Haters Gonna Hate (but not Mate)

sweeperIf you hadn’t noticed, the big news around here last week was that this blog was featured in the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.

I was pleased to see that a good number of new readers arrived at this site, and they are now digging through the archives and hopefully learning some new things. But I also received some sympathetic emails from friends, saying things like,

“Sorry about all the harsh comments on that interview. Keep your chin up. Haters gonna hate!”

They were talking about the a few dozen critical comments that had been shat into that stream of hundreds on the WSJ feature. And while I usually avoid the comments section on any major media website (a key part of a Low Information Diet), my willpower failed and I had to go dig in to see if any extra smelly ones could be harvested from the bowl and featured here.

What a load of crap. This person saved 600k in between finishing college and his 30th bday? Oh and paid off his mortgage? Piece of cake. Mind numbingly idiotic article.”

But the interesting part is not what complete strangers say about Mr. Money Mustache. It is that dozens of critical comments appear on almost every major media article, whether it’s about Barack or Britney, solar panels or oil fields. People just like to complain about everything.

You might already know how I feel about complaints. They are a complete waste of time, because the complainer is renewing his mental focus a swath of irrelevant problems, even while he wastes the time of the unfortunate listener who is stuck hearing the complaints.

We could all take a great leap forward in life by simply instituting an “No Fucking Complaints about ANYTHING – EVER” rule, rephrasing them as honest questions and plans of action to fix the underlying problems instead.

So why do people keep complaining? I think I might have stumbled across the beginnings of an answer this year, and the results can be useful to complainers and non-complainers alike.

In books like Predictably Irrational, we learn about the strange nature of human psychology, and how many of the survival traits that served us well throughout most of our evolution now sabotage our attempts to live a good life in a world that is mostly safe and prosperous. The results are wide-reaching: politicians use cheap emotional tricks like religion and wedge issues to influence voters. People spend their lifetimes in debt slavery just to buy off-road trucks for personal use. Millions of lives are lost early to obesity and hypertension.

I read in one of these books that the “Hater” instinct is just another one of our predictably irrational strategies, originally based on mating success.

In our tribal ancestry, social status was an important thing. If you were the Alpha male, you had your pick of the women and a very good chance of successful reproduction. High-ranking women had access to the best genes and would end up with more robust offspring.

Social cohesion was essential to ensure the group’s success, and becoming a social outcast could be fatal, because going it alone was not a wise strategy in ancient times. This may have created our strong fears of rejection and even public speaking.

But there was room for more than one role in the tribe. The Alpha male got to sit at the top. The Followers and Yes-Men gained social acceptance by respecting the boss and following the rules (also displayed in warlords and their armies).  And the Haters built themselves up by verbally chopping down the Alpha behind his back. “Grok not so tough! Look at his flawed management and limited skills. I could easily defeat him.”

By demonstrating the courage to criticize the leader, the Haters lifted themselves from the bottom of the hierarchy, and hopefully gained the respect of at least one reproductive partner.

All this silliness may have made sense when life, death, and sex were at stake. But to see it applied in modern times to a financial blogger who attempts to share the benefits of a lower-consumption lifestyle with the rest of the world can be pretty funny.

Guys: Mr. Money Mustache is not stealing your women. He’s not taking over the tribe, withholding food, or compromising your reproductive success in any other way. He’s just a random guy sitting there typing some shit into the computer. He has only one woman, one kid, and he doesn’t even consume all that much of our shared resources. That leaves more for you. There is no threat here. Only an opportunity to raise your own status if you go out and do some more reading on the matter.

And this advice applies to haters and complainers in every niche. If you find yourself complaining about a situation, boss, politician, celebrity, or any other random person in the news, you can catch yourself early and avoid the hater trap.

You can acknowledge that your feelings are valid, because that strategy did work in prehistoric times. But you need to repackage that energy into something that works for you today, where opportunities are not controlled by “them”, they are controlled by you.

You’ll know you have made it when you get your own first batch of dedicated haters.

Further Reading on Mental Jiu Jitsu:

The Practical Benefits of Outrageous Optimism

  • Transmatic1 January 20, 2014, 8:31 am

    Love the analogies used here. Spot on yet again MMM. And I couldn’t agree more about the comments section of any major media news story. I avoid those like the plague.

    • Kate January 21, 2014, 5:56 am

      Wow! You’re not joking about the haters… Miss Growing Green & others have got it… when you challenge peoples’ assumptions – about what is a good life, and what it takes to get it… and they (we) realize that we’ve wasted a good part of our lives on bullshit… it sucks just a little bit. Lots of us use that fuel our own Mustachian ways… even more sit and bitch about how it’s impossible/anti-American/etc, before heading into the office to be a drone for the next 35 years…

      • EarlyretirementSG January 21, 2014, 8:36 pm

        I think MMM commented previously on a runner running a mile and wanted to have proper hydration and took 30 mins for the run and when talking to someone who just ran it in 10 mins.

        The 30 min runner complained about hydration and that it’s not healthy or it can’t be done, etc etc. Problem is, he hasn’t even tried improving his running to the point of 10 mins and if he did that, he won’t be bothering about all this current comments.

        Cos like what MMM said previously, humans just look at those slightly better than them and feel it’s a challenge to improve. But if someone is so much better than them, they just give up and think it’s not possible and I think that’s where the hating comes in.Cos once you’re so badass, you become out of their league.So all they can do is just throw the rotten comments.

    • Melili January 11, 2016, 2:14 am

      What a bunch of illiterate jerks to comment negatively about MMM!! They didn’t even bother to read the blog and find out how life could be fine tuned. It is not about lack, it’s about making conscious aware choices in life. I told one of them that given he has it all figured out, too bad he’ll be working long after he doesn’t want to any more…

  • Sandy January 20, 2014, 8:31 am

    I embrace the hate! My FINCON Ignite spark was about how to deal with haters. The people who support you are just the quiet majority.

    • Mrs PoP January 20, 2014, 10:39 am

      Sandy, Your 5 min talk was great! Is it posted anywhere online?

      • Free Money Minute January 20, 2014, 12:57 pm

        I would be interested in listening as well.

      • Sandy January 20, 2014, 7:41 pm

        It’s on Youtube! Click on my name here to see it.

    • Michelle January 20, 2014, 10:42 am

      I agree! If you have haters, then it means you’ve made it :)

      • Will Murphey January 20, 2014, 11:39 am

        I take the hate as many being envious of MMM’s accomplishments. Seeing a man and his family truly living and being happy while doing it at a fraction of the cost of others; reinforces failures in their life and puts doubt in their heads about the life choices they have made. I bet we could convert a few if the read the blog through and through.

        • SusieQ January 21, 2014, 4:37 pm

          EXACTLY! They aren’t willing to do the work OR make the sacrifices to get their financial house in order, so they find MMM and his lifestyle extremely annoying!

        • Brian January 23, 2014, 2:59 pm


          We sold our only car today. Huge waste of money. Totally thrilled.

          In solidarity.

  • Kraig January 20, 2014, 8:37 am


    Nice work getting in the Wall Street Journal. Not surprised to hear about all the insane comments. That kind of nastiness would likely have driven many of us to stop sharing our views. Happy to see it’s only making you stronger at delivering your message.

    Keep up the good work and take care my friend.

  • Stephen January 20, 2014, 8:38 am

    Good stuff and great timing. We were just discussing all the haters and trying to understand exactly what was gained from such action.

    I think another principle that might also be relevant is simple the law of averages and numbers. There are probably 1/2 a percent of people out there who hate life and all others. And in that probability there are another 5% of those who are actually vocal about it. And simply by the number of people exposed to this blog, or any other major publication you are going to indeed get several incoherent, uninformed, and vocal people.

    The low information diet works well in dealing with haters (I’m sure you will get plenty of idiotic commented that will needed to be modded). Keep writing great stuff that provokes thought, creates change in people, and angers the vocal minority of haters!

    • Miss Growing Green January 20, 2014, 8:59 am

      Interesting point about the law of averages. I’d like to offer even another perspective that could be part of the underlying cause for “haters”.

      Hate isn’t a “real” emotion. It’s a by-product of another emotion, usually “fear”, that most people aren’t well-equipped to deal with.

      When close-minded people see something different, it scares them. It drives them to self-reflect, and that can be very scary for some people. (i.e. Mr. MM did ALL THAT by the time he was 30?! Wow. I’m twice his age and haven’t accomplished half that. I am a failure.) You can see how this self-destructive line of thinking would want to be avoided.

      Rather than self-reflect and admit possible short-comings, these people lash out with denial, or any other method (criticism, “hate”, etc.) that can cut you down a notch, so that you aren’t so better/different from them after all.

      I try to remember when I get angry criticisms from people I care about (certain family members) that they are really just fear-based worries that they aren’t able to express properly. But when it’s some random on the internet, I would try to just ignore it and move on, which you seem to do a pretty good job of on your own blog :)

      I think Yoda said it best of all:
      “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”

      • Mike January 20, 2014, 10:34 am

        It takes courage to look inward and contemplate how I’m living my life.

        Much easier to lash out, make an uninformed comment, continue with my ways.

        That’s why forums like the Bogleheads, Early Retirement and MMM I develop kinship though I’ve never met any in person.

      • Liz T January 20, 2014, 3:52 pm

        I think Miss Growing Green nailed it. Haters are screaming “If you say something that threatens to make me feel badly about myself or my choices, I must lash out at you to protect/defend myself.” Not anything to take seriously because it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with their own fears/inadequacies.

      • Anonymous January 20, 2014, 6:58 pm

        You’re spot-on, and there’s actually a great deal of research backing up this point. It’s not quite fear, though that likely applies as well; it’s post-hoc rationalization. Once a person makes a decision or commits to a path, that person starts accumulating sunk costs, which they can’t get back if they change their mind. Rationally, that shouldn’t affect a future decisions to abandon that decision or path and change their mind; however, people succumb to the sunk cost fallacy, and don’t want to believe they made a mistake. Thus, they’ll fight vehemently against anything suggesting they might have made a mistake, or that there was a better path, because the alternative, that they might have been wrong, is simply unthinkable. (Literally, they can’t bring themselves to think it.)

        And thus we have one significant subset of haters: people who aren’t necessarily bad or stupid, just irrationally attached to a belief that the thing they’re hating on would undermine.

        It’s one of the many serious bugs in human decision-making, and it takes a conscious effort to counteract.

        • Mr. Money Mustache January 20, 2014, 7:18 pm

          Very well-said, Anonymous and it is yet another great lesson: train yourself to identify and accept your mistakes sooner, so you can take the small dose of pain up-front and then move on in a better direction.

          I learned to do that in construction, and it has been a huge level-up: If you realize you did something wrong, don’t try to patch in one hack after another to compensate for it. Simply tear out the incorrect work and rebuild it from scratch (this always goes much faster than you think it will), then you have a great basis to continue from. And you learn better from the mistake as well.

          • Claudia Mills January 22, 2014, 9:20 am

            I do love you so much, Mr. Money Mustache.
            One of my knitter friends says that’s the whole difference right there between a good knitter and a bad knitter: the bad knitters are willing to rip out their mistakes.

            • Ann January 22, 2014, 10:59 am

              Wouldn’t it be that the GOOD knitters are willing to rip out their mistakes?

            • Hilda Corners September 22, 2017, 8:43 pm

              As a knitter myself … the best knitters still make mistakes, but we analyze them, figure out why they happened and how to correct with a minimum of ripping, or maybe turn them into a design element.

              The “merely good” knitters rip and re-knit.

              The bad knitters swear at the knitting, rip a whole bunch, get their yarn in a hopeless tangle, then blame their knitting teachers.

          • Kevin Graham January 23, 2014, 7:38 pm

            The problem is totally related to fear. The other problem is a lack of personal responsibility and external validation.

            People who take personal responsibility learn from their mistakes and don’t blame anyone or anything.

            External validation is when you look to others to meet your esteem and belonging needs, particularly self-esteem. They live their life as a slave to the opinions of others. The success of Facebook is living proof of this. MMM takes responsibility for not only his financial independence but also his emotional independence.

            I would recommend a number of books related to these human tendencies including Six Pillars of Self Esteem and Born to be Worthless. One of the pillars of self esteem is personal responsibility. The born to be worthless book explains how our need for external validation (co-dependency) is normal, developed in childhood to survive and that many adults never mature to emotional independence. You may not be hooked on drugs but you may be hooked what others people think about you.

            Great blog!

          • Ed from Pueblo January 23, 2014, 9:13 pm

            What I have noticed is there appears to be two tracks people get on and they make the choice early in life. One is the victim mentality of “It just can’t be done, life is too hard, bad things happen to me” and the other is the pro-active mentality of “I’m going to make this happen, no one can stop me, life is what I will make of it.” Some have the ability to learn and change tracks, but sadly many stay on the same dead-end road. I’m stopped mid-sentence everyday with “it can’t be done” when I’m explaining about all the people who are making the debt free and early retirement lifestyle a reality. You shouldn’t have to defend your truth, but social media unfortunately allows any a-hole to post a factless opinion and they frequently do.

            • Anonymous January 31, 2014, 1:58 am

              There’s another common trait associated with those different mentalities, as well: there are the folks who say “well, I’ve done *my* job”, “there’s nothing I can do about the other parts of the problem”, “it’s too big to solve the whole thing”, and so on; and then there are the folks who look at the whole problem and go after every single part of it until the problem goes away, no matter whose job it is. I’ve consistently found that the people willing to do the latter are those that keep being given more and more interesting problems, responsibilities, and overall fun.

        • ael January 21, 2014, 2:15 am

          Great observation. Barbara Tuchman covered this ground at the level of national policy in The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam.

        • Ms. Must-Stash January 21, 2014, 4:51 am

          There’s a great proverb that I reflect on regularly: “no matter how far you have gone down a wrong road – turn back.”

          • lurker January 23, 2014, 5:02 pm

            turn LEFT!

        • Vilx- January 24, 2014, 12:15 pm

          To add to this: there’s also the shame of admitting you’re wrong. This has been nicely explained by David Cain in his blog, Raptitude: http://www.raptitude.com/2012/05/its-not-who-you-are-its-what-you-do/

          Is he still with you, MMM? Ask him about this, he’ll tell you more.

          In a nutshell, people tend to associate their successes and mistakes with their personas. If I did good, that must mean I’m a good guy. If I made a mistake, that must mean I’m a lousy loser. Naturally, this couldn’t be further from the truth, but that’s how people feel.

      • Annamal January 20, 2014, 9:59 pm

        This same instinctive fear based response also kicks in when a person talks about something tragic or unfortunate in their own lives, there’s a decent chance their conversation partner will immediately come up with things that the person did wrong in order to have this terrible thing happen to them.

        This is fine if you’re trying to get someone to avoid making more financial mistakes but not helpful when someone has announced that they have cancer.

        I think it comes from the same instinct, if you can find something that someone else did wrong then that terrible thing will never happen to you.

      • Brooklyn Money January 21, 2014, 6:01 pm

        I think this comment is really perceptive. I felt sad when I read the comments because these readers were not able to put aside their fear to listen and learn from MMM which could have really helped them change their lives for the better.

    • theFIREstarter January 20, 2014, 12:08 pm

      Arggghhh yes I should have taken the low info diet approach to that article and avoided the comments! Apart from that it was obviously great though.

      Kudos to the dedicated few that seem to be going through and addressing each hater comment with some logical replies, but I think it’s best to just let them alone.

  • Mark Ferguson January 20, 2014, 8:41 am

    Congrats in the article beig featured! I stopped looking at comments on major news sites a long time ago. About 1/2 of te comments are people trying to turn every article into a political battle. THe other half seem to hate anyone who has ever accomplished anything. There are a few decent comment but they tend to be drowned out by the crap.

    I stay away from negativity and comments on major articles are 90% negative from what I have seen.

  • Christine January 20, 2014, 8:45 am

    So does it get easier with having a group of haters? Ha! Not a problem I’ve ever had. Sounds like at least initially it would be hard to deal with. But also a sign of success! I need me some haters! ;)

  • Mark January 20, 2014, 8:45 am

    I’m not sold on the “No Fucking Complaints about ANYTHING – EVER” rule.
    Sometimes complaining can be beneficial for the complainee as a way of venting, and when the venter is your significant other, I see this as part of a healthy relationship and so should be supported. Letting them vent about their job stresses, rather than being disinterested and making them bottle it up, works for both parties IMO, not just the venter.

    Incidentally, as a Software Engineer, and a problem solver, I’ve learned the hard way that my other half sometimes just wants to vent about work and doesn’t actually want me to chip in with solutions. :-)

    • Lucas January 20, 2014, 9:49 am

      There is a big difference between complaining and bringing problems to someones attention. Complaining has no end goal other than putting someone/something else down and trying to raise someone/something else up.

      Raising issues that need attention is completely different and very important way of getting important things fixed or accomplished that you might not have seen if someone didn’t raise them.

      • Jamesqf January 20, 2014, 11:21 am

        Part of the problem is that all too often those complaints are not from ‘haters’, they’re from people with legitimate concerns, trying to bring them to someone’s attention in the only way open to them, since the problem creator is too big, or too self-important, to listen.

        Take for example software engineeering. As an independent contractor in a fairly specialized niche, if one of my clients has a problem with something, I’m usually starting on a fix the same day. But if I’m say Google, and I put out a poorly-designed piece of crap? Don’t hold your breath.

        • Emmers January 20, 2014, 5:32 pm

          Yes! This is a very important point. Criticizing complaints is a good thing. Criticizing legitimate concerns is *not.* The trick is being able to recognize the one from the other.

    • Holly January 20, 2014, 2:49 pm

      I think the problem with comments on major news sites is that they are so anonymous. And since they are, people pipe up to say any idiotic thing they can come up with. On a smaller site, people know “you” or at least your user name and it makes it harder to look legit when you are spouting out crap. On bigger sites no one cares.

      • insourcelife January 20, 2014, 8:39 pm

        Same might eventually happen here if this site keeps attracting the attention from the national news media. Haters will start showing up in droves. Is there an automated process to spam the hater posts in WordPress? : ) MMM might have to hire a Hater Editor for the comments section.

    • Hannah January 21, 2014, 8:36 am

      Good point Mark (you have a lucky wife for sure)

      No complaining ever is a probably a rule for a Man’s world (and the internet because nobody is listening on the internet).

      One fundamental difference between men and women is that for women, “Complaining” as men call it or “Verbally Processing” as most women call it is how we are able to get rid of emotional pollution and actually see situations more clearly. One of the best gifts my husband gives to me is to just say “mm-hmm” and nod when I am frustrated so that I feel that my point is valuable.

      Later on, when I’m not so emotionally drained, we talk like logical human beings and make good decisions.

      And just to be clear, I believe that women in general and I in particular are great at making good logical decisions even when pregnant or PMSing, and we’re even better if we feel supported as human beings.

  • Scott January 20, 2014, 8:47 am

    The problem is connectivity. There used to be a crank, hater etc in every town who loved to tell you who really killed the Kennedys or how the moon landing was a hoax. With the exception of strange conferences, these people were largely isolated. Now people can meet each other on the internet and their hate and paranoia fuels each other. We just have to ignore it.

  • Peter G January 20, 2014, 8:48 am

    To quote Dan Baker from his great book “What Happy People Know”: ‘not everybody gets it’.

    Haters, nay-Sayers and skeptics are just a statistical reality. Hard as it may be, get back on the Low Information Diet, MMM and don’t give the haters the benefit of your reaction (or just send them straight to the Complainypants article – a true classic!)

    When the haters distract you into writing more articles about them, they’re stealing part of your life, and they’re robbing the rest of us of your focus on typing some pretty insightful shit into your computer about a lifestyle that many of us are studying, planning for, and otherwise aspiring to.

    Criticism is one of the higher forms of flattery!


  • sara January 20, 2014, 8:49 am

    While I tend to view most evolutionary psychology arguments as having roughly comparable credibility to Rudyard Kiplings “Just So Stories,” I totally agree with your broader point about the futility of complaining at length about one’s problems or about things other people are doing “wrong” that have no bearing on you.

    That said, I do want to mount a defense of what I’d call productive complaining–namely taking a specific, clear complaint to an individual or organization that has the power to do something about it, in an appropriate and persuasive way and with specific requests/action steps for how to resolve the problem. This can often pay off more than most people suspect. For example, when American Airlines left me stranded overnight in DFW airport after three hours on the tarmac, I complained–and got a $500 ticket voucher that I used for my next vacation. People often underestimate the extent to which public institutions–such as schools or local governments–are likely to be responsive to their complaints. Per the previous post about your son, for example, see what happens if you take your concerns to the teachers or school leaders and asking them if they can help you think creatively about how to improve the situation. At the very least, if they are unhelpful or unresponsive that right there tells you something you need to know about them and the school. All sorts of dysfunctional things about state and local government are the way they are because of the complaints of specific interests and busy bodies–and that’s only going to change if other people with better interests and non-busybody instincts also make their voices heard. So: wallowing in your woes or complaining about other people: bad! Complaining productively to make things better: Good!

    • Lewis January 20, 2014, 12:47 pm

      Yes, yes, yes!
      I work for a public transit agency and we get inundated with complaints from misinformed, spoiled or deeply selfish malcontents who constantly bother us with one random personal crusade or another. We rarely hear from the many more people who are happy with their service and would be harmed by the complainers. The problem is that these malcontents also hassle the politicians who don’t know anything but that they have an angry citizen, so they demand us to do the silly thing. If more people took a bit of time to state how well the service is working for them, there would be less chance of obnoxious political changes.
      We do review all comments and are very happy when someone sends in a reasonable request or brings to our attention some problem we had not known or considered and we do our best to address these issues.

    • Emmers January 20, 2014, 5:33 pm

      Yes! +1 for *constructive* criticism and complaining. If you’re just venting, that’s one thing, and needs to be carefully kept in rein. If you’re trying to make the world a better place, then complaints are *very* valuable.

      Going back to software engineering again, if your users *never* complain about your product, that either means they can’t find the bug report submission link (bad!) or they’ve given up hope that you’ll ever fix anything (also bad!).

    • Nathanael September 22, 2015, 10:38 pm

      I think people underestimate the responsiveness of public institutions because large *private* institutions can ben infamously *nonresponsive*. And most people deal with them more often.

  • Joe January 20, 2014, 8:54 am

    Congratulation on your WSJ appearance. I saw that. Most of the comments just didn’t really understand your situation, but yes, I agree haters are gonna hate.
    I get some comments like that on my site and it’s hurtful. I just ignore them and send it to spam.
    I can’t embrace those kind of hate. Those people seems to have problems in their lives and take it out on other people.

    • SusieQ January 21, 2014, 9:16 pm

      Seems the haters just can’t understand our thoughts/ideas on savings, etc. the way we can’t understand their thoughts/ideas on spending every last dime they have.

  • Lizzie January 20, 2014, 8:57 am

    MMM, I hate all whingey moany anything, so consequently I love you! Is it too obvious to suggest maybe not reading unless your mind is open?

  • LennStar January 20, 2014, 9:06 am

    “You’ll know you have made it when you get your own first batch of dedicated haters.”
    Haha, thats so true.

    What was the saying?
    If nobody hates you, you haven’t done it right.

  • David C January 20, 2014, 9:19 am

    I read the article last week and wish you congrats on being featured. Here’s hoping it leads folks yearning to be free your way.

    I know that we shouldn’t encourage haters to reproduce. But, I wonder if there is a market for a dedicated dating site for them? Maybe edisharmony.com? Whinybitchmeet?

    • amyb January 20, 2014, 10:48 am

      Oh, David! That is hilarious! I wish there were a way to measure/chart the ripple effect of this blog. Just since u read it and passed it along to us a couple months ago (if this isn’t Alaska/brother David c, oops…), 12 lives have been changed and we are forever grateful to you and MMM. SO much good is happening thanks to this blog and the desire of its readers to pass it along in an effort to lift the fog for a few more folks! Welcome, Haters…you’ve chosen an excellent blog to criticize and will inevitably find some valuable and applicable content despite the intent of your browsing.

      • David C January 20, 2014, 12:13 pm

        Actually this the Oklahoma David C. LOL

        I wish I had found this blog a long time ago. I wasted too much time on other subpar pesonal finance blogs. I try to pimp Mr. Money Mustache as much as I can to anyone who will listen. The blog has changed my way of thinking and my way of living.

        • barb January 20, 2014, 2:34 pm

          I totally agree. Since finding MMM all other PF blogs are lame in comparison. So yes I stopped reading them.

  • Csaba January 20, 2014, 9:24 am

    You also hit the Hungarian news (maybe for the first time, not sure):

    • Joel January 20, 2014, 11:54 pm

      That’s pretty neat! I just used the google chrome translation for the site but it got most of the story. I especially liked the last paragraph there were it seemed that author understood the concept of living within your means.

      I also liked one of the other top stories that wrote 1/2 of Hungarians are short on sleep too.

  • Mike January 20, 2014, 9:27 am

    I enjoyed this a lot.

  • Pretired Nick January 20, 2014, 9:28 am

    I read an article some time ago that showed right wing organizations were paying people to post comments on news sites. I’m sure that’s a big part of why those comment sections are such sewers and why those commenters are always the first and so widespread.

    • cptacek January 20, 2014, 11:39 am

      Weird. I heard the same about left wing organizations.

      • Mr. Money Mustache January 20, 2014, 6:34 pm

        Haha.. I sure see a lot more RW comments on the mainstream sites. Maybe they hired more people ;-)

        • Pongo January 22, 2014, 9:23 am

          Oops, revealed your bias there! I don’t have a blog but have posted information on various web sites and have been the victim of vitriolic assaults. One thing that concerns me is that these comments might drive off people who had come there seeking helpful information. On a recent post, I had a problem with a mower that was going to be very expensive to fix. I did some research and found that I could replace the whole mower for hundreds of dollars less than just the one part. That unleashed a torrent.

    • Annamal January 20, 2014, 10:23 pm

      I thought it was just Fox news?

      As a left wing non-American(which pretty much makes me a communist in US terms) I should point out that I believe Fox news has caused a great deal of damage to right wing causes over time.

      I know they are technically right wing but for the most part they just seem dedicated to talking points without any kind of consistently. It’s made watching the daily show really fun but it’s a little depressing in general.

  • Jayhawker January 20, 2014, 9:30 am

    “If you have no critics, you’ll likely have no success.”

    – Malcolm X

  • Dragline January 20, 2014, 9:38 am

    The visceral/hateful reactions are often a symptom of cognitive dissonance. Many people have world views about “the way things are” and why their situation is what it is. Often these involve blaming some large outside force, be it the government, their employer, taxes, aliens (illegal or otherwise) or the Trilateral Commission. In their view it is this outside force that makes it impossible for them to achieve their goals and dreams.

    When you show them that its possible to succeed despite the forces they cannot control, it forces them to confront that maybe their biggest problem is just them. That message doesn’t jibe with their worldview, and results in an angry reaction to destroy the inconsistent information you have presented.

    • Kenoryn January 20, 2014, 10:30 am

      +1, that’s what I was going to say. Ben Franklin (way ahead of his time) wrote about cognitive dissonance long before anyone had a name for it. He gave an example where he had a member of the house (I think?) who didn’t like him and always opposed him. To address it he asked this guy for a favour – to borrow a specific rare book that he knew this guy had and he would be unlikely to find elsewhere. The guy lent him the book and Franklin made sure when he returned it that he expressed how grateful he was and how good of him it was to lend him this book. Thereafter they were on much better terms. By Franklin’s estimation, this guy had to reconcile having done something nice for him with the fact that he didn’t like him, and had to edit his attitude to make it match his actions so he could justify what he’d done. Franklin advised that if someone doesn’t like you, you’ll gain their favour more easily by having them do something nice for you than by doing something nice for them.

      Ultimately I think the hating, as others have said, is a form of defensiveness: you’re saying this could have been done by anyone, yet I failed to do it. Well, then I don’t believe I could have done it, so I did nothing wrong.

    • Doug January 20, 2014, 2:39 pm

      That’s consistent with my observations also. If a sensible, mature, motivated and proactive person sees someone else is successful at something they ask themselves: How can I have the same success they do? They’ll observe, and even ask the person how they went about it, and try to do it themselves. Those who don’t have these qualities will keep doing what they’re doing, won’t succeed and will find excuses for why they failed. Examples are: he/she had an unfair advantage, the system is rigged in favour of a small number of people, or it’s the government’s fault that they didn’t succeed.

    • Emmers January 20, 2014, 5:36 pm

      Also, this fits into the “Just World Fallacy” — people think that there are Rules, and if you Follow The Rules, they will magically keep you safe, and therefore people who have had bad things happen to them must not have Followed The Rules.

      In a MMM context, this turns into paranoid bashing of the “pay off mortgage by 30” idea, because it breaks their idea of the Rules (30-year mortgage, wage slavery, whatever floats your boat) and is therefore frightening.

  • Rachel P. January 20, 2014, 9:41 am

    The article in the WSJ is great Pete! I think that some people post negative, complaint filled comments because, at the end of the day, they don’t want to hear that they, and they alone, are responsible for their financial decisions. Sometimes it is easier to believe the hype that “one can’t retire early” because it would mean making very different spending choices and taking responsibility for earning/spending patterns. It can be painful for some people to realize that they are in the financial situation they are in due to their own choices (e.g., believing that credit card debt -or most any debt for that matter- is acceptable and “normal”.)

    Rational people understand that their actions have consequences and that they have choices in how they live. Thus, they are delighted to see someone who has questioned the status quo and successfully transitioned from wasteful spending patterns to meaningful ones. Reading this blog and learning from the knowledge here is a good way to re-conceptualize how one spends money and other resources such as time. Keep up the great work Pete!

  • Ragnar January 20, 2014, 9:43 am

    I was always perplexed and frustrated with my own irrational actions until I got introduced to evolutional psychology, and learned to accept the feelings but get better control of the response. I’m not 100% successful yet, but with time I’m hoping to get better, haha. Thanks for writing this.

  • Pura Vida Nick January 20, 2014, 9:44 am

    MMM, thank you for not stealing out women!! I was laughing out loud while reading that part.

    • Prairie Practicality January 20, 2014, 11:32 am

      My woman doesn’t like beards…or mustaches. I’m safe unless MMM shaves.

  • HenryDavid January 20, 2014, 9:56 am

    You see this in the teaching world. Students who aren’t doing well sometimes “hate” the successful ones. Seems like the emotional process goes something like “keeners getting all the grades, effin’ keeners doing stuff I could never do even though I haven’t actually tried, therefore keeners must have some scam, down with keeners.” Every so often a student lays down the hate, starts with humility to try in a genuine way, makes surprising progress, and soon turns the corner. It can be a joy to see. And it opens up life to so many good things.
    So I agree with dragline, there’s an element of cognitive dissonance, some resistance to challenges to unexamined world views, and a pinch of self-dislike. All curable with the right frame of mind.

    • Ohio Teacher January 22, 2014, 6:22 am

      Thanks to you I just learned a new Canadian slang word. I believe I was a keener myself.

  • Justin January 20, 2014, 10:00 am

    Hey, a lot of people don’t want to spend a few minutes or a few hours figuring out how things actually work. Those people are busy hating on your success in the comments section at Marketwatch. They keep getting angrier but no wealthier and no closer to financial independence. Let them have their anger and you can keep your peace of mind.

    • Harriet January 25, 2014, 6:36 pm

      A lot of us were brought up being taught that forces outside ourselves were so strong there was nothing we could do which would make a difference. All we could do was fit in and believe what others who knew better than us told us. I can remember finding out otherwise and discovering self efficacy. I was so indignant about the mind numbing control freaking left wing/total trust the government approach that I turned sharp right into taking charge of my own life and questionning everything I thought I believed. We also had to leave our negative past environment. So although we are decades behind most of you we have only 2 years till we have paid off our modest house.

  • cptacek January 20, 2014, 10:15 am

    I think part of the reason you were attacked so vehemently over how you spend your own money and how you adhere to your own principles is the male version of the mommy wars.

    It is a pure emotional response that makes the person reading/hearing the information feel attacked for their choices, even though you are not attacking, just stating facts.

    “I breastfeed because breastmilk is the best nutrition for babies and I enjoy the closeness it affords me and my son. You should think about trying it.” “WAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! Your comment is hurtful! Think of all the people who can’t breastfeed! WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! You should be ashamed of yourself!”

    “I saved $600,000, paid off my mortgage and all debts and retired early. You should try it” “WAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! Your comment is hurtful! Think of all the people who can’t save that much money! WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! You should be ashamed of yourself!”

    • Jenn January 22, 2014, 6:12 pm


      They are people who prefer a victim mentality to one where they take personal responsibility for their situation in life. It’s much easier to sit back and bitch, and decide to believe that successful people are just lucky.

      • Nathanael September 22, 2015, 10:50 pm

        Whereas in reality, successful people are generally *both* lucky *and* competent. (Sometimes honestly competent, sometimes dishonestly competent.)

        You can’t get ahead without luck — that’s just a fact. If you get a long enough string of terrible luck, you’re probably dead! Enough bad luck with health and you’re in big trouble, enough more and you are dead!

        But you can get lucky and proceed to squander your luck, and lots and lots and lots and lots of people do that. Those people seem to be the main target of MMM’s website.

        As someone who retired *before* MMM did, I know I benefited from luck (I had an excellent upbringing — luck — and excellent parents — luck — and a decent nest egg to start with — luck), but I would not have benefitted from it so much if I had not also exercised competence. (I know people with excellent upbringing and parents who started with a nest egg and completely squandered it.)

        On the way, I’ve had to burn vast amounts of money on health care (bad luck having health problems, bad luck my girlfriend having health problems, and bad luck being born in the US with its dreadful health care system), but have done quite well on investments (combination of good luck and skill).

  • Leno January 20, 2014, 10:22 am

    I’m not convinced by mating instinct explanation, don’t see proves.

  • Fredrik von Oberhausen January 20, 2014, 10:30 am

    The final sentence makes a lot of sense and unfortunately is true. The phrase “no publicity is bad publicity” would be handy here. You got more exposure with haters that followed but you also got more devoted readers and the possibility to change the lifestyle of yet some more people! Good job!

    Personally I am still waiting for that first batch of haters!

  • EscapeVelocity2020 January 20, 2014, 10:31 am

    Unfortunate that people behave similarly on the internet as they do driving their car. You just need to keep up the good work convincing people that this behavior is unnecessary and we would all be better off biking and treating each other as we would if we were on bikes.

  • indio January 20, 2014, 10:34 am

    I saw the article and the comments, and honestly, I can’t figure out what the heck is wrong with people. The anonymity of the internet has allowed people to remove their impulse control and just degrade back down into the primordial ooze. As an advanced civilization, I totally agree that it’s about finding solutions not cutting someone else down so you can feel better about yourself behind the safety of your keyboard.
    Rock on!! Those haters aren’t part of your daily life.

  • Barefoot Viking January 20, 2014, 10:39 am

    “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” — Jonathan Swift.

    Keep up the incredible work, sir.

  • Mr. Grump January 20, 2014, 10:55 am

    Sorry about the haters MMM. We haven’t experienced too many of them in the 2 months we have been frugally minded. We did get a few snide comments when we cut cable and when I snuck a pb&j sandwich and beer into an nfl playoff game I went to on free tickets earlier this year. Oh well. You laugh at them for their clown cars and they laugh at your bike or mortgage free house. So everyone gets to laugh, it just cost them a lot more money perched in $50k cars or 900 suits.

  • phred January 20, 2014, 10:58 am

    No effing complaints? You’re not going to abolish the comments section of your blog, are you?
    It seems that spite is handmaiden to envy. Few want to admit themselves a loser, therefore, the other guy always cheated or stole.
    There’s always an alternative to not being part of Grok’s inner circle. One is to break away with the other disaffected, go off into the wilderness, and start your own tribe. Another, not so likeable, is to become a shadow Grok as many did during Prohibition (Capone & Rothstein for example). The Harry Browne approach is to become part of a group so large that you get overlooked. You can then set yourself up as a sort of mini-Grok and get women because no-one else knows what’s going on anyway.
    In retailing, we always looked at a customer complaint as a gift. That gift told us where we needed to consider improving

  • ABH January 20, 2014, 11:11 am

    I enjoy your articles a lot and appreciate that you take the time to share your very emphatic POV with us. I can honestly say that I do sometime experience a negative emotion when reading your articles and that is jealously. I wish I had been more together in my 20s! I try to channel that emotion into positive action instead of driving to Haterville. Wanting to blame and naysay is a powerful emotion and who can really say where it comes from? I spent an entire morning two weeks ago fuming about a parking ticket and casting about in my mind for a reason why it was someone else’s fault but I kept coming back to me. It was my fault and I paid the price but somehow my brain just couldn’t accept it at first. I guess my logic did, but my emotions were not on board. I’ve read quite a bit of your blog and I think anyone who wants to hate your content isn’t reading it thoroughly. You have disclaimer after disclaimer in your writing. Don’t take criticism from people who are only skimming your work.

  • Annika S January 20, 2014, 11:14 am

    Congratulations on being featured!
    You know, I’m not afraid of attracting haters anymore – I can just picture them as the mangy bottom-of-the-pack wolf that badmouths the Alpha every chance he gets to make himself feel better.

    I also agree with Miss Growing Green above, that “hating” stems from a place of fear of facing one’s own inadequacy – why else would you not be supportive of someone else’s success when it in no way shape or form threatens your own?

  • Danny January 20, 2014, 11:17 am

    I spent some time reading those comments, unfortunately. I think haterdom was definitely in effect, but I think there’s something else at play, too.

    Everyone has a set of basic, deeply held premises about life. When you challenge them, they get angry because it feels like you’re trying to manipulate their sense of reality.

    They are so deeply attached to materialism that they actually get viscerally angry when you suggest there’s another way! Poor people (no pun intended).

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 20, 2014, 6:36 pm

      Yeah, that is surely part of it as well – not everyone likes to have the rug pulled out from underneath them. In that sense, I am excited because it means the article had enough impact to shake things up a little.

      • Ed February 4, 2014, 6:48 pm

        MMM- Just wanted to let you know that you have a lot of us in your camp and you got a nice shout out from the Ray Lucia show on your article. He mentioned your article and supported the concept on the 24 Jan show. See the podcast at
        at http://www.moneybizlife.com/podcasting/ray-lucia-show/

    • Blaine January 20, 2014, 6:52 pm

      I also spent an unfortunate amount of time reading those comments this afternoon. I was struck by the number of people who assume that MMM is milking the social safety net because his family lives on 25k. I think it illustrates the materialism and lack of emotional depth of vast swaths of western society. Also the prevalence of RW nutjobs!

      It was interesting that many people said something like “life is too short to deny yourself,” but then they go on to bash MMM, who I’m sure savors every day.

      Oh well. Haters gonna hate, Imma do me!

      • climbing high January 21, 2014, 6:36 pm

        I have say I take a bit of offence at the idea that if someone is “right wing” in their politics, makes them a nut job and unable to enjoy blogs such as MMM. I am not American and not maybe 100 clear on what constitutes a RW nut job but, I guess I am not ‘socialist’ rather more ‘capitalist’ in my views hence probably leaning to that RW side. Yet, I love MMM blog and some of the reasons I love it are because it truly promotes independence, self reliance, not depending on the government to look after you and empowering oneself tremendously. Financial independence and not being beholden to anyone be it banks, credit card companies, corporations or ‘bosses’ is a wonderful thing. I use MMM advice daily and am grateful for his contributions. Haters can come from both spectrums – RW and LW. No side holds ownership rights to jealousy and stupidity and the unwillingness to learn from those who have found a different way to get someplace.

    • Farmer's Daughter January 23, 2014, 5:20 pm

      Funny timing — this week where one would think people would be appropriately dressed for the below-normal winter temperatures? Nope! At work, people are only wearing one layer, button down shirts, not anything else, didn’t even bring sweaters as layers, and are complaining about the temperature of the office. WHICH, I MIGHT ADD, is THE SAME temperature now as the arctic tundra-like air conditioning they subject us to in the SUMMER! I can’t figure…
      I asked if one wanted to borrow a sweater that I have in my cube (which I keep there for said a/c issue, and as I was appropriately layered, and not suffering in the least), but they turned that down, preferring instead to bitch all day about the cold temperature. (?!)
      I guess I must have grumbled something like, “I’d hate to think what you spend on your utility bills…” and some haven’t talked to me in a few days since. Clearly haters that would prefer to be complainypants than learn from someone else’s example, or plan ahead and dress appropriately.

      It is their choice, yes. HOWEVER: Shouldn’t we ALL know better — Did these people just FAIL Mr. Rogers 101?! (won’t you be my neighbor, watch me put on this sweater?)

      • Kirsten April 19, 2017, 9:06 pm

        Hello, It has been years (literally) since this was posted, but I am slowly, very slowly reading everything from the beginning and I have to say that I laughed out loud at the idea of Mr Rogers first of all being a class that needed to be passed and that made me think that perhaps it was a sneaky, underhanded way to introduce a generation (or two) to a frugal life and therefore a gateway ‘drug’ to Mr Money Mustache!

  • Dave1 January 20, 2014, 11:20 am

    Another take on this is that you are presenting an outlook that is outside of the mainstream view and therefore you are perceived as a threat to the establishment as well as the status quo. Also, it’s much easier to attack and dismiss the MMM point of view than actually implementing the changes in ones own life.

  • Mr. Frugal Toque January 20, 2014, 11:22 am

    Well, now I’m a little sad. There’s no large group of people who hate me.
    The other thing I noticed was that these complaints are pretty much exactly the same complaints that you received from yahoo readers, cbc readers and washington post readers.
    I’d take this as a good sign: it means there is still a large, overflowing pot of Clown spenders out there whom your message has yet to reach. That means a bright future for this blog and plenty of room to grow.

  • Kathy Ormiston January 20, 2014, 11:38 am

    Sorry about the nasty comments. Thanks to your blog, I talked my boyfriend into moving closer to work. Now instead of having a 3 hour a day commute he has a 10 minute commute. It has changed his life. He just got a new job, which he would have never had the energy or time to pursue. He is also saving money and getting more exercise.

    • TomTX January 25, 2014, 5:26 am

      3 hour commute? That’s bloody insane. I did it for 6 months after I got a new job, until my wife was able to get a job in the same area, and we moved. Never again (Unless I can earn FIRE money in under 1 year)

      Congratulations to you guys!

  • Trevor January 20, 2014, 11:40 am

    Well said!
    Trevor from Ottawa.

  • Kathleen January 20, 2014, 11:41 am

    Read through the article this weekend…thought it was great! Read through as many comments as I could stomach (before they just became nothing but repetitive) and realized there are just a lot of people who don’t want early retirement and financial freedom to be true for anyone. I think its misery loves company. Those that can’t yet wrap their brain around the fact that living on less isn’t constant poverty and depravity need to read through your blog from beginning to end. Those that think the world is going to blow up if everyone lived like MMM need to stay in their cubicles 14 hours a day and stay out of the way.

    • Kenoryn January 23, 2014, 9:25 pm

      Hee, I just want to note that being deprived and being depraved are not the same thing. ;)

      Otherwise, I agree!

  • John January 20, 2014, 11:42 am

    The WSJ comment you featured cracked my shit up! I quote the great Jay-Z: Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t. Sounds like someone is a little jealous about what you were able to achieve. Alas, him ripping your way of life and credibility just makes him look stupid. Very humorous article, I liked how you tied it in to tribal times.

  • Brandon January 20, 2014, 11:54 am

    “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”

    ― Aristotle

    • lurker January 20, 2014, 3:17 pm

      does that Aristotle dude have a blog? he sounds smart…..bet he had plenty of haters in his day……a moderate number at least! LOL

  • Maggie January 20, 2014, 12:11 pm

    What’s that old expression? “Any fool can burn down a barn.”

    The world is full of smarmy little weasels who get off on bashing other peoples’ ideas, creations, suggestions. I agree that connectivity makes it seem like there are far more of them than there actually are.

    But those who don’t want to get off their ass and make positive changes will always find some way to denigrate those who do. Likewise, those who start every other sentence with “I” (and who love the sound of their own voice) will always try to advance their own viewpoint at the expense of others’. Looking forward to the day when we all learn to kick those types off the island and stop transporting their genes into the next generation.

    In the meantime, I listen for the kernel of truth that may be found in intelligent complaints, and ignore the rest as best I can. Not easy sometimes.

  • Early Retirement Extreme January 20, 2014, 12:16 pm

    You might enjoy this little song :)


    • Aaron January 20, 2014, 4:01 pm

      OMG, that was hilarious. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing that. It has helped relieve so much anger towards all the poisonous comments I see out there.

      Again, THANK YOU!

  • Jeff January 20, 2014, 12:21 pm

    It’s much easier to knock things down – I didn’t notice any of the negative commenters offering any useful alternatives.

    Addendum: I would not have posted if I had seen Maggie’s comment first. Very succinct:
    “Any fool can burn down a barn.”

  • JohnEverett January 20, 2014, 12:24 pm

    A disciple asked Confucius about leading a balanced life.

    Confucius answered, “When you are liked by all who are good and disliked by all who are bad, then you are leading a balanced life.”

  • La Tejana January 20, 2014, 12:32 pm

    Bahaha, love this MMM!

    The lovely thing about the internet is that anyone can post whatever comment they want to regardless of thought, ignorance or intelligence. The additional bonus? They are making themselves look like complete idiots.

  • FloridaStache January 20, 2014, 12:45 pm

    Interesting analysis, but I think you’ve overlooked the key difference between online comments forums and almost all other forms of interpersonal interactions: anonymity.

    The anonymity afforded by online forums allows anyone to take pot shots at “the alpha” or anyone else, without the potential for negative repercussions. In the evolutionary history you reference, if you challenged the alpha you’d either A) win, and become the alpha or B) make an ass of yourself, be ostracized, and be at a disadvantage. But the risk/reward trade-off served as a check on rampant challenges to the alpha.

    The online comments just allow you to sling mud with abandon, which becomes a form of entertainment for some and an aggression release valve for others (trolls, etc.) This is why your average major media comments site is basically the digital equivalent of an open sewer.

  • Noelle January 20, 2014, 12:46 pm

    Congrats on the feature in MarketWatch. I had missed it but I went and checked it out.

    It will certainly bring in a new wave of non-Mustachians that have not been exposed to any of your philosophies yet. Hopefully they get someone out of it rather than just complaining!

    I think reading one article where you are featured does not give someone the same grasp as if they were to read each and every one of your posts (as I, and many others have). It’s an entire mentality and lifestyle and not so radical when you break it down piece by piece.

  • ProfitSavor January 20, 2014, 12:50 pm

    Congratulations on making it to MarketWatch!

    I have noticed that complainers and haters often stand in the way of their own success, ironically. Successful people typically aren’t threatened by others’ successes; instead, they are spurred on to do better things.

    While the WSJ complainer’s comment identifies one type of reaction to unusual success, the successful approach might be along the lines of “wow, how can I improve my situation like that?”.


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