near two 401(k) accounts, once debt-freeness is achieved, shouldn’t I be able to retire early– twice as fast? I so badly want it now, but I realize that this is a marathon. It took a long time for me to get fit, and this is no different! I want to flex that mustache muscle, and bust that hell hole of a mindset we call, “Work for 40 years then maybe retire.” Fuck that.

– Justin Jeep in PA

 

Wow, what a great attitude!

The first thing that strikes me is while Justin’s debt looks bad, his cashflow situation is actually pretty good.  When putting together that summary of his story so it would fit in a tidy box, I combined a few things and converted all numbers into monthly and annual figures so we could get the big picture. And that picture shows that he is earning about $52,000 after tax, yet only spending about $21,000. Unless that mysterious “travel” comment blows the budget later on, since it was not explicitly broken out in his spending.

So although a good portion of his paychecks are currently going into retirement accounts and paying off debts, those still count as savings, which means he is saving $31,000 per year, or about 60% of his take-home pay. The Shockingly Simple Math of Early Retirement tells us that even in this situation, he’d become debt-free within about three years, and keep rising upwards after that, becoming wealthy enough to retire within a total of 15 years.

It’s important to remember that this excellent performance is the new Justin. If he had carried his old college habits into full adulthood, you’d also see a bar and restaurant tab of $1000/month, a few hundred dollars of random subscriptions and services, and a lot more spent on rent, clothes, gadgets, and other treats.

There’s no upper limit on how far you can take the Single Fancy Man or Fancy Woman Lifestyle, as the Toronto Pharmacist that spends his whole $130,000 salary while living with his parents demonstrates nicely. Earning more is great, and I highly recommend it. But by definition it is impossible to out-earn the habit of spending all your money.

On the other hand, if Justin’s spending had been this efficient (relative to income) all along, he wouldn’t have ended up with $84,000 in debt in the first place – in fact he would already be above the waterline

So he has made enormous changes for the better, and in the process chopped about 25 years off of his mandatory working career. But he still wrote to Mr. Money Mustache with an open mind, which means he is ready for more. Given his situation, what would I do? Let’s power through and fix up the rest of this situation.

Step 1: Stop Driving Around in an Offroad Toy Owned by the Bank

Justin currently lives in rural Western Pennsylvania, which is a collection of very small towns which are very far apart. This means he leads a life with a lot of driving, which means he needs to have a car that is incredibly well optimized for frequent long drives. But instead, he has a 2015 novelty toy based on 1940s-era military nostalgia with no practical use other than bouncing itself through a rock-strewn canyon while you drink Coors Light from a cracked Nascar Coozy and your friends sit on the sidelines and occasionally yell out “Yee Haw!”

Even worse, this thing came with a sticker price of more than half a year’s gross salary, and he didn’t even have the money to buy it – he had to borrow this toy from a bank!

Mr. Money Mustache’s first rule of cars is you never borrow money for a car. One of the next rules in that book is you can’t drive a Jeep on a paved road. Never. If there’s pavement, you use a front-wheel-drive hatchback that is either a 4-cylinder manual, or electric. If there’s snow, you put some goddamned snow tires on it. If you like off-roading, get some hiking boots or a mountain bike and use your muscles like a badass, instead of wasting your money on a big elaborate motorized La-Z-Boy contraption that allows you to go over bumpy terrain while sitting down and pushing some stupid power-assisted pedals! Motors are not a valid form of recreation.

Don’t even come to me with exceptions until you at least get that second comma in your net worth. So (in more polite terms), I told Justin to sell his Jeep:

MMM: For now your assignment is to find out what your jeep is worth on the used market and report back to me.  Craigslist,  Kelley Blue book and the Edmunds used car appraiser tool. Take some really good photos of it in front of a badass local natural background if possible.

 

My man’s Response:

A great Craigslist ad allowed Justin to get top-dollar while escaping this Jeep.

A great Craigslist ad allowed Justin to get top-dollar while escaping this Jeep.

Justin: Quick weekend update, MMM! The Jeep was listed online for all but 1 hour before I got an email. A gentleman kindly offered me $23k for my Wrangler! Which is great as the current payoff is $21,800 with interest accruing daily. It is a painful thing to think about, but the joy of getting closer to early retirement is out-weighting it..

MMM: What?! Holy shit that is excellent! Congratulations!

I feel kinda sorry for the next guy,  since he now has the liability.  But not everyone is a Mustachian yet. Keep me posted on the great progress!

 

 

Justin: 

Holy shit is right, Pete!!! After ironing out the details today, we agreed on an even better deal for me.. $24,000 sell price, and I included all my spare/original parts! If I tried to sell those I could probably get $750 with a ton of hassle and patience.. So, I’ll take that extra $1k!

It’s unfortunate, but who knows their situation. This individual could already be FI and I’d never know. All I have to say is, Godspeed.
 
Another nice note is that I get a prorated amount of my gap insurance back! Looking like that will be around $600-$650! Woohoo!


 

With step 1 complete, we had closed Justin’s biggest gaping financial wound. The $400 per month payment was going almost entirely towards depreciation, whereas a proper used car like a late-2000s Honda Fit depreciates at less than $100 per month. Plus, the Jeep was using at least double the fuel of any reasonable on-road machine. On top of that, his insurance was through the roof. All-told, he was wasting about $450 per month compared to an optimal car choice, a burn rate that compounds into about $77,000 every ten years*

Step 2: Consider Moving Closer to Work

Justin’s round-trip drive of 50 miles is at least 5 times the level I would consider absolutely insane.  He claims that living any closer would bump his rent up from $480 to $1100 per month, but a quick review of Google Maps and Craigslist shows this is not the case:

stoneboro

Just by visiting his region on Craigslist, searching for “housing” and selecting “map view”, I found a solid number of entire 4-bedroom houses for rent in the $700 price range within walking distance of work, and apartments for even cheaper.

Mr. Money Mustache’s ideal strategy: choose the nicest large house you can find, then rent out a couple of bedrooms to friends to give yourself a net rent of near zero. Your friends will also help you split the cost of Internet service, and you can share resources like tools, expertise, books, homebrewing equipment, music and instruments, movies, and errands like bulk-buying runs to Costco.

And of course, bike to work and pocket the extra $300 per month that even the cheapest 50-mile-roundtrip car commute would cost you (more like $700 if you are using a newer/larger vehicle).

I can’t stress enough the killing effect that a long car commute has on your life. It has been studied again and again – spending an hour in the car is far more expensive than just the $20 in direct transport costs and $25-100+ per hour in lost personal productivity. The physical and mental health costs, and of course the risk of being shredded by smashing metal and glass, are much larger.

Step 3: Make Sure your 401(k) Money is Going Somewhere Reasonable

Your employer plan looks generous, but the 401(k) options that small companies offer are sometimes questionable. Make sure your money is going to a all-US or all-world index fund with an expense ratio well under 0.25%, not an “aggressive growth” or “managed” fund. If no such options are available, have a talk with your HR representative and suggest that your company hook up with the small business 401k programs offered by Vanguard or Betterment.

Step 4: Streamline Debts and Smaller Expenses

Your student loans are at a shocking 6-7% interest rate. See if you can drop it a significantly lower with one of the newer independent refinancing firms like SoFi (article).

Your mobile phone bill is $80 per month?! What is this, 2002? The highest reasonable phone bill these days is about $20/month with Republic Wireless, or roughly $30 with Google Fi if you need cheap data while traveling internationally.

Since high-interest Debt is an Emergency, I’d suggest reducing contributions to your company 401(k) to 4% to get the company match, and putting the rest into the credit card debts until they are gone. This is because paying off those cards is equivalent to a 15.99-24.99% guaranteed return on your investment, something you won’t get anywhere else.

Step 5: The Big Picture

Justin is in a good starting place, but that does not mean it’s time to become complacent. For example, his current employer is in a very remote area, far from any town of more than a few thousand people. And it’s in an area with one of the more brutal winters of the United States. This means a lifetime of driving on icy roads and through blizzards – unless he chooses to change the situation.

If you have the amazing privileges of a good education, reasonable health, and a strong work ethic, there is no reason you can’t make over $100,000 per year, at a job you really enjoy, and live within walking distance of work. To me, this is the Holy Trinity of efficient employment design and it’s worth holding up as a goal – knowing it is absolutely possible even if you choose to compromise on one or more aspects to meet your own preferences.

I set $100k as a target because it allows you to live at middle-class levels and still save over 60% of your income, which means financial independence in roughly 10 years. And it’s an income that is not all that rare in the economy without requiring a highly specialized skill. But it certainly isn’t a limit – I’ve heard from a number of people who make ten times that amount, even in their 20s.

Life is not an income competition, but I feel there is a mental barrier that forms in the middle class, based around the fact that the US median household income is currently $52,000, meaning that half of households earn above this amount, and half below. (For individual workers, the median is even lower).

But put it this way: if you are smart enough to design car-commuting out of your life, you are already in the top 10% in that department. Work and income are just another strategic game. Especially if you open yourself to the Joy of Self Employment.

Conclusion: 

Justin is set for a bright financial future. Many things will change in both his income and spending pictures in the coming years, but by just thinking about the long term implications of each decision, and using the principle of constant optimization, he’ll take a more efficient course. Although the changes will feel easy and small to him, they will make the difference between “Broke” and “Millionaire” by the time he reaches my age. And because he is on such a prosperous path, he can give himself the Gift of not worrying about money along the way.

Have a great time, dude!

Further Reading:

Here’s my article on learning how to calculate your savings rate, net worth, and take-home pay.

Calculating take-home pay after taxes: I used this thingy on calculator.net

Since this article addresses cars and driving in a snowbelt area and fall is coming, find out why All-wheel-drive does not make you safer.

 

* To calculate the value of a monthly expense over a 10-year period, compared to investing that money conservatively instead, multiply the monthly expense by 173.

  • James Brown September 13, 2016, 9:57 am

    It’s so weird to be living side by side with folks who aren’t on the frugality bandwagon. My neighbour just bought a brand new 4×4 truck with all the bells and whistles, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him I thought he was committing financial suicide. I did manage to slip in a few frugality pros while he was waxing rhapsodic, though “Yeah, the old truck had 160,000km on it” “Yeah? That’s almost half what I’ve got on the Prius. 334,000 km so far, gonna drive that thing into the ground.”

    Reply
  • nadir September 13, 2016, 10:38 am

    Not to derail the conversation, but the jeep comments got me thinking. I’m curious what MMM and group think about the new diesel Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon ? About 30 MPG, durability of a diesel, and towing capacity that rivals a full sized truck (in a smaller package).
    If you had legitimate need for a truck (towing/hauling), and little/no daily commute.

    If you could pay cash and planned to keep it for 10+ years, does that help negate the “never buy new” rule? The first model year with the diesel is 2016 so there’s no used market currently. The bad, MSRP is about $40k.
    Thoughts?

    Reply
    • ThriftyChemist September 13, 2016, 1:25 pm

      I’d just wait a couple of years until there’s a used market and you can see how the reliability pans out. IF you really need a truck now, you can pick a used one up now that only has a couple of years’ worth of miles left in it, then get your newer one when they start to sell used.

      Reply
      • nadir September 13, 2016, 5:06 pm

        I thought about that as well, but then you’re in the “doing non truck related driving in a full sized truck getting 18 MPG or less” crowd. Even if it’s only occasional. So what’s the lesser of the two evils I suppose?

        As far as reliability, GM has used this same engine (minus the turbo and tuned accordingly) in other countries successfully for years. I hate that diesel isn’t more common in the US, but we’re moving in the right direction.

        Reply
        • ThriftyChemist September 14, 2016, 9:07 am

          Well, it seems to me that the least evil option would be to get something else (Honda Fit etc.) for the couple of years it takes to get over most of the depreciation. You’ll easily save enough money doing that to be able to afford a truck rental for those times you want it while you wait for the Colorado/Canyon purchase.

          I guess my suggestion was based on your statement that there’s a legitimate need for towing/hauling. I can’t think of much you could do with a small pickup that you couldn’t with a minivan or something (many minivans can tow as much as 5000 pounds, after all) so a rental could serve for the presumably rare occasions when you needed more than that.

          Reply
  • Rick in Baltimore September 13, 2016, 12:41 pm

    MMM,

    Been reading a while, so I feel like I should already know this, but why hatchbacks over sedans?

    Reply
  • Mitch September 13, 2016, 12:45 pm

    I always love these case studies. Thanks MMM!

    Reply
  • Thorfinnsson September 13, 2016, 1:19 pm

    Inspiring story.

    Most people are hopeless and refuse to change their self-destructive behaviors (not just financial behavior either).

    Following the mustachian creed on automobiles is especially difficult as most mustachian vehicles are extremely embarrassing to be seen in.

    Mr. Money Mustache will be appalled to know that I own a 2004 Ford Explorer with all wheel drive. Fuel economy is around 20 mpg.

    I did, however, pay cash for it ($4100). I drive around 5,000 miles a year so my non-mustachian decision costs around $300 per year.

    Reasons for my non-mustachian vehicle purchase:

    -I hate small cars
    -I hate four cylinder engines
    -I hate front wheel drive
    -Enjoy being able to drive through deep snow
    -I hate Japanese cars

    The Explorer ticks all these boxes. My biggest complaints about it are that it doesn’t have seat heaters and it’s the V-6 model (not a fan of V-6s either). I’ve always been a gearhead and in the past owned a BMW M3, so the Explorer is a big step in the mustachian direction.

    I am certainly more mustachian than my old man who owns a 2014 Chevrolet SS, 2011 BMW 335xi, 2012 Ford F-250 (gasoline), 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and 1988 Porsche 944.

    Ultimately I place more value on both social status and comfort than Mr. Money Mustache. I think that MMM’s obsession with economical transportation (I don’t fly coach incidentally) is very useful however. In addition to the obvious financial benefits, automobiles are a major marker of social status in America and most people play the game (with borrowed money). If you can free yourself from car culture you can free yourself from a great many other things. Most people can’t even stop paying gigantic telecommunications corporations over a thousand dollars every single year so that they can passively consume pure cultural poison.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 13, 2016, 4:39 pm

      Sounds like you’re thinking out your financial decisions Thor, so I can’t fault you there.

      But do you REALLY still think that a person choice of motorized sofa grants them social status? And that a 2004 Ford Explorer would give you more of this social status than, say, a Honda Fit? You’d be MORE embarrassed in the Honda than in the Ford?

      Because that’s I find the idea that our society is actually like that just REALLY hard to imagine. (With the possible exception of a high school student parking lot)

      I mean, I’ve always mostly walked and ridden bikes, with Japanese 4-cylinder hatchbacks as my choice for longer trips. And I’ve really, really had no problem with social status, if you measure that by ability to meet friends, or girlfriends, or get good, high-income jobs, or any other reasonable measure.

      And this is all before I started cheating the system by starting this online cult, where now there are millions of people who actually DEFINE social status as leading an efficient lifestyle, and being seen in an Explorer would knock you right off the bottom of the scale.

      I’d suggest to you that social status is conveyed much more strongly by your physical appearance and movements, and the way you make eye contact and smile with people you just met. And I’d also suggest that these traits translate pretty readily to different areas of the country, and even through different countries. A cowboy bar in Texas or a NYC hotspot or an eatery for the newly prosperous in Quito.

      So, what type of “Status” exactly am I missing by not driving an American SUV? Could it just be the kind they want us to believe in truck commercials?

      Reply
      • Thorfinnsson September 13, 2016, 5:13 pm

        I would absolutely be more embarrassed in the Honda than the Ford. I would be outright ashamed to drive such a car. When I rent cars I always avoid renting compacts because I think small cars look ridiculous. I also am opposed to the Japanese automotive industry owing to that nation’s trade protectionism and thus have made a conscious decision to purchase American vehicles.

        Now before I continue, I would like to say that these are *MY* preferences. I will explain the logic (or illogic…) of my preferences, but in no way do I wish to suggest that you or the mustachian legion change your far more sensible views.

        Bear in mind that I am a gearhead, and I learned to be a gearhead on my father’s knee. Gearheads make very strong value judgments about automobiles. He and I also participate in auto racing, which does not strike me as a very mustachian hobby.

        You must be aware that automobiles are a major status signal in America (and globally). After all, why else does a car like the Lexus ES sell any units at all? It’s just a Camry with chrome and slightly better leather. You’ve made the same point in your satire article about SUVs for growing families, noting that both the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Suburban are available as luxury marques.

        This aspect of status is mainly defined by price (look at how much money I blew on my car!), aesthetics, and image.

        To those of us who are gearheads, we also take into account the vehicle’s performance characteristics and other features. The performance we are interested in is *not* fuel economy…I know more than one guy who boasts about his shitty fuel economy. We in turn judge other motorists based on what cars they choose.

        And sometimes a car is cool for reasons that are hard to explain. I think boxy old Volvos and Mercedes diesels are incredibly cool and I’ve owned a 1989 Volvo 740. The old WASP upper class is obsessed with Jeep Cherokees made from 1983-2001. You see tons of them tooling around in WASPy parts of the country.

        I will be the first to admit that this is a dangerous hobby. A former employee owns a *new* Subaru WRX STI. I don’t know what he makes at his new job, but it’s almost certainly under $40,000 per year. The WRX STI is a $36,000 car. Given the nature of the vehicle, I suspect the insurance is expensive as well.

        I tend to assume that most people I encounter are dead broke regardless of what vehicle they drive, so a sensible vehicle choice doesn’t change my opinion of the person–my working assumption is they are blowing their money on something else.

        If the person is a mustachian, then of course I have the utmost respect for them *and* their vehicle choice.

        I agree with everything you suggested confers social status, but this isn’t an either or thing. Status symbols are called that for a reason–and they work. I attempt to acquire status symbols in the most mustachian fashion I can. $400 made-to-measure suits from firms like Indochino or Harry’s Suits are indistinguishable from $10,000 suits from Savile Row to 99% of people.

        The Ford Explorer isn’t a status symbol incidentally–I would rate it as average and low key. It’s also the last generation Explorer that was built as a real truck (body-on-frame) and it has a great independent rear suspension. Automotive status symbols are just too much money to justify or too troublesome.

        What are you missing from not driving an American SUV? For you–nothing. You clearly love your transportation strategy. You have created your own social status which is always more powerful than purchasing status symbols marketers want you to.

        Reply
        • BH September 14, 2016, 9:35 am

          Thor:

          Sounds like you are good value buyer (with a good sense of humor as well). I did not know my 13 year old Camry was a Lexus ES without the chrome so you made my day. BTW – a Camry is the most uncool car in the world and virtually impossible to find in a crowded parking lot because there are so many.

          BH

          Reply
        • Dave C September 14, 2016, 1:03 pm

          This shows how different perspectives of status can be. I immediately jump to wholly negative (and probably unfair) conclusions about people who drive sports cars or over-sized pick-ups, but drool when I see someone riding a $10,000.00 Mountain bike. The thing is, I then laugh at myself and enjoy my still awesome but one-tenth as pricy 2010 Rocky. It’s one thing to recognize your irrational desires, its another thing entirely to indulge.

          Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache November 7, 2017, 2:58 pm

          Update: Thorisson later posted the following comment on an article about my medical insurance decision making process. I didn’t publish it on the blog comments section (violates discussion guidelines) , but had to share it on Twitter as a funny example:

          https://twitter.com/mrmoneymustache/status/927994577323200512

          Is there a correlation between people who don’t like efficient cars, and being batshit crazy? I’ve always thought so.

          Reply
          • Juan November 7, 2017, 3:40 pm

            Haha WOW!
            Based on the comments above, he seemed like a thoughtful and intelligent “gearhead” that just has a unique view on cars, nothing wrong with that.
            But the deleted comment on the medical insurance cost is absolutely nuts.

            Reply
  • Felipe September 13, 2016, 1:36 pm

    Great article Mustache.

    As the plan sponsor of my company’s 401k, I’d recommend Employee Fiduciary as the 3rd party administrator with vanguard funds as the investment options. Far lower costs than go with Vanguard as the administrators.

    Reply
    • Thorfinnsson September 13, 2016, 5:46 pm

      Interesting, thanks for the comment.

      I just switched our company to Vanguard (was John Hancock before, and no I had nothing to do with that lol). We kept our existing TPA–who has slightly higher costs than Vanguard–as we like the service they give us.

      I’ll have to look into Employee Fiduciary.

      Reply
  • Sam September 13, 2016, 9:17 pm

    MMM suggested he invest in all US or all world index funds. Would all US be the preference even for those outside US?

    Reply
  • Colt Feltes September 14, 2016, 5:11 am

    Can we please stop telling people to fully invest in mutual and index funds, and instead learn how to manage their money as well? I think many of the people that are a part of this culture (and have the time) would benefit learning from Tastytrade and learning how they can do much better with their money than paying expensive fees on investments. The research has shown that someone simply selling puts in the indexes delivered better results than just holding the indexes/funds alone. So easy, a monkey could do it!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 14, 2016, 7:21 am

      Wow, I had to look this “Tastytrade” thing up.

      “tastytrade is the fastest growing Financial Network in the galaxy. Tune in and watch 8 hours of live, actionable Market Talk everyday during Market Hours.”

      “Dear Tasty Trade Team: Watching your evidence-based content is truly a pleasure on a daily basis. Many thanks!”

      Then I looked at the Twitter account: https://twitter.com/tastytrade and saw this thing on “managing losing trades using a 1-deviation strangle that we backtested to 2005”: https://www.tastytrade.com/tt/blog/market-measures-managing-losers

      Then I realized “Oh! Colt got me there! Tastytrade must be a sattire of exactly how NOT to invest – watching the market news all day and trying to beat it with derivatives and puts and calls and such.

      But after reading/watching a bit more, I realized it is not sattire.

      No, I definitely don’t recommend watching stock market TV shows as your means of investing.

      It IS possible to earn long-term investment returns that beat the stock market, if you’re really smart and obsessive about it (which I am definitely not). But you would need to study and understand the underlying companies through their accounting statements, not the behavior of their stocks.

      Reply
      • Colt September 25, 2016, 11:02 am

        Hi MMM,

        Thanks for the reply. I fully support your work and the message you wish others to receive.

        I would encourage you, since you are a learning man, to research the CBOE’s site and read about the different strategies that they have backtested, that do consistently return better than just the SPoos. These would include covered call and put writing, for example. I only am bringing this up a second time because I think this sort of strategy could offer up another cash flow stream for others, much to the likes of rental homes and other investments. For a quick explanation, by being a net seller of options, you effectively are reducing the basis on your investments. This is why W.B. is in favor of selling puts in underlyings he likes before buying them, as it adds value to the holding.

        If you get really curious, you’ll find your friend Warren and Charlie Munger also take advantage of these simple, yet hardly ever talked about strategies. For this, you can search different years of their Letter’s to Shareholders. I think the reason that you don’t see a lot of GOOD writing on this topic is that largely people are not aware of them nor do they understand them. Mass media also does not push it because if people are in control of their own finances, then who is there to make fees of off?

        I remember reading about some REITs that you had invested in previously. A simple strategy you could have used while you wanted to collect dividends with it would have been to sell calls against your position to reduce basis. In theory, you would hope to reduce basis far enough that any drops would not affect you as much and helps with your dollar cost averaging.

        Reply
  • Dave T September 14, 2016, 8:29 am

    MMM, did I read this correctly, that you know people in their 20’s earning 10 times $100,000 per annum with no specialized skills? What type of things are they doing?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 14, 2016, 8:42 am

      No, sorry that is usually with a degree in finance. Except a few people, who just started businesses that happen to be doing well and one guy in the TV/entertainment field with a show that took off.

      But you could argue that they ALL have pretty specialized skills, whether they did a formal education or not. It takes a special person to scale a business to over $1M in annual profit, whether those successful people will admit that they are special or not.

      Reply
  • CZ_Technically_Frugal September 14, 2016, 8:33 am

    I have one note to using all terrain vehicles.

    Basically I agree with you. My car is forward wheel driven, older than me and cost me about $160. It has enough space under it to crawl under it, so I can drive unpaved roads without problems.

    On the other hand there are mountains a few hundred kilometers from me (much smaller than rocky mountains) and if I live in some parts of these mountains I’d like to have something 4×4 for going for groceries in winter. I would buy something cheap Russian or Romanian (here in Europe) for less than $1000 of course.

    It can even make sense to have that gasoline guzzler as the only car if your mileage is so small, that car fees and maintenance cost for the second more effective car are bigger that difference in fuel consumption. Cycling for groceries during summer helps in that small mileage.

    You can cycle everywhere of course. But cycling ten kilometers in -15 degrees C is hard (fingers are going to freeze even with two sets of gloves on), cycling in half meter of snow is impossible (I think) and after you buy quarter of ton of groceries (I *hate* buying groceries, so I’m buying enough to postpone another buying as far as possible) you don’t want to cycle to steep uphill with that on tow. Use 10 times a year big 4×4 car, 5 times on snow and 5 times not can be good deal.

    Reply
  • Mark September 14, 2016, 9:29 am

    This young man has a great future ahead of him. Smart move getting rid of the jeep for commuting. However, I have to say that a capable 4×4 should always be in the stable. Why? Well to hunt for instance. Whilst I admire the winter cycling dudes, I don’t see anyone attempting to muscle a couple of hundred pounds of meat through the bush on 2 wheels. Same thing with taking the family out camping in the wilderness. My regular commuter is a stationwagon that’s going to get eaten by the Forest Service Roads of BC, much less the even less travelled off-road! So yes, they DO have utility.

    The problem lies with people who seem to need a 4×4 just to go to work everyday. That’s just nuts.

    Reply
  • Gina September 14, 2016, 1:16 pm

    I’d love to see what other changes he makes over the next several months. I hope you’ll keep us updated!

    Reply
  • Rob September 14, 2016, 3:17 pm

    What’s the best phone/data/text plan for us dedicated iPhone users? Right now I pay $60. Thanks.

    Reply
  • Out of the Blue September 14, 2016, 5:23 pm

    Not sure about the “get a big house and rent out individual rooms to friends so that your rent is near-zero” suggestion. Where I’m from (NZ), that is considered unfair and would be a fast way to lose friends if they find out what you’re doing. And rents for most large houses are priced such that it may be hard to accomplish anyway – though there are always some “deals” to be found.

    I’ve saved about $20-30 a week off the “market rent” by being the head tenant and renting out individual rooms. But any more than that and I think you may struggle to find roommates and/or they’d start getting upset. Also bear in mind the extra liability and hassle you take on by being the head tenant – in NZ, you’d be liable to the landlord for damage done by the roommates, so getting some form of insurance for that would be prudent.

    Reply
    • Aimee September 16, 2016, 11:35 am

      I think it really depends on the market. In NY, I have a two-family house and the tenant pays almost all of my mortgage. If I then decided to rent out one of my bedrooms for the going rate of $800 or so, I would be ahead of the game. How is that wrong?

      If I cut a deal to a friend and charged only $700 for the room, they are still paying me to live there and are getting a deal and I basically live free but I incur all of the house of upkeep, stress that people won’t pay me on time, responsible to fix things, find new roommates, etc. I also would have to eat the loss for an unoccupied room at any time.

      Reply
      • Out of the Blue September 19, 2016, 8:04 pm

        I think it’s a bit different when you’re renting out a room in an owner-occupied house because in that case, the mortgage expense is really not the only expense of owning a house – there is also the opportunity cost from the equity in the house that you’re bearing as an owner, as well as the costs of maintenance, property taxes, etc.

        I’m talking more about the situation where you’re renting a 3 bedroom house for, say, $600 a week (realistic figure in my market), and then renting it out to two other flatmates for $250-$300 a week. Putting aside the fact that you’re probably going to struggle to find people willing to pay $250-300 (unless they’re very short term) in my market, I think your friends are likely to feel ripped off if they find out you’ve been paying minimal rent for a similar room. Unlike in the owner-occupied example, as a head tenant you don’t bear opportunity costs of any equity in the house, any maintenance costs, or any property taxes. Sure, you still have the hassle of having to find new roommates and bear liability to the landlord but (and this may be just be a cultural thing), I think most people here won’t think it warrants such a large reduction in rent. I also think that roommates who are not head tenants tend not to be so aware of the hassles/liabilities associated with being head tenants.

        To clarify – I’m not saying I personally find it unfair (I’m more free market in this regard), just that I know some (if not most) people in my area do.

        Reply
  • Evan September 14, 2016, 6:21 pm

    Mr Money! Thank you so much for your blog – this post came just as I was about to enter a plan to buy a car!

    However I think my situation may be a little different and would like some advice.

    I live in Australia and can do a thing called a Novated Lease, which is basically, you get a loan for a car at 5%, but the cost of the car (purchase and running costs inculding petrol, registration and insurance) come out of my pre-tax salary, meaning I save there.

    I don’t know if I should do that, or just pay in cash!

    Reply
  • Flanneur September 14, 2016, 11:57 pm

    Hi MM, I’ve been following for a few months now and thought it was time to chime in.

    Like Justin I was mid 20s with 36k student debt, 13k credit card balance, and new car with 6% interest. I look back now and can’t believe it.

    Now in my early 30’s I’ve never made more than 40k, I’m a musician, and now live comfortably working 8hrs a week doing something I love that pays well for the time. I have a toyota matrix hatchback @0% , no other debt or loans and make payments on a 2.1 % mortgage. I’ve invested in an self directed index portfolio and now have enough that with compounding growth until I’m 65 I could manage a higher income than I have now with no further contributions.

    So, like this site directs, be smart. I’d rather think and read about how to make choices that lead to freedom then to hang my head down and be owned by an employer. I have no intent to ever retire. I have time to exercise, eat healthy and be an involved part of my family. I spend most days working on music and take breaks to train my body and find mental rejuvenation. I now only work for $ to cover my basic living costs and to remain involved in the future of my art.

    Libraries are crucial. Snow tires are an absolute. Life happens once and you’re the boss.

    Thanks MMM this site is a beautiful place.

    Reply
  • David September 15, 2016, 12:28 am

    That was a great analysis and very motivating! Thank you. One suggestion: I would think the order of operations for retirement investments should be: 1) 401k to the point that maximizes employer match (free money); 2) IRA contribution (which you have complete control over and can definitely invest in exactly the low-cost fund you want; 3) additional 401k contribution, if money remains for that goal. Plus, you’d have the choice of Roth or traditional IRA, while you might not have a choice with the 401k!

    Reply
  • Stephen September 15, 2016, 3:09 am

    Really enjoyed reading this, especially since Justin and I are very close in age and income! Sadly though I live in a DC suburb which means much more expensive rent. But it’s nice to be able to pick up tips from someone in a similar situation!
    I have a paid off car and no debt, but the biggest thing I’m struggling with are small entertainment purchases – like movies and video games – that end up adding up over time. Could definitely save $100 or so a month if I cut down on impulsive stuff like that.

    Reply
  • TJ September 15, 2016, 8:16 am

    I think I have to disagree with the notion that “If you have the amazing privileges of a good education, reasonable health, and a strong work ethic, there is no reason you can’t make over $100,000 per year, at a job you really enjoy, and live within walking distance of work.”
    I think this falls into the “You can only pick two” triangle of truth type situation. haha.
    But using myself as an example: I have worked for 10 years in a field that I love, and currently make about $72,000/yr, and that is only because I have had all the privileges MMM lists above, a strong work ethic, and have excelled at my career. Most people in my field do not make nearly as much unless they are a VP. So I have to think assuming that anyone can make 100k at a job they love with only a bit of privilege and work ethic… is kind of incorrect. Could I make more money one day if I take an upper management position? Sure, but then I would no longer love my job.
    I hate leaving a semi-negative comment, bc it makes me feel bad on the inside :), but am I alone in thinking this assumption is a bit unreasonable?

    Reply
    • Justin September 21, 2016, 12:42 pm

      I don’t think your comment is negative, per se. Perspective is reality. Your perspective is your reality. For example, you see your income at your present job as a case against MMM’s claim that, “If you have the amazing privileges of a good education, reasonable health, and a strong work ethic, there is no reason you can’t make over $100,000 per year, at a job you really enjoy, and live within walking distance of work.” It might be true to you with your current set of circumstances, but I think what MMM is suggesting is that you are free to move. Free to move jobs, free to move where you live, free to do what you do somewhere else where it is valued more. Maybe you can’t make $100k+ in your current position at your current company where you currently live, but you all of those things are variables you can change.

      Reply
  • Taylor September 15, 2016, 11:37 am

    Reader Case Studies are my favorite. So glad you brought them back. Congrats to Justin on making some impressive changes and most importantly, be OPEN to change. I think that’s always the hardest part.

    I skimmed the comments and no one else seemed to mention this, but it seems like his budget is missing A LOT of information. He doesn’t list gas, any “entertainment” budget (occasional meals out, gifts, etc) or his travel budget. It seems that after the big things are done (car, house, etc) that it would be super important to focus on what he’s actually spending in each category and optimize/cut from there. It’s the only way to actually make a plan for FI. I highly doubt that his savings rate is actually 60% but with some tracking and a few adjustments, I’m sure he could get it there pretty fast.

    Reply
    • Aisling September 15, 2016, 6:51 pm

      Further up , Justin comments that he only spends $75 per year on clothes, buys a $10 per year fishing licence for entertainment and uses credit card points to get “free” flights and stays on people’s floors when he travels. It is interesting that quite a few people have commented that Justin has “missed” expenses rather than assuming he didn’t spend in those areas.

      Reply
    • Jeepin Justin in PA September 16, 2016, 12:48 pm

      Please also note that MMM shortened our initial exchanges when working on this case study. I went into pretty good depth with him, and he condensed so that you weren’t readying 47 miles worth of my life, haha. So, a lot of those small things that were “missed,” are not actually missed, they are rather lumped into a general category displayed by MMM.

      I have already changed my life dramatically for a lot of spending measures. I do not eat out, I only drink if it is free, I do not go out to see movies and other things. My entertainment consists of either free outdoor activities or a $10 fishing license. I also highlighted the ways I travel in another comment. Lots of credit card rewards points, visiting friends for cheap places to stay, not being a sucker for tourist shit, and not eating out alllll the time while away.

      As far as budgets– I know where all my money is being allocated for debt payoffs. I know my must have’s and when I need them. I have a small stash of cash for emergencies. I am a huge budgeter, but they way some people obsess over it would kill me. I’d never sleep. I don’t waste money on stupid shit, and at the end of two weeks if there is money left over– it goes on a credit card debt. Budgets can do wonders for people who end up at the end of 2-weeks and saying “Where did all my money go?!” At the end of 2-weeks, I know exactly where it all went.

      I also feel like I remember an early-on MMM article making fun of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and commenting on budgets… I’ll try and find that article link and post it back.

      Reply
      • Taylor September 21, 2016, 11:33 am

        Awesome! Glad to hear that :) I’m actually not a fan of budgets AT ALL. But there’s a big difference between budgeting and tracking and (short term) tracking is what I was talking about.

        But if you’ve already done that, then that’s awesome and you can ignore my comment, haha. I’d love to see a follow-up post in a few years and see how things are going!

        And good luck on the debt pay off! It’s def not the most fun thing in the world, but it feels SOOO good when it’s done. And don’t forget to enjoy life (and family and friends) while you’re on the journey :)

        Reply
        • Jeepin Justin in PA September 21, 2016, 2:59 pm

          No worries! Budgets can be a very useful tool. But after awhile, they are just habits like brushing your teeth! I have been budgeting for some time now. My reaching out to MMM was more of a, “Let’s get extreme about this stuff.”

          I have come to the ‘stache side now. I will be fully engaging in this community from here on out! It will certainly be in the works with some follow up pieces, pending MMM availability and willingness to go along with it.

          Debt payoff is a surreal feeling. Every bit that I pay off makes me a little happier, a little less stressed, and a tiny bit closer to that ultimate goal! Let’s be honest– enjoying life along with family and friends is the ultimate goal. Early retirement will just allow me to spend more time doing that!!! ;]

          Reply
  • Cheapskate ozzy September 15, 2016, 3:47 pm

    In Australia. Secondhand jeeps are nearly unsellable. The dealer network has much higher parts price than in the us. So keeping them serviceable is expensive. Also there is the fear if you break down in the middle of nowhere, you cant get the part to get you going again. I had an 80 series Toyota Land cruiser that was great offroad, but realistically we would take camping on the islands about one time a year. Now that we have two kids in nappies I decided that camping wasn’t really relaxing and I have a 20 mile each way commute so I sold it and bought a Hyundai i30 diesel wagon. Saves me $3000 a year in fuel and so much easier to drive and park in the city. In a few years we will sell that and buy something when we are actually camping again. Also in the meantime we use my wifes Mitsubishi outlander awd 4cyl to camp with. I got stiffer rear springs and use my old trailer. We started shifting the areas we camp to ones that don’t need heavy 4×4 to get in there, but rough enough to be quiet. All of our friends and family go camping spot and think it’s a cheao holiday. But they blow big money on flash camping gear and fridges and battery’s and generators and all sorts of junk. Anyway it’s great that there is a market for secondhand jeeps in the us for this guy.

    Reply
  • Kermit September 15, 2016, 7:35 pm

    FYI, I’m writing you in for President in November. Your fundamental thinking is spot on.

    Reply
  • Derek September 16, 2016, 9:57 am

    MMM,

    Super-solid advice. I always love how you can cut right to the heart of the matter to help folks out and make it enjoyable to read at the same time.

    Reply
  • Vijay September 16, 2016, 6:34 pm

    I was trying to understand, where my own expenses were going compared to him. I have a 1500 Rent+Utility charge every month as I stay in NJ and this is the lowest you get around here for a 1 BHK. I spend 620 USD per month on playschool and 680 USD for a base level medical insurance. This guy has neither of these expenses, and he is taking a risk by not having any medical insurance whatsoever. The amount may sound big as an outgo, but can wipe you out financially if you do not have atleast the bronze level cover!

    Reply
    • Jeepin Justin in PA September 19, 2016, 8:15 am

      That is false, I do have medical insurance. My employer offers free medical coverage. I am incredibly fortunate to have this perk. The perk is so good that for any medications that I do need are covered as well. I also do not have kids, which is what I am guessing the playschool is.

      Reply
  • Liesbet September 17, 2016, 2:24 pm

    What a great example and case study that could work for so many people, if executed correctly and excitingly. It is amazing how much one with a decent salary could safe when other priorities than luxury, gadgets and spend drift prevail. While I would love to make more money (my – educated – husband and – educated – I are currently in the lowest tax bracket), we have chosen for more freedom in life with our freelance careers. So, we do what we want, on our own time, remotely, with no commute, but make a low number. To compensate, we don’t splurge, are frugal and live for free while house and pet sitting throughout the country (a varied lifestyle, for sure). Not sure how all this will work out in the long run, but for the last decade, life is good! :-)

    Reply
  • Jim Grey September 18, 2016, 4:28 am

    I love these case studies; I find them to be very motivating.

    But I don’t get one bit you said in this one: “If you have the amazing privileges of a good education, reasonable health, and a strong work ethic, there is no reason you can’t make over $100,000 per year, at a job you really enjoy, and live within walking distance of work.”

    I have a great education, reasonable health, and a strong work ethic, and it took me 25 years to work my way to a point where I made that kind of money. My colleagues, younger and older, also find that the $100K club is hard earned and takes time.

    I think it’s important to know that I’m in central Indiana, where the cost of living is blissfully low and so perhaps the salaries are adjusted to match.

    So I’d love to hear how you conclude this, because it’s just not been my experience.

    Reply
  • Wild Bill September 19, 2016, 5:33 pm

    I could have really used this sort of advice thirty years ago. Although I did have the pleasure of driving cars like Porsche, BMW, GTI, RX7 and many others, it was not worth it in the long run. Even though my (now ex-) wife and I always bought houses priced below average, we overspent on cars by a lot. Now, at about 50, I’m driving an 11 year-old Honda that I bought with cash. I’m sure I’ll revert to those fun cars, but not until my kids finish college, my mortgage is paid and my retirement fund has seven digits. I would already be there if I hadn’t spent like an idiot way back when. Bottom line: FANCY CARS COST ME ABOUT AN EXTRA DECADE AT THE OFFICE…

    Reply
  • Allen September 21, 2016, 1:58 pm

    If you’re going to buy a vehicle (or anything for that matter), doesn’t it make sense to get a loan if the interest rate against you is lower than the interest rate your money could be earning in index funds?

    Reply
    • Glen December 2, 2016, 7:15 pm

      Well, why would banks loan you money to buy a car if they could make more off that money in index funds? Probably because they are risk averse. They are definitely going to get their money back from you, plus interest (and fees maybe), or else they will take your car, or house or whatever. All investments come with risk, and usually transaction costs. If you are comfortable taking on those risks and costs for the marginal gain, go for it. But that’s not how the banks roll, and they make pretty good profits. Borrowing money that I would have to pay back in the short term to invest in the stock market, which moves pretty randomly in the short term, would scare the crap out of me.

      Reply
      • Mikey December 3, 2016, 12:08 pm

        Yes, but presuming you’re debating being paying cash that you have, or taking the loan, this could still make sense. Presuming you have enough of a cash cushion to cover the payments even if the stock market goes sour in the short term.

        Reply
      • Michael B December 4, 2016, 9:36 pm

        Banks have a charter from the government that gives them a very special power.

        This power allows them to create money when you sign a loan document. That’s right.

        The money didn’t exist until you asked for it, and it disappears as you pay it back. Except for the interest. The bank keeps that part.

        Banks loan you money to buy a car instead of investing that money in index funds because that’s all they’re allowed to do with this power.

        Reply
  • Archon September 23, 2016, 9:34 am

    This article struck close to home for me. I have a 52 mile round-trip commute, and even on my motorcycle, the time and expense is wearing me down. I live in a shared house in a suburb of a medium-sized city, and commute to a hamlet in the country to work. I have a couple directed questions for advice:

    I know I won’t be working where I am this time next year. I’ll be moving to a job in the city (glassdoor shows significantly higher pay for similar jobs, among all the other city benefits). I’m locked into a lease where I rent until May. If I were to move out close to work (finding a subleasee for my current place), I’d be turning around and moving again in a few months (with the goal being to have a walk/bike commute).

    The other factor I’m balancing against is socialization. There are certainly few enough people in the town where work is, so I split the difference in distance to my friends and the nexus of potential future wives that is the city. I’d like to stay at work for several more months; they’re paying (as part of comp) for two certifications that should make me more valuable to everyone. One of these is based on improvement projects which require measuring trends over time (Lean six sigma).

    I want to have no commute, but I don’t want to hinder socialization or dating. Having looked in the area around work, I am decidedly nonplussed.

    What would you humans suggest?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 23, 2016, 2:48 pm

      Great analysis so far, Archon. In that situation I’d probably stick it out until you get the new job. It might come sooner than you think.

      Reply
  • Kyle September 25, 2016, 8:24 am

    Great article. I think these case stories would be cool in audio format interviewed by MMM. I love listening to MMM interviewed in podcasts, but this would be a way to dive deeper and have the boss himself control the depth and direction of conversations.

    Reply
  • Forgot my name September 27, 2016, 4:43 am

    http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Trends/Japanese-carmakers-catering-to-US-drivers-with-bigger-vehicles

    “Japan’s auto industry is shifting its U.S. export focus to large vehicles to better reflect today’s market preferences.
    …light trucks now account for 60% of the U.S. market, up from 50%”

    I guess in 2-3 years – when a new “crisis” hits – there will be dozens of articles about “the horrors average families have to go through in these trying times” :)

    Reply
  • Steven September 27, 2016, 8:46 am

    It is always interesting to read MMM material, from a Dutch view. Everyone has a bicycle, we have credit cards but don”t pay interest for them, just use them for internet payments or pay the amount within a month. College loan interest rate is max 1, 39 % and min 0,01 %. Seemingly government wants us to study.

    Reply
    • wauske September 10, 2017, 2:01 pm

      If they wanted us to study it would be Free like in Norway. We had a reasonable system but the system was swapped out for a loan-based system…

      And I know a few people who do pay interest o.ln their cc, overdraft continuesly and have personal loans for holidays. Just a lot less than in the US.

      Reply
  • Sterling Pfenning September 28, 2016, 3:14 pm

    I just finished reading all articles since the beginning of this blog! My wife and I are pursuing FI by the time I’m 35 I’m 25 now

    Reply
  • Van September 29, 2016, 8:53 am

    I too bought a Jeep Wrangler straight out of school back in 2006, before I ever earned a dime and with >100k in student loan hanging over my head. I financed the entire 25k (it was 0% interest). The car was horrible mechanically, kept breaking down, a total poser since I never off-roaded. I only put 33k miles on it over the course of 5 years before trading it in for a base Subaru Outback in 2011.

    Looking back at it, my time with that Jeep Wrangler was an awesome in my life. I had always wanted a Wrangler and finally I had it. It looked awesome. I was single at the time so I took a bunch of girls on dates and they all love the Jeep especially with the top down. Took my now-wife on multiple dates in that beast. She was impressed, and she told me that even to this day she would not have felt the same had I rolled up in a Corolla. The Golden Eagle. That was its name.

    I traded it in for $13.5k after 5 years of use, not too great but also not too bad. I still think about it to this day.

    MMM has very good advice on money management. I follow a lot of his advices, and I appreciate his service to the community. But I wouldn’t base your entire life on counting dollars and cents, or you might risk missing out on a lot of fun.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 1, 2016, 9:54 am

      Right, but don’t confuse a shittily-designed car with the great times you had in your life at the time.

      For example, you should see the dates I had as a high-school lad with a 1983 GPZ550 motorcycle (owned by my Dad at the time but with a market value of only about $1500 at the time). Alternatively, look up the used value of a 2005 Lexus or BMW 5-series (or a 3-series convertible!) in mint condition right now. Infinitely cheaper than a Jeep, and yet much studlier in many ways because it’s COMFORTABLE. Ladies can appreciate a well-engineered luxury car.

      Reply
  • Patient October 2, 2016, 7:45 pm

    Quick note: love the focus on getting rid of the awful depreciating liability of the JEEP. I’ve written so much about how much damage a new car can do to your financial situation. It is sad to see so many people flushing millions down the toilet tomorrow for a $30K car today. Great advice!

    Reply
  • Tony Lawrence October 5, 2016, 6:09 am

    We currently have a 2008 Subaru Outback we bought new and we hope to get at least 2-3 more years out of it. I’ve been thinking that electric is what we want to do when that time comes, but we really need to get something around that Outback size with a range of more than 150 miles, because as luck would have it, 150 miles is the distance we need to drive to get to our summer vacation “home” ( actually just a large camper). I’m hoping tech will improve before we need to buy – I guess hybrid would be the answer if we have to do it earlier.

    Reply
  • Karl October 10, 2016, 3:41 pm

    What about owning a 2nd hand 4×4 that you only use on weekends to take family and/or friends to access remote, 4×4-only camping, biking and hiking areas? I think that’s one of the few reasonable reasons to own one. Daily commuting/chore driving with a big, thirsty 4×4 is pure insanity though – especially in a busy city which so many people do!

    Reply
  • Jason F. October 14, 2016, 7:37 am

    How *exactly* did he sell the vehicle he still owed money on? I’ve never yet seen a good explanation of how that’s handled. The lender will expect to be paid off before handing the title over, and the new buyer will expect the title before handing over any money. If you don’t know the buyer personally, is this just hoping for someone to swallow a “trust me” situation?

    Reply
    • Jeepin Justin in PA October 17, 2016, 12:17 pm

      The buyer of the Jeep got a check and it was made out to my lien holder. The lien holder then sent the title to the new lien holder that the buyer chose to finance through. Now, I had a bit of equity in the Jeep. So, my bank then sent me the remaining balance after the the loan was paid off. No real trust issues. I was given a certified check that was not in my name, but my bank’s. The title is electronically passed off through a system that PA uses. The bank gave me the difference in the check amount from the loan amount. Fairly painless. I rid myself of the Jeep payment. Good to go.

      Reply
  • ZJ Thorne October 16, 2016, 5:25 pm

    The necessity to ride a bike or car in these rural communities is another reason I’m not interested. I love my city because I can walk or take public transportation for everything. When I’m heading somewhere with a friend with a mobility impairment, we grab an Uber. My transportation costs average under $1000 for a year and my legs get a lovely workout.

    Reply
  • Syed October 21, 2016, 8:40 pm

    Really enjoyed this analysis. Amazing how much less stress I felt when I read he sold the Jeep. He can easily buy a used car at half that price that will more than serve his needs. Or ideally walk or bike to wotk as stated.

    Reply
  • Cody A. Ray December 28, 2016, 9:44 am

    Its amazing how fast Justin followed-through to sell the jeep. Did you find out if he’s found an improved living situation closer to work yet?

    Reply
  • Joe Average January 4, 2017, 3:07 pm

    Interesting to watch YouTube and see how many newish Jeeps are being offroaded – and wrecked in the process.

    Seems like a better choice would be the fully depreciated 20 year old Jeep.

    Reply
  • FMaz February 11, 2017, 2:11 pm

    “The $400 per month payment was going almost entirely towards depreciation”

    *Light-bulb-over-the-head-emojii*

    I never thought of it that way! That is such a brilliant way to look at it.

    Reply
  • Mike April 21, 2017, 9:51 am

    I think this was a great case study. Just wanted to mention that Republic Wireless has select list of compatible phones and if yours isn’t on there (I own an iPhone for example), Virgin Mobile is a decent alternative. They have an unlimited plan for $35 a month, which is more than Republic, but I think is still reasonable if you don’t want to buy a new phone.

    Reply
  • Annalise September 5, 2017, 6:42 pm

    I’ve just been starting to get into MMM, and am considering a car I bought new (and no, didn’t have the payment in cash …this was pre-MMM) and am considering trying to sell. I really like what MMM has to say so far, but the 100K salary comment was a little…demeaning? Or frustrating? Not sure. I’m a registered nurse, working in the best city I’ve found to be one (Madison, WI) where I get paid well, and work very hard – but also strive for work life balance. I’m not near 100K, and no one I know in my field is… I’m thinking about going back for more school (not sure what MMM says about this yet…) and could potentially earn that much (with a HUGE payment for said school).

    I guess my point is, I wish the 100K statement was true, because I have a great education, love my job, work very hard, and will never hit the 100k mark in my current position.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 9, 2017, 10:55 am

      I hear you Annalise – but what if you also fixed up a portion of your house on the weekends to become a rental, or started some sort of consulting business, or took other steps over the years to get into the six figures?

      That’s what I was thinking about – salary from an employer is only one small part of the universe of ways to earn money.

      Reply
    • Joy September 11, 2017, 4:59 pm

      I am an RN and work at VA hospital making 100 k with out doing any OT, With Just B.Sc. nursing. VA salary scale is different in different city. California, NY and phoenix has good pay.

      Reply
    • TKO September 14, 2017, 12:33 pm

      I am a nurse practitioner – which I assume you would want to go back to school for? I can’t say if it’s worth the money or not in everyone’s situation. I chose to go to a state school for lower cost and ended up getting lucky with a high paying job right after graduation and doubled my income. Now, it came with not so great hours, high stress and liability added (hence, leading to me researching how I exit this rat race and stop working earlier). I know that is not the norm salary wise for new nurse practitioners, in fact i’ve heard of many stories of RN’s taking paycuts to work as NPs (if you were an RN with a lot of experience). I would say the average in our area for new grad NPs make about 65-85k per year before taxes .

      I don’t know how much you make as a nurse, but if you are close to 60-70k, I don’t think it would be worth it going back to school – you will lose at least a year or two of full time income just to go back, not including student loans at 6-7% interest (thanks, grad school rates!). On top of that, it sounds like you are happy as a nurse, and NP is a totally different job you might hate. If I hadn’t gotten lucky and found such a high paying job right out of school, I would regret going back. Some of my friends who went back STILL aren’t working as an NP 1 year later! (Of course, I don’t know how really motivated they are.) I agree with MMM and explore options outside of nursing to make extra money if you can, and be frugal as hell in the meantime!

      Reply

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