Selling the Dream – How to Make your Spouse Love Frugality

Dear Mr. Money Mustache,

I’ve done it! I have lit the fire of Mustachianism in my own heart, and can suddenly see what should have been obvious from the start: the entire basis for most of the modern US lifestyle is complete bullshit, we are all wasting almost all of our money every day, and we could all be vastly better off if we just stopped doing it. I want to be free, and happy, and rich, and I want it NOW!

There’s just one problem. I have a spouse who is still deeply cocooned in the system. He (or she) still loves the fancy shoes, massages at the spa, video game systems, the $2500 bikes, the Apple-brand computers, or the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S minivan  for carrying around our 10-pound baby. I love her, but I can’t seem to get through to her. I’m shouting through the 8-inch-thick foggy shell of hardened Consumer Mucus that has formed over her entire body, and I can see those eyes I fell in love with staring back at me from deep within that shell. But I can’t seem to break her out of it. How can I do it?

Many people are wondering the same thing. I read the question in emails, in the MMM Forums, in newspapers, and I hear the same lament from friends in real life. So I thought this would be a good time to step back and review everything we’ve learned so far, and put it into the form of a strategy for healing those you love from the disease of Consumerism.

This is Part One of a two part series. This first article deals with the preparatory stages of planting a positive idea of frugality, efficiency, and financial independence into the mind of someone who doesn’t yet have it.

Step 1: Realize that your Good News will initially feel like a Punch in the Face

When you’re a Mustachian, you know you’re on to something. All of life’s worst problems have melted away, by the simple act of changing your perspective on life and starting to live it in a better way.

But most people who are still stuck in The System will not see it that way. They have been raised from birth to believe that buying things is the way to solve problems, that buying more expensive things is a source of greater happiness, and that not buying things leads to less happiness. They are taught that there are no consequences to this buying, so the natural response is to maximize the activity: striving to earn more money to be able to buy more. Buying a bigger house to be able to store more of the items. Seeking out the most luxurious experience in every aspect of life. Any unhappiness is assumed to be a byproduct of not having enough money for the right level of luxury purchasing. And any happiness is assumed to be caused by successful purchases that have been made.

When you announce to this person that their entire complete framework for happiness is COMPLETE BULLSHIT, they are bound to feel at least a little annoyed at you. So be sure to break it to them gently, focusing on the positive rather than the negative.

Step 2: Paint a Picture of the Destination

Almost everybody likes the idea of never being forced to work. Either not working at all, or having the freedom to work how, where, and when they choose. But almost nobody currently has this freedom. They work because there are bills to be paid, they commute in the dark at obscene times in the morning because that’s when you’re supposed to get to the office. If you can get this person to imagine their life with a civilized and leisurely breakfast each morning, unlimited time off whenever they feel the need, and bills that automatically pay themselves, you will have found a point of agreement, which is the seed from which any true partnership must grow.

Step 3: Use the Emotions of Child Raising to your Advantage

Not everyone plans to start a family. But everyone who does, wants to do the best job they can of raising their kids. They want happiness and success for their present and future children, and they want fulfillment for themselves from the act of raising them. They are willing to sacrifice almost anything to do what they feel is best.

When people are following the Consumer model described in step 1, the natural response is to maximize the purchasing they do for their kids. But here, the model can easily be flipped on its head, because even consumers still realize that kids benefit from time with their parents. Time to read books, play outside, get tucked in at night by both parents.  Even the traditional notion of successful children – high academic achievement – has been shown to be most strongly influenced by something that costs nothing to do: reading lots of books to your young children – every day.

If you can get across the point that the best thing for kids is time, which costs nothing but requires you to spend a bit less time away from home earning money, a certain level of frugality will start to seem appealing.

Step 4: Show why Money is Even More Useful when you Don’t Spend it

“You only live once, so you might as well spend all your money!”
“You can’t take it with you when you die!”
“What’s the point of money, if you’re not going to spend it on the things you love?”
“I’m a big boy and I work hard, so I deserve to treat myself when I see fit.”

All of those slogans sound so sensible, don’t they? But they only make sense until you know the real value of money.

The slogans above represent the anthems of the poor and middle-class. But the Rich people know that the thing money is most useful for is making more money for you automatically. A rich person never wants to spend money that they actually earned through work. They prefer to wait until their money starts printing more of itself – and that is the cash they spend.

To most consumers, this concept is a vague and fuzzy one. You’re holding up a tablet with Egyptian Hieroglyphics on it, and they are squinting uneasily as they try to read it. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a response such as,

“You mean, like, the stock market and stuff?”

YES!! Like the stock market and stuff! But don’t burden the beginner Mustachian with the specifics at this point. Just point out some very simple rules of thumb. Things like this:

“You can spend $100 right now, and it will be gone forever. Or you can set it aside right now, and it will give you $5 every year, forever.”

Which can be followed up like this:

“If we owned our own house with no mortgage right now, we’d have an extra $1500 per month to keep for ourselves – FOREVER. That’s equivalent to your boss giving you an extra 26 weeks per year of vacation in your job, with no pay cut. Forever.”

If you really want to get advanced, you could say this:

“If we owned the house across the street with no mortgage, we could rent that out, and also get another $1500 per month to keep for ourselves – FOREVER!. You could quit your job entirely, and we could still have the same amount of spending money.”

Whether your eventual cashflow comes from owning houses or owning businesses (stocks) makes no difference. And you don’t have to read a bunch of stock market or real estate books to understand that money pays you money if you don’t spend it. But you must plant the idea that money is something productive that always works for you, until you give it away by spending it. Otherwise your partner will have no reason to want to hold on to those little employees.

 Step 5:  Bust out the Real-World Examples

Before blogs like this one came along, there wasn’t much to aspire to. You’ve got your Michael Jordans and your Julia Robertses, who are rich enough to do whatever they want. Then you’ve got everyone you know in real life: workers who run the 9-to-5-until-65, struggle to stay afloat, and instantly crash and burn the moment the cruel economy does something to them like taking away their jobs. The average person cannot see a connection between these two lifestyles.

But FINALLY, the secret has been broken. A normal man and his wife have retired before even having their first kid – with no basketball skills, unusual good looks, or lottery winnings. They are over six years into the gig and everything is going fine. They’re healthy, happy, and the kid is adorable and bright. And what the hell, they even have a nice house and go on trips? And they are telling us that we can do it too, it’s just a matter of some very simple math?

Since there is at least one person doing it, it must be possible, right? And wait, it turns out there have been people doing it all along without telling us. This old book from 1993 talks about the same thing, this guy did it on a low single income, this other guy is about to do it sometime next year, and most of the millionaires of the world got there by doing the same thing.

There are very few examples of financial independence among average wage earners, and it’s because our culture is built on extracting all of the earnings of the lower class, for the benefit of the upper class. It’s just plain old advertising, and sure, we’re all immune to it, right? But if you’re not yet financially independent, chances are that it is because of the role that advertising has played in sucking away most of what you’ve ever earned, and probably that of your parents as well. Without advertising, we’d still buy food and shelter, but the rest of our cash would tend to just build up and we’d rapidly have enough for retirement. Find those few examples, and learn from them!

We’ve now covered the preparatory stages of the conversion. This is the mental groundwork you lay for a period of several weeks, or even months. Once the person begins to be at least somewhat excited about the financial independence (and an optional early retirement), you’re ready to move on to the next post, where some actual action begins to occur.


  • Josh March 22, 2012, 6:15 am

    Definitely going to be trying this out. It’d be great to have someone as obsessed with the idea as I am! :D

  • Frans March 22, 2012, 6:18 am

    Excellent post! I’ve been having some issues with this recently, but I think it’s because how alien it sounds to her I’ve had such little success…

    Looking forward to part 2!

  • October MacBain March 22, 2012, 6:20 am

    *diesase of Consumerism.

    Just a typo or a commentary? The word “die” in front of consumerism. I like it.

    • October MacBain March 22, 2012, 6:23 am

      I am happy to say that after months of watching and listening to me talk about minimalism and anti-consumerism, my partner is finally coming around to Mustachianism. She has started reading MMM, has read Your Money or Your Life, and is going to do the steps with me. Looking at our projections for getting out of debt by the end of the year and saving the money that would otherwise go to those bills, she is *very* excited about the amount that will grow in our bank account. This motivates her more than anything.

      • FreeUrChains March 22, 2012, 3:27 pm

        Thanks, to MMM and working hard in college as an engineer. i am debt free from student loans and even a new car loan at the age of 25, (could have been earlier if i found out about ERE and MMM earlier) Next goal is well on the way with a diversified portfolio being built for monthy dividends to replace my very very low expenses, while i continue to work and find better, more meaningful engineering work, and continue to get my SO into the whole MMM, let alone my parents who are so bent on fruitlessly spending money.

    • Brian Coats March 22, 2012, 10:37 am

      It sounds like an enzyme that kills the consumerism cell.

  • Jimbo March 22, 2012, 6:38 am

    My wife is a lot more frugal than the average Consumer, but she’s still a big spender in Mustachian standards. She just doesnt believe me when I tell her we could be done with work before our kids reach grade school. It seems like such a mountain to climb…

    But at least she’s as enthused as I am about killing the mortgage… That’s a big first step.

    Second one is getting her to invest – a lot. I’m getting there. Slowly.

    But a great step is stopping spouses from being excited about spending money all the time. What’s exciting in that? Trying to make them realize none of the previous big purchases have made them happy is huge. And seeing the clutter accumulating helps as well. Who likes to clean a pile of Stuff?

    Then the next step is curbing the Restaurant Habit… This is pretty hard. Learning to cook helps tremendously. Having easy and delicious 5-minute recipes works well too.

    Good luck people, it can be done.

  • rjack March 22, 2012, 7:14 am

    My wife and I were already fairly frugal when I discovered ERE/Mustachianism. We had no debt, money saved for or children’s college, and a decent retirement stache.

    However, when I started to take our frugality to the next level she resisted. She viewed it as me trying to *CONTROL* her spending and lifestyle. She is very independent.

    The issue was finally resolved when I created the concept of a Fun Money account for each of us that is used for clothes, hobbies, restaurantes, cafes, entertainment, classes, etc. We automatically deposit a fixed monthly amount in each of our accounts and we are free to spend it any way that we want.

    Maybe a Fun Money account can help others to transition?

    • Chris March 22, 2012, 7:44 am

      I’ll second that Rjack. My wife and I do the same thing, only we call it our play accounts and each of us is free to spend it how we want. It takes the edge off saving aggressively.

    • Adrienne March 22, 2012, 8:43 am

      Yes! Our “allowances” are an important part of our budget (and relationship harmony). They don’t have to be a big $ amount but enough to give a person some freedom. I would also say that we as the more frugal need to bend a bit too. If you’re trying to “change” your partner and are unwilling to change at all yourself that is not going to go over well in the long run. I met my unfrugal spouse 14 yrs ago. My willingness to spend a little more in some areas has gone a long way into making him more frugal overall. He wouldn’t be considered frugal here but to 90% of the country he is. I’ll probably always be more frugal than he but I’ve learned I’d rather spend a little more to get him to save a little more and be happy that we’re generally pulling together.

    • Kimmie March 22, 2012, 11:24 am

      rjack…A FUN money account is awesome for everyone! It really makes you feel abundance rather than sparsity. When you FEEL you have money you can spend without anyone scrutinizing it, is actually easier to be frugal. My husband and I each get $50 each month to spend as we would like….if we want to buy something frivolous, we use that money (the other person can’t say anything about how that money is spent). HOWEVER, the more frugal we become, the more we usually both end up SAVING our $50 each month and it’s just fun to see that in a year, we can EACH save $600 ($1200 between us) and we have used that money to purchase FUN things, or to take our family on a trip, etc….I really believe a FUN money account is something that should be in place for any family, or couple! It is a definitely a positive thing for sure!

    • Marianne March 22, 2012, 12:49 pm

      This has helped us tremendously as well. My husband has similar frugal goals to my own but we generally have different ideas about how to achieve them. I spend smaller amounts more frequently and he spends larger amounts less often. We both get $35 of spending money each paycheque ($70/ month) to spend on stuff that the other person doesn’t get to weigh in on. He uses his primarily for guns and hunting supplies. I haven’t really used much of mine yet. I buy a bit of craft stuff but after having not spent money for so long it still feels sort of funny to think that I could buy something I don’t need with it… Either way, the fun money has pretty well solved our spending problems. (keep in mind though that we were already fairly close to being on the same page) We still have some differences regarding earning- mainly I want to do more of it and he wants to do less of it… but we’re working on figuring that out. :)

    • KO March 22, 2012, 1:46 pm

      The “fun” account has saved our relationship too. We’re in our second year of having one and like Kimmie we barely spend any of it, but it’s just good knowing there’s that little pot of money in case either of us wants something that the other would disagree is worth spending on. It has helped us become more frugal in other areas of our life.

      • JP March 20, 2014, 11:20 am

        Seperate “fun money” accounts worked great for us too.
        For example: We would both do an excellent job of saving, but then my wife would buy something that I believed was unnecessary and a waste of money. This made me feel like I was saving, so she could be wasteful. She felt controlled, because I would question her purchase. Now we both can splurge on anything we want using our “fun money” savings with no regrets or hard feelings.

        It allowed us to save more aggressively while keeping our marriage from melting down in the process. It is awesome.


    • Oh Yonghao August 19, 2014, 1:38 pm

      This was one of the founding principles of our marriage budget. We use YNAB which has helped put the idea into practice a bit more, but I did come up with the Fun category by myself when I was younger. I was saving so much and having to turn down every social opportunity until I realized I was unhappy with how things were going. In a bought of sure brilliance I contrived the Fun Category, which was mostly used for eating out, but it relieved me of so much stress and allowed me to continue to save money but also to go out and do things.

      I’ve been working on the next level of Mustachianism which involves buying everything that you want. This may sound strange to some at first, but it really is a Mustachian principle. You have everything that you need, and you buy everything that you want, how this stays Mustachian is that your wants are things that really make you happy, not the fake marketing driven blind consumerism kind of wants. If TV’s were free, would you go out and get 100 TV’s? No, I wouldn’t, I have the TV I want, it makes me happy, and I have no need for a bigger, flatter, prettier picture TV, and definitely no use for a second one.

      Penn Jillette put it similarly when asked about where he gets his morals from without God. “Well if there’s no God, what’s to stop me from raping and killing everyone around me?” His answer: “I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. “

  • Mr. Frugal Toque March 22, 2012, 7:24 am

    Was it fortune or good planning than led an already frugal woman into my arms? Only the Flying Spaghetti Monster knows. Whatever it was, I’m relieved by the current and probably ongoing absence of Consumerism in our relationship.

    Even the kids, awash as they are in the wubba-wubbas of their Mustachian upbringing, have caught the Frugality Zen. What follows is a short tale in support of this:

    After playing old school non-electronic Battleship with our six year old, I found a card game version of the same game for $5.99. He thought it would be fun, up until I offered to split it with him: $3 each.

    It’s important to understand that he has a significant “treasure chest” of birthday and Christmas money.

    At the thought of parting with a tiny fraction of his accumulation of wealth, he reevaluated his needs and decided that the Battleship game we have is pretty good and he could wait until Christmas.

    • October MacBain March 22, 2012, 8:26 am

      Bonus points for mentioning FSM!

      • Mr. Money Mustache March 22, 2012, 11:34 am

        Oh, glad to hear there are some more Pastafarians around here. May we all be touched by His Noodly Appendage, R’Amen.

        • Jen March 23, 2012, 5:55 am

          Cool, hello fellow Pastafarians! I need to find some blog post about how to convert my spouse in that area.

          About Step 3: for my husband (or myself) it would be a deterent for early retirement, lol :) We have two toddlers and always look forward to Mondays when we can get back to our demanding jobs :) We estimated we can afford to retire when kids are in primary school – more reasonable age…

  • Chris March 22, 2012, 7:51 am

    One of my last great challenges is to get my wife to see that Frugality is not necessarily deprivation. The more Mustachian you get the more the world looks like the Matrix and everyone else is stuck in it.

    I’m finding it challenging to explain to people that less, really is more!

    “…doing without is often thought of as a sacrifice, especially when strongly attached to material comforts. It’s quickly realized (after about a month) that happiness does not stem from being surrounded by possessions, but that being surrounded by them is the result of an addictive habit. Thus, it can be tremendously liberating not to ‘need’ something to be happy.”
    -Jacob Lund Fisker, Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence

    • Dancedancekj March 22, 2012, 9:26 pm

      Ahhh yes, the Matrix analogy!! I think it is the perfect metaphor to use, really. Although the food in the Mustachian world is a bit better :)

  • Heather March 22, 2012, 8:00 am

    We’re relatively non-consumerist by nature, but we tend to buy very expensive things occasionally, to indulge in our hobbies (cross country skiing, biking, dogs, occasional adventure travel). Much of the time I buy my hobby items used and my clothes used. I only buy meat on sale, boil up my own dried beans, and and buy some food in bulk. My husband just buys what he needs and pays a good price so he doesn’t have to worry about quality. We spend more on transportation than we could, because it allow us to keep work schedules that are easy with our different sleep/wake patterns.
    Here’s the logic I use to make myself feel happy about the waste:
    For many years I was single, with one income, as was my husband.
    My husband brings in a good salary, and doesn’t spend much of it.
    He is a net financial gain to my little world.
    So, why not let him spend money he sees fit, without the stress of feeling like I’m watching over his shoulder. I’m still better off financially than going solo.
    Most importantly, I have the richness and love of being part of a family.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 22, 2012, 9:52 am

      That’s very nice perspective on life, Wise Heather.

      I should note to the readers that Heather is actually one of most Hardcore Mustachian people I know, and the fact that she is modest and slightly self-critical about her rare indulgences in nice stuff only helps to build this status further.

      It’s sometimes hard to make my point clear in these articles – I’m not advocating some crazy spartan lifestyle here. Just a more thoughtful take on consumption – ESPECIALLY for people who are in debt, or are currently forced to work more than they would like to work, just to support the acquisition of extra layers of nice stuff on top of the nice stuff they already have.

      Since you are already at the point where work is optional, it makes sense that you would spend what is needed to keep your adventurous life on track.

      • eric July 25, 2013, 8:29 pm

        And if someone continues working after becoming wealthy, it’s a lot less stressful knowing you don’t HAVE to work. I’ve been unemployed (with a MSEE) for a year and are getting by (barely) on my wife’s salary plus $350/week of unemployment. The total is 47% of what we used to make. Her salary is compressed – no paychecks over summer, so we’ll take a hit over summer. Oh well. I have a lower paying gov’t job lined up which starts soon.
        Some laid-off coworkers who made more than me lost their houses (he still has a $25k Harley though!). Others spent retirement savings to stay afloat.

        Marrying what I call “the vinyl-sided wife” (i.e. low maintenance) instead of the cedar sided wife is key (as Mr. Mustache has done). Getting divorced is expensive, especially for the guy.

  • Guitarist March 22, 2012, 8:10 am

    Is it possible that I’m dealing with someone who is AFRAID of FI? Either that or she likes to disagree with me for the sake of disagreeing; though it’s not for the sake of learning, more like a sick form of stonewalling.
    Very good ideas though, MMM, I appreciate you looking to the forums to come up with great articles like these!

    • CNM March 23, 2012, 9:22 am

      Maybe it’s not a fear of being financially independent, but a fear of being perceived as different from mainstream society?

    • Art Guy July 6, 2013, 11:40 am

      Whoa Nellie! Sounds like my SO has an unknown twin. I think the Matrix analogy really applies because , for some people, it seems like too much work to wake up. I myself only started waking up recently, so maybe as time goes by, and as I learn ann apply the principles even more, my little examples will rub off (or maybe she will just start thinking that I am even crazier than she thought I was before!)

  • Poor Student March 22, 2012, 8:36 am

    I have a tough time explaining what I want to accomplish when people ask me what I am going to do in the future. I have been trying to find a way to tell them that I do not plan on working until I am 65, 55, or even 45. Because they didn’t know that they could do it they find it absurd that it is possible. Even the frugal among them find Mustachianism funky. But luckily the people close to me are starting to come around. And this is part of who I am now so dates are going to have to be okay with it, which should make it easier than trying to convince a reluctant spouse.

  • Marc March 22, 2012, 8:51 am

    I’m a fairly spender but within limits after carefully and throughout analysis even give myself some time for few days before spending. Now my wife, she’s a frugal, or to coin a term in a better sense, extreme frugal – she’s an extreme couponer. I was extremely amazed at how much she spent on groceries. I remember one time she spent 33 bucks on 98 bucks worth of groceries and be able to continue shopping to stock up for home storage purposes. Now our freezer and fridge is filling up and the bathroom is filling up with personal hygienes. She managed to continue doing that and she’s successful and now we have extra cash floating because of this. Now I’m able to spend on few things I need, not wants. We are definitely becoming one flesh and bone.

    • Marc March 22, 2012, 8:53 am

      Btw, I forgot to add – she’s doing this so she can reduce the grocery budget in couple of months.

      • Kenneth March 22, 2012, 9:00 am

        If you ever dump her I want to marry her!

  • et March 22, 2012, 9:20 am

    Is money really so important to you that “All of life’s worst problems have melted away by the simple act of changing your perspective on life and starting to live it in a better way.”?
    You must live a very sheltered life – no death or illness, no major accidents or crime.
    While I agree that having a ‘stash can help make even difficult parts of life easier and that which perspective we adopt affects our outlook, there are problems that simply don’t “melt away”.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 22, 2012, 9:43 am

      Holy Shit, et! … have you really been reading all this time and still thinking Mustachianism is all about MONEY?

      The reason life’s problems melt away is because you start thinking more about Life and Happiness, INSTEAD of spending money. The fact that you happen to become rich as you stop focusing on consumption is a convenient side effect, sure. And it gives you more freedom to feed back into the first activity.

      But yeah – death, illness, accidents, crime, whatever. I’d say a measure of your true happiness is how well you can deal with these things when they arise, as opposed to how happy you think you are when things are going exactly as expected in your life.

      • rjack March 22, 2012, 10:47 am

        “The reason life’s problems melt away is because you start thinking more about Life and Happiness, INSTEAD of spending money.”

        I agree and I’ll throw in my Zen Buddhist perspective as well. I think that alot of your blog has to do with Mindfulness. You help people become more mindful about how they spend there life and then create a system that provides many more options then the conventional lifestyle.

        • Matt (Semper Fi) July 30, 2016, 10:20 am

          rjack, I’m a huge fan of “mindfulness”. It is staggering how distracted we are, collectively speaking. For example, while watching a movie with my wife and kids, at any given time I can look over and see them tapping out a text message, or checking Facebook, etc. I just want to shout, “Why can’t you people just watch the damned movie?!?!”, lol.

          Maybe not the best example of mindfulness, but there it is. I myself am working on being more aware of what I am doing at any given moment, even if it is something as simple as eating a plate of eggs or brushing my teeth, while also not forgetting my long and short term goals.

      • Kimmie March 22, 2012, 11:38 am

        LOL at your comment “Holy Shit, et.. have you really been reading all this time and still thinking Mustachianism is all about MONEY?”

        I truly feel frugality, means you VALUE your LIFE and your TIME… One of the greatest books I have read that was truly life changing for me was “Your Money or your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. I totally see life through a different set of lenses than I used to. And when you go and punch the time clock day in and day out and you see how much of your life energy you are giving up and how much time away from your family to make that money, it gives you a totally difference perspective and it really makes you stop and think when you go to purchase something.

        True frugality, means “LESS really is MORE”… MORE time to spend with family, MORE TIME to be able to pursue hobbies, to travel, to be able to have TIME and ENERGY to truly give SERVICE to others….that is pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…when your monthly outflow is less…it means you have more of yourself to give and you truly get to ENJOY life to the fullest! (maybe I’m way off here, but that is just my perspective!)

      • Matt March 22, 2012, 12:13 pm

        MMM said, “I’d say a measure of your true happiness is how well you can deal with these things when they arise, as opposed to how happy you think you are when things are going exactly as expected in your life.”

        I just have to say that statement struck me as profound. I’ve always subscribed to the notion that people show their true colors under duress (as opposed to when times are good). But I never thought about applying that idea in an introspective manner with regards to happiness. Brilliant!

    • Bryan in Tahoe March 22, 2012, 1:02 pm

      et, Mustachianism is about the OPPOSITE of loving money or thinking money will bring you happiness. It is about severely limiting the power that money has over you, so you aren’t slaving away for money forever. It causes money to float into the background so the things in the foreground are the meaningful things: family, free time, fitness, pursuit of charity, etc.

      EVERYONE deals with car accidents, illness, etc. That isn’t a distinctive factor of any group.

      • Petey C March 22, 2012, 9:33 pm

        This is one thing that MMM keeps a bit hush-hush but which became obvious when he published accounts – his family is actually a huge charity-giver as a proportion of income. He’s living proof that it’s not about the money; it’s about firstly not being a slave to spending, and secondly freedom about what work you do and how you spend your money.

    • Emmers March 22, 2012, 1:46 pm

      In *my* opinion, et, I feel that gunning for financial independence is one of the best ways to hedge oneself against potential problems. I’m not a full Mustachian (I prefer savings accounts/laddered CDs over HELOCs as my “emergency money,” as an example) but I feel like financial stability (and, eventually, independence) is one of the best ways I can protect my family against the vagaries of fortune.

      But note the directionality of this outlook: I’m living frugally *in order that* my family can have a good life.

      I’m also living frugally because I acknowledge the privilege I was born with and currently possess (no financial hardships, good job 1 year out from college, etc.), and I don’t want to squander that.

      • Shanna March 22, 2012, 2:22 pm

        Yes, the guilt of squandering all of our luck was terrible. Although I am a “make your own luck” person.

        Worse was the guilt over my husbands hard work and high salary being wasted.

  • Kimmie March 22, 2012, 9:24 am

    Another great post! I for one feel SO grateful that my hubby and I are on the same page of frugality and the vision of becoming debt free, so we can REALLY make our money work for us! However, it has been a journey that has taken years to wrap our mind around and now we are finally reaping the benefits of having all of our debt gone but our mortgage and that will be paid off in 4 years and then we’ll have complete financial FREEDOM, where we can really make our money work for us, to be able to retire earlier than most people, while we still have our youth and we can really see and explore more of this wonderful world that we live in!

    This reminds me of one of my husband’s best friends from high school who realized this concept 12 years ago. My hubby and I stopped in to see him and his wife and new little baby. We thought they probably weren’t doing too well as they were driving an old car that you had to get in through the passenger side door and they didn’t have new furniture, etc… Little did we realize, that they paid CASH for their house they bought that next summer. When my husband asked him how you could lay down $120K cash for a house, he said easy…I knew I wasn’t going to make a lot of money in my life and you never know how things can change with the economy or your job and he never wanted to be in debt and so he and his wife were frugal, stashed cash and paid for a home, while he was working and finishing up his doctorate degree. He also said some profound words…”you visualize yourself being debt free, but with ALL of the STUFF you have now”! The frugal mindset doesn’t waste money on consumerism and the latest greatest toys. Frugality is realizing it is not THINGS that bring happiness, but rather, relationships, memories, etc…

    Although I do have to admit, we do buy quality things when we do purchase things…(quality appliances, quality footwear, quality backpacking gear,etc…), but we always try to find deals and bargains on everything.

    (here’s our story and frugal things we do in our lives to try and make a difference in our finances:

    I am SO grateful to have other like minded people out there to connect with and to share ideas with and to LEARN and grown from others experiences and things they share and teach us. You’re doing a great thing here! Have a great day!

    • Matt March 22, 2012, 12:25 pm

      “I knew I wasn’t going to make a lot of money in my life and you never know how things can change with the economy or your job and he never wanted to be in debt and so he and his wife were frugal…”

      I think that statement shows a lot of wisdom and humility. Reminds me of Sam Gamgee’s character in Lord of the Rings: he kind of had this simpleton persona about him, yet when put to the test, he turned out to be quite resourceful. It also speaks to the “plan for the worst, hope for the best” approach to life, which I think has a proven track record.

  • Geek March 22, 2012, 10:03 am

    “hardened Consumer Mucus ”


    Of course, I still have my own consumer problems.

  • pkeller3 March 22, 2012, 10:45 am

    I’m so glad I saw this today. I’ve been able to get my wife to cut back on a lot of her unnecessary spending, but she doesn’t seem to believe that by doing just a little more we could achieve FI and live comfortably. I’m going to have to try these steps and see what happens. I can’t wait until the next edition. Thanks MMM!

  • Shawn March 22, 2012, 10:53 am

    “But yeah – death, illness, accidents, crime, whatever. I’d say a measure of your true happiness is how well you can deal with these things when they arise, as opposed to how happy you think you are when things are going exactly as expected in your life.”

    Damn dude……. That was deep.

    Of all the written material I have consumed with regards to these subjects in the last 18 months, what you said above is as impactful as any. Sounds like a future blog subject to me.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 22, 2012, 11:20 am

      Really? I’m personally more fond of the thing I wrote in the comments of the Prius article, about making a bikini for my neighbor out of shredded monster truck tires. But I guess it’s OK if we all have different favorites from the triple M book of one-liners :-)

      • Questionable Goatee March 22, 2012, 12:04 pm

        I’m with you on this one, MMM. Envisioning that scenario was the best part of my day so far, especially because the impending thunderstorms got me to bust out my wussypants and drive to work this morning. (biking in usually takes the cake)

  • JagsFan March 22, 2012, 10:56 am

    This topic has been a point of contention between me and the lady ever since I first mentioned it. It’s partly my own fault for starting out calling it early retirement (thanks to ERE) instead of financial indepence. Now she has the idea in her head that I’m striving for a lifestyle of watching TV all day in my pajamas on the couch surrounded by chip crumbs. Thanks to this article though, she’ll be receiving a mustachian (figurative) punch to the face tonight. Thanks Mr. Money Mustache!

  • The Keichi One March 22, 2012, 10:58 am

    Good stuff MMM. I’ll have to study up on this and your next article.

  • Clint March 22, 2012, 11:11 am

    I’m fairly new to reading this blog and I’m loving it. I get a great laugh and lots of saving ideas every day (as I work through older posts). It’s a little depressing for me in one sense, given I’m 48, don’t have enough saved yet and have long missed my window for early financial freedom. I wish MMM had been around 25-30 years ago, although I didn’t have an internet connection back then.

    Still, I feel it’s never too late to learn and to reach some form of early financial freedom, even if it’s just a few years early. I’m not a hopeless case, either. I ride my bicycle to work at least twice a week now that the weather is nice; take my scooter (paid cash) on the other days; hang clothes to dry on a portable clothesline (I run the pole through the umbrella hole of my patio table); don’t eat out much; pay credit card bills in full; will cut satellite TV when the contract expires in July, etc.

    And I know it’s not too late to guide my teenage daughter toward this philosophy. So I urge you to consider me and other like readers in some future posts. Maybe there are some even older people out there who were nearing retirement, but lost a bundle when the stock market tanked, but still can gain from your take on financial freedom.

    Tell us if there is anything more we can do to juice our progress even though it’s too late to retire at 30, too late to get all that time back with our kids. Maybe you’ve spoken to this already, and I just haven’t made it to that post yet.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 22, 2012, 11:44 am

      Thanks for that inspiring peek into your life, Clint!

      Your comment about the stock market inspired another post about retirement and savings: Did we really lose a bunch when the stock market tanked? Looking at the price today, I can see that it’s back at almost its peak price from the glory days. The only difference is that the P/E ratio is lower now, meaning the stocks are not as overvalued as they were in 2007.

      Any investor who kept working and saving through the market crash got a huge quantity of shares, plus dividend reinvestments, at prices that are far lower than they are today. They profited enormously from the stock market crash.

      The only people who lost money are those who sold during the crash. Those are good people to buy things from. Make them a lowball offer on their house at 25% of its value, and they will panic and sell it to you at that price because the value has suddenly crashed by 75%!!

      Back to your point about getting time back with your kids: whenever you and your wife DO retire, just make a point of being fun people who spend time with them. Go for bike rides, active backpacking vacations, or canoe trips with them. Act like you’re the same age as them, because inside, you are.

      I know many seniors who have maintained this way of living, and they are damned fun to hang out with.

      • Mr. Frugal Toque March 23, 2012, 6:55 pm

        “Go for bike rides, active backpacking vacations, or canoe trips with them. Act like you’re the same age as them, because inside, you are.”

        I’m convinced this is the key to maintaining my health. In my head, I’m still 23. I take the stairs two at a time, avoid complaining or even talking about my health except in regard to how awesome I feel, use my back muscles to lift things and never, ever make self-deprecating comments about “being too old for this” or “showing my age.”

        I imagine that my age will start to show at some point, but hopefully it will be attached to phrases like, “Holy shit! That old guy just passed us on his bicycle.”

        • Mr. Money Mustache March 23, 2012, 7:12 pm

          And your age will only be evident by the Giant Silver Mustache that will be flapping around in the breeze as you pass!

    • Kenneth March 22, 2012, 11:58 am

      Clint, I’m 62 and have expressed the same wish that MMM was around 35 years ago. But I have been about 80% Mustachian the past few years, and the results start to accumulate. My house will be paid for at the end of this year, and that will be the last of my debt forever, unless I decide to buy an investment house for example. I am going to quit my career job at age 66, full social security age for me. Let’s see what I can do with my 4 years remaining to build up my investments from current $200k area.

      • Mr. Money Mustache March 22, 2012, 12:07 pm

        Aww, thanks a lot Kenneth. Unfortunately, the author of MMM was less than a year out of diapers 35 years ago :-). But there were many other Mustachians out there long before then, like Thoreau. Heck, my own Dad was one of them.

        It is great that the Internet allows people to share their ideas so much more readily now. I believe we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of the amount of social change this will bring.

        • Clint March 22, 2012, 12:21 pm

          Thanks to both MMM and Kenneth,

          I guess what I’m really looking for is encouragement and I’m finding it here everday.

      • STBJ February 11, 2016, 4:43 am

        As a 58 year old what amazes me is that just being 35% mustashian over 6 months has increased my savings and retirement funds by almost 10K. Still it is hard to break old addictions.

  • Shanna March 22, 2012, 11:22 am

    Always remember divorce is financially and mentally expensive.

    This letter (is it real?) sounds like a high income person or maybe high non secured debt person so just splitting the cash (after bills) and not spending your part would lead by example. Sell some of your own toys, give up lunch out, coffees etc. to show you mean business. In one year you should have something impressive to show. When you start to feel happier, calmer and more confident from your frugality you will also show emotional benefits. Find a free hobby or learning experience to show entertainment can be educational, free and create lasting happiness.

    Beware of the words “safety”, “educational”, “health” and “organized” as they usually signal ridiculous amounts of money being spent. ( I once tried to convince my husband new window coverings were a “safety” issue). Get to your mail first and throw out every single thing that isn’t a bill. All glossy brochures and catalogs, even coupons trigger massive spending binges and plant the seed of want in a person’s mind who was perfectly happy in the minute prior to seeing it. Try to limit exposure to these triggers in all areas without really talking about it.

    If you are convincing a female I think it’s way harder than the other way around, from my perspective as a female I feel WAY more marketed to on every level of my existence. Shopping is my job in an evolutionary sense and I really feel compelled to gather as much stuff as possible and the marketing geniuses know it. I actually think they might have aerosolized Ativan and just pipe it right into Target stores, that is how calm and comfortable I feel just walking in the door.

    And that is my totally un PC comment!!

    PS Do not talk about doing laundry with a plunger or reusable toilet paper.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 22, 2012, 11:47 am

      Great points, Shanna!

      My apologies if that “letter” was confusing. I just made that stuff up, it’s not something from a real person.

      The quote is meant to be a paraphrased combination of a bunch of letters and comments I’ve read around the web. Just a literary device to start the article with an emotional touch :-)

    • Miriam May 4, 2013, 2:37 pm

      You have perfectly articulated my issues as a female, however un-PC it sounds. I struggle so much more than my husband does with spending b/c I get a “high” from gathering stuff. I’m working to change my thought processes in these areas–and you are SO RIGHT about the brochures/catalogs/coupons being triggers for spending. I found myself contemplating buying a water carbonating machine b/c it was “only” $30 and would eventually “save” me money by costing less than buying carbonated water at the store. Thankfully, my rational side kicked in and reminded me that I don’t NEED carbonated water, nor do I have a burning desire for it, so why in the world would I buy another machine to eat up precious counter space??!? UGH! Thanks for your comment. :)

      • Sam in SF September 16, 2015, 2:25 am

        Shana and Miriam,
        I’m completely with you about the deep-seated urge to gather. I don’t find it to be at odds with Mustachianism though. We just need to change what we gather. Instead of gathering unnecessary possessions, I gather monetary investments and skills. I’m currently paying off debt, getting my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, learning Spanish, and collecting recipes for food that is very inexpensive yet healthy and delicious. Even if somehow all my monetary investments are destroyed after I FIRE, I’ll still be able to find a job in my choice of dozens of countries and live really frugally. I’m gathering my freedom, and my urges are completely satisfied. :)

  • Brenden March 22, 2012, 1:01 pm

    MMM, being one of probably many that have sent you a very similar email question, thanks for the article and the one(s) yet to come. As I said before, it’s difficult to know where to start with someone who prefers to wax her money mustache.

    Perhaps it’s in the works, but it would be awesome to have a list of “MMM Basics” articles, or a “Where to Start” section of the site with the best, most essential philosphy articles. It would be super easy to introduce friends and family to Mustacianism this way, especially the ones that aren’t hardcore enough yet to start at the beginning and plow their own way through. Could be more of an introdictory cheek-slap than a face-punch.

    Thanks for everything!

  • Bryan in Tahoe March 22, 2012, 1:08 pm

    This is a fantastic article. I’m sharing with my wife today. Really, our visions of life are quite similar, it is the trying to speak the same language, that is the challenge.

  • Heidi March 22, 2012, 1:47 pm

    I try to focus on the desired outcome (as you mentioned in your article.) Freedom is my word, but when I would talk to my wife about that goal, it didn’t have much emotional meaning to her. She would always say, “I only work 3 days (12 hr shifts) a week – I wouldn’t mind doing this the rest of my life.” She has gotten a lot more on board now that she is older and developing arthritis. She is turning 50 this year, so I have rephrased it as “You’re going to retire at 62. I’ll be 50. We have a 12 year time frame to prepare.” Her plan was to retire at 67, but that gives me way too little time to do what I want to do! She is the funnest person I know, so I need her to be still young and healthy when we are ready to go spend 3 months in Thailand or Ecuador.

  • DP March 22, 2012, 3:08 pm

    I sometimes forget that I discovered your blog (the day Lifehacker posted your commuting post) before my wife did. Because the moment I told her about it, she immediately devoured the whole thing, tearing through all the old posts all the way up to that day’s post before I had even learned to spell “mustache” properly. Anyway for us the best thing has been to read your blog, compare it to other sources of financial wisdom we’ve trusted in over the years, and have many heart-to-heart conversations about what we want for our family. So far this has served us well–from big decisions like buying a car to small ones like what to get each other for Christmas (bike headlights).

    MMM has been one of the greatest things to happen to our marriage!

  • Cindy@Rhinebeck March 22, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Unfortunately, the only thing that worked in my situation (after years of my advice falling on deaf ears) was just to let his money run out. Painful but extremely effective. Only then would he listen. And listen well he did!

    Now, we’re on the same page. A bit poorer than I had planned but oh! so much more the wiser.

    Sometimes, only personal experiences will work.

    • regambale March 23, 2012, 9:46 am

      Interesting that you say this, because I think it has to come to this sometimes. I already figured out that I can not change my husband but I can do all that I can do and hope that when he sees the results, he will then jump on board. But oh how frustrating it is when I bust my butt to save a few dollars, then he spends more than I just saved; mindlessly. I wish I had the choice to let HIS money run out…unfortunately, we do not have separate money. My husband is the bread winner. My job is raising our three small children.

  • Ano March 22, 2012, 4:23 pm

    Currently trying to work this magic on someone who’s been pretty lazy about financial stuff in general (I think his attitude is “So long as I don’t carry debt, I’m good.”)

    I think this dude might be good to keep for the long haul, so I tried an approach that been gaining a little traction — surprisingly, it was inspired by your polar opposite, MMM…Ramit over at IWTYTBR. Whenever my dude wants to spend $40 on a quick dinner for us or doesn’t care about parking fees [holy crap, I care!] for that $40 dinner, I ask him if he wouldn’t rather spend that money on the vacation we’ve talked about going on. It’s been mostly working so far. I’ve also noticed he’s been curbing other expenses, too.

    Conscious spending for the win. Maybe, once he gets used to the feeling of cutting back, I can get a little more pushy about saving for the sake of just saving and chilling out. Or maybe by then I’ll realize I’m not meant to be with someone who doesn’t share my attitude toward money. :P

    • Osprey March 23, 2012, 5:11 am

      Thanks for the advice Mr MM. My non-mustachian partner and I are DINKy with no debt so he doesn’t feel the need to change a thing. He also likes his job! It’s hard to motivate him and I can foresee it taking a long time :( This blog helps to keep me on track.

      • Osprey March 23, 2012, 5:16 am

        PS Ano: I hear ya! Good luck with your dude.

  • LRK March 22, 2012, 4:53 pm

    The advice in this post seems very centred on telling rather than doing, especially when compared to the spouse chapter in the ERE book. I’m hoping to see more action-oriented advice in part II. I think for some people, STARTING with talk is more likely to raise barriers than letting your actions speak for themselves and waiting for the partner to bring up the topic – opening up the discussion for you to come in later.

    Some people are more likely to be on board with unusual ideas when they discover it for themselves rather than have someone else hand the concept to them – I think in this case it can be better for you to lead in with demonstrating that you can do things differently and apply them right now to your own situation (biking to work, diy) and letting the spouse experience the benefits first rather than being theoretical about it, or talking about what other people have done in other countries (where the cost of housing/living may be significantly different.)

    • rjack March 23, 2012, 6:22 am

      LRK – I agree. I think you need to lead by example for at least six months before you can have The Talk. During that time, your spouse may start asking why you are doing things differently. This can lead to less threatening smaller discussions that help pave the way for The Talk.

  • pachipres March 22, 2012, 7:52 pm

    I agree with some of the other commentators. I wished MMM was around 4-5 years ago when I lost my momentum from the Money or YOur Life Book. Books are one thing-an up-to-date almost daily blog to read and comment on is exactly what I needed to get remotivated. I too lost years of being financially independent but I am learning the more one dwells on this, the more energy one loses to keep moving forward.

    Also, I think Mrs. Money Mustache should do an article or contribute to the next upcoming blog to help get these female spouses on board. Having a woman’s voice may help some of these other women who haven’t caught their partner’s viision yet.

  • Dancedancekj March 22, 2012, 9:38 pm

    As some commenters have mentioned, I think that this approach is a great way to frame things not only for SO’s, but also for family, friends, and co-workers.
    Part of the problem of trying to start your Mustache as a young adult is that most people don’t and won’t take me seriously, but phrasing it in this way makes it a bit easier to present :)

  • grover March 22, 2012, 9:47 pm

    How to Make Love to your Spouse Frugally

    Instant linkbait

  • croomsta March 22, 2012, 10:30 pm

    MMM, I’ve recently discovered your blog and have been enjoying the read and the info. We’re on the low end of income earners, which is its own lesson in necessary frugality. We spend more on certain things because we like having an older house and locally grown/raised produce and meat is important to us, but we’ve also learned ways to compensate by getting a local preservation grant to help cover the maintenance expenses on the house and enjoying summer produce from our garden. Although I know there are plenty of areas to trim incidental spending, the real difference between our outlook on FI is the next step in the process: how to invest what’s been saved. Neither one of us is a financial big risk taker, though he has his 401k & I have a bit of stock (no 401k). When I mentioned the possibility of getting a rental property, he counters with numerous horror stories of renters-gone-bad and all the reasons we shouldn’t bother. To me, it seems like a good way to plan a bit of income on the side once considering the 50% rule. I’ll keep reading and slowly wear him down. :) Thanks.

  • Poor to Rich a Day at a Time March 23, 2012, 9:36 am

    It has taken me 13 years of baby stepping hubby after he had been raised to spend money like wild fire on a whole bunch and series of nothings.

    Now after baby stepping hime for 13 years, openly discussing the differences between frugal choices and high consumerism, as a family affair over dinners including the kids, it started making sense to him. He did not even know how to price compare when I met him!

    Baby stepping and finding mutual goals we want to achieve has gotten the whole family on board with a frugal and conscious way of spending.

    Great article MMM!

  • GIbshredder March 23, 2012, 10:26 am

    This is an excellent post. It is very hard to change behavior that is learned over many year. I’ve joked with my guy friends for year that the number of years we have to work is directly related to the type of spouse you have chosen. Translation: if you choose a spouse that shares your value for frugality, then adding another layer to that frugality might actually appear to him/her.

    I think anyone who has worked, even for a time, at a very low wage job understand the value of money in some core way. I’m not banging on people who have had their parents pay for just about everything, but it would seem a might steep hill to get that person to adopt MMM.

    By the way, I think this post should have been called “My wife grew a mustache and it was badass”

    • IAmNotABartender March 4, 2015, 9:52 am

      My parents took very good care of us and followed (follow) the “money is there to spend” philosophy. My wife was more frugal when I met her, and I spent years convincing her to be more of a consumer. I found this blog about five months ago, and all of that is changing.

  • Bella March 23, 2012, 11:43 am

    I look forward to the next in this series. Hubs and I are on pretty much the same page – but we have a few friends where unfortunately the husband is the saver – and the wife is in charge of the money and is the Stay at Home Shopaholic (note – not all parents who stay home are like this – it’s seems particularly prone to happen when the working spouse makes ‘more than enough money’). I think that is a hard dynamic to get past – she doesn’t really value the money because she thinks his job is easy because it pays well, he feels guilty that she spends all her time on the kids so he lets her do what she wants. She gets bored during the day and wants to ‘get out of the house’ so instead of going to a park (for free) she goes shopping. All her influences are daytime soaps (advertising), reality TV (even more advertising), and of course the shopping mall/Walmart itself (Woa Nelly!)

    • Shanna March 23, 2012, 1:33 pm

      The situation you describe is very delicate! When the wife is so much in the grip of the shopping monster you have to tread carefully and pray she matures. A pissed off wife can be very dangerous, especialy with our culture reinforcing that any strong suggestion from a man is “controlling” even when it is just plain maturity and common sense.

      Difficult to for the husband to suggest better activities, since it is her job all day and she will feel bossed, but at the same time not the lifestyle he wants for his kids.

      • Bella March 23, 2012, 1:53 pm

        Yea, but at 40 – she isn’t going to mature without help!

  • Tim Stobbs March 23, 2012, 11:58 am

    In general you have to ‘sell’ the idea to your spouse in some capacity or another. That means( wait for it), listening to your spouse. Not waiting for your turn to speak because you are REALLY EXCITED by the ideas of MMM, but actually hearing what is important to her. Then adjust your plans to allow what matters most to your spouse to occur and then ask ‘why’ a lot.

    It took my spouse a few years to realize she was buying more scrap book paper than she used in a year. So now she has stopped and I didn’t say a thing because it was HER SPENDING MONEY. You can’t tell your spouse what to do, she has to want to do it herself. It’s painful to watch at times, but somedays people have to figure it out on their own.


  • Fawn March 23, 2012, 8:02 pm

    You all make me glad I am a single mom.

  • Kadi March 24, 2012, 6:46 am

    My spouse has always been more furgal than i am. We had even little fights about me buying things we didnt need. I can be furgal until something clics in my head and i tell myself that i`m worth of spending money on myself. Thanks to MMM blog i now know that im worth it but i dont have to buy it just beacause im worth it and i can afford it. Thank u!

  • Concojones March 24, 2012, 8:39 pm

    “You mean, like, the stock market and shit?”


    Anyway. I think the notion money-producing-more-money is a powerful motivator and will definitely get your spouse interested. However, very often a spouse will think of people who took frugality to the extreme and think, OMG, I could never lead a miserable life like that. The answer is: 1. yes you easily could (hedonic adaptation) and 2. you don’t need to take it that far.

  • Joe @ Retire By 40 March 24, 2012, 11:23 pm

    Luckily Mrs. RB40 is quite frugal as well and I didn’t have to work that hard to convince her. I’m going to quit working first, but she likes working and will continue to do so for now. She likes nice things too, but she is really picky and rarely buy stuffs just to spend money.

  • Monika June 4, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Yesterday my awesome, bearded (but non-mustached) husband and I walked past a family reunion goin’ on in a state park. There were lots of games out, and I mentioned how fun it is whenever we hang out with friends and play corn hole. I playfully challenged the hubby to make a board. (Of course he can–he has arms, access to a saw+ and is smart. He could make an angled wood box with a hole on top). He said yes, but that our hardware store sells them, not seeing any need to make a simple box himself. “But it would be almost free if we made it!!!”, I said. Mild shock set in, before the brain wheels started turn. “But wood isn’t free” was the quizzical response. After I had listed no less than 4 ways to get free scrap wood within walking distance of our home, then the paint, then borrowing equipment from his parents (living 2 miles away), … [insert more materials here]…he began to accept the idea as novel. He then said, “AND WE COULD SAVE THE MONEY WE WOULD HAVE SPENT. IF WE KEEP NOT SPENDING MONEY, IN 5 YEARS, THAT’LL ADD UP”!!!!!!!!!! We’re on the finishing stretch of this step, baby!

  • rlabersmith July 20, 2012, 2:55 pm

    Forget the spouse, how do we sell our teen and tween kids on frugality? They’ve already seen their Gamefly and Nintendo Power subscriptions scrapped, cable goes on the chopping block next month, and every time the ice cream truck cruises past our house (daily) I get the pleading looks. We’ve had the family talk, and although I thought we were gentle, I’m pretty sure all they heard was “No Disney”. Any thoughts on how to help them see the upside of our newly adopted Draconian lifestyle?

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 22, 2012, 12:56 pm

      Interesting question! Are these particular teens forward-looking enough to understand cause and effect? Show them the adult consequences of a frugal and disciplined life, vs. an out-of-control one based on satisfying every little consumer desire immediately. The results (bankruptcy, stress, massive lifestyle-related health problems) should scare the crap out of them, if properly presented. Then find some role models who display the positive benefits of Mustachianism and show how they live differently.

  • superbien September 12, 2012, 11:24 am

    You know what would be even better? If we had an MMM dating site :) That way those of us single frugal folks could just meet up and not have to convince each other. I think I’m on to something here…

    • Nina July 3, 2013, 2:01 am

      I’ll second that: I want a MMM dating site and it has to be internationally, so that Europeans like me can join the fun of retiring with a like-minded partner before the traditional age!

  • Matt October 19, 2012, 4:49 am

    Thanks a lot for your post. I have followed your blog for a while now, and been attempting to incorporate a lot of it into my own lifestyle, but with only limited success. The main source of my continued financial grief is my wife’s spending as I’ve not managed to get her on board yet. Here’s hoping, and thanks for the tips.

  • superbien October 19, 2012, 8:46 am

    It’s worth mentioning that there really ARE people who are controlling, and money is often a major way that gets expressed… so it’s understandable that people can get sensitive to feeling controlled by tightened purse strings. I think (having been in a controlling marriage) that if we had approached money together, with goals and a combined “let’s pay this down” approach, it would have been easier to swallow. One of my favorite things about being newly-single is rebuilding my emergency fund, paying off a credit card (boo-yah!), and getting closer and closer to paying off my student loan debt entirely; there is so much satisfaction from this. I guess the point is that I feel like I have a say in my financial destiny now, and before it was all about frugality (along with closing the walls in around me in a bunch of other areas of life) without goals, and without my buy-in. Life is sweet when you are in control of your own destiny.

  • Birgit Platschka May 22, 2013, 3:17 am

    Hi there,
    Again, your blog post is like a broom sweeping out the old and dusty lot. A breath of fresh air…
    Will the Mustachians be the new top 1% that the rest aspire to be ?
    Have a nice day.

  • Chad January 27, 2014, 10:38 pm

    This blog is a hidden gem. Definitely going to be putting some serious time into reading these articles.

    When I was 7 years old, the ice cream truck would come by selling ice cream for $2. My mom took me to the store and bought a box of 12 popsicle sticks for the same price and told me I could eat two of em.

    • Dmitri July 19, 2014, 10:29 am


      1. This is brilliant. Will remember this strategy for future reference. “And let me eat two of them” is key haha

      2. I hope you walked to biked to the store, yes? ;-)


  • SpeedReader February 20, 2014, 9:16 pm

    Showing the way is definitely best. I started making some changes, then explained to DH about this blog and my goal to retire earlier so we can spend more time together. On his own, he called the cable co. and got the price dropped $50/month. Best anniversary present ever!

  • David March 13, 2014, 5:58 pm

    I have the opposite situation. My wife is very frugal and conservative, and honestly has kept my spending down over the years. We have saved to have enough to retire, according to the rules of Mr. Money Mustache (25 x annual spend), but she is so conservative that she wants us to have double the amount to be able to retire. It makes sense, as we still have a lot of uncertainties ahead of us (children, fragile markets), and at least I have the freedom of knowing if something happened, we would be able to live without a job. But it would also be nice to just retire now!

  • Anonthistime October 6, 2015, 1:16 pm

    My wife was absurdly frugal already when we met, about 6 years ago. It took me a little longer to catch on. However, when we moved onto our house together, we never got cable connected, and we haven’t missed it. I think the lack of advertising in my life has slowly weaned me off the commercialized consumerism teat. When we met I had 3 grand in cash and 40k equity in a house. She makes a fraction of what I do but was worth twice that. Our net worth now, not even counting what she brought to the table, is over ten times that.

  • Ire February 14, 2016, 1:36 am

    The most useful and most interesting article I’ve read so far..
    You rock MMM!!!


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