Mr. Money Mustache vs. Tim Ferriss

“Who is this Tim Ferriss guy?”

If you find yourself asking that question, then congratulations, you get five extra Mustache Points for not tuning into US mainstream media for the last several years. In fact, I myself was blissfully unaware of his existence until I started this blog last year and noticed everyone either worshiping or criticizing him.

For those just tuning in, Tim Ferriss is the dude on the left. In a fit of Photoshop brilliance, I put on a similar shirt, photographed myself doing a fake punching move, and added myself on the right, just so you will think that I am in the same dynamic and exciting league as Tim. He’s an interesting man indeed, because despite being a bit younger than me, he has already started a few cash-spraying companies, popularized the “Lifestyle Design” movement, published two bestselling self-help books, and met many of the world’s famous people* – not to mention winning various competitions in unusual disciplines like Tango and Chinese Kickboxing.

Because of all of this success, he has spawned competing armies of copycat followers and sarcastic mockers. The twentysomething followers start their own lifestyle design blogs and tell the world to “Be Awesome! Live life your own way instead of taking it from The Man!”. And the slightly older mockers point out the flaws in the philosophy and complain about the annoying self-entitled confidence of both Tim and his followers.

I have watched both sides of this argument with a slight nervousness. Without even knowing the field existed, I may have accidentally started a Lifestyle Design blog myself. In fact, I once saw a Twitter comment that a stranger posted linking to one of these MMM articles that said something like, “Awesome stuff – Tim Ferriss and this guy should have a baby together!”

But which side of the argument is right? Is the concept of “The Four Hour Work Week” compatible with Mustachianism? To find out, I took time out of my busy schedule to carefully read Tim’s seminal work, The Four Hour Workweek.

In a word, I’d describe the book as “Surprising!”.  I have never read a book with so many unusual and counterintuitive ideas, presented with such confidence. I mean, I thought I was slightly odd for describing the fact that over 50% of the rich world’s consumption and work is irrational, stupid, and should be stopped immediately so we can all start having some real fun with our lives. But in many ways this book out-stranges me. And many of those ways are quite good.

Let’s start with the basics: Tim went to a good university and got a good job after graduation. But he’s a hacker, so he wasn’t satisfied with the ratio of reward to effort. He started his own company on the side selling sports nutrition supplements, which did well. But he found it was sucking up growing amounts of his time each week. At 80 hours, he snapped and decided something had to change.

Then he figured out how to empower other people to run the business for him and get the whole thing to go mostly on autopilot. At this point, he found he was making something like $40,000 per month, yet only working four hours per week. Hence, the idea of the Four Hour Workweek was born.

Using his newfound freedom, he toured the world and learned lots of interesting new skills. And eventually, he wrote the book itself, using some very clever tricks to go from novice author to #1 New York Times bestseller in just a few months.

That’s a drastically different and more exciting path than my own, yet we both ended up financially free at about the same age. There’s an obvious difference in that his financial freedom is based on a very high level of income and spending, while mine is is way down near the US average. But the interesting part is that we both realized the same things once this freedom was reached: life is not so much about money or possessions,  it’s about freedom of time and mobility to go wherever you like. And it’s not about not working, it’s more about not being tied down to any particular job.

There are several more concepts and quotes I liked in this book:

  • “Most people work decades in a job they hate, with the vague promise of retirement as their motivation. How would your choice of work/life balance change if retirement was not an option?”
  • Most people focus on being busy rather than being productive at work. By walling yourself off from distractions, meetings, and even spurious emails at your (office) job, you can usually double your hourly productivity. Then leverage this into a work-from-home arrangement where you continue to do the same job, in only half the hours.
  • To someone who becomes good at making deals with other people, reality is negotiable.
  • Cancel your TV, your magazines, your casual websurfing, and your newspaper subscriptions. Put yourself on a low information diet where you only take in things that are relevant to your goals.
  • The old way of work (fixed hours and work days in a fixed location) does not work well with the natural human cycle. We have waves of creative energy and inspiration, interrupted by periods of downtime.
  • Setting ridiculous goals and disregarding common objections to them often works surprisingly well. Getting in touch with company CEOs or other famous people and asking them to help you, getting a job near the top of a company, or creating massive publicity for your own products. All of these things are easier and less competitive than expected, because most people are afraid to even try them.
  • Expand your comfort sphere by doing uncomfortable things. Getting phone numbers from attractive strangers. Negotiating for prices everywhere you go. Asking your boss for a raise. Lying down on your back in the middle of a crowded pub.

That’s all exciting advice. Although you’ll find it in many business and self-help books, it means more to me coming from a very young entrepreneur than it would mean to hear the same things from a crusty old fortune 500 CEO. But eventually the book goes off into a new direction: outsourcing your entire life. Ferriss describes his experience with hiring Indian subcontractors as “Virtual Assistants” – people to book his meetings and travel, do his online research for him, even organize social events and help his business with special projects. The idea is that for under $10 per hour, you can hire really clever people to do a good chunk of your work for you, so you can do your even more important work.

It all started sounding very practical and clever until I realized that I don’t need assistants, because I have taken the opposite approach and designed simplicity right into my life. I have plenty of time to take care of anything that needs doing by myself, with plenty of time left over. Sure, I still automate away some of the busywork using computers and other gadgets (automatic income deposits, bill pay, bank account transfers, financial tracking, online calendaring and documents, etc.), but with those bases covered I find there is not much else that needs doing.

And that’s where we find the biggest contrast between The Four Hour Workweek and Mustachian Early Retirement. Tim goes into great detail on how to start an online business that sells products to people. That is supposed to generate passive income so you can live the life of your dreams. Then he encourages you to add up all the costs in the life of your dreams. “It costs less than you think!”, he says. One example he gives is that you can lease a Lamborghini Gallardo for only $2800 per month. Wow! No problem!

The idea of earning financial independence by actually amassing some of your own capital is quickly dismissed. To paraphrase,

“To retire on money alone, you’d need like a million dollars, which not many people can accomplish. And even if you did get that million dollars, inflation would be eating away 2-4% of it each year, destroying your purchasing power. Finally, if you WERE hardworking enough to save a million dollars while you are still young, retirement is going to be about as fun as poking bicycle spokes in your eyes. You’ll want to start a business. So why wait for retirement?”

I’ll have to call a timeout here. First of all, the perspective on inflation is naive. Investors like you and I always take inflation into account when designing our portfolio – as long as you earn more than inflation, your purchasing power increases rather than decreasing.

More importantly, by failing to start their journey by first learning to live happily on a low level of spending, 4 Hour Workweek followers may be setting themselves up for a lifetime of chasing expensive thrills. To focus on earning more rather than spending less is to neglect the fact that we are already living lives of drastic overconsumption. We are already spending plenty of money to achieve happiness – all of us. Let’s figure out first how to totally decouple spending level from happiness, and shed the inconvenient burden of insatiability.

Then you can still go out and earn a shitload of money. The difference is that you’ll tend to save it and invest it in social change for the better, rather than spending it on yourself.

Or you can keep your existing job, save well, and still end up financially independent and free while you’re still young. You don’t have to start an online business or do anything particularly crazy.

The original target audience of this blog was the well-paid office workers of the world. I felt that for people earning over $60,000 per person per year, financial independence was already so easily attainable, that it would be an unnecessary distraction to spend years building a second business to increase income still further.

But Tim Ferriss definitely sells the idea well. His book should be viewed as a supplementary course in Badassity, and will be especially valuable to younger people who are near the beginnings of their careers, and also to anyone who is on the lower end of the income scale who is willing to fight to move to a higher level.

Going back to the Twitter comment about MMM and Ferriss – I would agree that we could have a baby someday. The baby would be some kind of hybrid between our ideas. We’d take all of his energy and fearlessness and complete lack of fear of failure. But we’d strip out a bit of the hype and selling, because we wouldn’t be out to make money for ourselves – we already have plenty. We wouldn’t be creating products to sell. Instead our product would be a globe-spanning breed of supermotivated and ultraproductive Badass People that would be out to save the world.

* Compounding the celebrity intrigue, Tim Ferriss is apparently friends with another one of my much more famous frugality arch-rivals, Ramit Sethi.

  • jump February 20, 2012, 6:46 am

    I’ve read most of 4 Hour Body…I enjoy his writing style and approach to problems. I find it similar to your own style, MMM.

  • October MacBain February 20, 2012, 6:50 am

    I have never heard of Tim Ferriss before, but I have seen plenty of blogs that start out as helpful (zenhabits, theminimalists) and turn into selling machines. That really turns me off. I stopped reading Zen Habits because I got tired of the sales pitch. All of these guys are reading the same Tony Robbins crap. Hype hype hype, sell sell sell. No thanks.

    If MMM ever turns into a selling machine, I’m gone.

    • Mr. Money Mustache February 20, 2012, 7:06 am

      See, that is what I view as of one of the chief benefits of overcoming the insatiability for more money and stuff.

      When a blog author is trying to make money off of readers by selling them stuff, it shows. That’s not a bad thing, since it still takes work to write these things and many of us are still trying to make a living. But it gets a little strange to see old nationally-famous multimillionaires like Dave Ramsey still selling things.

      Since I feel I already have plenty to live on (even while it is less than 1/10th of what a celebrity product salesperson might earn) I have the luxury of (mostly) ignoring the income producing side of things.

      • October MacBain February 20, 2012, 7:19 am

        I’m all for supporting a helpful site, via a “donate” button or a quietly placed ad on the sidebar. What I object to is when the content stops being about helping others and focuses on selling the product, when the “articles” become a sales pitch. That’s when I tune out.

    • Amanda February 22, 2012, 7:54 am

      Good point. I also think it’s hella ironic that a minimalist blog is trying to sell crap constantly. But maybe that’s just me.

  • Jimbo February 20, 2012, 7:02 am

    I have litterally just finished the 4HWW… He has some good ideas, and honestly he delivers quite a punch to the face, similar to your own style… Increasing income can be good if it helps achieve financial goals earlier. And I mean… He’s all about (at least in the book) spending on Life Experiences and living your dreams. At least he doesnt go all out for Massive Consumption of Stuff.

    I think he is a bachelor, no strings attached and no desire to settle version of you. That’s the way i see. it.

    P.S. : You DO have way too big pipes to be a computer geek. (I hope people get this reference)

    • Mr. Money Mustache February 20, 2012, 7:19 am

      Good point Jimbo – looks like I totally forgot to mention the way having a kid has totally changed my priorities – away from constant action/adventure, and towards a bit more stability for his sake. I’ll have to either update this article, or find a way to fit that concept into another one.

      Also, my arms aren’t actually all that big, since the aforementioned Vin Diesel project is really just getting started. But for these pictures I try to look as tough as possible, to maintain the public image of Mr. Money Mustache as someone who is qualified to do some face punching :-)-

  • Mr. Frugal Toque February 20, 2012, 7:12 am

    Maybe he’s a little bit Schwartz-ier:
    “Getting in touch with company CEOs … getting a job near the top of a company … All of these things are easier and less competitive than expected, because most people are afraid to even try them.”

    That sounds very Magic of Thinking Big. David Schwartz was all about the “Lots of Room at the Top” kind of thinking, and not so into the early retirement.

    Although I can’t be sure without reading his book, it sounds like a fairly unsustainable process – the idea that you can consume more and more just by getting other people to do the legwork for you. That system requires a whole lot of poorly paid legwork people who won’t have the luxury of doing the same thing.

    Like you, I have a strong aversion to having servants, even if they’re called “assistants”.

    • Cass February 20, 2012, 1:19 pm

      I share your beef about “outsourcing” his work. This inherently means he’s setting others up to fail, because they cannot possibly be assistants only 4 hours a week to make a living.
      It seems like he’s taking advantage of people who are less fortunate than him, happy for any pennies they can scrape together.
      What happened to paying people what they’re worth to you, and not treating them as mere “human capital”? (And thus trying to get an asset at its lowest possible cost in order to increase profits.)
      I’ll take the DIY Mustachian route any day!

      • FinanceClever May 18, 2016, 8:03 am

        Seems like Tim is taking advantage of Geographic arbitrage finding assistants in low-wage countries. Whether this is ethical or not can be argued either way.
        The book Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan explains this phenomenon of the “sweat shop” and dismissed the popular notion that it is always “wrong” to outsource work to low-wage countries.
        I would recommend reading it if you haven’t.

  • Roberta February 20, 2012, 7:32 am

    You know he brags about cheating to win at least one of those competitions he’s so all hot on himself about, don’t you?

    He just comes across as a snotty, self-aggrandizing greedy child, frankly. I didn’t buy his book – I read it at the library. Waste of 90 minutes of my life, although it certainly added a different perspective to my day.

    And someone who doesn’t read the paper or listen to news broadcasts in some way is cutting themself off from what’s happening in the rest of the world. You don’t have to suscribe to People magazine if it’s not in line with your goals but if you aren’t keeping up with current events how do you expect to be a mature, contributing member of society?

    And I would venture to say that the majority of emplyment types do require fixed hours in fixed locations. I’m sure happy that my medical providers have offices and office hours, for example, and that my favorite restaurant is open for dinner, and that the stores I shop in are open in physical locations.

    • Virginia March 5, 2015, 5:24 pm

      I was one of those Virtual Assistants and guess what…I had to work fixed hours on fixed days of the week. The world, even those that are self-employeed or own their own business, all work on the same schedule. I did like the flexibility of being able to work from anywhere now that I am back to working in an office setting and I miss working in my pjs some days.

  • anon February 20, 2012, 7:42 am

    Ferris mentions a lot of health problems/expenses associated with his “program” – older MMM-type people know that abusing your body when young is a particularly stupid thing and that it greatly affects a longer and enjoyable retirement.

  • Poor Student February 20, 2012, 7:55 am

    I have wanted to read the 4 Hour Work Week for a while. I have read many things about the book but never the book itself. I like the idea, and you saying people such as myself will be wise to read it makes me want to more. It moves to the next book on the To Read list.

  • Mike Key February 20, 2012, 7:58 am

    I was on that boat for awhile, but quickly got off it. When I first started thinking about myself and my money in 2007 I stumbled onto Tim and the whole lifestyle design movement.

    I did get debt free, but the muse is more of a fantasy. And I have to say this, I’ve read his blog, and I think Tim is 40% great ideas, 60% HYPERBOLE.

    He knows his audience and he knows them well, and it’s made him very successful.

    And there are plenty of expat 20 something copycats who moved to Thialand to try to start their own business of explaining to other wannabes how to be just like Tim Ferris.

    Looking at all now, I get the ever growing impression that it’s more of a self centered lifestyle philosophy. Even his perspective on relationships seems more of a whats in it for me mentality.

    Actually I seem to be regularly disturbed by most of societies move towards self centered mentalities of only caring about self and pleasure of self.

    Maybe I’m just a weirdo.

  • Dragline February 20, 2012, 8:13 am

    I’ve read both the 4-hour work-week and 4-hour body and found them interesting and useful, the latter probably more so than the former because of the interesting work-outs.

    But one thing I think people need to realize is that Tim Ferriss is a total extrovert who enjoys bargaining, marketing, meeting new people, travelling to exotic locales, etc. And he tends to assume that everyone likes the same things that he does. He has that “salesman” personality that all good marketers possess. Personally, I would hate having to do most of the promotional activities he engages in — that’s what I would want to farm out to an assistant in India.

    So you have to take it for what it is — somethings are useful for some people and some things are not. He wants to solve most problems by earning more, instead of using less. So be it. I would say that his books are worth reading, though.

  • Dollar D @ The Dollar Disciple February 20, 2012, 8:43 am

    I read about 5 pages of “The 4-Hour Body” and when I got to the section where he talks about all 10 supplements he takes I lost a lot of respect for the guy.

    I hadn’t read The 4 Hour Work Week but I had a feeling it was filled with the same kinds of shortcuts and BS

    • Frans February 20, 2012, 8:57 am

      Why would supplements be BS and a shortcut? I suppose eating healthy is a shortcut as well? I dare you to find a book about training that doesn’t bring it up.

      • Johonn April 11, 2012, 12:51 am

        Supplements are a replacement for the inconvenience of eating healthily.

        • Frans April 11, 2012, 3:29 am

          You haven’t read all that much of the book either, I presume.

          In part you’re absolutely correct, but Ferriss isn’t really talking about eating supplements to supplement your vitamin C deficiency, which I think is what you’re thinking of. He’s talking about things like eating magnesium before bed to sleep better or eating garlic extract and green tea extract to burn fat faster. Sure, the mustachian way is to bike everywhere, thus both those “problems” would be solved, so I understand why some people might have a problem with it.

  • Frans February 20, 2012, 8:51 am

    Can certainly recommend the book! I’m almost through it now, and his ideas are certainly in many ways interesting and badass.

    As others have said, he’s a motivator much like MMM, even though their methods are different. The most important thing both are supporting is not getting stuck doing something you don’t like for 45 years, just because everyone else are doing it.

    I probably can’t retire until 45 years of age “the mustachian way”, or even later than that (I’m 23 now, yay!). So his idea about generating a passive income is certainly something I plan on exploring further in the coming months/years.

    • Mike Key February 20, 2012, 2:42 pm

      His ideas have some legitimacy too them. I recently built up a product that I sell via only that is mostly automated. It could even scale.

      But Tim adds a certain flavor of escapism hyperbole that I think is really common in the Lifestyle Design arena.

      Dude is smart for sure, and the 4HB was also an interesting read. Although a lot of it was really stuff I’ve already heard before with the Ferris spin.

      What I haven’t seen anyone mention that really ticked me when I first read the 4HWW and I don’t think most of his groupies get is Tim changed the definition of work in his book.

      Tim states he works longer than 4 hours a week, but to him work is doing all the stuff you don’t actually want to be doing, and he out sources that.

      Nothing wrong with that, as web developer I out source to freelancers a lot.

      I also think increasing your income + frugality is the best combination of gaining wealth. Everyone who can master living on what they already earn, can always improve from earning more.

      tim is for sure a polarizer though.

  • lurker February 20, 2012, 9:02 am

    it comes down to truly MASSIVE consumption and con artistry. that is Tim. me me me and lets chat a bit more about me and how freakin cool and clever Tim is. if the world were made up of Tims it would be used up very quickly. look folks, we are running out of time and resources. time to grow up and grow mustaches! doubt Tim is going to start a family soon as what woman would marry such a narcissistic little brat. he is a screaming self-promoting symptom of a huge problem with our society, not a solution. this blog is the way we all have to go and now it is time for a bike ride. cheers all.

    • October MacBain February 20, 2012, 9:08 am


    • Mr. Money Mustache February 20, 2012, 9:44 am

      Whoa there – that sounds like a bit of complainypants haterism, although I agree with you on the bike ride part.

      There’s a lot of good stuff in the four-hour workweek mentality. And I also believe Tim Ferriss is in general out to create a better world, and is in no way a brat.

      Sure we differ in our ideas about frugality, and I like a slightly less exciting life partly due to being a parent. But getting negative about someone we don’t even know personally makes us sound very much like the commenters on the MSN article writing those 14 pages of incorrect things about me.

      (If you’ve never seen the MSN comment comedy, check it out at the bottom of this page.)

      The most negative comments are seen when you sort by “oldest” since a bunch of Mustachians later swooped in and wrote positive things.

      • Questionable Goatee February 21, 2012, 12:30 pm

        I read The 4hr Workweek about two years ago, and while initially awed by Tim’s badassity, I was eventually turned off from his approach by one fairly simple realization: it only works by taking advantage of others’ willingness to deal with his shit. I’m not saying you can’t learn anything from him, but I am saying that there’s no chance of this working on a mass scale. In any given ‘business process’ (for lack of a better/generic term), there would be gaping holes where people just assume others who value their time less will step up to fill in. Perhaps someone who owns the book can provide some concrete examples of this, because I remember there being plenty.

      • msmo February 22, 2012, 3:13 am

        holy cow those comments were scary. such negativity and judgment. even if a person doubts the facts of an article, one should always approach it thoughtfully and respectfully, and do your due diligence before making asinine comments. americans make me so sad sometimes.

      • NatPatBen September 26, 2014, 8:43 pm

        Thanks for the comedy break by directing us to those comments. I chuckled long & hard at the random “U don’t even compare to Gene Simmons” comment.

      • dll October 18, 2016, 2:14 pm

        Do you know if this MSN article is still available? I can not find it.

    • Dmitry February 20, 2012, 2:24 pm

      Well said, buddy! 10 thumbs up!

    • Stephen February 21, 2012, 11:42 am

      Tim is a pretty polarizing character. Who knows, he might have constructed his persona on purpose for the publicity. If so, it worked hand over fist.

      Tim isn’t afraid to break the rules. Some people are okay with breaking rules to get what they want, and they revere Tim. Others don’t like it, and they dislike or even despise him. Things like finding loopholes to win kickboxing, and setting a record for how many times you can twirl in a minute, then listing “national kickboxing champion” and “world tango champion” in your bio are pretty harmless. And rumors like his outsourcing his own five star Amazon reviews, telling lies to get meetings with important people, or lying about income amounts are just that, rumors. But you start to see a pattern.

      I don’t know about you, but “Then leverage this into a work-from-home arrangement where you continue to do the same job, in only half the hours” sounds a lot like “he was also the one that taught me you can slack off at work, and still get paid the same amount.”

  • Geek February 20, 2012, 9:21 am

    ““To retire on money alone, you’d need like a million dollars, which not many people can accomplish.”

    If you wanted to live on 40k/year, with a 4% withdrawal rate, following ‘standard’ non-mustachian advice which is given to folks.

    “And even if you did get that million dollars, inflation would be eating away 2-4% of it each year, destroying your purchasing power.”

    Most (non-Mustachian) people would like to stick that million dollars in a bank where it’s “safe” and even if you do this, 2-4% of it disappears each year.

    “Finally, if you WERE hardworking enough to save a million dollars while you are still young, retirement is going to be about as fun as poking bicycle spokes in your eyes. You’ll want to start a business. So why wait for retirement?””

    And…. I’m pretty sure this part happened to MMM. Maybe not the boredom, but the ‘own business’.

    So it’s all pretty true, for your “average” non-mustachian.

    • Geek February 20, 2012, 9:27 am

      **Or perceived as pretty true by the masses :)

  • lurker February 20, 2012, 10:22 am

    sorry for sounding like a hater but, from where I sit, Tim ain’t about frugality. he is about efficiency, at all costs. can we learn from him? certainly. do I admire him?
    Hell no. the thought of you guys mating your philosophies is repugnant to me. what would the American Indians have thought of captain shortcut? hacking his way through a 15-minute vision quest (hey why fast for three days alone in the wilderness when you can…Tim Ferris shortcut here?) we can all design our own lifestyles within our views of what we believe is right and important. don’t need Tim to tell me that. and I am also sure the guy could charm me to death over two beers, his treat. Doesn’t mean I don’t find his success supremely disturbing. it the mindset I hate really, not the man. because as you so sagely pointed out. I don’t know him…

    • Nate February 20, 2012, 3:15 pm

      “sorry for sounding like a hater but, from where I sit, Tim ain’t about frugality. he is about efficiency, at all costs. can we learn from him? certainly. do I admire him?
      Hell no. the thought of you guys mating your philosophies is repugnant to me. what would the American Indians have thought of captain shortcut? hacking his way through a 15-minute vision quest (hey why fast for three days alone in the wilderness when you can…Tim Ferris shortcut here?)”

      Lurker, the reason you sound like a hater is because, rather than offering a counterpoint to Ferriss’ views, you simply express enormous distain for the man and his views without actually defining:

      a) The viewpoints you have a problem with, and
      b) Why you disagree with those particular viewpoints

      So even though you admit that we can learn from him, in the following sentence you bring up a non-sequitur about american indians and vision quests as way of justifying your personal distain.

      Yet Ferriss never once claims that we can hack and slash our way to finding meaning and fulfillment in our lives. In fact, if Tim Ferriss was chilling with american indians 300 years ago, it seems pretty obvious that he would be advocating using efficiency to reduce time spent gathering food/hunting/finding shelter so that more time could be spent with loved ones and searching for enlightenment through “vision quests”. Would you disagree?

      “we can all design our own lifestyles within our views of what we believe is right and important. don’t need Tim to tell me that. and I am also sure the guy could charm me to death over two beers, his treat. Doesn’t mean I don’t find his success supremely disturbing. it the mindset I hate really, not the man. because as you so sagely pointed out. I don’t know him…”

      Again, why do you find his success supremely disturbing? What is it about his mindset you hate so much? Why do you dismiss his message of pursuing a lifestyle that “we believe is right and important” as pointless to your needs, when clearly billions of people around the world (including yourself) are consistently striving to accomplish just that? Sounds a bit like haterism to me.

  • Rodent February 20, 2012, 10:48 am

    My favorite one:
    “Yeah…you’ll be flippin burgers at Burger King in two years..Clown.”

    Yeah, see MMM, you’re a Clown! :-)

  • FreeUrChains February 20, 2012, 11:07 am

    :( I get sad watching $100 Million Dollar Cash $nowballs get thrown back and forth between Corporations while they continue to fire employees to keep the Earnings up to quarterly demands. $40 Billion in Cash [Apple’s current holdings] could retire 470,000 mustachians (or create an unstoppable thinking Badassity Army that has all the freetime and mobility in the world)

  • FreeUrChains February 20, 2012, 11:22 am

    Tim Ferriss reminds me of Ed from the Movie Limitless, or the book The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn.
    Maybe he is on NZT, that generates 100% Neural Efficiency and Mental Focus without anyone else knowing.
    Having all the freetime in your life + 2 hours of general Exercise to necessary locations + Plants growing food for you themselves + High Quality Badass Tools with free Solar powered Electricity + 100% Drug free mental Focus and/or Mediation = MMM = Chuck Norris Levels of Achievements :)

  • Jeff February 20, 2012, 12:23 pm

    It seems you’ve misinterpreted Ferriss and the 4hww. It has nothing to do with money. It’s all about time. As long as you never have to work, who cares how much you spend?

    • Jimbo February 20, 2012, 12:46 pm

      In all obviousness, lots of people here care about how much you spend…

      • Jeff February 29, 2012, 5:59 pm

        I should rephrase that. “Why does it matter how much you spend?”

  • Josh February 20, 2012, 1:07 pm

    I have been thinking about this combination of philosophies for the last two weeks. I first read Tim’s book in 2008. I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so I took to some of the ideas in his book.

    We need to be careful to separate some of the ideas in the book from Tim himself. Tim may not be into sustainability or what we would consider the standard form of frugality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of some of the ideas. For example, he often mentions that living in other countries is much less costly than living in the US. Lowering your overall costs while enjoying your life sounds pretty mustachian to me. He also spends a lot of time talking about the Pareto principle, which he uses to focus on the work that is important. Focusing on what is important and not wasting time with things that don’t matter sounds pretty mustachian to me.

    Most importantly, I think we shouldn’t disregard the idea of producing a business of our own as a way to achieve financial freedom. The central concept is passive income. MMM uses real estate and stocks as far as I can tell. Buying stocks and receiving dividends is the exact same thing as owning your own business, particularly if your business has been designed to run in an automated way. For some people it’s easier to create a business that produces the income they need than to save and invest the amount they need to generate that same income.

    The blended approach is best. If you can get your spending down the way MMM does and you can generate an automated business the way Tim talks about you get the best of both worlds. In the internet age, I don’t think it’s impossible for the entrepreneurial to create a niche business that generates ~$30k a year, which puts you well within the cost of living like MMM. The advantage of your own business is that it is possible (likely?) to get significantly higher returns on investment than 7%. I’m not advocating abandoning other investing vehicles, but it’s shortsighted to disregard an entire class of assets (privately owned businesses) without thoroughly investigating it.

    I’m working along these lines; I’ve spent the last 3 months lowering my overall spending. I’m embarking on my own automated business shortly. If there’s interest I can document this adventure for the mustachians out there. Let me know.

    • Gentleman Trekker February 20, 2012, 8:21 pm

      I would be very interested to hear your story. :)

    • Mustafa February 21, 2012, 4:27 am

      Well put across Josh. I too am on the same path you seem to be, lowering my living expenses and building towards creating a privately owned business as a career. Would love to know more about your journey.

      I read the Four Hour Work Week last year (as well as the Four Hour Body) and it’s definitely a game-changer. You may not agree with everything he says and does, but he definitely raises a lot of valuable points which Mustachians on this site would benefit from taking on board.

      For anyone who hasn’t read the book, I would recommend you do (borrow from the library of course) before you make up your mind on Tim Ferriss or have someone else do it for you. It certainly doesn’t hurt to explore new ideas and possibilities and question the status quo. I’m pretty sure that’s part of what MMM is doing here and why we enjoy his site so much.

      As MMM says in the above article:

      “His book should be viewed as a supplementary course in Badassity, and will be especially valuable to younger people who are near the beginnings of their careers, and also to anyone who is on the lower end of the income scale who is willing to fight to move to a higher level.”

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. MMM Frugality+Tim Ferriss Efficiency+Excitement in life=Winning

    • Peter Arends July 13, 2013, 3:16 am

      Josh have you documented this? Do you have blog? It would be awesome to read, I am starting to do the same thing.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 13, 2013, 4:45 am

      Well said, Josh.. since writing this post a year and a half ago, I too have come around more to the Tim way of seeing things.

      Small, fairly passive businesses really do happen (with the Internet being a big part of what makes this magic possible). And they can get you out of the office with a lot less cash than a bunch of stocks earning 4% dividends.

      As long as the powerful concept of “actually amassing some money over time” is not forgotten (so as to be insulated from fluctuations in the business and able to open up more and more options for yourself over time), the 4-hour-workweek stuff can be ideal for some.

      • Graeme September 27, 2014, 8:28 am

        Great article – love seeing a discussion of Tim through the lens of a different worldview. Interesting to see this comment as well. I was a fan of Tim Ferriss first, then found your site last year.

        After reading 4HWW, made a web business. You said ” they can get you out of the office with a lot less cash than a bunch of stocks earning 4% dividends.” and this was true in my experience.

        I don’t have a nest egg of investments. Instead, I’ve put excess cash back into the business. Result is that I was “retired” after three years of work. Except, I didn’t actually retire.

        The difference between a positive cash flow business and investments is that the business has less certainty. If I stopped doing anything, I’d make money for a year or two. Then things would dwindle as the market moved on.

        So I continue to grow the business, aiming to eventually take some money out as investment capital and also as a safety buffer. But I work on my own terms.

        What did I learn from MMM that I should have applied from the start to my 4HWW plan?

        * I should have saved more. My spending was too high, as I was “not planning to retire”. In the early years I didn’t have a safety buffer. This led me to do more short term work to make ends meet. I probably lost a year due to this lack of foresight.
        * A dollar saved is worth more than a dollar earned. My main focus is still earning more. But due to taxes, each dollar earned is only about 60 cents, while a dollar saved is a dollar. Tim totally ignores taxes. Learning to think in after tax dollars changed how I spend, even if I’m not as frugal as I could be.

        I’d love to see an article on how to incorporate passive business income into retirement planning calculation. Earning $1,000 per month passively from a business isn’t the same as $1,000 per month from investments, but it’s not $0 either.

  • lurker February 20, 2012, 1:36 pm

    I agree with Jimbo. time is money.

  • Ben February 20, 2012, 2:41 pm

    Ferris isn’t really a good role model – we can definitely do better

    I have a feeling he’ll grow out of it as his book isn’t all bad

    There are glimpses of someone sensible in there, but only glimpses

    I’d be embarassed to tell anyone (especially my parents) if I ran a business (or my life) like his

    • Frans February 21, 2012, 2:37 am

      “I’d be embarassed to tell anyone (especially my parents) if I ran a business (or my life) like his”

      Why? I can see how you can disprove of him for sometimes being anti-Mustachian, but being embarresed for living your life like that? It’s not like he’s earning his money by pimping ho’s.

      Travel the world, living off a company you spend a few hours a week on, or retire, settle down in a house you really like and raise some kids. Either option seems pretty awesome from my point of view.

      • Ben February 21, 2012, 8:15 am

        hi frans

        my biggest sticking point is that his business is, to put it horribly bluntly, selling junk to idiots (i recall it was some sort of ‘mind-juice!)

        I think thats exploitative unless perhaps he genuinely thinks it works, but that then makes him an idiot. At best its an ethically dubious activity at worst its morally bankrupt.

        I understand the view that it doesn’t matter as long as you make some easy money, but my gut feeling is that it doesn’t do anyone any favours in the long run (including tim).

        I’m not too comfortable with the outsourcing either – although this is not so clear cut – it also feels a little exploitative.

        I guess it boils down to whether you find any of his stuff morally objectionable and also whether you think a morally objectionable business is a bad thing. I’m pretty certain I dissaprove on both counts.

        • Frans February 21, 2012, 8:51 am

          Hello to you, Ben!
          I think you’re being fairly closed-minded. Why are his products junk? Do you have any research behind that statement? You say you barely know what he’s selling (only that it’s ‘mind-juice’), but you still have enough knowledge to call him/his customers idiots. Unless there’s something you’re not telling, I’d say that’s not very nice of you.

  • Teresa February 20, 2012, 2:51 pm

    Kudos to Tim for coming up with the marketing and making the moo-la. I will have to go back to the old standby, “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.” It would probably be most difficult for most people to replicate his success, however, following basic frugal principals would enable most people to better their lives immediately. Thanks for not charging for your ideas MMM (not that there would be anything wrong with that though).

  • James Petzke February 20, 2012, 4:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing this MMM, I think I’m going to read Tim’s book, sounds like it could help me some with my internet businesses I’ve been trying to start.

  • Alan D February 20, 2012, 5:49 pm

    There are a lot of things about Tim that I respect. Testing and Researching, even the far fetched ideas is a lot of hard expensive work. That’s how you get these confident flies in the face of reason and logic answers. Doing that upfront work saves tons of time and leverages everything else.

    Interesting to note that you’re both self identified stoics. I think you just tackled different parts of the same problem. Income Generation and Expense Management are both parts of Wealth Creation. The Offense and Defense of the Money Game. MMM’s Steely ‘Stache guards the basket while TF just sinks these ridiculously consistent 3-4-5 point plays.

    “I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need” -T. Durden Fight Club

    You both help me cut through the BS and that’s what I like about you.

    Though your outright denial of the PA is logical MMM, and despite the seemingly marginal returns for a man with a simple life like yours, and the retching sound I think you’ll make when you say, “I’ll forward that to my personal assistant and have him/her do the work” to somebody; I think it would be a good exercise/Challenge for you to suspend critical thinking and just do it. You know just one month, 30 days, and report back. I mean what have you got to lose. Maybe a couple hundred bucks. I suspect though that by day 6 of outsourcing all possible work you’d be so frustratingly bored that your mustache will rage and you will create some new Amazing Insightful MMM article filled with facts and numbers that you worked out thoroughly and completely re-working personal finance as we know it. Landing probably somewhere in the middle wouldn’t be so bad either.

    I also think that the de-emphasis on sales and hype “because we’ve already got enough for ourselves” is profoundly limited logic. If you’ve done the work to solve a difficult problem and are helping people. You do yourself and others a disservice by not making hype, talking about it and getting the message out. You are an engine of progress and have triggered an exchange of resources. After that take what you need and use the rest in support of others.

    Finally, I think you’re taking the lazy way out MMM. Talking about the principles of the 4HWW and how they may or may not agree with mustachian frugality is different than applying them and verifying. Talking about making a baby and actually getting down are very different things. MMM get some. Yeah!

    • Mr. Money Mustache February 20, 2012, 10:04 pm

      Nice one Alan – I like the fact that you have issued me challenges! Although I’m a little confused.

      I’m supposed to get a personal assistant, right? Shouldn’t I figure out at least a vague idea what I’d tell this person to do for me first? Today I hung out with my son, lifted some weights, and went out for coffee with some MMM readers visiting from England. Yesterday I made a little desk for my son, got groceries, and spent the rest of the day playing around with the family. So far, the groceries are the only thing that could be outsourced, and even those can’t be done remotely from India as Tim likes to have it done.

      I guess I could outsource the writing of this blog, if you all didn’t mind a change in the writing and grammatical style :-)

      Now, I COULD apply the four hour workweek principles to make more passive income. The quickest way would be to write an e-book and start selling it here on MMM. That might make a couple thousand dollars a month. But the time spent writing it would come directly out of my son’s Dad budget. I’m not sure he’s willing to make that large an investment.

      I see your points, but I’m already a very happy man who gets to do a lot of learning and social stuff every day. I could use even more time in every day, but I could not really use even more money in exchange for less time.

      That’s why I’m attacking the TIME side of things right now. Getting much more badass with formal day/week scheduling and eliminating idle activities. Instead of the four hour workweek, I want to write about the 112-hour FUN WEEK.

      • Graeme September 27, 2014, 8:39 am

        I think you’re actually better off without a personal assistant, if you don’t need one. I say this as someone who DOES outsource.

        I outsource because I’m growing a business. And it helps. But it’s just a way to reduce complexity. If there’s no complexity, there’s no need.

        An example: an assistant posts explanations to my site. This is a fully automateable process. I could spend 20 hours per week doing it, or I could hand it off to them. Which I did. Now I spend 1-2 hours per week managing that.

        Not zero hours per week. I still have to work. This applies to anything you outsource. It’s just a way to create leverage. If there are 200 hours of work per week in your business, outsourcing can get you down to doing 30 hours of high value work yourself, and 10 hours of managing your outsourcers.

        Depending on what’s being outsourced, the management ratio will go down, but it will still be there. That’s why Tim sold his original business.

        I doubt MMM has any stuff he does that’s a good candidate for outsourcing. That would be something that is:

        1. Dull, repeatable, and doable by someone that isn’t MMM, or
        2. Managing a process that is too time intensive for MMM to do on his own while also doing the other stuff he wants to do. e.g. Secretary fielding calls.

        If I retire, I’ll not outsource anything, because I’d rather a simple life. I accept the complexity of outsourcing now because it allows me to do more and grow my business. But it’s not an absolute benefit.

  • Gray Fox February 20, 2012, 5:58 pm

    I read Tim’s 4HWW book about 3 years ago, and it hit me like a bolt of lightning (in a good way). In fact, this was one of the most important books I ever read…not for the information, but for the germ of an idea for me to shift gears in my life.

    I was a driven, 60-80 hour a week guy who led a totally unbalanced life. I wasn’t at all interested in Tim’s hyped business ideas, but I was totally smacked in the face (again, in a good way) with the idea that maybe I should shift gears in my life and try Plan B.

    For me, that meant stepping back from the daily (7 days a week) grind and take a deep breath. I ran some numbers, decided to downsize my life (for financial and other reasons), minimize my expenses, and I even sold my business. MMM without even knowing it!

    I am guessing I’m much older than most of you guys here (at least I assume I am…early 60’s) so this revelation came very late in my working life. A pity, and yet I am having fun and have committed to teach other 50+ adults how NOT to make the same mistakes I made in my financial life. I want to be a conduit for wisdom.

    MMM, a side comment: while I only recently found your site, your writing style and content are both outstanding. You pepper great information with humor and irreverence. Makes for really good reading. I absolutely admire what you have done here…not a snow job; rather a genuine appreciation for great content and great writing. Keep up the good work!

    The Gray Fox

    • Mr. Money Mustache February 20, 2012, 10:12 pm

      Wow, thanks a lot Gray Fox. You might be surprised at the number of more Senior Mustachians like yourself poking around here – I hear from them often through the emails. And even my Dad (who is a writer himself) is a regular reader, which I think is a good sign :-)

  • shanendoah@The Dog Ate My Wallet February 20, 2012, 6:39 pm

    I’d heard of the 4 hour Work Week, but had no idea who it was that had written it. my biggest question always is- what about those people Tim has hired to work for him so he can have a 3 hour work week? Do they only work 4 hours a week? I doubt it. And if they followed Tim’s advice, they wouldn’t need to work for him anymore, and if everyone followed Tim’s advice, he’d suddenly have to work more than 4 hours a week because there wouldn’t be anyone left to do the work for him.
    It’s a great theory, and it can work for some people. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for everyone, and those promoting it probably don’t want everyone to follow it anyway.
    I am a highly paid office worker. I like what I do for a living. I have plans to keep doing this same type of work until I choose to retire, but that probably won’t be for another 30 years- again, because I like and believe in what I do. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not saving, that I wouldn’t like to have the option not to work.
    I’d rather follow the MMM guide than Tim’s, because that’s what fits me. (Except the work from home part. I do that occasionally as it is, but as an office manager, I feel I actually need to be in the office.)

    • Mayank February 21, 2012, 7:59 pm

      @shanendoah, there is a fundamental flaw in your argument against the 4 hr workweek concept. You are worried that if everybody worked only 4 hrs a week, how would the world’s work get done?

      Now let’s apply this analogy to other fields. What if everybody became, say, a teacher? A noble profession without doubt. But then nobody would have any food to eat because nobody is involved in agriculture anymore. Everybody is teaching! Nobody would have any clothes to wear as no more clothes are being produced. Everybody is busy teaching.

      See what I mean?

      • Ray August 24, 2014, 5:29 am

        Flawed analogy, a not so clever attempt to turn the tables on a valid argument.

        The point is that nobody is advocating “become a teacher” as a success recipe that “everyone” can follow. If they were, you would rightfully label it as unpractical and non-sustainable… which is exactly why Ferriss’ ideas are being criticized by the original poster – because he *does* market his ideas to “everyone”.

  • Yuriy February 20, 2012, 7:06 pm

    What a timely post! I just started reading “The 4-Hour Workweek” (again, I didn’t get very far last time) and was thinking of posting a comment here asking what you think of it. I actually expected you to pull out the “Big Income, Big Spender” moniker.

    Ferriss’s message about conquering fear is great and the book contains many great motivational one liners and short stories. However, he seems to pay no heed to personal values other than pursuit of excitement. He seems to promote a lot of anti-social behavior — bugging famous people with useless questions, ignoring e-mail*, spending on whatever wasteful thing you want, selling mysterious “supplements”, and more. The MMM message resounds with me because it promotes my social values as well as laying out a path for personal freedom. Tim Ferriss pushes for the latter at any cost — it’s decadence. The MMM approach can save an individual and humanity (how’s that for a lofty charge?) while Ferriss’s values, sufficiently widespread, spell doom.

    Looking at it in a simpler way though, the difference between Ferriss’s approach and MMM’s is just the level of risk. The MMM approach pretty much guarantees retiring within (< standard retirement age) and improving one's quality of life. Many people will succeed using Ferriss's approach, but I would not be surprised to see stories of people repeatedly ruining their lives. And there is a much bigger chance of just ending up where you started. Entrepeneurship is not for everyone. Tim Ferriss's 40k/month selling what (judging solely by the name) sounds like a bullshit product seems to be taken for granted in the book (so far).

    *There is definitely something to the low information diet and not wasting time checking your email every minute, but an hour a week to skim through messages and not respond to most is just self centered.

  • Jeremy Day February 20, 2012, 7:24 pm

    Good old Timmy Ferriss! haha. I do love the guy. Bought both his books and have already pre-ordered his 3rd book coming out in Sept. He is a man after my own heart. Inquisitive as always, and always looking to discover new cool things and share them with the world.

    I loved your comparison between you two and I think it is very fitting. I also liked your conclusion. There are many ways to freedom. But it all boils down to working really hard for a LOT of money, or learning to be content and happy on less. I think the best way to go about things is to do both, and like you said…. Use the extra money to benefit humanity…


  • MacGyverIt February 20, 2012, 7:42 pm

    I just couldn’t resist sharing this on – there’s a “Million Mustache March” planned for April. The MMM family should take a road trip and make your own mark on this event!!!!! :-D


  • MacGyverIt February 20, 2012, 7:47 pm

    Tim Ferris… I read FHWW and kept asking myself, “is he getting a cut on these product recommendations?” The information about diet/metabolism was interesting, he makes some good points about last minute travel deals but btwn the book(s) and his website it does seem a bit more sales man hype than real info. Geez, I don’t remember the “Lamborghini Gallardo for only $2800 per month” line. E-gad, that’s just horrendous. I’ll stick with his “eat more protein for breakfast” recommendation and leave it at that. Gives me a flashback of MMM’s remark in an earlier blog, most folks driving fancy cars are in debt on (at least) the car….

  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple February 21, 2012, 6:25 am

    I haven’t read the book, but here are the quotes that I like:

    •Most people focus on being busy rather than being productive at work. By walling yourself off from distractions, meetings, and even spurious emails at your (office) job, you can usually double your hourly productivity. Then leverage this into a work-from-home arrangement where you continue to do the same job, in only half the hours.

    I have learned that. Sometimes when I get behind, I will bring 5 hours of work home on the weekend or drive in on a Sunday. And I finish in under 2 hours. Sitting at my own dining room table with my computer and papers while my hubby and kid are at the park, I can focus.

    •Cancel your TV, your magazines, your casual websurfing, and your newspaper subscriptions. Put yourself on a low information diet where you only take in things that are relevant to your goals.

    Okay, I haven’t done all of this, but I have been working on that more and more. It’s one reason I don’t have a smart phone. I tell people “the last thing I need is access to Facebook at work! Or on vacation!”

  • Steve D February 21, 2012, 9:02 am

    A key difference, and something that has kept me reading MMM over other lifestyle blogs is the general sustainability of the MMM way. Realistically, if everyone in the world were to shift gears and start following Tim Ferris’s ideas, everyone would create an interesting business that wouldn’t go everywhere. Everyone would be off creating their own business or products and we’d have 1000s of sport drinks!

    The MMM ideas of spending less, saving more, and separating spending from happiness will work for everyone in the 1st world, regardless of job: CEO, Janitor, Engineer, Teacher, etc.

  • CG Morton February 21, 2012, 1:19 pm

    Haha! Finally I’ve caught up. (I’ve been reading through the archives for at least a month, you see) And I’ve already got 5 points! This is excellent.
    Now, a few thoughts on the article. First, personal assistants strike me as hopelessly decadent. Is it really easier to have someone schedule things for you than to use a calendar? My Google calendar is on my computers and my phone and takes it ten seconds to add an item.
    Here’s my thinking: all the things that a personal assistant would have done a decade ago are now done by easy technology. Research? Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo answers etc. Travel? Expedia and them. Event planning? Dude, that’s the whole point of social media! Even traditionally outsourced things like tax preparation can be done with software nowadays. To me, the idea of calling someone up and saying ‘invite x, y, and z to such and such’ is an ego thing, not an efficiency thing.
    I think the real difference between MMM and Mr. Ferriss is that MMM is an optimist. MMM says ‘this is the way I think people should live, so by golly I’m gonna do it this way’. MMM thinks the world can improve, that we can live simply and sustainably, and that there’s room for everyone to have a good time.
    On the other hand, Mr. Ferriss seems to be a cynic at heart. His lifestyle isn’t about striving for an ideal, it’s about how he can game the system to make lots of money without earning it. There can only be so many Tim Ferriss-a-likes before the system is no longer profitable, at which point he will go find something else (since he is clearly an awesome dude), but his adherents will be left wondering what to do now that they’re 40/50/whatever with few savings and a web business that barely turns a profit.
    Anyways, just want to close by saying I love the blog. Keep it up MMM, you are a true role model in a world that desperately needs them.

  • scone February 21, 2012, 6:03 pm

    Is this about making money, or is it about making the world a better place for everyone? Sometimes you can’t have you cake and eat it too, sometimes you have to make a choice. Wage arbitrage is a good example. I could hire a 3rd world person, and offload a lot of my “low level” jobs there. Or I could get a computer to do a lot of it. Either way, I am benefiting at the expense of some real human being in the 3rd world. There’s no way around that. People in the “First World” are living at the expense of people everywhere else. That’s not “haterism,” that’s global capitalism. If your choice is “to make the world a better place” then you are likely going to fork over more of your income to do it, and be slightly poorer for it. What is your choice?

    • Questionable Goatee March 1, 2012, 8:38 am

      I think most of us here, our host himself included (unless I’ve REALLY misread some of the subtext in his older posts), are interested in doing both. This blog really isn’t about getting-rich-as-quickly-as-possible-the-rest-of-the-world-be-damned. If it was, I wouldn’t be reading it. It’s more about realizing that you don’t need as much to be happy as the commercial world would like you to believe. Loving life is the end goal, and FI is one of the cornerstones of the path that MMM took to get there.

  • msmo February 22, 2012, 3:34 am

    Although not always in 100% agreement, I am inspired by both Ferriss and MMM, especially by the willingness to deviate from social norms, to determine your own values and goals, and to develop a method toward said goals, shrugging off any naysayers. I admire this greatly. I find it unique.

    You also need a bit of bad-assity. Because my personal issue with Ferriss’ lifestyle at least, is that it is SO extreme that I get overwhelmed, lost, and discouraged. I don’t do hero worship a lot in my life so I cannot erect my own Ferriss statue (my brother kinda has). And I only find myself convinced that my values must be very different and that the method is not for me.

    I’ve gone through this other writers and speakers as well. Is this something that writers factor in? Is there a percentage of people that you assume can’t hang and just write them off? I would like to see more encouraging and gradual lifehacks out there instead of ones that peter out of energy once the novelty wears off. So far, MMM is working. Your fans are a little scary and intimidating though.

  • abc February 22, 2012, 1:20 pm

    I’m surprised nobody has yet linked to the New Yorker piece on Mr. Farriss:


    “Every generation gets the self-help guru that it deserves.”

    • Mr. Money Mustache February 22, 2012, 4:12 pm

      Wow, that was a fascinating New Yorker article – I read the whole thing in the name of Competitor Research, and I continue to be intrigued.

  • JaneMD February 22, 2012, 4:21 pm

    I think part of my concerns with the 4HWW is the conflicting ideas about getting rid of your magazines, TV, and so forth and only focusing on things related to your goals . . . except you should seek out approaching celebrities and getting them to advertise your product.

    I imagine that if you read MMM, you are likely to have gotten rid of cable TV, downsized your magazines, and come to terms that celebrities often celebrate ‘buy, buy, buy’ lifestyles.

  • Mark February 23, 2012, 8:16 pm


    lemme have your number! (c’mon, you just told me to ask hot strangers their number).

  • Tom h April 4, 2012, 1:35 pm

    Tim Ferriss has some amazing ideas that I have personally managed to put to very effective use. You don’t have to take everything he talks about but you must be prepared to tailor his approach to your situation.

    And I disagree with always having to charge people up front to make a profit. Quality ought to speak for itself. That’s why we’re all at MMM isn’t it?

  • Tod July 12, 2012, 9:38 pm

    Hello. I read 4HWW a long time ago, when I was still in college actually, and there’s a lot of interesting concepts for sure. Though, not something you should adhere to starting out after school. I followed his blog because Ferriss used to publish really cool articles about interesting people. Since his previous book though, it seems like nothing but propaganda and he doesn’t seem to write posts anymore. He has a lot of contests and whatnot but it’s all marketing.

    In all honesty, I am disappointed because he seemed like a cool guy, but now I get why people don’t like him. Maybe he’s cool if you get to know him but maybe he’s just always out to market you something? I suppose people change.

    Good article though. I’ve read Ramit’s book and blog so I’ll be sure to look around here.


    PS. If you need Photoshop work for your photos I can help you out. ;)

  • Graeme August 16, 2013, 3:47 pm

    Good comparison. I think you missed something in the section on virtual assistants though. Tim says “eliminate before you delegate”.

    So if life’s already simple, no need to outsource. I tried a general virtual assistant, but found I had no need.

    I do use virtual assistants for two very specific things. I publish books, and those books include diagrams.

    I draw the diagrams by hand, then send them to an assistant in India to digitize. He does it better and faster than I can do it, at a very affordable price. He’s thrilled to get the extra income, and I can focus on the writing.

    I also outsource cover design, and a couple of formatting tasks. I have wonderful covers for my books, for a small fee. The outsourcer in this case is also my go-to expert for publishing questions.

    Apart from that, I do things myself.

    Good article. Just chiming in to say that Tim doesn’t necessarily recommend outsourcing everything. You should make it simple first. Outsourcing the wrong tasks can actually make things more complicated.

  • MC Fisticuffs November 11, 2013, 6:10 pm

    The second sentence of this article is missing a word. It says “If find yourself asking that question”. Shouldn’t it say “If *you* find yourself…”


    • Mr. Money Mustache November 11, 2013, 7:54 pm

      Thanks MC.. How embarrassing that that typo sat there uncorrected for almost two years! Now fixed.

  • Huck July 3, 2014, 11:00 am

    Way late, but I’d be interested to know how many of these super-easy-to-start and automate “internet businesses” survive, not to mention actually make money? Sure he made a ton by selling dubious supplements, but I’m not sure I’d achieve the same if a I mortgaged my house and family’s future to start pets.com 2.0..

    For every Tim Ferris successes how many start a business failures are there?

    • Frans July 5, 2014, 9:24 am

      I’d say that if you mortgaged your house and risked your future, you’re doing it wrong.

      But other than that you pose an interesting question on how many successes there are. My guess it’s probably hard to measure. And to be fair, failure isn’t a bad thing. That means that you tried and that you have better knowledge next time.

      • Huck July 24, 2014, 5:38 am

        Well I’ve never tried to raise capital, but always assumed that if you’re starting a business with no assets (at least not any a bank would accept) the only way to get cash to get it going is to remortgage your house, empty your 401k, beg for money from your aunt etc. In that case I would say failure will be a really bad thing.

        Now if you know a VC that will throw money at you, without any liability on your part it’s fine, but I doubt that’s the norm.

        E.g. not an internet business so much more capital intensive, but I’ve read of tons of homebrewers who want to start their own brewery. Cash needed: $500K. Failure rate: ~90%.

        • Frans July 24, 2014, 7:02 am

          What I mean is this: as far as I remember haven’t seen Ferriss recommend anyone starting a business that requires a major investment, not one requiring remortaging your house at least.

          In his book he talks about DVDs, apps, books and similar cheap stuff. Can’t remember what numbers he gave on his supplement business though, I can imagine that it was a bit more expensive.

          IMO: if you can’t afford to lose the money, don’t do it.

  • Steve Adcock November 21, 2014, 7:59 pm

    I am an avid reader of both Tim Ferriss and Mr. Money Mustache. I believe both have incredibly salient points if taken with a little bit of judgment. Tim is an economist at heart and wants to reap maximum benefit with minimal effort. To this end, his ideas about designing efficiencies into your life are good.

    However, I definitely agree that Tim’s idea of retirement is more geared around the idea of increasing income rather than decreasing consumption. Starting a business that brings in $40k a month probably isn’t in everyone’s reach. But, living a frugal life that is free of waste and consumerism IS in everyone’s reach. Every last person has the capability of reducing their waste and increasing their wealth, regardless of their income. Once people understand that happiness is not tied to money, this point will hit home with all.

    I believe Tim and MMM to be compliments. MMM’s worldview I believe is more realistic and productive for the majority of people, but I also believe that Tim’s ideas about “breaking the rules” and getting the most out of your life with less effort is also pretty darn helpful. I’ve taken ideas from both gentlemen, and I consider myself enriched for it.

    The only caveat? It demands judgment.

  • Ddub925 January 11, 2015, 11:56 pm

    MMM and TF are both bad muthafukkas. MMM is like my soul brotha saving me from sukkaville. TF is the really smart nerd that teaches me dope hacks. His latest book, 4 hr chef is one of my favorite books ever. And believe it or not, he introduced me to MMM via a tweet he sent about this very blog in nov. 2014. Soooo glad i was board at work checking out twitter that day!

  • Ellen February 27, 2015, 7:17 pm

    A good friend introduced me to your blog long ago with an article about long commutes and I was hooked from there. I’ve always been in to “frugal” and I was glad to find others who understood that to be frugal didn’t mean to have a life full of want and deprivation. That same badass friend later introduced me to Tim Ferriss, first via the 4Hour Chef over a dinner of braised lamb shanks, and then to the 4 hour workweek. Somewhere early in the book Tim states that achieving a 4 hour work week doesn’t mean you have to penny pinch its about earning enough to have all of the things and experiences you want in easy, hands-off ways. The book then follows with the example of the Lamborghini. Upon reading this my first thoughts were “Wow, I’m glad I’m so mustachian because I have ZERO interest in fancy cars (well, if you don’t count my used 2006 Scion xB as fancy – which I actually do), I would totally rather shop at the thrift store for clothes than a department store, and brand names and gadgets are meaningless to me. Gee, maybe since I need so little to cover my wants I’ll only have a 2 hour work week”.

    On the subject of the baby, have you heard science can make babies with 3 parents now? I would look into this and then make an awkward phone call (or let papa Tim do it – he seems into making weird calls) to Marie Kondo. Marie wrote a book called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” where she basically encourages you to get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy. Basically when you start doing this you end up throwing away nearly everything – and it is awesome. I found that after using her “KonMari Method” I not only wanted to own less, I have experienced seemingly boundless, heart-swelling pleasure each morning when I pull a tiny neatly folded pair of undies from my drawer.

    Together the three of you are my “guru’s” for living simply badass.

  • Kris July 19, 2016, 9:12 pm

    Got the four hour workweek from the library and just started reading it today. Already I can say I have a LOT more respect and admiration for someone touting using less gas and riding a bike or changing to LED bulbs and sucking up less electricity than someone coming up with ways to sell (what I frequently think are gimmicky or unnecessary items) to almost encourage more spending and using more resources from our planet.

  • Dean in Denver October 22, 2016, 11:50 am

    Ferris can come across a little “sales-pitchy” but if you listen to his podcast he seems very genuine…testing out all sorts of things to improve himself and letting everyone else know what has been working or not working.

    I like how he laments about backing himself into a corner with the “4-Hour” title… something to the affect of if he had known this might turn into a whole brand he would have picked a name that sounded less like an infomercial.

    I’m also impressed at how good an interviewer he is; as Jamie Foxx calls him: “He’s The White Oprah Winfrey of the Internet”. His guest often comment how they’ve never been ask that question before (from Kevin Costner to Malcom Gladwell).

    Lastly, I love his philosophy of figuring out the smallest changes that make the biggest impacts…can be applied to all facets of life: business, raising kids, donating time/money, etc. If you are able keep an open mind just pick and choose the ideas that might work for you.

  • Erica November 22, 2016, 2:17 pm

    I think what resonates most with me is asking your boss for a raise. And you know, actually talking to them.

    My partner and I have both been very forward with asking for raises. And we always come at it with actual facts and reports that show are company value. Before I left my corporate career, I had increased my monetary value by 30%, and he has seen a 52% increase in 2 and a half years.

    He has especially built himself a good niche. Although he is now in a management role, he is still one of the best techs in the company and frequently the last stop for assistance on major issues. If he left they wouldn’t just lose someone in middle management, they’d lose a true asset to the company.

    It’s a great place to be in.

  • Half a Century and Counting December 16, 2016, 10:47 am

    I’ve only recently heard of Ferris, and that’s only because I’ve been reading a lot of these FI blogs lately. I have not read his book and did not plan to b/c the whole “outsource your tedium to India” thing completely turned me off. According to what Dean in Denver says, Ferris may have done some growing up since then. And as others here have said, one can look for other, potentially valuable insights in a book even if one of the ideas is repulsive to you. So I will go ahead and read it, in the library. Meantime, here’s the thing with the outsourcing idea within 4HWW, and how I see it as fundamentally different from Badassity: In 4HWW, one assumes exploitation as a given, and one simply chooses to be the exploiter as opposed to the exploitee. Badassity is about sustainability and minimal impact, which values run entirely counter to exploitation. So rock on.


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