Frequently Complained Questions

postIf you haven’t heard the news, it has been a pretty exciting weekend for Mustachianism. I had the rare treat of doing a little interview with the Washington Post, and it somehow got promoted to the front page of the paper’s online edition where it remained for the entire weekend. Even Ralph Nader retweeted it. This blog’s already ridiculous traffic doubled overnight, and so all of us old-timers would like to welcome the 50% of you who are brand-new!

Part of the fun of a new bit of exposure like this is the controversy. Every time the surreal and happy world of this blog has a brush with the mainstream media, it triggers an explosive round of complaints, as well as a meaningful stream of questions.

The complaints won’t get us anywhere, because that’s pretty much the definition of a complaint: a whining statement of something you don’t like, without an accompanying proposal to fix it. But just to indulge ourselves, let’s review a few of them I came across:

Wow – REALLY? ICK – YUK!!! You sound like one seriously f’d up socialist. YOU keep that CRA*. Me – I’m going AMERICAN ALL THE WAY!!!!!!! ‘Cause you don’t really want to live on less – you just want to push your political agenda and I for ONE am NOT buying it – no pun intended.

Can not express yourself without profanity?

Shocking to hear, I know, but did you know that most of the country does not live in a place that is always been 60-80 degrees year-round? Much of the country has 100 degree summers and 0 degree winters. Not conducive to biking/walking. That’s probably why people starting buying cars once they were invented…

(MMM Note: Colorado has some of the most rapidly changing weather in the US, and many of us here find it fun to bike both below 0F and above 100F. Walking is even easier.)

What a privileged, sanctimonious twit. He should peddle his philosophy in southeast D.C., see how successful it is.

(I’m not sure if “privileged” is the right word for encouraging high-income people to spend less money on themselves, but at least you made me have to go look up “sanctimonious”, so you get one point for that.)

Mustache’s retirement is a euphemism for a unemployment with a low standard of living. Many people running around the wilds of Africa, and welfare queens in America, have done him one better.

I still get treats like that every day, and I collect them in a little secret website to share with other bloggers.  While it would be fun to do battle with people like that, it would use up the precious free time I’d rather spend writing to YOU, who probably have real questions about building a ‘Stash of your own.

So let’s begin – here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about the early retirement lifestyle. While they are often phrased as complaints or accusations, I’ve converted them into polite questions here to avoid accidental damage to your computer screen.

But what about Health Insurance? 

We’ve got it. At $237/month for the family, It’s not as expensive as most people assume. More on that here. I think this country could run more efficiently if workers were not held back from switching jobs, starting new companies, or retiring by fear of losing health insurance coverage. While the situation is still not ideal, I like to promote the idea that it is not scary to purchase your own insurance these days. Many of my entrepreneur friends are in the same boat, and they have been for many years.

But that has a $10,000 deductible! What do you do if someone gets really sick? 

When you have early-retirement-level savings (say, $1 million), taking a $10,000 hit is only 1% of your wealth. You could do it year after year, for over 30 years, and you’d still have $700,000 sitting around. In my mind, that is preferable to having a job, spending most of what you earn, and having lower-deductible health insurance. Meanwhile, as a saver you have plenty of time to decide if you want to go out and earn more money, or scale down your lifestyle by moving to a less expensive house, or (unlikely) move to another country where healthcare is much cheaper. Savings give you peace of mind and options, and this blog is really about spending less and investing more so you can have those life benefits.

What about a College Education for your Kid(s)? You could never pay for that on $25,000 per year!

This comes down to the savings issue again. People often read these interviews, and fixate on the fact that we only spend $25,000 per year. But we actually earn more than that. And even if we didn’t, an early retiree you have a heap of invested money that you can cash out and use for anything you like. As long as you have sufficient safety margin in your retirement ‘stashing, that is more than enough to cover any educational expenses while barely making a dent in the war chest. On top of that, I’m willing to bet that my son won’t need too much of my help by that time anyway.

Are you making this all up? These numbers don’t work out. Nobody could do this.

Every single thing I’ve written in the 336 posts of this blog is true to the best of my ability to write it. I don’t have any incentive to make stuff up: writing lies would ruin the fun of this blog for me. In fact, I believe the best way to make good things happen is by harnessing the sometimes-mysterious power of Honesty.

You’re a Prosperity Anomaly: you made money in the stock market and the housing market. That’s all luck.

Not true in my case, unfortunately. By owning mostly index funds, we’ve matched the market’s appreciation and dividend yield for all our stock holdings, which we built up since 2001. This hasn’t been a great time for stock appreciation. I did make some money on my first house, but that was mostly due to renovating it using my own weekends. Then I lost a bunch by starting a house-building company right before the housing crash. D’oh!

The real ‘secret’ to how my wife and I saved our first $800,000 over nine years of work was simply saving just over 65% of our income. Do the math right here, and you’ll see that saving at that rate adds up to financial independence in 9 years.

As one wise person on Hacker News wrote in defense of this strategy:

“His good fortune shaved years off of his retirement. Maybe even two of them.”

The bottom line is if you can live on 50% of your take-home pay and invest the difference, you will be weathy enough to retire in 17 years. Saving more gets you there even faster. No magic or unusual luck required.

But I don’t want to be frugal – I want to LIVE, and travel, and, and, … !!

First of all, we’re not all that frugal. We lead a pretty spendy life these days, live in a luxury house in a good neighborhood, and travel at least three months of the year. I’m ashamed to admit that I probably own almost as much fancy stuff as you do. And if we wanted to spend even more, we would. But by focusing on happiness instead of shopping, and working to make the spending we do more efficient, the annual total just ends up being lower. A big part of this comes from driving less, since cars cost more than you think they do. But more importantly, the sooner you let go of the belief that these things you want really bring you more happiness, the happier and richer you will be. Look into the philosophy Stoicism, it is freaky-powerful stuff.

You have a Rental House. Isn’t that still a job?

Not for me – first of all, because I’ve had the best tenant in the world for two years, and also because I enjoy it. But I’m doing a terrible job at it: My rental house is an expensive custom one that I originally built myself, to sell. But I got stuck with it in the housing crash and a messy business partner situation. I only clear about 5% of the value of the house in rent every year. I could do better by just selling the place and owning some REITs. Or buying a 4-plex that would deliver double the rent, even after hiring a property manager. So when you see “rental house”, just substitute the words “$500,000 of assets yielding 5% after inflation”.

Can you stop being a Smug Asshat? And stop swearing too?

Some people say they like the message here, but not all the judgmental opinions and the made-up words like Mustachianism. They want Mr. Money Mustache to write in the straight-laced style of newspapers and magazines. And to omit certain words, so it can be shared with the children of anti-swearing households.

I’m really sorry to have to say this, but this blog is a hobby and not a corporation. So in order to stay motivated to write, I have to write in the way that I enjoy writing. And I just happen to find this shit funny. If it’s any consolation, I don’t actually think I am even remotely badass in real life, so you can imagine a mild-mannered computer engineer doing the typing, rather than a Smug Asshat, whatever that looks like. And as a consolation to me, plenty of people seem to be reading all this smug asshatty profanity, so I’d say it’s a sign I should continue writing this way.

Why are you writing the blog at all? Is it to judge me and make me feel bad about my life choices? Or is it to make yourself feel better, or sell me stuff?

None of these things. It’s just one guy’s attempt to try to make the world a happier place, by sharing some things I was lucky to learn along the way. Most of the principles I write about here are at least 2000 years old, and yet they are not widely known in the modern world. And, so I can laugh at my own jokes.

Your plan is silly – consumers drive the economy. If everyone became frugal, we’d have no economy and we would all have to live in cardboard boxes.

I think this represents a misunderstanding of economic principles, confusing our productivity per hour with our chosen rate of number of hours to work and rate of consumption. I wrote about that more here: https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/09/what-if-everyone-became-frugal/

You’re not really Retired! You just said you like working!

This blog is about how to build up the wealth required to make work optional. Mrs. MM and I reached that milestone in 2005, in order to start a family without the distraction of jobs. Since then, we’ve gone on to do some things that earn money, and lots of things that don’t. But that doesn’t take away from the original message: if you save and invest enough money, work will eventually become optional, which is a great thing to happen. If you don’t like my idea of retirement, you might prefer to get a job with the Internet Retirement Police.

I can’t ride a bike where I live!

Good! It sounds like you’ve at least identified the problem. Now, let’s work on a solution. Is it because of irrational fear? (if you see other people biking in your city, I’d be a bit suspicious). But even if you do live in some bleak cars-only location, my job is to at least plant the idea in your head that there is another way. You probably didn’t choose your current location with “minimize the need to drive” as a top priority. What would happen if you did? I can already tell you what will happen, since this has been my priority for all of the 12 addresses (spread across six cities and two countries) I’ve had over the past 19 years. The result? Over 20,000 miles of biking, almost no car-commuting, and over $200,000 in estimated life benefits so far. Rather than telling us all you can’t do it now, just consider it as a way to improve your own future.

I’m Way too late for Early Retirement. What approach can a late starter like me take?

Exactly the same approach as an early starter! Spend less than you earn. The math here is equal-opportunity: it does not care how old you are.  Older people often have the advantage of higher salaries, or things they can sell to get a head start. But even if you don’t have any of that, you still have your wisdom. And there is nothing to lose and everything to gain from starting now to improve your financial situation. I still get emails from people of all ages sharing inspirational stories of giant transformations for the better. I look forward to getting yours too, and sharing it on this blog for the next person who does not yet have the confidence to make a change.

You look sort of like the Dos Equis guy in that Washington Post picture!

Wow, really? That would be cool. I could see a Internet meme forming around this. You can take a picture of Mr. Money Mustache, and add your own words, just as people do with Dos Equis Man. Planting this idea may turn out to be a very good, or a very bad idea :-)


Any other frequently asked questions that I should add to this article? Let me know and I will make some updates, and then stick it up in the menu for permanent reference.


  • Ishmael April 30, 2013, 5:52 am

    “I think this country could run more efficiently if workers were not held back from switching jobs, starting new companies, or retiring by fear of losing health insurance coverage.” – MMM

    As an outsider, I’ve been totally perplexed by this in American culture. Amercians, quite understandably, seem to place an enormously high value on personal freedom, choice and entrepeneurism, yet support a health care model that restricts their freedom and choice greatly. (And is mind-bogglingly inefficient and expensive). I get why the obscenely wealthly are OK with it, but I don’t understand why the other 90+% are.

    Norway, for example, has a higher rate or entrepeneurism than in the US because people aren’t afraid to take risks, knowing there is a decent social net to catch them if it fails: http://www.inc.com/magazine/20110201/in-norway-start-ups-say-ja-to-socialism.html

    • Sister X April 30, 2013, 11:58 am

      The other 90% aren’t happy with it. We just have corrupt politicians who won’t listen to what the majority of people actually want. If you look at polls of what Americans actually want vs. what the politicians want/do, it’s very, very skewed. (I realize this sounds very conspiracy-theorist, I promise I’m not. I’m just fed up.)

      • SusieQ April 30, 2013, 4:48 pm

        You and me both, Sister! FED UP with our politicians in Washington!

      • Emmers May 5, 2013, 8:15 am

        That, or the other 90% think they’ll someday be part of the wealthy class, and thus won’t have to worry THEN.

  • scott April 30, 2013, 7:31 am

    In economics production is a function of capital and labor. Without labor capital would potentially remain idle. Without capital labor would potentially be unemployed. It is not a zero sum game. When a successful business is formed providers of both capital and labor are better off than they were before. Labor is compensated for the opportunity cost of its time. Capital is compensated for the opportunity cost of its next best investment opportunity. I do not have a problem with this arrangement. Some folks obviously do.

  • Angulo April 30, 2013, 7:32 am

    Call me pessimistic but..due to all this publicity..I wonder just how long will it be before this blog gets sold like GRS and TSD…Then MMM will finally satisfy and convince the non-believers that he is “truly retired”.

    • madge April 30, 2013, 10:46 am

      The difference is, MMM doesn’t need any more money. He’s already retired! JD and Trent were not — the proceeds from selling their blogs got them to FI, which is (I’m guessing) why they sold. MMM doesn’t have that motivation.

      • CincyCat May 1, 2013, 5:39 pm

        Agree! This is also why MMM told one of his blog’s 3rd party ad companies to take a hike when they tried to control content on his blog. He simply doesn’t need the money.

  • Shzasaver2 April 30, 2013, 8:37 am

    I stumbled up your site not because of your WP article but from another site which I had been growing tired of since it was always the same kind of ideas. However it happened on the same weekend!

    I sure wish I had found your site earlier. I love how and what you write including the cursing. I have been reading everything all weekend long.

    We have been diligently saving, not at your rate, which is why we are still working. However, I hope to increase the rate and put many of the ideas you write about into action. The next phase for us…rental property. Retirement in 5yrs…..yes!

    Thank you for the reality that it is possible.

  • MarkT April 30, 2013, 9:08 am

    The people worried about major medical issues or disaster scenarios interest me. How many years of work is it worth to have a better healthcare plan or reduce risk?

    We don’t build homes for the worst case scenario. We build them for slightly risky scenario and then build in a margin of safety. How is this different than retirement?

  • Herr Handlebar April 30, 2013, 10:22 am

    It is interesting to me that we took such a hard turn into the moral and ethical implications of financial independence and specifically an analysis of financial independence through the lens of Marxism. I don’t think we have ever, directly, broached this topic in the forums. Most of our moral and ethical discussions have centered around specific money making or saving strategies. The topic of how to invest in firms that share beliefs similar to the investor has been the most common single topic. See:




    It is an interesting topic although I currently stand by my original comment regarding, “Do not fault the successful participant in a flawed system; try instead to discern and rebuke that aspect of its organization which allows or encourages the behavior that has provoked your displeasure.”

  • Orange County Mark April 30, 2013, 10:35 am

    Dear MMM

    at 57 years old I want to say I love your blog. I didn’t discover it until Three weeks ago and I’m so bummed I didn’t know about it when I was 30 years old. You see there comes a point when you do get a little tired of working and you wish you had the resources to walk away 100%. Fortunately for me and my wife I was somewhat frugal and we have a decent sum tucked away but I still feel like I need to work three more years. I guess I learned from my parents that I was supposed to save 10%, give 10% and live on the rest. When my kids were young my wife stayed home (until she was 43 years old) before going to work. when she went to work we had all this extra income and we spent most of it on a somewhat extravagant lifestyle rather than saving it all. Boy do I wish We had done differently now. Keep up the good work! I have told all my kids about your blog as well as my nieces and nephews.

    • SusieQ April 30, 2013, 4:55 pm

      You’d be a good one to preach to the younger ones, for sure! “START SAVING NOW!” They want all of the extra crap, bigger and better homes & cars, accumulating debt, and creating for themselves a hole so big they may never get out of it! I realize this is not your situation, but so many put so much on credit card these days and worry about paying it off later. I just don’t get it – how much “stuff” can you have? It’s like people are trying to fill a void with it – and it doesn’t seem to be working for most! :-(

      • Emmers May 5, 2013, 8:17 am

        Yes! My parents practiced AND preached at me about the value of savings. It’s an element of my……wait for it….privilege. :-D (But no, seriously, I am way better off financially than many of my friends in part because I absorbed this attitude very early. I was lucky, *and* I worked hard. Both necessary.)

  • Alek April 30, 2013, 12:01 pm

    I will begin using this meme for everything.

  • Erin Hershey April 30, 2013, 12:23 pm

    You know which negative comments I found the most interesting on the WaPo site? The ones that said “This isn’t new information! All this guy did was take the ‘Save more than you spend’ message and try to sell it/exploit it to suckers!” That line of commenting is crap. First of all, stop being so angry at people that find new ways to wrap old packages. As a graphic designer, I do this every day. You think no one has ever combined words and pictures on a page before? But my job (like MMM’s) is to make information interesting, appealing and simple. Bravo to you, MMM for doing this so well.

    I’ve been a reader for a few months and this blog has been pivotal for my SO and I. The tone may not be for everyone, but the facepunch language works for me – along with the positive and encouraging message. It reminds me of the first book on finances my Mom gave me – Larry Winget’s “You’re Broke Because You Want To Be.” It was an eye-opener… and like this blog, a kick-in-the-pants call to personal responsibility. Thanks, MMM. Keep up the AWESOME work!

  • Chucks April 30, 2013, 1:10 pm

    You go MMM!

    I think people get a little hung up when other reporters say you spend less than the poverty line level income and then they take that to be a holier-than-thou thing. Having $25k in passive income to spend when you’ve got a house and car paid for is a heck of a lot different than someone who only makes $25k and has no health insurance or stashe

  • JoeMoney123 April 30, 2013, 1:24 pm

    great blog- a perusal of your ideas reminds me of Dave Ramsey. A secular Dave Ramsey in fact. You have different methods and different goals but for all intents and purposes both of you are attempting to get people to view money in a way that will make it work for them as opposed to working for it. If you want to compare it to College- Dave is teaching undergraduate bad-assity and you are teaching graduate bad-assity.

  • Doug April 30, 2013, 2:28 pm

    Wow, I can really relate to what the complainers say, as I’ve heard it all. I was way ahead of my time with this early retirement idea. I saved a good portion of what I earned, as well as living an efficient lifestyle, and took a buyout from a company at age 34 in 1995. From that point on, I called myself semi retired, working on and off at temporary jobs and taking time for other pursuits in between. Now it’s time to call it quits for good, following in the steps of other mustachians and retiring once and for all. By doing so I am, as other commenters have said, 1) showing by example how everyone should live in a more environmentally responsible way by consuming less and 2) creating a job vacancy for someone who needs it. I’m doing my part to address the problems of unemployment and increasing wealth disparities and feel great about these outstanding contributions to society.

    My favourite excuse is : that’s easy for you being single, it’s harder when you’re married. I’ll follow the example of profanity used here by saying that’s BULLSHIT if there ever was! It’s actually harder for a single person to save enough to retire with only one income and not having the economies of scale that married couples do. Consider that Mr. Money Mustache is married, with kids and retired earlier than I did. The same goes for Derek Foster who retired in his thirties and has 5 kids. Who’s he? Look at http://www.stopworking.ca .

    I see a lot of you are commenting on the idea of work and pay. My contribution is to say that the economy of western countries like the U.S. or Canada crossed the point of being productive enough to provide for everyone’s needs back in the 1970’s or earlier. That’s why those of us who are aware of that obvious fact could save enough for early retirement with relative ease. The end result of all this increase in productivity is there is no way the economy can provide full employment at 40 hours per week for everyone available to work unless it keeps growing and everyone is wasteful, and as we’ve seen lately even that isn’t enough. The ridiculously obvious solution to this problem is to reduce work hours for everyone. That hasn’t happened, so that’s why we continue to have this nagging unemployment problem. Instead, economists and governments try voodoo economics “solutions” like alternating between stimulus spending and austerity programs and other dumb ideas like quantitative easing. It’s like a person with a binge and purge eating disorder who wonders why their health never gets better. In other words, it’s like getting from A to B by passing through Z. We can and should do better than that in this day in age.

  • John@MoneyPrinciple April 30, 2013, 3:11 pm

    I bet you’re glad you sorted the server out if the WashPost featured you! A year or so ago a friend of one of my users tweeted 2.5 million twitter followers about her site and my server went south! Since then I have completely changed the configuration so recent (admittedly smaller) bursts just haven’t been noticed!

    Anyway you are righ about the disregard – the same with motor insurance. You disregard an amount that won’t hurt which just means that the claims junkies don’t hit your premiums.

    Meanwhile enjoy your ‘retirement’ and ignore the silly comments…

  • RivRider April 30, 2013, 4:58 pm

    I’m another one of the new 50%. Saw the WaPo article through a link at InstaPundit.

    I retired semi-early at 59. If I had been more mustachian and started sooner, would have retired sooner. Oh well, can’t change the past. Being frugal isn’t that hard. Can’t say that I have(or am) missing out on anything important.

    I’ll try to stick around for a while and see if it helps me improve my frugal habits a bit more. May not reach your level, but willing to improve where I can.

  • Marty Puddinghead April 30, 2013, 5:17 pm

    Hey MMM,

    I found your site from the Washington Post article. I was blown away by your philosophy as I was raised with waste not want not. Your analysis is right on. We are so conditioned from cradle to grave that wealth determines happiness. It is not true and you are flipping the bird to convention, and the arrogance of those who sacrifice all for wealth.

    Please keep writing, keep cussing! It is one thing to come up with your approach to finances, but quite another to have fully implemented it in your life. Your son will be eternally grateful! I have so many compliments but I need to start planning!

    Thanks man!

  • AC April 30, 2013, 8:14 pm

    Congrats on the press. I too am looking forward to the book!

  • Just call me Al April 30, 2013, 8:37 pm

    “Frequently complained questions”—is right. Look, MMM is his own thing. We are all different and go about things in different ways, obviously. The point is—MMM has “pointers”: To be read and understood as guidance by those who wish to break free. You can go about it however you wish. If you need a car, for work or geographical location-or otherwise, so be it. You just have to ask if –that’s making you money, and allow yourself the opportunity to change your mind on HOW TO BETTER YOURSELF AND THE WORLD AROUND YOU. I get rather disappointed in a populace that can’t interpret, navigate, and appreciate a better way. Easy is, well, as easy does. As far as investing, you can do better than an index. Yeah, you can. But, you are rapping on the door of risk that is up to your own education, time, and research. That’s all this guy is saying. Save for the sake of saving—and as much as you possibly can. The light, at the end of the tunnel, is near. There is no regret. There is nothing more gratifying as being available to your child full time, being in a loving marriage, and feeling comfortable– regardless. Yes, he makes money from this site, but he very well deserves all of it because he has independently brought people to that light—in his own fucking face-punch style— and created a respectable community that is elevated rather than diluted. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO, YOU JUST HAVE TO BE. To the newcomers, welcome! You are in for a treat. You’ve already taken an important step that goes beyond frugality, strategy, and end numbers. You’ve entered a realm of understanding, open communication, and assertiveness that is accepted with congeniality. MMM is the site for thinkers. The serious. There’s no time for a complainypants exception. I relish that. This is hardcore shit, so enjoy.

  • Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce May 1, 2013, 5:34 am

    Wel;l, the comment section has forever exploded on MMM. It will never be the same again, an that is a good thing!! How cool is it that Ralph Nader retweeted (he is a family friend, as evidenced by work he has done with my , father, Tony Mazzocchi. He was the keynote speaker at my Dad’s wake..a real no BS guy…for him to retweet is awesome). That said, the early retirement thing is freaking HARD, but it is possible. I liken in to my life as a musician: It takes discipline sacrifice and hard freaking work to enjoy the fruits. If it was this easy to obtain ERE everyone would do it, and we would have a vastly different country. I’m reading some of the comments here and it is completely apparent who can and who cannot “tune out the noise” of mass media and even their neighbors…the Joneses.

    Keep up the awesome hobby, MMM. After all, 2 years after first reading your blog I am taking my own mini-retirement!

  • Vanna May 1, 2013, 9:33 am

    Since I started reading this blog (January of 2012) I’ve decreased my overall debt by 15%. Might not sound like a lot, but pre-MMM I had experienced an increase of 2% over a two year period (and felt like I was working twice as hard). If the complainypants folks would actually pay attention and apply even an ounce of what you offer here, they would eat their words and be all the better for it.

    Never stop being you.

  • Fi May 1, 2013, 9:39 am

    I have been following MMM for 2 months and was excited to see the Wash Post article last week (I work nearby).
    I am working towards FI/retirement in 4 years. Some friends have expressed concern about my leaving after “only” 25 years on the job (public service), instead of the standard 30. I will be 55 then and draw retirement. I may work but only when and where I want, taking time to travel across country in an RV.
    I have middle income friends that work hard in jobs that are not fulfilling and living high income lives, just a few paychecks away from disaster if job loss or illness strike. I have other friends who are saving for retirement and plan on working into their 60’s, I hope they live long enough to enjoy it. Everyone will follow their own path, but you are helping people to see that they have options and that every aspect of their lifestyle can be changed to meet their goals. I am working on my goals as well as sharing your website with friends. My only regret is that I didn’t pursue a more hardcore retirement goal 20 years ago when I came across a book that discussed many of the ideas that you do. That was the early 90’s and I would have been laughed at much more than today. The 90’s was all about “bigger is better” in housing, trucks, hair (haha), and the list of consumerism excess at that time was ridiculous. I just went along with the norm and continued the cycle with everyone around me. Can’t go back though, so I am moving forward! Thank you so much for sharing and please keep up the great work!!

  • Emily May 1, 2013, 12:00 pm

    I would like to counter your frequently complained questions with a hopefully not too infrequently heard compliment: I am so happy to have discovered your blog!

    I too have an engineering degree (both my BS and PhD) and my spouse and I spent my first 4 years after grad school working in a high COL area, living in a shit house, and saving more than 50% of our incomes following principles similar to yours.

    Where my path diverges from yours, is that instead of retiring after 9 years, I stayed in the rat race only four years. Then, at the age of 29, we decided to enter a “semi-retirement”. I took a much lower paying job as a professor at a small college in a beautiful low COL town. We had a baby, bought a house, and got some land and chickens. While my job only grosses $53,000 a year, I love what I do and only work about 30 weeks of the year, with the rest of the time living the life of someone retired (and even during the 30 weeks I have almost completely control and flexibility over when, how, and on what I work). Because we got so established financially, my income pays the small mortgage on a beautiful home we put a large down-payment on, allows for savings, and even supports my spouse staying-at-home with our daughter. (Which is where I get “semi-retired” :one spouse not working and one working a little over half-time.)

    Now, here’s where I get to the compliment part. I’ve recently started realizing that my so-secure job may not be so secure long-term, or that I may not stay happy with it forever. This led me to a feeling of hopelessness, seeing as how I set up this perfect life only to begin to fear that it may turn imperfect. But then I read through your blog. And I realized that just because we live a semi-retired life, doesn’t mean that I can’t make a firm goal of preparing for a completely retired life, so that I can use it if I need it. So, you’ve given me a new goal of full FI in 9 years (by age 40).

    While we’ve built up savings already, I didn’t shave years off of the clock to full retirement assuming that I will choose to continue living a semi-retired life while working towards it, but I can always work more and earn more income if I want to speed it up. And now, with this goal I can replace hopelessness with direction and purpose. Thanks to you and your blog.

    • lurker May 2, 2013, 3:11 pm

      awesome!!!!!! music to all our ears…..say hi to the chickens for me!

  • Spork May 1, 2013, 2:05 pm

    “Can you stop being a Smug Asshat? And stop swearing too?”

    Can I complain “please don’t”? It’s your sweariffic smugitty-asshattedness that keeps me coming back. Your way of spinning a picture in words makes me giggle even when I (occasionally) disagree with you. (Blasphemy, I know.) It’s what makes me think “I think I might like that guy.”

    • Trudy May 3, 2013, 1:40 pm

      Ditto. “I happen to think this shit is funny” just makes my day. Very few people swear exactly appropriately and MMM does. Makes me giggle every time I read an article and people that have problems with that…well, to quote John Cleese “There are always those whom one would want to offend.”

    • Emmers May 5, 2013, 8:19 am

      I was secretly hoping the answer to the “smug” question would be just “Nope!” Then I hit page-down, and was disappointed to see it was a whole paragraph. :-D

  • blindsquirrel May 1, 2013, 5:39 pm

    The first million is the hardest by far but the second can be shockingly fast IMO. To MMM- Hey, no such thing as bad press! Keep up the great work, love your blog and writing style. There has never been a shortage of complainy asshats on the interwebs. You have reached an expanded audience and that is what this country needs is for people to get their financial house in order.

  • Emily May 2, 2013, 10:18 am

    The opposite of love is indifference. MMM’s detractors are anything but indifferent, which means that are in a state of defensiveness. I find your detractor’s comments odd and a little disturbing.

    • lurker May 2, 2013, 3:09 pm

      they are morons…thought the Washington Post attracted smarter readers…proof positive our education is failing us….wow some of those responses to the Washington Post piece are shockingly dumb….

  • Alexandria May 2, 2013, 11:51 am

    There is way too much to comment on here – :D – but just had to add to the health insurance conversation.

    I work for a small business – always have – health insurance concerns are the same as self-employed. (We work for the self-employed…). I always point this out because small businesses are always overlooked in this discussion. A large majority of small businesses just don’t have group rates to offer to their employees.

    Anyway, I have always been employed and have always chosen private insurance. I don’t understand why you would not. ??? Early on it was cheaper and better. Cheaper gave way to just a hell of a lot better. Then I watched several relatives and friends screwed over by the employer health system in this country. Now we have no choice. Dh has huge pre-existing condition (since early 30s). I am so thankful we didn’t get stuck in that employer mess. My spouse has been unemployed since mid 20s (chose to stay home with kids while dealing with unemployment). If I had a dollar for all the input I got over the years about our health insurance situation. Obviously I have great insurance for my spouse to not have to work. (NOT. I don’t have any employer insurance whatsoever, but I Am paid well in salary). We are crazy morons to buy private insurance (NOT). My impression over the years has been: F*** the employer health insurance system. But what is more mind boggling to me is how few people seem to understand or see through it. Mr. Money Mustache may be the only human being on earth who seems to be on the same page. I have watched most Americans choose insane car payments rather than put their health insurance first. We just have very different priorities from average. (Because everyone has basically said to me, “I would NEVER pay $500/month for health insurance, but I would pay that much in endless car payments.” Not in so many words, but by their actions).

    We were “never go to the Doctor/catastrophic health insurance is all we need” types after we had our kids. (We were extra concerned with good insurance for maternity and stuff). But then my spouse was diagnosed with brain tumor in early 30s. We had good insurance so is mostly a non-issue. BUT, if anything, we feel extremely FREE and relieved to have had private insurance. We had been planning to move to “will work for health insurance” or “cheapest thing we could find” because of skyrocketing health premiums. Then this happened and economy went to heck and many loved ones got caught up in unemployment/insane private insurance premiums trap. Our health insurance can’t raise 1000% overnight because I am unemployed and because we have developed a health condition while employed, and that is very *freeing.*

    • Ian Turner May 23, 2013, 12:53 pm

      Employer-provided health insurance is completely tax free — no income tax, no FICA, no state tax, no nothing. It’s a huge subsidy and one of two main reasons that employer-provided healthcare is the norm.

      The other main reason is that groups, especially larger ones, can generally get better rates on insurance due to reduced adverse selection.

  • marisa May 2, 2013, 12:47 pm

    Do you have advice for transporting three children under the age of 6 to a grocery store in bad weather with no car? What about if you get laid off from your job? I can’t just sell my house that I had already purchased close to my former work place. My job is specific and they aren’t available everywhere. Does that imply I should rent a house so I live close to work always? Then I move my kids around to other school districts? I like a lot of your ideas and can’t stand people that lead ignorant wasteful lives ‘AMERICAN ALL THE WAY’, at times it seems like it would be ok to bend a little and say not all of your situations are realistic to everyone. I also think a lot of your critics get confused because of your slogan about ‘early retirement’. I’m not so sure if I would call it ‘early retirement’, especially with working on rental properties. I mean technically. You read that and think…. I don’t want to lift a finger ever again during retirement,…this guy still does work! BS! When really its more of a financia freedom, not retirement.

    • xine May 4, 2013, 10:07 am

      Careful, you’re edging into both internet retirement police and complainy pants territory! For the grocery store dilemma, I tend to go when my husband is home so that I don’t need to take the kids. For getting to and from work, that is a little tougher. Personally, we rent just for that situation but once you own a home things are a little different. In that case I think that mmm would just say that some things you can’t do right now, but make the changes you can and just keep this issue in mind for the future.

      • Marisa May 6, 2013, 11:54 am

        Not necessarily internet police or complaining, but rather intelligent counters to some ideas that just don’t plain work out for everybody. My husband is gone for extended periods of time.

    • Miser Mom May 23, 2013, 7:25 am

      Grocery store advice: if you can find ways to stockpile a bit, you can probably rearrange your life so that you can wait out the bad weather. This might mean switching some of the kinds of things you buy. For example, when I bake, I use soy flour and oil instead of eggs. I also bake with powdered milk instead of wet milk. So I don’t have to run to the store to get baking supplies. When we run out of wet milk, my kids know they’re switching to water until the next grocery run.

      I know there are people who go grocery shopping several times a week; but if you try to get yourself to once-a-month (even if you don’t quite make it), I think it makes your life a lot more pleasant.

    • Jo July 27, 2013, 10:38 am

      I have asked the same questions on the yahoo article. It is very difficult to live without a car with multiple people going different directions in the same household. I have two new teenage drivers and so we are a 4 car family now! Yikes! And we consider ourselves greenies. Yes, this seems to lean toward renting vs buying so that you can be near work or school if you have a job change. But that is difficult with multiple earners.

      So I think a compromise is to not live in the ‘ burbs’ with a 40 plus min commute. It saves gas and happiness studies show long commuters are highly depressed. As for having 4 cars, I am happy to say that because of previous saving we have a chunk of change so it is not a financial burden to support them. It is always nice to have a financial buffer for sure. I think that is really what this blog is about. Not living paycheck to paycheck and trying to build up some assets. It’s not about retiring.

    • Mike August 25, 2014, 12:17 pm

      To retire is “to withdraw” from something. He has withdrawn from his career in the software industry, so he is retired. If he was working part time or doing consulting work in the software area you could argue he’s semi-retired, but there’s no indication he is doing this

  • BankBucksBeard May 2, 2013, 12:48 pm

    It’s funny to think that if you didn’t have this blog the people around you would probably never know that you were much different than them. The same people saying you’re living at poverty levels would look at your house, cars, vacations and assume you were the same as everyone else (except maybe a think you’re a fitness nut riding your bike all the time).

    I take a bit of secret pride in being a mustachian while living among people who would never guess that I was living any differently than them. In fact, among my financial peers I appear to be spending the most. Yet somehow I have the most savings, weird.

    Of course my close friends and family know that I’m aiming toward early retirement and I encourage them to do the same. I learned it years ago from my Dad who retired at 50 by cutting expenses and living a reasonable lifestyle.

    When I found this blog it felt great to know others feel the same and are doing the same.

    I once read an article written by a wealthy man on becoming rich. He said to be prepared to have people be very critical of what your doing. This is because humans are programmed to fear things outside of what they perceive as normal. And you can be darn sure that if you’re on the path to becoming rich, then you’re outside the norm.

  • lurker May 2, 2013, 3:12 pm

    stay thirsty my friend!

  • Melissa May 2, 2013, 8:09 pm

    I think sadly, we can pretty much count on many people continuing to be consumers. I once wrote on my f-book page that I’d rather have flowers from my garden than diamonds. Most of the comments were along the lines of, “Can’t we have both?” That’s basically the reaction I get when I gently offer cutting back to anyone who is complaining about their financial woes. And it’s so true about what even our grandparents lived compared to what we live. My grandparents didn’t think they “deserved” anything for their hard work–they were simply grateful people. Grateful for food on the table and a roof over their heads. They didn’t have closets full of clothes and basements full of anything, except maybe their own canning. They are who I try to emulate.

  • Leila May 3, 2013, 1:15 pm

    I am truly mystified by the frequently complained questions. Are people so insecure about their lifestyle that they have to attack others who live differently? There are folks who drive gas guzzlers; that’s their choice and no one is stopping them. But if you’re happy with your choices, Mr. AMERICAN ALL THE WAY, why be so defensive?

    I just discovered this blog today after reading the chat on the Washington Post. I hadn’t read the original article, thinking it might be preachy, which I don’t like (who does?). Instead, I found thoughtful reflections and helpful, non-critical responses, all written in a style that is informative, funny and entertaining. What sets MMM apart from other money advice types is that the money, from either the spending or the earning viewpoint, doesn’t seem to be the focus. The focus is on living well. Spending less money, avoiding things that really aren’t needed (cable TV, for example), are the means to that end, not the end in itself. If complainers don’t get that, whose problem is that?

    When I was reading the chat this afternoon, I posted a comment that MMM used, in which in part, I suggested that he volunteer more. His answer, that maybe he should start a BLOG to help other people with their decisions in this area (not a direct quote), was so good natured and true that I was embarrassed by my criticism, and he totally won me over. I’m not sure how far I’ll go in increasing my savings or changing my lifestyle, but MMM has given me plenty to think about.

  • Felix May 3, 2013, 2:08 pm

    I have been reading this site for about a month. Despite my being unaware of this treasure of financial wisdom, I have been a saving and investing machine for the past 10 years. I only personally know one other person who is of the same mindset, and every single other friend/acquaintance I have or had, do not want to live below their means and do not understand the power of early retirement. It feels good to know that there are others out there that are as committed to being as financially independent as I am, and are achieving it without having a rich relative die. I wish I could spread the financial independence gospel, but I think it’s just tough for many people to imagine what it would be like to not have to answer to anyone, to make all your own decisions, to control your working (or non-working) days, to do things that may make money, or they may just feel good. There’s a sense of uncertainty about that kind of lifestyle. And of course, living simply and enjoying inexpensive pleasures in order to achieve such massive asset growth, that is a state of being most people have no interest in experiencing. I think if I could put most of these dutifully employed high spenders in my shoes for a week or two, they would convert to Mustachianism. Until then, we shall remain the few, the proud, the financially independent.

  • AK May 5, 2013, 3:39 pm

    I read the Washington Post article, and that brought me to your blog. So that is the positive side :-)

  • ael May 5, 2013, 4:50 pm

    I am supportive of these ideas; it goes to the heart of how I was raised by Great Depression survivors, family of three, who lived one of those years on $112 during those difficult times. I have asked one question twice before without a response. I personally now have medicare insurance coverage and my question really is can you explain what will happen as you or any Mustachian ages and insurance, even with 10k deducticble, becomes increasingly pricey? Will your savings cover that scenario 30 years from now or will you work enough to qualify for medicare or will you gamble on a single payer plan like Canada;s or will you just face that bridge at a later time? Serious question not nit-picking. Thanks, ael

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 5, 2013, 9:58 pm

      I think out of the options you give, I would choose “cross that bridge when we come to it”. Remember, the main message of this blog is just to be less materialistic, spend less, and optionally earn more doing things you love. It’s not about living in poverty or having no spare resources to pay for uncertain inflation of necessities like US health insurance (which may well drop in cost over the coming 30 years to align more closely with its much lower cost elsewhere in the world).

      In my own personal situation, money is a bit irrelevant: we saved more than we needed to, and now spend only a fraction of our retirement income. No possible future expense could sink the ship. But this doesn’t affect our preference to live and promote a relatively simple lifestyle.

      For others, the keys to a confident financial independence and retirement are: low cost of living, a mind that is open to creative solutions and a flexible lifestyle, and a safety margin in all assumptions. For the 90% or more of people whose sole safety margin is just “to keep my job as long as I can for the health insurance”, the early retiree will come out far ahead in all possible outcomes.

  • Diedra B May 6, 2013, 11:36 am

    mad props!
    Already read your blog and I still read the article because I can never reaffirm those principles in my own mind often enough.

  • Smug Asshat, I guess May 7, 2013, 2:35 pm

    I’ve stumbled across various MMM posts before and enjoyed them, but it wasn’t until the Washington Post article, and this post, that I see the whole message. What a message it is. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Drewstees May 23, 2013, 1:48 pm

    MMM, I’m a bit late to the comment party, but since you asked for memes…


    Do I smell…knowyourMMMeme.com?

  • James May 24, 2013, 3:31 pm

    I just can’t imagine how accumulating capital and living off of it is socialist. I mean…What?!

  • The Despondent Millionaire May 29, 2013, 3:51 am

    Mr. M is right. It all works and it works well.

    The American Dream is still the American Dream. This one is just paid for not leveraged to the hilt.

  • David Ausman June 2, 2013, 10:27 pm

    I can’t stop raving about MMM. This is the best website I have ever come across. It’s got such practical and useful advice. It has changed my life.

  • Andria June 21, 2013, 9:35 pm

    I do think everything being done here is right. My husband and I are 34. He will have to work a while as he had some unfortunate health issues. He had testicular cancer and then through that they found Hepatitis C that he contracted from the two times he was given blood in 1980 right before the big HIV scare. Thing can happen but more than likely people will be good if they take care of themselves. We need insurance because of my husband but we are praying for a cure. They already tried one treatment that cost the insurance 50K which is sick and it did not work. No matter what this website has changed my life. We are debt free now except for the house and all extra cash is socked away for retirement and it was done in one year and six months. Just amazing what you can do with money. I feel so wealthy now in general. Thanks MMM

  • miketheaccountant July 23, 2013, 8:02 pm

    There’s a fresh batch of whiny complaints/comments from the new Yahoo article. Funny how people will waste time posting negative comments. The article was brief so I could understand why people might have questions about MMM’s path to FI, but a smart person would click the link to this blog and do some research before commenting.

  • Johnny Austin December 6, 2013, 2:41 pm

    Hello Stash-Tastic! I’ve been reading from the beginning of your blog for about 3 months now and am just now reaching this post. I wanted to chime in now, since I don’t really comment on blogs, and show my support for what you have created here. I’ve really enjoyed reading your cleverly crafted words and interesting stories, profanity included, and truly believe in your thoughts and systems and have implemented them into my life and household and it has made for some refreshing developments! But the most important thing I pull from your posts is real entertainment. You create something that can pull me in, entertain me, and in the end teach me something useful. I dig that and just wanted you to know. Rock On! Johnny John!

    • Mr. Money Mustache December 7, 2013, 8:47 am

      Thanks Johnny Austin! Keep up the good work – maybe see you at the newest post someday! (They slow down over time, making catching up progressively easier).

  • Burak June 18, 2014, 5:30 am

    What a nice way to put it: “The complaints won’t get us anywhere, because that’s pretty much the definition of a complaint: a whining statement of something you don’t like, without an accompanying proposal to fix it.”

    Of course, the rest of the article also rocks!

  • Michelle February 15, 2015, 5:49 pm

    Thank you for being a Smug Asshat and for swearing. That’s why I especially love reading your blog. I just discovered it in January 2015 and read it over and over again. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


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