‘Stache’s Out For Summer…

I’m writing this from an unusually clean desk, in a spotless and nicely vacuumed office, within a mostly polished and decluttered house. This, along with the tying up of a bunch of other loose ends, is why I haven’t been writing to you as much recently.

The Mustache family has been hard at work for the past week or so, preparing for a record-breaking trip to Canada (almost 8 weeks this time!). The stars of fortune have aligned yet again, and I have rented out our main house to the same family that stayed here the last two years. This means that our otherwise-empty house will again be paying for most of the trip, and that Mr. and Mrs. MM have to bust their butts to get this place in guest-ready condition. Scrubbing every last faucet and mirror, hiding the underwear and confidential documents, and other related tasks. In the end, it should work out just like last year, as noted in Making Money while Taking Vacations. We’re leaving on Saturday, June 23rd.

All this cleaning effort could be viewed as a hassle, but I like to think of it as a big plus instead. We’re not the Clean Freak type, so we could easily let the dust pile up in more obscure parts of the house for many years without this annual ritual. How often do you completely empty your kitchen “Junk Drawer”, purge unneeded items from your clothes closet, or polish the wood crown molding way above your cabinets? For me, it would normally be approximately never. But now we’re feeling lean and mean… except for the secret pile of full cardboard boxes under the basement stairs.

Travel arrangements will be fun as usual. The lady and the boy are jetting directly to the house of the grandparents, leaving me to take a solo bachelor roadtrip across the country with the van full of tools and party supplies. I’ve got a great place to stay in Chicago (and may even meet up with some Mustachians there), but that leaves the first night open for options. So I’ll throw this out there just in case:

Will Work For Couch

Do YOU live in the Des Moines, Iowa area along I-80? Do you expect to find yourself with an underused couch on the evening of June 23rd? If so, get in touch with me through the contact button! I can provide entertainment, advice, treats from the Triple M Microbrewery, or any other appropriate thank-you gift. Despite the easy availability of hotels along the route, my tradition on these solo trips is to be more unconventional in accommodation.  Sometimes I meet friends. Other times I’ll use the van as a camper at a quiet rest area or a luxury hotel’s parking lot. The tiny bit of adventure definitely adds to the experience.

So I’ll be writing less for those 8 weeks. Maybe. Sometimes I can’t stop myself, so maybe I’ll write more.

Speaking of lots of writing, have you checked out the new feature on the right sidebar of the main page? A brilliant programmer named Brian Richards whipped up a quick PHP template for WordPress that automatically fetches all the MMM article titles since the beginning of time, and puts them in a chronological list for easy scrolling.  Here’s the link: https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/all/ . (Thank you very much for this, Brian!)

So while my writing may be slow in the summer time, the list of topics which must be covered never stops growing. I’ve got no choice but to keep writing on this blog for a long, long time yet.

And just for fun, I’ll give you a peek at what is to come when free time returns. An exclusive look behind the scenes into Mr. Money Mustache’s Drafts Folder!!

Some of these mostly written, other are just ideas, and surely some will never see the light of day. The titles may change. But they’re all still waiting there, taunting me and asking to be published when the time comes.

What else do you think we should add to this list? Let me know in the comments section below.

Managed Payout Funds – Automatic Grocery Buying Machines for the Early Retiree
This Blog is Now Making some Serious Dough – Here’s How
An Amazing New Prescription Medication
News Flash: Parenting is Hard. Suck it Up.
Fancy New Appliances, for Less than Zero Dollars?
Are You Using Work as an Excuse to Accomplish Nothing?
The Good Life: it All Depends on Who You Ask
What it Feels Like to Become Rich
Mr. Money Mustache vs. the Internet Retirement Police
Quality over Quantity
Mr. Money Mustache vs. Peak Oil
The Practical Benefits of Outrageous Optimism
Recovering from the Pack Rat Years
Mr. Money Mustache vs. Income Inequality
How Much is that Other Bitch Costin’ Ya?
Reader Case Study: Portland Man Thinks He’s Doing Well
My 401k is Too Small to Retire, Waah, Waah!
A Plug-in Electric Hybrid – at 75% off?
Guest Post: Integrity for Frugality (from Jason)
Fasting: a Fast Way to Greater Badassity
MMM Baseline lifestyles
Getting Rich vs. Raising your Children
Introducing The MBN (Mustachian Blogging Network)
It’s Never too Late to Ditch your Gas Guzzler
The Delightful Randomness of Being Human
Learning to Identify Ridiculousness
MMM’s Best (Worst) Criticisms and Complaints
The 21 hour work week
Food and Utility Cost Comparisons
Ten commandments and quotations of Mustachianism
Wealth is something that is created, not just divided
The Joy of Living off your Past Self
Ensuring Riches for your Children
Mrs. Money Mustache: Finding a Meaningful Christmas
Big House vs. Small House
Index Funds or Individual Stocks for Expert Investors?
The Measure of Power
Why Retiring at 35 is Easier than Retiring at 65
Where Frugality and First Class Intersect
The Economist’s take on Investing right now
Is Cycling More Dangerous than Driving?
Cash and Asset Allocation: Turning your Idle Employees into an Armed Militia
Housing: Rent or Buy?
Why are Jobs both Plentiful and Scarce?
Is Mr. Money Mustache a Smug Asshat?
The Magic of Knowing People
Things Mr. Money Mustache is NOT
Dave’s high income low savings dilemma
Should I Increase My Income?
King for Just One Day
Life Cycle Funds: Become a Dynamic Fancypants Investor with No Effort
Mr. Money Mustache gets asked for Dating Advice
MMM Family Actually Uses Car
This Beer is Ridiculous
Strength in the Face of Cozy Surplus
Why We are Not Really All Doomed
Get more out of Life – with Good Stress
Protecting your Money Mustache from Spendy Friends
Budgeting for Irresponsibility
Connoisseur: a Fancy Word for Consumer
Mr. Money Mustache attempts to get Ripped with P90x program
You only live once – so should you spend all your money?
The joy of Old Computers
Student Loans: Modern Necessity, or just Really Dumb?
Get Rich by not being Afraid of being Poor
Midnight Update: Mustache Cash Stash
CNN Top Ten Money Wasters

Yup.. I’ve got my work cut out for me – and that’s just the start of it.

  • Mike June 17, 2012, 10:22 pm

    Damn, I totally lived in DSM until November in which case I would let you crash no problem. If you’re up for great beer along your route, I highly recommend Bell’s in Kalamazoo, MI.

    • Mason June 18, 2012, 10:17 am

      I totally agree with Mike. I recently did a brewery tour though Indiana and Michigan and Bell’s had some of the best beer of the entire trip. They definitely have one of the better brew pubs I’ve ever visited. Every beer on tap was really high quality stuff.

      Also, Short’s Brewing comes highly recommended, but you can only find their stuff in Michigan.

      Have a fun trip and enjoy!

      • Amber March 31, 2014, 2:22 pm

        I know this is a couple years later, but I love Shorts! The Soft Parade is my favorite and the atmosphere of the bar is so unique. I actually had my bachelorette party there! The bands that play there are always amazing :)

  • Kath1213 June 17, 2012, 10:27 pm


    What an “advanture” in more ways than one!

    Impressive summer plans and even more impressive Drafts Folder.

    I love that you clean your place from top to bottom for your renters to enjoy…a nice and sincere touch.

    For the Draft Folder – An area I’m starting to explore is dog/housesitting for extra income. (Housesitting in Boulder as I type). Have any “Do’s and Don’ts” to share?

    Safe & happy travels to you, Mrs. & Mini Moustache :-)

    • JJ June 18, 2012, 12:33 am

      +1 on impressive Drafts Folder.

      Bon voyage!

  • Allison June 17, 2012, 10:51 pm

    I read “Are you using work as an excuse to accomplish nothing?” and immediately answered “yes” in my head…sad…I look forward to that post. Until then, cheers to what sounds like an amazing road trip! If you deviate off course into Alaska, give me a call…we may need some advice or face punches – summer up here gets a little out of control.

    • Uncephalized June 18, 2012, 7:45 am

      Yeah, that one rang a little too true for me as well.

      But that is why we must continually become more badass, so that we do not let little things like spending 1/3 of our life in a box stop us from crushing our obstacles underfoot!

    • poko June 18, 2012, 2:35 pm

      Yes, same! I’m actually switching jobs this week, but until then, nothing is getting done :(

    • KittyWrestler June 18, 2012, 2:45 pm

      Yeah, I like to see this title too!!!! Most of the titles are so interesting. I just can’t wait to read them all!

    • Ed June 18, 2012, 8:09 pm

      “Are you using work as an excuse to accomplish nothing?”

      I think I know where you’re going with that one. I could use a good face-punching in that department. Looking forward to it.

  • mike crosby June 17, 2012, 10:52 pm

    Enjoy the summer and I look forward to more wonderful posts.

    An acquaintance who lives in Laguna Beach rents out his house for $5K/week. And his house is not even close to the ocean. He then flies himself, his wife and 5 children to an all-inclusive resort.

    Even with air fare and such, he still comes out making money.

    That’s why I like a website called “HomeExchange.com”, but you can even do one better, because you already have a wide audience who trusts you.

    I believe there is a growth potential on home sharing. How about forming cells of around 20-25 and within that cell sharing homes and vacation homes? I have a cabin that’s vacant 90% of the time. It’d be nice to stay in someone’s home rather than paying $100-$300/night in a hotel.

    • DP June 18, 2012, 7:29 am

      Great idea – maybe there could be a subcategory of the Mustachian Marketplace on the forum for “Home Exchange.”

    • Gerard June 18, 2012, 8:21 am

      I like this. I have a condo in Toronto that’s empty more than half the time (well, not t2012-13, when I spend my sabbatical in it, but…)

    • mary w June 18, 2012, 2:37 pm

      Great idea! I live in San Diego and have a condo in Palm Springs. At any given time at least one of them is vacant.

      • Mr. Money Mustache June 18, 2012, 2:50 pm

        Hey! I would definitely be interested in renting one of those from you someday, Mary! The MMM family loves San Diego and Palm Springs could be nice too in the cooler seasons.

      • win June 19, 2012, 12:29 pm

        List it on airbnb.com

        That’s where I rented a house in LA. You can rent a room for $50/night or a house for $10,000/week and everything in between.

  • Mr. Risky Startup June 17, 2012, 11:49 pm

    Welcome home, eh!

  • John Everett June 18, 2012, 1:26 am

    Have a good trip!

    I like the idea about buying a used computer vs a new one, particularly when written by a former tech guy.

  • catalana June 18, 2012, 2:53 am

    +1 for reading “Are You Using Work as an Excuse to Accomplish Nothing?” and nodding….

    I would also like to see you tackle the housing cost versus commute time/cost dilemma. In most big cities it is hard to find accommodation in a reasonably nice area that is also affordable whilst also being a short commute to work.

    Another idea (generated by a thread I have just read) is looking at whether you are better off living somewhere cheap and earning less, or going for the high income / high cost location. What would deliver FI quicker?

    I hope you enjoy your hols anyway. When I started reading, i thought you were “cleaning for the burglars” as we call it. But no, you are smarter than us, so you clean for the tenants. Clever!

    • Yuriy June 18, 2012, 9:07 am

      • catalana June 18, 2012, 12:56 pm

        Perhaps I wasn’t very clear Yuriy, but that doesn’t look at the possibility that with every mile you knock off your commute you may be adding $$$$s onto your housing cost. That was what I was aiming at, and I think MMM misses this somewhat whenever he argues for living near work.

        • Mr. Money Mustache June 18, 2012, 2:46 pm

          No I don’t! Of course houses near work often cost more. But I tried to calculate all that in detail in the True Cost of Commuting:

          “In other words, a logical person should be willing to pay about $15,900 more for a house that is one mile closer to work, and $477,000 more for a house that is 30 miles closer to work. For a double-commuting couple, these numbers are $31,800 and $954,000. ”

          If your housing costs rise even faster than that as you approach work, then car-commuting may become logical again. But usually if things are that expensive, it’s time to look for a new place to live anyway.

  • lecodecivil June 18, 2012, 5:18 am

    I can’t wait to read the “MMM vs. Peak Oil” article! I read some books on it a few years back, one guy in particular seemed to think the peak would have been in the last 5 years. Would very much like to see your take on it.

  • rjack June 18, 2012, 6:15 am

    Oh man…if I don’t get my regular dose of MMM, I’m going to FREAK out! I guess I’ll just have to reread some of the old posts.

    MMM – Have a great summer!

    • TrekMan June 18, 2012, 8:54 am

      I’m with you on that one. I’ve even got one of my co workers hooked on this page. Ah well, maybe Brave New Life will post up a couple of extra times in MMMs absence.

  • Emma June 18, 2012, 6:18 am

    I think it would be fascinating to see you dive deeper into the Housing discussion. I noticed that my idea of a “nice” place/area differs greatly from my peers, friends, family, etc. (which is why I save so much $$!)

    It would be great to see some reader case-studies, or polls, about where people live and how much they pay and what kind of housing it is.

  • Truelove June 18, 2012, 6:53 am

    My suggestion is to take a break from writing and enjoy the summer weather. I have already hiked the two trails (see links) below which are both amazing. I would suggest that you try check them out since you will be in the vicinty.



  • Trevor June 18, 2012, 7:28 am

    Looks like a great list. The one topic I’ve wanted to mention for a while would be sustainable building. If you’re headed back north, it’s a great time to check out some great buildings in the GTA. This area of Canada has some pretty amazing things happening with regard to the Green Building movement. The Canadian guru is this guy:


    What’s more Mustachian than a building that produces it’s own energy, and treats its own waste?! Check out Canada’s Greenest Home…


    Here’s the program I took, with links to most of the projects. Most are public buildings that can be toured. Madoc has a special place in my heart, and its on your way to Ottawa!


    Once you get back home you can check out a couple organizations in your area, including the largest international straw bale builders conference.



    With your interest in building, frugality, and saving the planet, I’d sure like to hear a post about Green Building!

    Feel free to contact me if you want more info. Enjoy your summer!

  • Arbor33 June 18, 2012, 7:42 am

    I know it wouldn’t be much help at the tail end of your trip, but if you need to crash in Alexandria Bay, NY while you’re following the St. Lawrence River you’re plenty welcome to swing by my place.

    I’ll lend you a bed in exchange for a mild face punch or two for my folks.

    Either way, happy travels!

  • win June 18, 2012, 7:54 am

    Oh, good, now I’ve got eight weeks to complain about my taxes, without having my comments deleted. :)

  • Heath June 18, 2012, 8:00 am

    HOLY JESUS!! My brain was somehow salivating when reading those future post titles. I saw approximately 1 Hojillion posts that piqued my interest. I too nodded my head at the depressing “Are You Using Work as an Excuse to Accomplish Nothing?” title. Sigh… And who is the “Other Bitch”?

    Request: I would like to see a post on what are the most important Mustache-friendly aspects to any city, followed by an actual list of cities that you consider Mustache-friendly (worldwide, if possible). The comments would be helpful in that post as well, since your diverse reader-base could point out other cities that possess the defined attributes.

    Enjoy your vacation! If I wasn’t living in Brazil and otherwise based in Phoenix (i.e. The Opposite Direction of your travels), I would offer my couch. Perhaps in future years, when you want to visit south-western California or something. I know I could use some personalized Mustachian tips from the master himself :-)

    Also, am I the only one who read today’s title to the tune of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”?

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 18, 2012, 3:42 pm

      I hope you’re not the only one, Heath! That is exactly the song you’re supposed to sing when you read this title. And it has been playing in my head all day as I’m continuing to get stuff ready for the trip.

  • aspiringyogini June 18, 2012, 8:02 am

    Happy and Safe Traveling MMM! I’m sure you’ll find a reader who will give you a couch, but I have had people contact me of a place to stay on couchsurfing.org and it has been interesting.

    I was intrigued with the title, “Is Mr. Money Mustache a Smug Asshat?” because my husband just explained to me recently the definition of asshat. He should know, he owns dozens of unused of hats and visors while I reluctantly wear the one I own against the sun while in the garden.

    I am curious to where you do hide your personal and financial documents when you leave your place to rent. Do you really just place them under the stairs and is this area secured? Also, what do you consider personal enough to stuff away: your clothes, jewelry, tools, guns or weapons??? Once in a rental I stored old bikes and Christmas ornaments in the attic and all that stuff disappeared and I don’t know which renter took it because there were several in the three years that I forgot and then remembered about the stuff.

    I do like the idea of an incentive to clean out all the junk and I would like to have my house renter ready from time to time.

  • Rod June 18, 2012, 8:35 am

    First time commenting, just love this site. Changed my silly ways of spending. Now ‘stashing, living life fuller. wearing out bicycle tires!! Thanks MMM!! I feel better. I have a place for you to stay in Bloomington Illinois. Not TOO far from Des Moines, Love to have the honor of you hanging out, on your epic journey. It’s the least I can do for you. Let me know!!

  • TrekMan June 18, 2012, 8:40 am

    As long as we’re talking about articles we’d like to see, I would love to hear your take on video games. How much time per week is acceptable for a mustachian to spend playing video games?

    About a year ago I gave away my PlayStation and Wii. I gave them up because I tend to get sucked in and spend too much time on them, neglecting things that are more important. This week, a friend of mine gave me a guest pass for Diablo 3 and I’ve wasted about 5 hours this weekend on it.

    • DaftShadow June 18, 2012, 11:15 am

      Hey Trekman,

      Check out “The Power Of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. Seriously recommend this book. I’d give you MMM’s affiliate link, but I can’t find it, so you’ll just have to search amazon yourself, or whatever ebook provider you enjoy. :)

      It’s a collection of the latest in habit research and discusses everything major that is known about how habits work, how they inerface in the brain, stay/change, get recalled, and also how the brain itself reacts when the habits are being executed.

      Because here’s some honesty for you: While you’re on the right path with giving away the video game systems (or cancelling your cable, not buying cigarettes / ice cream, etc.), I can see that you’re also discovering that it’s a somewhat illusory control! Changing your environment works great… until something else shows up, like a traumatic life event, a good advertising campaign, a well-meaning friend, new girlfriend – and changes it back! Suddenly you’re executing old behaviors you thought you were past, and you don’t even realize it because it’s almost on autopilot! Then all the shame shows up, the frustration, and you start banging your head against the wall fighting both yourself and the habits. A whole collection of things that can spiral together and screw with your head.

      There is a path thru this, but it will require a a deep craving to build yourself anew in many ways, and lot of effort creating new mental pathways so you can automate and solidify the behaviors you want.

      There’s so much more in this book – I could probably write a guest-post/book-report. Check it out. Any questions, let me know man.

      ~ DaftShadow
      * So you know, the first half is all about individual and corporate habits (which also apply very strongly on the individual level), and the second half is about societal habits and how they interact. A lot of people – myself included – found the second half to be quite unpolished. That being said, the first half was rock solid and absolutely worth the read! Promise me you won’t short-change the book because the second half sucks! :)

      • TrekMan June 18, 2012, 2:11 pm

        Thanks for the response. This has actually been on my read list for a while. I’m currently 109 on a waiting list at the local library.

        I would like to play video games for an hour or two on the weekend and be done with it for a while. So far its something that I’m not good at balancing. When I was in college I would give my roommate’s girlfriend my games during finals week so I could study.

        I work full time, I’m taking an intro college course on accounting and I’m just starting on building a tumbleweed small house. I’m busy enough that I don’t have a lot of time to chill out. While I was playing the game yesterday, it was awesome, but toward hour 4 I started to feel guilty about slacking off.

        Do you have any suggestions for a way to modulate a habit? I’d like to play games from time to time casually, without going overboard.

        • George June 18, 2012, 8:02 pm

          The bad thing about video games is that they involve a constantly changing skill set so you end up having to spend massive amounts of time learning new maps, levels, weapon combos, character builds, glitches, etc. Funny enough Halo 3 is what finally caused me to stop playing video games. I didn’t get it when it was brand new and when I finally switched over from Halo 2 I was so far behind in multi-player that I just died the whole time… so I quit.

          If I were to recommend an alternative to traditional video gaming it would be to play retro and modded games. This way you just play an old favorite for an hour or two for nostalgia and then move on. This way you don’t have to spend hours updating your skill set to beat a level. One video game that is really good for this is Super Mario World. The original is pretty easy and you can rock through it in a couple of hours, then maybe spend a couple more hours the next day beating every stage. Maybe do a speed run or two a different day. After that you can go to http://www.smwcentral.net/ and download mods (some are entire new worlds) that people have made for Super Mario World. A lot of mods are extremely professional and artistic, just start with the ones that are rated the highest and work your way down.

          • TrekMan June 19, 2012, 7:44 am

            Thanks for the tip, I will have to check that out when I get home. You’re right that Mario games tend not to be quite as time consuming as some of the other games.

            I have a Mac, will I be able to run the system / mods on my computer. Those actually sound really cool.

        • Tim June 18, 2012, 10:04 pm

          Have you tried board games or cards with some friends? It’s a low tech way to have fun and do something challenging. The thing about video games, and excessive Internet use (I am guilty of this), is the brain releases dopamine and when it hits the receptors, it causes those good feelings. When you play excessively, you become like that rat with an electrode implanted into its brain. In case you don’t know about that experiment, the rat self-stimulates to the exclusion of all other activities, including eating.

          • TrekMan June 19, 2012, 7:39 am

            It’s funny that you mention not eating. There have been times when I was really hungry but I didn’t feel like stopping to eat.

            I read a book called flow a while back. Flow experiences revolve around having clear goals, prompt feedback to determine success or failure and the task should be difficult enough to use your skills to their maximum. The difficulty shouldn’t be so high that you routinely fail.

            Video games tap into all of those mechanisms. The goal is clear, kill all of the things, get to the end etc. The feedback is prompt and clear, you either die or the monsters die. The difficulty is adjustable, so it can be tweaked to hit the sweet spot.

            The problem is that very few things in my life feel so instantly rewarding in the moment as video games. Granted that the sense of accomplishment is completely superficial.

            The thing that stops me from playing video games is I look at my friends who play a lot of video games and ask myself, are these the people you want to be like. After that I usually have to go home, get on my bike, eat a salad and kiss my wonderful wife.

            • Arbor33 June 20, 2012, 5:03 am

              Maybe it’d help to think about them like I do. When you play video games, all you’re doing is satisfying conditions in the code. If player kills “X”, player gets “Y” points. It’s so boring when you see it like that. You’re not winning a war, or saving a town, or doing anything spectacular like it leads you to believe. You’re siting in front of a television and you’re not learning or doing anything that can be applied elsewhere in life. I’ve never really had an interest in video games though so it’s easy for me to talk like this. I’ve also seen multiple friends become some of the most boring people I know because of their “addiction”. Find a more productive hobby and replace gaming with something that’s better for you. Good luck!

        • DaftShadow June 20, 2012, 5:43 pm

          Thanks for the tough question! I won’t claim to be an expert on habits, but I am happy to pass along what I know (or think I know). :)

          To start off with, you need some background so you can think about this in the right frame of reference. In the brain, memory and thought occur in many places, but for our generic purposes, there are two places of importance: the neocortex, and the basal ganglia.

          The neocortex is where conscious thought occurs, thinking with proactivity, imagination, making connections. The basal ganglia is the “habit center” of the brain, thinking in emotions, instincts, fear-responses; and is entirely reactive. Habit memory is only accessible by the basal ganglia, and conscious memory only by the neocortex. (IMPORTANT!) Just like with all memories, they are both created and stored using the same biomechanical process of linked neurons. And The more often you access the memory, the stronger its links become (repetition).

          A good way to think of them is that the Basal Ganglia is a Horse, and the Neocortex is its Jockey.

          How they interact is also interesting. Every time you do ANYTHING (typing, speaking, running, mathematics…), your body is sending signals thru the whole brain. Both the Basal Ganglia AND the Neocortex see these signals (although the BG sees them first…). The Basal Ganglia then records certain things, like emotions/movements, visual queues, physical steps taken, etc. And the more you repeat something, the deeper/more connected the memory that is recorded. This is important because the more connected things get, the faster you can execute them, which is the whole point of this evolutionary advantage! You know how when you first start learning something (e.g. typing), you have to carefully and consciously find every letter, but the more you practice you finally reach a point where you don’t need to think about the letters anymore? That’s the basal ganglia taking over. The BG knows where the letters should be and how to move your fingers automatically, so when the neocortex says “type this text”, the basal ganglia executes the instructions without issue.

          In each habit there’s a cue/routine/reward. Some thing, the CUE, makes you want to do the ROUTINE, and there’s some good REWARD during or after the process that you like. Once your body starts to CRAVE the good thing at the end, then it becomes an ingrained habit.

          Why this matters… Specific to your situation, you have been deeply recording a series of behaviors for many many years. Your Basal Ganglia has become an expert at executing these behaviors, because in the past it always received good feedback, and so it got faster and stronger. All behaviors are like this.

          Fast forward to today. Your neocortex has realized that behavior X is no longer as useful as it once was. It doesn’t fit your long term goals. So every time an opportunity comes up to do behavior X, your mind says “no no no!” and your basal ganglia says “fuck off! I *love* doing this!”

          The basal ganglia has absolutely no connection to the neocortex, nor any ability to reason. It’s just the horse. It executes what it’s been trained to do. And you’ve trained it to play video games for hours on end.

          Which now gets us to your actual question…

          You want to play video games without going overboard. In order to figure out a way to do this, you must think about what your Basal Ganglia wants to do… In the eyes of your BG, playing games is FANTASTIC. It’s a strongly preferred option, with strong connections to powerful emotions. So when you start doing it, the other parts of your brain actually shut down slightly because your BG gets dominant and takes over. It doesn’t matter anymore that your momentary pleasure has decreased; the momentum of your past pleasure is carrying the BG to continue executing, continue looking for the level of emotional high it got before.

          So, if you feel that it’s worthwhile to keep playing the games*, then you need to attack the habits themselves directly. The best way to do this is by changing your routine. Don’t just make the routine impossible (selling the playstation), but actively change the routine to something you want, such as turning on a 20 minute timer when you start the game, and quitting the INSTANT the timer goes off. Something repeatable, almost pavlovian. The idea is to have the same cue (whatever makes you want to play games), and the same reward (the playing of games), but with a new routine. As you continue repeating this new habit, the basal ganglia will create a new habit more in line with what you want. The old one won’t go away, but the new one may become the preferred option if you can cultivate a deep enough craving to succeed at it.

          Remember: The old habit will never go away! Your basal ganglia will ALWAYS want to play the games for hours and hours. BUT, if you keep focusing on different habits as more important, you will eventually overpower the old ones and cause your basal ganglia to choose new ones instead. This is far more powerful than “staying away from games” because it gives you a way to control them when they show up instead. Well, except when you don’t have a timer handy… :)

          Read the book, it says things so much better than I have. Seriously. PM me your email using the MMM forums, and we’ll see if I can help get you ahead of the line on that waiting list.

          ~ DaftShadow
          p.p.s. I have completely ignored willpower, for a reason. YES, you can will youself to stop taking any action, including deeply ingrained overpowering habits. However, willpower can only overpower things when you have willpower to spare… So if you choose to play games when you want to unwind, this also means you are probably exhausted. Since executing willpower draws from the same pool of sugar reserves as your body does to expend energy, It doesn’t really matter how strong you feel you should be here, if you feel the need to relax and do some gaming, you probably also don’t have enough left to persuade yourself to stop. “Willpower”, by Roy Baumeister, is a fantastic read on this topic.
          * based on everything you’ve heard, I urge you to carefully consider if you actually want to focus energy here, or if it is merely an old craving popping up that’s never gone away. Does the gaming give you something you actively want for yourself?

  • Bella June 18, 2012, 9:20 am

    Have a great time – looks like fun
    Here is what I want as a future article – a sample menu for the week for the MM’s. I really try hard to get our grocery bill down, the only processed or ready to eat food we eat a month is probably 1-2 bags of chips and 1-2 boxes of cereal. I do know that we probably eat a little bit too much (not getting bigger, but could stand to be smaller). But I’m at $600 a month – and I’m comfortable with the quality of the food I’m buying (yea, I pay more for the milk delivered from the dairy – but that can’t be the only difference). I just wish I could compare apples to apples a little bit better – what would we have to do to get to your level of spending? Would we have to eat more vegetarian – adopt a singificant portion of our protein to come from whey powder. Simply eat less? Anyway – I’d love to see a piece with some real detail in this area, since it’s where I struggle.

    • mary w June 18, 2012, 2:44 pm

      I’d like to see a post on this also. In the meantime you might want to look at his post on Is Costco Worth It? By seeing what he buys there you get an idea of what they eat.

      • Bella June 19, 2012, 11:18 am

        That’s just it – I’ve got an idea – but I must be missing something.
        I still need to actually track my spending to see how much I’m using in each catagory – like is it really just the diapers
        Basically I’m holding up the MMMs as the gold standard – and seeing what I’m getting for money differently than them. And there are areas that I will defintly spend more for what I want – but there are other areas – that I might not if I knew…

  • DaftShadow June 18, 2012, 9:34 am

    Have a great time on the road! I’m doing some traveling myself too right now. It’s great to have time to take a canoe with the little lady and just hang out.

    In case you get bored, I parsed your list and found the items that caught my interest the most. Figured you might enjoy the input. :)

    ~ DaftShadow
    – Are You Using Work as an Excuse to Accomplish Nothing?
    – Mr. Money Mustache vs. Income Inequality
    – MMM Baseline lifestyles (I’m assuming this was my suggestion from a previous post on people’s lives at different points in their journey. If not, then that’s my add’l suggestion. :)
    – Where Frugality and First Class Intersect
    – Why are Jobs both Plentiful and Scarce?
    – Get Rich by not being Afraid of being Poor
    – Mr. Money Mustache gets asked for Dating Advice (because who doesn’t love the tabloids! :)

  • George June 18, 2012, 11:20 am

    Safe travels MM family! You guys have a bed in Memphis if you’re ever swinging through here. Enjoy your time in Canada.

  • GWalk June 18, 2012, 11:27 am

    I’m loving this the most: Getting Rich vs. Raising your Children

    This might be related or segue into a separate post, but we’ve just started into child-rearing – 1 year old and 3 year old. I want to stay home, but make more than the hubbs. We are on a 4 year plan until my individual FI but we’ll still need income to become totally FI at a later date (10 years from now?). He’s not thrilled about me staying home because we won’t financially be as “well-off” as we could be or be FI earlier, etc. And to be completely honest he is and probably will be resentfull fo it. I’ve heard the “I want to be done too” comments more than a few times. I’ll find some small money makers along the way, but being with your kids when it matters seems to make more sense than being totally FI at this stage in the game. If only MMM was around 10 years ago, we’d have been punched in the face and on track already… never too late though! So, this post hits home and hopefully it hits very close to home!

    • Heath June 18, 2012, 1:39 pm

      +1 on the “Getting Rich vs. Raising your Children” post. My wife and I have been considering having children at some point in the future, but I really want to know what that would mean in terms of our financial future. I couldn’t see myself working full-time for the first 5 or 6 years of my children’s lives. It would be part-time, or no kids. It might mean the difference between early retirement and normal (i.e. 55+) retirement. That is incredibly wince-worthy…

      • GWalk June 21, 2012, 9:49 am

        Heath, you are in such a great position. Just that you are looking at it this way bodes well for any of your outcomes! When we decided to start, it was solely based on our ages, not income/savings/nada! And take heart, raising kids is not as crazy expensive as it seems. If you are smart, shop craigslist, JBF consignment sales, garage sales for clothes, breastfeed, cloth diaper… you can get it done for about $750 the first and second year…. and only gets cheaper from there. I’ve got a large network of Moms and have bought clothes from them super (garage sale) cheap among other things. If you don’t have childcare costs, the parenting world is your oyster!

    • Dave June 18, 2012, 2:05 pm

      Putting this here in case you folks haven’t seen it. It might answer some of your questions.


    • GregK June 19, 2012, 7:41 am

      Hm… sounds like an odd dynamic. If you’re married, how can you have “individual FI”? Also, why isn’t the husband the one considering staying home with the kids if he makes less? You might also want to run the numbers on one or both of you stopping work now until your youngest is in school, and then going back to part/full-time employment for a while until you hit your threshold for being “totally FI”. Could be the best option for you and for your kids.

      A few other MMM articles you should check out if you haven’t read them yet:





      • Bella June 19, 2012, 10:57 am

        I don’t get that either – it sounds like you’re making the unilateral (if he’s that resentful he doesn’t agree with it) decision to stop working and ‘forcing’ him to continue. I don’t see how this could end well for your family. Perhaps investigation into part time work scenarios for both of you could get you to a compromise, or maybe you could help him see that when you’re home – you would pick up some of the household chores that are ‘his’ right now? Not some vague promise of ‘maybe I’ll get some part time work’ – but real concrete examples of ‘this is what I’m doing for the family’ – so he isn’t left feeling like the odd man out whose stuck going to work while you sit at home and eat bon bons (not sayign that’s what you’re doing but you need to make sure he doesn’t feel that way)

        • GWalker June 21, 2012, 9:41 am

          Oh, Bella! You must not have children! Not a bad thing… just saying that only someone without them would even dream of using the bon-bons statement! ;-)
          I do agree about making him see what it means to the family and I’ve been trying for sure! He’ll see the light! haha!

        • GWalk June 21, 2012, 9:55 am

          GregK, thanks for sharing some of those links – hadn’t read the equally shared parenting one! And also for your ideas/insights! “Individual FI” was not a great way to phrase it… more like doing away with the need for my income. It will happen soon I pray! He would totally stay home with the kiddos and we definitely consider it… it’s time to stop considering and move to some sort of action!

  • Guitarist June 18, 2012, 11:39 am

    It’s Never too Late to Ditch your Gas Guzzler

    should be changed to

    It’s Never too Early to Ditch your Gas Guzzler

    Those are some nice titles you’ve got in the drafts folder. I am looking forward to reading them! Enjoy your summer and drive safe!

  • Leigh June 18, 2012, 11:46 am

    I’m particularly curious for this one: “Mr. Money Mustache gets asked for Dating Advice”.

    Have a good summer up in Canada!

  • smedleyb June 18, 2012, 12:58 pm

    Have a great trip MMM!

  • Alexandre June 18, 2012, 1:05 pm

    Did you tell your guests you’ve got a Realist living in the basement? Actually, it’s been a while since the poor sod was last let out of his cage. When did you last poke him with a stick? :)

  • Greg June 18, 2012, 1:43 pm

    Here’s an idea for an article: I would like you to tear apart the government’s claim that it costs $235k to raise a child: http://tinyurl.com/bvro4b2.

    I can’t imagine that it costs anywhere near this amount, even for anti-Mustachians, and I know you would have a lot of fun with the nonsense inherent in deriving such a number.

  • Sergey June 18, 2012, 1:51 pm

    How about Lincoln, NE? Not too far away from Des Moines.

  • nicholas cook June 18, 2012, 2:04 pm

    I would love to see articles like:

    Managed Payout Funds – Automatic Grocery Buying Machines for the Early Retiree.

    And, A Plug-in Electric Hybrid – at 75% off.

    Have a great trip!

  • Linden June 18, 2012, 2:17 pm

    I am very interested in the fasting article. I have been toying with doing this and could use your kick in the butt to get going.

    If you ever come to Alaska, my husband and I have a couch waiting for you! (Mrs. m would fit, too.)

  • andria June 18, 2012, 3:18 pm

    I would like to see an article about investing in funds with Vanguard or Fidelity verse doing it yourself through Scottrade but using a roth and IRA. I recently rolled everything over and I am managing it. I think I am going to make more this way. I have already noticed that when the market takes hits my stocks are bot and I am seeing all of the dividend payments instead of sharing them. Am I on to something here???????

  • Mike June 18, 2012, 4:40 pm

    I think the next one should be student loans. I can’t think of very many people that don’t have them and some feel it’s completely necessary. College is expensive and a lot of people don’t have the luxury of having mommy and daddy pay for it. What do you think?

  • pachipres June 18, 2012, 9:33 pm

    I am just curious MMM. How many of these 8 weeks will you be at the in law’s cottage? Ontario lakes are really nice. Being from Ontario, I miss the lakes. Which lake are your in-laws on? I am pretty sure you mentioned sometime last year you spent quite a bit of time at a cottage in Ontario. I hope I am not confusing you with someone else though. Sorry if I am.

    • Mrs. Money Mustache June 19, 2012, 10:11 am

      We’ll likely be there quite a lot and MMM will be continuing his work there as well. There is no internet access there at all.

      The cottage is on a very small lake in Quebec.

  • The Head Hunter June 18, 2012, 10:22 pm

    8 weeks?!! 8 weeks?!! You sonofabitch! And after all I’ve done for you as a Mustachevangelist here in your Texas chapter, spreading the good word. I just want you to know that even though I’ll probably still check back every day for new posts, I’ll do so with a scowl… Good day sir!

    PS. Nice job on the fence, my man. That’s whatchya call Old World style craftsmanship

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 19, 2012, 11:49 am

      Don’t worry – it’s not that I’m going to stop writing for 8 weeks! If I had the ability to do that, I would have done it already. I’m bringing a laptop computer along and everything. I’ll just be in a different country during that time, so you’ll see interesting new pictures. Beavers and maple syrup and other Canadian things :-)

  • George June 18, 2012, 10:33 pm

    Sorry MMM, I live in Central PA. You can crash at my place sometime if you ever decide to do an East Coast trip.

    Sometime can you do an article on how in the early years you managed to get so many home renovation projects done while holding a full time software developer job?

    I also majored in Computer Engineering. My software related job can be mentally stressful at times and pays well (to build up the stash of course) but for some reason I have only 2-3 hours of endurance to do any home repair after work each day. How did you get the energy for this? Did you just drink a lot of coffee or is there more to it?

    I know this request sounds like: Are You Using Work as an Excuse to Accomplish Nothing? But I wasn’t sure if this is exact the angle you were going to take with this.

  • Jamesqf June 18, 2012, 11:01 pm

    I’d really like to see the post about turning your employees into an armed militia. Just for curiousity’s sake, honest. I have no employees at present.

  • Nurse Frugal June 19, 2012, 11:26 am

    Sounds like a fun trip!!!!! My husband and I have been thinking about doing the same thing when we are out of town, we are just a little leary about our important documents and valuables. Have you ever had any issues with guests finding these things and or tampering with them? It’s so smart to be making money when you are vacationing!!! If you are ever planning a trip to Orange COunty, California, we would be happy to have you :)

  • GregK June 19, 2012, 11:54 am

    Donc, vous parlez Francais, Mme. MM?! Peut-etre M. MM aussi? Je ne me suis pas rendu compte que vous etiez du Quebec. Moi, je suis Francais/Americain (double nationalite).

    Just in case… do you speak French Mrs./Mr. MM?

    • Mrs. Money Mustache June 19, 2012, 1:25 pm

      Ben oui, je parle francais! C’etait ma langue maternelle. Ma mere est Quebequoise.

      Okay, back to English. My french is very rusty, particularly in written form! My mom is French Canadian and French was my first spoken language. Later I also learned Punjabi (my dad’s native language) and English, but now mostly the English remains. After we moved to Ottawa (from Montreal) I slowly but surely lost quite a bit of my French. I also lost pretty much all of my Punjabi at a young age. I can understand most things in French, but have trouble finding the right words when speaking.

      • GregK June 19, 2012, 3:09 pm

        Sounds like our French skills are pretty similar. I grew up speaking English and a good deal of French (my father’s native language). My spoken French is quite good, though I too find myself at a loss for the right word pretty frequently, and my written French needs some serious work!

        That’s great that you have Punjabi as well. I’m trying (halfheartedly) to learn Spanish and (quarter-heartedly) Mandarin. Haha we’ll see how that goes!

        • Jimbo June 19, 2012, 6:50 pm

          Excellent, vive le francais sur le blogue de Monsieur Argent Moustache!

          Et si vous passez par Montréal, j’offre la bière!

      • Mireille May 2, 2016, 8:38 pm

        Whaaat, I had no idea the lady of the blog was half-Québécoise! This makes this Québécoise very happy. :) (So much so that I had to comment on this 4 year old post, hah!)

        • Sylvie from Montreal March 6, 2017, 1:49 pm

          +1 in 2017!

  • lurker June 19, 2012, 2:13 pm

    sounds like an awesome summer. particularly for your little guy. please do plenty of fishing for me…..

  • Blake June 19, 2012, 8:45 pm

    Mr. MM,
    What did you mean when you said:
    “I’ve got no choice but to keep writing on this blog for a long, long time yet.”

    Was that meant in that you are like a super hero, saving us from terminal consumerism with your Mustachian ways?
    (There is still much work to be done here. They need me.)

    Or did you sell your blog, and you are contractually obligated for a certain term to continue writing articles?
    (Is this a rude question?, I hope not)

    Just curious.
    Thank you so much for all your articles. You are a constant inspiration.
    All the best.

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 19, 2012, 9:49 pm

      Hey Blake, very interesting question!

      I like the superhero angle. That would be an appropriate thing for Mr. Money Mustache to think – that society needs his help. Perhaps that is some of the reason.

      It’s definitely not option 2. Are you crazy!? I would NEVER sell myself into a contract that required me to work! Forced work is the opposite of early retirement! I’d be Mr. Sellout Sideburns, someone I often scorn in the comments!

      It’s option 3: These articles just appear my head and I simply have to run to a computer to write them. They are just things that have to be said! MY fellow writers out there surely understand this dilemma. Luckily it is a very fun problem to have.

  • Jay June 19, 2012, 10:05 pm

    Is that a Mustachian sprinkler system I see in the pic? Hopefully that is hooked up to some type of pressurized rain barrel system and not using potable water to keep the lawn green!!!
    And maybe one of your posts could be about where you hide all your important documents when you go away for 8 weeks!!!

  • Redeyedtreefr0g June 24, 2012, 11:28 am

    Wow, that is quite the list of topics! Most of them sound interesting, too, and I am most definitely NOT Mustachian.

    Your traveling brings up a question I had- does the MMM family own pets?

    I have two well-behaved small dogs, and traveling with them was stressful by car during our move. Nearly NO hotel/motels allow pets, and we were moving cross-country with everything we could stuff into them, so we couldn’t just lay our seats back in a truck stop.

    Worse, though, is trying to rent. “Pet-friendly” means sure, we’ll allow pets, but for outrageous fees upfront non-refundable (a tiny portion might be refundable), but the fees are PER PET, and oh, by the way, you also pay an extra hundred a month for rent over the year lease. Huh?? I have 2 dogs, not an army of demolitionists. I have seen what damage a single two-year-old can wreck, and that thing gets to live in the house for free?? Not fair!

    (Regardless of my ranting, we now have an apartment on hold in Cloverbasin, lease-signing pending an intent-to-hire letter which I should have after my interview tomorrow.)

    Anyway, I thought maybe there could be an article about pets.

    Have fun on your trip!

  • Joe @ Retire By 40 June 27, 2012, 9:21 am

    Have a great time! We just came back from a short vacation in CA. It’s great to get away. 8 weeks is pretty awesome. I took an 8 weeks trip to Europe once and that was a great way to go. 2-3 weeks is just not enough to get away.

  • Shane July 6, 2012, 2:56 am

    Great idea about renting your place out for some extra income while away. I have a friend that used http://www.airbnb.com to find a place to stay in the Boulder area.

    If you and your family ever swing by Eastern Europe, you’ll have a place to stay in Serbia! We live in a smaller town just outside of Belgrade and have a great view of the Danube River.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 6, 2012, 3:28 pm

      What a great offer! Visiting Serbia and looking out over the Danube river is the most exotic accommodation offer I have received to date :-)

  • Joe July 9, 2012, 12:38 pm

    MMM, I took some of your draft ideas and wrote short blog posts for them. Just saving you a bit of time so you can enjoy your vacation. Enjoy!


  • IAmNotABartender April 29, 2015, 1:26 pm

    I’m reading through sequentially (as you can probably tell from my comments), and I just have to say that I am ridiculously excited for some of these. I hope they ended up getting published!

  • MidwestMustachian July 19, 2018, 2:40 pm

    Landed here during a mid-day rendezvous with the “Random” button and heartily enjoyed the summer road-trip vibes.

    As a somewhat new parent myself, I would love to see “News Flash: Parenting is Hard. Suck it Up.” make it out of the draft folder and into the light of day :)


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