You Can Spare us Both the Outrage

mercedesThe recent 50 Jobs post has been a nice success so far: I was happy with my own start to the list, but as expected the readers (as well as my celebrity guest contributors) got back to me with even better ideas. We’ll have an easy time bumping it up above 50 when Part Two comes out in the near future.

But I thought we should pause for a refresher lesson in effective living, because there have been so many illuminating events recently that it would be fun to put them together.

It’s almost a law of the Internet these days: if somebody comes up with an idea or does something, there will be an immediate nationwide chorus of whining and rattling keyboards as a large number of people hasten to complain and express outrage about what they’ve just read. A few examples:

Regarding the Jobs post, lots of people took the “Gaw! Those jobs are impossible to get!” tack. I put a few quotes together from Twitter* for your enjoyment:


Then there was that McDonalds Budget controversy earlier this month. Everyone got into a big huff because the low-wage fast food employer dared to publish a budgeting guide for their employees, with inaccurate values filled in to the example:


News flash: it was an EXAMPLE. That means you put your OWN numbers into the blanks, rather than complaining about the estimates that came with it. Idiots.

“Gasp!” Went the outrage on this one.

“They didn’t allow enough for health insurance, and they totally forgot GROCERIES!”

And finally, you’ll see outrage whenever a story hits the news, and happens to feature people like you and I who are earning good money:


or not spending all their money:


or for the general case of a story about anything at all


In a way, it is nice to see a bit of outrage. It shows that at least people are out there reading things on the internet and reacting, rather than sitting passively on the couch watching the TV news. But the outrage is on the wrong side of the divide.

Suggestion: Instead of boiling up a pot of anger based on your perceived inability to do something, why not throw it on the other burner – the one that gets you fired up about new possibilities about which you knew nothing before?

With this in mind, let’s review the outrage examples above to see how they could be re-phrased.

The Twitter users who didn’t like my list of jobs were suggesting that it was poor advice, because their own experience (or speculation) suggested that it is extremely difficult to get jobs like that and earn over $50,000.

Yet the only reason I put those occupations on the list is because I have repeatedly met people who do all of those things, and dabbled in at least half of them myself, and found that they do indeed generate income at a greater-than-$50,000-per-year rate. Including occupation of writing the very website you are reading right now!

All of this is new to me as well – ten years ago I was still an engineer and I would have told you that the only way to make good money was to get a degree and then work in high-tech.

I’m not putting things on this top-50 list to build false hopes so I can sell you courses or e-books. I’m doing it because I’m genuinely excited about the stuff I have discovered and happy to share it with a group that may be more focused on traditional employment.

From what I’ve learned, making money based on sharing content through the internet is not a lottery. It is something that can be methodically and successfully done – as long as you have the required underlying talent and do the right research and work.

Just like being a plumber, electrician, or carpenter. Not every job is a good match for every person’s DNA – why express outrage over that revelation?

Next there’s the McDonalds budget. It was a funny attempt by some out-of-touch corporate types, sure. But when I read it, rather than feeling outrage at the lack of a line item for heat or groceries, I had the opposite reaction:

“Wow.. even with a financed car(WTF?!), $100/month for “cable/phone”, and four times my entire houshold’s electricity consumption, these people still have $750 in “monthly spending money” remaining. Not bad at all! I’m outraged** that anyone would think this budget is sparse!”

And finally there is the outrage directed at high salaries in general and more of it at low expenses.

Sure, I briefly made a good salary in software in my 20s. And many people in the field earn much more: Bill Gates used to personally visit the campus of Canada’s Waterloo University each year and offer $100,000 starting salaries to the top 100 computer science and engineering students. And many of them would refuse the job offer in favor of even better opportunities.

Many people of my age are now running companies or working in financial jobs where they earn millions, rather than hundreds of thousands per year.

And equally impressive, many others are living far more badass lives – being a ranger in Northern Alaska, touring internationally as a startup musician, growing most of a  family’s food on their own lots while maintaining a full-time job on the side, volunteering and donating more than I do.

Many people, most of the world in fact, lives on a tiny fraction of the supposedly frugal amount of money we burn up each year.

Should we be outraged at people who do something that we haven’t yet done ourselves? Or is it more productive to just say,

“Hmm.. I hadn’t realized that was an option! I am glad to have it added to the broadening suite of fun things that I might choose to do in my life, now that I am getting the money part of things under control.”

In a sense, this shift in attitude really goes back to one of my favorite posts on this blog, the one called “The Practical Benefits of Outrageous Optimism.” In that classic, I argue that the very act of believing in the viability of a bold plan, greatly affects the chances of you succeeding at it.

Given that we know these things are possible, what benefit can be had by building a Whiny Wall between ourselves and the tasty rewards?

With this in mind, we will return to 50 Jobs – Part Two in our next post, where the potential jobs will be equally surprising, and yet not outrageous at all.

I hope you don’t mind me poking fun at you here, Nicole! I’m actually impressed that you took the time to make fun of me on your own blog, which is exactly where people should be expressing their most vigorous complaints (as opposed to in the comments section of this blog) But when someone actually copies me personally on Twitter by including the @mrmoneymustache thingy, it’s obviously an invitation for some public battle ;-)

**This is not meant to be a political statement that I think US minimum wage is too high. In fact, I’d personally make it higher myself, because if you run a business and can’t afford to pay people more than $7.50, your business model sucks. And if you can afford to pay more, but just want to keep more money for yourself instead and lobby congress in order to keep the official minimum so low, you might be a bit of a dickhead. I’ve never paid anyone less than double minimum wage through my own small businesses, and even then it was embarrassingly profitable and my wife asked me if I was sure I wasn’t being a dickhead for paying someone only $15/hr. 

  • Lance July 28, 2013, 7:38 am

    I don’t know why people think that everything should be handed to them or easy. $50,000 is a decent salary and if they just handed them out to everyone, then no one would be happy with it. It takes work, skill, and maybe a bit of luck, but if you’re determined and actively work towards it I’d imagine you can obtain it.

    • Mr. PoP July 28, 2013, 10:21 am

      I think that hard-work and skill are the determining factors with any sucess- not the degree. Surely there are unemployed engineers out there, along with people like myself in jobs that don’t require a degree but can bring in 6 figures.

      • Mr. 1500 July 30, 2013, 7:00 am

        “I think that hard-work and skill are the determining factors with any sucess”

        Totally agree. I know smart people who are lazy and they go nowhere in life. On the other hand, I know some really hard workers who are accomplishing great things. Work you ass off people.

    • GamingYourFinances July 28, 2013, 10:31 am

      Fatalism is used as a bit of an excuse in my opinion. I’m a believer in the idea that the vast majority of “luck” is made and only a small fraction is actually pure chance. Luck is made through hard work, a good attitude, a constant willingness to learn etc.

      • Giddings Plaza FI July 28, 2013, 12:07 pm

        Say it like it is, brother / sister. Not only does fatalism hurt the fatalist, it affects everyone around them. And, let’s face it, if you’re a do-er, fatalism is a bore to listen to.

        • David Wendelken July 28, 2013, 3:12 pm

          Fatalism certainly is a bore to listen to! And frustrating, too, because it’s just so horribly wrong and self-limiting!

          A lot of luck that appears to be chance at first glance is actually luck because of the hard work and preparation that made the “lucky” opportunity an opportunity.

          • Danny July 29, 2013, 8:34 am

            Not to be the buzzkill, but I’m on the side that tends to believe that luck is much, much more important than people realize. Random chance guides everything and few people take it into account. I think there’s a lot of data that supports this.

            That being said, having an optimistic outlook and believing in your own personal sense of control demonstrably makes life better. There’s endless evidence that shows people who have unrealistic views of reality (i.e., are optimistic), have a higher quality of life across the board.

            One thing I do believe: so many things in life are random dice rolls, but one thing you DO have control over is how many times you roll the dice. Sure, you may start a blog or YouTube channel, but nothing is stopping you from trying again, and again, and again until your success sticks.

            If you’re interested in this sort of thing, I highly suggest checking out The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlodinow.

            • Rachel July 30, 2013, 10:43 am

              They also say that luck favors the prepared. I find that most people who choose a fatalistic viewpoint use that viewpoint to justify not taking action and thereby being unprepared to benefit from a lucky break.

              On the other hand, many optimists spend a good deal of their optimistic energy seeking out lucky breaks.

            • Danny July 31, 2013, 8:00 am

              Right. Well, the problem with fatalism—or even realism—is it doesn’t motivate you to do much. But optimism at least sends you out in the right direction. Even if you do fail, you can always recover and you’ll have grown as a human being because of it. But sitting around and ruminating on all the possibilities rarely accomplishes much.

              I think one of the main reasons being optimistic is helpful is because as human beings, we can’t help but vastly overestimate the cost of failure. In our minds, failure is DEATH—which might have been true ten thousand years ago, but certainly isn’t so in modern times with all our social (and personal) safety nets. So you’ve got to downplay the risk of failure if you want to motivate yourself to do anything.

              Just some ruminations from a reformed realist…

          • Jim July 30, 2013, 8:03 pm

            On the contrary, fatalism can be quite liberating. You simply say “There is a great deal of stuff in life that is out of my direct control, and which could either benefit me greatly or harm me in the extreme. Rather than worry about what I can’t change, I will accept whatever fate bestows upon me, and work hard on the things that I AM able to control.”

            That flavor of fatalism is great for banishing worry. The flavors of fatalism that lead to apathy, laziness, or defeatism are indeed quite tedious.

            • Sofie October 19, 2013, 1:36 am

              What I tend to see is people being fatalistic about things they actually can control, while getting upset about things they can’t control. Completely the wrong way to go about it.

      • crazyworld July 29, 2013, 6:30 am

        except no one hears about the unlucky failures, only the lucky successes. You can work hard for ever and still not succeed. Nobody becomes successful without hardwork, but success does not automatically follow hard work. That elusive factor is called luck by people I guess.

        • CALL 911 July 29, 2013, 11:42 am

          “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” – Mom

          • Crazyworld August 5, 2013, 7:43 pm

            My point was, you can work hard all you want and still fail. Seen it happen often enough around me (members of extended family) – both successes and failures abound. One tends to attribute luck for the reason- we can all it timing, and isn’t that luck? Some people have both suceeded and failed. Some failed so bad that they have been unable to extract themselves out of the hole.

            • Ellen August 6, 2013, 10:50 am

              I think the missing factor in that equation is called “resilience”. The ability to adapt and improve your approach, and keep trying until something works. Also perhaps called “creative problem solving.”
              Working hard at something that is not moving you toward your goal, will never bring success. Changing tactics, or changing goals, makes hard work more productive.

            • Crazyworld August 8, 2013, 7:08 pm

              No, this one particular fail was not resilience, he just simply lost everything, his home, car, life savings and was much older when this happened. Not possible to recover from that, no matter how resilient you are. My point remains – success stories have a confirmation bias. Does not mean we stop working and sit on our hands, that will definitely lead to failure. I am just tired of the hard work will always lead to success trope and especially the ” harder I work, luckier I get” Just find it particularly annoying for some reason =)

        • CincyCat July 30, 2013, 4:26 pm

          “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” ~Thomas Edison.

          I think you should Google Thomas Edison, or any other inventor, or other “successful” person. Newspapers only report the “successes” (because it sells papers), but don’t forget that for every “lucky” success, there are usually dozens, if not hundreds of attempts that went very, very wrong before they got it right.

          It is extremely rare to “get it right” the first time you sit down and put pen to paper (Mozart springs to mind). The problem is that we compare ourselves to the Mozarts of the world, and forget that almost every other success story went through many, many iterations before they succeeded. This is the “hard work” and tenacity that Edison mentions, and that MMM is writing about. MMM is not saying this is “easy” but only suggesting that it is possible.

          • Fangs July 31, 2013, 5:29 pm

            Thomas Edison was a huge thief. Sure you can get rich like he did–steal ideas and tear apart your competition.

            • CincyCat August 1, 2013, 9:08 am

              I think you and I both know that is not the point I was trying to make…

            • danielle August 24, 2013, 7:02 am

              People get sensitive about Edison. I can’t stand the man myself, but I do understand the point you were making. I think that ties into the resilience discussion above, about having to adapt with each failure and working /smarter/ instead of harder. I’m guessing that the people who eventually succeed change their approach over time rather than doing the same thing over and over again.

      • tallgirl1204 July 29, 2013, 5:18 pm

        “luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” A former boss told me that once, and I remember it frequently. We can’t always control opportunity– cancer strikes, car accidents happen, a job opening occurs– but we can control our preparation– being a basically healthy-living person, always wearing our seatbelt, keeping our resume updated and skills fresh.

        I have had many opportunities come my way– some good, some bad– and when I was prepared, the good opportunities became wonderful moments in my life, and the “bad” opportunities were not devastating, because I was able to ninja my way around them one way because of my preparedness.

        The times I got really hammered were when I hadn’t been prepared for the opportunity– no money set aside for that fun opportunity to travel, or inadequate physical fitness to offset the poorly-planned lifting of a heavy box.

        On the whole and the average, our lives go better if we prepare ourselves for the adventure mentally and physically.

        • Freeyourchains July 30, 2013, 10:29 am

          Right on TallGirl, A lot of the people in the world try and prevent other’s from ever taking care of themselves, so they can make money off of them.

          Ninjas fight back against these corrupt kings.

  • BeatTheSeasons July 28, 2013, 7:41 am

    You’re not really retired – you’ve got a full-time job fighting the internet retirement police!

    • Joe July 29, 2013, 9:13 am

      Hahaha, that’s hilarious. Yeah, those IRP really need a new hobbie.

  • Mark ferguson July 28, 2013, 7:43 am

    Many People are taught from a young age that successful people either cheated or got lucky somehow. There parents or greater influencers were either taught that or they needed a good excuse for why they weren’t successful or didn’t want to try to be successful.

    When you are taught that’s our whole
    Life it is hard to break free and start opening your kind up. The truth is most rich people made that money themselves by taking huge risks, working harder than most people or working smarter than most people. People that are handed money have a much higher chance of losing it than those that earn it. I think anyone who really wanted too could earn over 100k a year if they opened up their mind, looked for opportunities and stopped beig so negative about things they can’t control. Change the things you can control and opportunities will come.

  • BNL July 28, 2013, 7:51 am

    Recently, I was on a very expensive-city-living hipster website where people were discussing the NEED for cars, and that the only way to not have a car was to live in an over-populated expensive and dense city with an impossibly clean and safe public transit system. The comments were hilarious in the way that everyone agreed that life is impossible, and that they all need 20mpg cars to drive their 40 mile commutes. So I decided to troll a little and challenge everyone.

    The response was surprising. Most people attacked me – that part wasn’t surprising. But a decent sized minority actually agreed, and challenged their own previous assumptions.

    The point is keep up the good fight MMM. Every eye you open is a success.

  • Mike July 28, 2013, 8:10 am

    You are a cool dude, Mustache. I’d like to share a beer with you one day. I am a financial advisor, and I have started using your blog as a resource for my clients. The focus of my clients, I’ve found, is always on how to get even 1% more in investment gains when shaving expenses provides a much better return. Your blog is also good comedy. Keep up the good work, and I’ll keep reading every day. Thanks for your hard work and advice!!

    • Shawn July 28, 2013, 11:33 am

      I just found this website with a recent yahoo article, and have only been reading it for a few days.

      My thoughts so far is that it is pure gold. (Or platinum, since gold sucks.)

      I’ve been employing many of the strategies here for a long time already, and am thrilled to be exposed to new ideas that will lead to even more badassity.

      I’m happy to be a new disciple of mustachian finance.

    • Kenoryn July 28, 2013, 12:59 pm

      That is awesome. :) Next time I have to talk to a financial advisor maybe I will slip Mr. Money Mustache into the conversation.

      • Dom July 29, 2013, 4:24 am

        haha, sidebar. I did just this and got the “you’re a crazy person” talk, sent him some links and now he is on board.

        Not all financial planners are evil/bad. Hi Matt!

      • David W August 4, 2013, 11:54 am

        Statistically speaking they will be confused.

        It’s sort of a hobby of mine to meet with financial “advisors” when they cold call. One of my favorite things to do is challenge their assumptions, which turns out to be quite easy and entertaining.

        Next time you talk to one try telling them you want to retire at 40 (or 30 if you’re in your early 20s). I did this and got laughed at, followed by a pitch for a high expense mutual fund. Go figure.

        • Mrs. PoP August 4, 2013, 12:19 pm

          I’ve had a 100% success rate at talking to financial advisors about our plans and having them excited about helping us get there. But then again, maybe it’s because the only one I’ve talked to is a fee only planner that my company brings in quarterly (free of cost to employees) to meet with any 401K participants who want to talk about retirement planning.

          The average age of his clients is mid-60’s, so when I showed up 30 years old asking him questions about stretch IRAs and other stuff he doesn’t generally get a chance to think about on a regular basis, he loved the challenge and sometimes I think he looks forward to our meetings as much as I do because it gives him a break from the “well, these are the lowest fee funds in that asset class…” discussions.

  • Mr. Frugal Toque July 28, 2013, 8:13 am

    A while ago, there was that Food Stamp Challenge thing where they told well-off people to try living off the budget provided by food stamps.
    I went in thinking, “This will be hard. I’ll understand what it’s like to be poor.”
    Then I looked up what food stamps afford a family of four: $600 / month.
    Odd, this was exactly my food budget – which contains things like shrimp, frequent meat, the odd gourmet cheese as well as homemade ice cream.
    I posted this on the blog where the challenge had been issued and was met by OUTRAGE as well.
    How dare I insult poor people? I had it easy because my job gave me the spare time to cook my own food, but the poor single mom couldn’t do this. I probably had to eat (EWWW!!!11!) *leftovers* for lunch. Was I telling poor people they should eat reheated leftovers?!
    And so on.
    The question should have been, “Hey Toque, how do you manage that?” Instead, it was “Fuck you for ruining our outrage.”
    Some people just need to turn off the Negative Channel and switch over to the Positive end of the Attitude bands.

    • Katie July 28, 2013, 8:24 am


      My food budget is less than that. I think it’s dumb NOT to eat reheated leftovers for lunch….

      • durangostash94 July 28, 2013, 11:25 am

        I have a friend whose husband “doesn’t like leftovers.” What???? Do they really taste that different 24 hours later? (I think dishes often taste BETTER after 1 or two days!) The amount of food they pitch must be astounding. Of course, they also have expensive cell phones (the two kids, aged 14 and 11, included), and have 7 TVs (with cable, of course) in their 3 bedroom house. All of it boggles my mind!!!

        • Kenoryn July 28, 2013, 1:03 pm

          I know!! You must REALLY LOVE cooking to not want to eat leftovers. I’m excited when I know we have leftovers we can have for dinner and my whole evening is therefore free to do other things. And I deliberately make leftovers for lunch every day ’cause it’s way easier than making sandwiches or something to bring to work. It’s really bizarre that some people differentiate between the food immediately after it’s made and the food after x period of time has passed, as if it has magically been transmogrified during that time into something completely different.

          • Alek July 29, 2013, 12:05 pm

            +1 for use of “transmogrified”

          • twinsdad July 29, 2013, 6:57 pm

            Man if I didn’t eat leftovers for lunch or dinner I would be having fresh air fritters instead. Buying takeaways is crazy expensive in New Zealand or super unhealthy.

          • Sir Osis of DeLiver August 1, 2013, 1:35 am

            Although I’m reluctant to lend any support to the haters, it seems blindingly obvious to me and my taste buds that many foods do have dramatically different taste and texture when served as leftovers.

            My chili, for example, improves dramatically after a day or two. Pizza makes great leftovers. Rice and pasta dishes are usually fine. But dishes heavy on chopped vegetables, whether cooked or not, tend to turn limp and mushy. Salad that’s already been dressed becomes particularly unappealing. (Duh, don’t add the dressing before storing.)

            Of course there are answers to these objections and plenty of foods that are cost-effective to prepare and make for great leftovers. I think I’m just taking issue with your claim that it’s “bizarre..[to] differentiate”, because as much as I enjoy leftovers, I’d be lying to say I don’t notice a difference even without making any conscious effort.

        • Marcia July 28, 2013, 7:15 pm

          Yeah, I have a couple of coworkers that don’t like leftovers because they grew up In Asia and they tell me they never ate them.

          I just spent the weekend making meatballs, marinara, pasta, arabian lentils and rice, Greek salad, and bean burritos so I can eat leftovers all week!

        • Alyssa July 28, 2013, 8:04 pm

          Ha! I have met other left-over dislikers too. They all happen to like eating out at restaurants. If they only knew how much restaurant food is prepared ahead of time. So much of life is in our heads!

          • PZO July 29, 2013, 3:42 am

            My food budget for 3 is lower than half that (it’s about 7$ a day). But uhm left-overs? I’ld love to have them for lunch but those fancy lunches are for the early retired. We only cook as much as we need to eat.

          • Geek July 31, 2013, 5:19 pm

            I don’t like re-heated chicken at home or at restaurants. Beef and bacon are fine though. :)
            And cold grilled chicken repurposed to chicken salad is totally ok.
            And chicken soup.
            Ok maybe I can reuse chicken ! :)

            • George_PA August 1, 2013, 1:39 pm

              Several people bring up some good points about the food costs;

              I always wondered from reading about MMM’s own target of $1 per meal for 667 calories, what a typically weeks worth of dinners or lunch meals looks like.

              Since chicken breast is too expensive to meet this average for most meals; thus, I imagine a typical dish as a cup or two of beans served over a bed of lettuce; maybe an Indian rice dish.

              Or on the extreme end of things, I imagine the family sitting around an empty dinner table with just a large bottle of canola oil and each person takes a turn and gets a swig, and passes the bottle around

            • Mr. Money Mustache August 3, 2013, 3:16 pm

              Haha.. nice image. Note that my own spending on food is higher than this – probably more like $1.50 per meal on average, just because we are extreme luxuryheads right now. It’s not a target, just the way it happens to shake out by the end of the year.

              Remember, it’s just an average, not a hard limit for each meal. Check out the table of food costs in this article: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/29/killing-your-1000-grocery-bill/

              A 667 calorie meal of pure rice would only be 25 cents. Canola oil would be 14 cents. So to have your meals average $1.00 over time is actually really easy if you want to do it.

            • Ellen August 6, 2013, 11:09 am

              You will love the wonder of the whole chicken.
              Day 1: Big roasted dinner with carrots, onions, etc.
              Day 2-3 sandwiches and salads
              Day 4-6: Boil the whole carcass for soup.
              We can feed 4-6 people at least 3-5 meals off one chicken, or put lots of soup in the freezer for sick/hectic days.

        • BourbonKing July 29, 2013, 9:21 am

          My roommate/tennant has an aversion to leftovers. So, whenever he orders food for delivery (which could be the subject of a post on here itself) all I can think is “Jackpot! Free meals.”

        • Mr. Minsc July 29, 2013, 12:58 pm

          Many meals actually do taste better the next day (or even days) after. Flavours given more time to mix?

          Now here’s a shocker, eating left over meals COLD. *gasp!* Not every meal needs to be reheated. ;)

      • RetiredAt63 July 29, 2013, 6:04 am

        They are “not left-overs”. They are planned-overs. I haven’t bought lunch at work in years. The rare times I do “eat out” at work, it is part of my entertainment budget, because it is a social event where I have consciously chosen to eat out with someone else. My quick and easy lunches (slices of old cheddar, a bit of fruit) are still better than most of what I can buy.

        And yes, the days I come home tired and the rest of last night’s dinner is waiting, it is great to not have to cook. In the summer, who wants to cook a lot and heat up the house or use the grill all the time? In the winter, dinner time is peak electricity – so cook on weekends and freeze.

        I worked full-time when our daughter was at home, had a long commute (yes, I know, but there were advantages too, everything is a tradeoff) and I cooked, no takeout. Teach the kids to cook and do batch coking on a day off. Pick up tupperware at a thrift shop, get a small bar freezer on Kijiji, and anyone can do this even in a small apartment.

    • Mrs. Bluesky July 28, 2013, 9:57 am

      I once saw a documentary called “Poor Kids” that I can’t get out of my mind. In it, an American family of four had a ten dollar budget to buy food for dinner so they bought four cheap frozen pizzas, as they did many nights. The kids were overweight, but in effect, starving due to getting such poor nutrition. I wished I were there so I could show them how to cook a healthy meal within the same $10 budget. I noticed Mom and Dad were smoking and drinking cans of pop. I will probably be called judgemental too. I guess I am.

      • Katharine July 28, 2013, 4:45 pm

        This was PBS frontline which you can watch online – and yes, was absolutely fascinating. I had the same thoughts – couldn’t believe what these people were wasting their money on and thinking these were their only options. Very sad.

        • m July 29, 2013, 2:20 pm

          That was the tragic part… they were unaware that they had options. Cooking and money management should be required curriculum in high school.

      • Accidental Miser July 28, 2013, 5:10 pm

        I doubt you’ll be called judgmental on this site.

        • CALL 911 July 29, 2013, 11:51 am

          Agreed. We are an amazingly judgemental group. Mainly (I think) because we all understand that life is just one long series of choices and their consequences – no one can claim victimhood, and no one gets a free pass on “things outside my control”.

          • calgary lip fuzz July 29, 2013, 6:55 pm

            There are things outside one’s control, they are not all about consequences of one’s personal actions, having had an eye removed due to a rare cancer and re orienting myself to a monocular life, that was a trip I didn’t think I would take, who would? Yes I adapted, I modified, but you know options reduced and understanding and empathy increased. Please hit your empathy button. My sister just bought a non mustachian vehicle, Why? Because her husband is a stroke survivor (no,never smoked, not overweight, calm the keyboard warrior urges) and had mobility issues getting in and out of vehicles, so they chose something that made that easier access but it was due to the specifics, not necessarily the most frugal choice and they need mobility on their timetable. Stuff happens to people, we adapt, but its not all about control. The longer you live, the more that is made clear by life – diet gurus die, people get hit by a drunk driver – yes even pedestrians. If you think everything is in your control forever you are in for some learning. We are a community and stuff happens and people need help and understanding from all of us in order to adapt and get back up. It is so important to make sure that our judgement instincts are at least balanced by our empathy instincts. Exercise the muscle you least use for best results.

            • CALL 911 July 29, 2013, 8:32 pm

              My comment was not well worded, but I stand by my sentiment.
              I’m sorry for the loss of your eye, and I’m happy you beat the disease. “I adapted, I modified”. You didn’t cry victim (at least not in your comment). You didn’t say this happened to me, I give up. You made choices. Get treatment = lose vision + save life. You aren’t complaining that you smoked weed and dropped out of HS, now don’t make $100/hr because of THE ECONOMY. You aren’t saying that you HAVE to live 80 miles from your work because the WORLD HATES YOU. You seem to be able to make choices, and project likely consequences of those choices. You had some medical issues, but approached life pro-actively, not re-actively.
              Also, one or the other of us misunderstands mustashianism. I see it as seeking efficiency and optimization, not frugality. Frugality is a final common pathway for efficiency and optimization in most cases. If I were to run an EMS service, logging 1,000,000 miles a year, I could cut my fuel and vehicle costs to nothing by using scooters with sidecars that travel 30 mph. Fuel efficient, but not efficient. If I owned a NBA team, I could go to all road games in a bus. Much cheaper and more fuel efficient than a plane, but not efficient for the time and schedule. Your sister optimized her situation. Frugality isn’t the goal, and never should be. Efficiency is the goal – efficient use of dollars, energy, time, etc. I could save time by always traveling by helicopter, but the dollar costs would be staggering. Maximizing all areas of efficiency and balancing tradeoffs is difficult, thus we keep working on it.

            • Chicory August 5, 2015, 4:31 am

              Thanks for this. I wish I saw more posts advocating empathy and compassion on this site.

              Humans have natural cognitive biases in favor of themselves. People associate their own successes with hard work and smart choices, and their failures with bad luck, regardless of the actual evidence. Similarly, they correlate bad things that happen to others with choices they made (he wouldn’t have gotten laid off if he worked harder, she has cancer because she smoked as a teenager) and bad things that happen to themselves with luck.

              The truth is that shit happens. Every morning I wake up fired up to kick ass and make/save money, but I still believe that we have an obligation to empathize with others, help them as much as we can, and generally hold ourselves to a higher standard — it’s the only way to avoid hypocrisy and overcome the aforementioned biases.

      • Julie August 1, 2013, 7:27 am

        Mrs. Bluesky: Depending on where you live, there might be an opportunity for you to teach those families. There is an organization where I live called Cooking Matters that teaches low income families how to cook nutritious meals on a limited budget. I myself am hoping to get involved, I think it is such a great cause.

      • Ellen August 6, 2013, 1:36 pm

        Unfortunately, ignorance (I am not saying stupidity, I am saying lack of life skills/awareness) is a huge factor in the cycle of multigenerational poverty.

        Mom and dad, for whatever reason, are unable or ignorant about providing decent nutrition on their budget. Kids also grow up without this knowledge, and it is multiplied by the cognitive effects of poor prenatal/infant/childhood nutrition. Can you imagine what a diet of frozen pizza and pop does to a kid’s ability to learn? To control their behavior in school? To make wise life choices?

        I know what one occasional meal of pizza and pop does to my ability to focus/deal with stress/behave appropriately the next day. It ain’t pretty.

      • Mark Keng August 10, 2021, 8:27 am

        I watched it on youtube. I was shocked that feeling poor is universal. I’m in the Philippines and the scenes are similar here in the sense that a lot of Filipinos feel that they are trapped and can’t do anything to make their lives better financially and healthier at the same time.

    • Linda July 29, 2013, 1:22 am

      Really??? Reheated leftovers for lunch is the best thing ever! I’d have that any day over a sandwich, especially if it’s my home-made curry, hmmmm…. Oh, or was that because they paid for lunch takeaways every day? Now that’s just crazy talk.

      Maybe it’s because my frugal but wealthy Dad has always packed leftovers for lunch, setting a very good example for me?

    • Julia July 29, 2013, 7:50 am

      The food stamps arguments are beyond ridiculous…really. My family went through a period in the not to distance past, in which we utilized SNAP benefits. We received $667 a month for a family of four, I was accustomed to spending about $250. I kept our food budget at the same level it had been at for quite some time, I was then able to use the additional money to purchase items with a long shelf life. We only used the program for 3 months but we ended up having a decent stockpile of food, at the end of those 3 months we had a large supply of items such as: beans, rice, pasta, rolled oats, dry milk, different types of flour, frozen veggies, frozen fruit, spices for cooking, cooking oils and a small chest freezer full of meat.

      How did we do it? Shop sales, buy cheap food (beans and rice), buy ingredients to make food instead purchasing packaged food items and use coupons for items you actually use…yes you can use coupons with food stamps and you can often find coupons for items like frozen veggies.

      My suggestion to working single moms (though I have never been one) is this: get a crockpot, the food can cook while you are at work and I see them at thrift stores around here all the time for $15 or even less. Not to mention, meals like vegetable stir fry are cheap, healthy and fast.

    • Brian July 29, 2013, 9:15 am

      HA! $500 per month for a family of SIX. I guess if we got on food stamps, we’d be living the good life!

      • Mr. Money Mustache July 29, 2013, 10:04 am

        Nice , Brian!

        Just to level the field, note that Mr. Toque lives near Ottawa, Canada, which make his basic food costs about 50% higher than what we see in the US. I spend the summers here and have to grin and bear the higher prices whenever I shop – even at the Costco..

    • Nikky July 29, 2013, 2:59 pm

      I’m not arguing that people tend to spend WAY to much on food, but that $600 isn’t the same for everyone. My mom was making $8.50 an hour when my dad walked out, and she was awarded $350 a month (there were 4 kids). I started working the next year at 14, and my $35-a-week paycheck as a bagger made them drop us down to $175 a month.

      My mom wasn’t great with money or anything, and I’ll freely admit I am TERRIBLE (and slowly working my way to being smarter about it) but yea. I just wanted to chime in and say that not everyone on food stamps is getting a TON and wasting it on soda and snacks. Note: I am not outraged, haha. But I have spent my life VERY poor and it’s not that easy to dig your way out.

    • FrugalMom July 30, 2013, 8:53 am

      My family food budget is $280 to $350 a month for a family of three and we eat like kings! I don’t even know if we could eat through $600 of food!

    • Freeyourchains July 30, 2013, 10:47 am

      Funny how the people begging for money are richer then the people begging for food.

      Though everyone begging for food really needs food, and is willing to learn how to obtain food for life!

  • Ric Sake July 28, 2013, 8:22 am

    “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.”
    (Andy Warhol)

  • Joe July 28, 2013, 8:28 am

    The more I think of these kind of responses, the more I shake my head. At various points in time I thought we had a growing anti-government, anti-rich, anti this or that attitude going on. Instead, I think it is more general. There’s simply a general “everything is hopelessly stacked against me” attitude. Regardless of the specifics. Why is that? Where did it start? More importantly, though, I think the question is how do we fix it? That answer is simpler, thankfully. Everyone here keeps doing what they are doing, the dial starts moving.

    By the way, my favorite line in this post “if you run a business and can’t afford to pay people more than $7.50, your business model sucks”. No truer words….

    • Christine July 28, 2013, 10:44 am

      Loved that part too!

    • Giddings Plaza FI July 28, 2013, 12:17 pm

      Joe, good question! It’s something I’ve been thinking about, and spending weeks writing a blog post about, because I’m not sure what the reason(s) is (are). Where did it start? I’ve grown up in the US, but the daughter of immigrants who were astounded at the wealth of this country. Every day–seriously, every day–I think of how lucky I am to have my tiny house, clothes, food, $ to eat / drink with friends, access to car sharing, and most importantly, access to opportunity. So yeah, why is this going on?

      • mike July 28, 2013, 1:21 pm

        Not only do you have a good attitude, it’s the right attitude.

        Everyday I try to practice gratitude from such simple things as the air I breathe or the sun overhead. And when one thinks about it, those things really aren’t so simple.

      • Joe July 28, 2013, 2:20 pm

        True, true, and more true. The problems that those that came before us dealt with (disease, world wars, etc) and STILL built this country, and made it thrive, blows away the “issues” that cause so many people to have a defeatist attitude today.

      • crazyworld July 29, 2013, 6:25 am

        because feeling wealthy is relative for most people (ie. not absolute) and in a time of very large wealth and income disparity, you feel relatively poor by comparison.

        • Melissa July 29, 2013, 12:03 pm

          There is an asian (Japanese?) thing I read many years ago saying that each morning you should wake up and ask yourself 3 things. “What am I grateful for?”, “What kindness can I do for my family?” “What kindness has been done for me?” I’ve probably muffed it up a bit but that’s the premise–to recognize just how good you have it. It’s a good practice, even if you don’t remember to every day.

          • MilwaukeeMN July 30, 2013, 12:38 pm

            Thanks for sharing!

    • Michael July 29, 2013, 1:07 am

      I take Boudreaux’s arguments to heart: what if what you’re doing isn’t WORTH $7.50 an hour? Honestly WalMart could easily go to Aldi’s model of a refundable deposit for a shopping basket and cut out a dozen low wage jobs from each store. For that matter, is it worth $7.50 to hire a retiree to greet people? We should thank those employers for paying even a dollar an hour, since many of these otherwise unemployable folks would be entirely dependent on charity instead of only partly so. Hells bells, I can get rid of 4 cashiers with a self checkout. And delivery and cleaning services can be robotized. Even doctors can be out diagnosed by algorithms; autopilot will put a787 on the ground without your help. And the boat in middle management and human resources (a phrase I hate. Go back to calling it “personnel”…) The question really is what to do with all of this unskilled and essentially extraneous labor.

      • Jamesqf July 29, 2013, 11:37 am

        “Hells bells, I can get rid of 4 cashiers with a self checkout.”

        But what you can’t do is get me to shop at your store if you have one of those self-checkouts, unless you can come up with a considerable improvement on current models. Hint: It’s bad enough that you have the damned machines talk, but whose idea was it to have them use a tone of voice that would earn a human checker a face punch?

        • ChoicesChoices July 30, 2013, 4:02 pm

          Hah! I get this! My store put a “Mute” option onto those self-checkout machines. I was SO happy to see it. It is the first thing I do when I walk up to them.

      • Geek July 31, 2013, 5:51 pm

        If robots do more things, we’ll have more FI people because everything will be cheap and we’ll realize maybe life isn’t a zero-sum game, eh? :)

    • Stephen July 29, 2013, 8:11 am

      I think people are just overwhelmed by unfamiliar changes. If they see a single MMM post by itself, they’ll get offended and try to prove that their current beliefs are better. But if someone comes to this site and clicks “Start Here,” they see all the little steps, it becomes more manageable, and they’ll see it for what it is: trading away life’s inefficiencies in order to gain freedom.

  • Kate July 28, 2013, 8:45 am

    Thanks so much for your blog. It constantly gives me a few laughs (I love that you aren’t afraid to call someone a dickhead when that is exactly what they are) and it also gives me the kick in the pants I need. I think it’s easy to fall in a rut and feel down about the world, one’s own abilities, etc. but this blog reminds me that there are people with great attitudes that build the life they want for themselves and that I too can create this awesomeness for myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Alicia July 28, 2013, 8:47 am

    I’m not a person who usually comments on things, but your “**” note made me stop and think for minute. I’m an advocate of raising the minimum wage, but I’d hadn’t actually stopped and thought about how at the summer camp I run (I’m school librarian by day with a nicely profitable “side hustle”), I pay my high school and college-aged camp counselors $10/hr. minimum. I often feel like a “dickhead” because I make between 5-10x that amount for directing the camp. Meanwhile, large corporations pay less than $10/hr. to their workers and then go and lobby Congress to try to be allowed to pay them even less! And now, I’m suddenly angry at corporate America instead of feeling like I should be paying my counselors more money. The McDonald’s budget is insulting and they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they pay their workers and then attempt to justify the wages with an insulting budget.

    • Dancin' Mustachian July 28, 2013, 12:11 pm

      Dude! I feel the same way. When I read that budget, I DID get outraged, because they assumed a whole mess of extremely insulting things, such as:

      Two incomes. While I do understand why they would assume that, because having a roommate would halve enough of your other expenses, you have to realize that they are assuming two full time or near full time jobs, or two part time jobs that pay a living wage, as opposed to minimum wage. The push in corporate peon employment has definitely been to more part time positions, because they can get away with offering less benefits, which obviously increases some of your costs.

      That you have to have a car. ’nuff said.

      That all of your insurances are going to total out to $120, which is just laughable. Also, they didn’t bother to research how much their own insurance costs employees. So… yeah.

      That you need Cable/Phone to be $100 a month.

      That you should only be saving 5% of your after-tax income.

      That your budget should have a $750 a month hole in it.

      Then I remembered that the whole point of this budget is to convince low-wage earners that they have $25 a day to blow on whatever they want, so they stay broke forever and have to keep working at a shitty McJob. I guess what I’m saying is maybe $2060 is enough to get by, but this shitty budget is not the way to do it.

      • Agreed November 1, 2015, 4:31 am

        Agreed. What burned me up about the budget wasn’t the budgeting. That was fine. But the assumptions made were the complete opposite of how I see fast food workers treated. My own sister works like this and she’s lucky if they give her more than 30 hours a week. They purposefully keep people off of full time employment.

        In addition, they schedule people in such haphazard ways it makes it extremely difficult to hold down a second job. And don’t get me started on the “clo-pens”(closing one night and having to open the next day, usually results in less than 8 hours of sleep).

        The pay is the last thing I’m angry about. It’s more the complete disrespect for the people they have working for them.

    • Evil Entrepreneur July 28, 2013, 2:50 pm

      The minimum wage point is interesting. I pay a lot of people $9-$11 an hour. Does that make me evil? Sometimes my employees do a great job and go on to earn more then that range. Sometimes they get other jobs that pay more. Sometimes they stay with us for years. Sometimes they don’t work very hard and I let them go. (The local cost of living is fairly low but so what?)

      I make a lot more then all of them so should I stop earning so much and stop building the business? (Expansion takes $$$). If my jobs are so bad can’t they just leave? Even if I spent money on vacations why does that make me evil?

      Would it be better if I was in an industry like programming or accounting where everybody earns more? I could feel better about their wages but the wouldn’t do much good for the people that are my employees now. In fact we do have a new venture in another field that just employs professionals. Those folks will get a living wage and I won’t be evil anymore. The folks I would have hired if I expanded the other business are just out of kick I guess, but at least they won’t work for an evil corporation paying them a crappy wage. Instead they can get handouts or figure something else out.

      • Freeyourchains July 30, 2013, 11:23 am

        It’s the morally grey question of being a Pirate Master. Do you take 100% of the loot that your crew finds? Then give 15% each to your two senior officers, and 10% is divided among the crew, as you use another 10% to bribe them for “good hard work” so they don’t mutiny against you for taking 50% of all the loot…

        The question for you becomes, how hard do you work? Are you a working equivalent of 5 to 5,000 employees? Or should you profit share, once the company’s expenses and some investment is made?

  • Done by Forty July 28, 2013, 8:51 am

    I really enjoyed this article. As anger’s such a common response to ‘outlier’ news, I’m glad MMM addressed it directly. News of uncommon success and opportunities should inspire something, as MMM notes, but anger’s usually not the right response, nor is an hateful diatribe on your keyboard.

    But I do like when people feel challenged, get a little emotional, and decide, “Hey, if this schlub can do that so can I,” and use those emotions to get off their ass and try something scary and new. There might be a little anger or frustration mixed in there, maybe from all the lost time they weren’t challenging themselves.

    But the angry rant or sarcastic dismissal is the worst kind of response to positive, if surprising, news, such as someone retiring at thirty, or biking 30 miles to work every day, or losing a bunch of weight, etc. etc. You need to get that problem fixed first, then one where you have the appropriate emotional & action-based response, before you can really make big positive changes in your life.

  • Kraig July 28, 2013, 8:56 am

    Way to set this argument straight. Those complainers should be throwing out ideas of their own and contributing to the argument instead of tearing it all down.

    They aren’t going to stop. I’ve got a hater that goes out of his way to come by my site every week or so and submit a personally insulting comment. I must have said something one day that really hit a nerve and that was all it took to want to wreck my world now.

    I don’t understand this viewpoint. People just don’t want you motivating people to do awesome things. They would rather you agree with them on how hopeless this world is, even though we both know it’s not.

  • Mrs. Pop July 28, 2013, 9:01 am

    No offense to the content of your 50 Jobs post, MMM, but I thought the best part of the post was reading all the great comments and suggestions that people had coming in. So even if there’s a portion of people out there that like to be outraged (or at least to feign outrage for a response or clicks?), there are also a lot of people out there that are creative and are willing to brainstorm and share ideas for generating success and having a fulfilling life. And that’s what I’d rather focus on.

    • Jennifer July 29, 2013, 3:35 am

      I love the comments on all of MMM posts. So many intelligent people here.

      • Ms. Must-stash July 29, 2013, 10:48 am

        Amen! Reading this blog & the comments helps me stay sane. So many people are just running around being angry and feeling defeated and hopeless – but wait, look over here! – you’ve got a whole awesome community of people kicking ass, taking names, and solving problems.

  • Micro July 28, 2013, 9:08 am

    I believe in the saying that good fortune favors the prepared. So a kid becomes a huge sensation because of his dancing. Everyone scoffs and says the only way to do that is to become lucky. Yet, how many unseen hours did that kid spend practicing and perfecting his passion? People down’t swarm to watch a video of someone dancing because he is average, they do so because they are in awe of how great one person can be.

    The only issue I took with the McDonalds budget was the money that was earned broke down to a 75 hour work week at two jobs. That doesn’t give a person much time to hone their skills so they can become more qualified for a job that pays more than minimum wage.

    • OnionPanda July 28, 2013, 11:24 am

      I am in total agreement with you, Micro. I was fortunate enough to have played soccer at a pretty high level (post-college), and this was the quote that I always had in my head:

      “The image of a champion is a athlete bent over, drenched in sweat, completely out of breath…when no one else is looking.”
      – Mia Hamm

      Who are we to criticize what we see someone do? Who knows how many hours they have spent to better themselves while no one was looking, or how many hill sprints they were doing at 11pm at night while everyone looked at them like they were nuts?

      That’s what I love about the MMM blog: personal accountability. You want to make a change? Do it, and those who insult you be damned.

      • lurker July 28, 2013, 3:33 pm

        I was lucky to see Mia play when my daughters were small and I thought it would be cool to take them to a game. wow, I was much more into it than they were….the level of play was incredible and I think she had two goals and an assist that day. she never stopped working that day….what a drag to try and defend against that kind of work ethic and determination.

  • jlcollinsnh July 28, 2013, 9:15 am

    It truly is remarkable how people react to new ideas. Instead of, “mmm…it would be pretty great to be FI or have that 50k job. Maybe I’ll look into this a bit further….”

    It’s, “That would never work for me (or most people!) because of (insert endless list here)”

    But as a wise man once said:
    “…there’s also no doubt that many people, with fewer advantages than you, have overcome them to achieve much greater things”
    (Psst: that was Mr. MM himself)

    It is a noble endeavor here at MMM to try to change the world.

    Personally, the only person I’m trying to influence with my own blog is my daughter. If others find benefit, that’s great. If not, that works for me too.

    • Jeremy Doolin July 28, 2013, 12:11 pm

      Well I, for one, have really enjoyed your blog. The stock market series was just terrific as well as many of your other posts. When people ask if there are blogs I read other than MMM, yours is the first I mention.

      • jlcollinsnh July 28, 2013, 12:18 pm

        Thanks Jeremy…

        Much appreciated and I hope I didn’t leave the wrong impression.

        I am always honored and thrilled when people read it and find value there. Especially when, like you, they take the time to tell me so.

        But I’ve learned that those that do, come to it with some awareness and open mindedness that makes it accessible to them.

        • Rockstache July 29, 2013, 8:50 am

          +1 Your blog has been amazingly inspirational to me as well. I am slightly older than your daughter, but I love the “fatherly advice,” tone that it has, and am doing my best to combine the advice from MMM and your blog. It is one of only 3 blogs that I read (or check) daily.

        • Golden July 29, 2013, 11:18 pm

          I enjoy your blog a great deal also Jim, started over there once i caught up here :) Just a very lazy commenter…

  • Joe July 28, 2013, 9:16 am

    What some people really want is a job over $50K where you don’t need to bring any experience, expertise, or hard work. You have to put in the effort – to learn a trade, get an education, create content, or labor every day.

    Growing up without much I knew that getting a trade was the ticket. I worked and took out loans to get a degree in CS. Later my employer paid for me to get my MBA. It’s like hitting the lottery. We hire grads fresh out of school way over $50K and we can’t find enough of them.

    • Anonymous July 28, 2013, 12:22 pm

      I think this sums it all up right here. Getting a job without a degree does not mean getting one without effort. In many ways it’s a more challenging path; you’re putting in extra effort to compensate for not having the money or time to go through a degree program that would give you proof of possessing a baseline level of skill in some area, so you have to find jobs that let you prove that skill some other way.

      If you want a job without putting in any effort to better yourself, don’t expect even a $50k salary.

      And on this point I must respectfully object to MMM’s footnote about minimum wage. I’d like everyone paid what their time is worth. The time of people not willing to put in any effort whatsoever to better themselves is not worth more than $7.50/hour, if it’s even worth that. If you raise the minimum wage to X, that raises the waterline, necessitating a raise in other salaries to bring them higher than that baseline.

      I’d like a nice smooth salary curve from “unskilled and unwilling to change that” up through “skilled and constantly getting better”.

  • Dmitry July 28, 2013, 9:17 am

    Nicole did a good job! Brief, sober, unbiased, impartial analysis without new-agey euphoria.

    Well done, Nicole! ;)

  • GamingYourFinances July 28, 2013, 9:20 am

    As much as I loath the constant complainers I sympathize with those who at first simply can’t comprehend how these things are possible.

    Until I actually started biking to work I thought it was completely nuts! But after trying it for a month I loved it and was disappointed by the years I spent not biking. The thing is it took me two years from hearing the idea until I actually tried it!

    It takes time for people, especially those who have been in a routine for years. Keep at it MMM, they might complain at first but eventually some will be converted!

  • Grayson July 28, 2013, 9:31 am

    Great post. People want to always rip apart others when they suggest something out of the norm. I think it is funny that they do it, but it does get a little tiring. I like to see these stories and I do get the fire to do something different and push the boundaries of normal.

  • Chris July 28, 2013, 9:32 am

    If the comments section isn’t for discussion of your ideas, what is it for?

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 28, 2013, 10:56 am

      I think discussion is different than complaining about why something won’t work for you.

      In these comments, I’m deliberately a bit bossy about discouraging complaints, and instead trying to encourage alternative positive ideas. “While electrician aren’t paid well in my area because it’s economically depressed, I found that the oil boomtown in the next state is paying independent electrical contractors upwards of $200/hour because of the extreme demand for new facilities and structures. So I went there.” Stuff like that.

      • Chris July 28, 2013, 2:46 pm

        I understand your point, that pessimism can stop someone from finding a solution. But I find the McDonald’s example to be a bad choice. Pessimism can certainly derail a person’s financial life but unreasonable optimism can also get in the way. Ignoring real and likely expenses when preparing a budget will just cause you to fail. This budget assumes the person is working close to 65 hours per week and has no money taken out for payroll taxes – or perhaps 2 people working 40 hours each, with one car?

        Even if one puts the cable portion of the budget towards food and water (highly unlikely to be enough) it ignores the fact that a $20 per month health insurance policy has a huge deductible leaving a person who gets sick to not only lose their hourly wages for a doctor visit but also paying the full cost of the doctor, medicines, etc. They’ve just blown the budget, most likely for the year. Blaming their lack of optimism doesn’t strike me as productive.

        • Brian Romanchuk July 28, 2013, 6:11 pm

          A spokesperson from McDonald’s explained that the assumption was that it was a family with two wage earners, and not supposed to be one person working two jobs. Not making that explicit in the form made a bad PR situation even worse.

          Insinuating that the only way employees can meet a budget is by getting a second job somewhere else is not doing much to enhance your reputation as an employer.

        • Cat July 29, 2013, 5:18 pm

          I agree, the McDonald’s example is sort of out of place with the rest of the piece (which is spot-on and very good!). While McDonald’s allocation of money was ridiculous by any sort of sensible standards, the fact is that most of their employees do NOT have $2k/mo (or even $1k/month) of income to work with. If you haven’t seen it already, check out this interview with a McDonald’s worker in Missouri:


          She says her take-home pay is typically $600-$800/month, then her rent (for a house she shares with her 4 children) is $650/month, so she is constantly behind on things. No phone. No car. No medical insurance. Yes, she’s made some bad choices in life (getting pregnant as a teenager and then having additional children, etc), but you have to admit that she’s in a situation where she’s going to need a hell of a lot more than just optimism.

        • MilwaukeeMN July 30, 2013, 12:54 pm

          People work less than 65 hours a week? What do they do with that free time? When I work 40 hrs per week it is because half the week I was sick or took a vacation.

      • L July 29, 2013, 4:48 am

        Mr. Mustache, I think you should let the comments do the talking. Excluding the content (which I feel is excellent) that you provide, you have cultivated a community of people intent on bettering themselves and assisting others. That is no mean feat. Most comment sections, degenerate into flame wars, spam and a haven for trolling. I must not be the only reader who spends more time absorbing the comments (because you can here!) than your own words. That in itself is a testament to your work.

      • WageSlave July 29, 2013, 12:57 pm

        I think there is some amount of grey area between complainypants/trolling and legitimate debate. I often make contrary posts in the comments section, and my intent isn’t to complain/troll, but just to offer an alternative viewpoint, or if nothing else, be “food for thought”.

        I think it’s as much in the wording as anything else. And to be honest, I’ve gone back and re-read some of my own comments and thought, “Yeesh, that didn’t come out right… I sound like a complainypants,” even though I still think my intended point is worthy of consideration.

        I agree, with specifics it’s always better to offer another positive example (“that doesn’t work for me but here’s what does”). But there’s a more abstract level of debate that’s “above” specifics; the “meta” topic or philosophical implications. For example, the recent bike safety post—I believe there are some legitimate concerns with the numbers and/or their application; another example, banking solely on the 4% rule as a goalpost for FI… I think there is a legitimate debate here that doesn’t necessarily undermine the “meat” of the blog, or invalidate the thesis.

      • Christine July 30, 2013, 5:40 am

        I’ll try the negative to positive comment! Housing is expensive in Toronto so we live outside. But this means the commute is long.. not very Mustachian. My husband got out of the commute and got a higher salary by doing his IT support in mining! Now the company flies him to the location, he gets free room and board and half the year off for more money he could have gotten in Toronto. He works 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. Yah!

        We were also open to doing something different which opened doors for us.

  • SoCalGirl July 28, 2013, 10:21 am

    Atlas is shrugging. Will you leave when they knock at your door, MMM? ;-)

  • Aaron B. July 28, 2013, 10:27 am

    I think the real problem with the McDonald’s budget is that it presumes two full-time incomes at minimum wage. Now, okay, maybe you are married or in a long-term relationship, but if you are single and only have one incomes, that picture gets a lot bleaker, particularly since there are a lot of efficiencies associated with living together with a partner. And having to work 60 to 80 hours a week to make ends meet is not something any Mustachian should approve of.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 28, 2013, 10:48 am

      True.. but when single you can recapture some of those efficiencies. I wouldn’t rent an entire apartment to myself as a single low-wage person, I would be just one roommate in a fun communal house (as I was until about age 26, salary $83,000). I would not drive around in a luxury motorized throne, I’d ride a bike. And you can eat simpler food for your solo meals, without the need to cater to a potentially more luxury-minded partner. And there’s much more solo time to devote to reading and learning new skills, when not lazing luxuriously about with your mate.

      • Rob aka Captain and Mrs Slow July 29, 2013, 9:23 am

        The only problem with this is my niece earns minimum wage lives on her own and just came back from her 8th trip (Israel) abroad, and she is in the process of planning her next two trips, Finland (brothers wedding) and then to Italy with us.

        So how can someone who earns minimum wage travel more than someone who makes 10 times the wage. While she does get some support from family it’s mostly comes down to careful budgeting and saving. She sets aside a bit of money each pay and over two years can save up the cost of a flight and some spending. Again this is someone who earns minimum wage.

      • knk July 29, 2013, 4:02 pm

        I totally agree that being young and single does not always mean that one cannot find economical housing arrangements.
        After law school while awaiting bar results, I did not have a career job. I was making $8 an hour at Macy’s (I was only working part time so that I could complete a volunteer legal internship program). I rented a room from a friend for $300 a month. I have to say those were some of the best times I have ever had. I never felt poor, and I never felt like I would not have enough to make ends meet.
        In addition to the cheap housing, I found other ways to live simply: walked to my internship. My friend and I pretty much only went out when we found a two-for-one coupon, or we would go to happy hour for dinner if we needed to get out. I found free things to do, such as going to the beach or heading to different museums on the “free” days.
        I can’t wait for the day that my husband and I are financially independent so that I have more time to live a low income lifestyle once again!

    • Jeremy Doolin July 28, 2013, 12:33 pm

      I actually worked out my own budget based on the McDonald’s wages *alone*. I made the following assumptions:

      -I would work the 40 hours per week required to achieve the wages in the budget
      -I would get the health insurance for the price listed in the budget
      -I would be doing this in the area where I currently live.
      -I would assume I was single
      -I would assume I do not have my current education

      A studio apartment around here can be had for $400/mo or less. With a roommate I could split that, but let’s just go with totally single for now. It could also be had VERY close to almost any of the McDonalds around here.

      Car payment and insurance would be a big fat zero, since I’d only be riding my bike. Cable would be zero because it’s a waste. Even internet, I would go to the library (also close to the apartment). My only phone would be my CURRENT $30/mo plan, but I could and would go much less. Groceries I listed at my current $75 per month for myself alone. Water, gas and electric together I estimated $120 per month, but it would likely be less.

      My total spending would be $652 per month. Obviously it could be less if I split rent and utilities, or got an even cheaper cell phone plan, got really spartan about groceries and the utilities would almost certainly be less.

      That leaves me $460 extra.

      That’s plenty for the $25/mo necessary for treehouse.com, where I would spend most of my free time learning a new skill so I could get a better job.

      I realize that has a lot to do with where I live, but even around here, nobody would think you could get by on McDonald’s wages. I wish I could clone myself so I could prove that it could be done.

      • durangostash94 July 28, 2013, 12:43 pm

        It is my understanding that many fast phood (pretend food) places won’t give their employees 40 hours per week–hence they have to find a second job. Result: neither job gives decent benefits, and working two jobs significantly reduces the time available for learning more skills at treehouse.com.

        • Jeremy Doolin July 28, 2013, 12:53 pm

          I agree, but like I said, I was going by the budget put forward by the McDonald’s manager. If you’re going to put that number in the budget, that’s what I’m going with.

          However, you could always say you work one job at McDonald’s and another at Wendy’s or a gas station or whatever.

          • CL July 28, 2013, 6:21 pm

            I like the way that you’ve gone through a detailed thought experiment. I think that you should read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed and Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard.

            • Jeremy Doolin July 28, 2013, 10:12 pm

              I’m going to look into both of those, thanks! I just checked the local library and I think I can get them both.

            • ael July 28, 2013, 11:44 pm

              I read Nickle and Dimed and concluded that Ms Ehrenreich didn’t spend enough time in each situation to reach a stable and accurate cash flow estimate for herself. It distorted her conclusions somewhat to the advantage of her labor activist preconceptions.

            • CL July 29, 2013, 8:00 pm

              Scratch Beginnings is a response to Nickel and Dimed which goes through the same sort of process, where you go out with a bit of money and the clothes on your back, but in a slightly more sensible way. He discusses Barbara’s method. That’s why I said both and not just one. :)

            • ael July 29, 2013, 11:45 pm

              Thanks, I’ll have to read the second book too.

      • Jay July 29, 2013, 10:59 am

        It can definitely be done. I would bow the fuck down in massive respect to anyone who manages to get themselves out of the minimum wage hole in this way though, because I don’t know if I would have the discipline to do it. Usually people who are stuck in minimum wage job traps have other problems too (like having kids early, health issues etc); which make their principal problem worse. So they need even more self-discipline and determination than the average early-retirer. They’re not only poor or in debt in a financial sense, they also have “life-debt” (the consequences of poor decision making or bad luck in life previously), that’s dragging them backward.

        A lot of people get offended when the suggestion is made that minimum wage earners don’t have discipline. It’s not that they don’t, it’s just that when you’re operating with a non-existent safety margin and so much “life-debt”, and not making that much money, getting out requires a LOT more self-discipline, courage and determination than the average cubicle dweller.

        I think that last part outrages a lot of the Internet Retirement Police too.”Not everyone has such self-discipline!” Well, no shit! Not everyone is happily early-retired either. It has to be earned through great application and discipline. Luck and a lack of “life-debt” will help you out and reduce how much work you need to put in (something that MMM has acknowledged before on his blog) but it still has to be earned.

      • Holly August 1, 2013, 7:15 am

        My only problem with the McDonald’s budget is health insurance. Like others have mentioned, a lot of fast food jobs don’t offer full-time and thus don’t offer benefits. That would leave these people buying their insurance on the open market.

        My husband just left his job last month and we had a two month lapse of coverage in between our old plan and when our new plan starts. It wasn’t that big of a deal but we did have to buy our own short-term plan. My family of four cost $377 per month for a plan with an $11,000 deductible. For us, this isn’t a big deal at all but this obviously couldn’t fit in with the budget of a low income worker.

  • Debt Blag July 28, 2013, 11:08 am

    This is absolutely true. It is wild what people get upset about in the face of so many problems with personal finance out there

  • Sandra July 28, 2013, 11:13 am

    Well, it is always easier to complain than to do anything else (unfortunately) and I am speaking of my own experience.

    I know for me my ego can get in the way – “I want to be right all the time”. Well, this is not realistic. I like MMM’s way of flipping to the other side of the complaining coin and approaching something new with the attitude of “how did they do this, maybe this would be a good idea for me, let’s explore”.

    Thanks, Mr. MM. You have made a huge change in my life and by osmosis, in my husband’s.

  • durangostash94 July 28, 2013, 11:20 am

    Regarding the McDonald’s budget: as this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kltKmJhUgLY) points out, since this budget supposes TWO jobs, even McDonald’s is admitting that a person cannot meet these expenses (even leaving out heat, groceries, and child care) on a job at McDonald’s–unless it is the job of the McDonald’s CEO (whose latest pay package was $13.8 million).

    • Anonymous July 28, 2013, 12:12 pm

      I’m not sure what purpose mentioning the CEO’s pay served. It’s safe to say that the average employee making $7.50/hour is not qualified to be the CEO. There are, in fact, relatively few people qualified for such a position, and finding them is non-trivial and high-risk. Hence the high pay.

      Somehow I doubt you’re attempting to inspire people to think “so how do I work my way up to a job like that?”. Instead, it looks remarkably like sour grapes, or worse yet, an attempt to stir up the usual set of complaints about high salaries, most of which can be summarized as “anyone making that much money [when I’m not] must be doing something wrong, or otherwise doesn’t deserve it”. And that leads down a dangerously judgmental road, which tries to tear other people down for their success rather than build more people up to achieve success.

      Please don’t start down that road.

      • Jay July 28, 2013, 2:54 pm

        There’s actually plenty of studies that show that there isn’t a positive correlation between high CEO pay and stock performance. Here’s one linked to by that bastion of capitalism, the Wall Street Journal, that actually shows a negative correlation: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/CEOperformance122509.pdf. So yeah, as a shareholder, it’s fair to wonder if the CEO really deserves that high a salary, in comparison to his or her workers.

        • Anonymous July 28, 2013, 7:40 pm

          It’s fair to wonder. It’s not fair to snipe, especially when it’s unrelated. There’s a difference between legitimately wondering if a CEO’s pay correlates with their worth to the company and simply sniping at them because they make more than their employees.

      • Will July 30, 2013, 10:43 pm

        It is relevant in one way – unlike most companies, many or perhaps even most of the upper management at McDonald’s started their careers working in a restaurant.

        That is a major part of the “McDonald’s story” that they push to their restaurant-level employees.

    • Michael July 29, 2013, 6:04 am

      John Michael Greer pointed out a way to eliminate unemployment in the United States, improve the effective standard of living of many American families and decrease their income tax burdens. And that it would also increase our economic resilience and sustainability, and simultaneously cause a significant decrease in the amount of automobile traffic on America’s streets and highways.

      But no one wants to talk about it because it is that pesky “Have one parent stay home and raise children” thing, and that’s not empowering to the corporate/political/consumerist paradigm that wants the family to buy more plastic pumpkins from China.

      • Ellen August 6, 2013, 11:25 am

        An interesting point. I would never dictate anyone else’s choices, but my husband and I made the committment that one of us would stay home with the kids at least until school age. We have survived long-term unemployment/underemployment, a house that would not sell for 18 months and lost nearly $100K in value, an emergency relocation, health problems and other factors.
        We came through the other side and 4 years later own our (much smaller) home and have no debt. Now I am working and he is home with the kids.
        Many couples feel pressured to hold 2 jobs, not because they love their careers but because they underestimate the economic value of having a full time Frugality Executive at home.

  • Lisa July 28, 2013, 11:30 am

    lol.. I has the exact same reaction when I saw the McDonalds budget. Sure, they didn’t account for food, but maybe that’s because it’s a subjective expense… and as 1 person they have $750 left to figure that out.

    • phred July 29, 2013, 11:02 am

      food is free at McDs for the maintenance guy, half price for others, although i do suppose one can get tired of the oatmeal and the salads

  • SteveO July 28, 2013, 11:56 am

    I always liked this quote from Robert Heinlein: “There is no such thing as luck; there is only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe.”

    • Rob aka Captain and Mrs Slow July 29, 2013, 10:39 am

      What I prefer to say is everyone gets lucky breaks, it’s just what you do with them. Much more positive.

  • Anonymous July 28, 2013, 12:01 pm

    I’m enjoying the “50 jobs” series so far. However, I’m wondering to what extent you’d be willing to include jobs that typically require a degree, if there’s significant evidence that people regularly get those jobs without one through various alternative paths.

    For example, the majority of software engineering jobs ask for a degree “or equivalent experience”. A software engineering degree includes the essential skills (writing good code), the less-essential-at-first skills (piles of theory, wildly useful as you advance but not strictly required in an entry-level position), and the huge pile of opportunities to meet interesting people and talk about what they’re working on. These days, it’s entirely possible to learn the essentials yourself, via online sites that teach programming in Javascript, Python, C, and many others. (Learn more than one; once you’ve learned your second language, a third and fourth will come quickly, and you’ll build your ability to think more abstractly about programming concepts.) You can also fill in some of the corners of both theory and practice via sites like MIT’s Open Courseware and Khan Academy. You can gain a great deal of highly visible “equivalent experience” by contributing to Open Source projects. Once you’ve got that, you can start hustling for programming jobs; you’ll have to do more legwork because you have to prove that you can compete with someone who has a degree, but it’s *entirely* possible. And once you’ve bootstrapped your way up into a job at a medium to large company, nobody will care if you have a degree.

    It’s not an easy path, by any means, but it’s completely possible. And the entry-level positions are already typically $50k jobs, with salaries just going up from there. Plus, if you want to fill in all the corners and you have the time, many larger companies have tuition reimbursement programs if you want to get a formal degree.

    • Steve Adams July 28, 2013, 2:59 pm

      Amen! As an employer I am far more impressed and likely to hire people that don’t have the degree but have done the learning themselves. Even if they need to learn on the job. I my experience even those with a degree need to learn and sometimes it seems they feel like learning time is over now that they have a degree.

    • Jamesqf July 29, 2013, 11:52 am

      I have to disagree. Learning languages is not really the important part of learning to program. (If you can code in C, you can code in just about any language – and except for special-purpose languages like YACC/Lex, there’s really no reason to code in other languages except to please employers.) What is important is to learn about algorithms, how & why they work, and why (real-life example) it’s not a good idea to write an input-scanning program using loops nested 6 deep, doing repetitive C++ string comparisons. (That was about 10K lines of C++ code, that collapsed to a few hundred lines of Lex, and ran in seconds instead of hours.)

      • Brenton July 29, 2013, 2:17 pm

        Completely agree. Learn algorithms, design patterns, and best practices, because you can easily look up syntax on the internet. Especially when you get into high traffic programs where that .002 seconds extra each transaction makes a big difference.

        • Anonymous July 31, 2013, 10:53 am

          You need to have a good baseline understanding of programming languages before you can start to “look up syntax on the Internet”.

      • Anonymous July 31, 2013, 10:52 am

        Learning languages isn’t the only part, but learning several has value beyond the languages themselves, in terms of seeing common patterns. I consider “design patterns” in large part a language-learning (and library-learning) activity, since the right patterns to use are often language-specific.

        That said, I most certainly agree that you need to study algorithms as well. Algorithms and complexity would be the first bits of theory I’d suggest learning after learning a language or two to practice them in.

  • Ree Klein July 28, 2013, 12:11 pm

    I’ve always been accused of being overly optimistic. And until this last year, I have often let people steal the wind out of my sails before ever getting the idea off the ground. No more.

    When you hit a certain age, you realize you only have so much time left to make a difference, to take action and realize your dreams. I’m sorry I listened to Negative Nellies for so long.

    I don’t care how many times I fail, because failing just means I tried and I’m that much closer to my version of success. Keep the great ideas coming and phooey on the gripers!

  • Anonymous July 28, 2013, 12:32 pm

    The McDonalds salary and “budget” gets me thinking about an interesting idea.

    Many previous posts on this blog have wisely talked about debt as an emergency: a problem to be fixed immediately, worth devoting all your time and effort to until fixed.

    I’d like to suggest that working a minimum wage job is, to only a slightly lesser extent, an emergency as well: your primary goal should be to get out of that job and into a better one as quickly as you can, and you should be devoting all your time and effort to that until fixed. While your net worth is not actually going *down* (assuming you’re not also putting yourself in debt),

    Whether you find a better non-degree opportunity like those in this “50 jobs” series, or you go through a degree program after spending time applying for grants, scholarships, or even carefully considered loans, either way you should treat every day you spend on minimum wage as a Major Problem that should go on no longer than it absolutely has to to support you while you find a way up.

    • CincyCat August 2, 2013, 1:34 pm

      Excellent point! When I had minimum wage jobs in fast food or waiting tables in college (even less than minimum wage, really), I never thought of them as “careers”. While there were co-workers of mine who had been waiting tables for decades, and truly loved it, most of the time, they had another wage earner in the household. For me, I always thought of the minimum wage jobs as *temporary* while I worked on doing something else with my life.

  • Kaitlyn July 28, 2013, 1:18 pm

    Love it. Brilliant. I’ve not even read the list yet but I’m looking forward to it and will do as soon as I’ve posted this comment.

    My view is that people who are outraged are actually envious and I believe envy is your mind telling you that you are dissatisfied with your life in some way because you can clearly see how someone else is doing what you’d rather be doing.

    And that showing ‘outrage’ is a way to make you feel better about your envy because ‘life isn’t fair’ or ‘it’s too hard’.

    If you want something you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll make an excuse.

    This year, (so far) I’ve become a published author, changed careers from administrator to Graphic Designer, and travelled to Japan. I don’t make much and I’m dipping into my savings to survive. But I’m investing in my future and I appreciate that the journey IS life and that the destination is death so I’d better damn well do what I love or figure out how to make things happen than sitting around being ‘outraged’ because someone else is demonstrating a better ability to live well.

  • Chris July 28, 2013, 1:18 pm

    When I was on my honeymoon (a few years back), I jumped off a waterfall and into the water about 15-20ft below. I thought I ruptured my eardrum and ended up going to the emergency room. While waiting to have my ear checked, I overheard the solo Doc on duty saying something to one of his tech’s and it went like this-“Winners make committments, Losers make excuses.”

    A bit of a blunt statement, but oh so true! That statement has stuck with me for years and I’m reminded of it every time I hear folks whine about how they can’t accomplish something.

    Life really is a mindset. You simply have to be willing to work incredibly hard, up front, delay that initial gratification and not surprisingly, good things will likely follow.

    Stated another way, “Where preparation meets opportunity, cool things happen!”

    • Melissa July 30, 2013, 5:58 pm

      My wise ex-bf used to say, “You’ll get it if you want it, and if you don’t get it, then you didn’t want it that bad.” That stuck with me. I like your saying too! Guess that ear worked out for you, overhearing such sage words. And congrats on jumping the waterfall!!!

  • LTF July 28, 2013, 2:24 pm

    The thing about trying something new instead of being outraged by it is so true. No one says you have to make big changes all at once; and in fact that rarely works out since it’s too much of a shock. Just start with really minor changes and see how that works out first.

    When people ask me if I watch certain cable shows and I tell them, no, “I don’t have cable”, they look at me as though I have been greatly inconvenienced. They say something to the effect, “Really, not even basic cable?, I guess, your line of work isn’t doing well in the recession.” Notice they make the assumption that I would pay for that service if I wasn’t poor. Wrong assumption. Don’t assume that a lifestyle you would not choose for yourself is not right for someone else.

  • John July 28, 2013, 2:37 pm

    Screw the haters! Haha, they’re just mad that they can’t do the unconventional, interesting things themselves and that there is actually a thriving community of people that is making a go of things that way. Very entertaining and humorous indeed.

  • Kyle July 28, 2013, 4:37 pm

    It’s not hard to earn over $50k. But it may require that you actually get good at your job rather then just expecting to turn up everyday.
    I’m a flipping Personal Trainer. I work 25 hours a week (yes that includes planning my sessions and admin) and I clear $50k. My job requires a certificate you can get in just 8 weeks. It’s really not as hard as people make it for themselves.

    • durangostash94 July 28, 2013, 6:06 pm

      Kyle, may I ask what certificate you obtained? And how did you obtain it? Thanks.

    • Justin July 29, 2013, 10:29 am

      How long did it take you to work up to $50k? Or did you just start out that way? The reason I’m asking is because personal training is something that I have been considering going into.

  • Lisa July 28, 2013, 5:51 pm

    I find the comments about McDonalds interesting, since here in Canada they are consistently considered one of the best employers by an external ranking agency. You start at minimum wage but they provide training and advancement opportunities to those who work hard and aren’t just standing around thinking about how they are too good to work there. Have you ever noticed that most people who think their current job is below them usually don’t do good work? You can bring a strong work ethic and sense of professionalism to ANY job if you choose to – and if you can’t you should make way for someone who can.

  • Jefferson July 28, 2013, 6:01 pm

    Hi guys! I live in Brazil and even in a 3rd world country like mine, it works exactly away that Mr Money Mustache said.

    Plumbers, electricians, carpenters and constructors in general, and households earn wages above the middle certified professionals

  • Hilda July 28, 2013, 6:29 pm

    Dear MMM, I guess one thing that did not come to your mind, because it is really absurd, is that some people do not want a better life. You know, it takes way less effort to blame circunstances, the government etc, than to really work hard to achieve something. Besides that, once your life improves, you can no longer play victim. And people love to play victim instead of taking full responsibilities for their own lives.
    I live in a country that does not compare to the US in terms of wealth. Despite this fact, I see great examples of people from very poor backgrounds that became entrepreneurs, great executives, or at least managed to study and find a decent job. People that manage to use many of the jobs you listed in the previous post to make a very good living.
    I imagine what could be done in a richer place like the United States.
    And I do think it is kind of useless to respond to all these complaints from incompetent people. You should just ignore them and enjoy the success of your blog. Don´t get annoyed by them. Really.

  • anon July 28, 2013, 7:10 pm

    Augh. That mcdonals budget assumes that the person using it has two- yes TWO- full time minimmum wage jobs. I don’t know if you realise how difficult it is to find a SINGLE full time job- these jobs rarely hire full time employees; they prefer to hire part-timers so they don’t have to pay benefits. Sometimes this site has decent advice, but you obviously don’t understand the realities of what it’s like trying to survive in- or scrape yourself out of- poverty. Also, the mcdonalds budget was creates by a credit card company. When was the last time a credit cadr company wantes to hepp consumers? When something’s free, you’re what’s for sale, and this budget was a slap in the face from companies who could easily spare a few extra million and pay their employees a living wage.

    • John July 28, 2013, 9:05 pm

      This^ times 1000.
      I really enjoy much of this site and find it very valuable. However, if this post and its comments were my first exposure to it, I could be forgiven if I thought that I had wandered onto some website for Ayn Rand fanboys. There is a difference between frugality and optimism on one hand and blaming poor people for their plight on the other. There’s also such a thing as social justice, and, if not that, then clear-headed economics. When a company like Micky D’s (and lots and lots of others) pay their employees so poorly they’re sacrificing long-term economic health (capitalism relies on people spending money on things they don’t really need) for short term gain for their corporate officers and share holders. The last time there was this sort of disparity in wealth was in France in the 1770’s. And we all know how that turned out. Telling the peasants to just eat cake doesn’t lead to a better, or, especially more stable society. But I’m sure *this* time around everything will be different….Those people (including those with children..) making 16k/year minus taxes just need to stop being so wasteful!

      • Mr. Money Mustache July 29, 2013, 6:40 am

        I like this complaint, because I often get accused of socialist tendencies by the true Ayn Randians.

        I guess my opinion falls somewhere in the middle: The US has no shortage of opportunity and money. And the poverty of our country is caused in a big part by poverty of knowledge – buying lottery tickets with your spare money and watching TV with your spare time is a great way to ensure you’ll never get out of poverty, even if you double your wages.

        But is the broke person making $60,0000/year really better off than the broke person at $16,000/year, given that they both have the means to get adequate food and yet neither person eats a healthy diet? The $60k person has a bunch more discarded plasma TVs in the basement and a shiny Ford Edge SUV instead of a rusty Ford Explorer SUV. They both have the same net worth. Both of them can drastically change the trajectory of their lives if they could just start doing the right things. But they need to have some way to get the knowledge of what to start doing.

        The traditional “let’s not blame the poor people for their plight” TOTALLY misses the idea of frugality and badassity, because it’s a comparative judgement of how much is enough money (it’s less than average, so it must be too little), rather than a mathematical judgement (2000 calories of roasted potatoes with olive oil and garlic and spices costs about a dollar). So this makes me sound pretty libertarian.

        But I also think that government policies can have an effect on how many people get stuck in poverty, and I advocate copying the best ideas from countries that are more successful than the US in certain areas. This makes me a contemptible flaming liberal according to some.

        • Peanut Butter July 29, 2013, 8:12 am

          This sort of thing is why I love your blog, MMM! I’m an unashamed flaming socialist liberal, but I get frustrated with my comrades who make excuses for self-inflicted bad situations. I also get frustrated with my Randian friends who assume that a perfect market free of coercion and corruption is possible. You manage to put my objections to both the McDonald’s budget and most of the criticisms of the McD’s budget into words.

        • ABC July 29, 2013, 10:37 am

          Regarding copying the best ideas from countries; Rule 1 should be that no one should have to declare bankruptcy due to illness in one of the richest countries in the world. This is the only rich country that have to deal with that moral issue.

        • Georgia August 7, 2013, 4:31 pm

          But . . . you didn’t really address John’s (sarcastic) comment that, “Those people (including those with children..) making 16k/year minus taxes just need to stop being so wasteful!” Because even if the person making $16,000/yr and the person making $60,000/yr had exactly the same amount of knowledge about finances, yes, the person making $60,000/yr IS better off.
          If the person making $16,000/yr is getting by (barely) on that . . . then the other person has $44,000 worth of fat in their budget. The higher earner has more places where they can cut back their spending. If the discarded plasma TVs still work — they can be sold for extra money. The shiny new car can be sold and a less expensive model bought. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

      • Jamesqf July 29, 2013, 12:00 pm

        I have a different problem with this: the idea that working at McDonalds (or other fast-food places) is supposed to be thought of as a full-time job that people support themselves on. It’s for high-school kids to get a start in the employment world, housewives & retirees who want to get out of the house, and so on.

        So turn it around: if you don’t have low-wage, part time jobs like these, how are people supposed to get a foothold in the employment world?

    • Sebastian July 29, 2013, 6:25 am

      I have started reading this blog nearly 2 months ago and got today my first job offer for outside my standard work.
      I’m an export office sales manager and have to translate several things daily from english to german and vice-versa.
      While doing this i thought maybe this could be a service i could offer to others and i will get an order tomorrow for a translation of a small webshop.
      This is serious money which i never thought i would be able to get.

      Think about your skills and try it! MMM is totaly right!

  • Joy July 28, 2013, 9:22 pm

    I didn’t believe that bloggers could make money, especially fashion bloggers. Boy was I wrong. I started a blog a very small one and started making money. Now some of the fashion bloggers are featured in major magazines, have landed contracts with major designer stores (one even has a deal with Barneys WTF), and I could go on. Don’t knock it till you try it!

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 29, 2013, 6:21 am

      And don’t even get me started on the topic of the Coupon Mom blogger trend.. ridiculous money in that area :-)

      None of this stuff works very well on a “Me-too” basis. People see that there’s good money available in a certain niche and crowd in and make these cheap income-before-content knockoffs hoping to cash in. It rarely works. But if you are actually passionate about a subject and mostly just care about learning more yourself so you can share it, that shows up in the form of writing valuable things for readers. Readers show up when they detect that there is value to be had.

  • Michael July 29, 2013, 1:25 am

    The best thing about a lot of those $50K jobs is that they can’t be outsourced or automated. An algorithm can diagnose your illness (see the NP in the clinic typing that into her computer? Algorithm) and read your XRay. Cohen’s AARON project showed that we can create art by autonomous computer (shades of 1984 and his writing kaleidoscopes in the Ministry of Truth). We can fly a 787 autonomously from point A to point B, and theoretically could design even the fuel truck to automatically dock to it and fuel it; we were doing this on the old Orbital Express proposal a decade ago- and had worked out how to do it on orbit, so on the tarmac at LAX would be trivial.

    But to actually open the panels and turn the wrenches takes a real person on site. So electricians, repairmen, welders surgeons, engineers.., those Mr Fix Its will have jobs in the future. See Matt Crawford’s book “Shop Class as Soulcraft”.

  • Ams July 29, 2013, 5:20 am

    One problem I have with many of the commenters on this article wrt minimum wage and the McDonalds budget is the insane assumption that people earning low wages should just better themselves, get a better job and the problem would be solved. The thing is though, that we will always need someone to flip burgers, so why not acknowledge that with a living wage? Instead we are self righteous and contemptuous of these workers. More broadly, it seems many want to punish the “lazy”, “complainy” and “stupid” of the country with low wages and disrespect. I think it would be better to set up society in such a way as to maximize the utility and skills of each person. If that’s flipping burgers, so be it. Why the desire to crush some people under the heel of your boot?

    Also, it’s interesting that most jobs on the list are trades-traditionally male endeavours. I challenge MMM to do a list with traditionally female-dominated jobs. Of course women can go out and get a trade, but there are a few more barriers in place.

    • Nancy Jones July 29, 2013, 5:37 am

      It just doesn’t take much smarts or dedication to flip burgers, that’s why. It’s entry level–that means basic skills needed–like skills to show up on time and ready to work. knowing when to keep your mouth shut even when the boss is wrong. Those are NOT advanced skills. They should NOT pay a lot of money. These skills can be taught to just about anyone, and just about anyone working at low-wage jobs can be very easily replaced by just about anyone else. THAT is why these jobs just aren’t worth very much.

      • Lindsey July 30, 2013, 3:17 am

        I want to throw a word in about McDonalds and other fast food employees. They and, especially Carl’s, hire many folks that other employers refuse to hire—those with developmental disabilities, physical handicaps and organic brain damage from things like prenatal exposure to alcohol. I used to work with people with traumatic brain injuries and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder so I know how hard it is to place them. Maybe all they are worth is minimum wage, but I feel compelled to point out that one of the things to be thankful for is that the readers of this blog have the intellectual capacity to go beyond minimum wage jobs. Don’t assume everyone could better themselves if they just worked harder.

        • L'Enginieuresse July 31, 2013, 3:05 pm

          And for some of those folks, having that job is just the best thing in the world, and makes them ridiculously happy. Probably makes them feel, for once, like they belong in the normal group, in an otherwise abnormal life.

          Thanks for the perspective, Lindsey.

      • ams August 1, 2013, 11:40 pm

        I agree that jobs that require little skill or training should pay less, but they should still pay enough that those working full time are not below the poverty line and dependent on food stamps. A person’s full time labour, however unskilled, is worth that.

      • mariarose August 4, 2013, 11:14 am

        Wow. Just Wow.

        I am a minimum wage, part time employee for a small box store. When I think of the complexity of my job, the range of skills necessary for me to do an acceptable completion of my job, the intelligence required for me to do my job, I just am flabbergasted by the complete and utter disrespect with which you discount my job. My manager has told me he hates having to keep my hours low because he is not happy with how well others do my job when I am not there. Corporate determines how much I work, and what I am paid. Not my manager or coworkers.

        I sincerely hope that you have simply not chosen your words well. I will choose to believe this is the case. In the future, please remember that not all followers of the mustachian way are high income.

    • Michael July 29, 2013, 6:02 am

      Quite the opposite, Ams. I have no desire to crush anyone beneath the sole of my boot. I simply desire to negotiate a fair price for the labor I perform, and to pay a fair price for the labor I contract. The only boot crushing are by those who demand that an employer pay a certain wage.

      I don’t want to punish anyone with low wages, I want to pay someone what their labor is worth to me. And if you pay a WalMart greeter or a McDonald’s Fry Guy $35 an hour as “living wage”, I know a lot of folks with more intellectually or physically rigorous jobs (myself included) who’d likely quit to take the easy money.

      Nothing forces me (or anyone) to work; as Ernest Mann wonderfully described, “If you take pay, you must obey!” I work because current circumstances force me to. When I am out from under those obligations, I intend to quit and focus all my energies on enjoying my family, working only enough to put a few luxuries on the table.

      As to “traditionally female-dominated jobs”, I’m not sure what you ask: secretary, bookkeeper, child care… none need a degree. I’d argue that even most teachers don’t NEED a degree, though one is required.

      • Rob aka Captain and Mrs Slow July 29, 2013, 10:31 am

        Good in theory but in practice focusing only on benefiting the shareholder is what has gotten this country in such bad shape. Increasing your share price by a race to the bottom is a loser game which benefits insiders. Take for example McDonalds, here In America it’s pink slime burgers, over in Europe it’s organic milk and in Germany McCafe (they do the best coffee any where)

        Secondly while unusual it you compare Walmart to Costco, one relies on government handouts (food stamps) the other pays a liveable wage yet is still successful.

        As an aside I’m reading Sam Walton’s bio and he is a classic Mustachian, worth billions but still very frugal. Best story his Son was scouting land for new locations he’d land in a private plane (necessary in his business) and then get out a bike to get the lay of the land.

        • MilwaukeeMN July 31, 2013, 5:53 pm

          The shareholders are like the boss. Without their investment of $, there would be zero jobs. And they aren’t going to invest in a company with an attitude of not being profitable, not raising share price or paying dividends. Shareholders take more of a risk than employees. If the company goes bust, the employee is back to square one looking for a job but the shareholder is out whatever money he had managed to scrimp and save.

      • ams August 1, 2013, 11:36 pm

        I simply don’t believe that anyone working full time should still fall below the poverty line. Raising minimum wage to reflect this would not obliterate the pay gradient between minimum wage jobs and jobs requiring more skill/effort.

        Lifting people out of poverty is good for society, and I care about that much more than some hypothetical situation in which the engineers and carpenters of the world all abandon their posts to flip burgers for the “easy money”.

        Also, “Nothing forces me (or anyone) to work…I work because current circumstances force me to” ???

    • Jamesqf July 29, 2013, 4:59 pm

      We may always need someone to flip burgers, but that someone doesn’t always have to be the same person. How about if it is – just for a simple instance – a different high school student every year?

      • IAmNotABartender June 27, 2016, 12:48 pm

        If you look at the numbers, it’s not high schoolers who are the majority of fast food workers. If a job is worth doing, it’s worth paying a living wage. Any job that doesn’t pay a living wage is a parasite, because we all end up chipping in for corporate subsidies by providing the income and benefits that the company refused to provide. Why should McDonald’s get away with only paying people a partial wage when other companies have to pay the full amount without taxpayers picking up the slack?
        Besides, who gets to decide what labor is worth being able to survive? I certainly don’t want to be in charge of that.

        • Javahead June 27, 2016, 2:42 pm

          If a job doesn’t pay enough to be worth taking – nobody will take it.

          Conversely, if somebody *is* willing to work for an amount you think is too little – maybe because they’re a kid working a few hours a week who values a light/flexible schedule – it’s proof that not everyone agrees with you on what that job is worth.

          Over a century back, one of the less-savory reasons sometimes given for minimum wage is that it would ensure that the “wrong” people would not be hired if wages were raised; it was a way to try to prevent the “wrong” people – black/asian/jewish/italian/fill-in-the-blanks – from being hired in favor of the native workers. And to some extent it worked exactly as intended – it raised barriers for unskilled workers trying to find jobs.

          In general, nobody will get hired unless a potential employer is convinced that they’ll make enough extra money to cover the additional cost and at least some profit above that.

          The way things are trending, I fear that raising the minimum wage will hurt, rather than help, low skilled and entry level works – and the biggest beneficiaries from raising the minimum wage will be the people who design, build, and sell automation.

          I’m an embedded software guy – if anything, I’ll probably benefit by new job opportunities in my area. But I still think it’s a lousy idea to make it harder for entry level workers to find a job.

  • Nancy Jones July 29, 2013, 5:33 am

    In which I vindicate the author: I make over $50k as a sysadmin, and I don’t have a college degree. What I have is a lot of willpower and a lot of patience and a lot of dedication. I did not start out as a sysadmin making $50k. I started out as a cook in a restaurant making minimum wage. Then I learned to type. Then I learned to type better. Then I learned bookkeeping. Then I learned benefits administration. Then I learned how to fix computers. Then I learned how to make them talk to each other. At every point of accomplishment my income went up. Funny how that works.

    • Sarah July 29, 2013, 2:53 pm

      I’m with you Nancy, I started out as a receptionist 28 years ago. I was making $14k a year which seemed like a fortune as the year before I had only made $5k working part time as a waitress. I could only type 20 wpm with 20 errors. Over time I got faster at typing, I learned to do other things. I learned that showing up every day on time was the hardest part. Now I make $60k, no degree, but I still learn something new every day…

  • Derek July 29, 2013, 6:34 am

    Haha… that one twitter comment is gold! How the hell does it take an incredible amount of luck to become a plumber, electrician, or carpenter?

    The McDonalds budget made me feel sorry for the people working there. They could be taking the opportunity to go after a type of job that was in your list vs. relegating themselves to burger flipping.

    • Anonymous July 31, 2013, 10:59 am

      On the contrary, I think it *does* take a pile of luck to succeed at those jobs:

      ” I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.” — Coleman Cox

      There are a hundred more quotes where that came from, all saying the same thing: yes, you need luck, but it’s remarkable how often you can make your own luck.

  • No Waste July 29, 2013, 8:34 am

    But, but, but!

    So many buts getting thrown around in response that it starting to smell like %$#.

    There is no free lunch, if you want something, go get it.

    Also, re: McDonalds Budget. No, it’s not perfect but dammit its a start! Many of these employees have not even thought about what a budget is and what it can do for them.

    I can’t stand this: “Well, that’s a terrible idea. Oh, no, I don’t have any practical ideas that are better, I’m just going to bash that one instead. That’s how I add value!”


  • Doug July 29, 2013, 8:53 am

    I notice on this blog when MMM suggests a way to save or make more money the responses are mostly positive. We who follow this blog are all quite like minded. However, that’s not true of all financial blogs. For example, I also follow http://www.greaterfool.ca hosted by Garth Turner. Occasionally Garth writes about someone who is doing well against all odds, when life gives them lemons they make lemonade. Two examples are 1) a story about a 12 year old girl in Florida who recovered old furniture left out in front of houses after the former highly leveraged owners walked away from them, sold it, saved up the money, and with some help from her mother actually bought a house in the depths of the housing bubble bursting. Another story was about someone in Winnipeg making only $20,000 but still managing to save some money. There were some positive comments, but also many negative ones like about how the girl was somehow cheating the system and profiting from other’s misery, and how the person making 20 grand is heavily subsidized by big wage earners who pay more taxes.

    I think these negative comments say a lot about why some people succeed, seemingly against all odds, and others don’t in similar or better circumstances. A saying I once heard summarizes it all namely, when opportunity knocks some people complain about the noise.

  • Jamie V July 29, 2013, 9:16 am

    I hate to say, I used to be one of “those people”, angry at the world because the wealthy have it easy, and we have it hard on our combined (before taxes) $80K/year income: We could barely afford anything; Why don’t they change the laws so the wealthier people paid more in taxes so we could get a break?; the wealthy are only wealthy because they inherited it/had money in the first place to invest and become richer; the richer just get richer and we just get poorer; etc. Yes, I was one of those.

    Then, long story short, about 2 months ago, I finally had it up to here (“here” being top of my head on my short 5 foot frame) with the corporate BS, decided I wasn’t going to work until I’m 65 (who knows, I might be too crippled to enjoy my time off!), I started reading PF blogs, yours included, read some of the recommended books (The Millionaire Next Door, A Random Walk Down Wall Street to name a couple) and BOY did it open my eyes to a brand new world of being financially independent/early retirement (or on the way to being so) that I never knew existed. That paragraph I wrote above this one? I changed my mind – most wealthy worked their asses off to get to where they are and should NOT have to pay for my inability to be financially responsible, and to own up to my own money failures.

    If I were successful at my new budget, invested money, and retired at 45 (or earlier) with an awesomely accumulated amount of wealth, I don’t think I’d want Joe-Schmoe X millions saying I don’t deserve all my money, and to tax me more because I happened to “wake up and smell the roses” and worked five times harder than they ever will.. I wish more people just TRIED to see the other side like I did and get truly motivated to change their situations, instead of just drivel on about how they just can’t seem to make it work, blah blah blah. I think I can make it work, and I’m accepting the fact I may need a 2nd job – it’s just a fact of life that I don’t make enough at the first one right now – I’ll willingly deal with it. Yes, there are big issues that need to be fixed within the system, but for the most part.. I just wanted to let you know that there is one convert out there who saw the light, and hopes to spread the word. :) Maybe I’ll start a blog too??

    • calgary lip fuzz July 29, 2013, 7:27 pm

      “I changed my mind”

      The most powerful phrase in any language.

      Well done.

    • SZQ July 30, 2013, 11:10 am

      Jamie – good on you, mate, for showing how you CAN change your view on things and then IMPLEMENT the change to better yourself financially (which I have to say, usually impacts so many other areas of your life, usually for the better!) I totally agree that MOST of those who are wealthy have worked really hard and saved for most of their lives. I always remember that (financial) choices today most likely will impact me somehow down the road, so I want to make the BEST choices I can. You are obviously motivated to make the changes and sacrifices necessary to reach FI, or at least to not struggle so much with money. I applaud you for seeing “the light” (which is HUGE HUGE HUGE!) and making the changes – better late than never! Welcome on board!! I’m sure MMM is thrilled he’s got another “convert” here!

  • Cynthia July 29, 2013, 12:36 pm

    Hi MMM—hit the nail on the head again! Excellent post and I couldnt agree with you more, especially about the business model sucking if you cant pay people over 7.50…

    Can I throw out an idea to roll around in your reflections on jobs, money, education training? It’s been floating through my head whenever you’ve posted on this thread, but I have been waiting for the right time. You might even know this already. Here goes:
    You seem to have a brilliant engineer type mind, and by your own admission a great pleasure for you is simply thinking about making things more efficient, taking them apart to see how they work, all great practical engineer stuff. Yet, other people have different kinds of minds that function very differently from the ‘engineer’ model, which of course you know on some level.
    BUT the full consequences of this must be explored and taken into account if we want to ‘convert the masses’ to frugal freedom in a way that works for them. Artsy visual types, whose minds work in a more amorphous, image based way, cannot system engineer their lifestyle the way you excel at doing; charts on the fridge or crunching any math are like slow mindless death to these people. Similarly for the idealistic, Greenpeace member, who has a very different way not only of motivation, but even thinking and approaching problems, and fells higher callings. OK, generalisations, but to make a point.

    I’m not offering answers, just pushing to open up and delve into the question; people resist not just because they are complainypants or lazy or whiners, it’s also sometimes because their minds don’t work in the same way and they need to be motivated or convinced or buy in differently, so how can we do that?

    Second, it’s about your thread on Education, a lifelong specialty of mine. I think you are totally right that we as a country need to have a serious discussion about what exactly the purpose of Higher education should be–if it is only job training, as you suggest, then I completely agree with you that the university model is not the place nor are student loans, and that online training courses MOOCs might work fine.

    But if the purpose of higher education is research, pushing the boundaries of knowledge, liberal arts training so people learn to really think critically, explore worlds different from their own, broaden their minds…well in that case, the university system does work and works well; you cannot self-train to that level, and I can explain why but need more space. ;)
    I know it’s not your kind of thing, but believe me, the mind is a muscle that can be flexed and expanded and pushed almost infinitely, like the frugal muscle, not just in terms of facts ingurgitated or processes mastered. The rewards of that kind of training are unknwn to the uninitiated; like running an ultra marathon or climbing Everest, I guess Financially, of course it makes no sense, nor is its immediate application for jobs evident, I agree.

    But it connects to this idea that different minds function really differently, and so need different things. Yes, I’d like to be financially independent and am working on it. Yes there are days when I wish I’d done a law degree and made bucket loads and retired early, rather than getting a PhD in history. But as anyone who has one can tell you, it is a mental journal like no other and has enriched my life in many ways, if not financially. Likewise, seeing students eyes jump wide open as the light bulb of understanding comes on in their eyes, well that is worth more than money or my own personal freedom, and Im happy to postpone my retirement a few year for that, even if it makes less than 50,000.

    Just some food for thought!
    Keep rocking our world!

    • Gerard July 30, 2013, 8:02 am

      In my experience (and I apologize for the generalizing-from-anecdote approach), greenies and artists have already done that sort of optimization in order to make their current life possible. When you decide to do the Good Thing instead of the Money Thing, you’re already opting out of a lot of consumerist crap and competition. When I was a musician in the 80s, I lived on $400 a month!
      (Now, that’s not to say there aren’t a whole lot of money-clueless consumerist green/artsy WANNABES…)

    • phred August 4, 2013, 8:19 am

      Learning to think critically should not take four years of university coddling. Get an associates degree, and then move out of Mommy and Daddy’s house. You’ll soon learn what works and what does not.
      To explore worlds different from your own you need to actually go there and not just read about them for “credit”. So, strap on your backpack and start hitching. Work along the way picking fruit and veg for farmers.

  • galaxton July 29, 2013, 12:43 pm

    Well, I have to say I love the MMM blog! Here’s the thing, I make about 50,000 in the beauty industry. Not very mustachian I know, but it is a trade. I’ve built a career for myself doing hair in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. (San Fran). When you own a small business, it means you HAVE to be professional. Deliver the service you provide like it’s your favorite thing to do. If you don’t someone else will. If not having a degree is holding you back then look harder at your interests. If you tell yourself that something won’t work, then it won’t. Keep up the great work MMM!

  • frank July 29, 2013, 3:42 pm

    Ok thatnks for the reminder that an 80 mile commute is a BAD thing… I’m just about to drive back home… all 80 miles of it..:)

    Not much longer though, I decided I’m going to bail in April 2014..:)


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