141 comments

How to be Happy, Rich, and Save the World

change-world-diapers

Can we Change the Diapers of the Entire Rich World?

With this being the fall of 2016, I just passed the 11-year anniversary of my retirement from real work (Mrs. MM escaped her cubicle a few months earlier than me). Coincidentally, this Mr. Money Mustache gig just had its 5.5th birthday, which means that I’ve been writing about being retired for fully half of the time that I’ve actually been retired.

You’d think that this would get boring at some point, and indeed my production of new blog posts is slower now than it was in the early years. I only sit down to type additional shit into the computer when I really want to tell you something and happen to have the free time to do it.

But the desire to keep working on the overall project never gets any weaker, because it’s such a big one that allows me to learn so much in the process. If you’re a nerd like me, imagine having unlimited free time, money, and good health to spend the next 60 years working on and learning whatever you want. This is living life in a state of Permanent Nerd Nirvana.

The project, of course, is to try to get the people of the world’s rich countries excited about separating the idea of lifetime happiness, from the idea of buying expensive shit with which to pamper yourself. We use early retirement, personal fulfillment and social status as the carrot, and being a wussypants clown as the stick. It’s a human psychology problem as much as it is a financial or technical or political one.

So anyway, part of the deal is trying new stuff, in order to reach new groups of people. According to Google Analytics, about 21 million supposedly-unique people have visited this website since it was first created, and almost 90% of us are in the United States.

That’s 5% of the country’s population at best, which even assuming a fictional 100% adoption rate would still leave at least 95% of us as Sucka Clown Consumers subject to the risks of buying a new GMC Acadia and driving our kids 1 mile to school in it. Recent observations of my own neighborhood confirm this estimate. Badass bicycle-based living in the fresh air is way up, but we still need way more of it.

One of my recent attempts at this advocacy was giving a daunting presentation to a big scary theater full of people at an event called the World Domination Summit (as noted in the earlier article about doing difficult stuff). Since the attendees of this event are generally fans of author Chris Guillebeau, many of them had never heard of old Mr. Money Mustache before.

So the challenge in this case was to present a concise summary of financial independence and early retirement, how and why you’d want to do it, and why this is a actually good and ethical thing to pursue. I tried to make the case by walking through the following three logical steps:

  • Almost everyone (currently) sucks at money
  • Getting rich enough to retire takes way less time than most of us think
  • Work is better when you don’t need the money

Although the talk isn’t super-sparkly and polished*, I’m still pretty happy with the overall thing and it was quite well recorded**. I figured hey, since I put so much work into this thing, I might as well share it with you. You can then poach any ideas from it when presenting Mustachianism to your own stubborn friends and family members, or even make them watch the whole 28-minute thing. Also, since companies and local TEDx talk organizers occasionally pester me to come give talks at their venues, I can now respond, “Nah – how about I stay home and go on some hikes with my family while you just watch this video?”

So here’s a link to the full recording on Chris Guillebeau’s Vimeo page (you can ignore that weird name on the title screen – it should say “Mr. Money Mustache” ;-)

WDS 2016: Pete Adeney from Chris Guillebeau on Vimeo.

Chris originally shared that video through this page on his own website – there is a nice intro/discussion around it there.

Also, here’s a link to my slides and transcript, which I wrote in Powerpoint then converted to a public Google Slides presentation. Copy, plagiarize and share those ideas around as much as you like. You can even personally give my entire talk to your own company if you like – I found it was a lot of fun to deliver.

That’s it – no real article today as another sunny day beckons. But I am hard at work on more experiments and persuasive entertainment for you, as the project continues.

 


* The lines I forgot when giving the talk were:

Every financial adviser, and newspaper journalist, and even these softie liberals who are supposed to be working to make sure the common person gets a fair share. They’re all still stuck in this basic assumption that luxury products are part of the recipe for human happiness. “Well, the rich people can all afford cars and suburban houses and Starbucks, so we need to make sure the poor people can afford this stuff too, to ensure a fair society!” They never even think to question it. Which means most of their advice is useless at best.

** The stage production at the WDS is pretty amazing. Gigantic, glitzy with top-of-the-line people, lighting, and equipment. The only sad part (for me) is that I now realize they recorded it with a camera that’s up high in the seats. Meanwhile, among many other rookie mistakes, I was looking down to talk to the first level of the audience, which are the only ones you see due to  the bright lights on your face. In the video, it looks like I am talking to the floor. Also, since I talk with my hands and not my face, I would have preferred to have them use a full-body shot instead of that awkwardly-close shot so much. But whatever – still better than anything I could have recorded myself!

  • Matt Warnert October 10, 2016, 10:27 am

    Great presentation, I watched is over at MoneyBoss already. I’ll be sure to spread the message.

    Reply
    • Stockbeard October 10, 2016, 4:00 pm

      +1
      Nothing new in this talk for us mustachians, but awesome talk nonetheless. I’ll see if this different medium does a better job at convincing some of my friends.

      Reply
      • Lurker October 11, 2016, 4:53 pm

        Pete I love you man!

        Reply
        • Dividend Growth Investor October 13, 2016, 10:35 am

          I really enjoyed the video MMM and shared it with others who I know in real life.

          Congrats on 11 years of Early Retirement!

          DGI

          Reply
        • lurker October 15, 2016, 11:03 am

          Paying my kids to watch this as they start their careers just out of college….Hope they listen!!!!!!

          Reply
  • PoF October 10, 2016, 10:27 am

    Love it! I watched it a couple weeks ago and featured it in a Sunday Best post. It’s a great intro to the whole MMM philosophy. Lame that you couldn’t have a beer on stage. At least you didn’t try to fake it.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    Reply
  • Bill October 10, 2016, 10:31 am

    Do you mean a real clown, or someone dressed as one? Because I’m scared now.

    Reply
    • stoaX October 24, 2016, 1:46 pm

      stay away from the edge of the woods and you’ll be ok.

      Reply
  • Mustard Seed Money October 10, 2016, 10:42 am

    I think if more people thought like you did that there would be a tremendous revolution in this country. Just think about how much more productive people would be if they got to pursue their passions instead of a paycheck.

    I am trying as quickly as possible to reach FIRE so that I can spend time, my most valuable resource, doing things that actually interest me. I can’t wait to reach my Nerd Nirvana like you!!!

    Reply
  • Mr Crazy Kicks October 10, 2016, 10:43 am

    Nice work! I feel the same way about public speaking (though I never had an audience that big,) its scary at first, but then it’s fun when you give your talk. And when your done you can have a beer and enjoy the accomplishment.

    Congratulations on being retired for 11 years. I just passed 3 months, and am enjoying my own nerd nirvana. There is so much to learn and to do that unlimited free time still doesn’t seem like enough :)

    Reply
  • Bill October 10, 2016, 10:50 am

    Congratulations on the great talk! You really captured the audience and communicated the message well. All the preparation and creativity paid off! Please keep speaking. Maybe a 10 minute version for easier consumption – like a TED talk!

    Reply
    • counting down October 12, 2016, 11:19 am

      I think a TED Talk would be excellent and teachers in schools use it in lessons, so imagine hooking in the younger generation…

      Reply
  • Ken October 10, 2016, 10:50 am

    Wow! I just listened to your video and that was amazing. I plan to have my wife watch it and to share it with my friends. It is hard to get some of them to make the effort to read your posts, but now that I can stream it to them on their big flat screens so they don’t even need to make the effort take out the catheter or change the bed pan to get your message.

    Ken

    Reply
  • Dan S. October 10, 2016, 10:51 am

    That was awesome. What was the line you forgot?

    Reply
  • ZootsTwin October 10, 2016, 10:57 am

    Loved the talk, and put a link to it on my Facebook page, calling it “life changing stuff, right here, for free.” :)

    While I respect, admire and strive to emulate as often as possible your commitment to staying home and hiking, I’d offer this: think how many more people you could reach through the TED or TEDx platform, and the credibility it would bring to your message. Getting your message out through that channel could be incredibly effective.

    Reply
  • EL October 10, 2016, 10:59 am

    I saw the video on Friday it was a good talk. As a regular reader of the blog it was filled with some of the standard MMM talk, it was cool to see how funny Pete really is. The audience liked it, and it was delivered by a great speaker. Waiting to see the 2.0 version of the talk next year at FIncon.

    Reply
  • The Green Swan October 10, 2016, 11:08 am

    Well done! Congrats on the great speech. I think it is a powerful message saying that getting rich and retiring is a lot easier than people think, I just wish more people spent time thinking about it. Instead they spend more time researching whether to get the GMC Acadia or the Ford Explorer…Enjoy the beautiful weather!

    Reply
  • Lucas October 10, 2016, 11:10 am

    Cool. Nice to see an article that’s not an advertorial, just like the old days.

    Reply
  • Vj October 10, 2016, 11:42 am

    Great work as always !!

    I got hooked on to the site only after reading few articles – was very skeptical when began reading. Have benefitted a lot and few months close to quitting my job. These kind of speeches will drive message faster – may be you should do these more / ted.

    Reply
  • Jon October 10, 2016, 11:45 am

    Fantastic summary MMM. I can’t wait to use these points as my ammunition with my spendy friendys.

    I really wasn’t expecting much meat from part 3, but that was actually my favourite part – well done.

    Reply
  • Chad October 10, 2016, 11:45 am

    You’re a dead ringer for Justin Timberlake. Just need some frosted tips!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 10, 2016, 2:50 pm

      Oh, I wish. All the cheesy boy-band history aside, Justin Timberlake is a ridiculously talented and funk-loving dude. Especially amazing is his “history of rap” with Jimmy Fallon.

      Reply
  • Todd October 10, 2016, 11:49 am

    All of your preparation definitely paid off. I’m really impressed with the results. Public speaking is difficult, but you had an excellent pace and made it enjoyable for the audience. Maybe this video will help drop the % of Sucka Clown Consumers down to 94%.

    Reply
  • Jim F October 10, 2016, 11:56 am

    I saw the video off the WDS website. Very good! You were funny and insightful and appreciate your brutal honesty. I’m very interested in attending WDS next year; any chance of you speaking again?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 10, 2016, 2:46 pm

      Nope!

      The WDS was a great event to enjoy once, however. Really nice people all around.

      Reply
      • Melissa de Seguin January 15, 2017, 1:03 am

        Maybe I’ve been living abroad too long but the over zealous laughter was a bit much, almost a distraction from some of the great points you were making. Hopefully the majority walked away with some insight and not just warm fuzzy feelings of having been to a comedy show which clearly they thought they were at!

        Reply
  • Will October 10, 2016, 12:09 pm

    Absolutely inspirational! And it is totally understandable that the volume of posts would wane here and there almost 6 years in. The content is as valuable as ever!

    Reply
  • Gidon October 10, 2016, 12:40 pm

    Here’s a way to save time and enjoy that vimeo video
    https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-speed-up-Vimeo-videos-to-2x-3x

    Reply
    • FreeTIm October 13, 2016, 4:12 am

      But; @Gidon, cadence and speed are an important part of any presentation where the teacher builds in deliberate pauses to allow student thought to catch up plus (at times) comedic timing. The overall speed is intentional on the part of the presenter, assuming you’re watching because you respect what the presenter is imparting, why would want to mess with that, cheat enjoyment and sacrifice knowledge absorption rate – what’s the payoff are we just saving two minutes? Choice of individual I suppose but for me, I’m not fast-forwarding. Very respectfully, because I think Choice is good, -freeTim

      Reply
  • Braz October 10, 2016, 12:41 pm

    Great summary of 400+ articles!

    Reply
  • Diego October 10, 2016, 12:52 pm

    Great! Loved the part about Internet tricksters. I am from Brazil and they are all over the place.

    Reply
  • Vicki October 10, 2016, 12:57 pm

    Love this – “Permanent Nerd Nirvana” and I’ll be back there in just a few months I hope! Thanks for sharing your materials to MMM. I always send people to your site, but I feel funny about sharing things without permission – so we’ll share away now! Amazing how much your 31 year old and 41 year old pics look alike. Clearly early retirement is treating you well! Off to watch the WDS video…

    Reply
  • DailyGrindFree October 10, 2016, 1:06 pm

    My wife and watched it this morning and really enjoyed it. Great talk. Well done.

    Reply
  • Mrs. Mad Money Monster October 10, 2016, 1:17 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this presentation! I was searching the web for it after your blog post about it but failed miserably. This blog was one of the first I found relating to personal finance and early retirement. Your account of daily life as a retiree has inspired my own path. I will be sure to use your slides and presentation in my own circle! There is no reason anyone needs to be a slave to consumerism and cubicles.

    Reply
  • DLcygnet October 10, 2016, 1:26 pm

    “If you’re a nerd like me, imagine having unlimited free time, money, and good health to spend the next 60 years working on and learning whatever you want.”

    I imagine you throwing your hat in the mix with Musk, Blue Origin, and now Boeing for the race to Mars. And then showing them how they could cut their energy costs/requirements in half if they would just ship bicycles to the red planet. Even better – have those 100 astronauts pedal exercise bikes tied to generators in the capsule all the way to Mars. Less risk of muscle atrophy anyway. After that: How to stop polluting the oceans with underwater bicycles.

    Thanks for posting the video!

    Reply
  • Xtine October 10, 2016, 1:33 pm

    That was a GREAT talk. Sure, well delivered, but your content is exactly the right stuff. I’ve been a fan of yours since Jacob “rehomed” his ERE-ers (earlyretirementextreme.com) to you. And what you say, this is the path I’ve walked, for realsies. In 1999, I got out (early… heh.. without a degree) of graduate school with a net worth of NEGATIVE $35k. I got my first real job, bought a car on credit (not a horrible decision, I got a loss leader Camry and it’s STILL my car today), become worth negative $50k, and set off with a specific goal of “work and save in my 30’s, retire by 40”. Well, I missed 40 by a bit, but I am solid now and can retire. I haven’t yet because, as you mention, I don’t hate my job. But a few years ago, I did (love that you mentioned this too) “award” myself permanent 3 day weekends (helllooooo. Monday is now my favorite day of the week) and a super flexible schedule and I really only put in about 15 – 20 hours a week for a full time paycheck. The tree of me is beginning to fruit. I just signed up to volunteer with Girl Scouts, and I’ll be doing more, teaching kids the nerd arts (electrical engineering, programming, math, problem solving, being competent humans). My financial independence is AWESOME for everybody. And thanks for doing this talk, because I can forward it to interested friends and tell them “This guy did the talk so I didn’t have to, listen and learn.” And yeah, most of my middle age friends rolled their eyes at me for decades but I’ve noticed they’re rolling their eyes a LOT less in the past few years and starting to wonder if I might not have been as crazy as they thought. Heh… come on kids, it only takes 10 – 15 years from whenever you START, so just friggin START. And also, why did I know you were coming to Portland. hmph

    Reply
    • Xtine October 10, 2016, 1:36 pm

      edit… I meant why did I NOT know you were coming to Portland. You gotta let us in on this stuff. I want to help dominate the world with rationality and awesomeness, you know.

      Reply
    • ScottB. October 10, 2016, 10:50 pm

      I really enjoyed the line, Awesome for Everybody! Because its so true. Even in smaller way the things I do that can eliminate stress.. like the freedom to choose a job that is less stressful make me into a better partner and friend for all the people I care about.

      Reply
  • The MAD Consultant October 10, 2016, 1:34 pm

    MMM you seemed surprised at how many laughs you were getting! Wonderfully done and thanks for sharing it here.

    I will add that despite Tesla and GM having the same market cap doesn’t make either a good investment. And I know you didn’t endorse either company as one in the video. Just thought I’d point that out.

    Reply
  • Rick October 10, 2016, 1:36 pm

    Where can I find the prison sentence graph that you had shown in your presentation? I’d like to take a closer look at it. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 10, 2016, 2:39 pm

      Hi Rick – look for my article called “The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement” – or if you need the stuff I pasted on top, look at the slides I linked from this article.

      Reply
  • Howard Seth Miller October 10, 2016, 1:45 pm

    Only 5% in the USA have visited your website! I think there should be a Mr Money Mustache course offered in every high school in the country… would be great insights to get at that age.

    Reply
    • Andy Termehr October 11, 2016, 10:48 am

      I think there should be a Mr Money Mustache course offered in every high school in the country… would be great insights to get at that age.

      +1000

      Reply
      • lurker October 15, 2016, 1:13 pm

        then a freshman refresher…..never hurts to hear the truth over and over

        Reply
    • Chubby October 14, 2016, 9:00 pm

      I was surprised that 90% of the blog traffic comes from the U.S. because there is strong representation in the forum section from people from other countries including Australia, New Zealand, England, and Germany.

      Reply
  • Roadrunner October 10, 2016, 1:46 pm

    Great presentation, I’m definitely gonna spread it. The things you say are all principles that I also strongly believe in.
    Keep up the good work and enjoy the well deserved freedom!

    Reply
  • The Roamer October 10, 2016, 1:50 pm

    Great talk Mr.Money Mustache.

    I am so happy you shared this with us. You really have been a turning point for our family. I am so happy I stumbled onto that doughroller interview so long ago.

    So what was the line you forgot before the slide with all the freeways and suburbs?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 10, 2016, 2:38 pm

      You’ll have to look in the slides I provided to find out! :-)
      (update: I later went back and added it to the “*” footnotes of the post.

      Reply
  • Matt October 10, 2016, 1:51 pm

    “imagine having unlimited free time, money, and good health to spend the next 60 years working on and learning whatever you want.” This is pretty much the dream.

    (Excellent presentation, by the way. Saw it by way of JD Roth’s site.)

    Reply
  • Hollyluja October 10, 2016, 1:58 pm

    You keep apologizing for not posting more- stop! I’m so glad that you are only posting when you have something new or important to say. It means that every post is worth reading. I set aside time and mental space to process them all.

    If I start wishing I had more of the MMM, there are always your archives and forums.

    It also means that you are out there enjoying the life you’ve created for yourself. I’m not FI yet, but I also did a lot of work to change my life 8 years ago, and I am grateful every day to my past self for that work. It was painful at the time, but I’m working my dream job now, with a great family and community, and only more awesomeness to look forward to in the next few years when I FIRE.

    Reply
    • Diego October 10, 2016, 2:53 pm

      I second this. So many bloggers that are good all around post so many “filler”, repetitive articles because they need to do so to live… Only posting relevant stuff is another way you are being authentic.

      Reply
      • lurker October 15, 2016, 11:06 am

        I go back read the “classics” when I have to…ha ha ha

        Reply
  • Rob October 10, 2016, 2:10 pm

    One of the best presentations of the overall MMM philosophy that you’ve done. Great work!

    Reply
  • Mrs. Picky Pincher October 10, 2016, 2:21 pm

    Oooh, thanks MMM! I’ve got some great viewing for tonight. Maybe I can just throw an iPad with this video on loop at every angry, irrational person who judges my FIRE goals as they drive away in their clown-Cadillac.

    Ahhh, if only.

    But that’s the real challenge: reaching readers who think differently from you. If it helps, I remember coming across your site via a Yahoo syndicated story (or something to that effect). I otherwise would have never heard about MMM and never would have started my own debt-free journey. So I think focusing on large news outlets that can reach a general audience could work quite well. ;) Mustache domination!

    Reply
  • Joshua October 10, 2016, 2:23 pm

    Thanks for Sharing this message MMM. it needs to be broadcast-ed to the World!

    Reply
    • Michal October 11, 2016, 7:25 am

      It is :) Greetings from Poland ;)

      Reply
  • Lisa October 10, 2016, 2:46 pm

    I cannot wait to share this presentation with my friends! We typically have a “therapy” night each Monday evening (conveniently, that’s tonight!) where we discuss political issues (plenty of material these days), books we are reading, and our daily dramas over a good wine. I think tonight I will add this to the docket. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • Jeff Booth October 10, 2016, 2:53 pm

    Very good video. I’ll be sharing this on Facebook, thank you.

    Reply
  • Helen October 10, 2016, 2:57 pm

    Howdy, fellow naive Canadian here. This hit the spot, now take your show on the road! If you want to that is.. Thanks for the ongoing inspiration, it’s nice to remember I’m part of this impressive cult, a chosen one, instead of a lone weirdo.

    Reply
  • mike October 10, 2016, 3:07 pm

    You’re a good man Pete. Thanks, and thanks for all your inspiration in the past.

    Reply
  • Karl October 10, 2016, 3:22 pm

    I’d definitely like to see a revised, condensed 10-minute TED style version of this too. Awesome work regardless MMM!

    Reply
  • Dina October 10, 2016, 3:52 pm

    I am so glad you made this video. I can share this with my friends. For decades, I have been preaching the same thing. Well, the money part, anyway. No one seemed to believe me. Yet, here I am, in my own home, after retiring from my teaching job nearly 27 years ago. Sure, I do still work for myself, but it’s different. I don’t buy designer clothes, or food. In fact, I still get made fun of for making my own clothes. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Reply
    • Kathy Abell January 17, 2017, 12:32 am

      DIna I think it is GREAT that you make your own clothes! If more people had the time and talent to sew their own clothes there would be less of a demand for cheap duds produced in sweat shops by workers making less than minimum wage due to being paid per piece sewn.

      Reply
  • RocDoc October 10, 2016, 3:54 pm

    Dear MMM,
    Thank you for all you do and that was an inspiring talk. I wonder how many people your message has touched and changed their life for the unimaginable better. Don’t worry if you don’t post much. The MMM Forum “is alive” and you have such an archive of knowledge in the old posts. I notice more and more FIRE blogs every month and am so happy to see all these people enjoying freedom. I am fairly confident that you inspired many of these new bloggers!

    Reply
  • rjack October 10, 2016, 4:20 pm

    Really great job! I hope you are still planning on writing a book about all this stuff.

    Reply
    • lurker October 15, 2016, 1:14 pm

      just edit the blog….great book here already

      Reply
  • chasesfish October 10, 2016, 5:57 pm

    MMM – Thank you for doing the speech, I really enjoyed watching it and you nailed the presentation. I hope you’ll find your way into doing another one of these in a couple years as your philosophy (and ideas) grow.

    Giving the same presentation over and over feels too much like work, but don’t overlook the impact you’re making on the thousands of people who follow you

    Reply
  • Erik Ian October 10, 2016, 7:06 pm

    I’m going to translate this shit into Portuguese so maybe I can bring some more people to the Dark Side of the Force. I promise you that I’ll do my best to keep all the swearing as sound as in its original language. To be honest, you should recruit some fellow readers to help create a multilanguage version of this website, it would be nice if the third world people could access these ideas outside of an automatic translation website. We need to value frugality (it’s a part of our lifestyle that we want to get rid of) and stop envying that rich-people-crap that’s screwing the planet up.

    Reply
  • Mrs. Faithfulstache October 10, 2016, 7:30 pm

    The message of frugal happiness world-saving needs to be spread far and wide! I find myself continually surprised with people’s unwillingness to attempt even the smallest of happiness-increasing actions in their lives.
    Keep on spreading the good word!

    Reply
  • Edifi October 10, 2016, 7:49 pm

    Hey cool! I’m in your slide deck! CM 2015 ftw!

    Reply
  • ZJ Thorne October 10, 2016, 7:50 pm

    Thanks for letting those of us not in the room hear this excellent talk. I’m delighted that you still choose to share your thoughts with the world. More folks will be impacted.

    Reply
  • Gran October 10, 2016, 8:15 pm

    You have inspired the masses to STOP what they are doing, and look at things differently. Great talk! Very inspirational!

    Reply

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