Wealth Advice that Should Be Obvious

incensedWe have been having a lot of fun around here, and thus straying into topics that are only loosely related to building financial freedom. These lessons can be handy, since getting rich is only the first baby step in living a long and prosperous life. After all, if you adopt a Mustachian ethos fairly early, you will spend most of your life in a permanent bath of surplus money, and thus your challenges and growth opportunities will lie in areas other than the financial.

But still, all this big thinking can cause us to gloss over the details a bit, and we don’t want to lead any new arrivals astray. With that in mind, this article will serve as a review of some of the basic principles that we don’t usually cover around here, because to many people they are already obvious. Read ’em over, and see if they are already obvious to you.

1. You Don’t Try to Gamble Your Way to Wealth:

I read a fascinating article about the state lottery system the other day. It described life in the small low-income towns and rural  areas throughout the US. People struggle from paycheck to paycheck, frequently encounter medical bankruptcies, and almost everyone in town buys a shitload of lottery tickets every week.

You gotta be in it to win it

When my numbers finally come up in the powerball, I’m gonna get my life turned around

…and other such tragically misinformed nonsense.

A similar phenomenon occurs in Las Vegas and on every cruise ship on the planet. People feed their hard-earned little green employees into the slots and cashiers of these rigged games, impoverishing themselves and enriching the sneaky owners with mathematical certainty.

So let’s just put all of this to an end right now: You never, ever gamble if your goal is to get richer. It’s as simple as that.

Most gamblers and lottery winners I have quizzed believe in superstitious concepts like “luck” and “magic numbers”. They don’t exist. Every single person on the planet is equally lucky and just as likely to lose money in rigged games of chance. The only way to win, is to not play. The only way to get “lucky” in life, is to understand the odds in all areas, and place your own chips on the side where they are in your favor.

Gambling and lotteries are actually a double-whammy of loss: you are sticking your fingers into the spinning blades of poor odds, and you are handing over psychological control of your wealth to something out of your control. You are making yourself the victim: “I will become rich if the system decides I will, and otherwise I will remain poor”. It’s the wrong way to think.

Here’s how to get rich: earn as much as possible, waste as little as possible, and invest the difference. And no, investing doesn’t mean buying a hot tech or penny stock because you think it will triple – that’s just gambling again with only-slightly-better odds.

2. Windfalls are for buying Freedom, not Jet-skis

Almost every hard-working person ends up with a lucky break or two in his or her lifetime. You might get a raise or a bonus at work. A hefty insurance settlement for cosmetic hail damage on your car. A gift or an inheritance from family or friends.

Most people promptly go out and spend these windfalls.

“Thanks for your generous gift! I took my lady out to the restaurant we thought we would never visit!”

The annual bonus was hefty this year, and I’ll remember it every time I see that new Infiniti G37x sitting in my driveway

Shoes, shoes, shoooooes!”

and other such blunders.

No. None of it. When you get a windfall, it goes straight to your highest-interest debt, or your mortgage, or to buy your next chunk of index funds or your next rental house. Why would you inflate your lifestyle, when you haven’t even bought your freedom yet? Windfalls should be viewed as giant Groupon discounts on Freedom Itself.

For a windfall over $5000, you may get yourself one gourmet coffee or a Chipotle Burrito, but that’s about it.

3. You Don’t Buy Shit you Can’t Afford

“I can afford it, and I deserve it”, is a common refrain from people with high incomes and virtually no savings. So just a couple of reminders on how to tell if you can afford something:

If are in any sort of debt emergency, you probably can’t yet afford “it”

If you still have to work for a living, and would prefer to have a choice in the matter, the diagnosis is the same.

Occasionally, we will all break this rule if something is really important to us. But in general, it is a good guideline. It helps you avoid things like buying a new car or that $3000 set of cobalt-blue LG laundry machines on credit.

4. You don’t buy shit you don’t need

A more gentle version of rule #3, is to really think about what it means to “need”  something. For example, on a recent trip to Ecuador, my heart was captured by a very manly drinking flask made of leather and animal horns, and emblazoned with a badass South American face.


AND it had a Huge Mustache, AND it was only ten bucks.

“Gasp!”, was my first response. “This thing is perfect! I must have this. I could fill it with wine and sling it over my shoulder for the weekly Longmont Bike Night.  I would be considered hilarious and become more popular with this product.

I indulged the fantasy, felt the temptation wash over me, then proceeded to not buy the flask. Why? Because I didn’t go to Ecuador in search of a flask. Digging deep into my past, I realized that I have never felt that my life was lacking in any way due to the absence of a carved leather-and-horns drinking flask, and I distinctly remember being perfectly happy in the recent past without owning one of these things.  I also remembered the storage room in my basement filled with other cool objects I never use yet still seem to have a hard time parting with.

Every material object must be looked upon as a lifelong burden. Will its benefits outweigh the lifelong burden? Consider carefully.

To put this principle into profitable practice, just remember this rule: You never, ever go “shopping”. You go to the grocery store and get stuff for salads and the healthiest meals you can dream up. And that’s it.

For everything else, you start a list. Replacement parts for the broken faucet. A new pair of hiking boots next year because your old ones only have a few hundred miles of hiking left in them. And eventually, when the items on the list become urgent, you go on a fast and targeted mission to buy only that item. Then you return and cleanse yourself with a hot shower to wash off the Shopping Juice.

Other things you never need to buy: bottled water, packaged desserts and convenience foods, soda, juice, status watches, jewelry,  and anything ever found in a “gift shop”.

5. You don’t Pay to Have Shit Stored

I was shocked to learn that many people pay to maintain a permanent storage unit in this country. No, not just for a month after selling one house and before buying another one. They do it for years. At $100 per month or more.

This is a sign from the Stuff Gods that you have too much stuff. There’s a new way to store stuff that actually makes you money instead of losing it: Craigslist. Use it to store the stuff you don’t need. Re-buy it in the unlikely event you ever need it again.

6. You Don’t think of Restaurants as a Source of Food

I love eating out as much as you do. Possibly more, because I appreciate the true amazing decadence of it every time I partake. “Look at me, I am renting this huge venue and paying an army of servants to prepare food for me!“, I marvel every time I do it.

But the world is not your personal buffet. It is a forest filled with bear traps designed to ensnare and impoverish your ass. And thus, you don’t go out on the town with no plan for where you’ll get your next meal.

This summer my wife I disregarded this advice while spending the day in Montreal. After several hours of walking, we ended up getting very hungry and still couldn’t find a reasonable place to eat. Everything was either fried foods, pizza, or closed on Sunday. Finally we found a cafe and gratefully sat down. Two shitty salads and $30 plus tip later, I reminded myself to follow my own rule. Sustenance comes from your backpack. Restaurants are for carefully planned experiences with good friends.

A very similar rule exists for Coffee.

7. You put the Good Shit on Automatic

When visiting family members recently, I was intrigued by the ubiquitous piles of opened telephone and utility bills. They explained that they still paid bills by mailing checks. This is crazy: your utility bills and credit cards need set to automatically pay themselves, just like your 401(k) deductions and other investment programs. Why waste time and risk late payments? There is no benefit to doing these things manually – free your brain and your cashflow for the task of actually getting rich.

Update: In the comments, some people shared scary stories of being overcharged for things like AT&T phone bills. To protect against this, I always do the automatic payments through a credit card (preferably a high-reward credit card to get some cash back). This gives you a 1-month buffer to review charges, plus you can simply block payment to any vendor that comes up with a charge you disagree with. The credit card companies are pleasantly ruthless on your behalf when you do this – it is up to the vendor to prove you owe them that money, rather than vice versa.

8. You Stock Up When Things are On Sale

In Canada, cheese is very expensive. 200-300% of what we pay in the US. But everyone still eats it. This summer, the country’s largest grocery chain had a sale on cheese, where it went down to US-like prices. This has never happened before.

“Wow, look at that”, my brother marveled, as he threw one pack into his shopping cart. “Good deal!”

What is missing in this picture?

Cheese lasts at least 3 months if you keep it closed in the fridge. His family uses about 1 pound per week. So the correct amount to put into the cart is twelve pounds of cheese, not one pound.

You must apply this philosophy in all areas of life, whenever presented with savings on an item you already use. It minimizes both the time and cost of shopping.

These are the obvious tips that have scribbled themselves into my notebook during our travels of the past year. None is worthy of an article by itself, but I hope that together they will instill some of the background fabric of efficient living that is essential for stitching together a happy and efficient life.

Once you get that happy and efficient life deal going, the fabled 50-75% savings rate that scares so many people away from this blog becomes automatic rather than torturous. And that is when the real fun begins.

What are your things that should be obvious? Lifestyle tips that are powerful, self-explanatory, and yet overlooked by most of the population?

  • Geoff September 27, 2013, 7:27 am

    I agree with most of the stuff on this list.. but you should have bought the flask IF you didn’t buy anything else to remember your trip from Ecuador with. I mean, it’s a flask! It’s not a time share. Similarly, I paid $80 for a picture with me and my son with Patrick Stewart, and it was totally worth it! He’ll only be 6 for so long and Patrick Stewart will only be around for so long. I’d have been #$#$ed at myself for dumping $80 on my mortgage when I could have a photo of the two of us. Not everyone will feel that way I admit.

  • Tania September 27, 2013, 12:23 pm


    Just wanted to comment on buying cheese in bulk. Seeing as cheese in South Africa is just as expensive, when I see specials on cheese I buy in bulk and but them in the freezer. Take one out few hour before I need it, put it in the fridge.
    I do the same with milk, butter and bread. It really works for us.

  • melissa September 28, 2013, 8:51 am

    As far as disagreeing with the amount of money that you owe a company, if you can’t prove that you don’t owe the money they will just send it to collections anyway. It is easier to have automatic payments. If they made a real mistake they will fix it. If not, you are still stuck paying them if you don’t want your credit ruined

  • Tahnya Kristina September 28, 2013, 10:33 am

    Great post and all great tips. As a financial planner when clients come and see me with money from a divorce settlement or an inheritance they always want to spend their money and justify it by saying “It wasn’t my money anyway”.

    I know this can be tempting because if you don’t have money and get a windfall now you can afford all of the things you want. But it’s a much better idea to invest the money and keep it in case of an emergency.

  • LaVoltige September 29, 2013, 3:10 pm

    “You don’t buy shit you don’t need”. I agree, but let’s think about it for a minute. If everyone lived by these words starting tomorrow, our economy would collapse. Mustachian way of life would be endangered (anyone willing to bet what would be the return on those wonderful Vanguard S&P 500 index funds)? Most companies would have to close and jobs would disappear. We would need to reinvent what growth, progress and prosperity mean.

    More eloquently put: http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=87970

  • Meghan October 8, 2013, 2:02 pm

    So I have to share what I did. I commented before in favor of a storage unit when you live in a tiny shared space, assuming that it saves you a ton of money and the items are things that you really need to keep. Then I started thinking about it. I just unloaded the unit and it’s cancelled at the end of the month. My lease here is until April and everything I decided to keep is stacked beside my bed. My 11×10 room is truly pretty small now, but I will save $600! I am selling the 21 plastic storage bins that has built up over the years that I used to move here with instead of boxes and will just order boxes when it’s time to relocate. I’m about to go find some white sheets to cover up the pile with but it will do. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Annie October 24, 2013, 2:22 pm

    Love these thoughts, MMM. I posted a link to the article on a Real Estate forum I hang around on, and not a single person commented. Instead the forum continues to grow with posts from people who can’t afford a home or whose landlord is an ass.

  • Sebastian October 26, 2013, 6:23 pm

    I agree that 3 and 4 are a big problem today. I see so many kids be spoiled by their parents. Once they graduate from college, they face serious troubles. They’re used to a fancy life but they can’t really afford it.

  • ms October 28, 2013, 9:53 am

    Obvious advice my husband pointed out years ago – very few people actually NEED rice to be ready in 3 minutes. Why is this a selling point? ‘Regular rice’ comes in bulk for far less per pound, is rice – not ‘rice plus’, tastes better, and even the cooking-challenged can throw a cup of rice in a saucepan with 2 1/2 cups of water and let it do its thing, with an occasional stir for encouragement. It actually gives you time to set the table and finish off whatever you’re serving to go WITH your ‘regular rice’.

  • Ian Turner November 16, 2013, 1:00 pm


    Thanks for this article. I enjoyed it. And I want to share it with people in my life who I think could make good use of it, such as the elevator operator in my office building who is always alternating between complaining about how he needs more money and announcing how he just bought a new TV/grill/vacation/etc. But I didn’t share this article with him, because I thought he’d read the title, feel insulted, and stop reading there.

    You might want to consider your motivations in writing an article like this. Is it to enlighten others? Or is it for some other reason?

    If your goal is to get more people to adopt the behavior you propose in the article, then I think you should seriously consider the use of language like “obvious”. Maybe it should be obvious, but judging by the behavior of others, it does not seem to be self-evident to most people. And people do not respond well to lectures about their failure to grasp the obvious.

    Instead, you might want to use words like “introductory” or “fundamental”, which do not carry with them an implicit insult to readers who do find the material novel.

  • Megan February 14, 2014, 9:35 am

    I set up my auto bill pay to go ahead and pay all bills that are less than $X by the due date. I get emails telling me the bill arrived, that the payment is scheduled, and I get text message alerts when money is pulled out of my accounts over another pre-determined amount. All of this allows me to monitor my money flow without actually having to do anything unless something very unusual happens.

    I love the peace of mind this all gives me. Once, years ago, I was late on a credit card payment because I was out of the country on vacation Never again!

  • Imsharper February 18, 2014, 9:56 am

    I think sometimes people do need to be hit over the head with THIS IS OBVIOUSLY the way to save money … prodding is good for selling people things … this is their LIFE and some people’s finances are on fire and they have no idea… so a kick in the a$$ is sometimes required… It is one of the reasons I kept reading MMM when I found this site in January of this year … AND one of the reasons I am paying down so much of my debt so fast!

    Mr. MM I like your blog style and I love the presentation … “car clowns” and “face punching” included !!!

    I am still learning but am well on my well to getting organized enough to get to FI eventually :)

    I am going to cut n paste this post into my FB and with a link back to this blog so hopefully some more of my family friends will be able to benefit from “badassity” :)

  • Caleb February 27, 2014, 6:01 am

    This reminds me of the old SNL skit, “Dont buy stuff you can’t afford!”
    Found this link

  • Bhushan April 11, 2014, 6:25 am

    Hi MMM This is Bhushan from India. I have been following your blog since many days but commenting for the first time. I really like the way you state the facts in a very simple way.

    Here in India many people travel to work by cars even though we can travel by buses provided by the employer. So i just avoid all the hassles and travel by the Company Bus. Saving on fuel and all troubles. Also paid off all loans except the home loan (mortgage) but trtying to pay off that too.

    My current savings rate is 30% and trying to bring it to 50%

    Thanks a lot for all the inspiring articles. I am trying to be more amd more Mustachian with each passing day

  • Christy May 3, 2014, 8:36 pm

    My elderly neighbor lives month-to-month on a small social security check and a small amount of money she earns from pet sitting. She recently spent three weeks living at our landlord’s residence pet-sitting. When he returned he told her not to pay her rent for the next month – swapping her pet sitting for rent. When my neighbor shared this with me, I said, “Oh that is wonderful. The rent money you had set aside can be put into your savings account.” My neighbor then told me that she needed to use her rent money to pay off her credit card – she had taken money off of it while at the casino. She wanted me to know that she did not go to the casino regularly, it had been at least three years………..sigh…….

  • H May 28, 2014, 2:27 pm

    The link to a New Yorker article has little to do directly with this post and is directly related to all of your posts.
    Enjoy… it’s free!


  • Sam July 5, 2014, 4:24 pm

    I know I’m late to the punch here, but we do have a mechanism in the UK where you can play a lottery and be Mustachian at the same time. It is called buying premium bonds. PBs are government bonds (so rock solid), each bond is numbered and costs £1. PB’s dont pay interest as such, but your PB numbers are entered into a monthly draw. The top prize is £1miiion which would make me instantly set for life – I’m not greedy, £1million is just fine. There are two top prizes every month and a few million lesser prizes such as £100K, £50K and so on down to £25. I use it to save for Christmas although the max holdings is £30K. A direct debit (autopayment) of £100 goes over every month to the PBs. Not all gambling is silly.

  • Afraser August 18, 2014, 11:27 am

    There are some exceptions to “not paying to store shit”…
    After I graduated from university in Halifax, I got a job in Ottawa, but I had a delayed start date because I wanted to travel a bit and have time to settle into my new-to-me home town. So I rented a small storage locker for 2 months while I travelling and apartment hunting. Having that flexibility to delay my move-in date meant I could shop-around a bit more to find a nicer and cheaper apartment. Yes, renting a storage locker cost money, but buying all new stuff would have cost more.
    Let me tell you, having moved back and forth between 4 different provinces over 4 years, my collection of ‘stuff’ has been seriously edited, and replacement costs do add up. People who have been living in their current situation often take for granted how much it took to get their household equipped with the basics.

  • Marion September 19, 2014, 3:42 am

    I’m a new Reader here (via Forbes) living in Australia it’s an eye-opener to read these kinds of blogs. I’ve put most of these advice into practise, as I was raised to de-clutter, organise, save, pay cash, bargain etc. Our main issue is that my Partner is a procrastinator. Fair enough he doesn’t like spending money, but we have money and his procrastination has lead us to many late payments, late fees, missing out on savings deals, paying for Storage Unit etc. I am now the ‘Financial Officer’ not something I enjoy (yet) but necessary for our family’s financial security. Do you have any advice for people who Procrastinate?

  • Bridget October 9, 2014, 9:12 am

    “Look at me, I am renting this huge venue and paying an army of servants to prepare food for me!“, I marvel every time I do it.

    …. and you’ve just scripted the personal narrative that will now run through my head every time I dine out. But I will laugh each time, so thanks for that.

  • Sarge October 9, 2014, 7:21 pm

    Another great post that I couldn’t agree more with. #4 really resonated with me. My wife and I made the wonderful trek to Hawaii last year and couldn’t believe how many people wanted to spend time buying things in souvenir shops instead of ACTUALLY ENJOYING PARADISE!!!! Gorgeous Free beaches in the middle of the pacific ocean were all around us, literally everywhere. The same beaches you see on desktops in cubicles, and yet people needed T-shirts and magnets to ‘commemorate’ their flight out there.

    Not only that but I have a pair of friends who ‘go shopping’ once a week after Sunday brunch. It always amazes me that people are willing to waste away not only their money, but their TIME, just browsing and buying stuff they don’t need. Financial Knowledge = Freedom and it all starts with recognizing what small decisions can add up to a better life.

    Good on ‘ya MMM.

  • Old-Numbah-7 December 15, 2014, 10:52 am

    One the rare occasion that I’ve been in Montreal, after walking for several hours, I always find it OK to indulge and go to Schwartz’s Deli for a smoked meat sandwich.

  • Chris February 24, 2015, 11:29 am

    I’m curious about the stock-up philosophy on items that don’t have a shelf-life. If the dish soap I like goes on sale for half of what I usually pay, how much should I be buying? Any thoughts on the line between savings-focused stocking up of essentials vs hoarding for the end of the world?

  • Anthony February 26, 2015, 10:04 am

    While I agree with the stance on avoiding games that are mathematically designed for you to lose money, I’m curious what you stance is on playing poker cash games against other people, rather than against a house advantaged game like roulette.

    Also, in regards to paying down your highest interest cards first. How do you feel about a person paying off another bill that may not have as high an interest rate, but helps to psychologically make the person paying it off feel like they are making progress against their debts (and removes one payment each month they have to worry about, allowing them to redirect that payment to another debt, etc)

  • Michael April 21, 2015, 10:12 am

    Amen to stock piling from sales!
    Every year in Canada NoFrills (discount grocer) has a sale on toilet paper, $7.77 for a 36 pack of the good stuff.
    Last year I bought 2 packs (all I could carry) and saved them till I moved out of my psycho ex-roomate’s house and into my downtown bachelor (no more nice weather transit commutes! walk walk walk) and still have some rolls left after 10 months in my new place!
    This year I bought 4 packs at the sale and used $30 of my rewards points to pay for them, I ended up paying a little more than $6 in cash for what should be nearly 2 YEARS of toilet paper!!!
    The bottom of linen closet is all TP and I don’t care, I brag about it!
    Always stock up on cheap non-perishables.

  • Laitino July 5, 2015, 8:30 pm

    Great list to live by!
    As a newbie on the MMM site, I do recognize a lot of my own life.
    Now 36, had a baby with my SO 5 months ago and really hate the amount we have spend lately.
    This while I have been living by most rules for the last few years.

    I felt lightened when we sold out TV and minimized our belongings. I also have never owned a car in my life, I use public transport or my bike. Or I rent a car.
    Next step is to make a new financial plan with more savings and a vast amount of pocketmoney for my SO and me.

    Best rule I live by is not to buy stuff you don’t need and sell what you don’t use.

  • Ryan Amato August 12, 2015, 10:32 am

    My only disagreement here would come if you classify poker as strictly gambling. While the skill-to-luck ratio can be debated (50/50, 60/40, 70/30), long term results of some of the better players are hard to deny. I executed a disciplined approach during the glory years of online poker in the US and turned a few hundred bucks into a few thousand over the course of 2-3 years. While never hitting a big score, I consistently made small wins and allowed myself to take a big shot once a month.

    For some, it’s a way to make a living. But for the undisciplined, it can become a trap. Honesty about your results is key and constant learning/research.

  • Bee December 5, 2015, 1:55 pm

    I feel the same about storage units, who in their right mind would pay for someone just to hold their excess ‘stuff’? I am constantly editing my ‘stuff’ pile at home and selling it on Ebay. Clutter in the house almost makes me feel ill and I love that get extra money on Ebay just by selling some clothes and kitchen items that I no longer need.

  • Squeeky Wheel December 10, 2015, 5:14 am

    #6 – restaurants – depends on context. In the US, good produce is cheap and labor is expensive. Here is south east asia, good produce is expensive and labor is cheap. So, pasta dinner with olive oil, basal, etc for 2 costs ~10US per person in ingredients. Rice, chicken, veggies at the food centre costs 2.90US, the cooking and cleaning are done for me. I’d have to buy insane quantities to have any hope of matching their economies of scale.

    Be pound wise and penny foolish. I *love* my daily tea. It’s about $1 per day and I like it. So I never try to skimp on tea, sodas, fruit. For me, anything under $5 can be foolishly bought, consumed and tossed. When buying plane tickets I look around at all available options and can often find $200-300 savings by adding an extra hour or two layover – pays for a year of penny foolishness in a few hours.

  • DA February 28, 2016, 1:10 pm

    I thought I was frugal all my life. Me and my husband eat out only to treat ourselves. I started on the investment and financial freedom ideas in last November. Paid a chunk of mortgage last year and less than 95,000 left on the condo. Then bad things happened and hubby’s company declared bankruptcy. Now this is the testing time for us. Hubby is improving his skills and I am on a mission to make each dollar stretched to its limit.

  • Rachel May 22, 2016, 7:09 am

    During a recent international move all our household goods were pretty much damaged beyond repair. It took 6 months of itemizing each and every item lost or the replacement value of each item to finally get a cheque from the different claims and insurances. While waiting for they payments, we only bought things we considered ‘absolutely necessary’ for our home, such as beds, dining table, chairs, basic kitchen equipment, mostly from IKEA. We had a credit balance for the first time in our marriage lives together until we received the full claims amount.

    In the meantime we realized how MUCH stuff we had prior. Even with just sparse items in the house now, it feels way too full and way too cramped.

    Having lost almost everything we had and having to start from scratch in buying for our household really helped us realize how much extra ‘crap’ we had.

    • Rachel May 22, 2016, 7:11 am

      I should have elaborated – the boat carrying the shipment caught on fire. The smoke and soot damage from the burning vehicles onboard seeped into our containers. We managed to salvage and repair a few wooden antique pieces and our fireproof safe held documents we really needed, but everything else had to go.

  • Stacking Dollars July 20, 2016, 7:31 am

    It’s funny when I look at myself now versus way back when, I’m a different person today.

    What’s even funnier is that when I look at my friends and family members and see my old self. I see them get overly excited for their tax return (H&R Block commercials don’t help with that btw) only to see them spend it on frivolous nonsense, yet parts of their home needs repair and/or up to their ears in credit card debt (with small credit limit cards mind you).

    I hope one day they’ll see the light. I know that trying to talk to them doesn’t work.

    Great post.

  • Moof July 24, 2016, 5:09 pm

    True story, my Uncle is a professional gambler, and has been most of his adult life.

    Why bring this up? He is the exception that proves the rule. He is wicked smart, but a high school drop out due to terrible tyrannical fathering. He spends way too many hours in various casinos working the odds in proper mathematical detail. Often he has to plunk in $10-30k into a game to net out a winner. He has to factor in the 1-2% from reward cards to turn his vast expenditure into a net payout. On a good stretch he nets out about $20 an hour.

    Over time casinos have figured out how to exclude folks like him from winning. He has to look like he is having fun to not get kicked out or attract attention, which can be hard to when you are robotically plunking coins into machines for years on end.

    While he makes an honest living (barely so these days) he stands and the exception that proves your rule. He was an important example of the realities of Vegas in my youth. To date I have gambled $2 total at casinos for the pure novelty of it, and bought ZERO lottery tickets. Lotteries are a state sponsored blight that everyone should be encouraged to avoid. The only outcome worse than never winning is the outcome of countless winners to almost entirely end up worse off for it.

  • Oliver Chapman August 14, 2017, 11:28 am

    Great article, i’m okay at doing most of the above, but pretty bad at buying things in bulk when they are on offer, silly really as that adds up. Something I will change. For me its house and car, people will happily drive around over priced car and house bigger than they need just because the bank will lend them the money.

    I always think just because you can, should you. I brought small and put down the biggest deposit I could, now my monthly payments are small and I don’t need to stress about it. Buying a new car is the other, it loses money so fast, why do it.

  • HFBandit October 30, 2017, 10:59 pm

    Never subscribe to anything ever… is that a good one? There are so many subscription things now and it’s like “how much do I need this thing, really?”

  • Mallorey November 26, 2017, 9:55 pm

    I am one-hundred percent guilty of needing to work on not spending “exceedingly” when thing are financially good. Just because I have all this months expenses taken care of, I feel this false sense of security. I then in return have the tendency of taking this false since of security an buying something that is not necessary; and then two months later I have an unexpected expense that I really wish I would have saved that one or two hundred dollars for at the time. I can completely relate to the lessons in this article. Especially the “windfall” portion of the article. I have decided that the best option for me is that when I have these “lucky breaks” as mentioned in the article, I need to put them in a separate account that I don’t have the ability to access via swiping my debit card. So that one day when an unexpected must take care of expense presents itself I have the ability to take care of it without sweating it out so much. This I hope will help train my will power of spending when I think I have “Extra” money.

  • JoeHx December 1, 2017, 12:24 pm

    Anything I do that might event remotely be considered gambling – most notably cryptocurrency, but this would also be considered items bought from thrift stores to flip – I assume that money is lost, and the purchase was for fun. Therefore, even though I may make the money back, I make sure I can still get by without that chunk of cash.

    And if I ever rent a storage unit to store crap… please slap me.

  • Rocky January 30, 2018, 2:47 pm

    Number 3 is huge! The average person severely misunderstand what it means to be able to afford something. Most people believe if I can pay it off SOMEDAY, I can afford it. Or because other people they know have a certain type of debt. This is why people treat a $10k business loan worse than a $30k car loan even though one is more likely to return value than lose it.

  • AnnInCleveland November 1, 2018, 11:25 am

    One obvious one is “don’t buy holiday-specific sh*t.” I am astounded that people have special dishes, decorations, tablecloths, towels, lawn ornaments and so on and so on, for Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter…Why on Earth would you spend money on something you haul out for a short time (one day in some cases) once a year? And then you have to store it the rest of the year! Ack!

    All you need for a gorgeous holiday table is a set of plain dishes in one color that can be accessorized with seasonal stuff from your yard or your kitchen. Think plain white dishes and silver silverware with holly berries from your yard for Christmas, dyed eggs for Easter (which will be eaten), gourds/fruit for Thanksgiving (again, to be eaten), and so forth…and oh, by the way, get your dishes at the thrift shop (I scored 10 white china dinner plates for $2.14).

  • veganomie November 26, 2018, 8:44 am

    Wealth advice that should be obvious: don’t buy cheese! I had no idea cheese was so expensive in Canada, even more reason not to buy it. There is nothing in cheese that you can’t get from a healthier source. Calcium? Get it from dark leafy greens that are more readily absorbed by the body. No one needs all that saturated fat and cholesterol.


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