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

  • Frugalecon January 20, 2014, 12:51 pm

    A couple of comments. First, it is interesting that, by and large, the comments on this site are positive and insightful. Some slightly self-righteous stuff in the Antimustachian Wall of Shame and Comedy forum, but overall this site is unusual in terms of not having a sewer of negative comments.

    Second, I would imagine that lots of people on the WSJ Marketwatch site just have very different values, and they can’t accept that anyone would voluntarily choose not to pursue anti-materialism. These people probably derive a strong sense of superiority from having more than others, and they would naturally heap contempt on anyone choosing a different path.

    Personally, I am more materialistic than MMM, and I plan to put off retiring until I am 62, when I will have a fairly generous defined benefit pension and a large stache. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t see the value of what MMM is doing. Plus, I have resolved to slice 3 or 4 years off of what I was planning to work.

    A lot of people just don’t seem to be able to accept that other people have different value systems.

  • Judy January 20, 2014, 1:02 pm

    My husband told me about this website and I love it. It reminds me of how we lived when I was a kid. I was born in the 1950s and we never went out for dinner, we lived in a small house, my mum would make me a coat out of her old coat because that is what people did. We went camping for holidays. We were not poor but by todays standards of clown spending we were deprived. We had a great life and I am glad to start doing many things the MMM way. I thought we weren’t going to be able to retire but now I see we don’t need that much money to live on.

  • Samantha January 20, 2014, 1:10 pm

    So true — and so funny! I did not see that coming, but now that its out there it seems inevitable.

    From a female perspective… that’s why we hate the woman who looks so great right after having a baby, and why we’re threatened by successful women who “have it all”, or by ‘sluts’ who wear too little clothing. Its all about mating.

  • LTF January 20, 2014, 1:10 pm

    It is interesting that when you use less resources that you are criticized for it. As you point out, it just leaves more for everyone else. That is how I felt when criticized for buying a car that got 45 mpg. I was accused of being a holier than thou tree hugger. Believe me, I am not that, if I was I would ride my bike everywhere and not own a car. It just means there is more gas for someone else’s SUV and more money in my pocket.

    • Emmers January 20, 2014, 5:39 pm

      This also gets into the people who bash public transit initiatives. Dude, YOU don’t have to use it if you don’t want to – but if it exists, other people WILL use it, and your drive on the highway will be that much improved.

  • Edith January 20, 2014, 1:10 pm

    Wow, this comes in handy since I just watched “No impact man” after reading about it in your blog, and was astonished to learn there are a lot of people who feel a person who uses no toilet paper or electricity in the middle of the city should be insulted. It really made me feel less than optimistic about our future as a species. Is that complaining? Ups, I think it is. Sorry.

  • John Dough January 20, 2014, 1:13 pm

    Here’s what I recommend for all the haters;

    -Borrow money, and invest in a depreciating car, preferably a gas guzzling SUV or truck.

    -Live as far as possible from work and drive your truck there daily.

    -Drive your truck everywhere, shopping, movies etc.

    Don’t take your truck on vacation, there is nothing worthwhile in National Parks. Make sure you fly somewhere faraway and exotic, and stay in 5 star hotels for maximum happiness.

    -Spend every dollar you earn, if you get paid on Friday, try to be broke by Sunday, or the latest Thursday. After all you only live once!

    -Have lots of kids, and buy them and yourself everything on TV. It will make you happy.

    -Eat out every day. It brings happiness.

    -If your neighbors have one, make sure you buy one too. You want to make sure they think you’re normal. After all, if they’re doing it, it must be ok.

    -Drink beverages with electrolytes, they quench your thirst better than water.

    -Join a high end gym. Go occasionally.

    -Don’t believe the lies on this blog, firstly it’s impossible to live on $25k a year, and even if you could you would not be happy.
    Better to put in lots of overtime at work and get a second job, so you can afford everything advertised on TV that you need to make your life complete.

    -If you have lots of kids, hire a nanny to take care of them. Get a 3rd job to pay for it. It’s a great investment.

    -Get all the cable channels available.

    -Try to subscribe to monthly things, home security systems, cheese of the month club, etc.

    -Live large and enjoy life.

    -Work until 75 for maximum income and social security returns. You don’t want to be old without luxuries.

    -Don’t believe anything on this blog, it was written to cause you pain and point to an impossible goal.

    -Don’t quit your day job(s)

    I am sure you have thought of, and implement other things to maximize your happiness on your own, that are better than living below your means. (the horror!).

    • David C January 20, 2014, 1:23 pm

      I would have to add:

      -Rack up enormous amounts of student debt to pursue a degree that offers little return on investment.

      -Have an expensive wedding that will be the envy of all of your freinds.

      • lurker January 20, 2014, 5:39 pm

        and the arch enemy the anti-mustachian Moriarty has been given a set of principles to live by and destroy the earth in the process…perfect. oh wait…sounds like the average American to me…still.

    • Ms. Must-Stash January 21, 2014, 5:01 am

      +1! Has anyone seen the movie Idiocracy? Pretty much exactly what you’re describing here.

    • dunny January 29, 2014, 9:54 am

      I am giggling esp. at “subscribe to monthly things”. I am looking in vain for monthly things to cancel. Dam, I love cancelling things.

      I would add:

      Try to buy everything in sets or packages (e.g. pots and pans, make-up). Use one or two of the pieces of the set or package features.

  • Fatchance January 20, 2014, 1:28 pm

    First, that was a great interview you did with the WSJ. When I saw the headline regarding retiring 30 years early, I was hoping it was you, MMM. You did not dissapoint.
    I, too, read the comments and was tempted to reply to a few to explain what the site is really about. You know, “HE SAID HE DOES SIDE WORK!! HE IS NOT RETIRED!! THIS IS COMPLETE AND UTTER BS!!!!!”
    I started with “Actually…” but then stopped. There is no way I wanted to waste any time on someone who would rather wallow in their own self defeat than take some pointers from a guy espousing quality wisdom to almost 1/2 million people a month.
    I choose instead to use your principals, cut my annual spending in ½ (done) and, when I see someone struggling with financials, let them know there is a great website that could help them…A LOT!

  • Ben January 20, 2014, 1:42 pm

    First, thanks for sticking with putting out awesome ideas in spite of the idiots. Many would give up blogging because of the hate, thinking it isn’t worth it.

    For me, I generally think of all the haters as a very small minority of the much greater readership. Also, I think of it as a strange negative side effect of the anonymity the Internet has created. Those same folks sitting across the table would probably come across less as haters and more as inarticulate, shallow, uncreative people. On the Internet, they shoot off short thoughtless posts that somehow make themselves feel better about their sad situation.

  • Brett January 20, 2014, 1:44 pm

    Well darn it, yet another useful insight and motivational reminder, just when I had been indulging in my own complaints and gripes. Fine, you win again Mustache. I’ll be positive and find the opportunity.

  • Done by Forty January 20, 2014, 2:07 pm

    I got my first random, anonymous heckler the other day, and was over the moon. I felt like I had arrived.

    Your line about not stealing my women cracked me up. Too funny.

  • Erwin Cuellar January 20, 2014, 2:24 pm

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

    What a perfect snippet of wisdom, and I thank you for it. What sucks is when supposed friends or family members become part of that hater group. Oh well. We can’t and shouldn’t apologize for being our true, authentic selves and sharing that self with the world. Our world is a better place because you are sharing your true thoughts, whether people agree with them or not.

  • John Dough January 20, 2014, 2:48 pm

    The incomprehension over in the Marketplace comments is stunning.

    It really is.

    Has anyone there ever opened a spreadsheet, and typed in a few simple numbers?

    It’s not that hard.

    It’s clear that the ideas here, which seem normal and sensible to me, are positively revolutionary over there.

    It’s like when you try to wake someone from a bad dream, and they continue babbling in their dreamlike state, until they come to their senses…but they never come to their senses or wake up.

  • Zia Rider January 20, 2014, 2:49 pm

    Found your blog today through the WSJ/Marketwatch feature and have already spent way too much time today reading your posts than I should. As someone living in an area with many off-grid residents I’ve told many people who are looking into solar for their homes that it is far more efficient to conserve power than to generate more and until I read your blog I never applied that line of reasoning to retirement and savings so thank you for the prospective, now it seems blatantly obvious.

    It is also interesting hearing from your prospective as a Lending Club lender, I have used their service as a borrower for 4 years to help get rid of revolving debt, motorcycle refinancing and to help pay for my wedding and honeymoon. I had wanted to return the favor by lending myself but unfortunately it is not allowed for residents of my state and a few others. I’m sad to hear I may have missed out on the gravy train as the number of lenders grew beyond the number of borrowers.

    Your great personality and sense of humor really comes through in your writing, don’t let the haters get you down.

  • Kathy January 20, 2014, 3:09 pm

    What a polite, informative way to point out that hate-spewing commenters are likely *ahem* “compensating” for “falling short.” LOL

  • Mr. Grump January 20, 2014, 3:09 pm

    In fairness MMM you do mock, deservingly or not, their lifestyles at times. One can only expect the same treatment on their forums! But from the Grumps to the Mustaches sorry to see you have so many haters! We haven’t encountered too much hate on our “frugal journey” but we only have 2 months completed. We did receive a few snide comments when we cut cable such as “it doesn’t cost that much” or “are you stupid?”

    A few people also sneered at me when I opened my free PB&J sandwich from home at a recent NFL Playoff game. Mind you they were busy eating undercooked $7 hotdogs and drinking $8 beer. Although I miss the spending world occasionally I know my family is better off having that $15. I just laugh at the fact they stood in line and missed the game (the entire reason of going to the stadium) to spend money on below average food at extravagant prices. (Luckily, I got a free ticket and parking pass to the game, so I spent $0 on what others spent $100s to go see)

  • Andréa January 20, 2014, 3:37 pm

    Os inimigos, são sempre os preguiçosos. Não conseguem enxergar além do horizonte, e não se superam. Invejam o sucesso alheio. São fracassados.

  • Mother Frugal January 20, 2014, 3:44 pm

    Some people just aren’t happy unless they’re complaining. With the advent of internet comments, these trolls must exude absolute JOY.

    I thought it was a really good article that will hopefully get some people to re-think about their highly consumptive lives. Clearly, some will need a longer time to think than others.

  • Tahoe Paul January 20, 2014, 3:47 pm

    I agree with all of the complainers. Riding a bike with that huge mustache would be impossible due to the obvious aerodynamic disadvantages. Living on only 15x the per capita GDP of many other countries would be impossible in the United States of America. Downgrading into an unfinished, smaller house when it’s possible to get a loan for a McMansion is, well, disgustingly un-american. I won’t even start on the wearing long-underwear indoors and then not using a dryer to sanitize them safety issues.

    MMM = Santa Claus!

  • Dave January 20, 2014, 5:11 pm

    I think we beat this one to death. Would not waste another minute worrying about people that just will not get it no matter what. Moving on to more productive topics.

  • Steven January 20, 2014, 5:45 pm

    I think a lot of the comments that are on there it’s just the lack of understanding and the difference of opinions because anything that happens faster then it’s supposed to, for example an early retirement is thought to be a get rich quick scheme and impossible in their situation or I believe in Rahmit Sethi uses the white snowflake because there situation is different and cannot be fixed.

  • WaterTop January 20, 2014, 5:46 pm

    Though I am already in my 30s, MMM has given me a goal that I never thought was possible.

    Thanks MMM.

    As for the Haters….they can do it their own way or MMM way. We already know how MMM way will turn out…Best of Luck to you!

  • May January 20, 2014, 5:57 pm

    Congratulations on being featured. I just saw it now and the comments are still coming in. I was surprised at the comments, but the MMM story is remarkable (I guess that less than 1% of people can retire at 30), and maybe that’s why people cannot believe. The comment that surprised me the most was that it is “irresponsible” to retire so early? Hmmm…. For the rest I guess it is hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes.

    • Rachel P. January 21, 2014, 8:33 am

      I thought the same thing! How can retiring early be “irresponsible” given:

      1. The U.S. (and other nations) continue to outsource manufacturing and IT jobs to other countries leaving more competition for fewer jobs in the U.S. (therefore retiring early actually frees up jobs rather than encouraging frivolous spending on nonessentials just in order to keep working until age 65 when the government says you should retire);

      2. Wasteful spending attached to fossil fuels continues to increase (e.g., one person commuting in one car to work everyday all across the U.S. while gas is more expensive than ever in our history) yet by cutting down on such expenditures due to early retirement one uses less resources overall;

      3. The healthcare crisis in the U.S.which is due in large part to #1 and #2 above. Early retirement means more time for personal healthcare, less stress, time to prepare healthful food, exercise, etc.; and

      4. The need for the time it takes to raise a child or children well. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that they cannot do the job of the parent. Early retirement means: children who spend more time with a parent who listens, reads to/with, plays with, and teaches their child everyday lessons. I challenge anyone to compare that scenario with the dual parent working model that can create a higher cost of living while also creating a lower standard of living due to less time for childcare and home care responsibilities (commuting, traveling for work, etc.)

      I felt that the comments about “irresponsibility” were in fact quite ill-informed and irresponsible themselves.

      • Doug January 22, 2014, 10:49 am

        My thoughts exactly! I am more or less retired at age 53 (I was in paid employment 2.5 months last year) and feel that by not working a full time I am freeing up a job for someone else. By living in such an efficient manner we mustachians are setting an example of how we all should live going forward in a world of finite resources, and jobs that are ever decreasing due to automation.

  • Marcus January 20, 2014, 6:23 pm

    Arab proverb: “The dogs bark, but the caravan passes on”

    Let ’em bark, let ’em bark!

  • PJBChicago January 20, 2014, 6:28 pm

    This blog has revolutionary ideas that go against our over consuming society. I’m not surprised that many people have said negative things on the WSJ website. Some people are afraid of new ideas and I firmly believe MMM that these negative comments are further evidence that you and this blog are on the right path. Humanity needs to stop wasting and to start respecting our natural resources more and I am so grateful that this blog exists to help save humanity from itself.

    • lurker January 22, 2014, 5:54 am

      Well said….I second and third that comment. Amen!

  • Catherine Jean Rose January 20, 2014, 6:51 pm

    Dear MMM – I came across the Market Watch article last week. I knew before I even finished reading it people would be twitching with envy and posting scathing rebuttals about how impossible saving that amount of money by 30 is. I’ll admit, I even read several of those hateful comments myself, but finally I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to move on with my own low information diet and leave the site, but just before I “x’d” out I noticed something remarkable that I simply must comment on.

    It wasn’t this one particularly unnamed douchebag’s especially heinous post – because he of course had nothing original to add to the conversation; but it was another commenter’s well written and rather friendly reply. The second commenter I speak of was Mrs. MM herself. She did not react to this twit with additional vitriol, only kind sentiments and more details on how your lifestyle was attained. I was truly moved by the patience and class she demonstrated in her reply to his ignorance. Now, I really don’t know if you are religious people, but the calm way she responded to this asshat after he insulted your family certainly demonstrated a true Christian nature on her part. Her poise and kindness did not go unnoticed. I was impressed and it made reading all those nasty comments worth my time. Thanks for the inspiration, Mrs. MM!!!

    • Mrs. Money Mustache January 20, 2014, 8:06 pm

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write this kind comment! You made my day. :)

      • Mr. Frugal Toque January 21, 2014, 8:22 am

        I noticed that the hate and complaining are basically the same every time Mustachianism comes into contact with Normals, although it would be interesting to compare the types of ComplainyPants you get from Yahoo! vs the WSJ.
        You can see “Trust Fund Accusation” Guy, “Bu-bu-bu Health Insurance” Guy, “You’re Living in Poverty” Dude, “You’re just lazy” etc.
        The only one missing, notably, is “This guy’s wife is going to leave him for being such a cheapskate!”

        • lurker January 21, 2014, 10:35 am

          Ms. MM is the real reason we need never fear about Mr. MM stealing our women….he has no need! She rocks!

        • Leslie January 21, 2014, 12:14 pm

          A commenter actually said that it is a necessity to have a 4-wheel off-road vehicle if you live in Colorado. I am sure that is news to Mr. and Mrs. MM. Necessity meet want.

          • Free_at_50 January 25, 2014, 6:51 am

            Ok I’ll take the opposite view as one of the things that hit me upon reading comments above is that complaining/haters is an important part of the eco system we live in. In some respects MMM is complaining about complainers. My thoughts are, We NEED complainers and haters. They provide a reality check to what happens in life much like the ying and yang concept. If we all thought exactly alike what fun would it be. In that instance life would not be exciting. I enjoy MMM because it is different and I know that because of complainers and haters. So basically I love complainers and haters! :)

        • Neo January 26, 2014, 2:26 am

          Also “What if you get abducted by aliens and they do an anal probe on you that’s not covered on your health insurance even with the $10,000 deductible” Guy

          This is a combo health insurance costs and keep working because something “might” happen you haven’t planned for so work forever.

  • Maple Yank January 20, 2014, 6:58 pm

    Editors have known for eons that the cranks are the ones who write in. They’re annoying and Internet anonymity seems to have jacked up their intensity, but they are in no way representative. It’s just the nature of the public-communication beast. Cranky people vent; satisfied people do not.

    Also, consider the outlet. The Wall Street Journal? It introduced a Friday “Mansions” section last year so that the 1% could figure out yet more frivolous ways to spend its ill-gotten gains. Your message may reach a few readers but the WSJ isn’t exactly preaching to the converted. More power to you for getting your message before a group with — as you learned — a very different value system. It means you touched a raw, defensive nerve.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 20, 2014, 7:24 pm

      I’m pretty glad to reach such an audience, and I wouldn’t diss them as a bunch of smug one-percenters. For one thing, I have read an awful lot of that paper for almost 20 years, and many of my friends do the same thing. Also, many of the most successful people have very open minds – it is how they got to the top.

      Looking at the traffic stats since that article (the daily average went from 70,000 to over 100,000 pageviews per day and holding here on the main blog), it looks like many of them are sticking around to read more. Welcome everyone!

      • lurker January 21, 2014, 10:40 am

        just remember Murdoch owns it now……ugh.

  • Stacey January 20, 2014, 8:00 pm

    I’m a recent (1month++) MMM junkie…so thankfully as I read the bs Marketwatch responses I knew if the posters had only poked around your blog a bit they’d have their answers…I sure wish I had that hour of (irritating) reading back, tho’! As you know, most who wondered if you were taking government handouts could have easily had that question answered when you recently posted that although you don’t disclose your family’s income it is several times the annual amount you spend. Thus, no free ACA benefits for you (sorry!) Kudos to Mrs. MMM who clearly set the record straight on many fronts, esp that your son is a well-rounded child when someone tongue-in-cheek accused you of dragging him to yet another Hoover Dam adventure ;) Anyway, keep up the good work. Although our only debt is our mortgage, you’d be aghast at how much money our family spends. …And I think I’m fairly frugal. Apparently I’m not (and I sure as hell know that my DH isn’t!!) Nonetheless, maybe only 10 more years of work for us. We plan to get out of the grind by 60 & will undoubtedly get out of IL–property taxes are too dang high. PS Net worth is $1.8+ . Aiming to increase it by 50% in the next decade. Keep on truckin’ Pete, Mrs. MMM & Jr.

  • Norman T January 20, 2014, 8:21 pm

    Love it. MMM, they just hate you and your life style because you basically diminishing their social status, they think represented by big house, BMW, and Gucci glasses. They are just like teens driving with loud, big bass music on the streets thinking they are cool when in fact almost everyone think they are stupid. As long as teens and people hearing them keep their thoughts by themselves, everything is fine. But if you come up to them and say they are stupid, expect a backlash. Same with these stupid outgrown, spend it all, stupid 50 year adolescents. You told them in their faces they are stupid and they got mad.

  • Jay January 20, 2014, 9:24 pm

    I think you’re probably over-thinking the evolutionary angle. Complaining is just a way to make yourself feel better about not achieving as much as someone else. “Well OF COURSE he could do it. Here’s why it would never work for me…”. It allows people to absolve themselves of some of the responsibility for the state their life is in.

    I’m sounding dangerously like one of those “the poor deserve to be poor” people, so there is also this. Complaining is also a way to express anger about the unfairness of real or perceived pre-existing advantages or privileges the other person had. Many successful people just happened to be born into better circumstances or have more luck than less successful people. I have experienced a lot of this good fortune myself. People who are unsuccessful because of a lack of luck (having put in all the hard work) can have a certain amount of bitterness or resentment that causes them to be this way.

  • Ben January 20, 2014, 10:24 pm

    Okay, so I love your stuff and am a huge fan of your blog, but this is evolutionary speculation at its worst.

    I know your article is exactly about not hating, but this isn’t hate – it’s actually just wrong to concoct a semi-plausible natural selection theory and pass it off as reasonable fact with zero evidence whatsoever.

    I used to do the same thing myself as a huge proponent of ‘evolutionary reasons’ behind why humans do everything we do – but reading this article by Stephen Jay Gould (the evolutionary biologist) made me realize this is a pretty terrible thing: http://www.nbb.cornell.edu/neurobio/BioNB427/READINGS/Gould1978.pdf

    “Yet in one area, unfortunately a very large part of evolutionary theory and practice, natural selection has operated like the fundamentalist’s God – he who maketh all things. Rudyard Kipling asked how the leopard got its spots, the rhino its wrinkled skin. He called his answers “Just So stories”. When evolutionists study individual adaptations, when they try to explain form and behaviour by reconstructing history and assessing current utility, they also tell just-so stories – and the agent is natural selection. Virtuosity in invention replaces testability as the criterion for acceptance.”


    • Mr. Money Mustache January 20, 2014, 11:04 pm

      I didn’t just make that shit up, Ben – it was in a real evolution-related book I read. I was just too lazy to look up which one it was, because academic rigor is not as fun as just typing inspirational shit into the computer.

      If you have a better answer for where the hater/tall poppy syndrome comes from in human nature, by all means share it and I may stand corrected.

    • Ricky January 21, 2014, 11:17 am

      Isn’t this what most of our science books do – propose a believable theory and present it as fact? You have to be smarter than to believe everything you read 100%. Sometimes, as is evident in his article, you just have to take it for its face value. The point isn’t that humans are slaves to their evolutionary traits, but rather that they complain when they see others success and try to make up for their own faults by demeaning other’s.

      • Mr. Frugal Toque January 21, 2014, 6:38 pm

        “Isn’t this what most of our science books do – propose a believable theory and present it as fact?”
        Well, I do feel the need to stick up for science here. Most of what you read in your science book are theories that explain what we see around us in the larger universe. High standards of evidence are required before a theory is accepted as a valid explanation by the wider scientific community.
        Evolutionary psychology, unfortunately, *does* have a lot of cranks in it and we do have to be very careful as a lot of people manage to publish rather dubious studies that “prove” that humanity was in an evolutionary sweet spot right around 1950.
        1. The bit about women liking the colour pink as some sort of natural “gatherer” instinct to find berries turns out to be bullshit
        2. Similarly, there was that “study” showing that semen makes women happy. I’m not even going to bother explaining the problems with that study.
        The bit about the alpha male, however, can be observed and tested with some of our close cousins among the primates, and is much more susceptible to actual scientific examination.
        But still, I have to agree that Evo Psych stories should be checked over a bit more judiciously than the average piece of science journalism.

  • kiwano January 20, 2014, 11:14 pm

    I’d like to offer up a counterexample to your claim that all mass media news stories have toxic comments: http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/cape-breton-sailor-returns-home-after-two-years-at-sea-1.1336491 has only 3 comments, and all of them are positive. Sure it’s the only such mainstream news comment section I’ve seen in years, and I was so shocked to discover it that I told a whole bunch of people about it (and am now telling more). Nevertheless, it is a counterexample :)

  • MamaTea January 20, 2014, 11:18 pm

    The Haters are missing the point. MMM offers a different way to look at things, a different way to live. We all don’t have to grow mustaches and ride bikes everywhere, but we might benefit from examining how we feel about the status quo. The haters are too busy making excuses and finding faults to realize what is being offered with these ideas.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 21, 2014, 6:04 am

      I agree – except with the part about bikes. You DO have to ride those ;-)


      • FruGal January 22, 2014, 6:16 am

        Here here. It’s -30C in my Canadian city right now, with a few feet of snow, and my legs (and bike) get me to where I need to go within 3-5kms. I love my wheels!

      • Yossarian January 22, 2014, 7:40 am

        Vive la bicyclette!

        Rode in this morning, it was -30C in Sudbury, Ontario. A city with basically no bike lanes. Granted, I chose my living arrangements carefully.

        There is no such thing as “impossible”.

        http://i.imgur.com/C5SaYgZ.jpg – selfie from this morning :)

        MMM, you need a new bike article soon.

      • Annamal January 23, 2014, 10:52 am

        We don’t own bikes, every single commuting cyclist (and my workplace won an award for being a cyclist friendly place so there are a lot of commuters) I know has been knocked off their bikes by a careless motorist at least once.

        On the other hand, we don’t own a car, we walk or bus everywhere and borrow a friend’s car (in exchange for him using our computer for a day’s worth of gaming) once every 2 weeks for a shopping run, so I think we fall happily into mustachian territory.

        One day either cycling infrastructure will improve or motorists will start driving considerately and we will start biking.

  • HealthyWealthyExpat January 21, 2014, 4:09 am

    I’m currently touring the zen temples of Kyoto, Japan and a particular quote comes to mind on reading this post:

    “The event has no meaning; the reaction to the event means everything.”

    I don’t know if it is a particularly zen quote, but it sure sounds like it. In this case, you probably have many readers who reacted positively to the article and a small number who didn’t. But perhaps even those who wrote negative comments will, over time, accept changes in their lives for the better, not knowing that your article was the seed that slowly took root and grew into a tall, strong tree.

  • Sawyer January 21, 2014, 4:48 am

    I will admit that I discovered you on WSJ while flipping through the google news on the IPad…

    I will also admit to being a hater for not finding you sooner…(that’s a joke for those who lack of a sense of humor)

    Looking ahead to learning more…

    Thank you sir,

  • Rachel January 21, 2014, 6:11 am

    What I loved about the haters on the WSJ article was that half of them seemed to be complaining that your life is too “easy” and “lazy,” while the other half were complaining that your life is one of deprivation and misery and how dare you try to force your ideas on others. (And the accusations of socialism and/or communism were beyond weird.) All of it is a lesson about not reading the comments, something I remind myself about regularly…but every now and then I need the kind of irritainment it provides.

  • @freepursue January 21, 2014, 7:48 am

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mahatma Gandhi

    Mr.&Mrs. MM, looks like you are right on schedule.

    Thank you for regularly sharing your perspectives on optimal living.

    I selfishly ask you to please keep up the amazing work!

  • Tyler NewLeaf January 21, 2014, 7:54 am

    Wow…out of curiosity I took 2 minutes and read through the comments. UNBELIEVABLE! This blog is so positive and motivating, and the article just articulates a few points that are much more reinforced and explained within the blog. I couldn’t believe how the comments were full of nit pickers and angry folks.

    I’ve been a reader for about 6 months or moe now and have made some substantial changes gearing me towards FI. At 31, I am so happy to be on this track, all thanks to this blog and the MMM community. I’ve always thought of myself as a tough minimalist, and now I know how to focus that badassity…

    I’ve been seeing this blog pop up here and there and I am always a bit proud to say I’ve been reading this before I saw it in the WSJ or Yahoo or wherever….and now I have friends and family reading. Keep up the good work. This is one place that always has such positive readership and helpful commenters. You guys are seriously changing people’s lives through your example! The “haters” would never understand thrill of riding your bike to the store, in the snow, to cook you and your lady a feast.

  • Not A Hater January 21, 2014, 8:56 am

    Hi MMM,
    Have you ever commented on the fact that, despite your philosophy, you _were_ lucky and managed to ride two historic bubbles (dot-com and housing) whereas those 5 years after you were not, your near-miss as a developer while the housing bubble burst notwithstanding?

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 22, 2014, 8:35 pm

      Hey Not – yeah, I have commented on that in “A brief history of the ‘Stash” (see my other comment somewhere in this thread).

      In summary, the dot com bubble did not help me at all (because I did not magically sell stocks at the top and then re-buy them in 2002 or 2008), and the housing boom was a net loss for me as well (made a moderate profit on my own house, mostly from renovating it on weekends, then a huge loss in construction by building a house that got completed just in time for the crash).

      Now the CURRENT housing recovery might finally help me a bit, since we own 3 houses in what has finally become a good seller’s market, and I’m hoping to sell two of them this year. If I’m really lucky, there will be a stock market crash shortly thereafter so I can invest that $1M or so in stocks purchased on sale :-)

  • Renee s January 21, 2014, 9:05 am

    It will never cease to amaze me how terrible the commenters can be when they don’t understand or know you, Mr/Mrs MM. I checked out the WSJ comments and it just upset me so much. I have read you for quite some time and have learned so much from you and your community.

  • Jordan January 21, 2014, 9:22 am

    I used to be worried that if more people read this blog that the secret would be out, the jig would be up, and everyone would realize they don’t need to be a cog anymore. After reading a few of those comments, I realize that I (we) really are in the minority. If wanting to spend time with family, traveling more, pursuing hobbies, and learning about whatever I want is lazy, I fully embrace laziness.

    • Jordan Read January 29, 2014, 9:36 pm

      I almost thought the same thing (regarding the secret getting out), until I remembered the Bad Ass Utopia article: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/07/16/a-badass-utopia/
      As far as us being in the minority, we are, and that’s okay for me. I’ll get my house in order, and lead by example.

      • Mr. Money Mustache January 30, 2014, 7:53 pm

        Sure, we’re a small minority so far, but remember the plan is to change the whole culture, so don’t worry as the secret gets out – it is a good thing.

        You can keep tabs on just how minor Mustachians are with the “seethestats” link I have way down in the footer. It makes the Google Analytics stats for this site public. Here’s a direct link too: http://www.seethestats.com/site/mrmoneymustache.com

        Half a million people and five million page views in the last month. We need to multiply that by ten, and THEN we’ll be starting to be into some serious shit here :-)

  • Carolyn January 21, 2014, 9:27 am

    I believe it is a sign of maturity to be able to be happy for someone else’s success. It means you have grown beyond the self-centered view of the world you had as a child. And many people never get there.

  • Ricky January 21, 2014, 11:06 am

    Congrats on the feature. It’s sad it’s taken this long for so many people to find your blog when the people that actually need to read it are completely oblivious and probably still haven’t found it. I know I personally found it because I already shared much of your same views and the material connected with me profoundly.

    Sadly, those that want to bash this type of writing just can’t accept an alternative, happier, less materialistic world. People are creatures of habit and it’s hard to break free from society, I’ve personally found my happy medium so far.

    We are so lucky to live in a country where early retirement is so very achievable by so many.

    You 100% deserve the publicity and recognition for being one of the first to advocate the ideal lifestyle for the 21st century. Many have already realized it but putting the info out there for everyone to read is bold and admirable.

  • Scott January 21, 2014, 11:41 am

    Can’t argue with your attitude- if you’ve got haters, you must be doing something right. With that being said, how exactly did you save 600k before you turned 30…? I’m 25 and have a good engineering job, but that kind of sum just doesn’t look feasible- even if I didn’t spend a dime and the stock market always performed like it did this past year.

  • Stan January 21, 2014, 12:28 pm

    I read the article as well. I noticed that someone misunderstood that you make 25k a year, instead of that you spend 25k a year, and that seems to be what started all the bad comments. Either the others just fed off of that person’s remark, or a LOT of people also did not read the article correctly. I stopped reading the comments after several of the negative comments. Figured there was nothing to learn from these people and moved on. I may not agree with everything you write on this blog, but that’s okay. I’m sure you wouldn’t agree with everything I wrote on my blog either if I had one.

  • Duelles January 21, 2014, 1:22 pm

    Thrown into retirement in 2007, we sold a house, went homeless for 4 years (mooching or renting). And found that with over $1m in the bank we were ok! With 3% withdrawal. Fast forward to 65 yrs old today and $30 K of SS makes us happy. We have no mortgage, cc debt, car loan and give our three kids each $2-3K per year.
    Everything is based on what we can spend under our income. Our portfolio has grown and you MMM are spot on. Found you in the WSJ. Carry on!

  • Jake January 21, 2014, 2:07 pm

    I, personally, was immediately skeptical.

    But when you begin to dig down into the details (graciously provided by MMM) it is easy to see how his lifestyle and philosophy is effective.

    A few caveats:

    By Year 4, their household income was ~$85k, which relative to the U.S. population puts them in the top 25% of income earners.


    Also, given the time period in which the MMM family began work, it was an excellent time to be investing and working in tech field.

    MMM never denies these things. Whether you think he is lucky or not is a moot point, because saving and investing wisely is something that everyone can and should be doing.

    Keep up the great work! Love the blog.

  • Carla January 21, 2014, 2:12 pm

    I really love the comment sections of news articles. All of those people with no compulsion to show appropriate social restraint and thought processes are fascinating. But then, I was a psychology major…. (It’s good to see you posting so often! I can’t wait to see more about the new house!)

  • Paula January 21, 2014, 2:23 pm

    I noticed you censored some of my comments where I disagreed with your advice.
    Disagreement receives the lable “hate” ever so often.
    This is a cheap way to avoid any reflection.

    Oh, another hater! I don’t have to take a close look what he/she says, he/she is just a hater!

    How convenient!

    • tallgirl1204 January 21, 2014, 2:58 pm

      I have disagreed with MMM on occasion, and thus far have not been censored. Perhaps (and I am just suggesting this) you could re-read such a comment before posting and ask yourself whether the tone suits the upbeat nature of this blog, whether it adds to the discussion or whether there’s a genuine question you’re asking, that if answered would add clarity to the discussion.

      I appreciate MMM’s rigorous policing of the comments section– he does not smother dissent in general, because I see a lot of contrarian comments that allow folks to look at different angles of a discussion. It is a relief to read a comments section that keeps the tone of a back-yard-over-a-beer discussion , rather than the yuck-o tone of most news articles (witness WSJ).

      • Clint January 22, 2014, 5:14 am

        I think I’ve been censored a couple of times–once for not really adding anything new and once for maybe getting a little mean-spirited on another commenter. I deserved both.

  • phred January 21, 2014, 3:21 pm

    Why do many gainsayers argue that retirement means non-work? Nothing could be further from the truth. The vegetable garden you’ve always wanted will take work – especially in the third year when insects come out of the woodwork. The remodeling project you help your neighbor with is going to take some physical effort even as it teaches you new skills. Even investments are no longer buy and hold. Designing a coping strategy when the index funds bubble bursts will take a great deal of deep thought in advance.
    These people act as if they’ve been brainwashed. Work is only work if someone rewards you with a bit of money. Pushing that rewards lever ever faster becomes the sole purpose of their lives. It’s difficult, then, to get their full attention.

  • Travis January 21, 2014, 3:32 pm

    I love reading the hilarious haters comments. They just don’t understand! Keep on keepin on MMM!


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