Mr. Money Mustache vs. Dave Ramsey

Being a newcomer to the financial guru circle, Mr. Money Mustache decided to check out what his competitors have been saying  throughout historical times to see if they have their stories straight. So he spent a recent weekend listening, in full, to the audio book version of Dave Ramsey’s ultimate career work: the Total Money Makeover*.

As a disclaimer before I launch into the comparisons, Dave Ramsey seems like a good guy whose work has improved the lives of many people.  He’s already rich, but he continues to tour the world and sell motivational products to people and make even more money. Mr. Money Mustache will NEVER appear on infomercials or try to sell you books and CDs.  He’s already retired, and that would be way too much non-fun work. So I wish to arouse no wrath from any of his lawyers.

But fuck, what an annoying audio book that is. I’d never heard of this Dave Ramsey guy before becoming a public figure myself recently. But it turns out he is this Southern Preacher-type guy who has had a talk radio show for many years. He yells a lot when delivering his material, and sprinkles in plenty of biblical quotations and references to the interventions that god(s) make into the financial affairs of deserving subjects.  He likes to repeat a small group of mundane quotes over and over, while chuckling to himself as if they are funny. “Because if you live like no one else today, you’ll get to live like no one else later!”. And he inexplicably repeats the incorrect statement that the stock market averages returns of 12% per year in all of his examples.

So how does the Mr. Money Mustache target audience differ from that of Mr. Ramsey? I’m crediting Junior Mustaches as being a bit more adult than the folks needing the “baby steps” in his plan. You don’t need be slapped around to get your first $1000 available for tiny emergencies like a water heater replacement.

You are already making enough money and paying your bills.. you’ve got some self discipline. You’re just wondering how you can get some actual RICHES going on and have the option of having some more freedom in the not-too-distant future. And perhaps you like the funky rhymes that Mr. Money Mustache writes more than what spills from the keyboards of the other MCs.

What else do we do differently here? Well, I think the way of the ‘stash is different because I’ve never used any kind of budget. Never in my life. It seems inefficient to me, and a possible stumbling point because really, who can remember to do a chore like that every month? I believe budgets have worked for many people. But I have had greater success breaking it down to a much smaller level: the individual transaction. As a Mustachian you will learn to THINK before you make EVERY money transaction and optimize that transaction right at that moment. In short, you just don’t buy ANYTHING until you’ve really thought about it. This eliminates most purchases outright. Then you optimize the remaining purchases so they cost about 75% less than normal whenever possible.

For those wanting to wade in to test the waters and still see immediate benefits, I’ll present ideas for optimizing EACH AREA of life’s spending. And a few for income. You can adopt each one, and win, or ignore it, and not win in that area. Assuming you are currently getting by with very little savings, your savings will increase based on the number of changes you make. If you make them all, you’ll be rich in just a few years, woohoo!

This sounds simplistic, but it works because this country is so rich, and so cheap, that  even on a minimum wage income, you still have enough to buy food and shelter. And as someone smart enough to be reading Mr. Money Mustache right now, you’re probably earning much more than the minimum wage. That allows you to add luxuries like an efficient used car and carefully spaced extras like entertainment and toys, while still keeping MOST of your money for kickass saving and investment.

The other thing that Mr. Money Mustache will not do, is say things like “God brought a Jaguar back into my life” and “God tends to pour blessings on people going the direction he wants them to go”. (These are actual quotes from the Dave Ramsey book, by the way). I think we get enough religion by just listening to the political debates, and when it’s time to get rich, we do it using Solid Mathematics and Occasional Manly Swearing.

That’s why here, we maintain a separation of Church and ‘Stash.

Because we’re using Math, for example, I’m not going to tell you to pay off your smallest debts first as with the Ramsey “debt snowball”. I’m going to tell you to pay off your highest interest debts first. And I’m not going to tell you to cut up your credit cards and that you can’t have a home equity line of credit. I think these things are GREAT – but you will use them with the same discipline as if you were spending crisp cash freshly pulled from the Lips of a Cute Baby Angel. You must love your money and feel great pain every time you lose it by spending instead of keeping it by investing. And because you love it, you must always put it to work in the most efficient way possible.  That is my specialty. Thanks for choosing Mr. Money Mustache.


*Don’t worry, I didn’t actually buy something like that at 30 bucks, are you crazy? Just borrowed it from a friend.

  • Greg R May 19, 2011, 10:57 am

    I’m back and enjoying. Seems like swearing can save money too, by relieving stress and causing laughter.

    I wonder if you could publish an article on the relationship between spending and life style. Personally, I have a nice place to live and do not commute to work. I believe this simple situation has saved me lots of cash, but can’t provide an exact number since a good part of the benefits are intangible.

    What if there was a study on people who live in town and commute say 1 mile to work or less, vs an out of towner who commutes 35 minutes to work or more, one way.

    I think the reults of such a study would be surprising. Time saved, affects on health, cost of commuting, environmental impact, mental stress, safety of self, exercise time, eating habits and so no. This single and seemingly small factor of commute distance has many ramification. I believe Mr. Money could do a better job demonstrating the relationship between a more healty life style and cash saving ability.

    • MMM May 20, 2011, 8:39 pm

      Yes Greg R, that sounds like two good articles to me. One that is a more detailed examination of commuting, since I agree most people are still drastically underestimating its total cost in money and lifestyle.. and another that might fit into the one I’ve been dreaming up for a while called “Health = Wealth” :-)

  • Sarah May 19, 2011, 11:32 am

    Dave Ramsey’s approach takes into account the tenets of behavioral finance and how people are able to learn the discipline necessary to save and invest money. It is simple but effective.

    I’m dismayed that so early in the lifespan of this blog you’ve chosen to criticize others rather than giving support to your own ideas for improving financial discipline and education.

    • MMM May 19, 2011, 11:51 am

      Oh hello there Sarah!

      FINALLY, someone disagrees with Mr. Money Mustache! Congratulations on being the blog’s first heckler.

      I definitely agree with you that Ramsey’s approach has worked for many, as I mentioned in the second paragraph. I was just pointing out that his methods are fucking annoying, as described in the third paragraph.

      Part of the fun of Mr. Money Mustache is that he DOES make fun of other people. Including himself. The world is full of personal finance books and blogs which cover all the same material I do.

      It’s just that to a certain niche audience, these publications are considered boring to read, vague on specific advice, and completely lacking in Swearing. That’s the audience we call the Mustachians.

      Another characteristic of this audience is that they are already, from what I can tell, much more disciplined and advanced than the get-a-payday-loan-so-you-can-buy-a-pack-of-smokes crowd that benefits from the Baby Steps. As mentioned in the Fourth Paragraph.

      Still, I appreciate your heckling and I hope I get more of it. I’m not speaking out against you personally here, just trying to point out the actual point of the article.


      • Mr. Meager Mustache March 3, 2013, 8:44 am

        I’m with you on the “boring to read” part of most personal finance books / blogs, and that’s the main reason I’m reading through all of your posts from start to finish!

        I was reading a blog the other day that shall remain nameless after catching a few posts here for the first time, and the guest author was talking about maybe saving some money by bringing lunch to work, and possibly eating out less for dinner so that she could pay a little bit more extra on her huge student loan every month, so that she could get to all the other debt she has. WTF!?!?! How about NO eating out?

        As for the Dave Ramsey stuff, I liken his idea of paying down the smallest balance first to your idea of paying off your home mortgage before ‘staching more money into an index fund. The latter may be more profitable, but the first poses some peace of mind that may be more valuable in the long run.

        I have to give Dave some credit. I found out about him in my early 20s and it helped me get my finances in order and start a ROTH IRA even though I was barely making any money as a self employed musician. Granted, my dad tried to give me the same advice in my teens, but…

        Going back and listening to his radio show now is a little painful and not required once you take the 15 minutes to understand the principles he preaches. Also, go check out his retirement calculator on his webpage. It uses the 12% average earning when it shows you how much you can save over your lifetime or whatever. Way lame.

        Anyways, all that to say maybe once people get the Dave Ramsey ideas in their head, they’ll come to MMM for the good stuff. After all, my wife and I paid down the high interest balance debt first, and we’re saving for a huge down payment on a house and will knock that mortgage out before additional investing on top of our maxed retirement accounts.

        • Anthony Vanover September 10, 2020, 7:28 am

          I have to say. I am shocked at how accurate you are, given I am replying 7 years after you. I was told of Ramsey a couple months ago. I haven’t had to try too hard as I am only 19 (No debt, living with parents, haven’t bought a CHEAP, USED, FOR CASH truck, yet). Through the ArtofManliness that I found after Ramsey, I was shown here. This IS the good stuff. I really like the specifics of the numbers and situations.

      • hilary March 21, 2019, 7:10 pm

        I have to say that I have only found out about MMM this week and have started reading right back at 2011. Neither had I heard of Dave Ramsey. But I do find MMM blog to be comical and to bring forth the occasional belly laugh whereas I just could not read some Bible basher spouting frugality yet becoming richer and richer from it.
        Keep it up Mr M. Good advice with humour keeps readers interested. And being interested makes people read and learn.
        Love you already xx

      • Denise April 4, 2024, 6:08 am

        I’m actually a certified Ramsey financial coach and I’ve always told people that Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is a great first step, (Baby Steps, as he says) for those who do not have an upbringing of sound financial responsibility, have had no role models, and as a result, have no idea where to begin to stop the financial hemorrhage. I’ve seen people on the cusp of financial and family collapse dodge the ragged cliff edge and turn the destiny of their families around. All good stuff. I was one of those people.

        But ….as with any “University” education, one must graduate at some point and move on to carving out a real life with the skills they’ve acquired. You can build well on a stable foundation, once the financial earth stops quaking under your feet. Once people are on solid ground, they leave crisis mode and have the mental band-width to think bigger. To move on to the variety of approaches available, MMM being one, to decide what path and strategies work for them.

        When I first started down the Ramsey path, it was a good thing to bust up my credit cards, but I didn’t close my accounts. And I don’t recommend others do that either. I just coach them to remove the temptation from easy access in their wallet. As adults, they must want the change more than I can want it for them, though. Once they are stable, I start pointing people to Bigger Pockets, etc.to help them get a 10,000 ft view to plan their strategy forward. I have them read Your Money or Your Life at the beginning of their Ramsey Journey. I try to not despise the day of small beginnings, after all, I don’t expect the wounded to run right out of the gate. I walk beside them, show them the small baby steps, then help them graduate to scaling mountains.

        Any tool that helps people shake free from debt slavery has value in my book. Ramsey isn’t a forever plan, it’s triage. Best to keep that in mind and not view it as the end all, be all. It’s just ONE tool in a box of many to choose from. I try not to knock the crutches out from under the wounded if that’s all they have to lean on at the beginning of their journey.

  • Steve May 19, 2011, 12:28 pm

    @MMM. I like to keep a separation between church and stash, because I’ve found that the church usually has it’s eye on my stash. I’m just kidding, but it does seem like they need money even more than I do.

    I like your transaction based approached. It suits me very well. Now, my wife, she likes a good budget. She also balances her checkbook every month…and though she hasn’t caught the bank in a lie after 20 odd years of balancing…she’s still looking ;-)

    I love her dearly and one of us has to be organized. Good thing it isn’t me. She just tells me what to do..and I do it.

    @Sarah, I’m sure MMM’s post was meant tongue in cheek. For sure, Dave Ramsey has helped a lot of people and I don’t think anyone is trying to dispute that. However, if I was in debt, and someone told me I should start paying off my debt starting with the lowest interest rates…I’d do the math and figure they didn’t know what they were talking about and move on to the next guru.

    But that’s just me. I work with computers and I always check the math.

    However, someone in a more people oriented field would subscribe to a Dave Ramsey approach and the quick hits would serve as positive reinforcement and motivation for your next debt.

    But as for me, I want the real deal. If I can get out of debt faster or retire sooner…tell me that way first. Then you can give me the option that may work better if I have a problem with motivation.

    • Matt M December 17, 2016, 5:55 am

      I believe D Ramsey says to pay off the small debt amount (not smallest interest rate). From a psychological stand point, this could make sense as you can see the progress with every debt that has a fat, red line through it as having been paid off. However, from a hair on fire emergency, it certainly makes sense to knock out the highest interest rate first while paying just the minimums on everything else

      • William Navarre March 25, 2019, 4:49 pm

        I don’t even get that argument. No matter what plan you follow, if you stick to it, each month you will be one month closer to the goal. You can check the math every month if you want to.

        Focusing on the remaining balance alone is dumb. I’d equate it to be equally dumb as thinking about how much money is available in your IRA without considering if it’s traditional or Roth. Maybe Ramsey should tell people to use a traditional IRA: “You’ll have an easier time making the number go up faster, which will motivate you!” (He does not give this advice).

        There’s no reason to believe that the most available number (current balance) is the most useful number to look at or the most useful measure progress.

  • Mr. Frugal Toque May 19, 2011, 1:35 pm

    Does Dave Ramsay know that the bible forbids charging interest to people in your own nation? You can only get interest off of foreigners. Not sure where dividends and capital gains fit in to such a scheme.

    Or maybe we should just go with the math and logic thing. Whatever.

    I prefer a doctor who tells me what’s going on and how to fix it. I need competent advice. If I’m fat, my doctor should say, “You’re fat, lay off the fast food and start biking to work” rather than try to hug me and make me feel better about myself.

    Ditto with the savings advice. “Stop buying so much shit so you can retire earlier” is much more useful than a preacher babbling bible verses at me in an attempt to elicit the same behaviour.

  • MMM May 19, 2011, 2:05 pm

    Nice, nice work Mustachians.

    I’m really enjoying this comment thread because it reminds me of the classic format of a Jurassic 5 track, where the rappers each take turns to throw down some absolutely killer rhymes in each of their distinctive voices..

    —Contributing MC Sarah:
    Excuse me, Triple M / I am dismayed that you’re turnin’ into one of them / you see I thought your blog was pretty great / but it’s no fun when you’re turnin’ round and spreadin’ hate!

    You Try to Heckle Mr. Mustache? / Well I’m not spreadin’ hate, I’m spreadin’ cash! / You see while the other rappers praise the lord / Mustachians are savin’ steada gettin’ bored.

    —DJ Steve:
    I like to separate my church and ‘Stash / and unlike Ram-sey I check the math / You see they both agree to pay the debt / but MMM’s way’s a better bet

    —DJ Frugal Toque:
    That Southern Preacher is outa whack! / Does the bible make me give my Dividends back? / I’d rather have the Doctor say I’m fat / Than to have another bible chat!

    • Happy clam May 25, 2011, 7:07 am

      Subscribing to this sh*t right now/
      finally some PF blog that makes me “wow/
      P-finance for the adult crowd/

      that already knows that math/
      ,swearing and elegant solutions can grow the stash/

      which is exactly what i want/
      not tips for counting my toilet paper at hand”

      I’m a lousy rapper but I reckon I can have fun on this site while maybe learning more about PF..

    • MJB September 30, 2015, 4:01 pm

      Har! One of the best comments ever on this blog. Still hoping for an article that exposes spectator-sports fanaticism to multiple face-punches. That would be a good one to throw in some dope rhymes.

  • js May 19, 2011, 2:50 pm

    I think you should have a rap battle with ERE Jacob

  • Heather May 19, 2011, 3:55 pm

    Mr MM says:
    “Spend your cash like it was maybe
    Fresh from the lips of a flyin’ Baby”
    Man, if I did that, I’d be ready to jump
    Every time my portofolio took a serious dump.

    Ten years of savings and I’m no big fat winner
    I don’t see no 7% real rate coming back in here!
    Those guys think the know, but they got no ability.
    The new norm in markets is all volatility.

  • Chris From Toronto May 20, 2011, 3:04 am


    I just discovered this blog, and I’ve been reading through it for the past hour or so. I’d just like to let you know how much I appreciate all of it, so, thanks!

    I’ll spread the word, and maybe find you a few more readers. :-)

    • MMM May 20, 2011, 9:09 am

      Hey there Chris, thanks for the note! Glad to hear you are enjoying the words so far.

      Also, Yay Toronto! (I grew up around Hamilton myself :-))


  • Anon May 25, 2011, 2:14 pm

    I have no debt and I hate budgets too! I just can’t seem to take the time to do one and I have no problem managing my finances without one. Knowing that I’m not the only one out there with this “problem”, I finally admitted that. Thank you.

    Just came across your blog and love your sense of humor. Good luck!

  • Sue in SmellA May 26, 2011, 11:55 am

    A breath of fresh air! Found you through ERE, and really loving it! I’m definitely past the baby steps you describe. Still at my corporate job (for now), and gonna spend some of today’s work hours reading your blog.

    Thank you!

  • GL June 2, 2011, 12:52 pm

    “He likes to repeat a small group of mundane quotes over and over, while chuckling to himself as if they are funny.”
    Maybe he chuckles because he can’t believe people take that rubbish seriously? :^P As a former copy editor, I cringe whenever I see his “If you will live like no one else today, you’ll get to live like no one else later” mantra. Not only is it grammatically incorrect, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, either. :(

    I think his success is caused mostly by the brute simplicity of his program. One would be hard-pressed to create a debt-reduction strategy that would be simpler than Ramsey’s. Are you up for this challenge, MMM? ;)

    • MMM June 2, 2011, 1:15 pm

      I like the simplicity, and I agree that’s a key to Mr. Ramsey’s success. I think other keys to his success are also his tendencies to boss people around, to act like a preacher, and to be very confident. Some people just like having someone to obey.

      Mr. Money Mustache is pretty bossy as well, which seems to keep his readers in line. I also like skipping over the typical wishy-washy advice about “figure out what your spending needs are” or “try paying down your loans a little bit each month” and instead just tell people exactly what they are not allowed to buy. It’s more fun that way, and fun is the real point of all of this – and the real point of life itself.

  • DDD June 4, 2011, 11:35 pm

    More than a budget, tracking your spending for a while when trying to figure out where to cut was important for us. DW and I were sure that we spent too much on food, or toilet paper, or gas… when we actually started keeping track we were in shock. It was our “miscellaneous” spending that was totally insane. We thought that we were spending $300 or so per month on things like gifts, baby clothes and entertainment and it turned out we were averaging $1500 per month (18K per year, or almost 25% of our income).

  • jDeppen June 6, 2011, 11:20 pm

    I’m with you on the “separation of Church and ‘Stash”. I’m just glad Dave is not over the top (compared to what I’m used to). I’m currently living in God country (Ft Knox KY area) and when people learn I follow Dave Ramsey, many times they want to know if I follow everything (meaning have I been “saved”). It’s really annoying. (sorry, rant)

    I’m a big Dave fan so I can understand @Sarah’s comment. I’m also a big ERE fan and I’m becoming a MMM fan. I think there is room for all and it’s in our (readers) best interests to be “cross-trained” in different approaches. Dave Ramsey was my “gateway drug” to getting real with my money in late 2008 and I recommend his Total Money Makeover to everyone. I think it’s too much of a shock for people to go from “normal” gross consumerism straight to ERE. I see MMM as being in the middle and I have suggested my wife read your posts because she wants to be more knowledgable when it comes to financial decisions (she listened to Dave’s TMM audio book already).

    I’m fairly new to MMM (started at the first post and catching up), the biggest difference I’ve seen so far between Dave and MMM (and ERE) is actual spending. What you said here sums it up for me:
    “you will learn to THINK before you make EVERY money transaction and optimize that transaction right at that moment”

    I think you’re right, you have different audiences. I benefited from the debt snowball, money was tight at that time and it was great to have some quick wins. I have a friend who was turned off by Dave’s yelling and bossing but unfortunately I think that’s what many people need to get their shit together.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Kjnanny January 8, 2012, 5:11 pm

      jDeppen: I believe you are very correct.. I’m tuning in a bit late here, and I find it very interesting reading everyones’ views on Dave Ramsey and MMM. We also benefited from the debt snowball. It made it possible for me to go back to college now that the kiddies are away.

      I look forward to reading more posts by MMM and comments.

  • CrazyMom July 4, 2011, 10:22 pm

    Thank you MMM, I thought I was the only one who found Dave Ramsey’s rambling tome to be tedious, trite, and oftentimes douchey. I think he has some good ideas, but that book is very hard to read. I borrowed it, jumped around to find the useful info (islands in an ocean of fluffy feel-good crap), then returned it….who the hell would buy it? Plus I don’t really 100% trust him seeing as he’s a walking talking brand, and his face and name are everywhere. Thanks so much for thinking more of your audience than Mr. Ramsey, and not talking to us like we’re children. And I love your swearing.

    • Mike January 24, 2016, 10:42 am

      I find his “rants” particularly tedious; I just fast-forward through them. Ditto the “debt free screams” that are repetitive and just short of “(idol) Dave worship” sessions.

      As a Canadian, I also find patronizing how he refuses to identify the city that a caller from here is situated, as if his American listeners are so clueless that saying “Vancouver” or “Hamilton,” for instance, instead of just “Cay-nada” will scare away listeners.

      Having said all that, I still enjoy much of what he has to say but only listen via podcast so I can get quickly to the interesting stuff.

  • Carlos E September 12, 2011, 10:20 am

    @ Steve, Ramsey don’t ask to pay the debt with lower interest rates but the lower debt, even if it has the lower interests rates and the psychology approach is rather very interesting; it worked form me; BUT I really love MMM style, I’ll keep with his advice.

  • Jeh October 12, 2011, 11:34 pm

    This blog fucking kicks it. That is all.

  • Jaclyn October 18, 2011, 7:10 am

    I just finished reading the Total Money Makeover (and yes, it was a free copy). I actually like the Debt Snowball. Mostly because if I follow the interest rate rule, after I finish paying off my credit card debt, my next debt to pay off would be my $80,000 student loan, but with debt snowball, I could have my $8,000 car loan paid off in 8 months.

    Now, my problem is, Dave considers all debt but the mortgage as part of Baby Step 2. It is going to take me 7 to 10 years to pay off my student loan debt and I do not want to wait that long before I start to save for retirement (Baby Step 4).

    My question for MMM and my fellow readers is how should I proceed after my credit card and car are paid off?

    • DD October 18, 2011, 7:48 am

      Actually, real questions is – if you spent $80K on education, how come you can only pay $1000 per month towards your loan? With that kind of education, you should be making $50K plus, so you should be paying off or saving $2000 per month.

      To answer your question – first, you pay your monthly student loan payment (after all other debts are paid), second, you put few thousands (2-3 months of expenses) into an emergency fund, third, you take advantage of any tax-reduced or employer-sponsored plan (if your employer for example contributes 5% of your pay for any 5% you put in, it is 100% return from the day one), fourth, you put the extra money into the investment that pays as much interest as your student loan interest rate (so that you can start building the stash) and the use this investment fund to pay extra money into your student loan every year or two)…

      Good luck!

      • MMM October 18, 2011, 9:07 am

        Thanks for answering the question for me, Dejan! I encourage all Advanced Mustachians to do the same if interested, since there are now too many comments/questions coming in for me to answer all of them.

        • DD October 18, 2011, 10:20 am

          I wish I was “advanced mustachian”. Unlike you, I made every mistake known to man. I dug the hole and have spent last 4 years pulling myself out. Currently, I am in the 5 o’clock shadow phase, working towards Clarke Gable-like thin mustache.

          Paid all my debts last year, now living on 36k per year while earning 80k (until I can eliminate housing expense of $1000 by buying my condo at which time we will need just 24k which is darn good for Canada where food, gas and taxes are much higher) with wife already early-retired at 36 to take care of our baby son, and me cutting my hours down so that I can spend more time with my son…

          However, my stash is only in its infancy with about 50K saved so far. Nowhere near $500K I will probably need to retire comfortably in about 10 years. Still, because I actually love my job and work is my entertainment, I am not too concerned. I could be working at MacDonald’s now and still make enough money to live (but not save anything).

          Thanks for an awesome blog!

      • Jaclyn October 18, 2011, 10:39 am

        Hi DD – I do have a graduate degree, but the main reason my education debt is so high is because I had to put myself through school. Even with scholarships and working, after 6 years in school it tends to add up.

        I do make $50K plus, but now it’s my husband’s turn to finish school. Even if I was single, $50K still does not get you very far in the Greater Boston area. The total amount of money I have going into debt & savings each month is $1500. This will not change till my husband is finished with school in 15 months. Everything else I bring home goes to rent, food, and gas.

        I already have an emergency fund, and my employer contributes 6% of my salary into a 403(b) plan regardless of my contribution level. My employer also has a 401(a) incentive plan – any money left over in our healthcare plan at the end of the year gets divvied up between employees. So it looks like after I get my cc and car paid off, I should be looking for an investment with an interest rate equal to my student loan.

        Thank you for the direction. I will start doing some more research.

        • DD October 18, 2011, 11:27 am

          Awesome! That makes more sense now.

          Your next big challenge will be to make sure to stick with your current budget and spending when your husband starts making money. Then, you shovel his entire pay plus your $1500 per month into the student loans and you will be done in no time.

          Then, you put some money away and in no time you will have more choice to direct your life where you want it to go. And, that is the BEST part of this exercise – being able to chose when to get off the crazy conveyor belt that working life has become.

          Just recently I came out of the debt hole and this year, I actually cut my own pay a bit, and in exchange, I cut the amount of work I do (from about 70-80 per week, down to 40-50). I am also taking mini retirements each year of 1-2 months at the time (working remotely couple of hours per day at the most) and I spend 1 hour every morning with my son, and I am back at home by the time he wakes up from his afternoon nap. Awesome!

          And, as a result, my company owner realized that I have choice now, so he finally started moving on the plan for me to become 50% owner of the 2Mil company via the company-sponsored profit sharing agreement. I was asking for it for years, but now I was able to approach it with “either I own part of this company, or I start my own” – and things finally started progressing.

          Good luck and keep pushing.

    • Shane July 22, 2016, 2:40 pm

      Just a worthwhile note: DR recommends all debts that aren’t the mortgage or more than 50% of your gross income. He mentions in a few of his radio shows that high student debt can be paid down slowly with the house in step 5.

  • Joe November 3, 2011, 3:37 pm

    Heheheh Mr Money Mustache I love you! Truly I think you are hilarious and you bring humor to such a dry subject, it’s great.

    Another humorous thing is that after reading this post, at the very bottom was some adsense, and the first link was a link to Mr Ramsey’s website! That’ funny!

  • Dan December 17, 2011, 5:41 pm

    I have to agree with some of the other posters here. I started my foray in mustache-ness with Dave Ramsey. Love the guy. Then I found ERE. Maybe too extreme for me, but it’s something I can reach for. I like the MMM lifestyle also, because I find a lot of overlap between the first two programs. So, it depends on what mode of communication the viewer wants. Plus, swearing is good, so more swearing must be better, right?

  • Heidi January 23, 2012, 2:45 am

    Lovin’ your blog. And yes, Dave Ramsey has a following, but man is he annoying! So impressed with himself. And don’t get me started on Suze Orman. I just don’t understand the appeal.

    • MMM January 23, 2012, 10:12 am

      Thanks for the backup, Heidi! I still take lots of flack for making fun of the big-name financial celebs.

      Just to carry on the celebrity bashing, I have also been keeping up with Suze Orman’s recent twitter posts. She has been typing out angry remarks and pseudo-legal-threats at some of the small bloggers who have made fun of her new fee-based debit card.

      So she’s not only a driven entrepreneur with a taste for commercial publicity, she’s also a little bit hot-tempered. I mean, come on – if you are a celebrity, people will criticize your every move. That’s a good time to become very calm and controlled, rather than diving down into the mosh pit and trying to battle with the individual revelers.

      • Anna January 21, 2018, 7:49 am

        Thanks for not totally attaching SO. What you are saying might be true (I’m not sure) but I believe she offers a wonderful service by providing information tailored specifically to women and breaking down PF into micro pieces of information. She helped me tremendously in her 20s – and she doesn’t spout bible verses like DR. :D

  • CG January 24, 2012, 5:59 pm

    I’m a conservative Christian. I do believe God blesses our money affairs. That’s a part of the faith I have in Him, not a hoped for result of any of my efforts at following any plan supposedly laid out in the Bible. I don’t pick and pull scriptures out to create my financial plan. The Bible does have an excellent worldview approach to money management though. It doesn’t tell you what you should do, rather it gives examples in the stories and proverbs. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are awesome books!
    It chafes me when people take the Bible out of context and use one or two verses to prove their point, especially when they’re in positions of leadership. That’s when my urge to punch comes out, or the urge to turn over some Temple tables a la Jesus. Ha!
    The example in the comments above about not charging kinsmen interest on loans was a law given to the Jews in the Old Testament. Christians are not bound to the law given to the Jews. Jesus Christ created a new covenant by His death and resurrection. Christians are supposed to just give their things away to other Christians who are in need. Need is the key word. I also don’t believe in tithing as a prerequisite for God’s blessing. That’s more Old Testament stuff. I’ve never understood the logic of giving loads of money to maintain a big old building where we could go once a week and hang out. How does that help others? That wasn’t what Jesus wanted at all. Give 10% if you feel led, but give it directly to someone’s medical bills or on things for the food bank.
    I read DR books as a teen. I spent my free time in my teens by reading every money management book on the shelf at my library. I never heard the DR program until his special last year. I was very irritated at his smug manner. Some of his jokes were very rude and snotty. I’m glad he’s helped a lot of people but I’d admire him more if he worked for free. He set himself up as a financial “evangelist”, but looks like a charlatan for charging people.
    Like MMM, I’m not a budget person. I have one but it’s more of a record-keeping system then what I’m allowed to spend. But that’s natural for me. The budget exists for my hubby, who needs to know his limits.
    And that’s the point of various teachers and methods of instruction isn’t it? My hubby and I need different methods to reach our financial goals. Some people need to connect their financial well-being to something outside of themselves to have any kind of plan they could actually follow. Yeah it’s on the wimpy side but isn’t it better than doing nothing at all?

  • BC February 8, 2012, 4:02 pm

    Firstly, let me say that I’ve been reading your blog for the last 3 days, and it is seriously kick ass fuckin’ awesome. If you wrote a book, I would go out and BUY IT… (hint hint to future income stream..) Anyways, this is my first comment, and I’m going to give you a hard time about being so anti Dave Ramsey, ’cause while he does have some drawbacks and things which practically begging to be made fun of, he also has some good points and advice that I haven’t heard elsewhere. Allow me to elaborate on some of his more helpful quotes:

    1. “You can’t out-earn your own stupidity.” It took me almost three years of making seven figures a year and saving almost none of it for this truth to hit me over the head like a sledgehammer. AND, I wasn’t even trying to be wasteful or extravagant. I was doing what I thought were the best choices at the time. Everything that was bought always had some justifiable reason why it would provide value for the business, etc, etc, etc. Of course human beings can justify pretty much anything. Ask a poor person why they are robbing a bank and they’ll give you ten reasons they think are legitimate why they deserve the money more than the bank.

    2. “Get gazelle intense.” He has this thing called gazelle intensity, which is basically if you want something bad enough, you get all crazy about it and do WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO to make it happen, kind of like when a gazelle is about to get attacked by a lion, and gets all crazy trying to get away from it. Basically, it is really similar to “badassity,” which is basically to say, you do what you gotta do to MAKE IT HAPPEN and stop yer bitchin’ and excuses.

    3. “Avoid debt at all costs – If you play with snakes, you’re going to get bit sooner or later.” I found this helpful, since there are so many financial “guides” out there that talk about “good” debt and “bad” debt, and how great it is to be able use other peoples money to make money, yadda yadda yadda. What they don’t tell you is when the shit hits the fan, (think real estate crash – yes the same real estate that before 2008 nearly all the financial “experts” said was a great investment and would almost surely never lose value) you won’t only lose everything you have, you’ll have to work for many years to pay back the people you borrowed the money from JUST TO GET TO ZERO so you can start over. No thanks, if you can’t afford it, DON’T BUY IT.

    4. “Stupid Tax” This is all the dumb things we’ve done in the past to end up where we are today. For me, it was a brand new quarter million dollar motorhome bought completely on credit with no money down (yay!) Chances are, the more zeros your income has, the more zeros your stupid tax will have, but at the end of the day, the lessons are the same. (this relates to number one.

    Anyway, there’s more, but those are probably the most major things, many are similar to what you preach, just explained slightly differently. I’ll admit that his overall plan is dumbed down for the masses, and when he starts sounding like a preacher with all the religious stuff, my eyes gloss over. But there’s some good info in there, and you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as they say.

    So keep on pounding the keyboard, MMM. It’s making a real difference in my life (and I’m sure many others as well.) If I ever make it to Longmont (I have friends there) I’ll take you out to a free sushi dinner in exchange for all the awesome knowledge you have been so gracious to share with us all. Rock on!!

    • Margaret May 6, 2013, 10:36 am

      @BC: I agree wholeheartedly. I love Dave Ramsey. There are definitely some things that I’m not crazy about…sometimes he’s really rude to his callers, etc. But what he teaches has Punched Me In The Face (as MMM would have done) and made me realize that living like normal Americans is detrimental to our financial future. Because of him and his radio show (which keeps me motivated), we’ve already paid down $24K of debt in the last 4 months and should be debt-free except for our mortgage in about 1.5 years. By being Gazelle intense, working extra, selling on ebay, etc. (“Living like no one else now, so later we can live like no one else” – except for Dave, MMM and his other Mustachians)! Prior to that, I was a money idiot who thought debt was normal and part of life.

      But I don’t think that offering products or books that help you is wrong. He often tells callers to check his book out of the library.

      And MMM, if you wrote a book, I would definitely check it out of the library! ;) And then once I’m debt free, I would buy it to support you and your great work!!

      Margaret @ Live Like No One Else
      And yes, my blog is Live Like No One Else..which in essence is what MMM is doing, compared to the majority of the world!

    • GeauxBig November 25, 2013, 5:08 pm

      BC – I agree with much of what you are saying here. Dave set me and my wife on the road to debt freedom with his Snowball method.
      After crunching numbers the differences in the interest rates were so minimal over the year and a half it took us to pay it all down that the small “wins” felt better than the small amount we would have saved in the end by doing high interest rates first.
      Getting here to MMM was due too a lack of focus after becoming debt free that guys like Dave seem to share.
      I want to know how to kick some serious ass, or find my baddasity, now that we are nearly debt free.

      I enjoy this blog and have started it from the beginning. I have already learned a few things and gotten motivated again on my quest.

      Love the vulgarity that a Mustache adds to the equation as well.

  • Daniel March 28, 2012, 7:00 am

    If it wasn’t for Dave Ramsey, I wouldn’t be here. The Total Money Makeover was the book that FINALLY got me to take my finances seriously and get out of the hole that I’ve dug myself over the last mumble years.

    I have to use a budget. It’s the only way I can control my spending (although in true mustachian fashion, I always question my purchases and usually just say no). And it’s achieved amazing results. (You should see what I spend on groceries. Most people would say, “That’s impossible!”)

    I agree with you about the debt snowball though. I started out following his advice but then one day I was like, “I’m paying off a 6% loan and letting a 13% loan compound?! That’s crazy!”

    Oh, and hell if I’m going to leave a 100% 401(k) match on the table. That’s like negotiating for a lower salary. That’s crazy talk.

  • Jon August 24, 2012, 9:02 am

    I’ve been dying to make a comment somewhere on your site since I recently found it after devouring the nomoreharvarddebt blog and found myself itching for more inspiration. When I started reading your blog I was almost giddy with excitement because I had found a new motivation to grow my Stash’.

    Funny thing was, my most Mustachian moments began when I was a mere line cook at a Mexican restaurant, going to school full time but unable to make ends meet and slowly getting to the point of having $2000 on my credit card and another $4000 I owed on my car, which was overwhelming when you’re making $10 an hour and constantly begging for more money and hours. I had grown up as one who always worked and saved more than everyone around me, but at this point it wasn’t until I read “Total Money Makeover” that I realized I really could change the situation I was in.

    You’d be proud cuz the first thing I did was start riding my bike to work. I was also a great cook and was able to bring my wage up about $2/hour over time. I realized this too wasn’t enough and gave myself a $0 food budget. Yup, $0!! One of my proudest moments :-) I went to the food bank at my school weekly and ate dinner at the restaurant where I worked. I even moved out of the place I shared with 4 other guys in with a family from my church because they were nice enough to give me a room for $150 a month.

    The long and the short of it was that because of Mr. Ramsey’s inspiration I got myself out of $6000 in debt and had $4000 in the bank a year later. My wife (girlfriend/fiance) at the time was similarly motivated and had paid off her school debt and added another $4000 to our savings by the time we were married. Her parents had $5000 to pay for our wedding and we did it for $4200 with about 150 guests.

    Unfortunately, we started making a lot more money since then and have piled on some debt. We’ve done a lot of good things with our money too, but our spending has gone out of control in some ways. It’s amazing how much the little things add up.

    I’ve come a long way in my thinking since my Ramsey days but he’ll always have a special place in my heart. And I’d never fancy myself an aspiring Mustachian if he had not first helped me realize the importance of psychology in dealing with money.

    Anyways, I LOVE your perspective and am stoked to have found your blog! Already have shared it with my friends.

  • Adria October 10, 2012, 9:53 am

    I actually won a printed copy of that book in a raffle this summer while I was on an internship. Yesterday I was looking at it on the shelf and thinking… you should read it sometime, it might have some interesting stuff.

    But, by reading your comments, and if he expects ‘god’ to help us financially, it might be better of given to a library…


    • Rico April 16, 2014, 2:05 pm

      Yes, Dave is a Christian and that is an integral component of his style. While MMM provided actual quotes from his books regarding God, he did so without the surrounding context.

      Ramsey is definitely not a prosperity gospel/name it and claim it type (not that you could tell from the tone of this article).

    • Somtico February 24, 2020, 12:55 pm

      @Adria, please send me the book, and I’ll pay for shipping. I will never regret being introduced to Dave Ramsey by a friend. DR was the first to revolutionalize the way I think about money. Sorry, MMM, I really like your ideas, but Dave Ramsey will always be my ‘first love.’ :)

  • David Wendelken November 8, 2012, 3:12 pm

    Just found your blog today. I’m really enjoying it.

    Your comments about Dave Ramsey are both right and wrong. :)

    He is trying to reach a different audience than you are. A lot of the folks he’s talking to are so crippled by debt they can’t make ends meet. For someone who’s just trying to come up with enough cash to get by “this month”, his debt snowball is a superior choice to your approach.


    “Cash Flow”

    When that small debt is paid off first, they have a better cash flow. It’s simply easier to get through the next month with a better cash flow. You talk about balancing savings vs. quality of life, they are balancing debt reduction against quality of life by removing the stress the fastest instead of the debt.

    Once it’s prettty routine to get through the month and an emergency stash of cash is put together, it makes sense to start paying the highest interest rate first.

  • Charles February 12, 2013, 8:46 pm

    I know this is an old article, but I just wanted to point out that while MMM does not need a budget, they do work.

    MMM can just look at an item in a store and go, “nah, I don’t need that crap.” Many of us are not so blessed. We go, “oh yeah, that would be totally bitchin to own!” The budget is the tool we use to convince ourselves that we can’t _afford_ bitchin. With a budget we have to say either, “no, this won’t leave any room in the budget for x next week,” or, “no, I’m already over budget and thus can’t afford it.”

    Perhaps just as importantly, looking at your spending habits putting a cap on the via a budget helps you see where your money is going so that you then have a better overall awareness of which crap you can afford and which crap is just going to put more distance between you and an early retirement.

  • SAM June 4, 2013, 9:27 am

    Basically the difference comes down to your life philosophy.

    MMM approaches life with a stoic philosophy according to his posts. He’s not going after “riches”, but a “good life”. Am I right with that?

    Dave Ramsey approaches life with a “biblical” philosophy. As long as he does what he thinks the Bible says to do, then he can be frugal, extravagant, wealthy, hedonistic or whatever. That’s why he’s filthy rich, yet continues to want to make more money instead of pursuing more noble causes in his personal life (like MMM does).

    Ramsey’s radio show always rubbed me the wrong way for some reason, but I never understood why until I found this blog. It’s comes down to your life philosophy.

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 4, 2013, 9:44 am

      This is true.. although that Bible is a big book and it seems you can derive a bunch of different philosophies from it depending on which parts you quote. So I wouldn’t blame the book/religion itself for any surplus or lack of nobility in its followers. And I also think Mr. Ramsey is doing his work for the purpose of helping people, which is pretty noble. I just feel he is missing the concept of finite environmental resources in that philosophy.

      And of course, any financial chitchat based on the actions of god(s) doesn’t make any sense to people outside of the religion. You can explain the same stuff in a secular fashion and it will appeal to a broader audience.

      • SAM June 4, 2013, 12:01 pm

        Finite resources is a good way to put it. The most important resource being my time.

        But I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey. My parents sent us through one of his classes, and with his encouragement we were able to quadruple our income and pay off close to 100K of debt within a year. I just tell people to get his book from the library. You get the same effect without the waste.

        It just never made sense to me to live in poverty in my young years so I can party it up when I’m in the nursing home (“Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else”). Your philosophy of finance seems to make a little more sense to me.

        • Margaret June 4, 2013, 1:21 pm

          I love both MMM & DR and think they have similar philosophies. Dave also says that If you live like no one else now, later you can GIVE like no one else too. I listen to his program every day (archives) and he always says that once he doesn’t enjoy what he’s doing, he’ll no longer be doing it and his kids will take over. He’s getting paid for his advice…just like MMM is getting paid for his blogging (a bit and his carpentry and his rentals and other business ownership (stocks). But MMM did live like no one else, and really continues to do so today. As much as his Mustachian Philosophy has spread, it’s still a tiny piece of the population that lives that way.

          The one thing that MMM has opened my eyes to that Dave NEVER talks about is the possibility of an early retirement. I never even knew such a thing existed. I learned from Dave how stupid debt is, but not to have to work until you are 62 or 67…now that’s radical. I remember when my Mom stopped working at 62 and felt bad that she did, not because they didn’t have money (they have a net worth of at least a million) but because they believe that’s what you’re supposed to do.

          My hubby and I have a goal of retiring in 12 years, at the age of 50 (still paying off stupid debt)..and actually feel uncomfortable with the thought of even ever bringing this up with the parents and inlaws (who live 3 doors down).

  • Tom October 17, 2013, 4:18 pm

    Well, MMM, I’m a Christian, and a fan of you and Dave Ramsey. The horror! I have to be honest, you cherry-picked a lot of stuff out of his book and out of context to disparage him and his program, as did many of the comments. If someone follows his program, they will retire wealthy. Could they do better, for sure, but his program works. Since it hasn’t been mentioned already, his 9-week DVD program is called Financial Peace University (FPU), which covers what’s in the book, The Total Money Makeover, but to a much greater degree.

    1. MMM, you say you don’t budget, but I would say that you do. I mean, if you know exactly how much you’re spending and saving, then you are absolutely budgeting.

    2. One of the biggest things that Dave talks about is money and relationships. MMM, you’ve discussed this, but it’s a HUGELY important topic for success. If you can’t get a spouse on board, you will not be successful. His relationship advice is oftentimes quite stellar. And setting a budget together with your spouse increases communication which increases marriage satisfaction/success, and helps the two of you define your goals. I would say that you and your wife have done this.

    3. So much of becoming wealthy is about behavior. Yes, paying off higher interest rate makes more sense, but it doesn’t if you calculate in behavior. With the small wins you get paying off the smallest balance first, you gain more momentum. Also, if you follow his plan you’ll be killing it on getting out of debt. The interest rate discussion becomes pretty close to null if you get out of debt quickly. Want to keep the debt around for 10 years, well then, that’s a whole different discussion. Besides, if you were doing math in the first place, you wouldn’t have paid to borrow money. How did that work out for you? All this can be wrapped up in neuroeconomics, a topic which I haven’t seen discussed here, but it’d be enjoyable if you covered it. A lot of how we look at money is in our subconscious.

    4. A big part of becoming wealthy is knowing what not to buy. His lesson on insurance is one of the most valuable lessons he teaches. Everyone should listen to it as it’s spot-on. Seriously, the information in this lesson will yield thousands over your lifetime.

    5. As Dave has become more popular, he’s also become more arrogant and rude. Yes, I’m a fan, but less of one now that he has a HUGE chip on his shoulder. If you want to hear his lowest point, look for the clip with him discussing the 12% return with a guy from Motley Fool; he was a total dick.

    6. Investing and his 12% return. Yeah, he’s just being deceitful there. As he’s gotten bigger, his Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) program has grown. This is a revenue stream for him. You go on his website, put in your address, and a ELP that is near you will contact you. The ELP pays Dave $80 for the referral. The ELP meets with you and pitches you American Funds with a 5.75% front load fee. Now, in all fairness, these are decent funds that perform well, but 5.75% at the lowest tiered level? And around .8% yearly? Actually, .8% isn’t terrible for a managed fund, but it’s simply outrageous when index funds can do the same thing for a fraction of the price. So I have issues with his constant drumbeat of his ELP program. He used to recommend index funds at one time, a long time ago, but he has compromised his integrity (in my view), to push managed funds via the ELP program. He knows index funds are better, but now it’s a conflict of interest for him to recommend them because people will then not go to the ELPs.

    7. Dave does teach tithing 10% to a local charity/church, and I do feel that that falls in line with how Christians should be handling their money. However, even if you’re not a Christian, I still think there’s a benefit to giving to charity and/or service others or a higher cause.

    8. Dave does advocate not using credit cards/debt as a financial tool, and I think I’d agree with him for most of his reasons. If I needed money for an emergency, I think that the stupidest thing I could do is put my paid for home in jeopardy with a HELOC. But you know, to each his own on this, I can really see it going either way. I don’t own a credit card and it has not always been easy living off the grid for the last 7 years, but it is possible. Getting back to nerueconomics and how our brains look at purchases with cash vs credit is very interesting, and would advocate using cash only. Also, he does say credit card companies are pretty much evil, and I would agree with that most of the time. Lord have mercy on you and your wallet if you’re late with one of them.

    9. He advocates saving 15% in retirement accounts, and of course, MMM says do as much as possible, and I TOTALLY agree with MMM there. I did appreciate the MMM post on having to decide how much to put into retirement accounts vs taxable accounts since you can’t touch the retirement money until you’re 59 1/2. That isn’t a topic that comes up much (if at all) in other finance forums because people don’t think about retiring so early.

    I still listen to Dave, but read articles here too. I’d advise others to listen to him, and pull out things from him that are good. If you only hear one view, you only know one view, and that’s not good. Continue to educate yourself, which is very much inline with “the way of ‘stach.”

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 18, 2013, 12:50 am

      Whoa! I didn’t know he was mixed up with high-load mutual funds – that is even more nonsense there. VANGUARD FUNDS are all you need – if you understand enough to just buy and hold them, you will do better than any fund-shilling company. But Vanguard does not pay people to say this, so you have to be somewhat honest to recommend them.

      • Tom October 18, 2013, 1:12 am

        Yes, Vanguard is all you need. I wish I knew that back in the day! Technically he’s not recommending managed funds with high loads, he’s just pushing you to see one of his commissioned-based advisers who are not obligated to act as fiduciaries. Of COURSE they’re going to recommend a fund which gives them a commission, that’s how they make their money! If someone wants to see a financial planner, then it should be a fee-based one that acts as a fiduciary, so there’s no conflict of interest. I did speak to one of his employees and he does sell American Funds to his employees. I’d really like to know what his cut is of that. However, he is clear about investing and states something to the effect of “don’t just listen to me and what I say, do your own research”, but let’s be real. I think he says that just so he can sleep better at night knowing that he’s designed a system that isn’t completely optimal, or for that matter honest. But again, it’s not the worst thing ever, but once you know the background, it’s very smoke and mirror-like.

        • Sam October 18, 2013, 6:03 am

          Dave saved our financial life. We took his class back in 2008 and after 2 overdrafts on our checking account we put his advice into action. Sold a bad business, tripled our income, and payed of tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

          Recent years it seems as if Dave has “sold-out”; leveraging his advertising power to maximize profit. The majority of his radio show is advertisements. I know several businesses who became “ELP”s, and according to them there is minimal oversight/regulation by Dave Ramsey. Just pay him a fee to attach your business to his name.

          So now I tell people not to buy his book, but to get it from the library. I also recommend Crown Financial, and, of course, Mr. Money Mustache.

    • GeauxBig November 25, 2013, 5:20 pm

      Excellent write-up Tom.

    • Rachel O'Neill August 23, 2020, 7:51 am

      seven years later, and thank you. I went reading through comments until i could find something supportive and put to rest some of the mis-construed ideas. Especially that, as a Christian, giving is important, God’s blessing is a reality – even to those who reject, it’s still a spiritual principle that givers will be more blessed. It’s how the world was made. So thank you for your comment.

      Honestly, it was quite offputting of MMM. I admire DR and his stuff motivates me and has really helped me understand more about wealth building than simply, don”t get a credit card. I love that he shares Bible verses and shares the gospel where he can.

      The fact that he is still paid for the work he does even though he has enough to retire – so he should!! So should we all


  • Carrie December 1, 2013, 9:47 am

    Here’s to reading through a blog in reverse.

    You comment in this post that it is possible to survive and enjoy food and shelter while earning minimum wage.

    I am interested in hearing more of your perspective on this.

    I work in low income housing and see a lot of people making poor decisions, but also see people doing everything within their power to succeed but are trapped.

    • Mr. Money Mustache December 1, 2013, 10:03 am

      I definitely agree, Carrie – living well with low expenditures is a skill much like any other. It depends on things like your upbringing, your values, and there is a genetic component to it as well.

      But I do like to point out that it can be done, since people often blame the dollar-value of the income for a life problem, rather than a lack of this hard-to-get skill. Many of the $60,000+ families I know are also living terrible lives (debt, lack of free time, poor health and low happiness). Adding income without addressing the underlying causes often just changes the nature of the problems, but the end result is an equally unhappy life.

      On the other hand, the earnest and badass people you describe would indeed benefit from more income, since they’d have the ability to make great choices with the extra money.

  • Jordan Read January 31, 2014, 10:12 am

    Thanks for this. I never really listened to Dave Ramsey, but am a bit familiar with some of his concepts. I think your springy credit vs. cash cushion is a better solution once someone has their had wrapped around the fact that it is an awful thing to carry a balance. Some people don’t have the discipline.
    Also, I’m testing out some things, which is why I’m posting on this old article. :)

  • Megan February 4, 2014, 5:14 pm

    “I think we get enough religion by just listening to the political debates, and when it’s time to get rich, we do it using Solid Mathematics and Occasional Manly Swearing.”

    And some good womanly swearing in there also, right? Equal opportunity swearing. ;)

    What a great post and thank you! I’ve heard a fair amount about this Mr. Ramsey fellow and he seems to have made quite an impact on a lot of people. If it means people are being more responsible because of him who would be utterly irresponsible otherwise, more power to him.

    I checked out some of his columns though and pretty soon he had me completely turned off by trying to convince me that a woman’s place was in the home once you have kids. There are an astonishingly large number of ways that irritates me but that is neither here nor there. That and the invocations of gods distracted me from the main and salient messages he is trying to get out there. It obviously works for some people and didn’t work me; that is just fine.

    Thanks for the good work and keeping baby deities out of the number crunching.

  • StubbleStash April 1, 2014, 7:03 am

    I think DR is just a springboard to MMM. Once you stop being an idiot (DR Job), you can start becoming a Mustachian (MMM Job).

    • Tom April 1, 2014, 9:09 am

      Yes, DR was my gateway drug…

  • Aaron April 17, 2014, 5:10 pm

    I love the MMM direction.

    In reference to the MMM vs Dave Ramsey, one element that’s worth noting, MMM seems to have been taught frugality from an early age. For me, this wasn’t so.

    On leaving college I owed 25k in school loans and 25k in credit cards. Ramsey’s approach was instrumental in changing my behavior and growing up well after leaving the next.
    I’m with you on the quotes – but for those in deep debt, gotta get help where you can find it.

    The smallest to largest debt is helpful for motivation. I realize (as does DR), that’s bad math, but if I was good with math, I shouldn’t have got that deep in the whole in the first place. Once I did pay the first debt ($300), I was able to work out how many overtime hours it would take me to get through the credit debt (took 14 months).

    For what it’s worth, I say you and Dave are both pulling the rope in the same direction but for a slightly different audience and having come from different backgrounds.

    I appreciate your work (just cancelled my gym membership), onwards.

  • Reed V. June 8, 2014, 12:29 pm

    For many years, it seemed as though the religious financial advisors had the market cornered on saving money, investing and getting out of debt…so much so that I often equated these POSITIVE things with Christianity, and the last thing that I ever wanted to be was a Christian. But you, MMM have completely changed that “goody two shoes” perception, and turned saving money and early retirement into a bad-ass “rebel WITH a cause” attitude, and I wanted to thank you for that. Here is to doing the rational, sane thing for wholly selfish reasons.

  • Sensim June 25, 2014, 4:25 am

    I have tuned in to DR podcasts for a few weeks now just to se what is is about and at the same time found and started reading the MMM blog from the first blogpost onwards, appreciating it a lot – THANKS A LOT MMM! Ramsey is quite good for those starting out the journey feeling they are lost. I do get annoyed by his biblical references and his occasional rudeness though and his investing advice is strange. / Side comment: I have a northern European perspective and I am stunned by the large number of callers to DR having their lives wrecked and ruined by medical bills. So Sad! I feel lucky to live in a country where healthcare is almost free (NB shared by all citizens via taxes). How come many in the US hate this and call it “socialism”, it is beyond my understanding.

    • Tom June 25, 2014, 6:47 am

      “I feel lucky to live in a country where healthcare is almost free”

      What’s your tax rate?

      • Sensim June 25, 2014, 8:35 am

        • Tom June 25, 2014, 12:02 pm

          Okay, 45% tax rate on income. So with my income and tax rate of 25%, that’d be about an additional $2,000/month for almost free health care. I guess it’s all in the way you sell your almost free services.

          • Sensim June 25, 2014, 3:43 pm

            (That tax figure includes – a lot. Free university etc.) It’s of course complicated to do (a just) straight over comparison. And I will not argue that high taxes are always a good thing. It’s not.

            But, with medical/health I am convinced that there are big gains to society as a whole (in the long run) to keep it included and share the cost, i e have it in the citizenship – with taxes. It gives people one thing less to worry about. And a thing of major importance to your life. Maybe one of the most important.

            If you earn little or a lot you can still get healthcare when needed. Like in Britain and many other european countries.

            I believe strongly in own responsibility, entrepreneurship, drive and decisiveness, staying on top of your game, work hard, contribute and prosper with money … and of course take care of yourself and your body. (Just to be clear I do not encourage laziness and an attitude that we should expect everything from the government, on the contrary.)

            As long as one has (good) employment (with benefits) or pay for private medical insurance and/or stay reasonably healthy, things look really great for you in the US.

            It is when the dark clouds gather things can start getting troublesome. The income from a job can suddenly disappear due to many reasons, downsizing, company moving. And if bad health strikes at the same time (not that unusual) it can really tear and wear also on the mental health, not being able to keep up with the bills. This is not something people think much of when they are young and invincible.

            I have middle class relatives in California who almost went broke when disease struck (they had medical insurance – but it turned out that exactly that particular sort of cancer was not in the list of covered cancers…) Hurray.

            It all comes down to the question if we are willing to do certain things _together_ in society, or not. Much like being employed in a good company vs a bad company.

            It just made me think “Hello, are we in year 2014?” when I heard caller after caller at the Dave Ramsey show literally describe their sinking under unpaid medical bills. Something is wrong here, in my humble opinion.

            I hope to stay healthy. But it gives me a _priceless_ peace of mind when I do not have to worry so much about the financial side of eventual illness.

            • Adria June 25, 2014, 4:31 pm

              I agree with you.

              I am also European, in my case studying in the US. I always say that the US is great if you are educated, young, and healthy! :)

              I also strongly support free health, as its a key point that you shouldn’t need to worry as you don’t always have control over it.

              When talking to colleagues on that matter I always say, half joking, that if I have a serious illness the first thing that I would do is fly back home!

          • Dilt Wasney July 17, 2014, 1:00 am

            When you sum up free healthcare, free education in any university in the country, several weeks of mandatory paid vacation time every year, years of paid mother leave after newborn, free childcare and so on, it isn’t that bad over here. (I live in Finland, right next to Sweden). You never have to worry about or save for college tuition or whatever. Everyone can focus on getting wealthy. Sadly most people get into debt, consumerism and live paycheck to paycheck instead.

  • Joel October 29, 2014, 5:36 am

    Hi MMM,

    I know this article is a bit old, but I feel like I can add some value by commenting. I’ve been following your blog for about a year now, and love your general outlook and practical advice. I found the blog when I was looking for a cheaper cell phone plan, and picked Airvoice wireless and the $10 plan. Each month I roll over ~$7 so it’s building an emergency minute stache and I’m saving a ton.

    On to Dave Ramsey. I had always heard of DR and people had acted very impressed, so I always wondered how much value it would have for me. The problem is, my wife and I aren’t both on the mustache track; and at points I’ve given up the blog for the sake of a peaceful marriage. When we recently got the chance to join the Financial Peace University class at my church I pitched it to my wife and she went for it. Now, I don’t believe everything he says is pure gold, but as other commenters have mentioned, it’s like a gateway drug to MMM. My wife and I were on such differing ends of the spectrum that we needed Dave to come in the middle and force me to do things like a budget in order to give my wife a sense of control in life. For anyone who is having trouble Selling the dream of mustachianism; I believe DR is worth the investment, because when you’ve been married for a while, (or if you are an engineer), sometimes you just can’t quite communicate in a way that your spouse can appreciate. That said, DW has not been getting a good witness on DR, and the fact that he’s pushing his own investing options for his own gain was not huge surprise to her when I found this article. Thanks for another great article, I thought it was well written and objective.

    So far (halfway through the class) my biggest complaint is that DR seems to really be pushing the whole spend less now so you can spend like crazy later thing, which is patently stupid. If you spend like crazy later, you’ll get in crazy debt again in no time. He might not be perfect, but if he was, the masses of people wallowing and sinking in debt probably wouldn’t want anything to do with him. Anyway, thanks for letting me put in my own 2 cents!

    P.S. I know you might not agree with this, and neither did I a year ago, but FPU is totally worth the money if the result is a better life in the form of a more peaceful and unified marriage.

  • SiJ November 19, 2014, 8:23 pm

    I totally get that different approaches are going to appeal to different people. I like a lot of what I’m reading in your blog — that’s why I’m all the way back here reading each column from the very beginning. I have a lot to learn. You say, “I’m crediting Junior Mustaches as being a bit more adult than the folks needing the “baby steps” in his plan. You don’t need be slapped around to get your first $1000 available for tiny emergencies like a water heater replacement” … but the truth is, SOME of us reading your columns WILL need that. That’s why we are here. So while I get that your point is you are appealing to a different sort of crowd than the DR crowd, not EVERYONE who wants to read your articles will be as far as advanced as you — or your other readers. Some of us DO need baby steps, and we are using you as inspiration. It’s hard to find you inspirational when you disparage others. I don’t get why someone must slam someone else in order to elevate his point of view. (I’m not a DR fan/atic at all, but I have heard and seen literally hundreds of people say that he helped them.) I hate that my first comment is a negative one because I am truly learning and enjoying from you & your blog. Just today, I began a notebook of ALL my expenses so I can track each and every item. I’ve cut out many daily expenses and plan to continue. I’ve already drastically changed a lot of financial issues in the past 5 years, and I think the next 5 years will bring even more radical changes. So thank you for your point of view and for the information you are providing in general. I might not agree with everything you say or believe, but that does not mean I can’t learn from you. (I’d say many people feel the same way toward DR.) One other side note: I know many of your readers love your swearing… But not everybody does. I personally don’t feel like the F-word adds a lot. And as a woman who would love to share your blog with, say, my pre-teen daughter, my conservative friend or my elderly mother, it’s just a big ol’ deterrent to me sharing your blog. I know cussing is no big deal to most these days, and maybe you’re one of those “cool” parents who think it’s hilarious when you hear your 6-year-old say the “F” word … but there are still many people in the world who will discount what you say due to your Swearing. I’m sure a rebel like yourself couldn’t care less. But I just thought I’d throw it out there: You might get even more readers — and thus, more lives you can help to be radically changed — if you reigned in the F-bombs. That doesn’t mean you have to take away the funny movie references or other bad-assery (I’m OK with PG-13 cussing). Thanks & have a great night ;)

  • lana March 3, 2015, 10:00 pm

    I am the money manager in the family. Hubby doesn’t want to do it. He makes the money and I allocate it. We use the zero balance budget. We tithe, then save 40% (and invest it) and we utilize to its fullest whatever is left over. Our home, cars and everything is paid off. We are still about 20 years from my husband calling it quits. We’re helping our kids get through college debt free and loving life!

  • John K. March 14, 2015, 10:43 am

    So I recently tuned into your blog and I have really enjoyed it. Quick story about Dave my wife and me. So the second Christmas I spent with my wife my in-laws bought Dave’s book for everyone in the family except us. I thought it was the greatest compliment ever because they realized we were already living the frugal lifestyle. I also wanted to say that while the budget may not be necessary for everyone, having a budget causes me to stop for every purchase and evaluate where I want my money to go.

  • Robert July 14, 2015, 2:15 pm

    Hello everyone,

    Go easy on me as I am relatively new to the whole personal finance guru realm. I echo many of the sentiments discussed here about DR. My evangelical mother sent me to once of his conferences in LA last fall to get some information.

    In my opinion it was a waste of money for me. That was because it was more of a collection of motivational speakers, some of which talked about money, but others about personal relationships, boundaries and marriage. I’m a software developer, so the whole artsy fluff doesn’t usually work with me as much as numbers or processes would.

    I feel like the lessons are to really take bits and pieces from each and apply them to your own life. I’m selling my SUV next month and biking to work for example.

    One question I do have that might have been discussed on another page, but I haven’t found it yet. How does one balance saving for the future and living life now? As I begin to look at my numbers, putting 20K a year into an investment account that will grow over the next 30 years is good, but I can’t touch it for the next 30 years.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    • DrFunk July 14, 2015, 6:17 pm

      “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”
      ― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

      Your premise is that you can only “live life” by spending money. Figure out what brings you joy. Often, money is not part of the equation. There may be a few things you really enjoy and aren’t willing to give up that you think cost money to do. Try and find a way to do them without spending as much money.

      • Robert July 15, 2015, 5:28 pm

        Hi DrFunk,

        Thank you for your reply. Perhaps my first post wasn’t as clear as I meant it to be. Running my numbers now I can be around a 45% savings rate. My concern is how do you balance cash you might need on hand, for example a $3,000 root canal I encountered a few months ago, with saving for the future. I understand ditching consumerism and getting joy from life by not spending money. How do I pay for the $3000 dental bill when and if it arises? Unplug that from my RothIRA contribution for that year and fill it back up when I earn the cash? Keep a certain amount in ordinary taxable investment accounts and pull from then when the need arises?

        • Lady Fordragon July 16, 2015, 7:04 am


          I would say that you should start an HSA or FSA to pay for any unforeseen medical expense while also putting money into a taxable investment account that you can pull from for any other emergency that may arise. By doing so, you won’t have to pull from your Roth IRA or keep too much cash on hand that won’t be earning much for you in interest.

        • DrFunk July 16, 2015, 7:50 am

          You should check out the forums. Lots of VERY smart people there. Any question you may have has likely been answered.



          Short answer – you always need an emergency fund. It’s up to you whether the fund is a credit card, line of credit, savings account, or investment account. Think for a while about what would allow you to sleep at night.

          • Robert July 16, 2015, 11:51 am


            Thank you for the links. I will check those out.

            Kindest regards,

  • Doug Farquhar September 5, 2015, 8:15 pm

    I’m new to MMM and have thoroughly enjoyed devouring each post starting from the very beginning, after reading feature posts and ‘randomly’ accessing others. I am in agreement on the weaknesses of the DR approach. After listening to just two one-hour shows I was done, even as I could see he was helping many. But…

    Your paragraph that begins ‘Another thing that Mr. Money Mustache will not do…’ bugs me. The whole tone of the paragraph makes it clear that anyone who weaves personal religious beliefs into their personal finance goals is a complete moron. You prefer science/math [as do I]. So what, if you are getting out of debt and saving 50%?

    I’m not religious or a DR fan. Still, you come across as intolerant of religious people. The rest of your article does a fine job explaining all that is wrong with DR. Could have done without this one paragraph.

    Now, back to reading more posts! I have read many personal finance books – nothing comes close to MMM. By far, the best as demonstrating the links between frugality, saving, FI, and the pursuit of happiness!

    • PO March 29, 2016, 9:59 am

      Thank you for this comment. I have just found the blog and have been trying to read from the beginning forward. I am a Christian, and while I’m a bit put off by the swearing ( not only from a Christian perspective, but from a lack of understanding of how it enhances the blog), I have found great inspiration by the things covered here. TODAY, however, I was really questioning whether I wanted to continue to read something that felt as if Christianity and God were being bashed. I certainly understand that, with all of the hypocrisy in Christianity today, people could have an aversion to the bible and the people who claim to follow it. A lot of bad things are done in the name of the bible, but that is not true Christianity. Anyway, that is off the point. The point is, it did have an air of “religious people are stupid” and then the comment stream just sort of took off from there with the god-bashing high fives. I really do enjoy the blog – it is so helping me rethink my Western perspective, but I think it could be done very kindly, without the intolerance. After all, isn’t that what Christians are most often bashed for?? Let’s share with each other in a loving way :)

      • Chris March 29, 2016, 11:23 am

        You don’t understand how swearing enhances the blog???? How the hell is that even fucking possible?????

      • Chris March 29, 2016, 11:29 am

        You can’t deny that evangelicals and other christians see many scientific concepts as conflicting with their religion. This has been “branded” in a way by corporations and politicians to associate “science-denial” as pro-christian. Not true of all christians, but certainly the far-right electorate that ignorantly votes against the best interest of their prosperity.

        • PO March 29, 2016, 3:57 pm

          I won’t deny that a lot of evangelicals and people who claim to be Christians would agree with that. Just don’t judge EVERY Christian by some Christians. I would go as far as to say that the majority of people who claim Christianity don’t have a clue what Christianity is all about. If the bible is true, which I believe it is, we should not be afraid of true scientific discoveries. I do also think that the world of science can be just as religiously fanatical about their position. Both are branded to achieve monetary purposes. For most of the world, it’s all about the money and “how can I prosper?”. That is not only a Christian vice. And as a matter of fact, the bible teaches against loving money – ESPECIALLY at the expense of loving other people. It also teaches that borrowing money is not wise. There are a lot of good financial concepts taught in the bible. I don’t expect that Christianity is going to be liked by everyone, but the reasons for that are really for another discussion. As it pertains to money, the bible is pretty spot on in it’s general guidelines with what wise financial counselors who think beyond themselves would teach. Not every Christian practices them, as not every non-Christian practices good financial reasoning. Else, there would be no need for MMM :)

  • STBJ December 29, 2015, 11:42 pm

    HI MMM.
    This article is perplexing. I read Ramsey’s book fro free at Barnes and Noble. IO go there and read all the gurus for free. Your approach is right but really difficult for folks addicted to spending. Ramsey addresses this to some extent. I did use his snowballing effect and it worked for me. Yet I knew it was not enough. Then mid year I decided to save as much as possible through 401 k and employee stock purchases. I made a massive spread between what I owed and what I owned in investments. I have now determined that if I just spend money on the two or three things really important to me I can just about do what ever I want and still save 15 – 20 % in retirement accounts. I am now looking at all aspects of my finances and will continue to read your articles.

  • sharilou March 2, 2016, 10:15 am

    I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey. He has helped me to budget, which I never did before, and save a lot of money. I also have been paying my mortgage down, adding any extra money that I can afford to put toward it. I, unfortunately, started late in life to realize how important saving for retirement is. I did start in my 20’s saving, and then somewhere along the line, I stopped and even went into my IRA. Oh well, you have to start somewhere. I have given his book to a few people, who I thought may actually read it and put it to use, but I realize that most people don’t want to save and you wind up wasting your money on people who only either lose the book or never pick it up.

    I actually like this site, which I read about in New York Magazine. I think with my financial background, thanks to Dave Ramsey, I can appreciate what you are teaching. I never thought about retiring in 10 years when I was in my 20’s. No one ever even mentioned that it could be done. I think what you are teaching is sound financial advice and I enjoy reading your blog. It is a shame that schools don’t teach personal finance at a young age, much more helpful than the required courses of Algebra or most of the courses that they ram down kids throats. Keep up the good work!

  • Ben June 21, 2016, 6:55 am

    I agree that many of the things on this blog are for people who have graduated from the Dave Ramsey/Total Money Makeover school. On his radio show, Dave is capable of saying about one thing per hour that is really interesting and surprising. The times when he is wrong are a small price to pay for when he can convey one of these nuggets. I think mustachians who are trying to do well with rental property would have the most to gain from re-listening to him (but ignoring the book reviewed here).

  • Allisha July 3, 2016, 6:21 pm

    MMM, I must say I have been a huge fan of your blog since I started reading your posts. I’m 21 and a recent university graduate, studying for the CPA exam while I wait for my career to begin at Deloitte in San Jose (Sept. 19!). Your tips have been very insightful for me, especially since I will be moving into an extremely high-cost area soon (being someone who has also always been a saver helps a lot too). But I felt the need to respectfully comment on this article, and I’m hoping you are able to see it at some point.

    For the most part I have brushed off any side-jabs at Christians that I detected in past posts (not a ton, but I got the point). Perhaps you do not believe and maybe never will, and that is completely your prerogative, but I do have faith and believe in miracles. I’ve been in situations, and have family members who have as well, that very well could have or should have caused serious injury or death, and yet we are alive and well. So you may see it as simply coincidence, but maybe, just maybe, if you knew or experienced what I have or my family has, you would find the blessing in it as well. As I said, it is your prerogative and none of my business, but I have always seen every day as a blessing and would not doubt that there is more to life than what we have seen.

    I’ve never been a follower of DR or really heard much about him, but I also cannot stand people who attack or demean others (even those we disagree with), so it’s probably for the best that I haven’t listened to him as my blood would likely start to boil. You’ve done a wonderful job building up this blog and posting so many valuable articles, but don’t forget that your audience is going to include readers of all types, and yes, many of us are Christians. Let’s not cause friction with intolerance or belittlement of differing ideas. But let’s all encourage each other as we strive to meet the common goal of growing our ‘staches and finding ways to make the most out of life WITHOUT throwing away money on the so-called luxuries society tells us we must have. :)

    Kindest Regards,

    Aspiring CPA and Mustachian

    • Denise April 4, 2024, 6:44 am

      I was starting to get kind of worn down from the snarky jabs too.
      Tribalism can be wearisome. So many comments about the separation of “church and stash” – yet some individuals are dragging the church into this conversation themselves, as if DR represents “the church” writ large. DR’s treatment of his callers is abhorrent at times, and yes, he can be really annoying. I cringe to think of the people, as seen in above posts, that will equate him with ALL believers, ie) THE Church. Let the individual stand or fall on his own merits. So much for following the “math,” mustachians. Not all A is =B.

  • Eric July 15, 2016, 11:49 am

    Hey MMM,

    You have NO idea how happy I was to find this website. As a non-religious person, I was getting so sick of listening to Dave’s religious rants, but just hearing about financial stuff on the radio as I work has admittedly kept me focused on killing debt.

    I loved your quote about using “Solid Mathematics and Occasional Manly Swearing.” I can so relate to that!

    Thanks for all that you do!

  • Winslow July 19, 2016, 5:39 am

    MMM, I’ve been having fun reading your blog because most times it’s irreverently sensical. I don’t agree with everything you say, but what’s funny is that my wife and I have been listening to Dave Ramsey since 2011 or so, and we don’t agree with everything he says either. He seems to be at the reverent, sensical end of the spectrum most days. I totally agree with knocking out high interest debt first, no matter the size, but then I also differ with you on having a budget. We’ve had a budget every month for the past couple years, and it has definitely helped us keep track of our employees. Before the month begins, our employees know what they are going to do, and they are all accounted for. I’m reading you now to balance out Dave Ramsey and his crew. I respect you and Dave for sharing wisdom and spurring folks to greatness. I’m gonna continue to borrow best ideas and practices from both ends of the sensical spectrum.

  • Rica July 31, 2016, 1:45 am

    I hate making budgets and frankly they don’t work for me; I’d rather do it your way.

  • courtney humphrey September 8, 2016, 6:27 pm

    “That’s why here, we maintain a separation of Church and ‘Stash.”

    Love this.


    A broke Catholic


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