Selling the Dream of Financial Independence – Part 2

In the first post of this series, we laid the groundwork for tempting a spendy spouse into a more frugal future. It was my attempt at combining the necessary logic and psychology that are required to slowly but surely allow someone to change their mind about the connection between spending and lifetime happiness.

In this post, we will move on to some action to go with all the talking and book-reading assignments that were part of the first article.

Step 6: Personally Demonstrate Each Change Without Forcing Participation

This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you want to create change, you must first be the change you want to see in the world. You want your spouse to start riding his bike to work, so you will start riding your bike to work and demonstrating how easily it can be done. You can take on the grocery shopping and start cooking more at home. You can plan social events for your friends to help create healthier traditions. The former “Beer and wings Happy Hour” can turn into “Bike to work Friday” followed by a cookout at a location that rotates through the houses of various friends. Before expecting your Mustachian Trainee counterpart to take part in these things, you must first master them, so you can serve as a coach.

Step 7: Point out that the Benefits Begin Immediately

“OK, I’ll admit that the Money Mustache family has it pretty good, but according to the math you showed me it will still take us 17 years to reach retirement. I don’t want to suffer for 17 years, I want to live my life now!”

To understand this argument, imagine a dangerously unhealthy person who is addicted to eating ice cream on the couch. “Sure, I know I could be active and muscular 1-2 years if I stopped doing this and went outside”, the person says, “but I don’t want to deprive myself of ice cream!”.

You would see right through that argument immediately, right? The unhealthy person starts to benefit the very second he puts down the ice cream bowl. He might not feel the benefit immediately – he just feels the craving. But when he goes outside and starts walking, his body starts to rebuild its lost muscle tissue, to suck away the stored fat, and every single thing about his lot in life starts to improve. The trick is getting your spouse to understand that he or she is really making the Ice Cream Addict’s excuse.

Explain to them that it has been known for decades that buying things does not make you happy, and enjoying life while spending less money is a skill that develops just like a muscle, as opposed to a permanent state of deprivation. Point out that every dollar you ‘stash away is one step further you have moved from the edge of disaster. Every purchase you skip is going directly into a bank of leisure time that you can enjoy at any point you choose. Having greater savings and lower expenses, also known as “Fuck You Money”, directly results in lower stress in your life, and increased freedom.

That’s right: FREEDOM. What is more worth buying, than Freedom itself? Why would you buy much of  anything at all, when you haven’t even bought your own freedom yet? Freedom is something that can be bought one chunk at a time and savored. You’ll become addicted when you get your first taste. And thus, the benefits begin immediately.

Step 8: Start with Baby Steps

When I first moved to Boulder Colorado in 1999, I was invited by my new Boulder-bred coworkers to go out for a bike ride at lunch time.

“Sure”, I thought “I’ve been riding bikes for years, I’m sure I can roll with these guys”.
“Don’t worry”, they said, “We’re really mellow when we ride at lunch, everyone is just out to have a good time.

30 minutes later, we were already 10 miles outside of town, racing up a steep rocky incline under the searing hot sun. “The trail starts just up ahead!” one of them called out, as I coughed out a bleeding lung and shamefully turned my bike to begin the thousand foot descent back toward the city limits alone. “Uhh.. that’s enough for me, I’ll catch you guys back at work”.

The casual lunchtime ride of these experienced cyclists was much more extreme than even my biggest bike expedition before that point.

And so I know that Mr. Money Mustache can seem extreme to people who come across him for the first time. It’s because I’m old now, and I’ve been doing this “buying less shit” shit for a while. The natural path of any enthusiast is to get a bit more hardcore over time, so that the Enthusiast’s “normal” normal is the average person’s “Insane Cuckoo Bird”. I don’t think I’m weird to pull 100 pounds of groceries home on a bike trailer through a blizzard on a winter night, but I must also acknowledge that a non-biker is better off starting out by just riding their bike to the library on a warm Sunday in April.

That’s a lot of biking analogies, but this isn’t really about biking. I’m talking about any  lifestyle change. Choosing more appropriate housing. Changing your eating. Reducing your gadget buying. Not watching television. All of these things have a beginner stage, followed by a continuum that leads up into hardcore territory. On this blog, I talk about a moderately hardcore level of lifestyle changes – the type that allows my own family to live on $700 per person per month. You don’t have to start at exactly this level. You just have to know it’s there, waiting for you to eventually reach. And then perhaps surpass me so you can mock my wasteful lifestyle as other senior Mustachians do in the comments section.

Step 9: Budgets and Allowances are Baby Steps too.

In the realm of Frugality, the equivalent of the slow April bike ride is the budget. My long-term goal is to have you enjoy frugality for its own sake, without requiring a budget to keep yourself from overspending. I’ve never used a budget in my life, because I like to control my spending consciously instead – it can go down if there’s ever a need. But for beginners, starting with a budget or a monthly “fun stuff” allowance can be a good set of training wheels.

A beginner consumer is like an alcoholic who has a vodka dispenser in his kitchen, connected to a pipeline that runs directly to Russia. His consumption is limited only by his ability to stay conscious. If you take away his tap and replace it with a vodka dispensing machine that plunks out one 750mL bottle every 24 hours, which he desperately downs as soon as it shoots out, you HAVE improved his life somewhat. But he’s still not going to be happy about it. He needs to keep developing his self-control, until he realizes that he’s got better things to do with his life than drinking vodka at all.

Similarly, a weekly allowance to blow on massages, lattes, and plastic trinkets from Target is a good start. But it’s not a great lifelong solution. The ideal solution is having an unlimited budget, but finding that you get more pleasure out of not spending it, than you do from spending it.

When I proposed a similar concept in an old article called “How Much is That Bitch Costin’ Ya?“, I took some heat in the comments. “I get an allowance because DW can not only squeeze the eagle until it shits, she can also snap its neck and reach in and crush its heart”, is how one University professor expressed his take on the benefits of budgeting.

I can definitely see the point and the benefits of the personal fun allowance. But I can also see what life feels like beyond the allowance, and I can tell you that it is a liberating place. Mrs. Money Mustache and I have an effectively unlimited fun budget. We have virtually unlimited savings, no rules, and we don’t consciously watch each other’s spending. Yet we still end up buying very little each month. It’s because we’ve solved the wants themselves rather than just setting a limit on how much of our wants we’re allowed to indulge.

The important part is to realize that you can always go further. You are always a wimp, and there is always someone more badass than you. Within badassity lies the key to happiness, and I think everyone has a certain respect for awesomeness in its various forms. The key is to make the mental connection between frugality and being awesome. This will become easier over time as the entire world starts doing it, now that I have revealed that Frugality is the new Fanciness.

Step 10: Keep it Fresh with Challenges

The habit of living efficiently definitely feels good. But just like with any sport, you can increase your performance by making a game out of it.

When you issue a challenge to (or accept one from) another person on the financial independence track, you increase your own motivation. All through this month of March, I felt the eyes of the MMM readers upon me, searching for weakness or fraud, and this improved my behavior considerably. In the Forum of this blog, we even have a section called “Throw Down The Gauntlet” for people to trade ideas and challenges. Even for the more introverted personality types most found reading financial independence blogs, this silly competitive stuff works.

When living with another person, finding ways to induce competition is especially powerful.

Last Step: Build the Good Type of Addiction – with Tracking

Spending less money exerts a calming force on your life. But to build your motivation, sometimes you need excitement rather than calmness. For people on the path to riches, some of the excitement can come in the form of tracking your results. Memorize the logins and passwords to your key accounts for both investments and debts, so you can see real change each month. Keep a “net worth” spreadsheet, fiddle around with retirement calculators, and use any other financial software that you find enjoyable. Watch your index funds on finance.google.com. I’m still happily using the free web-based Mint to do all of the above, frequently reviewing my monthly spending and saving as well as graphing changes in net worth.

If YOU are already a saver, and you want to convert a spouse, you must get him or her hooked on seeing her own wealth. When she saves, it grows. When she spends, the growth stops. Every three months, the dividend payments come in. When the stock market crashes, she gets excited about getting more shares at a lower price. Try to build the idea that the number of shares and the dividends are the part that matters, because you don’t want to breed a fearful anti-investor who feels like selling shares instead of buying them, when the prices go down.

Final Words:

We’ve covered ten important steps to creating a newly frugal person. We’ve combined psychology and action. But although these are the steps that have helped me persuade various people, there is no perfect recipe for everyone. The biggest tips of all are to be patient, be positive, and be persistent.

Not everyone has the same reason for wanting to embrace frugality – if you love your job, you might not be motivated by the idea of quitting. If you’re already rich, you might not even be motivated by becoming financially independent. But I strongly believe that everyone can find a better life for themselves by minimizing their material wants and needs, and instead maximizing the learning they do about themselves and about life itself. You’ve got a real shot at having a great life here – as long as you don’t let consumer culture distract you from the true goal of living well.

And for those who are not yet attached – be yourself, and don’t be afraid to show your independence. While inappropriate and misguided cheapness won’t get you laid, true badassity and a desire to not to be wasteful is sexy. Live that example, and you will be rewarded with a mate that is as sexy as you, perhaps saving you the effort of working through these ten steps the next time you hook up.

Epilogue: About a year later, my financial blogger friend The Mad Fientist published this inspiring post on the same topic:


  • Poor Student March 27, 2012, 6:12 am

    Being as sexy as me (preferably more so) and understanding all the things in the two articles in this series will be a must for any Mrs. But with these ten tips I do not think I will have a hard time convincing her of Mustachianism.

    I am starting with being the example and slowly trying to convert people as they ask questions about why I am acting “Insane Cuckoo Bird” to them, when I do not even notice my actions anymore.

  • Amicable Skeptic March 27, 2012, 6:18 am

    My wife and I have both taken to Mustachianism and the mutual reinforcement is great. She sold her fancy-pants DSLR so I sold my even fancier road bike (for the same price I bought it at no less!). We’re at the point of discussing and applauding each other’s savings almost every day. Speaking of savings I need to go ride my bike to work (saving me $17 in car wear and parking every time I do it).

    • Mihaela August 30, 2015, 12:14 am

      I would die if I sell my DSLRs :D Photography s like breathing to me and is my part-time business. That would be what I want to do when we become financially independent. At least I do not buy the newest technology, but stick to the previous generation of a camera. :) And never on debt (because when the new one comes in, they initially drop the prices of the previous one, then they discontinue it and the second hand market is full with good cameras at nice prices, something like what happens with cars, but we don’t own a car anyway.) And that sounds like I have 34563 cameras, but not, only 2 and 3 lenses :D

      • Kevin March 19, 2017, 4:39 pm

        i’m in this camp too. i’m all for selling shit that you dont need, but hobbies that bring you hours upon hours of pleasure? photography is expensive to initially get into for sure (although you can certainly cut costs by doing your homework and buying used), but once you are in, it’s a relatively cheap hobby. you can take pictures wherever and whenever, well within the range of a bike or public transit, or on vacations you are already taking anyways. equipment ages relatively well, particularly lenses, and your hobby can even turn into a source of income if you start selling your photos or entering contests (i’m interested in doing this in the future, when i have a more extensive portfolio).

        however, perhaps our OP’s wife is one of those people who bought a fancy camera as a way of keeping up with the Joneses there are certainly a ton of people who do that and then realize that what they’ve actually purchased is some very expensive dust-collectors.

  • jlcollinsnh March 27, 2012, 6:23 am

    Nicely done, Mr. MM…

    …and hopefully it will move some folks down the path.

    Just curious, did you or Mrs. MM have to struggle yourselves with this?

    Personally, I never did. It just always felt right. Fortunately, the girl I married felt the same but that was pure luck. In those days we never thought to discuss such things.

    One of the reasons I never discuss how to get out of debt is I have no idea. In my Manifesto – http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/manifesto/ – I put it this way:

    “Carrying debt is as appealing as being covered with leeches, and has much the same effect. The idea that many, indeed most, people seem to happily cover themselves with debt is so beyond my understanding it is hard to imagine how, let alone why, the downsides would need be explained.

    Take out your sharpest knife and start scraping the little blood-suckers off.”

    Probably not helpful to those that struggle with it, but there it is.

    Writing this I am reminded of one success many years ago with a former girlfriend. Mmm. Maybe a future post. I’d also be interested in a Case Study from you looking at someone you’ve personally coached to success along this path.

    Finally, I love your concept of beyond the allowance. It is a magical place.

  • AGil March 27, 2012, 6:34 am

    The last words of advice are pure genius. Learn Them, Know Them, Live Them.

  • rjack March 27, 2012, 6:52 am

    “Step 9: Budgets and Allowances are Baby Steps too.”

    I’m skeptical about this impermanent, but may that is because we just took this Baby Step. :) Has anybody else done this as a Baby Step and then eventually phased this out?

    I do notice that my wife is spending significantly under her allowance and I’m trying to lead by example by spending very little of my allowance.

    • Gabrielle March 27, 2012, 11:35 am

      I think you have to apply the method that works best for the individual. DH uses a cash “allowance” each month to help him control spending on incidentals and he must save this in order to make a larger purchase. Without the limit of this pre-determined cash amount, those incidentals would add up. However, an allowance has the opposite effect on me wherein I spend what I’m given because I can see the modestly budgeted cash reserve sitting in my wallet. I operate better in the absence of a budget because it drives me to minimize any and all spending. The friendly competition of comparing your reserves may be your effective incentive. The end goal is to live in a state of thoughtfulness, by whatever means is most intuitive and effective for you.

    • Joe O (arebelspy) March 28, 2012, 8:55 am

      The wife and I are with MMM, and have made fun of other PF writers for years with their “budgets.” We just… don’t spend. Money is sitting in our bank account. Great! Let’s invest it. Other people go “oh, we have $200 sitting in there, let’s spend it” — that’s bad. The baby steps are “we have $200 sitting in.. our budget says we save 100 and then get 100 fun money, yay” — that’s not as bad, but still not great.

      Budgets are unnecessary when you embrace Mustachianism and aren’t a consumer for the sake of consuming, but buying only what you need and you really value.

  • JJ March 27, 2012, 7:04 am

    Among the group I run with, I easily lead the most efficient lifestyle. But I gotta admit, you’re better at this than me.

    Does the $700 per person per month include things like taxes on real estate? I’m grasping for something here!

  • Weston March 27, 2012, 7:24 am

    This issue of spouse “buy in” has always been my greatest challenge in reaching for financial independence (well that and all those children)

    Great tips as usual. I would also like to mention the most effective thing that I did on this front.

    Giving up day to day control…My wife was far more hesitant when it was my idea to reign in spending and invest wisely and regularly. It seemed to become a control issue.

    Once we agreed on an investment program what brought her around was me asking her to take “day to day” charge of the matter. She set up the account. She makes sure our excess funds go into the account like clockwork. It has become her baby and as a result she is finding ways to squeeze out even more money to invest. I only look at the account once a month. It’s amazing how giving up some measure of control often gets you to your goals faster.

    • Adrienne March 27, 2012, 9:14 am

      Weston this is wise wise wise. I’d say from looking at a lot of couples I know that money issues are often more about control than about money. Great solution.

  • KzooMatt March 27, 2012, 8:03 am

    Comparing yourself to others can be a recipe for disaster, especially when attempting a daunting project. The biking story was a great illustration. For me its running. Some people call me a runner, but I look at marathon runners and say there’s not way I’d call myself a runner. Same goes for frugality. Some say I’m frugal (actually they say cheap), but compared to you guys, I’d say not so much.

    However, the comparisons can be good if done the right way. It helps to know what to strive for. And knowing who has been where you have can provide great resources when you feel like nobody knows what you’re going through.

    Some of the best advice I’ve heard on comparing yourself to others is “Never compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle”. If you’ve only been at something for a month, don’t compare yourself to someone that has been doing that same thing for 20 years. Don’t get down on yourself for only being able to run/bike/save a certain amount because MMM or someone else you know is more bad ass than you. Work to get there, be proud what you have accomplished so far and know that if you keep going, you will reach the same point.

    Thanks for showing us where we can go and offering us help in getting there.

    • AEBinNC March 27, 2012, 10:02 am

      Good point. I get frustrated by still being in debt when I read about other people closing in on FI. My wife and owe a combined balance of 54k on student loans and I’m 30. On the other hand, without making big changes we should be FI by 50. I’m trying to work with my wife to slowly and surely make the transition to a less stuff intensive life. I work as a financial advisor and I routinely talk to people that are in their mid 40s who don’t have anything saved.

      • Kenneth March 27, 2012, 2:25 pm

        Maybe Mr. MMM should set up a Financial Badassity workshop ala Dave Ramsey’s stuff. He could even get paid for this, and meet a lot of fun people and spread the word to wider audiences. I am presently the badass, I love my wife dearly, but she spends money on “presents”, vitamins, supplements, $50 a month at beauty shop, $40 at Weight Watchers (I could watch her weight better) etc. I’ve tried having the talk and she nods her head in solemn agreement but nothing changes. I’m thinking she thinks I’m trying to control her life, when really all I am trying to do is get us to FI as quickly as reasonably possible.

        • Rich March 27, 2012, 7:50 pm

          If such a resource were ever to be put together, I’d teach it at my church! (I’m the pastor.)

          • Kenneth March 28, 2012, 8:41 am

            Yes, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University has been well taught and received in a church setting. For many people, struggling with credit card debt, that is a very good course. They don’t realize they have been totally brainwashed by all the advertising thrown at them that they need “stuff”. So they buy it, and when they don’t have any money, they add it on to their charge balances which never get paid off and just keep growing. To hard core Mustachians however, some of the advice like debt snowball, pay yourself first, budgeting and envelope systems is self defeating. Just control yourself and quit spending, and the money will start appearing to pay down your debt.

          • Ben Alexander June 11, 2013, 6:15 pm

            You know, there IS biblical precedent for face-punching money changers…

        • Thedaftshadow March 29, 2012, 3:34 am

          It’s very hard to reason ones way to progress when dealing with emotion or habits. I have an overweight aunt, whose known for years she is overweight, hates it, but never does anything about it. She’s had surgery to correct issues caused directly by her weight (bone damage, diabetes, etc)… Still, she does nothing. Everyone who loves her encourages her to help herself… Still she does nothing.

          However, recently a doctor sat her down and told her this: “if you don’t lose 200 pounds, you will die from it. Soon.”

          Shocked the heck out of her. She’s since gone vegan, improved more things than I can write, and is getting her life back together.

          My point is this: habits don’t improve because they are better than the old version… They improve when someone realizes that their old habit stops them from having what they truly crave.

          Your S.O. Doesn’t crave financial independence yet. That’s where you must focus… Helping her discover everything wonderful it provides. Once she’s truly onboard, she will start to notice her mistakes herself. Controlling someone doesn’t work. Align your wants together, and you will walk the same path far easier.

          ~ Daftshadowet.

          • Jessie : Improved March 12, 2013, 1:32 pm

            “Your S.O. Doesn’t crave financial independence yet.”

            Exactly. My husband is not a big spender by any stretch of the imagination, which almost makes it harder. He already thinks he doesn’t spend much money, and chaffs at my attempts to hack our finances further. The REAL problem is he sees nothing wrong with working for the next 30 years (we are in our early 30s) or at least he doesn’t think that he can do anything reasonable about it, so why try? Me, on the other hand, I’ve grown quite the handsome money mustache in the past few years and would be quite pleased to retire by 40.

        • Brooks June 1, 2013, 9:06 am

          Kenneth, I feel you, but at least she’s staying healthy and beautiful whil you talk some sense into her ;)

      • AEBinNC February 13, 2013, 7:50 am

        I was reading old articles for fun and came across my comment from before. I’m happy to report that my wife has come on board toward frugality. She did bike to work a few times and then got a new higher paying job that is unfortunately too far to bike. Once she’s been there a while they said they will let her work from home 2-3 days a week.

        We went from eating out every weekend to once every two weeks. We are building a tumbleweed house and plan to sell our large house when finish. So now there isn’t any point to buying anything because we won’t have room for it when the tiny house is finished. She has decided she wants to be financially independent by 44, ten years from now. I think she’s finally had enough BS from her various employers that she can’t take it anymore.

  • Geek March 27, 2012, 9:29 am

    “Memorize the logins and passwords to your key accounts for both investments and debts”

    I’m confused. Who doesn’t have this memorized?


    Lovely post though!

  • Drew March 27, 2012, 11:52 am

    My spouse was always the frugal-saver, it was me who had become sexy like her! Since meeting her I’ve become fanatical about personal finances and turning my life around, for the sake of us as well as just me. All the while she’s still doing the same frugal things, like second nature. Behind every man there’s a great woman?

  • Brendan Benson March 27, 2012, 12:30 pm

    MMM – I just want to chime in to say that the advice here is really spot on, and that following these steps has really changed my life for the better.

    I’ve already taken the steps toward transforming my transportation – specifically, I moved from Michigan to Boulder about three months ago and found a job downtown so that I can commute to work by bike every day (in fact, I haven’t yet driven to my new job). Given the fact that my previous job’s commute involved two cars, a bus, a train, and an airplane, (consulting job) the new lifestyle is quite nice.

    From a financial perspective, I have followed the advice on this blog and I’m completely debt-free. I have a significant chunk of (constantly-growing) savings that is waiting to be put down on an apartment in Boulder so that I can stop losing money on rent and start building equity in property. Since the housing market in Boulder is so expensive, the plan is to buy something small, but with a nice location, make some cost-effective renovations with my own labor, and rent it out after I’ve paid off the mortgage in under five years. Eventually, I’d like to have a good collection of properties in the area that are consistently generating positive cash flow.

    Anyway, since I’ve mostly lurked on this blog for the last year or so, I just wanted to step in and say thanks for the advice. Maybe I’ll see you on the bike path one of these days.

  • ChutneyOhio March 27, 2012, 12:58 pm

    Enjoyed this two part series, and this blog as a whole. It has certainly inspired me to become more bad ass, and my spouse has taken notice and begun her bad ass self improvement as well :-)

    Note to editor though: There are two ‘Step 9’s’ thus making this an 11 step process. Mustachians do go the extra mile though, so I guess one extra isn’t a bad thing.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 27, 2012, 7:05 pm

      Woops, sorry about that mis-numbering of the steps. No matter how many times you read these things, there are always loads of mistakes. I fixed that one – thanks.

  • Cindy@Rhinebeck March 27, 2012, 1:24 pm

    I was born to 2 frugal parents, so frugality to me is human nature. A way of life. But for me, I want to take the walk AND eat the ice cream cone at the same time. Since frugality to me is a way of life, I prefer to combine the sacrifice AND the joy into one. That’s the talent. If you can do both, you’ve got it made.

  • Shanna March 27, 2012, 1:29 pm

    RE: Step 9, The First

    I have always hated “budgets” and writing out everything and trying to project what we would spend in any given month. If only life were so boring and routine! This is what always tripped me up and irritated me when the budget didn’t turn out perfect because of Real Life.

    For the past 5 weeks we have just put The Number on the big white board in the kitchen right where we can see it. This was my hubs genius idea. Starting Sunday (get supplies day) we just put up the total spending for everthing (except scheduled bills) and try to HATE seeing the number go up. Like Mrs. MMM said happens to Mr. MMM, we try to feel physical pain at buying anything.

    This has made us rethink every purchase, even food ingredients that perhaps we can do without. Right now I have some horrible smelly shoes I have washed but -ewwww- I am going to try a little bleach soak and see how long I can put off buying new sneakers. It would make the total go up, the PAIN. It also motivated me to consign some stuff and make the total go down-really exciting!

    We cut non-bill (mortgage/utility) spending by about 60% or more this month.

    • Kenneth March 27, 2012, 2:30 pm

      You guys are my heros but get some new sneakers!

      • Shanna March 27, 2012, 3:04 pm

        Hahahaha, snort snort!

        I just want to try to see if I can get them clean since they are not that old. I am trying to go against my mind set of “might as well buy it now, if I’m gonna buy it later”. It’s a very difficult concept for me. I am just lucky I see clothing and shoes as tools to get through the day and I’ve always thought “real” jewelry/fancy handbags were boring.

        (Not that I don’t try to look attractive for my man!)

        • Roo March 28, 2012, 12:23 pm

          Try vinegar. It will likely help with the smell. Maybe save your shoes! :)

          • Lindsey March 28, 2012, 5:39 pm

            And then stuff crumpled newpaper in them every night to absorb some of the smell. Not perfect, but it does diminish odors.

      • Tom October 20, 2013, 9:10 pm

        I know this is an old post, but if you put your shoes in a plastic bag and stick them in the freezer overnight, it will kill off a lot of the odor causing thingies (scientific term)…

  • AGU March 27, 2012, 1:30 pm

    Good article, we are already very frugal. My challenge is to convince my wife that we can retire early and we have sufficient nest egg for early retirement. Logical arguments and numbers are not convincing her. I think she has fear of running out of money during retirement so she continues to work hard and streessed to accumulate more. We don’t have any kids. Any suggestions to convince her?

  • FreeUrChains March 27, 2012, 1:49 pm

    Many single mustachians could meet their SO at local College libraries. (Better if Younger age 22-30, just graduated and moved to job, but decided to live near a college, preferably within biking distance situations.)

  • scottphillips March 27, 2012, 2:21 pm

    Great read,MMM,kind of proud of myself,first one to post on your blog,almost year ago,new it was great from the very start,Idrp.by here several times a day,an have learned alot,Im the frugal trucker,been living in my trk.now right at five years,talk about hedl adaption,am very happy,an look at this as a opportunity to save tons of money,my target date for FI is jan15,2016,I should be set,a real boost is telling myself if somehow i lost my job today,I could pay myself 500dls a week for the next three an a half years,talk about an E.fund,thankyou cuz,brother,keep up the good work.

    • Shanna March 27, 2012, 3:07 pm


  • BC March 27, 2012, 5:37 pm

    I noticed the section that talks about receiving dividends every three months. Any chance Mr or Mrs. MMM could talk a little in detail about what they recommend and practice investment wise (with Vanguard) to maximize dividends?

  • Heidi March 27, 2012, 8:53 pm

    I am definitely the frugal one in our relationship, but my wife, who was never really consumerist, has made some awesome strides recently. One thing that has helped, is to give her the budget to control. We just recently (within the last 3 months) started a budget (YNAB) and she loves it. Looks at it everyday. When we first were together we had seperate accounts, and responsibility for different bills. A couple bounced checks and late fees later she took on the responsibility for our day to day finances. I do all the longer term investing and planning. I don’t know why, after years of talking, she is finally willing to use a budget, but I am loving all the savings.
    Today we went by a gas station and I mentioned filling up (down to 1/4 tank.) She told me no – that she didn’t want to until next month. And that if there wasn’t enough gas I could just use the other car. I know that isn’t very advanced – we still have 2 cars, but I loved that she had decided we weren’t buying gas (we have the money to) so I could just wait!

  • jeff March 28, 2012, 5:50 am

    What’s more difficult – extreme frugality or adding an extra couple hundred a month in side revenue ? This would mean directing efforts in another direction but definitely a plus in the quest for FI

    • Mrs. Money Mustache March 28, 2012, 8:22 am

      The answer is to do both, if you can. But, for those with families, adding more working hours to an already busy week can take a toll on the other parent and on the kids.

      • Dollar D @ The Dollar Disciple March 28, 2012, 8:56 am

        I definitely agree with doing both but as you said, cutting costs is much easier for the majority of people.

        Cutting costs not only frees up money to save, it also reduces the amount of income you need to replace to be financially independent. The same can’t be said about more income since you typically have to keep working to keep earning it!

  • Joe O (arebelspy) March 28, 2012, 8:49 am

    The link to the “Throw Down The Gauntlet” part of the forum doesn’t work, because there’s a v in front of the http in the html code.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 28, 2012, 9:34 am

      Thanks, I fixed that. I guess it wasn’t a very interesting link, as you’re the first person to mention it being broken – after over however many thousands of times the article has been viewed :-)

  • David Baillieul March 28, 2012, 9:49 am

    Awesome article Mr Stash. You gotta take the religion on the road! Do the speaking tour, book thing…

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 28, 2012, 11:02 am

      Haha.. very funny!

      I’m honored that anyone would think this stuff is worthy of going on the road. But also quite relieved that I DON’T have to take it on the road. I’m very happy to just live my life, take care of my boy, and occasionally type some shit into the computer. Plus I still get to interact with YOU and even meet a bunch of people in real life! What more do I need?

      As soon as I start booking tour dates and collecting fees, then I’ve got a job again and I wouldn’t be Mr. Money Mustache any more. My family doesn’t need me spending more time away from home than I already do.. I still haven’t even made that fence around my back yard and the vegetables need to be planted!

  • poorplayer March 28, 2012, 7:34 pm

    HaHa – I just recognized my own quote! Let me know when you need another gem like that! :-)

  • AlexK March 28, 2012, 8:49 pm

    I was lucky enough to have MMM himself stop by for a visit when he came to Reno for vacation. He made a great impression on my girlfriend and she occasionally reads the MMM blog now. Her issue with spending isn’t so much with worthless consumer crap, it’s giving away money to her church, relatives, etc instead of into her savings account (although her account has grown from zero into the low 5 figures since she’s been with me).

    Her opinion is that good things come to giving people. A sort of karma-like belief that goes against my logical brain. If we could just make some frugal friends it would help a lot. Her friends go on exotic vacations, sushi nights, massages, etc. Reno meetup anyone?

  • Shiznik March 29, 2012, 1:27 pm

    I’ve been blessed in that my current girlfriend of over 4 years buys completely into Mustachianism (did I just turn frugality into a religion? or would that be Mustachianity…) Anyway, my best friend since the 3rd grade is, for lack of a better phrase, balls deep into credit card and student loan debt and I want to show him the possibility of Financial Independence. His parents have lots of money but have always purchases crap on credit, so he has been deep into consumerism his entire life and I don’t know how he’ll take it. I just want to make his life better! I plan on introducing him slowly into this lifestyle this weekend. Wish me luck!!

  • Brad March 30, 2012, 12:38 pm

    I’m so thankful that the woman I married ended up being easy going with regards to a frugal lifestyle. My only regret is waiting so long to get on board with a frugal lifestyle. Now, we’re both on board and are finally making progress, even though we only have one income. It’s setting us up nicely to make big progress when she does go back to work.

  • Amanda November 1, 2012, 8:00 pm

    This has been such a refreshing article. DH and I are the head of a formally frugal family of 4 (toddler and infant). We just moved to Australia from Texas for a 4 year job assignment and in the ensuing chaos and stress, we’ve totally fallen off the wagon. I’ve felt like I just have no more brain power left to really think about money decisions, we’be both just gone on autopilot. It’s taken 6 months and a lot of will power but we’re getting back on the wagon. We’re renting a slightly more expensive pad, but the DH can walk to work, we’ve got access to a nature reserve and the market is much closer. We’re cutting our food budget from nearly $1,000 back to around $300-$400 and our waistlines are shrinking correspondingly are we buy ACTUAL food again. I just stumbled upon your sight and I’m hooked. I’ve been a fan of Get Rich Slowly for years and you’re getting added to my favorites as well. Thanks!

  • Rachel August 15, 2013, 10:27 pm

    I’m a bit late to the party, just reading through the blog from the beginning and commenting along as I go. But I was so happy to see this:

    “I must also acknowledge that a non-biker is better off starting out by just riding their bike to the library on a warm Sunday in April.”

    We just did pretty much exactly this earlier this week. I am lucky that my boyfriend leads a pretty frugal lifestyle just as a regular practice, but I have been advocating for us to move to a 1-car household. Part of this is me getting into the habit of running small errands by bike. So we fixed up our long neglected bikes and headed to the library on a warm Tuesday in July. This is my first small step to full on errands by bike. And wow… there’s going to be some physical conditioning that has to take place on my part! But that’s the beauty of it, save money, free exercise, environmental benefits, and what actually turned out to be a pretty fun way to spend part of our evening.

  • anonymous recovering compulsive debtor September 20, 2013, 3:04 pm

    re: 2nd paragraph of “Step 9: Budgets and Allowances are Baby Steps too”

    MMM, please, PLEASE, read the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th edition”, so you can understand that an “alcoholic”, a “real alcoholic” is, by definition, precisely unable to use “self-control” to solve their problem.

    And, then go to http://www.debtorsanonymous.org to learn about “compulsive debting” – which, like alcoholism, is a disease that makes some people powerless over debt in the same what that alcoholics are powerless over alcohol.

    I hope that you will consider that some of your readers may be incapable of using mere “self-control” to become mustachians.

    I, myself, have only been able to make your ideas a reality in my life because I got my sanity back through working the 12 steps. I felt I really should share this in the comments, in case there are others out there, reading your blog who, like me, can’t seem to “self-control” their way out of debting.

    I hope you will, in the future, mention DA as a resource somewhere on your blog for the sake of reaching, perhaps, just that one reader who is too far gone to use “self-control”, but who, yet, has a desire to stop debting & get out of debt, as you so eloquently advise.

    p.s. DA has no fees and there’s no “guru” behind it. Its just the AA of money/debting.

  • European February 5, 2014, 6:00 am

    Quick question – the Mint tool, does this have European friendly alternatives also? And if not, how important is the feature that it imports info from banks? I´d love to use a tool like this, but not sure if I should go for this without it being able to work with European banks.


  • Rollie November 10, 2014, 1:12 pm


  • T Millward December 12, 2015, 7:03 pm

    Here’s a great link to an article I found after searching for “Fuck you money:”

  • Andrew July 15, 2016, 5:05 pm

    My wife is one of the very lucky few who love their job so I can’t tempt her by the carrot of early retirement. I’m try to think of other incentives.

  • mrsfrozzie November 17, 2016, 7:42 pm

    Thank you for these two articles MMM. I’m already a convert to frugalism but up until a few months ago, I was the resisting other half.
    Hubby and I are both fairly frugal compared to everyone we know. Our frugality and money management skills has allowed us to be a one-income family for the past seven years without going into debt, and has even allowed us to put a 20% down-payment on our first house earlier this year but that’s pretty much it. There were no other savings. My husband kept on telling me that we could do better, that we could cut our spendings even more but I resisted. I thought we had already done all we could (strict budget, careful meal planning to reduce grocery bills and prevent waste, etc…) and skimming even more cream would just drive us insane. I admit I resented him sometimes, I thought he wanted to cut all the fun out of our life.
    Oh, how I was wrong. The combination of buying the house and starting to read your blog have helped me flick that switch. I checked our budget again and there it was: he was right. I thought I’d done great when I’d reduced my ‘fun spending’ allowance from $50 a fortnight to $40, until I realised that I didn’t actually need it at all. I was spending the entire allowance on hand-dyed yarns (I’m a knitter, beautiful yarns are my Achilles’ Heel) which were quickly accumulating in boxes because I was buying it faster than I could knit it. So I cut it off completely, no more allowance for me. It did hurt a bit to make that decision but then I look at those boxes full of yarn and I feel better. I have enough to last me quite a while.
    Add to that a few tweaks to the way we do things on a daily basis, and the fact that our house is smaller than the one we were renting, and we’ve also been able to reduce our utilities bills. My husband has also made a big cut on his ‘fun spending’ allowance (which he was mostly spending on take-out coffees every day).
    Our savings are for now all used to renovated the house and make it more energy efficient but when that’s done we plan on smashing the mortgage and when I go back to work (in a year’s time) we will smash the saving/investing.
    All that to say that convincing your partner to join the Mustachian way can be difficult, even when said partner is not a crazy consumer to start off with, but the advice you give in this series is very sensible and absolutely on-point.

    • mrsfrozzie November 17, 2016, 7:46 pm

      I should add that we have three children (2, 4 and 6 years old) so if we can save on one income for 5 people, then most people should also be able to do it!

  • Rachel December 9, 2016, 10:52 pm

    So, I totally know it’s weak to have an “allowance”, but it freaking saves us. If we didn’t my husband would buy endless amounts of wasteful crud. Putting a cap on it while simultaneously saying, “here, have a little fun”, is the only way to keep me from losing my mind. For example, our cable and satellite TV bill just rose by $40/month. Our son and I never watch said satellite TV, but my husband swears he does, although I never see him watch it. I think he feels like that bill is as normal as having an electricity bill or water bill. Ugh, feeling hopless.

    • Sarah September 3, 2018, 7:53 pm

      No need to judge your allowance as “weak” – it’s working for you, doing you good by putting a cap on your spouse’s spending. That’s so great!
      A few thoughts on cable/satellite tv: At first I was thinking that $40 a month was a lot to spend on tv, but then I re-read what you wrote and saw that it’s $40 MORE per month than the previous amount you were already paying – so it’s quite a bit of money. (Just an observation that I realize you already agree with and are pained by.) So:
      1. I wonder if you call the cable company and tell them that you need to cancel, if they’d find a way to give you the old introductory rate again.
      2. If you and your son never watch, it sounds like your husband’s personal hobby – which he can spend his own allowance on…
      3. Many thousands or millions of people have given up cable and satellite tv by finding what they like to watch online at little or no cost. So your husband swears he watches but you’ve never seen him watch… is there a way to see what’s been watched? If so, you could then see if the show or shows he likes are available online.
      4. Perhaps you could tempt him to cut the cable by bribing him with an increase in allowance by $10 per month – which will come out of the amount saved on the former cable bill, and then you can invest the rest. (You could ask him to try it for three months and promise that if living without it is such horrible torture, he can order the service again.) After a while, you can say “Look, honey, this is what our cable bill has turned into – our net worth is growing because of your courageous move to let go of tv-watching. I’m proud of you – perhaps you felt like tv was equal to electricity or water, and you’ve found that you can live without it and even improve our lives, as we’re now spending more time together and saving more money so we won’t have to work till we’re a million years old.”

      Good luck. Don’t feel hopeless – all the mustachians are with you. You’re doing great.

  • Garrett March 4, 2017, 9:40 pm

    “…The type that allows my own family to live on $700 per person per month.” – Can you add an asterisk here that links to the comment saying “This is with a totally paid off house”? Because as a renter, there’s nearly 0 way I can live on $700/mo without living in a shithole, or going back to live with family.

  • Em-Dog September 22, 2020, 7:47 am

    This has for sure been the hardest part for me. The frugality and the saving come easy to me but my SO was raised by parents who don’t bat an eye at spending $500 on a meal out, buy over $100 bottles of wine regularly, and both have brand new cars (Gigantic cars with no one to tote around). My SO gets it sometimes but still always wants to buy the most expensive version of everything.. I can’t figure out how to convince him that the utility of most name brand products and generic are exactly the same. Funny thing is he hates his job so much that he has everything to gain from living a MMM lifestyle but luckily I’m the main earner so I can actually do most of the saving. An ongoing battle no doubt

  • Lifetap March 12, 2021, 6:14 am

    Thanks for the tips!


Leave a Reply

To keep things non-promotional, please use a real name or nickname
(not Blogger @ My Blog Name)

The most useful comments are those written with the goal of learning from or helping out other readers – after reading the whole article and all the earlier comments. Complaints and insults generally won’t make the cut here, but by all means write them on your own blog!


welcome new readers

Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets