Is it Convenient? Would I Enjoy it? Wrong Question.

A recent paraphrase from a Beginner Mustachian:

“Hey MMM. I can see the financial benefits of your lifestyle. But I just have different tastes. I like my better wine, and my husband really likes his books and his iPad. So we figure that if we would really enjoy something, we might as well get it. And, you know, at this stage we can really afford it.”
– person who still has mortgage debt and a cost of living that will require them to work for the next 20 years. 

Mustachians like you and I are engaged in a lifelong process of increasing our wealth.

In the beginning stage, the goal is mostly monetary wealth, and I see no problem with that. Money is a big and exciting part of our culture. And most of us start out with our arms and legs tangled up in the stuff to the point that it is a source of stress, status, and a loss of autonomy. The need for money is forcing us to set alarm clocks and drive to other cities every morning, give up on the chance of raising our own kids, and sign up for terms of voluntary slavery that can extend 45 years or longer. When you arrive at the door of the Temple of Mustachianism in this condition, it is natural that you’ll have your mind on your money and your money on your mind.

But as powerful as the problem of money seems to a beginner, there really is a solution. Applying the principles of this blog (or many of the other books and websites on financial independence) will almost certainly make you wealthy enough to be free from the need to work for money in a reasonable amount of time.

But then what? The pursuit of wealth still continues, but it just moves to the higher level of accumulating Life Wealth. Freedom, self-actualization, learning, generosity, and other fancy stuff that seems like an untouchable luxury to someone who is struggling to survive, will become your day-to-day challenge. And it’s a happy place, although not one without its own pitfalls.

Now that I’m really old (38 next month), I’ve had a chance to study both sides for quite a few years. And there really is a pattern that shows up as people transition from desperate consumer to seasoned retiree.

That pattern could be summed up like this: “Getting rich is more mental than it is tactical“.

When people first start reading up on how we’re all becoming rich here, their first questions are ones like these:

“How could I possibly live on 50% of my income? Or 25%?”
“How can I cut costs? What are your top three tips?”
“Why is your electric bill a third of mine, and your grocery bill half?”
“How will you pay for your healthcare? Your son’s education? Valuable travel experiences?”

They’re all good questions. But you’ll notice that they are tactical in nature. People want tips and recipes for saving money.

Solid tips are valuable resources, but they work a lot better if they are combined with changes to your mind that make the tips turn into real improvements in your lifestyle, rather than temporary deprivations which are simply means to the end of getting more money in the bank.

“What do you mean, changes to my mind? We’re all born with a certain mind, and it’s fixed for our whole lifetimes. I just want the money-saving tips please, Mustache.”

If you find yourself agreeing even remotely with that statement, I’m excited on your behalf, because it means we have a lot more to learn together.

Even if you’ve never heard of the ancient art of controlling your own mind, that doesn’t mean your noggin is an untouched virgin which has never been modified. It just means that until this point, someone else has been doing all the controlling. Your cultural values and beliefs, your attitudes towards hard work and struggle, and virtually all of your desires to own anything, from a certain style of house to a vacation destination, have been programmed into you by the outside world. Most of your desires are not your own!

To balance the scale a little, all you need to do is understand that you can program your own mind in completely the opposite way. You can build habits, you can eliminate most of your irrational fears, and you can even eliminate most of your irrational desires. The idea of programming your own mind is extremely powerful, it has been practiced since even before the ancient Greeks (see: Stoicism), and it’s relatively easy to do. And yet it’s a practice so rare that the standard Joe Consumer type will think you are a magical superhero if you have the ability to do it. Don’t believe me? Check out this quote:

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.

Old-time Mustachian H.D. Thoreau, 1817-1862 

Is this antique, folksy wisdom that no longer applies in the modern world now that iPads have been invented? Or is Thoreau actually a mind-control badass who figured something out that most people who have come after him have forgotten?

The answer is of course option b). You really ARE rich according to how many things you can train yourself NOT to want. But note that this is completely different than just perpetually wanting things, and aching inside every time you can’t buy them. It’s a much more powerful skill.

One of my friends has a $75,000 motorboat. I have more than enough money to buy a boat just like his and park it next to him in the marina. I wouldn’t even have to come out of retirement to be able to afford this purchase.  But yet somehow, I don’t even want a motorboat. Even with ten times my current wealth, or one thousand times, I still would not want the boat, or a luxury car, or even a bigger house.

 This freedom from desire is actually making me richer, because it allows me to focus on things other than things. And as it turns out, wanting less is an age-old recipe for having a much better life. But to believe it, you need to have control of your own mind at first. So let’s start getting some of that control right now, with a couple of examples.

Let’s suppose you want the latest iPad. You want it because it is convenient to be able to look at pictures and websites and books and play music around the house. Sure, you already have other computers that do those things, but the iPad is special because it lets you do them while holding it in one hand, sitting on the couch.

Wow, that couch is pretty convenient too, isn’t it? It is comfortable, enjoyable, convenient, and joyful to sit and lie on your couch. In fact, wouldn’t it be best to just lie on that couch all day? Forever? Yeah! Maybe you could even hook it up with a catheter and a bedpan, and a friend or robot could bring you all your food on the couch too. With each release, the latest iPad could be delivered to you, and you’d have the most convenient and comfortable and effort-free life ever.

Maybe you were with me for the first bit of that paragraph, but it probably lost its appeal by the time we reached the end, right? And indeed, with proper understanding, almost any consumer purchase (and almost any bad habit) these days, beyond the necessities, should start to sound like a catheter and a bedpan to you.

“I really like my Land Rover, and I deserve it because I’m a big executive now. It’s much faster than biking those five miles to work. Especially since I don’t want to arrive at work all sweaty”. Uh-huh. And it’s much more convenient than a compact hatchback, because you don’t have to bend your knees to get into the driver’s seat. And you no longer have to wait a whole ten seconds to accelerate to 60MPH, because it has a big enough engine to pull its enormous bulk to that speed in only six seconds. Would you, by any chance, like a catheter and a bedpan to go with that?

“I like running my A/C at 72 degrees, because it’s just so nice to come in out of the Texas heat into a fresh, cool house. Then I do the laundry and use my electric clothes dryer to get crisp, hot clothes ready to wear without all that hassle of hanging them up to dry”. Uh-huh. If only your clothes were equipped with catheters and bedpans, then you’d really be set, wouldn’t you!?

We could go on and on with this theme (and you’re welcome to do so in the comments, because I find it pretty funny). But the bottom line is, virtually everything we buy is actually a form of false happiness, a slippery slope that ends at the catheter and the bedpan, and the earlier on the slope that you catch yourself, the richer and happier you will be.

Mental Exercise: The next time you really want to buy some sort of treat for yourself, whether it’s a latte or a Mercedes, try the trick of not buying it instead. Mockingly offer yourself a catheter and a bedpan as a substitute.

Then over the coming months, make a note of your feelings of desire for that item you skipped. How do you feel about not owning it? Are you happy? What are you doing with the time and money that would have been spent in acquiring that item? How do you feel about the accomplishment of voluntarily controlling your urge to buy something? Do you feel more in control of your life in general? Repeat the experiment with more items over time, and note the change in your feelings

Once you master this basic mental framework, you are truly ready to breeze through the tactical aspect of getting rich. Now that you know that virtually no purchases, regardless of their convenience or enjoyability, will actually make you happier, you can instead make the decision based on whether or not you can afford it.

You just need a new definition of “can I afford it?”

If you still need to work for money, or at the very least, if you’re not saving at least 50% of your take-home pay, you can not afford it. Where “it” is anything.

In certain cases, you will still buy things you can’t afford. Groceries are a good example. A bike is another one, because like all good investments it earns you money rather than costing you. Housing, clothing, and plain old FUN with your friends and family are also things worth buying when you can’t afford them. But your decision-making process will simply be made differently – you’ll be maximizing the Lifetime Wealth delivered by each spending decision, rather than the convenience or short-term pleasure.

You’ll have more fun in both the short term and the long term. You just won’t have as much of that catheter-and-bedpan “convenience” we’ve all been spending our money on up to this point.

Only by gaining control of your mind and the conveyor belt of false desires it serves up, can you get true freedom in your life. Freedom, unlike convenience, can really bring happiness. It’s a bit dizzying, and maybe even a bit difficult. But once again, it is the good kind of difficulty.

So who is up for some difficulty?


  • travelbug September 18, 2012, 3:55 pm

    Hi MMM
    I read and post in the forum section but this is my first comments post.

    I think this is my favourite ever post on your blog. Maybe I am just totally ready to hear this, I am in the zone ready to topple into retirement and my head has been doing strange things to my emotions.

    I still desire stuff, but then can walk away because, as you stated, I value my freedom more than the stuff I desire.

    It’s an awesome feeling of euphoria to know that I can choose to buy one or two or twenty but actually have the freedom to buy none.

    But then those evil words of consumerism start to chant and I feel a bit sick about the whole thing.

    I keep asking myself what I actually desire, what is driving me to still want stuff?

    And I think the scary thing is, now I am at the point of being able to choose, I can’t. I really do not know what it is I want and I am scared of the unknown.

    Crazy, hey?

    So your post has given me an insight into what I am feeling and the excitement about what is on the other side.


    • Imran Chaudhry September 19, 2017, 11:57 pm

      Hello TravelBug, just wondered if you figured this out in the intervening 5 years?

  • Matt G September 18, 2012, 3:57 pm

    “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez

    • Matt September 19, 2012, 7:33 pm

      The cynic in me really wants to point out: “… he was survived by no close relatives”

      So, did he really choose “Life”? After reading the book I had really mixed feelings. No wife, no kids. No mention of a romantic relationship in anything I’ve ready about him. Seems kind of sad in a way.


      • Anon September 19, 2012, 8:51 pm

        Your genes’ purpose in life is to reproduce themselves. Your purpose in life is whatever you want it to be. Don’t confuse the two. You are more than a host for a pile of ribosomes.

        If you want kids, have kids. If you don’t want kids, don’t have kids. Accomplish whatever goals you set for yourself.

        Personally, I plan to change the world, and I mean in the “made the history books” sense. I don’t feel any particular need to have kids along the way.

        I wouldn’t say no to a romantic relationship with someone who felt the same way, though. :)

        • AA July 10, 2013, 6:19 am

          Yeah, I feel the same way that society says “stuff, stuff, stuff” it also says “kids, kids, kids!” – problem is that ol’ problem:


          It isn’t the kids that is the problem – its the marriage that should go along with it. I haven’t met anyone that is slightly compatible with my religious and financial beliefs. I’m happier on my own than living with the stress of an incompatible partner.

          I agree in the “change the world” view. I know my name won’t be in the history books, but the product I’ve worked on for the last 9 years will be (not an exaggeration, it shows up on Wikipedia at least lol)

          I’m definitely going the FI route for the freedom to survive an economic downturn, not for any desire to ever quit…

      • AnnW September 20, 2012, 12:38 am

        He had a partner named Robin. He also had lots of friends. He enjoyed himself giving speeches and introducing people to his way of life. He probably realized that things didn’t make him happy.

      • Linda December 4, 2012, 4:00 pm

        He absolutely left a life of legacy, helping many people find happiness by not accumulating “stuff” and getting out of the rat race. Reading the book based on his lectures now, and it’s really eye-opening stuff.

        My husband and I are child-free and choose to stay that way probably for our lives. People with kids can’t understand why we are “wasting our lives” in that way, we see it as leading a very full and uncomplicated life.

        +1 for the “gene’s purpose in life” answer!

  • Mr. Everyday Dollar September 18, 2012, 4:57 pm

    I find that by not having gadget envy – ironically I just wrote about that on my blog http://mreverydaydollar.com/cheapest-iphone-plan/ – leads to less stress, more time for important things and so much savings that it could literally get you to financial independence years earlier. How awesome is that?

  • Alex September 18, 2012, 5:22 pm

    “In certain cases, you will still buy things you can’t afford. Groceries are a good example. A bike is another one, because like all good investments it earns you money rather than costing you.”

    In regards to the bike as an investment, I bought a hybrid a couple years ago, and for the most part it serves all its purposes quite well. Great for commuting, running up to the store, enjoying a ride around town, and even long group rides. However, as I continue to get into biking, the need for more speed is luring me in and I’ve started looking to buy a fancy road bike. I know the MMM family are big proponents of bikes; however is it too much to have a different bike for different functions?

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 18, 2012, 6:18 pm

      I think the Multi-Bike lifestyle is a reasonable compromise for convenience and fun. On the other hand, I could definitely live happily with one (my city bike), and given a shortage of cash or garage space, that would be the one I keep.

      However, adding the speedy road bike and the jumpy full-suspension mountain bike gets me out biking recreationally with friends more often, so they “pay” for themselves by displacing other leisure activities and allowing me to stay in better shape. Total cost of ALL my bikes is well under $2000 even if you were to buy them new.

      Since there are many new readers here today due to a radio interview, here is a link to the various not-overly-frugal things the MMM family owns, that still manage to fit within a lifestyle that costs less than average: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/01/raising-a-family-on-under-2000-per-year/

    • jet September 18, 2012, 9:31 pm

      I have multiple bikes because, well, I have different uses for them. I have a folding bike, a touring bike, a commuter, a shiny road bike and an xtracycle. I have just ordered a carry freedom trailer, primarily to tow kayaks but also to transport my dogs.

      Biking on my shiny road bike has taken over time which I might have spent in group fitness classes or at the gym, but it’s also made me a more efficient transport cyclist.

  • Dividend Mantra September 18, 2012, 5:32 pm

    Great post MMM!

    I recently went through this transition myself. I took a break from blogging and frugal living/investing over the summer and it turned out to be an experiment, unbeknown to me. I started to wonder if I really was doing things the right way.

    While I’ve been living fairly frugally and doing well on my journey to FI/ER over the last couple years I always struggled with the frugality vs. quality of life issues. While I refrained from purchasing “stuff”, I always yearned a bit for some things. I always decided that the frugality was for the betterment of my future self, and that I would be glad I lived below my means years down the road. So while I stuck to the plan, secretly I would have loved to have a nice, comfortable life with everything I was seeing around me.

    After re-entering “normal” society and living like everyone else does I realized that I’m not the abnormal one at all. Everyone else is. I have come to the realization that I no longer want stuff anymore. The desire is gone now. I realized that if I don’t own my own time yet, I don’t want to own a bunch of crap.

    I always laughed when you wrote about how if you won the lottery (like mega lottery) you would give most of it away as you have nothing to spend it on. I always thought if I was mega-rich I would no longer care about spending/budgeting or anything else. I wouldn’t be a total douche, but I would certainly have some nice stuff. Now, I get what you’re saying. Money now means nothing to me in terms of material objects…the only thing worth accumulating it for is truly time and experiences only.

    The desire is gone, and it feels great to live frugally not only out of principle, but out of a deep sense of purpose inside my body and mind.

    Best wishes!

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 18, 2012, 6:11 pm

      Right on, Dividend Mantra – nice to hear that you’ve scored yourself some Freedom from Desire too… this shit really is addictive – in a good way – isn’t it?

      I’m also glad to see you’re back to rockin’ the keyboard on your own blog. Welcome back!

  • Mirwen September 18, 2012, 6:01 pm

    My mother recently asked me how I save so much money. I told her, “I never pay for convenience.” I think that’s the first step.

  • Brooke September 18, 2012, 6:22 pm

    This made me laugh – so good! I think its so true that a part of the marketing gimmicks we fall for all too easily are matters of convenience and instant gratification. We have reached a point where we don’t even question why we buy. This struck me very deeply when I started exploring options of dying my hair naturally. I came to discover that hair dyes as they exist on the market today were very much a 21st century phenomenon aimed at women who work to be fast and easy to use. That doesn’t necessarily mean its healthier or better! I just tried my first natural henna hair treatment. It did take several hours of my time but the results were comparable to chemical dyes and I found it to be a relaxing, beneficial and unpainful experience. I say if women got it right thousands of years ago why mess with a good thing? Time to pull the wool from over our eyes and be more conscious of what we are doing with our money! :D

  • andria September 18, 2012, 7:24 pm

    Wow, I really needed this article. I was considering a kitchen remodel and doing it on our own. It would still be costly. I have been living MMM style since January. It is crazy how that little nag of wanting to spend money came back out of no where. I am going to start writing this shit down!!! I do not want to slip up. I am so much happier since I have made the changes!!!!!!

    • Heather September 19, 2012, 9:09 am

      Kitchens – yes here is an area where even sensible people seem to get a strange urge to spend money for almost nothing.

      I’ve been looking on kijiji, to treat myself by replacing my very very old stove, which works, but is pretty rusty on the chrome, and occasionally gives me slight tingly shocks. The one I was thinking of replacing it with was going for $85. Nice, white, clean,and conveniently nearby. I prefer the old spiral elements to the flat ones that get baked on gunk if your pot boils over. I prefer manual dials to turn things on an off and adjust temperatures (doesn’t everybody??).

      A stove is a metal box with heating elements. Nothing could be simpler. So, what is the reason for those $2000 stoves at Sears?

      The only explanation I can think of is fashion: People think of a kitchen as a showpiece room in their house. High end appliances are not functional purchases, they Ferraris for the house-proud. I guess, if you accept that explanation, and it’s worth it to you to pay $2000 for that piece of kitchen jewelry, you may now go out and buy one. But don’t try to convince me it’s $2000 more useful than a retro stove you can get for almost free.

      • Lindsey September 19, 2012, 6:08 pm

        I regret to say you are entirely correct. I know this because before I decided to stop being an idiot, I spent over $3,000 on a stove. Really. And after that I started craving an Aga, which is in the $30,000 (yup, $30,000) once you have it dragged to Alaska. I still have to fight that demon on occasion, and have to spend a lot of time reminding myself that the point is to get things hot not to have an affair with an appliance. Books and the Aga are my constant battle…

  • andria September 18, 2012, 7:46 pm

    Okay I am also confused by saving 50% of the take home pay. So, if I currently contribute 30% to 401k pre-tax then should I be investing 20% of that take home pay?

    • Stephen September 19, 2012, 6:29 am

      In a nutshell, the 30% amount plus the other saved amount should sum to 50% of your non-tax pay. For example, with $100 gross and $10 taxes, you would want to save $45 total. The $30 pre-tax plus $15 saved out of your $60 of take-home would do the trick, and that would be $15/$60, or 25%. The percentage would vary a little bit for different tax amounts.

      You can make it as complicated as you want, scaling the pre-tax savings by expected retirement taxes or adjusting the expenses amount to what you expect to spend post-retirement, but it’s not really necessary. The purpose is to retire sooner, and you do that by raising your savings rate as much as you can.


      • Andria September 20, 2012, 10:08 am

        Thank you, this was very helpful. I have modified what I contribute to my savings and 401K now. : ) Thanks again. I

  • 205guy September 18, 2012, 8:13 pm

    Bwahahaha! I got an ad next to your article that says: “BuyerZone: compare Hot Tub and Spa price quotes and save!” Wonder if the catheter and bed pan are included, otherwise–ewwww.

    An electric hot tub is one of those luxury things that everyone thinks they want to buy and no-one uses (except your teenagers having parties at your house when you’re gone). They’re a big hunk of plastic full of chemicals that cost so much to heat and run. I’d make an exception if people actually used them, but most often not. A true mustachian would build his or her own from recycled parts and heat it with solar or scrap wood, and then use the water on the garden.

    • Jamesqf September 18, 2012, 10:36 pm

      Yeah, I got one trying to sell the idea of taking out a loan to buy a jet ski. I suspect their targeted advertising software may still have a few bugs…

  • Gail_M September 18, 2012, 8:14 pm

    I enjoy your blog, but I haven’t been able to follow the lines you draw between what is “convenient” and what is “okay” to buy. My fiance and I spend several hundred dollars extra per month in rent, plus hundreds more in monthly commuter train tickets, in order for me to have a little garden. It costs about $600 per month more than our city apartment. It makes me incredibly happy even though the long commute sucks time away from gardening. So… it’s a complete money sink, but I’m investing in my life happiness right now. What is the point of saving first and having the happy part later? Where are you drawing up your own rules for “okay, purchase!” and what are you suggesting others do to draw their own lines?

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 19, 2012, 10:16 am

      Hey Gail,
      What a great (but tricky) question!

      “Being happy now vs. later” is a trick question to push on yourself, because you CAN be happy regardless of your material situation. It just takes sufficient understanding. And the difficulty varies depending on what desire you’re trying to get over. If someone is applying that logic to financing a Mercedes instead of a Toyota, they are ready for a punching. For a garden or other re-connection to your evolutionary roots, it may be different.

      Regardless of all this touchy-feely stuff, what I would personally do is work on the tactical side at the same time. Are there really no apartment buildings with gardens close to work? Community gardens? Houses for rent that you can share with an owner or other roommates? What about other cities that would suit your lifestyle better?

      When I was preparing to move to the US, I had the desire to own a single family house within biking distance of work. Immediately. It took some searching (I interviewed in many different states ranging from one ocean to the other), but in the end I found a place where the ratio of housing cost to salary (and the urban layout) made this possible. I could have just taken the job in Santa Rosa, CA, and commuted 30 mins to the office, but by searching hard enough, I found the right thing.

      So in your situation, my own approach would be to keep the garden for now, but devote at least two hours per week to continued trawling on Craigslist, emailing, networking, and phoning, to create that opportunity to combine the short commute AND the garden. Opportunities DO exist (if I knew enough people I surely could live for free in a 5000 SF brownstone in Manhattan in exchange for just maintaining a rich person’s house!). But it takes work to find them.

      But this work is often less than the time spent over a single year of commuting to work.

      • Jamesqf September 19, 2012, 10:31 pm

        Just a note: for some of us, gardening isn’t just about growing annuals, or a vegetable garden. It’s a long-term commitment. I have many things that have taken a decade or more to bloom or bear fruit; still others that may take another 10 or 20 years (the walnuts, for instance). And I’m enjoying grapes & pears that the previous owner planted in the ’70s.

    • sanjinthecity September 19, 2012, 1:40 pm

      The city you work in would benefit if you took your love for gardening and shared it with the community. In my city there is a movement afoot to start community/urban gardens. It is a way for people to come together, children to learn, places to be beautified, spaces to be reclaimed, food to be made more accessible,etc. If there is isn’t in your city, could you start something like this? With the time (and just a fraction of the big bucks) you save from not commuting, you could not only revel in your passion, but challenge yourself and give something incredibly positive to others. Guaranteed you will gain even more than you give (e.g. you will be happier for it!).

      I guess what I am trying to say is that there are always amazing and creative ways to meet our needs and further our interests while still keeping our consumption (and thus footprint) low. As someone said earlier in these comments, it is all about community.

      Yes, I could have a small collection of books…but why not use the great library in the city?

      Yes, I could have a small mountain of toys for my kid….but why not go into the drop in centres and enjoy the multitude of toys they have (and avoid the cleanup and enjoy the community and fellowship of my fellow parents…)?

      …etc. etc. In the industrialized world, we have become too individualistic and lost much of the richness of life in the process.

  • jet September 18, 2012, 9:23 pm

    in some ways I do this, ipads never really appealed to me…. but I did blow money on roof racks and kayak holders for my car because I got impatient and didn’t wait for the right second hand deal to come along… I have a way to go to change the way I think about spending cash.

  • Kelly September 18, 2012, 10:26 pm

    Good stuff here. I’m newish to the site (since FinCon actually) and love your philosophy.

    A big part of my mindset is the mental game. It’s not always easy to change that mindset, and when I am successful there are times I still slip up. While the idea of the bedpan doesn’t resonate with me, the concept does.

    One thing that I heavily consider is the cost versus earning potential for things as well. For instance an iPhone or iPad isn’t necessary for everyone for sure, but in some cases it can increase one’s earning potential like app development, being able to travel and continue to work, etc.

    Of course it helps that I won mine. ;) Likewise we sell our old phones to cover the cost of new ones, have a business discount on the plan, and I write off a portion of my usage for business. When I did the math it was only slightly more for me than a simpler phone, and it’s allowed me to work from anywhere I choose which has increased my earnings.

  • Fuzz September 18, 2012, 10:36 pm

    This post is awesome! I love it. And in a fit of serendipity, it’s the same spirit as this music video from Macklemore that I just saw for the first time right after reading the post. When I saw the bike ride in the music video, I knew I had to post it.


  • Hanne van Essen September 19, 2012, 1:22 am

    There are two books which I have been wanting to recommend for some time, because I think they fit in with Mustachianism very well.

    The first is Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by R. Baumeister. You need willpower not to give in to material desires. Problem with willpower is, it can run out. Every time you make a choice, you use up some of your precious willpower. When you don’t have any left, you are a slave to your cravings. This is one reason why dieting is so difficult. When you get hungry willpower automatically runs low. So there is only so much time you can deny yourself food with willpower alone.
    The solution to this is forming new habits, which allow you to preserve your willpower. One of these habits could be: if you don’t want to buy things, then don’t go to the store. (The number of choices stores offer are also actually meant to drain your willpower.) Or in the case of dieting change your eating pattern slowly to a more healthy one, while avoiding hunger.
    Anyway, great book to help form Mustachian ways.

    The other one is Mindset, the new psychology of succes by Carol Dweck. Reading what MMM said about ‘So who is up for some difficulty?’ reminded me of this book. This is also a very important book for parents. The basic idea is that there are two mindsets. A fixed mindset is when you believe you are something, and what you are is important, f.e. you are smart, or you are not good at math. Problem with this mindset is that you are not really motivated to try math anymore, after all you are no good at it?! Same for being smart, since you already know that you are smart, why risk testing that assumption? The other mindset focuses on growth. Not what you are is important, but how you are developing. You might not be good at math right now, but that is not really important, because if you put in a lot of effort, you will improve in math and you look forward to that.
    Studies show that people with a growth mindset welcome difficulty, see it as a challenge, rather than as a nuisance.
    As a parent I have been trying to get my kids more growth-oriented. This means trying not to praise a result or a state they reached, f.e. a good grade, but rather praising their development, and focusing on effort. Not easy, I promise you, the fixed mindset is hard to beat. I am very used to telling them they are great all the time. But the idea is such a powerful one, I will keep trying, and hope to get my message across to them.

    • slowitdown September 20, 2012, 9:41 am

      I am reading that book right now and it is fantastic. I realized that I grew up with a very fixed midset and when my kids were really small I was still stuck in it. After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers I came to the realization that no one is born great at math or at music or anything. It’s all about becoming and working at something. So I have totally changed how I communicate this to my kids as well. I agree that the ability to change your mindset to a growth mindset will also help you in adopting new ways of looking at frugality as well.

  • NYC! September 19, 2012, 8:05 am

    This made me think of your post about wanting the remote control for your computer/projector set-up.

  • Bullseye September 19, 2012, 8:13 am

    In modern conventional life, accepting anything inconvenient, uncomfortable, or difficult, is seen as a failure on the path to happiness. We should be able to buy what we want, heat/cool our house to whatever level we want, eat out when we want, etc, or else, what are we working so hard for?

    Even though we are quite frugal, this societal mindset still pervades our lifestyle. I don’t mind biking nine miles to work or to get groceries, doing without cable, skipping tech toys, etc, but I do still feel ‘poor’ if I’m so cold in the house that I need a sweater and blanket. That old carpet is looking dowdy, we’d really love to get hardwood to replace it. Our wallpaper backsplash is 10 years old, we desire a nice tile one to replace it. And so on. We save 40% of our considerable incomes, but I know we could do better.

    iPhones, fancy cars, boats, etc are the easy stuff. How do I stop desiring the OTHER, harder stuff? Should I even try not to? Do we start ditching these expenses, even though we feel they would negatively impact our standard of living? Or do you just adjust your standard of living down as you desire less? Is the end goal a lifestyle where only the basic necessities of life are met, but you are happy and satisfied regardless?

    Tough questions, and obviously the answers are different for everyone, depending on their distance down the path towards spiritual enlightenment, or whatever you want to call it.

    • AnnW September 20, 2012, 12:51 am

      A lot of the things that you want around the house are things you can do yourself. Go to Home Depot and learn how to tile your backsplash. My husband and I refinished a 600 sq ft. living room floor years ago on our hands and knees with paint brushes because we didn’t know any other way. It was beautiful. Start reading the DIY blogs, or check out Pinterest. Lots of inexpensive ideas there. You can also barter for things that you want.

    • Monkey July 25, 2016, 2:13 pm

      I usually ask myself, whenever I find myself lamenting the state of our home, “How did my grandparents do it?” Typically, the answer is my grandfather would break out the tool chest on the weekend and do it himself. Ripping up carpet and putting down engineered hardwood or pre-cut vinyl wood-look flooring isn’t hard. It’ll take some study and practice, but you can do it yourself and save thousands. Ripping down ugly wallpaper and refinishing walls – same principle. DIY is the only way to live.

  • Heath September 19, 2012, 8:30 am

    I read through this article for the third time in the past 2 days. At first it seemed to be a simple re-hash of the ideas presented earlier in the blog. But this time, I read it slowly and thoroughly, and absorbed each idea.
    “Freedom, unlike convenience, can really bring happiness.”
    This is important. I have been learning this for many years, but I’d never really put it into a single, succinct idea.


    In order to start taking control of my own desires, I dug through my mind this morning. I thought of all of the various desires that have been rolling around in my head for a while, and listed them. Surprisingly enough, I’ve managed to hold off on lots of these elements for months already (yay!). But other’s I’ve only avoided because it’s still impossible for me to buy them (less impressive). I’ll list them here because it might help others (and alternately embarrass me if I ‘fail’ and actually buy them).

    Don’t buy a new smartphone – use the very functional one that you already have
    Don’t buy a new PC – use the fucking awesome one you already have
    Don’t buy an SSD – your HDD is good enough for everything you need
    Don’t buy a Wii-U – you have a Wii & PS3 which you don’t even play often…feel ashamed
    Don’t buy a juicer – use the blender, or eat the fruit/vegetable whole
    Don’t buy a house in Phoenix – save, explore future living areas that are less hot
    Don’t buy a clothes dryer – use the 0% humidity and heat of Phoenix
    Don’t buy more books – library + requests + patience, READ WHAT YOU ALREADY OWN

    …not until you’re saving AT LEAST 50% of your take-home pay…
    Don’t travel to Australia
    Don’t buy more games (electronic or otherwise)
    Don’t buy more climbing/hiking gear

    …there’s probably more, but those are the big ones that float to the surface!

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 19, 2012, 9:24 am

      Very nice list, Heath! I can relate to some of those items myself.

      I found my old “things to do” journal notebook thingy in the closet the other day. There was an entry dated from September of last year that included “shop for new laptop”.

      This made me happy, because I realized that I’ve now delayed the unnecessary purchase of a new laptop computer for over a year! And far from decreasing my productivity, this delay has forced improvements to my lifestyle. I set up a sweet new office by a window with a view of our nice gardens, and moved my old desktop computer to that desk. I can focus better here, and then when I leave “work”, I am not glued to the Internet. With a fancy laptop, I’d be up surfing useless stuff in bed all night. Now, I read actual books for almost an hour a night because I don’t have an easy way to get the Internet into that room.

      Much better for the brain, and for the blog too since reading the words of Real Authors helps me gradually learn more and hopefully write more useful stuff here!

  • Mr RiskyStartup.com September 19, 2012, 8:49 am

    Another point (or stage) is that once you convince yourself that you need something, you can still make your choice less painful.

    I recently started my own business on a side, and I was astonished to find at Office Depot that pens used at my current job cost $5 each, when you can get box of BIC pens for $1 for 20 pens. So, same result, but one pen is $0.05 and other one is $5.00 – a 10,000% difference!!!! I was astonished.

    That translates well to cars, vacations, housing, computers… Most cars have 4 seats, a steering wheel, engine… and they achieve the same result – get you from point A to point B. So, spending $45K to buy a gas guzzler instead of $5K to buy a 55MPG diesel or compact car is instane.

  • L'Enginieuresse September 19, 2012, 12:26 pm

    I am cheap. Really cheap. I don’t have cable because I don’t want to pay for it, and the HD antenna has enough channels. I’ve enjoyed not paying insurance for a second vehicle, although with both of us working, it would be very handy.

    My small vices are lottery tickets – my high risk investments :) – and Second Cup (works out to twice a month). Oh and good quality make-up (once a year if that). Those I won’t give up, because I’m so cheap as it is, that giving those up just makes life shit.

    Considering that we have a two and five year old, we work full-time on different shifts, and are paying mortgages for two properties, we’re doing ok financially. (Never credit card debt, ever). Just working full-time while trying to run a household and raising a young family is stressful, so our small rewards help. We were both raised in frugal households, don’t eat meat everyday. (Zgance and kupus anyone?) Time is a luxury, so I’ve bought more lunches than I care to, or pre-made stuff like frozen pizzas, although those are a tasty and cheaper alternative to take-out. And certain brand name foodstuffs are just better than generic – but buying Heinz ketchup vs. store brand isn’t going to break my bank.

    You don’t need to go to the bottom of the barrel for everything. Just be smart about your choices, do the analysis to determine what you really value. Where can you give yourself a little luxury, that is much more affordable than the bigger luxury, so that you don’t feel like you need the big lux item any more?

    You’ll spend the money on the Internet connection, but not upgrading your laptop/iPad when the current one is serving its purpose. You may work overtime, but take the time as an extra day off instead of the extra money, just to be with your children. You may spend extra on that bottle of wine, if it makes your stay-at-home dinner more special, so that you don’t lament not going out for dinner.

  • Rachel Hoff September 19, 2012, 4:44 pm

    A friend linked me to this post and I find it really interesting because it resonates so well with me. Maybe because I know that I grew up poor but was never made aware of it when I was a kid that I’ve never really wanted more than I had. And my goal in life has never been to have stuff. Honestly, all my husband and I want to be are farmers that have a comfortable income (working on saving up to get the land while we work those well paying office jobs). Just a few examples of what we do around our place.
    – My husband, stepson and I live in a 750sf house that we bought because we specifically didn’t want a large house (they take too much work and money to upkeep). We did get a decent sized backyard though so we could grow and raise our own food because that’s what we truly enjoy doing and it saves us money.
    – Even though we can afford smartphones we still stick with our old flip phones that barely hold charges and are on a pay as you go accounts because we don’t use them enough to justify getting a plan.
    – We never buy anything new that we can a) make ourselves or b )buy used or get for free.
    – We use a clothesline to save money on energy.
    – We got rid of cable since we don’t watch enough TV to justify it.
    – We only replace things when the old item breaks beyond fixing.

  • Anonymous September 20, 2012, 12:04 am

    You argue so strongly for not thinking solely in terms of money, yet you often measure the value of things in terms of money alone. Personally, I prefer to measure things in terms of my time. So, while I save ~85% of my income, I’ll happily pay for conveniences that save my time, but *only* if they actually provide a net win in time saved versus time spent working to pay for them. When I evaluate a purchase, I consider how much time it saves or costs me, and I translate the price as “number of working hours/days to pay for it”; I’d love to save time now, but I’d also love to stop working entirely and get that drastic increase in my free time. I should probably take into account the compounding power of money in that calculation, but even without that this heuristic does an impressively good job of distinguishing good purchases from poor ones, especially those that cost both money *and* time and provide little in return.

  • MartinC September 20, 2012, 12:42 am

    Here is the compromise I have made for buying certain unnecessary but “desirable” stuff. I play the credit card game and use the proceeds to get myself whatever hot gadget I may desire guilt free. I’m on track to make over 2000$ from America’s fine credit card companies( via sign up bonuses), and I did exactly the same last year. If the fine folks at Amex or Chase would like to hand me $600 of free cash for doing literally nothing, then I have zero qualms about picking up a $600 ipad. Life must have some allowable pleasures, and as far I’m concerned this is free money and can be used for frivolity. Meanwhile, I continue to bank 70% of my salary, live in my paid off house, drive my paid off car and plan my early retirement, 6 years left and counting. If I didn’t practice frugality, I wouldn’t have the high credit score which allows me these minor indulgences. Ironic, ain’t it?

  • ben September 20, 2012, 4:39 am

    good article well done

    you touch on stoicism – this is a crucial point as it proves we’ve all been wrestling with the same issues for millenia but it is easy to forget and think we are coming up with something novel. I personally am a fan of epicureanism.

    My point is that philosophy is very much a niche subject but I’m not sure why. Its study is absolutely crucial to Platos fundamental question ‘how to lead a good life?’

    Why we are not all studying it from primary school onwards I do not know. It is at least as important as a grounding in language, mathematics, science etc.

    To move philosophy into mainstream education from an early age would be an interesting experiment with potentially revolutionary results.

    It might help prevent the oft seen comments on this blog along the lines of ‘hey I stumbled across your blog and what you say has really opened my eyes!’ – people wouldn’t be so shocked and amazed if they’d been exposed to all these alternatives from the age of four…

  • slowitdown September 20, 2012, 10:08 am

    I wish there was a “like” button for comments

  • sideways8 September 20, 2012, 10:55 am

    I often complain about some people with absolutely no initiative and seemingly no brains despite very high levels of education. They will ask me to do ridiculously simple shit and all the while I have to resist asking “Would you like me to wipe your ass, too?”

    Now I’m going to turn it around on myself. I guess I don’t actually want a new pair of heels (for work) to wipe my ass.

    Thanks for the punch in the bedpan!

  • Pollyanna September 21, 2012, 7:37 am

    Totally off subject but I have to share that on pinterest.com I saw mustache cookie cutters and thought of you!!

  • Monevator September 21, 2012, 10:47 am

    Super as always. But please don’t call 38 “really old”.


    Yours, Monevator (er, age late 30s! ;) )

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 21, 2012, 1:36 pm

      Don’t worry Monevator – in the Mustachian world, advancing age is a good thing. You get the wisdom from reading that many more more books and having more experiences.. but with no physical drawbacks (until at least age 80) due to the rigorous health and fitness routine that is mandatory for Mustachians.

      So while I’m very glad to be 38 instead of 28, I still mention that youthful age with some embarrassment because there are also some 70+-year-olds reading here with that much more wisdom.

      • Mr. Risky Startup September 21, 2012, 1:53 pm

        So true. I keep catching myself thinking: Boy, I was so dumb 5 years ago… And then, 5 years later, I think: Wow, I was so dumb 5 years ago.

        So, at least in my case, I keep getting smarter, yet remain perpetually dumb (at least compared to the future self). :)

        • L'Enginieuresse October 10, 2012, 10:41 am

          Love your comment, Mr. Risky Startup.

  • Dan September 21, 2012, 12:50 pm

    Decent article, MMM. I’m kicking myself about blowing $15 on two magazines i bought during my holidays…..now what am i gonna do with them? Pretty expensive asswipe/ firestarting material, if you ask me.But I do enjoy spending money on experiences such as holidays around the world, as long as i dont buy a bunch of chinzy crap that i dont need. Still trying to convince the dear wife that credit cards are NOT for emergencies…good thing we separate our money. I dont feel like working for 30 more years.

  • Luis Reyes September 22, 2012, 10:12 am

    Señor Bigote Dinero, thanks for your article, it was in a nutshel, a kind of Mustachian Manifest. I am changing too. I went to the local mall this morning here in NJ and came bach home real happy. The reason: I was thrilled to see at the mall soo many things that I don’t need, or will ever need I got the sense that I am becoming a real mustachian. Gracias Señor.

  • Deserat September 24, 2012, 6:44 pm

    Very interesting blog post… I would change the question to: is the value of my time it would take for me to earn the money to buy this thing worth that time. That is essentially the question Dominquez asked in “Your Money or Your Life.”

    When one is financially independent, one usually has more time than money (for most, there are some who have lots of both), so the answer to the question above changes. In your case, you have more time to investigate different options to lower the monetary price (or material price) – you are swapping time for money in a different way. We swap time for money when working for an employer. You decided early on that you wished to change your lifestyle so that you would maximize your time available to do things you desired at a lower price point for your lifestyle. You developed those habits and now live them.

    So to me the questions are: Can you afford the time? Is it worth the time?

    By the way, ADM Stockdale stated that the philosophy of Stoicism saved him in a Vietnam POW camp. I’m glad you cited Stoicism as it is one way to approach life while dealing with difficult situations.

  • Esther October 12, 2012, 6:08 pm

    Money IS important (and you can be sure, I know what I’m talking about, I’m a single mom on welfare so you can be sure I do value money A LOT), but even despite being a welfare mom (so I don’t have a lot of money no matter how you look at it) even so I still value TIME even more, personally.

    TIME is something you can never get back. You close your eyes and when you open them your kids are that much bigger. That is time you won’t get back. You only have today to enjoy them and take them to the park, tomorrow they will be moving out and going to college, and you won’t have them anymore.

    So if I have to trade money for time, and I have the money to do so, I do it gladly.

    So happy WASHING MACHINES exist hehe! Nothing was ever more effective at ENSLAVING WOMEN than forcing them to wash clothes and sheets all day long! And in a freezing river or lake at that!

    • Linda December 4, 2012, 1:41 pm


      “Surprisingly, while electricity, running water, and washing machines probably increased household output and reduced the drudgery of household tasks, they had little impact on the time spent on housework before 1965”

      From 1900 to 1965 hours spent doing housework by women fell by about 6 hours per week (Which could be accounted for by less children and increased education), from 1965 to 2005 men have taken up 13 hours of slack per week, total of 18 hours less spent on housework.

      Conclusion – the machines haven’t saved us that much time…

      I read previously (can’t find link) that although the washing machine has freed up a ton of time for women, they’ve tended to spend that time cleaning the house more, or doing more loads more often, or wearing multiple items per day.

      I don’t think this article is advocating going back to washing clothes by hand, but certainly washing dishes by hand or hanging clothes on the line are practical steps to reduce money wasted and impact on the environment.

  • Esther October 12, 2012, 6:20 pm

    By the way what IS an iPad? I never paid attention to that word (I don’t tend to pay attention to words with strange sounds or lots of consonants strung together) but now…….. I WANT ONE hehe! Well, it sounds like a neat thing to have! Sort of like a laptop, no? Except it’s lighter and more portable? Oh well, but I’ve got a laptop and I love it, so I guess I don’t need an iPad (which I’d never heard of before until this post). Maybe if I had a job and spent the whole day outside, I’d need an iPad. But as a welfare mom who’s at home all day, that’s certainly not my case!

  • Linda December 4, 2012, 1:27 pm

    Holy Pastafarian, this post has really opened my eyes. Trying to save money with the old mindset really is a losing battle, and I think this is going to help us a lot with that. We are keeping grocery and other bills low, but it’s the spontaneous “I must have that” purchases that are really killing our ‘stache.

    I’ve only started reading early retirement blogs recently, and I’m already getting into the mindset – while driving home we waited at the traffic lights next to a sleek BMW Z4. “Oh so cool” I would’ve said longingly before my “conversion”, now I go “Wow, you’ll be a wage slave for an extra few years of your life for that, hope it’s worth it!”

    I also have found it useful to mockingly call myself a FancyPants for wanting something ridiculous like the new ipad. Only wish I could’ve found this earlier this year before I blew $800 on a iphone, and $250 on FancyPants prescription sunglasses. : / Hopefully they both last a long time to make up for that…

  • Dr.B April 29, 2013, 1:10 pm

    The “bedpan and catheter” analogy is great and evocative. But given a bedpan the catheter is largely redundant, therefore, anti-mustachian. How about bedpan, feeding tube, and ventilator for the ultimate in effortless and convenient living?

  • Frugal in DC April 30, 2013, 5:15 am

    I’m really enjoying going through all your posts and comments, MMM. Whenever people talk about how they *need* the latest gadgets, all-wheel drive luxury tanks to get to/from the jobs they hate, expensive vacations, etc. I picture the humans in the movie Wall-E as the next evolutionary step. You know, the mindless overweight masses whose lives are dictated by a big corporation, lying around on self-propelled beach chairs surrounded by flashing screens and drinking their meals. “Time for lunch…in a cup!” Someone was kind enough to post that segment on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9s7afoYI-M .

  • Elyse April 30, 2013, 9:46 pm

    I agree with this article for toys and frivolous things, but I just want to put it out there that I hope other people aren’t judging me for my iPad!

    My employeer bought them for the engineers so we could carry large files (drawings, photos, videos) to the mechanics in the field. It actually improved our efficiency significantly (saves roughly 2 1/2 manhours per employee per day) and paid for itself in less than two weeks time. I would never have bought it for myself as a toy, but it actually is a very useful tool in a factory setting.

    So, I agree that buying iPads, new cars, unnecessary snacks, and new books are bad purchases for yourself. Usually for businesses, too. But in this case it worked out to where an iPad was an excellent purchase for the engineers.

    Sometimes toys are useful and earn their cost back.

    • Frugal in DC May 1, 2013, 7:05 am

      I personally think iPads, iPods Touch, and iPhones are awesome, mainly because they have made a real difference for people with disabilities who have trouble communicating. There are lots of great assistive communication apps and programs for people with disabilities. I think they’re also great educational tools for visual learners.

      The thing is not to rush to get an iGadget every time a new generation model comes out if the one you have is working perfectly well (or if it can be repaired). Apple products are of really high quality and last a very long time if properly cared for. Right now I’m typing on a 5 y.o. iMac that is still going strong. Sometimes I use my son’s ancient iPod Touch that still works great even though the battery is almost gone (needs to be kept plugged in pretty much all the time).

      • Mrs. Featherbottom June 3, 2013, 7:07 am

        I think this website is much less about specific products or money, than it is about the value/purpose of things and the meaning of life in general.

        If you consider time spent with your kids the most important thing in life, an iPad won’t help you with that. On the other hand, if you consider always *owning* the most recent iPad the most important thing in your life, then having free time is not really of importance.

        But here’s the thing: many people complain about having too little leisure time, but at same time working overtime in jobs they hate, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t particularly like.

        tl;dr: Happyness won’t be found in things, but in a balanced everyday life virtually everyone can afford.

  • Edith October 6, 2013, 9:53 pm

    I love this site. I am an aspiring stoic, so a lot of this is not new to me. However, I have a question. I pay a woman to do housework one day a week. I’ve been doing it for more than two years and it’s wonderful, because that way I can have saturday completely free, instead of spending it at home doing chores.

    I can afford it even by your terms. I feel it makes me happy not because of the convenience but because I have the weekends for myself: I study, write, travel, relax. It costs me 30 days of work a year but frees me for 52 days. Precious days. Do you think this is something I should forgo?

  • DougL August 29, 2014, 9:59 am

    One thing I have noticed about purchases is the following. If I delay a purchase of something I need/want and think about for awhile and make sure I get exactly what I want; then when I finally get it I really appreciate it more than normal. There is less hedonistic adaption. There is something about the experience of wanting something over a period of time , but not having it, which results in greater satisfaction when you finally do obtain it. Of course there is the added benefit that often the delay results in changing your mind about even wanting it. One ends up with only the things that really make a difference I would be curious if others have noticed this effect of gratification delayed.

  • Amina March 11, 2015, 2:33 pm

    This is great. And perfect timing b/c I was about to get a tablet. I’ll take a catheter and bed pan, in lieu. Good to think sustainably like this. Also, just submit all my student loan docs to So Fi b/c I just found out about it through your site, MMM. Thanks and will keep you in the loop as to how it all goes down.

  • Geraldine April 13, 2015, 12:42 am

    Thank you so much for this article. It couldn’t have come to a better time. I’m usually on your side when it comes to buying ‘stuff’, my phone is 3 years old, my computer 6 and I have no intention to buy anything new anytime soon. But right now we are selling our wonderful house to move to a smaller and cheaper appartment closer to work and school, and my heart is crying. The rational me knows it’s the right decision, it also knows that I will be as happy as now (or even happier) in the future, by the greedy me doesn’t want to let go of the nice house with garden, which is much too big, and therefore, much too expensive. With the appartment we’ll be mortgage free in two years, keeping the house would mean that we would still pay interest rates in 8 years. Even knowing this doesn’t help, I still want to weep in my pillow, seems like I still have a long way ahead of me to change my attitude ;).

  • Nilay April 25, 2015, 5:41 am

    Hey MMM, I’ve been reading your bolg posts since 2-3 weeks now and I’m loving it to the core. Since when i found your blog i was already into personal finance and was saving more (55%) and spending less.. i am on a binge reading prowess now of all the articles on this site and agree with most of it. Thank you for this site. Keep rocking.

    – A Mustachian in making. All the way from Mumbai,India.

  • Parmageddon July 22, 2015, 11:41 am

    I know I’m a few years behind on this article, but I recently thought to apply these questions to food, as eating habits overlap with spending habits all too often: Is it Convenient? Would I Enjoy it? These questions could also be read: “Would it taste good? Would it satisfy my sweet tooth?” That really is off the whole point of eating, and only leads to poor health. Let’s avoid physical and financial dead weight.

  • Tina September 6, 2015, 10:46 pm

    This article brought me back to this post: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/06/opinion/sunday/allison-arieff-the-internet-of-way-too-many-things.html

    “Jawbone, the newest incarnation of the popular fitness tracker, will, when you lie down to go to sleep, trigger the doors to lock and the lights to turn off.”

    Wow. I wonder if it also brings you a bedpan or inserts a catheter.

  • Carl September 16, 2015, 6:15 am

    “The next time you really want to buy some sort of treat for yourself, whether it’s a latte or a Mercedes, try the trick of not buying it instead. Mockingly offer yourself a catheter and a bedpan as a substitute. Then over the coming months, make a note of your feelings of desire for that item you skipped.”

    This bit hit me hard in the face like a brick, as I tend to be a bit impulsive and impatient. Often see things I’d like to buy and suddenly I NEED them and wonder how I ever managed to live without them. A few times recently I’ve managed to stop myself buying a few items, and looking back I really don’t feel like I missed out by not getting them.

    I think the satisfying feeling of saving the money and doing something right has made me happier than the item would have done!

  • dainik December 14, 2015, 9:59 pm

    HI Mr Moneymustache!
    I am quite new to your blog but fell in love quite quickly. I have thought this many times but could not describe like you did. I have now convincing power to explain my wife. I am doctor by profession and earn reasonably good. But I always feel trapped into desire of physical luxuries before.
    I have learned similar philosophy of mind and life in ‘Bhagavat Geeta’ an ancient Indian scripture. Which describe power of mind and remind us to take care of it. Thanks for sharing wonderful knowledge which is rare to find in this world.

  • Keren March 19, 2016, 12:42 am

    I’m up for some difficulty! 😃
    I don’t live in the USA and things cost differently here, but the basic idea is the same. I save 70% of what I earn, actually more than that because I also earn stock options and such. I own an apartment that I bought myself and I payed off the mortgage. I have no debt. I have a 10 year old reliable car which I wanted to upgrade but no I didn’t and I’m no less happy for it. Actually proud of myself because cars are very expensive in my country, much more than in the USA.

    I still need to figure out how to quit my job because I don’t know how to invest in order to get a solid return to live off of. But I’ll get there! Thanks for this blog ☺️

  • Mikey March 19, 2016, 3:35 pm

    Ah drats, MMM. You just killed my entire motivation to save…


  • Arabahn June 8, 2016, 7:27 am

    I think there is something very important hinted here, it is how we relate to objects. The same living room, if you stock it with:
    a) a bench, some dumbbells and a yoga matt.
    b) a big tv, videogames and unlimited snacks.

    You are the same, the living room is the same, but those objects are going to influence you. They just make some actions more likely than other, more convenient or easier.

    I would recommend to choose carefully the objects that will surround you as they will end up defining you.

  • Monkey July 25, 2016, 2:04 pm

    My wife and I have a new system. Any time – ANY TIME – we have the urge to buy something that isn’t a food staple or essential health care item, we put the item on a list. A book. A shirt. A pair of shoes. A can of spray paint. A 1/2″ breaker bar. A new iPhone. A stainless steel 10″ frying pan. A refrigerator. A new air conditioner. A hair brush.
    And then we DO NOY BUY IT.
    At any point in time, if one of us says, “I really need a new phone.” Well, is it on the list? Yes? Put a checkmark. Note, it has to be conditional on actual need, not want. This is just up to your personal code of honor, as we don’t have criteria to determine need. If it gets two checkmarks, then we have a discussion. If we both agree it is indeed something we need to expend money (and thus hours of our lives) on to acquire, it goes on the list to buy. That doesn’t even mean we buy a new one of those items, but it means we start looking for a deal. A used one on Craigslist. A free one from a friend or family member. Last resort, buy one brand new.

    Two things:
    You realize that 95% of the things you think you need, you actually only want. Of that remaining 5% of things you might only genuinely NEED two or three of them. The others might make your life easier or provide an actual benefit, but you still don’t buy them.
    The other thing you learn is that you can survive happily on so much less than you’re used to, even if you already subscribe to the ascetic lifestyle. You begin to resent junk and stuff and possessions and the culture that harasses you constantly to buy buy buy. You begin to pay more attention to the world. You find peace and value in existence rather than desire. You become a little more Real and Human.
    It’s crazy. Maybe those Buddhists were onto something after all.


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