Why Your Spare Time is Worth Way More than $25 per Hour

At the very center of Mustachianism Itself, lies the issue of What to Do With Your Time.

Time is one of your greatest allies in getting rich, but it is also a constant foe, since we all have a limited supply of it. So it makes sense that Mr. Money Mustache would spend some of his time, sharing some strategies that help you get the most of yours.

But sometimes, my bold and presumptuous advice will stir up a cloudy soup of questions and complaints from advanced and beginner readers alike:

“You can’t count the ‘cost’ of the time I spend driving to work, because I have no way to get paid for those hours”
person trying to defend a long car commute after reading The True Cost of Commuting

“I’m so busy at work, that I’m glad to pay someone else to mow my lawn, freeing up my weekends to do things I enjoy”
person with a busy job and many outside-of-work hobbies.

“I’m an efficient IT consultant and I get paid a lot. Shouldn’t I pay somebody else to paint my walls, since I earn more than they do?”
an efficient IT consultant currently stuck with pink bedroom walls.

“If my time is really worth as much as Mr. Money Mustache says it is ($25, $50, or more per hour), should I really waste any of it doing things I don’t enjoy?”
person who wants Mr. Money Mustache’s permission to skip out on all manual labor chores.

I can see the confusion, because at first glance, the Way of the Mustache might seem to have some contradictory rules. If a car commute is unacceptable because it wastes time, then surely we can justify buying free time in any other way possible too, right?

The answer lies in a hidden realm where numbers are sparse. The missing concept which ties together all of this is something called Fully Rounded Badassity. Let’s express some of the principles to see how they can answer our questions.

1. Self Improvement Time Pays CEO-level Wages
If you eliminate your car commute and free up two hours per day, those hours go directly to your evenings, doubling the amount of time you have to get things done. If you invest this time in things like furthering your education (at school or with nonfiction books), or building up your own side business, refinancing your mortgage or getting better deals on insurance, or even just learning about stress and happiness, you are making permanent improvements to yourself or your financial situation that will last a lifetime. An hour spent shopping for insurance can save hundreds of dollars per year. Learning to spend money more efficiently (the subject of this blog), can allow you to cut your living expenses in half for life. Learning to eliminate prolonged mental stress can actually save your life. Far from being unpaid time, the free time you get outside of work is the most valuable time you have.

2. Demanding Physical Activities Pay Double Time
Some people complain about the time it takes to ride a bike to work, or to mow their own lawn or create a garden. But they don’t realize that these things actually take no time at all, because they come with free exercise. One of my rules for life is that you need to average at least an hour per day of pretty hard physical exertion if you want to keep your life in balance. So if you aren’t already getting this much active time, you can schedule in any number of these physical tasks and collect double pay: Once for the tax-free savings of the cash you no longer need to fork over to a lawn contractor, and a second time for the physical fitness dividend that you receive. Compare this with the strategy of  a “time-saving” car commuter where you drain your money with every mile, sitting idly on your ass while the machine carries you around in a supremely unhealthy display of inefficiency.

3. If you don’t like Maintaining a Luxury item, you Shouldn’t Own it
Suppose you accept my exercise argument above, but you’d really prefer to get your exercise riding your $2400 carbon fiber road bike around in the foothills instead of cutting your own lawn. That’s fair enough – but it means you shouldn’t have a lawn. Just as you shouldn’t have a motorboat if that requires you to hire a mechanic who services, tows, and stores it for you, or a private jet with a pilot and hangar staff. Sure, you may enjoy these things, but until you’re financially independent, you simply can’t yet afford to pay others to maintain your shit for you.
If you un-velcro those Pampers from your brain, you will surely be able to find activities that you enjoy both producing and consuming. And those will be the activities you prioritize. Cooking and eating fine food is one example, as is maintaining and riding a bike, and even hosting and attending parties. There will be plenty of time for hiring others to produce luxuries for you, once you’re not so damned poor.

4. Learning a Practical Physical Skill pays Quadruple Time
The Efficient IT consultant above had a sound argument based on the old ‘law of comparative advantage’ from the economics textbooks. But what he was missing is that painting a wall changes more than just the wall color. It counts towards your physical activity requirement. It teaches you a skill that is essential for any homeowner and will pay dividends for life. The end product is likely to be more satisfying, because it is a permanent symbol of your own accomplishment. AND it pays you a tax-free salary equal to what you’d otherwise have to pay the painter. Do-it-yourself activities are deceptively powerful, because you will quickly reach a skill level so high that you can complete a job for yourself with less time than you’d even spend hiring and supervising a contractor. The skill can also provide you with portable source of income at any future point in your life.

5. Insisting on Doing it Yourself Paces your Consumption
You’ve got a big to-do list, and only a limited amount of free time. Some house painting, a new garden, a bathroom renovation. You can hire them out right now, and have them done within a month. Or you can work your way through them individually, and get them done in the next year. Which option allows you to spend more of your salary?

By forcing yourself to proceed only as your own free time permits, you are producing a powerful vortex of joyful self discipline and wealth. Your spending is limited. Your costs for each project are drastically reduced. And your time-management skills are constantly honed, as you learn not to waste time on things like TV and websurfing, because the pepto-bismol-pink bedroom is a constant reminder that time management is important.

As explained in the old Classic “You Can’t Cure Obesity with Bigger Pants“, it is usually much more profitable to leave your problems around to stare you in the face, than to sweep them under the rug with a broom made of Franklins.

6. Remember Hedonic Adaptation – It’s Hard to Believe, but Buying Shit Doesn’t Make You Happier
This is one of the trickiest and most new-age concepts in Mustachianism. But it is one you must strive to understand, and make progress towards throughout your lifetime. The bottom line is that no matter what you buy, you’ll soon adapt to the new level of luxury and be no happier than where you were before. This applies to anything – even paying someone to repaint your pepto bismol bedroom to a nicer color. Even owning a vacation home in the mountains in which you get to throw great parties every weekend.

The thing is, even I have trouble believing this. Taken to the extreme, you would logically conclude that it is best to own virtually nothing, and live in monk-like simplicity in a commune. Sometimes it just feels so right to buy something. The justifications are so rich and intellectual-sounding. The purchase will allow you to express your creativity, or stay in better shape, or spend more time with your friends and family. How can buying things possibly not make me happy?

To resolve the discrepancy, I think of the journey away from materialism as a lifelong challenge. I acknowledge that I do still suck, and I still have weaknesses. That’s why I still have a very nice house filled with relatively fancy stuff. It’s why after two years of fighting the urge, I broke down this week and bought this shiny “Ultrabook” laptop on which I’m now typing to you. The weakness causes me to crave new things, and it is my job to work against materialism, and towards other forms of happiness.

The good news about all of this is you can simultaneously be sucking and succeeding. You don’t have to achieve perfect freedom from materialism to become rich these days. You just need to wipe out enough of it to be able to save 50-75% of your income. That’s relatively easy for households who make over $100,000 per year, because you just have to learn to be happy without some really high-end stuff that most people can’t afford anyway, like Mercedes Benz products. Most of my own wealth comes from the fact that I’ve eliminated all desire for fancier cars, houses, trips, or motorboats. At much lower levels of income, it takes more practice, because you may need to be happy living without more common amenities, like any sort of car at all. But as soon as you realize that the situation is entirely in your control, the scale moves rapidly away from sucking and in the direction of success. And you might find your income creeping upwards towards those higher ranges as a byproduct of this success.

In the grand scheme of things, the way to get the maximum rate of pay for your time comes from a balance of factors. Improving yourself through education and learning skills will increase the market value of your services. But trading too much of your time for money will decrease the value of your money itself, since you’ll be creating an unbalanced and unsatisfying life.

Thus, you will need to bust ass in a variety of areas, not just one, in order to maximize the value of your time. The $8.00 per hour Subway clerk needs to stay up late and study his math textbooks to get that business degree. But the $200 lawyer also needs to get her hands dirty mopping the floor and get some scratches while trimming the trees from the top of a ladder. Mr. Money Mustache still needs to set tiles and install new toilets into the homes of other people, even while he sets aside time to slave away over this backlit soft-touch keyboard in order to write to YOU. Even when he feels like just relaxing and watching movies instead. These balancing activities may or may not happen to generate income, but they are still essential parts of getting the maximum value from my time.

It’s all a bit counter-intuitive at first, but just remember this: the way to earn the most from your time, is to consider the many ways you can extract value from each moment of your life.


  • woodpecker October 21, 2012, 3:47 am

    Great post!
    I experience exactly the same when it comes to buying new stuff. I think your Ultrabook is fine though as it is your working tool, but I hope you went for a cheap model and not an Apple product. ;)

    I especially like the attitude of “you need at least 1 hour of hard physical work a day”.
    I think there is a lot of truth in this. Humans are actually made for physical work in interchange with phases of relaxation (thats how it was for 100.000 years).
    And they are not made for sitting in a chair the whole day, while being stressed constantly – not physically but mentally.


  • Dan October 21, 2012, 4:57 am

    I like this post, except for the small caveat on #3 if you dont like maintaining it, you shouldnt own it. I’d bet almost nobody here can do all the maintenance and repair on their vehicle, especially the newer ones. Nowadays the damn things are so complex you need specialized tools for each task.
    Also, I dont mind hiring out the odd job if it means i can watch and learn how to do it. But if i know how to do something, then i’d rather do it myself.

  • Jen October 21, 2012, 8:06 am

    I hate excess clutter too, but I find that where I live that puts me out of step with most moms. Like for instance, last night we went to a pumpkin carving party. I have done this activity with my kids before and I thought it just required a spoon, a knife, and some newspapers. These mothers had books and books of pumpkin templates, special plastic pumpkin scoopers, electric knives (that didn’t really work), pumpkin paints, pumpkin sequins, and so on. It just seemed like a crazy amount of stuff to buy and store each year in order to carve pumpkins. My kids always have fun with our simple activities but I start to wonder if they see the crazy amount of effort other parents put into things and will compare them to us and wonder why we don’t have anything?

    • julia October 21, 2012, 10:38 am

      hi Jen – It is is very Mustachian to be “out of step” with people and lifestyles like the ones you describe! I’ve learned over years of practice, that the weirder I get (in the eyes of the mainstream) the less I care what people think (and the more I enjoy my life!). And our kids generally follow our lead – the way we live is “normal” in their eyes. Even if/when they don’t like it, it’s still normal for them, and we work it out.

      If they complain about not having lots of pumpkin-carving bling, you could point out the money you save by not buying that stuff – even offer them a small allowance to buy pumpkin-carving gear or whatever else they want. My guess is they would choose something else, if the money is in their hands rather than yours, and then they’ve learned by doing rather than just by listening.

      Which reminds me – MMM, have you ever posted or thought about allowance for children? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

  • Tom Reingold October 22, 2012, 12:20 pm

    I’m in strong agreement with you and all of your numbered points except for $3. First of all, how does it follow that something you can’t (or won’t) maintain is something that you shouldn’t own? Not everyone can fix his own car, configure or de-virus her own computer, rewire the house, etc. And at some point, we all rely on experts to do their specialized work, so where do you draw the line? Even if I planted and grew my own food, did I breed the seeds? I grind my own coffee, but do I have to roast it, too?

    And since my full time job doesn’t give me the opportunity to increase my pay by increasing my hours, I don’t think my free time is worth exactly what I earn at work. I’m at work almost a third of the time, so perhaps my free time should be worth the hourly wages I earn.

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 22, 2012, 12:27 pm

      Hmm.. good point Tom. What I meant to say in the article is that the “own it/maintain it” rule applies to optional luxury products – the things you buy to occupy your leisure time. A place to live and things like clothing and food are basic necessities – tools for living. Even a computer and sometimes a car functions as a tool for many of us – we earn far more money with it than we could without it.

      Your free time point is missing the point though – self-development pays nothing at the moment you’re doing it, but it often pays hundreds or thousands per hour over the long run.

      • Tom Reingold October 23, 2012, 6:58 am

        Ah, I think I understand. So since I could spend time acquiring a new skill, wasting that time is a greater loss than I might realize.

  • JCamasto October 22, 2012, 1:09 pm

    Skimmed over comments to re-state MMM’s point in another way: Diminishing Returns on Wealth – as graphed in this article: (from YMOYL) http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/18/why-your-time-is-worth-way-more-than-25-per-hour/

    So, if you have nothing – your first dollar of wealth provides tremendous fulfillment (survival). Accumulating more $ gets beyond survival and into to comforts – still gaining fulfillment, but the rate begins to taper off. More money = luxuries – where at some point the fulfillment curve peaks and begins to suffer diminishing returns. This peak is the sweet spot, known as “Enough”.

  • Franco October 22, 2012, 4:03 pm

    “Taken to the extreme, you would logically conclude that it is best to own virtually nothing, and live in monk-like simplicity in a commune.” – MMM from above.

    That is why monks exist, though are often thought to be a bit crazy by the general population. And perhaps they are. They are usually very self-sufficient too.

    I once visited a monastery in British Columbia. Those guys were tough and kind and quite well-read and hilarious. They did everything themselves. There were old guys with gray hair in coveralls carrying big wrenches and other tools, tending the cattle, a younger monk playing street hockey with visitors etc.

    I once had a monk friend who was a former lawyer. He was very badass.

    I talked to him about trying it myself – but in the end, I wasn’t badass enough.

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 22, 2012, 9:15 pm

      I do find those dudes inspiring in a way. The only flaw in their philosophy (if I even understand the details correctly) is the whole abstinence thing.

      That’s why if I ever found a monastery, it will be built upon a healthy respect for sex. “Stud Monks” has a nice ring to it.

  • woodpecker October 23, 2012, 2:34 am

    I spent some more thought on the paradox raised above:
    “Why should we buy ANYTHING, if the joy from it will wear of quickly anyway”.

    This is a good question, and not yet answered fully, thus my suggestion in this post of my blog for anyone interested:



  • CrucialDebtCrusher October 24, 2012, 6:51 pm

    I’m in full agreement. I still ride ~64km round trip for work and in a short time it made me slimmer and stronger. I’ve had to fix the bike, and it’s moved from the tube, to the chain, to the brake, then to the deraileur, etc. I looked at it as manxperience points (mXP). All of that riding also gave me a massive appetite.

    I started cooking kickass lean meats at home, and going to farmer’s markets to get greens. Youtube showed me how to make dough, and I made steamed meat buns to eat at lunch because the same roast beef sandwich every day starts to suck no matter how much mustard or pepper you put on it. The first bun tasted like mXP for real: “shiiiit… I can make pizza!”

    I wanted to buy a new bike, then I scaled it down to the bottom-of-the-line new bike; then I scaled it down to craigslisting a used relatively new bike; then I found parts and decided to just start putting together my own kickass bike from better parts hawked on craigslist, for less than a newish used bike through craigslist. It will feel new to me, and I’ll feel like a Jedi that just put together their lightsaber. Nothing annoys me more on a ride than seeing the older folks in kits whiz past me on premium road bikes with noisy ass chains because they don’t know how to maintain them.

    I made a small* fuss about pay, and began showing up to work uncharacteristically with a tie. I interviewed for another position within the company and came out as top candidate, but the pay increase was modest so I retained my position. I hunkered down and leveled up the jQuery to show them I mean business, and continued to uncharacteristically and sporadically show up in a tie. Eventually they showed me they meant business as well, and they put an extra $500/mo in my pocket.

    I watch my mint cashflow bargraph steadily get less and less red. Last month I was $100 up compared to May’s $1000 over. The bees are still everywhere else on my balance sheet, but at least I no longer bleed their sweet nectar. I think your face punches are working. I would not have done ANY of this without reading your words. Thanks!


  • smedlyb March 4, 2013, 8:16 pm

    Awesome post.

    Now kick back and watch a kick-ass movie with your wonderful wife.

  • bioassay June 19, 2013, 8:20 pm

    AWESOME article, but I have to disagree on the “Mercedes Benz products” example. Many of the very frugal people I know own and maintain their own older (20+ years old) Mercedes. They’re one of the only car brands that tend to increase in value with age. I’ve owned many Mercedes, and sold them all for significantly more than I paid after many years of hard use. In fact, I paid for a sizable portion of my education by driving, maintaining, and reselling Mercedes automobiles!

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 19, 2013, 10:15 pm

      Nice.. how about “New Mercedes Benz Products” instead? I do see major depreciation on the new ones, but then maybe they reach a nice flatline when they’re old and eventually go back up with age. The newer minivan/wagon model seems to take an especially big hit, maybe because of its soccermom image.

  • Edith October 6, 2013, 10:13 pm

    As I wrote on the other post, I’m an aspiring stoic. I know about hedonic adaptation. I save a lot of money, and most things aren’t a temptation to me. However, balancing my full time job, plus my job as a freelance translator, plus my graduate studies, plus my vocation towards writing would not have been possible without paying someone to do housechores once a week. She only cleans, so I still have to do laundry, ironing, cooking, some sweeping as the house doesn’t stay clean the whole week by itself, plus cleaning the kitty litter, doing the bed, changing sheets and a long etcetera. Right now I finished school and haven’t had extra freelance work, so I could manage without my cleaning lady, but I totally trust her and if I “fire” her now, she’d probably get another house instead of mine and it will be difficult for me to get her again when my life gets hectic again. All this to say I still do a lot of chores, but I would hate to lose all Saturday doing housework. I’d rather write. I save a lot. I don’t see why I should take away one free day from my week. It just doesn’t make sense at all. I already did that for years and there’s not a single week that I don’t feel thankful and happy knowing my housework load goes down.

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 7, 2013, 10:52 am

      But does cleaning really take a significant amount of time? I suppose if you are the sole cleaner for a house with many people. Or if you clean things weekly that are not very dirty.

      So one efficiency boost could be lowering one’s standards of cleanliness. In our 3-person 2600 square foot house, I’d say that less than one hour a month is required to do actual cleaning (sweeping floors and washing bathrooms or other dusty things), beyond the everyday necessity of washing dishes between meals. Since we evolved to live in forests and huts, is it really rational to insist on having all surfaces cleaned weekly with special fluids?

      However, I guess for a very productive person with infinite money, hiring out the housecleaning and other tasks could be justified.

      • Edith October 7, 2013, 11:16 am

        I appreciate your response. It is so true. My standards are sky high because of my upbringing with a clean-a-holic mother. My house is 861 square feet and I live only with my husband and cat. I cannot picture spending one hour a month cleaning. It sounds outrageous to me. My house came with white tiles in every bedroom, and white is, as you may guess, a very difficult color with dirt. The water where I live has many minerals and the toilet has to be cleaned every week so that sediment doesn’t accumulate on it. My cat sheds her black fur on my white floor every single day. However I agree, you are right. I want to go little by little and cut the cleaning lady help by half. I made some calculations, she costs me a month of work every year. She liberates 52 days. But, this calculation changes if I lower my standards and overcome my need of mom approval regarding my cleanliness, a mom that lives in another country and doesn’t even get to judge my hosekeeping skills (maybe hiring a shrink would be a better investment, ha ha). Thank you for your advice. I am already a huge fan of your blog.

      • Edith October 8, 2013, 5:24 pm

        Hi again. My husband refuses to cut down on house cleaning help. He argues that, since we live in Mexico, those services are way cheaper. He also says that we Mexicans, culturally, have higher standards in cleaning. That’s probably true. I’ve been trying to picture one hour of cleaning a month and can’t get around it. My mom lives in Canada and every time we visit her friends, the church, the doctor’s office and even the hospital, it has this smell, like old dirt, that drives me crazy. When I eat at her friend’s it’s like I’m eating their filthy houses along with the food but, funny thing, no one except for mom, whose house is cleaned every two weeks, notices this. If you grow up with these smells, I guess, they are no longer perceived.

        • Mr. Money Mustache October 8, 2013, 8:41 pm

          Exactly! So becoming addicted to an impractically clean house is really saddling yourself with a lifelong burden. You can no longer enjoy the type of environment you EVOLVED to live in – a more natural one!

          Plus, if any bleach or other toxic chemicals are used for cleaning, you’re subjecting yourself to a low-level poisoning on a regular basis. Meanwhile, exposing yourself to the bacteria and germs present in nature actually boosts your immune system.

          This is all really interesting, and it reminds me that I should dust off and finish my article on the subject. I’ve been thinking about the impracticalities of housecleaning for quite a few years now.

  • Late to the party October 14, 2013, 12:34 pm

    “If you don’t like Maintaining a Luxury item, you Shouldn’t Own it” – MMM

    Brilliant! My husband and I own a house and we hate spending time and money maintain it. We came from apartment living and completely did not think through the elements of owning a house. They call this the American dream?!?!?! I hate cleaning the large house, hate doing landscaping, own a gazillion tools in our garage, a bunch of furniture that I would sell tomorrow. It takes away time from our new baby. Well, in actuality, we are “those” neighbors that have the weedy lawn. Just found your site after listening to your interview with Jesse @ YNAB.

    We set a goal to move next summer and I cannot wait. Smaller space, selling or donating everything we own, walking distance to grocery/library/etc, less to clean, less to own, no room to buy more crap…what could be more lovely? Plus, we get our $140K-$150K back from the equity we have from this house to put into investments whose dividends alone would pay our rent.
    We think we are 5-6 years away from financial independence.

    Thanks for posting this! You and all the other commenters are an inspiration.

  • EricP June 19, 2014, 8:46 am

    Yes, some of your time may be worth more than 25 dollars, but it’s poor accounting when you’re calculating your marginal time at $50 an hour like you did in the last post. If that was the case it would make no sense for me to bike anywhere on weekdays. I say weekdays because my employer allows me to use 1 hr. on the clock to go to the gym and work-out. Since I’m already getting an hour of fitness the health dividend isn’t there, so we should only be talking the dollars and cents of how expensive it is to drive to work/grocery store. So let’s look at the numbers, since I’m fairly Mustachian I have a cost of 25 cents per mile, so if we look at my commute to the grocery store it is 6 miles. It takes me 8 minutes by car and 20 minutes by bike. The car costs $1.50 to operate, while the bike costs nothing. So I’m paying $1.50 for 12 minutes of time ($2.50 for 24 minutes of time) for a rate of $7.50 per hour. An hour that you compute is worth $25+, so why shouldn’t I drive to get groceries? The answer is that my marginal time isn’t worth that much. The things mentioned in this post can be taken care of in the free time that I already have so any additional time would likely be spent on entertainment anyways.

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 19, 2014, 9:44 am

      Valid calculations Eric.. except I’d disagree about the health dividend: You might try experimenting with a minimum of two hours of solid low-level outdoor exercise like cycling or walking EVERY day. And I find benefits continue increasing far beyond that – for the last 8 months I’ve been spending more like 8 hours a day doing this and life has become incredible.

      In my own approximate mental math, I think of outdoor activity and cycling as paying a dividend of roughly $50/hour, plus any financial benefits it might bring.

      But either way, if you end up biking to the grocery store, you win :-)

  • Steve August 5, 2014, 3:25 pm

    RE #9 “Buying shit doesn’t make you happier”.
    There’s a flip side. Every time you walk into the Pepto-Bismol bedroom which you hate you will feel bad. Every time you look at your shoes with the holes you’ll feel bad about yourself, not want to go out where others will see you. Every time you reach for the item which you don’t have, you will curse. A friend once loaned me a nice car. I was amazed at how it changed my attitude. I wanted people to see me and my car. I felt proud of myself. I didn’t feel like a complete looser. So there may be a reason rich people seem so confident.

    Personally I follow most of your advice: I don’t own a car, I bicycle, I eat vegetarian, I spend almost all my time on self-improvement and learning new skills. Yet, I am still very unhappy and broke to boot. Nobody wants to be with a frugal person -I’m avoided to the max.

    I find your website well thought-out, however I’ve come to believe the real issue is psychological, not money.

    p.s. If cycling is worth $50/hr. I’m a RICH man. Where can I cash in??? Just feed me something besides stale bread!

    • vr October 11, 2014, 6:26 am

      I think you have taken the wrong side on this one. You don’t spend money on unnecessary things, but of course YOU HAVE TO spend it in things that make you happy and you simply can’t get by without. Like:

      1. Shoes, you have to have a pair or two of unbroken shoes. If it’s for mountain hikes or biking in bad weather or just walking. You get a cold if your feet get wet in the rain and cold, you get blisters if you hike with bad shoes getting tiny scratches in your feet from rocks, etc.

      2. Were the people actually looking and paying attention to you driving the car, or just admiring the fancy car? What about if you gained +20 pounds of pure muscle mass, lost fat, etc and then went for a bike ride in nice summer clothes? I bet the chicks would like that far more seeing how you put those glutes to work, instead of looking like a snob in that car you can’t afford and isn’t even yours ;)

      3. Instead of cursing when something isn’t available right now, consider if the thing is worth having (you use it every day) and go buy that thing! If you need it only now and then, consider asking the neighbours/friends if they could borrow you theirs…

      Being fugal shouldn’t be a reason to be avoided. Is it possible you might have slipped to the side of being cheap, a very different thing from being frugal? Or is the avoidance because of bad smell, low self-esteem, living too far from your friends, etc (all things you can alter with your own choices)?

    • Geraldine April 14, 2015, 11:25 pm

      @Steve: there is a lot of research in economics, psychology, and even neuroscience on happiness and with all due respect, as much as I approve of the message I think MMM greatly oversimplifies the matter.
      To summerise the most proven results, we can say today that – unfortunately – our base happiness level is hardwired into our brains (as is our level of optimism). That means that we simply can have a moody and depressed nature to start with. That’s the bad part. The good part though is that because of the increadible neuroplasticity of the brain, we can- within a limited range- increase our happiness levels by behavioural changes.
      Proven approaches are first and foremost physical exercise; mindful thankfulness for the things we have, are, and experience; regularly remembering happy incidents, for example by writing them down in a journal or looking at photographs; doing things together with friends/family; and ramdom acts of kindness towards others and ourselfs.
      All these things have very little to do with the amount of stuff or money we own, but – and here i agree with MMM – with the time we have available for them in our lifes. However, economic research has shown that money can have a limited impact on our happiness levels, but rather in the negative sense. We know that extreme poverty really puts a dent into people’s happiness levels. We also know that being at the lower end of an very unequal income distribution makes people less happy compared to those that find themselfes at the upper end of the scale. The problem with such studies is that it is often very hard to separate causality from correlation.

      But the question remains whether happiness really should be our goal in life. As a person I’m definitly placed at the lower end of the natural happiness scale, but as long as i have a purpose in life, like providing my kids with everything they need to grow up to become nice, happy, healthy persons, doing my job right so that I help other people doing their’s, I’m fine with my life, although I wouldn’t call myself an overly happy person.

  • FrugalShrew April 23, 2015, 4:40 pm

    MMM, you were right on with your recommendation for at least 1 hour per day of pretty hard physical exertion:

    “The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.

    At that point, the benefits plateaued, the researchers found, but they never significantly declined.”


  • Dakota Reuland April 15, 2018, 10:27 pm

    I like the idea of doing things on your own that would save you money, especially labor like mowing the lawn or cleaning the house. Not only is it bettering your physical being, but it is also saving money. However, I also kind of disagree with some of the extremes. If I want to take a four-wheeler/atv to the top of a mountain then I am, because I am there for the view not the trek up to it. Kind of goes back to the idea of happiness, and finding a balance in everything – of course, everyone has their own ideas/opinions and I respect them all! In my class we discussed heavily the balance of happiness, time, and consumption. There are so many different paths that can be taken in this, and I think this shows the idea that in order to increase happiness, consumption (on services) needs to be low so there is more time to do other things. It can be confusing, but it is what it is.

  • Stefan June 21, 2019, 1:58 pm

    Hello Mr Money Mustache from beautiful Prague.
    I read and reread all your articles and as an early retiree since 2 years, I’m 43 now, I cannot thank You enough for all the inspiration over the years!! :-)
    One thing though about this article: ……..”Mr. Money Mustache still needs to set tiles and install new toilets into the homes of other people……… but they are still essential parts of getting the maximum value from my time….”
    Why is/was that still essential? I guess you knew by then HOW to do it, so no new learning involved?


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