King for Just One Day

These summer vacations are great. I’m sitting in a 150-year old house in the heart of downtown Hamilton, Ontario and enjoying the steamy warmth of the Great Lakes area, the lush vegetation and well-tended gardens that only our elders seem to master, and some of the world’s best home cooking.

During earlier stops on this same trip, I had the pleasure of touring the nicest district of a historic city, drinking new kinds of beer with interesting new people, eating in a stylish Colombian restaurant (who knew those even existed?) zooming along the Chicago waterfront in a brand-new luxury motorboat, and riding around in the fast and expensive cars of  various friends. I’ve even had the chance to spend quite a few hours playing with the latest gadgets – iPads and the Blackberry Playbook tablet, new computers, and a gigantic 3-D television.

All of these things seemed pretty prestigious. Each one of them would take quite a bit of effort and money if I wanted to incorporate them into my own daily life back in Colorado. But while I enjoyed each experience to its fullest, I have no plan to copy any of them. And that’s because of a trick I have adopted: I like to call it the “King for Just One Day Method”.

You see, luxury experiences are luxurious precisely because they are novel. If you ask a kid who has grown up in a waterfront mansion how excited he is about his parents’ house, he will probably describe the experience in pretty mundane terms. As you get used to a new luxury, the fun rapidly wears off. In fact, I can even draw a graph of it for you:

Figure 1: Effect of Fancy New Stuff

As you can see, most of the fun happens right at the beginning. When I bought myself a really fast motorcycle back in 2001, the best riding experience was the first day I took it up into the mountains. If I bought myself that Tesla Roadster I occasionally fantasize about, the peak experience would again be those first few days or weeks of ownership. The fancy boat in Chicago would lose its thrill after the first season, and a fancy restaurant becomes commonplace after a few visits.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the initial thrill is pretty exciting. And luckily, in our modern and prosperous world, friendly people like you Mustachians are likely to be exposed to plenty of those thrills, whether you seek them out or not.

You might end up in a job where you get to take business trips, bringing your fancy gadgets in special bags onto a jet that can take you to beautiful and distant parts of the planet. You might even get to purchase a salad of seared Ahi tuna over a bed of mixed greens with a rich sesami ginger dressing, while your employer pays the bill. Others will get a chance to swim amongst tropical fish in crystal clear turquoise seas, or sleep in the home of a very wealthy friend or family member, enjoying a view or amenities that most of our fellow humans could only dream of.

Even more fun than sharing these peak experiences offered by others, is offering your own. When a friend visits my house for the first time, I’m pleased to provide the insider’s tour of some of the world’s best snowboarding, mountain biking, brew pubs, and camping and river activities. These things have become commonplace for me, but usually seem pretty amazing to new guests.

The key to making the most of these experiences is to enjoy them for what they are, without idolizing them as a necessary part of everyday life. All of us have got plenty of neat things to keep us busy in life, and if you take a careful inventory you’ll see that there are already many options you already have that are going unused.

So when you experience new things that seem better than the equivalent things in your own life, avoid the temptation to copy them. I don’t need to get my own new yacht, because I’ve already raided that Best First Day courtesy of my friend’s new yacht. I don’t need to buy a seared Ahi tuna salad in a prestigious coastal restaurant every day, because I already enjoyed that initial thrill during a business trip. I don’t even need other amazing new experiences every day, because even amazing days would start to blur together if they weren’t properly grounded with days of quiet introspection and other days of good old fashioned hard work.

Lower-income people can lose their envy of the rich by learning that a life of constant luxury is not any better than a life of simplicity punctuated by the plentiful novelty that Life automatically invents for us. And rich people can lose their slavery to their own wealth by learning that seeking out constant luxury is like listening to a radio where someone flips from one station to the next every few seconds. Listen to the whole damned song! Then listen to the whole album, and if you can handle it, try making some of your own music!

Write your own list of the Ways that you’ve Got it Good, and then dig in and enjoy them ALL this summer, before going out to purchase any more add-ons to your already great life.

  • Grant June 28, 2012, 9:10 pm

    I have some pretty good mountain bike trails within a couple of minutes ride from my house (maybe not quite as good as those near you, but still…)

    I do at times take these for granted, and it no longer feels like I live the life of luxury (where luxury = convenient and awesome mountain bike trails). A way I can make the trails feel new and exciting again is to take an out-of-town friend for a ride there, or introduce someone new to cycling to the joys of off road riding.

    I think what I’m trying to say is that the things we feel are mundane in our own lives can be made new again by experiencing them with others for the first time…

    • CG July 1, 2012, 3:31 am

      Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
      Since, seldom coming in the long year set,
      Like stones of worth they thinly placed are . .

      Shakespeare: Sonnet LII

    • larrylivewire July 5, 2012, 7:40 pm

      Hit the nail on the head with the comment about entertaining out-of-town friends to make your area seem exciting again.

      Living right near DC I’ll sometimes take for granted the mall, museums, parks, and monuments that I am lucky to have such easy accessibility to. However, it is always great to bring guests into the city to view it through their eyes and gain a fresh perspective.

      Also, same deal for me with teaching someone snowboarding. What would have been an average day on the local mountains (read: small hills) turns into a great experience when watching a friend grasp the joy of linking their first few turns together on a board.

  • Rich M. June 28, 2012, 10:00 pm

    Wait a second. I thought this site was devoted to retiring early. This post just supports my feelings that I don’t want to retire, because my job is so fun and they send me on these adventures every year.

    I just got back from The San Juan Islands for a two week work trip–plus a week vacation with the wife.. Sucked coming back from sub 60F temps to 101 F in Boulder.

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 28, 2012, 10:04 pm


      Say, why did you decide to come back to Boulder instead of riding out the hot season in the islands?

      Oh yeah, right … because you had to be back at work. :-)

      I’ll be back in town towards the end of August, as the nights cool down and the thrill of international travel has been fully absorbed!

      • GeoffK June 29, 2012, 12:46 am

        Nice reply. :)

      • ultrarunner June 29, 2012, 4:31 pm

        There may not be anything left by August, the way things are burning around here. :-(

      • It figures June 29, 2012, 8:50 pm

        We Live in Hamilton! If I had known you were traveling through I would have invited you to stay with our family:) we back onto a park with bike trails and fun stuff for kids. Enjoy the rest of your vacation in Canada!

    • Hibryd June 29, 2012, 3:00 pm

      Rich M: “I thought this site was devoted to retiring early. This post just supports my feelings that I don’t want to retire, because my job is so fun and they send me on these adventures every year.”

      Has anyone on this site/forums/comments tried to come up with better words than “retire” and “retirement”? I mean, the rest of the world uses “retire” to mean “not working at all”, when Mustachians need a word for “working if, when, and where you want to”. I guess “Financial Independence” or “Financial Freedom” describe the state you’re in, but they don’t make for good verbs.

      (Note: I haven’t gone through a lot of the forums or past posts, so this might have already come up.)

      • Julia K. June 29, 2012, 4:40 pm

        This site is devoted to Financially Independing?

        I always appreciate back-formations.

    • Dan July 2, 2012, 8:46 am

      I just recently gave up a travel-based job (sadly, for another job, not for partial retirement). The best part about that job was the three months I took off last year to travel and do absolute jack with the a) money I made doing said job and b) airline miles and hotel points from said business travel.

      As MMM says, I don’t need to do that every year because I just did it last year. I’m some junkie always looking for my next score because I’m clear-minded enough to remember my last one.

    • FreeUrChains July 3, 2012, 10:14 am

      And if you wish to stay in the islands for a Year, Two, or Twenty? With FI, as long as the USD exists and you have passive income greater then your expenses, then you can stay anywhere world wide for as long as you wish (only when expenses for flights are no more then every 6 months).

  • DiggingForDividends June 28, 2012, 10:02 pm

    Nailed it. I grew up snowboarding some of the best terrain this side of the world has to offer. When I take friends or family to Banff, they’re always blown away. I enjoy it, but in my humble opinion it doesn’t compare what I grew up with.

    It’s easy to lose track of how good you got it, although a yacht does sound like a pretty cool experience. It’s nice having friends in high places!

    • GregK June 29, 2012, 12:37 pm

      Love Banff… don’t hate!

      The Alps are unparalleled in my experience, however… either way, “real mountains” beat the mole hills we New Yorkers are stuck with for day-to-day skiing/boarding…

  • tammyLav June 28, 2012, 10:21 pm

    I work for a nonprofit arts council, so I get the goods on all the free arts events in the area… like the Mexican heritage block party I took the kids to today… great and plentiful free food from all the local Mexican restaurants, live music, dancing and enjoying good company. There is music in the park, theater… great fun!

  • Cindy June 28, 2012, 10:29 pm

    Love the hand-drawn chart, and think it’s totally true. Thanks for posting, even when you’re away from home…I think I’m now officially addicted to your blog!

    • Dan July 2, 2012, 8:54 am

      To me, the “Effect of Fancy New Stuff” is not so much a deterrent to buy things as it is a procrastination of buying them. Generally, it’s only a matter of time before I find justification (i.e. a better deal) for buying the things I want, most of which is junk.

      I don’t generally buy fancy things though so maybe there’s a different chart for just “new stuff.”

  • mike crosby June 28, 2012, 11:01 pm

    There’s a lot of experiences I won’t ever see. I enjoy reading blogs about these perpetual travelers who’ve been to dozens of countries.

    I’ve had the boat, motorcycles etc.

    It’s hard to not have those things and think you need them to have a fuller life. You don’t. And I think that someone who doesn’t have those things or those experiences and not yearn for them and still be happy is ahead of the game.

    I recently read somewhere that we need not only to be grateful for the things we have, but for the things we don’t have.

    • jlcollinsnh August 11, 2012, 9:25 pm

      “we need not only to be grateful for the things we have, but for the things we don’t have.”

      great quote, Mike!

    • Bram April 17, 2015, 7:29 am

      A quote from a friend of mine:
      “A boat gives you happiness twice; once when you buy it, once when you sell it.”

      • Marty May 4, 2015, 11:17 am

        And the second profound quote about boats–“A boat is a hole in the water, into which you pour money.”

  • Mr. Risky Startup June 28, 2012, 11:31 pm

    Now that you are back home, try Okanagan Pale Ale – my newest favourite summer beer. They have it at LCBO and some better stocked pubs.

    • Dee June 30, 2012, 6:40 am

      Also, try Beau’s. Yum!

  • Oskar June 29, 2012, 1:55 am

    We currently are hosting family and friends from Mexico here in sweden and they help us see how wonderful the world we live in is as they see all the sights with new eyes. The same thing but in the opposite direction happend last year when we spent time in mexico:-)

    Thanks for Another great post and happy vacation, we only have 4 weeks this summer……:-(

    • Diane June 29, 2012, 9:42 am

      For a fleeting second, I thought you meant your actual summer was only four weeks long in Sweden. Then I realized that you meant your VACATION will only be four weeks long. If that doesn’t illustrate MMM’s point perfectly, I don’t know what does.

      Here in the good ol’ US of A, vacations are far more paltry. I’ve been at my job for six years and get TEN vacation DAYS, SEVEN paid HOLIDAYS, and ZERO sick days PER YEAR! And that’s a fairly standard arrangement. (Sorry for the shouting, I’m just trying to make a point.) OTOH, I live in California, so even busy work days are often filled with sunshine.

      As MMM suggests, savor your whole month of vacation, knowing you will still have more time to look forward to before the year is through. Your situation is enviable and the exception in a lot of the world. (Yes, I know about your taxes, but you also have health care. Probably better not to get me started on that topic…) It’s also why I’m striving for FI. Eventually, “vacation days” will have an entirely different meaning.

      • Bram April 17, 2015, 7:32 am

        Can I ask you, how does that work, having zero sick days? Your employer does not allow you to be sick, so you come to work sick and make everyone else sick too? But basically they take it as unpaid leave I guess?

        I can be sick “as many days” as I “can”. It will be paid. I’m pretty sure they will send a doctor over to check on me really being sick eventually, though :)

        • IAmNotABartender April 30, 2015, 7:08 pm

          I had PTO, which is essentially vacation and sick rolled into one – so, yeah, that encouraged me to work when I was sick.
          Now I have a separate pool of 40 sick days a year, so I take the time to recover when I get sick (barring pressing deadlines), and I think that’s a much better system.

  • catalana June 29, 2012, 2:37 am

    Nice piece around the law of diminishing marginal returns. I particularly love the crystalisation of the “Best First Day” idea!

  • SomeYoungGuy June 29, 2012, 3:08 am

    Talk about feeling like a king for a day, my most recent once-in-a-lifetime experience, flying from Paris to Dubai First Class on an A380. Holy cow, who knew you could take a shower and hang out at a bar on a flight?! I would never get to do this on my own dime, I only fly economy, but I had to travel for work and then I got upgraded. I’ve always dreamed of flying on a private jet, so this pretty much satisfies that bucket list entry! Now I can coast for a while…

    • catalana June 29, 2012, 3:33 am

      LOL ….. it will be a killer the next time you have a long flight in economy though! Business class (never mind First) is one experience I would happily keep repeating. Interesting though, because business class travel for me isn’t about “Best First Day” but “Least Horrible First Day”.

      • Heath June 29, 2012, 7:37 am

        That’s one of the big points of this article, though! Don’t let your once-off luxuries become something that you feel you ‘need’ to have.

        “The key to making the most of these experiences is to enjoy them for what they are, without idolizing them as a necessary part of everyday life.”

        If we do some fancy stuff a few times, we normalize to it, and then it’s not as awesome, and anything less is bad. Sounds to me like you need to start riding in economy again. You’ll save your stash AND re-acclimate after a few runs.

        • catalana June 29, 2012, 8:29 am

          Gosh, I never said I travelled Business Class when I am paying! I rarely fly in my leisure time, and then it is strictly budget airlines.

          I guess what I was suggesting was that the fancy stuff (like First class travel) can perhaps spoil what was otherwise acceptable day-to-day life. I suppose it is the principle of “You don’t miss what you’ve never had”.

  • GP June 29, 2012, 5:05 am

    Hamilton FTW!

    Part of my cunning plan for FI involves selling my house in Toronto and buying a smaller and much much cheaper place in the West End of Hamilton. I hope to be doing that this fall.

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 29, 2012, 7:09 am

      Very wise GP! Hamilton is ridiculously cheap (for now) compared to Toronto. The cities are really just two parts of one giant blob, and everything is connected by train anyway.

      I’m sitting 57km SW of downtown Toronto, and houses are still in the low 200s here, plus it’s a real city. If you go that distance Northeast from downtown, you get higher prices, colder winters* and bleak vinyl-clad bedroom community suburbs instead.

      *due to distance from the lakes – Hamilton is quite a bit warmer than most of Ontario in the winter, cooler in summer.

      • Pat June 29, 2012, 7:30 am

        Agreed! Living in Toronto now at 25 is great for starting out a career, all of our friends from school are in the city, the TTC provides a (relatively) cheap form of transportation and there’s always something going on in the city.

        However, after keeping my eye on housing prices the last few years I can absolutely guarantee you that I’ll never make Toronto my permanent home. Just knowing that other friends/relatives are buying houses at 1/5 the price in smaller cities, it boggles my mind how people can decide to purchase a home here.

      • BettyM June 29, 2012, 10:12 am

        Shhhh….don’t let out the secret too much. We Hamiltonians try to keep it so everyone thinks the place is a complete dump and nasty to live in. Keeps the housing prices lower :)

        • JJ June 29, 2012, 4:08 pm

          Yeah – you don’t want the “Longmont Effect” happening there…

  • Ramona June 29, 2012, 5:23 am

    Welcome back to Hamilton, M. Just in time for the first muggy long weekend. Best be picking up some of those summer brews like MRS mentioned. Enjoy your family reunion!

  • Jill June 29, 2012, 5:53 am

    So true that the thrill wears off! I got divorced last year and moved to a modest house that I really like. I just drove by my old neighborhood for the first time last night and looked at my old house. It was a mansion! It honestly didn’t feel like a mansion when I was living there, it was just a house,(a very expensive house with a crippling mortgage).

  • Jill June 29, 2012, 5:56 am

    Oh, and I’ve always jokingly told my son to make friends with the rich kids! I grew up poor, but often got to go on awesome family vacations with friends!

  • Rusty Williams June 29, 2012, 5:58 am

    I love this post. It seems straight out of YMOYL. It also reminds me of an old arabian proverb “all sunshine makes a desert.” We have to have the bad/mundane to appreciate the good/exotic.

  • Gerard June 29, 2012, 6:37 am

    For me, this works even with much less luxurious things. I live somewhere with very few deciduous trees, so a walk in a leafy park is a great joy to me (while a hike here, with ocean views and icebergs and whales, is amazing to visitors — http://eastcoasttrail.ca/trail/).

    Or even farther down the evolutionary scale: if I had cable and watched Storage Wars all the time, I would be bored. But once a year, it’s a hoot! And I can watch the commercials and think, “Who buys this shit?” instead of “Gosh, that kitchen gadget looks really useful!”

  • Mike June 29, 2012, 6:39 am

    Is that a Columbian restaurant or a Colombian restaurant? Because you’re right, I didn’t know they even existed.
    Sorry, I know I’m a dick. Love the blog, I’ve read pretty much every post so far.


    • Mr. Money Mustache June 29, 2012, 6:57 am

      Thanks Mike! I fixed that, and I probably would never have noticed because I know so little about Colombia (other than the new fact that they eat big chunks of tasty bacon and steak with avocados and plaintains cooked into the mix).

      • David ATL June 29, 2012, 7:13 am

        Thanks MMM, Love your blog, but that misspelling was getting to me too.

        Columbian restaurant do exist, and they serve some of the best barbecue in the state of South Carolina. But I prefer the chicharron carnudo, ajiaco, morcilla, arepa and the many other fine foods of Colombian restaurants (and home cooking).

        Thanks from a fellow traveler growing his own lower nose accoutrement

        • Shorter Dinosaur June 30, 2012, 5:44 am

          *cough* Colombia also has a burgeoning economy and lies on the Ring of Fire, incorporates part of the Andes, the Amazon, a long Pacific coast, a Caribbean coast, savannah lands, and a desert region on the border toward Venezuela. I think there are something like seven very distinct regional cuisines in Colombia because of the different climates. It’s kind of an awesome place, and deserves mad props!

          PSA over. :D

  • gestalt162 June 29, 2012, 6:58 am

    Very true. Growing up (and currently living) with Niagara Falls in my backyard, it’s just another part of the landscape for me, but every time friends come in from out of town, they are blown away by the Falls.

  • darkelenchus June 29, 2012, 7:29 am

    Long time reader & middle time (?) forum participant, but first time commenter! This is interesting to think about in conjunction with the post about hedonic adaptation. The thesis seems to be that happiness – or a stillness of mind, if you will – is a mixture of being comfortable with your everyday, enjoying massive spikes in pleasures that come with new experiences, and then, knowing that the pleasures are transitory, letting them go before acclimation sets in and you come to expect those experiences. Very Stoic. Somewhat Buddhist.

  • dilbert June 29, 2012, 7:50 am

    So when is the MMM Ontario meet and greet? I’m just south of London.

  • Rebecca June 29, 2012, 8:26 am

    Yep, diminishing returns is why we end up with all sorts of crap and expensive cars…and no garage space :)

  • BettyM June 29, 2012, 8:29 am

    The Hammer! Welcome! It’s going to be super hot and muggy. I like your more eloquent description of ‘steamy warmth’ though. If you need to beat the heat I’d suggest a dip in Lake Ontario as it’s atypically warm for this time of year. Still a little chilly, but we call it ‘refreshing’. Near the lift bridge on the Hamilton side it’s quite nice. It’s also naturally cooler down here.

    Hope you enjoy our ‘rough around the edges’ city. If you need any suggestions on places to go, drop me a line. I will be drinking beers on the porch, gardening, and running into the lake, so I may be slow to respond :)

  • ESB June 29, 2012, 8:36 am

    I buy into an older neighborhood pool for the summer. It is larger than a private pool and I don’t have to clean it. For less than the price of pool chemicals I can make up for my pool deprived childhood. It is a little dated but there is rarely anyone there. If I was in an extoic local or an expensive country club, I wounldn’t be any happier. The sun, trees and water are all the same no matter where you are. They bring complete bliss.

  • Mr. Everyday Dollar June 29, 2012, 8:37 am

    I think you’re getting to this fundamental question:

    Does conspicuous consumption make you happy?

    I was having this conversation with a friend the other day, a friend who has had 7 new cars since the time I met him 8 years ago. His most recent is a very fast and very cool Porsche 911.

    I asked him if his Porsche made him happy. I would have guessed he would say yes but after thinking for awhile, he said:

    “No, but it is really fun to drop the top and take a trip out to wine country”.

    That, to me, is a very expensive way to have fun!

    Mr. Everyday Dollar

  • Jeh June 29, 2012, 8:38 am

    This reminds me of a book I’m currently reading with my wife and kids (I’ve read it twice already, this is the first time for them) called “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” by William B. Irvine. It’s one MMM is familiar with, as he wrote a nice post about it back in October: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/02/what-is-stoicism-and-how-can-it-turn-your-life-to-solid-gold/.

    One of the big points of discussion in the book is the idea of “hedonic adaptation”, a topic this post also discusses but under a different name. Anyone who resonates with the ideas in this post should also pick up the above book, you’ll find a lot of excellent life advice within its pages.

  • maddy June 29, 2012, 8:48 am

    Oh My God you’re in downtown Hamilton !
    Please come and visit I shall buy you lunch. I work at Hughson St South downtown near the Jackson Square. I have so many questions about stocks…and there is a big festival this weekend (June 29th – July 2 at Gage Park), check out http://www.hamiltonfolkarts.org/. Contact by email please !!

  • Iron Mike June 29, 2012, 9:12 am

    This weekend I will be combining two pieces of priceless advice contained in the article 1. To take advantage of things I already have that are awesome but going unused and 2. To add a fresh perspective to an experience that I’ve already had by bringing along a new and highly excited participant.

    To accomplish this, I’ll be going tent camping about an hour from our house in NJ with my 2 ½ year old son. The campgrounds have a kid-friendly pool, a stocked lake, little boats to paddle and a bunch of other fun things. I already have the tent, fishing rods and whatever small amount of gear that we’ll need and so the out of pocket costs are super minimal. Just $15 per night for me, and he’s free.

    I feel that children are the ultimate partners in making so many of these experiences a reality. Seeing the things that are routine to us through their fresh set of eyes is, and will continue to be, a wonderful experience for my wife & I and was frankly one of the main reasons that we wanted to have children – to have more of these child-like experiences that we’d never make the time for without them.

  • RichUncle EL June 29, 2012, 10:36 am

    Ok now I have so many thoughts in my head about all the first time luxuries I have experienced in life. I wish I were retired so I can have the time to do a list like that. LOL. I agree with you that everything in life wears off and just becomes commonplace.

  • Devil's Advocate June 29, 2012, 10:48 am


    The law of diminishing returns could also pertain to the amount of happiness you have in your “early retirement”. The comment above about vacationing in the islands for his job made me reflect that his experience would gradually not be as fun as time wore on…

    In other words a vacation as employed people call it is simply a temporary retirement from work and your retirement is a permanent vacation. As time wears on perhaps your fun level will diminish too?

    Just a thought.

    Really your early retirement should be called “self employed”. I don’t disparage your situation though! You are the man!


    • Mr. Money Mustache June 29, 2012, 12:36 pm

      I think you’re right – a strict retirement involving doing no work could get old pretty quickly. Just as having a compulsory job of any sort would get old for me. The way I’ve kept retirement fun so far is by working pretty hard on a variety of things (and of course being a Dad which is the most demanding and long-term job of them all so far). The main goal is trying to keep learning.

      The reason I still call it retirement is because much of the work doesn’t involve getting paid, and none of the pay I do get is necessary to keep acquiring groceries. There will be an article about this soon, so watch your step about calling Mr. Money Mustache “not really retired”! :-)

      • rjack June 29, 2012, 6:43 pm

        I think you are both correct. I believe you have to find the optimum balance between challenge/stress and relaxation/boredom. This balance varies greatly from individual to individual and changes for the same individual over time.

    • Mike July 14, 2012, 7:10 am

      I see a key difference here–the Mustachian definition of “early retirement’ and really the concept of financial independence in general, is about having more choices. It isn’t tied to doing one thing over and over, in fact it is precisely the opposite. You have the choice to do what you want when you want, and you are not tied to doing it for any longer than it makes you happy to do so.

      That is the most attractive part of the idea of financial independence to me–not that I would not work or be productive, but that I can choose what to do with the large majority of my time, according to my own priorities. I am the type who needs to be constantly learning and growing to be happy. Early retirement to me is about freedom, not work avoidance.

  • Clint June 29, 2012, 10:48 am

    I like this. I really do. But here’s my problem. I get to go on quite a few neat trips–including Italy, Denmark etc. The company pays for everything, including some great meals, but my wife doesn’t get to go and is just a little jealous. It’s difficult telling the one you love that it’s no big deal when these kinds of adventures are her dream. It’s true it’s business and not always a ton of fun, but that line only goes so far.

    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple June 29, 2012, 12:06 pm

      Oh, I occasionally get jealous of my husband’s trips too (even though it’s not Italy or Denmark, more like DC, Detroit, and Arizona…hmmm…maybe I’m not too jealous).

      But what I do realize is that he’s generally working like a dog and doesn’t get any time off. He tends to schedule them so that he’s away from home the least amount of time possible.

      Can your wife never go? If I wanted to, I could go on some of these trips (never really wanted to). Well, that’s not true. My spouse had 2 back-to-back trips to DC, and rather than flying home Fri night and back out Sun morning, he stayed, and the kiddo and I joined him for a long weekend.

      • Clint June 30, 2012, 6:00 pm

        She does get to go, but rarely. Maybe three or four times in the past 20 years. Most of the time, it’s not doable for us for one reason or another. Ok … about to put on my complainy pants so I’ll stop there.

  • Rolf June 29, 2012, 11:50 am

    I get sent on business trips in the northern hemisphere 10-20 times a year. It is not fun :-)

    You get up very early on sunday to get a flight out. You arrive late or in the night and crash in the hotel. Wake up jetlagged the next morning. Splash water in face and suit up.
    Whole day is meeting with people to communicate and agree, and sometimes to push your own agenda down somebody elses throath becouse they are too stupid to recognize good business! Then go for dinner (highlight of the day) around 2000 hours. Go back to the hotel at 2200 and work through the emails. Then process any credits for funding etc.
    At 0100, go to bed and sleep until 0600 for an early workout.

    Business travel is so expensive that you justify it by working 18 hour days. No time for sightseeing and new experiences. Just airports and people, which is also kind of nice. Company policy forbids flying in early in the weekend or staying for the weekend even if I pay for the hotel.

    Totally agree on the new stuff. The “new” feeling is all very temporary. I like to purchase lasting value. My latest “gadget” is a nice lathe for the home workshop. It will last for the rest of my life and I will have tons of fun with it doing my projects. If I ever need to, I can recover at least 80% of my costs if selling it.

  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple June 29, 2012, 12:02 pm

    This is great! And especially important when you have kids. My son is on a constant search for something “fun” and “new”, which is probably normal for a 6 year old. It’s an effort as a parent to dial that back and keep special things “special”, because it can be really easy to give in.

    Yesterday, we went blueberry picking. Last night we went to a free concert. These are “special” things.

    Our son has friends who have had their birthday parties a 30 mile drive south. My husband was talking to a bunch of the dads and how they drive down to that city every weekend to “find something to do”. I guess they have their kids go to activities – mini golf, gymnastics, indoor play areas, etc. All we could think (besides, man, drive 1.5 round trip every weekend??) was this – we live in Santa Barbara. We have beaches, ocean, mountains, short and long hikes, parks, bike paths, a zoo, the library, a Natural History museum…even if we got tired of coloring, legos, and our backyard…plenty to do here!

    I see their point that it is more tiring to actually interact with your child though.

  • Allison June 29, 2012, 12:18 pm

    This article is right on the money! It is easy to take our personal abundance for granted. I find that I get as much satisfaction from sharing our lifestyle with others as I do from taking part in friends’. We have friends and family all over the world with all sorts of toys. Being a king for a day in good company with new experiences is always amazing. But, having a friend come up and spend a few nights with us, enjoying the Alaskan landscape and our outdoor adventures, helps me to appreciate what I have a little more. Seeing my day to day through someone else’s eyes make me realize that, despite the minutiae of a job, house, and chores, our life is pretty effing sweet!

  • Christian June 29, 2012, 12:57 pm

    Hey MMM, what about a post on how we avoid this effect in the things we choose to value over stuff, like relationships (friends, family, “honeymoon effect” in relationships, children) and experiences (e.g., the trips people keep mentioning in the comments)?

    I think a lot of what sets the ‘stache way of life apart is a focus on the Good Stuff in life, and it would be cool to see how we can maximize and appreciate those things – especially the ones we already have!

  • George June 29, 2012, 2:00 pm

    Another great point, it is good that you actually take the time to write down these ideas so that they are documented for future Mustachians. What you describe is another classic example of Hedonic adaption http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/22/what-is-hedonic-adaptation-and-how-can-it-turn-you-into-a-sukka/
    (which is another great post by the way)

    Further, all of this seems to go back to the same concept of the “Fulfillment Curve” that is talked about in Your Money, Your Life.

    There is a point where after you spend a certain amount of money you reach peak fulfillment which is defined as “Enough”. Any money spent beyond this point costs the same but gets you less in terms of life satisfaction.

    Like you say it is neat to see the fancy toys for a day or two but it is important not to let these luxury goods skew your idea of “Enough”. It seems a Mustachian must know how to resist the lure of fancy things and know what is really truly important to them. You have to protect your concept of “Enough” from the outside world and protect it from the marketing industry and protect it from company’s trying to convince that what you have is not good enough.

    The concept of “Enough” really seems to a fundamental building block of Mustachian way of life, or otherwise one will never reach FI. One cannot say ok I need X amount of dollars to reach early retirement and then see a yacht a day later and suddenly change that number to X + B amount to reach early retirement.

    There must be a set target amount of dollars X that does not change when you are saving, it cannot be a moving target (especially one that moves up due to newly found luxuries).

    This also explains why even though rich countries like the United States may have more wealth per capita than some other countries, there is very little difference in the happiness between them. In the rich countries, the added luxury was simply baked into the concept of normal over time for most of the population, and thus no longer seemed special.

  • Monevator June 29, 2012, 2:42 pm

    I owe my early savings to an amazing job in my 20s that took me all over the world and enabled me to do incredible things like drive a tank, gamble in Vegas with someone else’s money, and harass William Shatner (all true).

    I ate in far fancier places in my 20s, too! :)

    Hedonic adaption is my least favourite of all the adaptions.

  • Worsted Skeins June 29, 2012, 3:42 pm

    Some of us thank our lucky stars for falling into the good life…

    My beach community is currently filled with people paying much more for a week’s vacation than I pay for my mortgage on our modest home within walking/biking distance of the ocean. We bought when the market was completely undervalued and we bought less than we could supposedly “afford”. But who needs a fancy home when water and sand is just a walk or bike ride away?

    Enjoying my slice of paradise….

  • Bullseye June 29, 2012, 5:32 pm

    Hey! You’re in my neck of the woods! Is the Hammer your old home town? Let me if you want a beer on me, least I can do for all the good writing you’ve provided.

  • Devil's Advocate June 29, 2012, 5:59 pm

    The pay you are receiving may not be “necessary” now, but in x many years that may not be true depending on the market, dividends, rental returns, etc.

    The earned income you are receiving most likely surpasses your expenses/yr, therefore I call you self employed rather than “retired”.

    But I could be wrong!


  • rjack June 29, 2012, 6:40 pm

    I’m reading “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky which supports what you say about stuff and Hedonic Adaption.

    I strongly recommend the book because most of the happiness strategies/tactics are based on research.

    One interesting thing I learned relates to Gratitude Journals. Her research showed that you should only write an entry in your Gratitude Journal about once per week. If you do it more frequently, you will suffer Hedonic Adaption to the Gratitude Journal process.

    MMM – I think you should add the book to your reading list because I would really like to read your opinion.

  • Mike June 29, 2012, 6:56 pm

    I actually have a more general question about this point that’s been bothering me for a while as I’ve tried to incorporate some of the MMM philosophy into my life. Due to where I live and the company I keep, many people I know invite me to do things that a quite expensive.

    I feel as though I “owe” them something for them having invited me of their boat, to a private party, or trip, even though these aren’t things I’d pay for on my own. How do I either 1) adequately “pay them back” without spending a bunch of money or 2) stop feeling guilty?

    Love the blog MMM, have fun in Canada!

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 29, 2012, 11:43 pm

      I think you can pay them back by offering complementary skills.. Maybe ypu’re a pretty good cook and can bring great food.. Or maybe you’re just really funny and provide great company. In general, if people keep inviting you places, you’re doing fine. And even if not, that helps you sort out the right vs. wrong group of friends! The key is just to not worry about all of it too much. That feeds back into making you more fun to be around, increasing invitations!

    • JJ June 30, 2012, 1:58 am

      Generosity takes many forms – not just material. I have been invited back to a wealthy friend’s place a number of times. Early on I fixed his fridge shelf with an “unpeeled” coke can, some contact adhesive and a couple of pop-rivets. This is a novelty money can’t buy for someone who generally mixes with the “gotta have the latest” crowd. He was ready to throw his fridge out – that was in 2007. He still has the fridge and he still appreciates that a house guest took the time to help out with a hands-on problem. You’ll be amazed at how a lot of wealthy folk enjoy the “grounding” effect of someone more down-to-earth.

      It’s a good idea, I think, to avoid turning up empty-handed even if you are also offering time/services. You may not be able to (or want to) keep up with your friends’ spend rate but you should bring a token of some kind however small. Whether or not they appreciate it amongst their myriad possessions is almost irrelevant – it sets you up to be more relaxed and better company. A small amount of high quality (e.g. four great European chocolates @ $2.50 ea) is better than a large amount of poor quality for wealthy friends. Look at figure 1 in MMM’s post for why…

      If you are thoughtful about what really makes people happy you’ll have no problem with guilt or “repayment” and as MMM says, if you don’t get invited back you probably don’t want to be.

    • Jason from Seattle June 30, 2012, 6:08 pm

      Mike, first, don’t sweat it too much. Second, Bring a bottle of wine if your friends are fancy or a case of beer if they aren’t. I bring other friends their favorite whole bean coffee. It shows appreciation. I’ve got friends from almost poor to almost rich while I myself am upper middle class from a lower middle class background.

      The hard part is when you get invited to showy expensive yuppie events where you can’t help but spend money. For example, I love sushi. I _HATE_ going to sushi with a bunch of people. You end up splitting the tab N ways after people order $15 rolls and $40 saki. Hate that shit.

      • IAmNotABartender April 30, 2015, 9:47 pm

        I don’t like splitting checks evenly. Everyone should pay for what they consumed.

  • Daniel June 29, 2012, 8:44 pm

    I liteally had to take up heroin to hold it a week without a post. Thanks Dr. Stache

  • Shilpan June 30, 2012, 11:17 am

    The new paradigm of minimalism is to keep daily life on a simple path while taking pleasure trips to rent best luxuries your money can buy. There is nothing like exploring different parts of the world and experiencing nicest hotels and restaurants, cars etc. You can do that for 2 months of the year and save like a monk during the rest of the time.

    • FreeUrChains July 3, 2012, 10:28 am

      I love doing this. It’s even cheaper when you start making real friends Overseas. I stayed with a few friends in Tokyo, Romania, London, Crete, and Ibiza!

      Nothing beats Japanese Minimalism! Americans should really learn and prepare our behaviors and lifestyles for the overcrowdedness of Population Growth!

  • KittyWrestler July 2, 2012, 3:08 pm

    Agree on everything except the iPad. It has been the best tool I ever purchased. used it daily and the thrill is still there! I love it!! Get this; while purchasing a house and selling the other two this past year, I didn’t print a single page out.. Get all the paperwork through my iPad, sign it by using GoodReader, file it on Dropbox and email the annotated copies back.. ended up saving hundreds of pages of printing, archiving.. all done while I was on the road traveling!

  • MikeW July 3, 2012, 8:28 am

    Psychologists have studied this phenomenon for a number of years, although this is far more fun to read.

    Here are a couple of summaries:



    Our needs are few, our wants are infinite (unless you are a mustachian).

  • FreeUrChains July 3, 2012, 10:23 am


    My graph rises (then falls) everytime I get to introduce the Fancy Device to someone new. (In my case a 55″ LED Samsung TV, with Xbox 360 and PC connections, that i got after saving and patiently waiting for the greatest deal, $1k + NT + FS).

    Granted new hobbies and mastering of skills have a increasing slopes for Happiness. Medieval History anyone? I just shot my first Flamed Arrow into a River last night! One day hopefully into a barrel of gunpowder 100 yards away. Now my vids are taking in some coin from this hobby.

  • Eric July 3, 2012, 2:20 pm

    Thank you. I think I’ll save for my next investment property rather than buy that sports car :)

  • pachipres July 3, 2012, 8:49 pm

    Thanks for your article MMM. It reminded me of Money or Your Life book about the “fulfillment” scale.

    Four years ago I purchased this really old, scuzy cabin that had mold growing in the shower and every summer I loved going there for weeks at a time with my younger three boys and my older two girls visiting occasionally on the weekends. I never lost the thrill feeling of owning my own place 7 minutes walking distance to a beautiful lake. Sadly we were forced to demolish the “piece of rotten junk” as my six year old called it. Great memories there!

  • bobwerner October 4, 2013, 8:14 am

    We own are experiences and memories. Houses, boats and things own us. I live at a lake destination where the two happiest days in a mans life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it! Whereas I bought a 100$ river kayak that I am very happy everytime I use it, rain, shine, cold or hot. Will never sell and yes, I have an extra one in central mo for any MMM person who would like to enhance my experience by joining me. Its not where your going but who your going with.

  • Luke McCarthy June 16, 2014, 10:35 am

    I find this quite funny since I bought a Blackberry Playbook tablet over 2 years ago before I had learned to wean myself off impulsive technology purchases. Now it is seriously out of date and I sold it for only 15% of the original purchase price on eBay. In fact I had bought 2 more tablets in the intervening period – a Nexus 7 (2012) and Nexus 7 (2013). I had fallen into the trap of annually updating my technology! These days I will keep my newer Nexus 7 until it breaks and I might not bother buying a new one to replace it (since it hardly gets used very much anyway).


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