I Just Gave Up $4000 Per Month to Keep My Freedom of Speech

Wow. Four thousand dollars a month.

It was Automatic Money, rolling in like crazy with no effort on my part, absolutely no overhead, and it was remarkably reliable. Almost $1000 every week, $130 every day, or close to $50,000 a year, probably subject to exponential growth as well. And I just turned off this firehose of cash… over the simple issue of my choice of words on this blog.

$4000 a month is about twice the amount it takes to pay for my entire family’s living expenses. It’s also enough to pay the mortgage on a $900,000 house, lease several of the world’s most expensive cars, buy a family health insurance plan so extreme that doctors would be taking me out for steak and lobster dinners as part of each office visit, or have my family embark on a permanent trans-world adventure. But now, it’s gone. And it’s all because I refused to remove the word “Badassity” from that banner on the top of the site.

Is that crazy? Perhaps we need to know the history of the situation to judge properly.

Those of us who have been reading for a while know  it has been a little crazy since the beginning. I just started typing some shit into the computer in April 2011, and the Spirits of the Internet decided on their own that the blog would become unusually big. I posted a little milestone article after the first million page views, and another after the second million. At that point, I noted that the little advertising boxes on the side of this blog were earning a respectable $500 per month, and that I thought it might eventually grow to $2000, enough to cover the entire Money Mustache family’s living expenses, despite the fact that they are already covered in other ways.

Right after that post in March, things got off the hook. I had accidentally stumbled upon the Cash Cow of the personal finance world without realizing it – credit card referrals. The way it worked, for me anyway, is that I got an account at an affiliate marketing company for bloggers and other web publishers. It’s called Flexoffers, although there are any number of competing companies. From there, you can cut and paste some javascript code into your own website that generates nice credit card offers for the consideration of your readers.  Whenever a reader signs up for a credit card, the blog gets a surprisingly generous commission – often $100 or so.

Not being particularly interested in maximizing revenue, I sequestered my own credit card links into a little rewards credit card referral page in the “MMM Recommends” link above*.  In the hope of making things more useful to readers, I evaluated each credit card offer myself, and sorted them so that the most valuable offers were near the top of the list. Then I went back to writing articles and forgot about it.

The thing is, the Mustachians who read this blog are a lot like me. They already use credit cards in their daily life. So, shit, if a credit card company wants to pay them $100 or more to sign up for a new card with no strings attached (or $200-400 with some strings you can carefully cut), they’ll probably seriously consider it. So as soon as I put up the page, Mustachians started signing up for those cards in droves. I even grabbed a couple of them myself, netting $1000.

In one post near the beginning of it all called “Maximum Mustache March – Update“, I mentioned the Chase Sapphire card I had signed up for. That triggered thousands of dollars in sales. After that, the trickle continued at a rate of over $900 a week.

As it turned out, the Chase company had the highest rewards for customers, along with the highest payouts for bloggers. Suddenly over 80% of the blog’s revenue was coming just from Chase credit card referrals. “Good for them”, I thought, “for finding a way to drastically beat all their competitors, score all the customers, and presumably still make money at it”.

I watched my growing Flexoffers account balance warily. Was this ridiculous stream of money for real? Was it really going to come to me? When would it stop? What does a shitload of extra money mean to a man who has already happily realized that he has no real use for way more money?  I started planning an article to tell you all about it – you might have noticed the title “This Blog is Raking in some Serious Dough.. here’s how” in my list of draft articles. Here’s what the revenue stream looked like since the beginning of Money Mustache Time:

MMM revenue (click for larger view)


I found it fascinating, mildly addictive, and a bit disruptive. I found myself turning down carpentry jobs that I would have enjoyed doing, solely on the basis of having too much money: “Well, the blog is now paying me $1000 every week. Do I really want to go out and swing hammers and sweat for 25 hours to earn an extra $1000 when the money is even more irrelevant than it was a few months ago? Maybe I should be more like Bill Gates and start doing something involving vaccines in India instead of building yet another kitchen or front porch for someone?

In yet another proof of the amazing power of Hedonic Adaptation, I rapidly adjusted to the new level of income, and felt no happier than I did without it. Possibly even less happy, although there was the odd cheerful laugh at the thought that even the most expensive unexpected life event could easily be swept away effortlessly. But at the same time, I’m old enough to know that effort itself is a key part of happiness, so perhaps effortless solutions are not ideal anyway.

The one thing that didn’t change, is that I remained rock solid on my resolve not to inflate my lifestyle beyond its existing level of ridiculous abundance. Adding an even bigger house, newer cars, or fancier vacations would not be in the cards regardless of cashflow.

But then all of this changed in a heartbeat, with the arrival of an email from my friendly Flexoffers representative. To paraphrase his message to me:

Mustache! We’ve got an emergency!

Chase has reviewed your blog, and they don’t like the banner. It is “inappropriate content” in their view. Also, you should probably change the slogan you created using “WTF!?” as a describing factor for one of their rewards cards.


“Well, shit”, I thought. “Didn’t we already know this was too good to be true?”

I had enjoyed the irony of this blog speaking out against paying ANY credit card interest, yet receiving huge payments from credit card companies. They were issuing cards to a bunch of highly savvy financial hackers, who were maximizing the rewards while simultaneously setting automatic monthly payoffs from their well-funded ING Direct accounts and Google Calendar alerts to cancel the card accounts just before any annual fees kicked in. If these card companies depend on interest payments to make a profit, the Mustachians were surely a source of losses for them. On the other hand, with the billions of dollars of annual income earned by this blog’s readership, there were surely profits to be had in the long run through good business relationships.

So I wrote back to the guy:

 “Tell Chase to read the blog. There’s no inappropriate content here. We swear and we rant, but when it comes down to it, we’re talking about honesty, integrity, hard work, and becoming very wealthy. There’s no reason for a big corporation to shy away from this.

But if  they still insist that I remove the word “Badassity” from my banner, then unfortunately we’ll have to part ways, because even that small act would be selling out the very integrity that we speak so highly of in this blog.

I felt pretty buzzed after writing that email. Was I really willing to give up all that cash over one word?

But inside, I knew the answer was “Fuck Yeah!”

Because this is really a test of what financial independence is all about. If I give them one word, what do I do when they stumble across other articles like the one called “How Much is That Bitch Costin’ Ya?”, or the fact that almost every one contains some sort of profanity? If I’m willing to make my own writing shittier just to comply to a corporate monitoring program, then why not just go right back to an office job? After all, I could also make $20,000 unneeded dollars a month as an Engineering manager, and all I have to do is sacrifice all my free time and throw around a lot of buzzwords and kiss the asses of those above me in the hiearchy!

So really, in a slightly irrational way I was hoping that Chase would not see the light and that they would indeed cancel Mr. Money Mustache from their referral program. It would make a great story of corporate cluelessness. A company shooting themselves in the foot due to the incredible bureaucracy that forces low-level people to set aside their own judgement in favor of following a bland rulebook designed to prevent dangerous creativity.

It’s much like the media and the big-business blogosphere itself. If you dare to be different from the crowd, you’ll pay the price. You won’t get the big advertisers, the big sponsorships, or the mild-mannered mainstream media feature stories.

The next day I received a short reply saying, “Chase still decided to cancel your account, since they feel you don’t fit with their brand”.

So here we are. And it feels absolutely GREAT! What could be a better use of Fuck You Money, then to actually say Fuck You (politely) in a situation where it counts so much? What better definition of the word “Badassity”, than the willingness to stand up and refuse to erase it from your own website, even in the face of mind-numbing financial consequences!?

If this blog were the only thing between my family and a homeless shelter, I’d surely be a banner-changin’, credit-card-hustlin’ fool. Just as the indebted office worker faced with an abusive manager will bow down and do the shitty work, year-in and year-out. Just as the politican without their own cash or grassroots fundraising will sell out to corporate fundraisers every time. Just as the new parent will give up time with her own newborn baby and spend 50 hours a week working and commuting to avoid losing seniority in the company.

Even in this little niche, if you look around at established personal finance blogs, you’ll find they have become credit card selling machines! I mean shit, Chase just recently introduced a “Disney” credit card. I saw it in my list and deleted it immediately, thinking “Why would anyone want some crap Disney points when they could just have cash?”. But it had a great payout, and lo and behold, the PF blogosphere is ripe with “reviews” of the new Disney card.

The world needs Fuck You Money. All of us do. You get it from lowering your expenses, saving your income, and curing your insatiable desire to always have more of everything. Once you get it, you can be freed from the idea of wanting more money when you already have enough.

This will also be a great test of my theory that honesty makes you richer in the long run. I’m tossing aside $50,000 per year in the interest of sticking to my guns. I’m willing to bet that in the long run, I’ll end up even richer by remaining honest. The best part for you as a reader is that this experiment will cost you nothing – I’ll let you know how it turns out.



 * After over a year of being banned, we found a nice workaround that allows this blog to still generate referrals for the good credit cards again. I don’t expect this to re-start the gravy train, since I’m not planning to write a big article to advertise its presence. But the credit cards page is back up and useful again. Yeah!

  • Markstache June 21, 2012, 12:42 am

    It was my pleasure to collude with you to relieve Chase of $500 (my $400 plus your $100).

    Of course, this money comes from somewhere. I understand that high reward cards imply higher merchant fees, and merchant fees are a significant portion of revenues (I couldn’t say which is greater, interest or fees). Chase is happy to dole out a little to you and me, and keep the rest.

    Frankly, we are probably contributing to a classic “prisoner’s dilemma” scenario. Prices would be lower for everyone if no one used a credit card, let alone a rewards card. Instead, we each see short term profit in the rewards card and drive up merchant fees, which in turn drives up prices. Individually, we’re better taking the rewards money. Collectively, we’re better off not using credit cards.

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 21, 2012, 12:52 am

      Excellent! Thanks Markstache.

      The rewards cards don’t create higher merchant fees than standard cards (do they?). But it’s true that these merchant fees are way too high on expensive purchases, and there’s not much fair market competition to lower them since the vendors don’t have much leverage (stop accepting Visa? Sure, if you don’t mind losing 75% of your sales!). Instead, this new development of competition has sprung up on the consumer side: the cards are sufficiently profitable that companies are willing to sacrifice some of the profit to gain more users. With sufficient competition, profits will equalize to nearly zero, although with the added overhead of paying all the employees of credit card companies to shuffle around money.

      I agree – ideally we’d all pay with debit cards directly from our bank accounts, fees would be 5 cents or so per transaction, prices would be about 3% lower, and the idea of consumer credit would be abandoned in favor of Mustachianism :-)

      • Matt G June 21, 2012, 5:17 am

        I’ve been in business for over 10 years. I mostly deal with small businesses and don’t accept credit cards. Everyone pays me with checks, and it’s only been an issue once. I think it’s only an issue for someone when they don’t have the money and that’s not really a person I want to deal with anyways.

        • Sergey June 21, 2012, 9:48 am

          No bounced checks? You are lucky man.

          • Derek P. June 21, 2012, 4:51 pm

            Only a single bad check? Back before the world of bank cards my fathers business would take checks for payment. Every friday he would head to the back to deal with all the bounced checks he received the week before.

      • Mr. Tinystache June 21, 2012, 8:50 am

        WooHoo! Finally something I know about that I can contribute. Unfortunately rewards credit cards do directly lead to higher credit card acceptance fees for merchants. I had the gross misfortune to spend 5 years in credit card banking on both the acquiring and issuing sides. While in the employee of the acquirer I learned about various card types including exotics like fleet gas cards.

        The way our pricing structure was set is that we calculated a fee for each card category by summing the base fees for accepting Visa or MasterCard and an additional percentage based on the type of card (rewards, corporate, method of acceptance, etc.). There are commonly 3 different tiers of cards and methods of acceptance, some with higher costs to acquirers than others. Some acquirers obscure this fact by charging one fee for all types of transactions. This simplifies a merchant’s book keeping at the expense of transparency. Other acquirers provide even more transparency through a pricing model called interchange plus. This pricing model makes it even more clear what is a cost to your acquiring bank that they pass to you and what is a fee your acquiring bank is charging you.

        The more transparent pricing strategies will sometimes cause merchants to inquire as to how they can stop accepting rewards or corporate cards. Of course the Visa and MasterCard associations do not (typically) allow merchants to discriminate against card types. The associations will allow a merchant to offer an incentive, such as a discount, to consumers who utilize a merchant preferred form of payment, such as cash.

        • Steve February 19, 2013, 12:54 pm

          While it’s true that rewards cards do have higher fees, the difference is rather small. It’s not the case that e.g. non-reward cards charge the merchant 2% and rewards cards charge 3%, and then pass the extra 1% to the consumer. It’s more like an extra 0.2%.

      • Ben June 22, 2012, 10:30 am

        I’m new to this blog, but this comment alone has convinced me to start using my debit instead of my VISA as much as possible. I think debit cards usually use the VISA data network though so the only real solution might be to go back to cash and checks *shudder* not going to happen.

    • Jeff June 21, 2012, 11:56 am

      Vendors just need to charge more for credit cards purchases. That would end all transaction fees.

      Soon everyone will be running their cash registers with smartphones. You’ll be able to swipe a card to find out what the transaction fee is for that particular card. Since the credit card company takes a cut of the transaction before passing rewards on to you, you’ll go for the cheapest card you can find (which will probably be debit cards). Technology conquers all.

      • Lorin June 21, 2012, 3:15 pm

        My understanding is that it is illegal (at least in CA) to charge customers more to use a credit card, though you may give a discount for using cash. It amounts to the same thing, I guess.

        • Llama June 22, 2012, 10:15 am

          What about the gas stations? In the last 2-3 years more and more stations (in OC at least) are going back to the Cash/ Credit pricing that I haven’t seen since the early 90s or so.

        • Bella June 22, 2012, 9:55 pm

          well actually the new banking reform laws make it illegal for credit cards to require the same price – so many small businesses especially are just passing on the fees already.
          Although the walmarts and best buys of the world will continue to charge the same price regardless so I wonder if it will really change anything on a large scale

    • Hey June 27, 2012, 7:34 am


      Thanks for being such a legend.

      That’s all.

  • Jake D June 21, 2012, 12:45 am


    But seriously, well done. I would have expected nothing less.

  • Drew June 21, 2012, 12:53 am

    Bravo. You remInd me of a pf blogging version of Howard Roark from The FountaInhead.

    • CL June 21, 2012, 5:47 am

      Hyperbole, but it does remind me of Roark’s actions as well. Integrity and sticking to your guns is something that all of us can admire – because people like TonyS and myself are still wage slaves. We know that we would like to stay true to our principles, but $1000 in passive income a week (which is what some lotteries pay out) would be a fortune!

  • Nathan June 21, 2012, 12:59 am

    Well, I don’t appreciate your profanity either, but I suppose if $4k per month couldn’t convince you to stop cussing, then there’s probably not much I can do about it. :) Major props for not letting the money jerk you around!

    • AL A. June 21, 2012, 2:03 am

      I also don’t appreciate the MMM gutter language. Vulgar interjections stand out and actually distract from the flow of your message. This posting, with these comments, is an example. I found you only recently and I am deciding if like your themes enough to stick with you through the smuttiness that flares in some of your posts. In this case, you have the choice to swear and I have the choice to avoid it or not.

      • Lavender June 21, 2012, 6:34 am

        I’m not a person who uses any kind of profanity when talking, writing, or even thinking. However, IMO, profanity/swearing/”gutter language” is only offensive if the underlying mentality is petty, small-minded, and intended to hurt. In the case of this blog, it is more an expression of confidence than anything else, and as this very post illustrates, the adjectives “petty” and “small-minded” most certainly do not apply to MMM!

        • GregK June 21, 2012, 7:17 am


          I actually find it refreshing and invigorating when I find these words sprinkled throughout an article, used when appropriate. Without the “gutter language”, there’d be a lot less “hell yeah — this guy’s right!” on the part of most readers.

          Certainly, some people will be turned off by this because of the way they were raised, etc., but those people are missing the point (Lavender’s a good counter example — doesn’t use profanity, but obviously gets it when it comes to MMM’s use).

        • Brett June 21, 2012, 8:01 am

          There aren’t really any “bad words” unless you’re being an ass about it in front of someone else’s kids or something IMO. Intent of speech and actions even more so are what matter to me. I love MMM’s blog and find his swearing enjoyable and authentic.

          Props to MMM on his integrity here – I plan to email or call Chase (I have three cards with them as a result of them gobbling up various companies I’ve had cards with over the years plus one I opened with them directly). I have paid them interest over the years and maybe I’ll threaten to close one or all of them in protest since they’re not my oldest cards (which would hurt my credit rating) or my best cards in terms of interest rate for emergencies.

          • JL June 21, 2012, 3:02 pm

            MMM’s swearing rules.

            • Marlene June 27, 2012, 7:45 am


        • TOM June 22, 2012, 4:12 am

          +1000 I find the vulgar language unique and refreshing in the world of PF blogs, and not at all distracting.
          Lavendar is right: it’s all about intent.

      • Dan June 21, 2012, 7:59 am

        I DO appreciate the term “gutter language.” It makes me giggle.

        Maybe we should start crafting a false personal history for MMM the way they do for North Korean leaders. A man born and raised in a gutter becomes hundred-thousandaire and subsequently uses his strange, native gutter-speak to inspire hundreds of millions of people to quit their job, acquire Chase credit cards, ride their bikes, make things with their hands and just generally be mustachioed badasses.

        • Ellie June 21, 2012, 6:08 pm

          Haha …..and then when corporate America discriminates against him because of this strange, native gutter-speak, he does the equivalent of firing back at them with a stream of gobbledygook… Now I am imagining MMM as an incensed immigrant tee hee hee :-)

      • planteater June 21, 2012, 11:28 am

        “Vulgar interjections stand out and actually distract from the flow of your message.”

        That’s a subjective statement masquerading as an objective one.

        For my taste, the occasional sprinkling of profanity around here is just right. A certain sense of fun-loving bravado is what distinguishes this blog from all the other vanilla PF blogs out there, and MMM wisely recognized there was an audience for that.

        As for the post itself: thanks, MMM, for the fascinating glimpse into the world of credit card referrals. You made the right call.

      • Jeff June 21, 2012, 11:59 am

        I think everyone could do a better job of reigning in their shitting language. Oops. Aw screw it. First amendment hell yea!

      • Mr RiskyStartup.com June 22, 2012, 8:48 am

        There is a difference between useless cursing and colorful language. My grandmother used curses that would be shocking in English, yet she always used them in a proper context and they never looked out of place.

        Secondly, language is evolving. Some things we say today (like “oh my God”) could have cost you your head few hundred years ago.

  • Alex June 21, 2012, 1:08 am

    Something tells me this article is going to go viral. Damn good work though! You should reply to their email with a link to that Fuck You Money post haha :-D

  • Kat June 21, 2012, 1:34 am

    Way to ‘walk the talk’. Does my heart good to know that the integrity and honesty of one’s beliefs is still alive. Good job on your blog. It’s been a great source of info and inspiration.

  • GHarkness June 21, 2012, 2:12 am

    I LOVE the word “badassity.” I think of new and creative ways to use it every day! I’m so glad you didn’t bow down and get rid of it!

    Thanks for what you do (and the example you set – profanity and all).

  • Nefretete June 21, 2012, 2:37 am

    Kudos to you, MMM. Respect for your decision and thank you for the update / disclosure. It’s an interesting world, isn’t it? (-;

  • RW June 21, 2012, 3:29 am

    Mr. MM, Bravo! Now that’s badassity! I have been enjoying your posts for sometime and this is the best so far…I can’t wait to hear more. Enjoy vacation

  • TonyS June 21, 2012, 3:41 am

    Holy shit Mr. Money Mustache!!!

    That’s an impressive display of integrity!

    This reminds me of a situation at work a few years back when a close friend of mine was offered the opportunity to either keep his leadership position and sacrifice his principles, or tell everyone to go fuck themselves and possibly lose his job completely. He chose the latter. (Incidentally, after being relieved of that job, he actually scored his old position within the company, which was a better gig anyway). At the time I told him that I wished I could afford to have integrity too.

    Thanks to your blog I am much closer to being there. Unfortunately, I probably wouldn’t have been able to say no to Chase in your situation, considering the fact that I’m still a wage slave, but I would always feel dirty for it!

    Keep living your values and showing us the way! Also, as a little side experiment, maybe add a “tip jar” to your site. I’d definitely throw a couple of bucks in there for this article, just on principle.


  • fastbodyblast June 21, 2012, 4:12 am

    I don’t really get the term badassity – it’s not used in Australia as far as I know. But I sure do get the idea of “fuck you money” and this post is a great example of that! Well done.

    • GregK June 21, 2012, 7:27 am

      Heh, as far as I know it’s not used in America or Canada, either. Just in case they don’t use the term badass at all in Austrailia, here’s a link to Urban Dictionary:


      Haha I love that the top-voted definition is “Ultra-cool motherfucker”. From the second definition, “He might be on a motorcycle, but it’s probably not a Harley or a crotch rocket because he won’t spend that much money to be accepted.” Check out the article on Native Americans for a more MMM-specific definition of badass.


      Badassity, as I understand it, is simply being badass, or perhaps more specifically a measure of how much of a badass one is. Increasing one’s level of badassity (especially though not exclusively where it benefits personal finances) should be the main goal of a MMM reader.

      • B June 21, 2012, 8:57 am

        I will never be the definition of a “badass”. However, the goal is badassity. After a lifetime of taking the easy, expected route, this was the year I was going to go from “Flabassity to badassity”. Six months into the year, and I realize this will probably be a physical and financial quest for the rest of my life. I’m enjoying the journey, and I really like crossing things off my “to do” list.

        I appreciate the perspective on this blog. Thanks, MMM.

      • Executioner June 21, 2012, 9:37 am

        I submit that no definition of “Badassity” would be complete without a reference to this blog entry (as a primary example).

        Badassity is also exemplified by the honey badger.

        • Victoria June 21, 2012, 3:13 pm

          Thank you so much! I loved it! :-) Narrator is 80% of the fun…

          • Paul O. June 21, 2012, 4:37 pm

            And 100% of the fabulous.

        • Chris Turner June 21, 2012, 9:44 pm

          HaHa! Everytime I see this Honey Badger video, I think of MMM. All of us ER types have a little Honey Badger in us!!

      • AnnW September 4, 2012, 6:30 pm

        Greg K, thanks for the intro to the Urban Dictionary. I hadn’t heard of it before. It also filled me in on the nuances of badassness. I suppose if a few people wrote a definition of badassity they would include it. I love that they stressed confidence, modesty, and kindness. I wonder what the female version would be. Anyone have any ideas who would be a model female badass? Anyone? Bueller? And it is Not Ann Coulter.

    • Paul O. June 21, 2012, 4:38 pm

      We Yanks love to make up new words.

  • aspiringyogini June 21, 2012, 4:27 am

    Oh, you are such a Honey Badger, MMM! Glad to see that you are still smacking down those cobras! I think it’s so badass that you don’t give a fuck (and I’m allowed to say it too!)

    Also, I appreciate your honesty in telling us about what your blog makes as well as all the financial information you share. If you weren’t secure in what you had created BEFORE you created your blog, you might not share this and made your finances so transparent. Keep up the good fight!

  • Poor Student June 21, 2012, 5:05 am

    It is cool to see that you are able to remain yourself with your FU money. Everyday, things in the world we see are trying to adapt us to what they want or what they think will benefit them the most. You are able to buy your won identity, and in some way adapt the world to you. Nothing would ever get better without people like you who stick to their guns and see a right way to do things and live that way no matter what. And it is because of your financial independence.

  • Elizabeth June 21, 2012, 5:13 am

    Fuck yeah! That was awesome enough to warrant my first comment. Well done, Mustache!

    • dottie June 21, 2012, 8:01 am

      This is my first comment also…. After reading this article I may never stop coming back to this site.
      FYI, I long ago parted ways with the dirt bags at Chase, not even cash rewards could tempt me to open a cc with them and then close it at the first available moment.

  • The Keichi One June 21, 2012, 5:28 am

    Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! So cool MMM!

  • Eric June 21, 2012, 5:48 am

    Respect. I’m quite certain I would have offered to change “badassity” to “bada$$ity” or possibly even “bada**ity” in order to maintain the revenue stream (a utilitarian approach to maximizing my revenue to effort ratio)–for me, making a few minor edits would be less work than properly managing my investment portfolio. I admire your work ethic, and your integrity.

  • Jeh June 21, 2012, 5:58 am

    Daaaamn…$4k a month!? Wow, I thought it was impressive when I first saw your tweet about it. But this? This is fucking Manly Mustache if you ask me. It takes some serious balls of integrity to give that up, so kudos to you for sticking to your principles in the face of so much cash money. That’s a feat not everyone could do, even if it was gravy for them.

    Oh, and Chase…fuck you! You won’t be getting any of my business, for life, for being such pansy asses.

    • GayleRN June 21, 2012, 4:39 pm

      Balls of Integrity. A worthy goal for any Badass. Once you have a pair of those you will no longer wear complainypants either because they will never fit again.

      Now if we could just elect some Badasses with Balls of Integrity……..

      • Caroline June 24, 2012, 2:00 pm

        +1 And I literally lol’ed at this. :]

  • Dave Joly June 21, 2012, 6:01 am

    Congratulations MMM! That’s a load to turn down, but well worth it. The value of MMM stock just skyrocketed.

  • Avongil June 21, 2012, 6:10 am

    mrmoneymustache.com – proven badassity.

  • KR June 21, 2012, 6:12 am

    Good for you!!!! Every day I dream about knocking my computer off my desk at work, shouting “FU!” and walking out the door for good. I’m starting late, but for the first time in my life, I have concrete financial goals, and your blog is what’s helped me figure it all out. I hope to be in your position someday.

  • Poor to Rich a Day at a Time June 21, 2012, 6:12 am

    I love how you write and the swear terminology you use such as Badassity. After all this time your blog would look kind of weird and empty without it!

    It is always nice to be able to give up something and not care for integrety! My motto with hubby is always Income with Integrety!

    Anyways great post, loved it and keep up the lighthearted, serious, humorous, friendly and honest way you write and speak that not only makes it informative but entertaining and always a joy to read!

  • Nance June 21, 2012, 6:14 am

    Badass! This is why I read your blog. Thank you for not selling out.

  • Heath June 21, 2012, 6:24 am

    Serious props to you, MMM!

    I’m still quite the wage slave, and thus would have potentially behaved differently. BUT NOT BECAUSE I WOULD WANT TO! So this just perfectly highlights the necessity of Fuck You money. When you don’t have it, you’re at the whims of potentially unscrupulous people. When you do have it, you can (mostly) do whatever you fucking please.

    It’s also a perfect example of WHEN to flex your freedom. I get the impression that even with Fuck You money, it’s STILL difficult for many people to say no to more money. I think their thought process is usually “but… money is good and this would be MORE”. They would push down their discomfort at being censored, and start upon that very dark road which you explicitly described (mmmm… I’ll be so fucking happy when I don’t need to kiss any more upper management asses). Which is why your post “What would you do with WAY more money” is such an important rung in your Ladder to Badassity.

    I decided to up the swearing level for this comment for 3 reasons:
    – to exercise my freedom of speech
    – to show support for your decision through solidarity
    – because it’s how I normally fucking talk anyway :)

  • Kevin H June 21, 2012, 6:24 am

    I applaud your decision wholeheartedly! The interesting thing is that badassity is not even techinically a real word! You should change the word to “assimilation” for a day. Not only would the word be apropos in an ironic sense, but it would still contain the word ASS in it. Hah!

  • Army Colonel K June 21, 2012, 6:37 am

    I’ve been in the Army for decades, risking my ass just so that one day I too could get my pension and say, “Fuck You!” to the whole deal. (well, ok, I do sort of like blowing things up, too, but that’s just a side benny)

    And here you are, able to say Fuck You at will, ten years younger than me, with nobody even shooting at you. You are a ballsy son of a bitch, with so much integrity you’d never have made it very far in the corporate world anyway (and I mean that as the highest of compliments).

    You not only talk the talk, you walk the walk.

    Mister Money Mustache, I stand and salute your BADASSITY!

  • Vanna June 21, 2012, 6:44 am

    Let’s face it. Your swearing is how I KNOW YOU ARE BEING HONEST. And, it shows your passion for what you think is real and right in the world. Anyone who thinks this attribute is a negative, should think about it. It’s value added activity as far as I’m concerned, it makes me smile and truly understand your attitudes toward life. You have to admire a person who is willing to give up more money than I make in a year on principle alone. As the Fuck video said ‘Fuck the Fucking Fuckers’. :) I would add the link, but don’t remember which article it was in.

    Nice going MMM, we are better off without people that don’t understand the essence of your message, profanity or not.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque June 21, 2012, 10:33 am

      One of Stephen King’s best pieces of advice in “On Writing” was to be honest with your readers.
      If a blue-collar raised construction worker goes home angry at his boss, he’s not going to tell his wife, “Gee, golly, that Mr. Smith is a real doodee face.”
      You write like that, no one will believe you, no one will trust you and your writing won’t seem real.
      If you’re running a balance on your credit card and still eating out at restaurants and buying video games, MMM is willing to tell you that you’re fucking crazy and need to wise up.
      You may dispute his style, but the fact that he writes the way he talks – the way a large portion of the population really talks – is what makes him real.

  • Jason @ WSL June 21, 2012, 7:00 am

    Congrats on standing up for yourself! I haven’t followed your blog for long but what I’ve read (and read about you) it isn’t surprising that you’d pass up the money to stand on principles.

    The unfortunate reality is that most people wouldn’t do such a thing because they WANT THE MONIES!

    It is a little absurd that a company has a problem with a few words. It’s ironic to me that Chase actually wanted to stand on principles too…I wasn’t aware credit card companies had any.

    • Raech June 21, 2012, 2:31 pm

      “It’s ironic to me that Chase actually wanted to stand on principles too…I wasn’t aware credit card companies had any.”

      (giggle and snicker – that’s awesome!) So true!

  • ducttape12 June 21, 2012, 7:03 am

    And this is why I’ve decided FI is for me – being able to tell people to get lost because you don’t need their money! Excellent!

  • Erin June 21, 2012, 7:06 am

    Just wanted to stop in and say this article gave me a happy today :) WTFG MMM!!! (and in case Chase is confused – Way To FUCKING Go!)

  • Baughman June 21, 2012, 7:12 am

    Two thoughts:

    I don’t know if fidelity offers any blogger referral action, but Fidelity’s 2% cash back AMEX credit cards have treated me well through the years, especially as an avid Costco shopper: http://personal.fidelity.com/products/checking/content/amex_rewards_card.shtml. 2% cash back on every purchase is about as good as I have found over the past 5 years. Rewards from the first card mentioned can be deposited into a taxable brokerage account so you can consider it a 2% cash back card without the tax implications of touching IRA money. By the way, there are no annual fees with these cards and there are no phase-in/out action for the 2%. Straight 2% from the first dollar you spend.

    Not to belittle your integrity, but wouldn’t the more appropriate response be to continue to recommend the credit card despite not receiving a commission for it? As is, it sounds like you are recommending inferior products to your readers because you’re angry at Chase. Your current strategy sounds like “I want to punish Chase to have them come crawling back to me, and recommend less than optimal products to my readers in the mean time.” My proposal sounds more like “eff you money.”

    • Jeh June 21, 2012, 7:15 am

      MMM’s response was THE most appropriate response he could have drummed up in this case. Integrity is #1 and in this case MMM has shown he has it in spades. He owes nothing more to his readers than honesty, integrity and a good read and he’s delivered on all of those to a T with this post.

    • Heath June 21, 2012, 7:17 am

      I think that if that were possible, it would be a solid solution. Like, “oh, you don’t like my blog, well too bad because i’m just going to keep making money off of you” :-)

      However, from the context of the article, it appears that Chase terminated his capacity to make any money from them. Furthermore, I think that not promoting a company which relies on censorship from all sponsors, is a great decision.

      • Baughman June 21, 2012, 10:28 am

        I think you are all missing the point. The post was intended to convey “I’m an ethical guy, look what I did.” What he ended up doing was conveying “I recommend products from companies who compensate me well while enabling me to maintain my freedom of speech.” From this we can infer that products recommended on the site are from companies who 1.) compensate bloggers through comissions and 2.) allow freedom of speech. Thus, they may not be the best products available to consumers (such as the Fidelity card I mentioned, which if my math is correct, is just slightly less than twice as good as the Sapphire card which created all of this controversy in the first place).

        Saying “Eff you money” would be to recommend the best products and services to customers without regard to politics or compensation.

        With that said, if revenue from those credit card referrals is the only incentive that MMM has to continue blogging, by all means, let the biased recommendations continue so that we can get our MMM fill. That’s certainly better than no MMM. I don’t fault MMM for wanting to be compensated for this blog. It takes up a lot of time and effort. There’s nothing wrong with that. And there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to make a profit while maintaining freedom of speech. That’s a noble goal. However, let’s just not forget the implications of this policy (points 1,2 above).

        • Lee Lau June 21, 2012, 10:31 am

          Actually what he conveyed was that he has integrity

        • Jeh June 21, 2012, 10:57 am

          No really, it’s you that’s missing the point here. MMM doesn’t need ANY money from ANY of the ads on his blog, it’s all fat-filled gravy for him. I’m too lazy to look it up for you, but there is even a nice post from a few months ago that explains how he’s experimenting with this “money from blogging” thing and that he could care less if it makes even another $1…it’s not why he blogs.

        • Uncephalized June 21, 2012, 11:11 am

          I think you’re missing a major factor: that he doesn’t want to recommend products from companies that try to CENSOR THEIR AFFILIATES. Censorship is evil. Therefore, companies that do it have no integrity and should not be promoted by people with integrity. Pretty simple. It doesn’t matter if the product is a better deal, if you’re supporting an unethical company to get it.

          Of course, there might be an argument to be made that advocating signing up for rewards cards from said company, and denying them any profits from you because you never carry a balance, while also taking their rewards money, would be the most appropriate comeuppance of all.

        • Gerard June 21, 2012, 11:21 am

          I see Baughman’s point.

        • Stephen June 21, 2012, 11:23 am

          Unlike you, I have no problem with MMM only recommending cards that give referrals, and I don’t think it affects his integrity one bit. I think you’re looking pretty hard to find fault here with someone who just gave up $4000/month to avoid the slightest corporate interest.

        • J-Mustache June 21, 2012, 11:30 am

          You’re a little off here.

          First: The assumption that a product which, when sold, gives a referrer like MMM a reward makes it “not the best product” is not logical.

          The two concepts (best product and product which offers a referral fee) are unrelated, as you can have a product that nets it’s referrer a referral fee, yet is still the best product available. (e.g. pick the best product of a category on Amazon, setup an affiliate account, refer it on your blog. You’ve just referred the best product and made money for it.)

          Second: I belief the goal of the “MMM recommends” page was to gain some revenue from the blog by recommending good deals for readers drawn from the set of deals that offered affiliate compensation. He wasn’t trying to name the best cards out of all possible cards.

          Third: “Fuck you money” means having the freedom to say no, even if the consequence is you lose money. In other words, you don’t have to say yes because you don’t need the money. The concept is unrelated to recommending the “best” products.

          If MMM’s goal was to recommend decent deals that had a referral fee attached on the recommended page (which I believe it was), then he did exercise integrity and provide an example of the application of “fuck you money” by saying he wouldn’t change his language just to continue to offer Chase cards.

          MMM made no ethical promise to recommend the best, and only the best, products, regardless of compensation he might receive.

          Are there cases where affiliates recommend products regardless of their quality just to make a buck? Sure, the article even mentions those cases (e.g. Disney card). MMM, on the other hand, did filter out many deals that were awful, in favor or several that were good for the readers.

          But it’s wrong to assume that because MMM turned Chase down, that he is merely trying to have his cake (get referral fees) and eat it too (keep the offending language) with no regard for his readers.

          On the contrary, he held true to the principle detailed on this blog that “Fuck you money” allows you to afford adherence to your principles: in this case, freedom of speech.

        • alles June 24, 2012, 1:47 am

          I see a problem with MMMs approach here as well.

          If MMM was really independent, he would still advertise the Credit Card but without the affiliate link. Now he is hoping that Chase comes crawling back to him and continues to let the revenue flow.

          Instead MMM lowered the quality of information this site provides for his fellow mustachians because, yes you are right, they won’t be able to enjoy the outstanding benefits and rewards of the card. So it is about maximising MMMs profits and not maximising benefit for the readers. This is not my definition of independence; although the company behaves like a dick head, their card still is apparently the best out there at the moment. True independece from money would result in removing the affiliate link but keeping the information regarding the card up there.

          Hence the whole story that is being celebrated as a defeat of greedy corporate ‘merica is just a bluff with two losers: MMM and his readers. Woohoo!

          And to those who say ‘Censorship is bad, and you (Chase) should feel bad!’, therefore MMM is absolutely right for removing the affiliate link…the situation we now ended up with is that MMM censored himself. Great!

          • Mr. Money Mustache June 26, 2012, 9:21 pm

            No No, silly! Of course I think people should still look into the Chase Sapphire card I was recommending earlier! I’m just not allowed to mention it on this blog (or at least, to link directly to Chase or use any of their graphics), as per their specific instructions. Go to their website and look it up if you want more info.

            Also, I’m on vacation right now so people need to get off my back about teeny little details like finding new ways to link to certain credit cards. All will be put well and integrity will be maintained. But it takes time to cross the tees and Mr. Money Mustache is busy having fun in another country at the moment.

            • It figures June 26, 2012, 9:49 pm

              Welcome home to Canada:) I hope you and your family are having fun up here!! Let us all know how your frugal Canadian Mustachian vacation goes.

            • Christine June 27, 2012, 6:18 am

              Yeah.. which area of Canada are you visiting? Wondering if you are close to us? We’re in Uxbridge, commute to Markham (I know, I know.. bad commuters).. :)

            • alles June 30, 2012, 11:24 am

              Thanks for the response. I did not know that you were not allowed (!) to link / mention them any more.

              I withdraw the point I made and apologize for not fully understanding the situation that was being described, thus wrongfully questioning your behaviour. Full integrity ahead!

    • Matt G June 21, 2012, 8:34 am

      I just signed up for this, thanks!

      • Matt G September 7, 2012, 7:01 pm

        I now have $176 in my Fidelity Rewards account. Thanks again!

        • Baughman September 18, 2012, 7:27 am

          I love that credit card! I pay rent with it, earning me $15/month. I must have earned over a grand or two over the past few year on that card alone. And I love the simplicity of it. Autopay is now enabled. I love that there are no fees.

  • Cassie Featherston June 21, 2012, 7:14 am

    Another great example of how living on less then you make affords you great freedom. One small note on your comment “The rewards cards don’t create higher merchant fees than standard cards”; not true, most processors charge for rewards cards at mid qualified rather than a qualified rate, resulting in a higher cost to the merchant. There is no free lunch.

  • SavvyFinancialLatina June 21, 2012, 7:15 am

    Way to go!

  • fiveoh June 21, 2012, 7:16 am

    Appreciate the honesty and staying true to yourself!

    On a side note I use the chase freedom card(Although I signed up for it before I found your blog) and find it to be one of the best rewards cards out there. They also paid me $200 to open a checking account and deposit 1500 for 6 months(great return!). After I let my credit score recover a bit, I will definitely be using a link from your blog to sign up for another card.(perhaps this citi card you referred to) Keep up the good work!

  • poorplayer June 21, 2012, 7:21 am

    I, too, am glad to read about your adventure with Chase. But what I happen to find much more interesting in your story is the phenomenon that a person with apparently no credentialed background in PF, other than his own experience handling his own money, can, in a little over a year, reach the point where his “personal finance” blog can actually earn him $4K/month. That’s a living wage in this country. It’s rather analogous to my own profession – acting (and teaching same). You don’t really have to be “credentialed” to be an actor, as Gary Oldman clearly points out in this little video (http://youtu.be/CIaWo-BlBjs). And people (other than me) make a LOT of money “acting” never having taken a single acting class. I think it points to two things: 1). People care more about their money than most anything else, and 2). People are really hungry for advice on how to manage it in stressful times. Shit, I gotta get me one of these PF blogs; call it Old Fart Finances or something. Wade Pflau ain’t got nothin’ on me! There’s supplemental retirement money in them thar hills!

  • Larski June 21, 2012, 7:24 am

    Integrity. So rare these days that many people probably don’t even know what it means. Please don’t change a thing about this blog. I LOVE it and it has literally changed my life!

    • scarini June 21, 2012, 8:56 am

      I completely agree.
      MMM has displayed honesty, integrity and the courage to fight for freedom (as I see it, there is no greater cause). In the words of John Stuart Mill: “What distinguishes the majority of men from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs.”

    • Susan June 21, 2012, 10:47 am

      Second this. In fact, second all the comments in mad support of you. Keep it up, you Honeybadger!

  • RichUncle EL June 21, 2012, 7:30 am

    When I read the title I thought, oh this is going to be a good post. Thanks for sharing and saying the truth, PF blogosphere is ripe with “reviews” of the new Disney card. LOL. This made me laugh. Thats a lot of money to give up but if effort makes you happy then you can do without it, plus you are already loaded so who cares.

    • Jeff June 21, 2012, 12:20 pm

      Same here, I saw the title and had a feeling this would be one of his best articles. It was.

  • sideways8 June 21, 2012, 7:43 am

    There are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it’ll be perfect!

  • Eric B. June 21, 2012, 7:46 am

    Fuck Yeah! I bow to your badassity.

  • Derek June 21, 2012, 7:49 am

    Is there a MMM credit card in the works? In the shape of a fist?

  • Trevor June 21, 2012, 7:50 am

    Fuck yeah! MMM is BADASS to the core!

  • Skip June 21, 2012, 7:52 am

    This is why your readers trust you. Way to go!

  • RubeRad June 21, 2012, 8:31 am

    So yeah, good on you for paying the high price to keep your badassity, but didn’t this post used to be titled “What the FUCK do you mean don’t you have a bike”?

    There is a line somewhere, and as the Man with the Mustache, you get to draw it for your blog. I agree with you that Badassity is, well, BADASS. Fuck is obviously riper, and it is judicious to keep it a little lower-profile, like, not in post titles, or not the blog title. (Even the What The Fuck podcast has to abbreviate WTF on the outer surface, like the name of the website wtfpod.com)

    Also, you’re totally right, these credit card companies are batshit insane to advertise with you anyways. They’re just asking to lose money with this crowd. Or maybe they actually can profit in the long run with transaction fees eventually paying for the up-front rewards — how could we really know?

  • James June 21, 2012, 8:39 am

    My son Aaron Schoch age 24, is presently on a 2 month vacation with his own savings. He is a regular reader of this blog and recently graduated from a private college. He worked as an accountant thru college, paid as he went, invested over 20k in the stock mkt that you suggested here on this blog and told his factory he wanted 2 months off without pay to go explore the USA. They gave it to him with promise of an even better position upon his return. He has his own ” fu” money and is having the time of his life. If anyone wants to follow his journey on instagram his name is luckisreal
    . Thanks again for your blog and this recent move to not take any shit from Chase bank. Rock on and write on mmm.

  • Virginia June 21, 2012, 8:56 am

    Wow, that is pretty cool. Your ability say no to $50,000/year for just a couple words makes me think about all the crap I deal with at my job. I wish I was less dependent on money…

    This is a great article and as a reader, I enjoy this article more than I would a new credit card.

  • AcidJazz June 21, 2012, 8:57 am

    This is the best post on MMM I have read yet and it inspires my first response:

    I would like to see a new article topic about how we can all work to stick it to the credit card companies. We all agree they have a pretty sweet deal going when they can profitably offer $500 for new accounts. This business is just ripe for some creative destruction don’t you think?

    Take a few minutes and check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lending_Club. It is a peer-to-peer loan matching service.

    Using it you can find people trying to get out from under high credit card balances and loan them money at lower rates than they currently pay. Most of these folks are in serious need of financial advice as well. So you can do three very positive things for for yourself and the world with this.

    #1 Take money out of the pockets of credit card companies.
    #2 Offer advice and direct help to those being hurt most directly by these same companies.
    #3 Earn a lot more interest on your own cash reserves than your current bond holdings or bank accounts while only marginally increasing your risk.

    Let’s see what we can do to be just a bit more disruptive of these companies and see what happens. Creative destruction is fun!

    • Jeff June 21, 2012, 12:23 pm

      Nice try, PR person from Lending Club

  • Posted On June 21, 2012, 9:05 am

    Any chance that Disney pressured Chase on this? Disney probably wouldn’t like swear words next to their name on any web page.

    If “badassity” is out, how do they expect us to “amass” the wealth we’ll need to become financially independent?

    Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

  • Will June 21, 2012, 9:05 am

    Thank God there is someone with enough integrity and respect for themselves to not sanitize things to fit in with a politically correct world!

  • Des June 21, 2012, 9:07 am

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that you don’t “fit with Chase’s brand”. Your brand is totally freakin’ awesome, and Chase is a terrible terrible company. This is just one more of a laundry list of reasons why I would never bank with Chase.

  • kris June 21, 2012, 9:12 am

    Good job.

  • Canadian Mom June 21, 2012, 9:14 am

    As a single mom of two boys I strive to teach by example how to be a person of integrity. In fact I’m always telling them “character is what you do when no one is watching”. MMM, you could have made those changes, and kept that income stream and none of us loyal readers would have ever known. But, you not only stayed true to your integrity you also were strong and brave enough to tell us about it. I want to say thank you for being an inspiration and a role model to us Mini Mustachians.

    • JJ June 21, 2012, 3:16 pm

      Spot on – having a great example of integrity, honesty and good intent ranks way higher than how to speak politely in my book…

      Good on ya MMM!


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