How much is that bitch costin’ ya?

Wow, how about that title. I can almost smell the politically correct outrage! But let’s explain right away, lest Mr. Money Mustache lose his rep as a caring family man who spends most of his time making sand castles and Lego ships with a 5-year-old boy.

The alternate title was “Fix Impulse spending with The Frugality Sanity Check”. I just made this upgrade at the last minute because Mr. Money Mustache likes a dramatic title.

By “Bitch”, I am of course referring to either your male or female spouse/partner, or to YOU YOURSELF if you are single.  Here we’re talking about the person inside all of us that is drawn into making unplanned purchases.

Neither males nor females have any monopoly on impulse spending. But for many months, I have received calls for advice from readers and locals alike, asking things like this: “Dear MMM. I am a proud Mustachian myself, but my spouse feels differently. Every day I come home from work to find a couple more Target bags on the couch with stuff spilling out of them”. Or hair salon and martini bar charges on the credit card. Or jet skis and ATVs multiplying on the trailer behind the six-wheeled F-350 Super Duty.

How can you convince a spouse to become more frugal? That’s a tricky one, since money spending often gets accidentally mixed right into people’s sense of personal worth right from childhood. Perhaps it is because we’ve been a rich country for so long that it’s hard to tell where a person ends and their products begin.

It’s hard, but let’s have a crack at it anyway. You can start by making sure that you and your partner have the same goals in life. If your goal is “Kickass early retirement, Just like Mr. Money Mustache”, and your spouse’s goal is, “I dunno, just lead a good life as long as I don’t lose my car to the repo man”, you’re obviously not going to be able to solve your money problems through old-fashioned arguing alone. You need to find a common goal, as suggested in the old classsic “Having The Talk” MMM article.

Some people have no particular money goals at all, and others have goals but don’t understand how to get to them. I think most peoples’ financial goals are far too feeble, stuff like “Pay off my $20,000 student loan over the next ten years”. The key to bold and successful goals is understanding just how great the numbers become if you really have control of your spending. Over a decade, most people have the ability to amass not just hundreds or thousands of dollars, but hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is early retirement, change-your-life money, and it is worth changing your lifestyle now, for the opportunity to really change your life in the near future.

OK, so now you have a common goal. Hopefully it’s “Full Financial Independence within the next ten years”, but even if it is something modest like “Get our student loans paid off by 2014”, we can still roll with it.

The quickest way to reach your goal is by eliminating all wasteful spending. Rent or mortgage, and groceries are your non-wasteful spending (as long as you practice some variation of Grocery Shopping with your Middle Finger). Everything else will come under close scrutiny, since it might be wasteful!

How do you determine if something’s worthwhile or wasteful? You ask your partner! Check out my highly controversial yet effective way for domestic spending harmony. It is so controversial, even Mrs. Money Mustache had to add a few qualifications before accepting it.

For any non-grocery purchase above 10 bucks, check with your spouse first.

That’s right, baby. No “personal spending budgets” or spousal expense accounts. Those concepts assume that you’re buying so much stuff that you don’t even have time to check on things one at a time. What I want you to do is start having Buy Nothing Day become a regular occurrence, and days where you buy things become special exceptions. Remember, you already have lots of stuff, so it’s questionable as to whether you need any more. And, A Millionaire is made Ten Bucks at a Time. So let’s learn more with some examples.

Just this week, my 1999 Melitta espresso machine died. It was an old steam-powered model that had cost $25 on sale brand new back in the day, and made shockingly good lattes for 12 years. But something serious cracked in its pressure tank, and it can no longer produce the Black Gold for us each morning.

I started by trying to clean and fix it. No luck. I checked on Craigslist to see if any of my fellow Longmontians were unloading one for $10 or so. No luck there either – only way down in Denver, a distance I would not drive just for a coffee machine. Today I made the morning coffee in the french press from our camping kit. It was still coffee, but compared to my patented Triple M Homemade Lattes, it sucked.

So I checked with the wife. “Should we buy a new espresso machine? Or should we just stop drinking coffee, since that is a costly habit anyway?

She said, “Come on, Money baby. You know we love our lattes! We’re retired, we can afford a new machine!”.

Permission granted. We checked together on Amazon and found one with hundreds of good reviews for about $45. We put it in the cart and decided to sleep on it.

Today I biked down to Target and had a look there as a final check. The same unit was available for $40. I bought it and threw it into the bike trailer. I brought it home and we cooked up a batch this afternoon. It made a couple of delicious lattes right out of the box, which are now powering my fingers even as I type this.

But wait, you say, that’s an easy example, because we both agreed. But what if your spouse disagrees?

The answer to that is actually even easier. If you want to buy something, and your spouse decides to override your purchase, you accept the decision with great humility, respect, and gratitude. This person has just saved you a pile of money and brought your financial independence even closer! And it was obviously something you didn’t need, because they would have seen your need objectively if it was real. This is the person you love*. Respect their opinions.

Check out this counter-example. I have a high definition video projector in the basement. We’ve been using it for the past 5 years to watch our movies on an 11-foot screen (it cost me about $800 back in 2006, in case you were curious). That’s right, we watch movies in style. But it’s a bit awkward to get the movies started, because the projector is fed by a computer on the other side of the room. I have to start the movie, set it to full-screen, then run across and hop under the blanket to watch the movie. If there’s a problem, like unexpected subtitles or the wrong aspect ratio, I have to run back and forth to make corrections. The family gets upset with me when I do this.

So I’ve been fantasizing about getting a long-range wireless keyboard with a built-in trackpad, like this one for $30. Then I could start and stop movies and do all the fiddling from the couch.

“Can I buy that wireless keyboard?”, I asked Mrs. M today, during a consumer high fresh off of purchasing the espresso machine. “No, that’s silly”, she said, “We only watch one or two movies a week – and our setup is already pretty sweet as it is down there, just leave it as it is.”

Of course, I could choose to feel upset over this, or I could ignore her advice and buy it anyway. But instead I like to look at a challenge like this as a Frugality Muscle Workout.

When I’m lifting weights, and a workout partner challenges me to throw an extra plate onto the bar or do another rep at the end of a grueling set of bench presses, I don’t whine and start looking up divorce lawyers. I am thankful to this person for having the guts to call out my wimpiness and I accept the challenge, knowing it will make me even stronger! My pectorals and triceps might feel like burning slabs of lava at that moment, but it is the best pain in the world and the reward of increased muscularity and health is even better!**.

You absolutely MUST realize that Not Buying Things is exactly like healthy exercise – it is not a deprivation or a decrease in your life quality – it is almost always an increase.. especially if you are not yet retired and the monetary reward is factored in. That’s why I still do these workouts even from my position of retirement – it really does make you happier to be more thoughtful about your consumption spending.

So there’s my solution to the Expensive Bitch in your life – get him or her onto your team, so you can stop fighting and start ‘Stashing!

Extra Credit: The article was inspired in part by the following Onion link from a wise triple M reader – thanks Mr. Frugal Toque!

Consumers Now Required To Seek Treasury Department Approval On All Purchases Over $50

* “This is the person you Love”.. but who do you ask for Purchasing Permission if you are single? Well, you can ask Me, Mr. Money Mustache, or your fellow Mustachian Readers right here in the forum. Because We love you too.

** Note: this paragraph should be read in an Arnold voice for maximum effectiveness.



  • Claire September 6, 2011, 9:10 am

    Thanks for including options for us single folks out there! It’s a nice change from what I usually see.
    Great post, as usual! :D

  • Adrienne September 6, 2011, 10:47 am

    I’m going to respectfully disagree with you on this one. I think this would work great if both partners are generally frugal but if one partner is more spendy than the other I can see a lot of resentment growing from constantly hearing “no”.

    I’ve been with my spendy partner for 14 yrs now. What allows us to not fight about $ and still save a bunch? Allowances. We both have small allowances that allow us to spend without the other’s input. Honestly if he had to ask me for most of the things he buys I would say “no”. Then he would most likely be frustrated and instead do a big splurge. His account is always at zero and that’s fine with me. Trying to change someone’s ways is super hard. Giving them a small outlet and keeping the major goals in life on track is much much easier.

    • MMM September 6, 2011, 11:31 am

      Hmm.. Interesting dilemma that I am glad to hear more about. Do you and your partner have the same overall goals financially? Or is it more of just a general “live our lives and try to be responsible as we go along”. For me, as soon as I switched to “let’s retire in just a few years” mode, that is when the spending control really became fun and worthwhile. The same Exciting Emergency mentality might help for other goals like getting out of consumer debt and paying off a mortgage. It really is fun, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it ;-)

      • Adrienne September 6, 2011, 12:34 pm

        We have the same goals but slightly different timetables (if left to myself I would get to FI a few years quicker but I’d much rather compromise somewhere in the middle and have us both be happy). We’re not at your level but have arranged our lives/finances to both work part-time so we can both be home with the kiddos (4 and 6). Can’t imagine working full time again. I should mention that while he’s spendy compared to me he’s probably more frugal than 90% of the population.

        After many years of different things we realized his having some blow $ on a small scale (video games) greatly reduced his need to spend on bigger thngs (cars). Our allowances are a fixed part of our budget and it has worked for us.

      • ike July 26, 2013, 1:02 pm

        When doing an article about pets, ensure to bring up the cost savings of your own health. Pets are good for your sanity. oh and thanks for all the great, great, GREAT, reading. I am new to Mustachianism but can truly say I have been on my way to a simpler living for some time, and I have about 1/4 of what i need to live ****FREE****

        • Garrett July 2, 2017, 4:39 pm

          Ike: There’s a healthy & thrifty way to get the health benefits of pets, without having them & incurring the constant financial upkeep they require: Visit friends who have pets. This way you get the health benefits of both visiting friends, playing with their pets, AND you save money on no upkeep (plus you don’t have to pick up warm poo & take them out to do said poo).

          Also, Ike, you say you have 1/4 of what you need to live (Food, shelter, clothing, internet) free. Which one of these 4 do you get for free?

  • Frugal Vegan Mom September 6, 2011, 11:36 am

    Hahahaa I read the title and was hoping it was about how ridiculous it is to spend money on a dog. Please write a scatching one on that topic!

    -Person who doesn’t necessarily dislike dogs, only owners who spend loads on them, plan their lives around them, and refer to them as children.

  • Frugal Vegan Mom September 6, 2011, 11:37 am

    ugh, I meant “scathing”, typo, sorry. no latte to help my brain/finger coordination here ;-).

    • MMM September 6, 2011, 12:54 pm

      Hoo yes, I definitely need to do a dog and pet article too. Maybe I could just use this title again, you are right that it would be perfect! I think many people don’t realize how expensive dogs are, and that they are an optional luxury that one might consider delaying until one can actually afford them.

      • Erin February 8, 2012, 10:17 am

        Not sure if you ever did do a pet article, but I would love to read it or see one :) I currently live on 5 acres with 4 horses, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 7 chickens & 3 ducks. The chickens and ducks are doing their part by laying eggs…the rest, not so useful. My now-husband had all of the animals EXCEPT the chickens and ducks when I met him. I think we are spending anywhere between $4-6k on all of them a year. Because they are pets (family – sorry to offend the woman above that doesn’t think pets are important and I see has an avatar of a little bitty baby friend, but when you are married to someone who’s had a vasectomy and don’t intend to have kiddos, pets are kind of a happy substitute) we would NEVER get rid of them, but I have NO intention of getting more in the future. My husband says things about getting a baby horse sometimes, and I could shank him. Luckily, he has a very vivid fantasy life, so I’m pretty sure that’s all it is…a fantasy.

      • Joe June 12, 2012, 3:01 pm

        I did a little research into our yearly spending on backyard chickens, and the benefits they provide, if you’re interested in reading about it:


      • Sarah July 15, 2012, 10:58 am

        I worked in private practice as a vet for years. I would get so angry when people would come in with pure-bred puppies that they had spent $600-900 dollars on, and they would complain that they didn’t have the money for the shots, getting the animal fixed, or $ for heartworm and flea control every month (absolutely necessary in the South). There is a pet store here that offers financing on dogs, and I want to punch people in the face every time I see it. Its so obvious to me that if you can’t afford to pay for the dog outright, you definitely can’t afford to care for it.

        I myself have 2 dogs and 4 cats, but my costs are significantly lower because of my field.

      • jlcollinsnh July 10, 2013, 6:38 am

        Our dog is 10 years old this spring and has cost us a total of

        $4486.90 so far

        $3573.21 of that has been for routine vet care. That is for a dog that has never been sick.

        • Cheryl June 5, 2014, 10:59 am

          Thank you for saying that, I wish more people understood the cost and commitment of pets! I’ve never tallied up the financial cost of pets, but I often tell people considering a pet some of my stories. We had a dog who went blind, we had a dog get a tumor, we had – drum roll! – a cat who got spine damage just far enough back to still walk fine but just far enough forward to lose all bladder control. My dad had to literally squeeze the cat twice a day to empty it’s bladder. That’s not even getting into bills and pills.

          My point is that people who get and then neglect or abandon an animal need to go to a special hell. If you can’t afford a pet, financially, emotionally, or the time, don’t get one. And we live in the age of the internet, do some research first!

        • FMaz January 12, 2017, 3:18 am

          Are you including the price of dog food ?

  • Kevin September 6, 2011, 12:09 pm

    Love it! My wife and I each get $100/mo. to spend on things the other person would normally get mad about. One of us tends to buy shoes and tank tops, and the other buys computer gear and antique silver flasks. Great for the relationship.

    • Gerard September 6, 2011, 4:29 pm

      Which is which?

      • Kevin September 6, 2011, 10:27 pm

        Not telling. ;)

    • GregK March 28, 2012, 6:56 am

      Wow… $200/month on stuff you don’t need is a TON. What’s MMM’s conversion factor? 177 times to give you a ten-year cost? Are your antique flasks and shoes really worth $35,400 in wealth??!

      • IAmNotABartender November 16, 2014, 11:03 am

        What if it’s not all “stuff?” What if you also use it to, say, take each other out to lunch occasionally? Or to convince your spouse that, hey, it’s okay that we’re cutting bunches of our spending, because we can do any extra spending from the slush funds? (Basically, a way to ease into the ‘stash building.)

  • Kristi September 6, 2011, 12:15 pm

    This was a great post. My husband and I are lucky to share the same goals and dreams and it’s nice to read about other couples who do as well. We both love reading the blog. You’ve provided lots of food for thought which has led to great conversations. Keep up the good work.

  • poorplayer September 6, 2011, 5:17 pm

    Same here. I get an allowance because DW not only can squeeze the eagle until it shits, she can also snap its neck and reach in and crush its heart. I am forced to save and pay cash for what I might want, which is a good thing.

    But here’s where I would like to further the question – what if it’s not a matter of how much to spend or not spend, but how or how not to invest. While DW is superb with the spending, she and I are far apart on how to invest. She knows little about investing, while I know somewhat more, but cannot get her to agree with my investing ideas (rental property being the primary one). In my case it’s not a matter of having the same goals, but of educating someone to the point where one can even have “the talk.” I’d be interested in a post that deals with agreeing on investment strategy.

    • MMM September 6, 2011, 5:39 pm

      That is a fantastic point Poorplayer! Now that you mention it, I have indeed heard from some of my friends that their wife/significant other is very opposed to any investment other than “cash in the bank”.

      Even here at MMM headquarters, the Mrs. has always been in favor of paying off the mortgage, while I was more excited by long-term index fund investing. We both got our way, as I did stock investing initially, then shifted savings towards mortgage until it was paid off, and now we’re back to longer term stocks for the distant future.

      I think both people in a couple should read at least one primer book on a few types of investing – index fund, rental house, whatever. When it boils down to it, any investment is a combination of immediate and future cashflow, mixed in with a varying amount of historical risk. You need SOME sort of investments to pay for your retirement (unless you have an old-fashioned pension or will be eligible for Social Security fairly soon). So the numbers must be discussed and agreed upon.

      With your particular personality, PP, I think you would make an excellent landlord ;-)

      • Dina December 12, 2012, 7:49 pm

        MMM, are there any books on using rental properties for income that you would recommend? Would love to learn more — I’m pretty knowledgeable on the investing side, but admittedly know squat about being a landlord or generating income from a rental property. Thanks!

  • Dan September 6, 2011, 6:33 pm

    MMM, what’s interesting is this kind of only applies when neither partner works for the government. If one does, then the majority of your long-term savings effectively comes from a pension system that vests primarily after 25+ years. My Ms. is a teacher and basically has to ‘serve her time’ until at least approx age 55 at which point the pension formula becomes reasonable. This is of course a huge indictment of pension systems – it locks workers into working slavedom. I plan to be retired in ten and will be the great husband who keeps the house clean and does all the cooking so the Teacher Honey can keep earning those pension tier credits!

    • Sheryl September 6, 2011, 7:22 pm

      Don’t knock your wife’s pension. It’s guaranteed income for life, so she’ll never have to worry about outliving her savings. Also, I checked what I would have to pay to buy an annuity equal to my government pension (immediateannuities.com). It was TWICE what I could save, and I save like a maniac!

      Does she have a deferred pension option? She might be able to start collecting a pension at 62 or 65 if she leaves after she’s vested but before she’s eligible to retire.

      • MarciaB January 25, 2014, 2:12 pm

        And some pension plans allow you to buy years with cash upfront now. Essentially you pay in (now with cash) for the years you aren’t going to be working, getting to the 25-year mark that way. And then you’re “even” with the pension system and can draw the monthly income.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque September 6, 2011, 8:50 pm

      I’ve wondered about that. It always seemed to me that company/government pension plans assumed low input rates and therefore made you work longer than you really had to.
      On the other hand, rather like mortgage regulations that prevent silly people from financially destroying themselves, a pension plan does force similar silly people to save for their retirements whether they like it or not.
      “I never saved any money.”
      “Yeah, um … actually … your union made us save a bit of every paycheque for you. So you can retire even though you were kinda dumb about money your whole life.”

      • Ian Turner May 25, 2013, 9:45 pm

        Keep in mind that the pension is guaranteed by the government (and ultimately by the taxpayers). That means that the return to use when evaluating the quality of the pension is not the risky 11% nominal return you can expect in the stock market, but rather the 0% return that governments are getting nowadays.

    • MMM September 6, 2011, 9:59 pm

      Hey, that’s a good point, Dan. But I’ll tell you what I would do if I was a teacher who was ready to retire before my pension was ready for me: I’d retire anyway! It sounds like “throwing away money”, but hear me out: If you have saved enough money to generate a comfortable cashflow for the rest of your life, then what is the best course of action: a) start enjoying your retirement, or b) work another 25 years to have even more money.

      I’m not saying this situation applies to you and your wife, since you might financially need the pension. Or she might enjoy the job so much that she never wants to quit. But overall, there should be no shame in throwing away future earnings when you no longer need them.. even if they are labeled with the word ‘pension’. When I quit my own job, I gave up something like 25,000 in-the-money stock options that would have vested over the next five years, ending only in 2010. If I had stayed, I would have netted about $300,000 in profit from those options, plus of course another $500,000+ in salary from working those extra five years. Do I regret missing out on that $800k? Not at all – I already have, as John Bogle suggests, Enough.

      • Matt July 10, 2016, 12:49 am

        I was wondering this exact thing, MMM: work another 19 years as a teacher in a field that is becoming more unbearable every day (the demands are becoming ridiculous, without a corresponding increase in pay), just so I can get the damned pension, or set my retirement target as 8 or 9 years down the road and get the hell out. I believe you have answered this question for me. I’m 44 years old, and I’m not getting any younger, last time I checked in the mirror. I’d like to retire while I still have enough health and sanity to enjoy the retirement, hahaha. Too many of us have fallen for the myth that we MUST work ourselves stupid for 40, 50, or more years, getting up early to spend most of each day at a job where we are told what to do, how to dress, how long we have to stay before we can go home, etc, until we are grey-headed and bowed down with age. And then we are told that we can retire. As you may say, “F*ck that!!” I love kids, and I love teaching them, but I do not want to do that for 19 more years, not with the current climate of public education (at least where I live in Southern Utah). You are indeed the man, triple M! Continue to preach it.

    • Sylvie from Montreal February 14, 2017, 12:24 pm

      The mustachian philosophy can be adapted to your particular situation even if you are a teacher, as I am too!
      When you retire at 55, there is probably some sort of penalty for retiring “early” (in that system’s eyes). But you can (at least in Quebec) use RRSPs ( yes, some stash!) to basically cancel that 30% penalty. That is what I discovered after some MMM-induced goal searching. And yes, to have a clear financial goal makes it a fun process instead of a chore. It seems less like slavedom (for me at least) when I feel like I can “beat the system” in the end.
      Good luck with your own goals ( years late, I know).

  • Mr. Frugal Toque September 6, 2011, 8:03 pm

    It’s nice to feel useful, but I really do wonder what kind of world we’d have if everyone had to check their purchases with a disinterested third party.
    Third cable box rental? No.
    Second cordless drill? No.
    Automatic gearshift polishing kit? No.
    DVD rewinder? ZOMG.
    Or even a system where you couldn’t buy non-grocery items without a seven-day waiting period, kind of like buying a gun in some places.
    “Mr Toque, you filed seven days ago to purchase a $300 Legend of Zelda shield on eBay. You are now eligible to confirm that purchase. Continue? Yes/No.”

    • GeauxBig November 28, 2013, 8:24 pm

      Try to find someone that lived through Communist USSR and ask them what it was like.

      • Jeff September 12, 2015, 9:11 am

        As long as we’re waiting two years for every reply:

        Your snark is misdirected. The government was neither disinterested nor a third party in that scenario. It owned the means of production and distribution, and had ulterior motives in shaping buying “decisions”. A simple common-sense test has no similarity to that kind of power dynamic.

  • ND September 7, 2011, 4:38 pm

    I usually enjoy Mr. MM and his blog and I especially like that he is an equally sharing parent with his wife, but, as he predicted, I am turned-off by the use of the term “bitch.”

    This is a female perjorative, no matter how he tries to dress it up by saying he is referring to “either your male or female spouse/partner, or to YOU YOURSELF if you are single.”

    Not funny.

    How about term that is gender neutral, like “impulsive consumer”? “Can you afford the impulsive consumer in your marriage or in you?

    Or if you really have to use gender-specific perjoratives, why don’t you use perjoratives that apply only to your own gender, not ones that apply to the other gender. Can you afford this “teabag”?

    This is actually making me rethink Mr. MM and my interest in this blog.

    • MMM September 7, 2011, 6:39 pm

      Aww, sorry to hear that. You wouldn’t think that ‘bitch’ was a female-specific insult if you heard how much Sensitive Modern Men call each other bitches (and biatches and BEE-Yatches) these days. This is a case of an old word that has taken on a comfortable new place in the turntable-scratchin’ lounge of contemporary life. Please refer all requests for polite language to the Mr. Mundane Mustache blog, MMM ain’t hearin none of it!

      • anonymous June 22, 2012, 7:28 am

        For the record, I found this offensive as well. I actually have no objection to profanity in general, and I find that it often adds some fun flavor, when done with intelligence. However, I consider profanity something best applied to things other than *people*. (Actions of people, sure. People, never.)

      • James January 2, 2014, 12:37 am

        Hey MMM,

        I hope you have reconsidered this stance by now. But if you haven’t, please do. It turns out the logic of “oh it’s entering common usage, trending toward OKness” is faulty.

        • Adrian M February 6, 2014, 11:50 am

          I know this is a very old comment and I hope I’m not resurrecting dead threads, but you must know that MMM cares not for what others think about his language. You will not find better information that is presented in a better way elsewhere. I’m sorry for your disappointment and your attempts at changing his, or others’, language are futile. I, for one, grow tired of the PC police. Go “wee woo(siren)” elsewhere.

      • Sarah November 6, 2014, 8:44 am

        I love the blog, and generally have no problem with the language, but on this one.. Ultimately it doesn’t matter how often you and your friends use a female pejorative to insult each other. That doesn’t make it less offensive. In fact, it makes it more so.

        Keep up the good work, but maybe take a harder look at this issue.

  • Mike September 7, 2011, 7:39 pm

    You have a really great.. and unique… attitude about money. I’m not sure if I can regularly deny myself purchases, but at the same time tell myself that it’s a win, but it’s worth a shot!

    • MMM September 7, 2011, 8:53 pm

      Never Fear, Junior Mustache. Mr. Money Mustache has had Eleven more years of practice than you in the art of freeing himself from The Matrix, figuring out what is Real and Fake in life. And even he still has seventy years of learning to go! Consumer purchases are exciting to a young man, for their flashiness and convenience and status. But over time the thrill wears off somewhat and you come to appreciate the greater joys locked within your own mind.. Learning, listening, helping people, and achieving new levels of Badassity in various fields. These are some kickass pillars in building lifelong satisfaction. Believe it or not, buying things gets in the way of all of these activities. It distracts you. But you don’t have to force yourself into an artificially high level of Senior Mustachianism overnight. Just keep practicing and your skills will grow, just as surely as your monetary ‘Stash is growing.

  • EcoJoe September 8, 2011, 8:19 pm

    Dang, I just found this site today, and it is jawsome. It’s the kind of website I aspire to one day have. Good job on the $10-tip, I’ma try to make that one of the Laws o’ the Land in mi casa.

  • Thomas September 11, 2011, 1:12 pm

    I’ve got an early generation, Microsoft Bluetooth keyboard that I received as a present some years ago that I do not use. I’ll bring it along (I’m in the Springs) the next time I go on a brewery tour in your area.

    • MMM September 11, 2011, 4:14 pm

      Wow! Fantastic! Perhaps there will be a batch from my own triple M microbrewery ready at that time. Things have been going very well with the home brewery so far.

  • Nathan September 14, 2011, 1:14 am

    MMM, if you happen to have an Apple touch-screen device, you might check out the Mobile Mouse Pro app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mobile-mouse-pro-remote-trackpad/id289616509?mt=8 If it will do what you need, it’s a lot cheaper than a wireless keyboard!

    • MMM September 14, 2011, 7:40 am

      Wow!! That is an intriguing product, and I DO use an iPhone. I think I just might make the $2 impulse purchase to try it out.. After all, it is well under my $10 spouse threshold :-)

      Update! I just finished installing this app on my iphone and PC and wasted 2 hours optimizing and playing with it. It is fantastic! I do mourn the loss of those 2 hours, but at least it was fun and it will be a useful feature for years to come – using the phone to control any computer in the house, including my main one which plays Pandora internet radio.

  • K October 14, 2011, 4:24 am

    Hi MMM, I am a complete lover of saving/investing and spending as little as possible. My husband and I have been married for 20 years (met as incredibly poor students, both with an impoverished background) and having learnt how to be frugal from our student years, now own outright a home worth approx $1,000,000 overlooking the beach – so yes being frugal does work. However, a few years ago my frugality was part of the reason my husband and I ended up separated for close to a year. You see he had always left all financial decision making to me and then just cracked, knowing that it wasn’t worth talking to me about alternatives because I was set in my frugal ways! Anyhow, things eventually got sorted and we are back together and a compromise has been made with the acceptance that we just simply don’t and won’t ever have a common goal with regards to finances. This is now how it works: all income is pooled and divided in half in separate bank accounts. I do all shopping, bill paying etc add up the weekly expenses, divide in half and tell him what he owes me. Any major family/child expenses are discussed and agreed upon before expenditure. We therefore, both end up with an equal amount to do what we want with. That way if he wants to spend his spare money he can. He enjoys his job (flexible hours, works mostly from home, travels a lot etc) and has no plans of ever retiring – he plans to be still working when he’s 80!! I on the other hand have no such burning desire! I work part-time and continue to save/invest as I love to – having amassed 5 times the amount he has managed to save. Oh to think how much we would have if I was still in control : ). There is no longer a “family” oriented goal for finances, but we are both happier. In fact, I have now learnt for the first time how to make spontaneous purchases and not completely freak out over what I could have saved! But I think the moral to this story is: extremes are never good, moderation is the key – with clear communication.
    Oh and by the way – we are big advocates for bikes as transportation!

    • J March 10, 2019, 4:14 pm

      This response resonates with me. I am extremely frugal and hubby is not. We have tried different ways to handle our finances so we don’t end up fighting including having allowances but have just finally decided to separate our fiances 100%. Our house is paid for so utilities is the only one we divide between us. He buys his own groceries and I buy mine. He is one of those that browse aisles looking for things he wants whereas I am those that have a list, get in and then get out. Plus he eats different than I do. He loves meat and I am into being a vegan. There have been lots of animosity between us when our finances were joined. I finally realized our financial goal in life is different. I have accepted this. And separating our fiances made life easier.

  • Laurie March 30, 2013, 10:14 am

    My hubs and I just negotiated an allowance a few days ago. We only get a certain amount a week for food, gas, and fun money. Any money we save gets rolled over to the next week, so if we are good, we can binge after several weeks on fancy food, a car trip, or tickets to something we wanted to go to. As we get better at flexing our frugality muscles, we will tighten our allowances.

  • bob August 5, 2013, 9:14 am

    What a nonbadass wuss u are! I buy green tea at Walmart for 1.45. It last me a month and taste great. Wussy.

  • Chris M. January 10, 2014, 3:46 pm

    I need to ask for approval of an over $10 expenditure.

    I really want to use some of my American Express Membership Rewards points to fly first class to Russia for a vacation. I got these points mostly from card signup bonus offers.

    I am not yet financially independent.

    It has always been a dream of mine to visit Russia, and I love flying in Singapore Airlines Suites, especially on this long 12 hour flight.

    My out-of-pocket cash expenditure will be $470 in taxes and fees for the ticket (retail price of the ticket is about $15,000). I will use points for my hotel also. I will research grocery stores near where I stay, and I will learn to speak basic Russian.

    The primary purpose of this trip is to find a wife. Unusual, I know, but my brief experience while in Ukraine last year was one of the highlights of my life.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 10, 2014, 5:21 pm

      Wow! Sounds like I might have to grant approval for this one, because it sounds awesome. Just figure out the cash value of those points, because many of them can be translated to cold, hard cash. If so, this is the real amount you are spending on the trip. Then, you might choose to fly economy class and accomplish everything else with the trip.

      And of course, if you still have emergency debt like a car loan, student loan, credit card, etc., you’d want to pay that off first.

      Have a great time!

      • Chris M. January 10, 2014, 7:35 pm

        Thank you!!!!! Unfortunately, I still have about $2,000 of my student loan debt left.

        Plus, the points are indeed worth a lot… at least $2,000. In other words, enough to pay off the student loan.

        I have no other emergency debt, and am about halfway to paying off my mortgage.

        I suppose my trip can wait. It sure would be nice to have a wife though. ;-)

  • Chris M. January 10, 2014, 7:24 pm

    Ok, so after posting the comment above, I read more posts on this site, including “Is It Convenient? Wrong Question”.

    I obviously have a looooooong way to go at Mustachianism. Looooooooong.

    I was really looking forward to that trip to Russia. I’ve been saving AmEx points for it and dreaming about it for a couple years.

    I still don’t know if I am going to go. I am still sad and conflicted about not going. Being financially independent is also important to me. Being “free” in the Henry David Thoreau sense of the word, is even more important to me, though. Ugh. This isn’t going to be easy.

    By the way, I really, really want to go with my friends tonight to go see the new movie “Lone Survivor”. I said no, for now. Maybe I’ll get it on Redbox.

    This process is not going to be easy. Oh my.

  • Sterling January 28, 2014, 2:20 pm

    Hey MMM,

    I’ve been reading your blog like crazy since a friend recommended it over Christmas. I’ve only read April – September 2011 and I’m really excited that there are so many posts left to go (over 2 years worth!!!). I can’t believe that there are that many topics left to cover when I’ve already so much. Can’t wait!

    Also, I will be instituting and counting up my “Buy Nothing Days” from now on. So far I’m at 2 in a row…haha.

  • Jared May 18, 2014, 9:46 pm

    I’m sure you have heard of it but just in case check out XBMC, will make your home cinema much more enjoyable and even has andriod/IOS apps for remote control (yatse) is my fav.

  • Ethan March 23, 2015, 2:01 pm

    I’m reading this way late, but I have to say, this is one of my favorite posts. I’ve had this problem with my partner – I’ve always been super frugal (if it were just me I’d probably be about 80% as mustachian as MMM without having ever read this blog) but my partner – whoo boy, not so much. Last year we incurred the dreaded credit card debt. While I know all debts are an EMERGENCY, we are fortunate enough to have significantly more equity and these debts are an inconvenience, but not a serious life altering emergency. I never, ever, ever have carried credit card prior to this, and it’s actually been a blessing in disguise because my partner is now stepping up her mustachianism now that she sees how much I hate it. We began talking more openly about money than either of us is really comfortable with. I’m quite proud of her. This year she’s learned how to sew and knit and has given tons of hand-made gifts (baby quilts everywhere!), started to ask if buying x,y,z is okay as your prescribe (don’t worry, I do it too), has kept mid-week grocery buying in check and feels the urge to go out less. It’s nice, because now just going out and splitting an appetizer alone without the stepkids feels like a really special thing. We both have a little work to do, but this necessary exercise in flexing our frugality muscles has been great for us and I forsee it being very helpful in the long term.

  • Deb April 14, 2015, 6:52 am

    I’m late to the MMM party, but I’m enjoying reading post by post. This post hits home because I have a bit of a dilemma. I’ve always been frugal, saving up money and not spending much from a very young age. My husband grew up extremely poor, where any bit of money acquired had to go toward literally surviving. He also had no financially responsible role models. After finally digging himself out of poverty in his early 20s, a family tragedy derailed his career and credit for a few years as he dropped everything to help his disabled mother.

    Now that we are financially stable, he is a bit spendy – but not really on “things”. He prefers spending on home improvement and on experiences, like frequently trying out new restaurants, meeting friends for a few beers at the local watering hole, and going on crazy adventures like the Mongol Rally. In fact, ten years ago after we had just started dating he quit a great-paying job that he hated, cashed out his retirement (making me cringe), and used the money to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail for six months.

    Anyway, the only debt we currently have is our mortgage. I’m naturally frugal and would fully sign on to the Mustachian philosophy if it were just me (we already forego cable, walk to most of our entertainment, and I’ve brown bagged lunch forever), but he sees things differently. Because he has struggled most of his life to have enough to just survive, now he wants to enjoy life without counting pennies. It is tough to convince him of the everyday frugality like riding a bike for most transportation (we have bikes) and saving restaurant meals for special occasions (even though he enjoys cooking).

    We both do have the same goal of retiring within the next 10 years. And now that we have inherited some funds due to his father’s unexpected passing (at quite a young age), we have more of a stash than we had six months ago. However, my husband also has the burden of his own mortality, since both parents passed within six months of each other, both younger than 62! So now his already burgeoning need to experience life to the fullest has a new sense of urgency. Hence he will be using part of his inheritance to go on another big adventure this summer.

    I’m not expecting anyone to tell me how to deal with it, but I’d be interested to see if others have had similar experiences selling frugality to a partner who has been involuntarily scraping by for most of his or her life.

    • lynn July 20, 2015, 1:12 pm

      Hi Deb! I am in the same boat. I grew up solidly middle class with both parents working. They set a somewhat frugal example and have a comfortable life well after retiring. My husband grew up with less money and less stability. He isn’t a spender on big ticket items, but he will go to the grocery store and drop $200 and think nothing of it. He grew up worrying about his next meal and now that he has a good job and disposable income, he loves to be able to buy any food he wants. We spend waaaaaay too much on food, gas and entertainment. I am frustrated with his attitude but I understand why he is the way he is. At this point it’s out of my hands, I cannot discuss it once more with him. I can’t make him change and I can’t spend my energy wishing he was super frugal.

  • Silent K July 19, 2015, 5:14 pm

    First comment by me, also a little late to the MMM party. Wish I’d found this blog three years ago, when I just entered the working world, or even while I was in college! Oh, well, starting at 25 isn’t too bad.

    Anyways, my comment isn’t really about this article, but about something I just realized with MMM’s advice on how one should react when being unable to purchase something. It made me think of a question I will ask from now on: “If someone offered to pay me the cost of this product to not buy it, would I accept that offer?”

    I’m sure this idea isn’t new, and it may even be later in the blog (reading it in chronological order from the beginning), but I enjoyed the thought and wanted to share.

    As far as couples spending goes, I’ve been putting each itemized receipt into a JSON file by hand for a while. I was looking into tools to make this whole thing easier, but I realized that going through each receipt manually really makes me stop and consider purchases, and also often starts discussions with my SO. I’ll probably just keep doing it and make some code that breaks down information for further discussion fodder.

    • STBJ January 10, 2016, 8:44 am

      I really like this line “If someone offered to pay me the cost of this product to not buy it, would I accept that offer?” This might be the best mental trick I can use to fix my addiction to impulse spending. That along with remembering that non essential spending is what is keeping me from getting FI and bigger things I actually want.

  • Valentin April 27, 2017, 1:32 am

    Instead of buying a wireless keyboard you should check out Unified Remote (there should be a free version) for your movie needs

  • Wondercat June 4, 2017, 4:22 pm

    I definitely find the spouse thing difficult at times. I’ve only just started reading the blog (super late on the bandwagon I know – I heard you recently on Tim Ferris), and started making some changes at home. Despite discussing early retirement as the goal my spouse’s response was “are we suddenly poor or something?” as if taking offence to my efforts. Regardless, we have a strategy that tends to work for us which is separate accounts. We have a joint account where we each deposit our money for the mortgage, utilities and food monthly and the rest of our money remains in our own separate accounts. That allows me to continue to save for my early retirement and him to spend what he likes without affecting my goals.

  • Amigo March 25, 2021, 11:02 am

    Hey MMM!
    I’m not sure I completely got the point.

    What about personal purchases?
    Your examples were all referring to things used by “the family”.

    But what if I want to buy a new fishing rod? Or anything used only by me?
    Which algorithm should I apply?

    Thanks for your precious suggestion :-)


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