Give Yourself the Gift of Not Worrying About Money


This wine rack in J.D. Roth’s place (which is also where I am sitting as I type this) summarizes the philosophy nicely.

For most people in this country, financial problems are caused by not thinking enough about money.

One of the guys I hire occasionally to help me build houses, for example, is permanently broke and always requires full payment in cash at the end of each workweek. Yet at the beginning of each workday, he arrives with a fresh cup of Peet’s coffee from the gourmet shop he drives past on the way to my construction site, and a $5.00 pack of cigarettes that will get smoked in a hands-free manner as he runs the saws and nailguns with those talented hands.  He makes casual purchases without worry, but then must confront a gut-dropping wall of worry whenever the money runs out, which is every Thursday.

Although white-collar professionals may scoff at the obvious folly of this particular lad’s behavior, they tend to follow exactly the same script by signing up for monthly payments on cars and furniture, and voluntarily creating car commutes that send even more money up in smoke than a daily pack of cigarettes. The money may not run out every Thursday, but it does run out every Recession, when the job evaporates or the housing market crashes. Same problem in a different package.

But you’re totally different. As a fellow Mustachian, you join me in peaceful laughter at all forms of self-imposed money shortage. Those problems are not part of our world. You make a good income, but continue to ride your bike, cook your own food, and conduct your commerce on Craigslist. This creates an incredible money surplus, which increases your net worth more every month than the average person saves in a year. Even if you’re just starting out, financial independence is less than ten years away, and if you’re an old person in your 30s who has been doing this for a while, it is even closer. So how could life be any better?

If I could go back 12 years to visit my past self in the midst of this scene, there is a bit of wisdom I would love to share. It wouldn’t be stock tips or the sports almanac that Biff used to make himself rich in Back to the Future. Rather, it would be a bit of mental adjustment that could make the journey even more fun. It would a message something like this:

Dude. Chill out. You’re already rich, and thus it is time to start living that way.

This seemingly Antimustachian sentiment is not an endorsement of bullshit luxury spending. You don’t suddenly “Deserve” a new Mercedes, and you’re not about to go hire someone to cut your lawn and fingernails for you. But what you can do is give yourself permission to stop worrying about money, forever.

Once you have established the habit of non-ridiculous living and the correspondingly pumped set of frugality muscles, you are out of the woods. Riches are inevitable. You may not see it yet, because you are still climbing the ladder. Your naturally cautious and calculating nature requires you to hedge all bets thoroughly.

But you know that spreadsheet of yours that predicts a net worth in the millions in a surprisingly short time? That shit is for real, and it really does tend to come true. There is a future you out there, that looks almost exactly like the present you except with slightly grayer hair and more experience, and the future you has more money than you know what to do with. How does he or she live that future life?

Bringing that visualization back to your present life, you can use the knowledge to relax a bit. When you are faced with an unexpected expenditure or an unavoidable ripoff, you can laugh it off rather than pounding your fists against nearby objects.

Suppose you somehow end up downtown, and your spendy friends want to go to hit the $50.00 restaurant, sip a few $7.00 drinks and then take a taxi home. You’re out of your element: there is no nature around and there are no bikes in sight. Everything is bullshit. People idle their cars in unnecessary lines and pay $25.00 to park them in frustrating concrete mazes. How do you react?

The old me would start to sweat. “Inefficiency! Irrational spending! A week of grocery money flying out the window! Must escape situation and be unhappy until inefficiency is resolved!”

The new me would react differently. “Hey! I recognize this situation. It’s one of those ‘lots of money’ deals, and money happens to be one of my specialties. While my friends are about to spend 10% of their entire net worth this evening, I will lose a negligible fraction of a percent, and still go to bed tonight further ahead than when I woke up. So I might as well have some fun with it, because my financial position is so secure.”

The key bit of wisdom here is to take the relaxed perspective of your future rich self, and transport it into your current frugal one. You don’t have to start deliberately spending more, just deliberately worrying less.

As an advanced Mustachian, Money is your specialty. You are an expert at earning and accumulating money, and not wasting it. It will never be a problem for you, and this is a rare and incredible advantage. But in order to maximize the advantage, you need to convince your naturally cautious mind to let go of worry and embrace the surplus. Start feeling rich. Allow yourself to laugh at your occasional mistakes and indulgences. Notice how much better life feels with this constant companion.

But then when you’re done reveling in your wealth, you can fold up that fat wallet of yours, return it to its designated pocket in the backpack and hop onto your commuter bike so you can get back to work.


  • Vitai May 30, 2014, 12:26 pm

    I desperately needed a post like this to help me let loose. I am in constant worry about where my money goes and every stupid little purchase. I probably will be after I finish writing this comment, but at least in the back of my mind, I’ll be able to have this post etched in, reminding me that it’s OKAY to spend a little extra here and there when the situation calls for it. Thanks MMM!

  • Bob Werner May 30, 2014, 12:37 pm

    My Doctor Daughter who is 300K in debt always shows up with a cup of Starbucks and only drinks half of it. She will never worry about money because she has a license to print $200 every hour she works. She will be in debt the rest of her life and be comfortable with it. I, on the other hand, spend $1.00 on 100 bags of tea per month and feel I am living in extravagance.

    I’m also more on the 300K positive side of the ledger. The world could go the crap and I wouldn’t need to alter my lifestyle. I could literally sell everything and take a camping tour of the world for the next 2o years. If my daughter has a bump in the road, which always seems to happen, she will have a big surprise.

    When the friends want to get together for an expensive outing I usually suggest they come up to my 5 bedroom house and spend the day and night. We take a day trip in nature, I pay for all the food that I cook for 3 meals and they bring their suds. Everyone has a great time and I spend less that I would have for one meal and 2 drinks for my wife and I.

    Thanks for pointing out the folly of eating out at semi expensive venues. Not that I’m opposed to it. I just think people with significant negative net worth should think it through a bit more.

    One of my other children still thinks that people that live in big fancy houses and drive expensive cars are all rich. She doesn’t understand the difference between living like your rich and actually being rich. “My dear daughter, those people aren’t rich. They are up to their eyeballs in debt.” “But Dad, what would you know, you drive a clunker.”

    Net worth is a hard concept.

    • Barbara June 4, 2014, 3:55 am

      Bob, I can tell you’re concerned about your daughter, and like you, I think she’s way over her head. I am a doctor, and I just finished a semester of teaching doctors to be, and they’re ALL in huge debt, but can’t wait to finish so they can start to taste “the good life.” At the same time (and as we already know), health care is changing dramatically, and there’s no guarantee that she’ll be able to make that much money and service her debt, much less her lifestyle. It must take a lot for you to keep quiet.

  • Frank May 30, 2014, 12:58 pm

    Haha.. great article, I retired in January this year and yesterday my net worth was just shy of $1.4M mostly in stock ETFs. My Wife is still working and in theory (because of smallish pensions within 8 years) we should NEVER have to touch the stash.

    Now given this, guess what happens when I feel myself being sucked into a ridiculous money wasting opportunity?

    I literally break out into t a cold sweat, and I have to fake my pleasure lest it spoils the occasion for my friends!

    How silly is that?.. but old (frugality) habits die hard.


  • Kush Sharma May 30, 2014, 2:40 pm

    Great post! This is EXACTLY how I feel about my situation now. I’m not earning anything close to what my friends do at their soul-crushing jobs. But I’m a million times happier than them because I know how to save money in situations that contribute to my growth. I can afford to not work for a month or two without any worry.

    Frugality is not deprivation. It just allows you to be rich right now,And rich not just in monetary terms but in every sense. I can devote my time to my blog and that’s something I love doing, and I know it will eventually bring me more money that I can ever imagine. But the key is that I’m not desperate for that to happen, as I’m already happy with my life.

    • Eldred May 31, 2014, 9:21 pm

      I have a question. How do you keep from feeling deprived? Seems like someone who is used to fast food or gourmet coffee everyday would feel deprived if they can’t have it anymore. Or someone who enjoys going out to lunch with friends at work. So how do you not feel deprived when you have to STOP doing something you enjoy?

      • Kush Sharma June 1, 2014, 3:29 am

        Eldred, there’s no doubt that you have to let of certain things or habits. But it’s a trade off which is worth it because you realize that these things are nothing as compared to the freedom you experience. Where ever you don’t feel this trade off, then that’s a need for you so you can go for it. But if that’s happening more often then it should be happening, then it’s better to first reflect upon your life and see what exactly you value and what you don’t. Because I feel many a time people have their genuine priorities in the wrong order.

  • Jennifer May 30, 2014, 3:44 pm

    Great post. We just got back from a camping trip and decided we would like a bigger tent for our growing family. I found a high quality one I really liked for $650. My past self would never have made this purchase, but I thought about it and realized that this purchase will last a lifetime and I’m still spending way less than everyone with their big trucks required to haul their huge campers and fifth wheels.

  • Hrothgar May 30, 2014, 3:48 pm

    This will perhaps be useful if I get rich, but I’m not right now. I like the articles that help me better. Just thinking that I will have money, will not help me. After all, saving, investing and keeping cost down are central elements here. If we focus on those simple frugal rules the rest will follow.
    On the other side, I found that planing ahead and visualizing how life would be is a great tool. What do you want to change in 2014 ? What will life be liken in 2 ½ years from now ? – And how can that be accomplished ? Sure, It would be nice not to worry, but worrying will wear out once the cash flow is there.

  • Evan May 30, 2014, 5:24 pm

    23 year old hypocritical oil industry engineering intern who spends most of his time reading about other forms of energy finds MMM about a year ago – blows mind. Summarily:

    -wins girlfriend over to the light side of the force
    -commutes on bicycle through Canadian winter, loves it
    -finds other bicycle enthusiasts via community non-profit bike shop who teach said intern bicycle mechanics
    -spreads message of efficient living throughout yuppieville, to the occasional bewilderment of figuratively monocle wearing population and the douchebaguery emitted by young spendthrifts. Ends up making friends with like minded people.
    -becomes keenly interested in finance
    -book reading increases exponentially over time. Though the exponent is still low, the library sure is big.
    -becomes more excited for the future. A happy camper.

    This article kind of kicked ass with regards to thinking about beating yourself up for less than attractive purchases, but in the spirit of long term thinking… Huzzah! Have extra motivation to get your hands dirtier the next time you get a tool in your hands! Thanks MMM for the face punches, and may you and your family continue to prosper and live in good health and happiness.

    • Lee Lau May 31, 2014, 2:24 pm

      Not that you need any reinforcement but good for you. Hard to break free from conventional thinking in the oilpatch. Very tough for many noobs there to remember its a boom and bust cyclical industry and that you’ve got to save through the good times for the inevitable bad times.

      And best of all there’s now bike lubes that work through -30 deg C/

  • Bakari May 30, 2014, 5:41 pm

    I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt – but I do worry how I will avoid looking like a hypocrite to the friends I am trying to convince of the Mustachian way when they ask what my new (to me – actually 12 year old) carbon fiber racing bike with Rolf aero wheels and Dura-Ace component group cost, and I have to admit I handed over 10 shiny new hundred dollar bills for it.

    • nm_dude May 31, 2014, 9:44 am

      Bakari, go buy yourself a $200 runt bike so you can ride with your frugal brothers socially, and save the power bike for your serious mustachian excursions. :-)

    • Brett June 4, 2014, 12:12 pm

      Hey Bakari!
      I’ve reduced my car-driving drastically in the last few months per MMM, but I’d like to get a better bike to cut driving out altogether.

      How the heck did you get an awesome carbon fiber bike for 1k?! Craigslist?

  • G-fiberific May 30, 2014, 6:01 pm

    I’ve been in a saving/spending rut pretty much my whole financial life and up until about 7 years ago I finally got enough grip on my finances to start saving and keeping it. I’ve always kept a tight reign on spending for up to a few months at a time, but then end up, in my mind, splurging. One example: I had saved up $10k within my last year in the military only to blow it in the first 2 months of getting out. It feels almost like a pressure cooker that pops its financial lid, and then having the whole buyer’s remorse over the lost $$$ that seemed to fly away and feeling like I’m starting all over again. “What the heck did I spend it on?!?”

    This just happened again over the past couple months, but this time I don’t regret the disappearing act that happened because my home feels so much better for it – new furniture and organizing the garage. Much to my delight I found my stash is still growing, even with the unplanned expenses. Add to that the peace that comes from having the home feel more put together and clean than ever before. For the first time in a very long time (ever?) I can park a 2nd vehicle in my garage.

    • greg May 30, 2014, 7:57 pm

      “disappearing act that happened because my home feels so much better for it – new furniture … I can park a 2nd vehicle in my garage” — it’s a great feeling to be able to do this, but as the article points out, it’s an even greater feeling when stuff like this is, in most reasonable senses of the word, truly negligible.

      Trading in the second car for a bike might even have a greater effect if you’re up for trying it out!

  • Edith May 30, 2014, 6:30 pm

    I’ve always said: the only use of money is it’s ability to stop worrying about it. Being frugal is not worrying, is a lifestyle, and it allows you to not worry. :)

  • Dingo May 30, 2014, 7:19 pm

    This really hit home, Just recently finally pulled the trigger on updating my 1924 4 bedroom 1 bath house to add a second bathroom. $30k well spent to make the house actually sellable 3-4 years when we plan to downsize!

    Took a ton of time for me to feel comfortable with that level of spending, even though with our nest egg we could have afforded it years ago… Sometimes spending is worth it!

  • greg May 30, 2014, 7:53 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been seeing these changes in myself, but just as you have anticipated I am quite wary. I will still be a tad cautious, but things really have started looking like they are described above.

    This is a welcome kick into the real benefits of the long, personal re-training!

  • TheSurferbum May 30, 2014, 8:36 pm

    Nice article. This one definitely hits home for me. I have never had issues saving money, however I have always had “issues” spending money.

    The true value of money is not always evident to everyone, which can lead to some frustrating situations…Better to relax and realize that as long as the exceptions don’t become the rule everything will be just fine…

  • EricL May 31, 2014, 12:05 am

    Amen. I’ve been debt free for years but I vividly remember how it felt to be underwater. The stress, the phone calls, and the ever present dread and staring at it without action like a bird staring at a snake. I don’t know how other people with more debt than I had cope. There’s enough stress in life as it is. Living frugal has its sacrifices but I could never describe any in my life as tradgedies with a straight face.

  • Ken May 31, 2014, 12:28 am

    I love this post

  • Monica May 31, 2014, 12:54 am

    Thought I should say thank you for bolstering both my bank account and my spirits with your blog. I was feeling pretty down about a few things that hit recently: about getting shafted by an ex bf for $2000 whilst trying to help him out on top of my 13 year old dog getting hit by a car and requiring expensive vet care and surgeries…

    This article is a great reminder that our journey to FI will hopefully only happen once and that we should try to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Maybe it’s not about the destination as much as it is about how you get there…

    It also certainly helps knowing that things like dating the wrong guy need not happen again…bygones… All the while, taking your advice has been adding $s back into my account on a recurring basis. I switched to republic wireless after reading your article five months ago. I’ve been saving over $60s every month since. I loooove republic wireless!!!! Going forward, just taking that step will recoup losses from aforementioned jerk in three years on its own… And that’s not even calculating compound interest of investing those $$s (@ 5%, break even = 2.5 years).

    But wait, that’s not all, folks. Invested my too excessive emergency fund after a bit of mmm blog bolstering a few months back… And was pleasantly surprised to see the value having increased approx $1200 as of today….

    All said, not only can I forgive myself freely for my lapse in judgment, my life is steadily improving, that financial mistake has been already nearly been cancelled out with mmm inspired gains and most importantly…. I am walking ( soon to be cycling) down a path of long lasting peace and happiness… Thanks, MMM.

    Tomorrow’s adventure? Dusting off that bike I bought ten years ago and haven’t ever used yet to take an exploratory victory cruise to my office (five miles each way) … Looking forward to switching up my commute in the near future….


  • HealthyWealthyExpat May 31, 2014, 1:17 am

    May 31. Time to update the spreadsheet for this month. Think I’ll make myself a cappuccino first to help wake up from that dinner party we hosted last night. MMMM, awesome food and great company. Wow, that spreadsheet looks good this morning too. Think I’ll go for a bike ride to work off some of the excess nutrition from last night, clear my head, and celebrate the bottom line the sheet that is higher than last month. LIFE IS GREAT!

  • EL May 31, 2014, 6:04 am

    Financial Worries can never really go away fully, and it is best to learn how to manage them. If you have little money you worry and desire to increase it, if you have too much you worry about losing it on bad investments. I agree with MMM that if you stop listening to media, you can then focus on any personal finance task to get over the worry syndrome. The best thing anyone can do to stop worrying is to control spending, so when those unexpected expenses arrive you can smile while you write the check.

  • Mags May 31, 2014, 12:01 pm

    Thanks for a great post. I have finally made my way through all the posts and so, for the first time, had to wait for this one. Our family has muddled our way to being close to FI (we could probably retire now but we haven’t disciplined our frugality muscle sufficiently!). This post resonates with me because, as someone who tends to worry over the things that could go wrong financially and in life, I think the principles you advocate enable one to establish the discipline which is needed to gain a sense of control over our lives and finances, thus enabling us to cope when life’s hiccups do eventuate. With a little bit more rigorous application of Mustachian principles we should have the condidence in our discipline and control to make use of the financial position we’ve made for ourselves.

  • Mike May 31, 2014, 12:34 pm

    I sincerely believe that people in the future will look back at our current culture and remark at how strange it is that we all worry so much about money. Life is easier today than it has ever been in the history of the world. Part of this has to do with humanity’s unending want for progress. But quite a bit of it has to do with lack of perspective. We should all take time now and then to show gratitude for how lucky we all are.

  • Sue May 31, 2014, 2:12 pm

    I was getting a coffee the other morning (yes I buy one every morning at a local, privately owned cafe) and a woman in line said to me ‘Biking in the rain- impressive’. I replied ‘It’s May, it’s a drizzle, I do this year round’. I thought- Really? Anyone could do this. I live in Vancouver BC, it’s a great city to bike in. People are so scared of perceived discomfort. To me being on a stuffy, overcrowded bus is far more uncomfortable, or even worse stuck in traffic and then driving in circles looking for parking, ugh!

  • Mortgage Free Mike May 31, 2014, 2:35 pm

    Awesome post. I agree 100%. My motto is: If you can afford it, you can buy it. That doesn’t mean I go on shopping sprees. That’s not my nature. It does mean that I don’t need to spend time worrying about spending money every so often. After all, I could be putting that “worry” time to better use.

  • RapMasterD May 31, 2014, 5:17 pm

    Great post. But the subject is a tougher one for me. Since ‘discovering’ this blog several months ago we’ve probably chopped about $800-1000/mo from our expenses…minimum. But there are three glaring face punching line items we haven’t budged on so far because my wife and I both work long hours, have a young kid, and have limited socialization time. A) Gardening service; B) House cleaning service; C) Ridiculously expensive gym, albeit with nice outdoor pool.

    Last year, we saved 41.62% of net. If we didn’t have those three items in the mix we’d have saved 44% of net. My inclination, after the summer, is to bag the gardening service. But that only takes us up to 42%…sort of a rounding error. If I cut out the cleaning service that only takes us up to 42.4%. And then I’m spending about four-five hours per weekend not with my kid…when I’m typically gone from the house for 13.5 hours each day during the weekday. And if I cut out the big money suck, our gym, my wife, who is mostly frugal, gets very unhappy. I’m trying not to agonize over the gym in particular (which YES, I now ride my bike to on the weekend…). So, I think I will stop agonizing, and pull out the lawn mower. Every little bit makes a difference. P.S. Nice shaking your hand and chatting, albeit briefly, at the SF Meetup eight days ago, Pete. And yes, I rode my bike there, as well.

    • Cecile June 2, 2014, 9:33 am

      I’ll probably take some flack for my comment, but I’m going to comment nonetheless. My recommendation would be to avoid rocking the boat and keep the two services and the gym. Double income, long hours and a kid is a challenge. If you are saving over 40% already, your are already winning the game and the additional savings from canceling the services and gym appear to be rather small as a percentage of your current annual savings.

      The point of life is not to save money as quickly as possible, it’s to enjoy your life along the way. If the two services reduce your stress levels and free up a little of your time to spend with your family, they’re worth it. Similarly, if your wife enjoys her gym membership and you can easily afford it, keep it. Health and fitness are important, and fitness classes are a great sanctuary for overworked moms.

      Cut spending where it makes sense for your family at this stage if your lives and careers and don’t sweat the expenses that help you keep things under control.

      • marciaB June 3, 2014, 3:47 pm

        I completely agree with Cecile and think that a savings rate over 40% is already fantastic and that these few things help preserve quality of life for you (time with family). Also, you are employing local people, and that’s wonderful. At some point the frugality button is not the default one to push every time.

    • Cecile June 2, 2014, 9:51 am

      Quick follow up comment. If by lawn service, you mean chem service, by all means cancel it ASAP. I had assumed you were referring to a lawn mowing services.

      Also, I think it’s important to differentiate between (1) spending money on services,which helps support people in your area, and (2) buying stuff, which ends up in a landfill . I never feel guilty about (1), whereas I avoid (2) to the extent possible and use Craigslist, buy used etc. where possible.

      • RapMasterD June 2, 2014, 8:58 pm

        Hi Cecile — Thank you so much for your thoughtful and well-written responses. No no no…we’ve got a local guy, super nice, who mows the lawn, turns the soil, trims the shrubs and definitely does not apply chemicals. I appreciate your perspectives on purchasing ‘services’ versus ‘stuff.’ Cheers.

    • Dan June 3, 2014, 8:40 pm

      RapMasterD – I met you at the gathering at Heron’s Head, and count me among the crew that thinks you’re doing just fine, especially given where you live and what you’re up to, lifewise.

  • Derek May 31, 2014, 8:55 pm

    I think your wife made a comment one time that it actually hurts you to spend money- glad it isn’t really so :D
    I hated thinking about money from an early age – budgeting, planning etc etc- My solution was simply that if I always live way beneath the means, I’ll never have money worries and no longer have to spend any mental time on it. If something pops up that I need to(or really want to after running it through my spending money checkpoints) spend money on unexpectedly , I don’t give it any other consideration than thankfulness that I have the ability to pay for it and then can forget about it immediately afterwards. Enjoy your travels!

  • Rhonda June 1, 2014, 3:38 am

    I am so intriqued by the many of you that have achieved FI early on in life…well before retirement. Here’s my situation…and to boot, I’m Canadian living in Ontario. There is absolutely NO WAY I can live on 1/3 of my paycheck unless I move to the trailer park! I believe I have cut my expenses down as far as they can go, minus getting rid of my cell phone plan, which by the way is $60/mth & I rarely use the thing! That’s the cheapest I can find. Regardless, mortgage payments take 1/3 of my paycheck on their own. I have accelerated weekly payments, which is fine but doesn’t enable me to save 50-75% of my paycheck. My other bills include hydro/water, gas, water heater rental, netflix & my cell. I do not drink coffee, do not drink or eat out. I wear a uniform to work every shift so I do not spend much on clothing for myself or my 2 teens. One works & buys all her own stuff. One doesn’t care much what he wears as of yet! SO, when I read all your posts I am amazed at how you save so much and am still looking for that magic potion that is going to help me bump my savings to 50%. My current savings rate is about 20%. From what I gather, saving in Canada is much harder ;( ugh! But just means it’s more of a challenge!! Bring it on!!

    • G-fiberific June 1, 2014, 9:01 am

      Hang in there Rhonda! I’m about in the same financial boat with the percentages, and I have to say that looking at the monthly bills without the mortgage makes me want to pay it off fast! For me, the difference between paying off the mortgage fast or pay it off on track while continuing building the stash is 5 vs. 10 years left on my 15 year mortgage. My wife would rather see the stash grow.

      When I need motivation to keep from feeling like I’m not making any headway, I look at the bills without the mortgage and know that I’m on track to get in the sub-50% expenses. To me, when having the stash got really cool is when having a large expense no longer seems to hurt the stash’s bottom line anymore.

      Keep the eye on the prize and enjoy the journey to the destination. ;-) We all have this as long as we keep our regular monthly expenses down.

    • M June 1, 2014, 2:33 pm

      Rhonda, don’t allow yourself the notion that it’s harder to save in Canada. That’s a whine, and it’s hard everywhere. What you’re trying to accomplish is outside of the cultural norm so your independence-muscle could use some flexing to think differently. Keep looking at ways to do things that don’t require spending money (and the required HST). Watch your thoughts when you go without some tiny luxury; if you’re still okay a few minutes later, then the item was a want not a need.
      Keep at it, you’re moving in the right direction.
      PS: I get you concerns, truly. I live in ON, too.

    • MarciaB June 3, 2014, 3:50 pm

      Rhonda – remember that every dollar you put towards the principal on your mortgage counts as “savings” for the calculation. Why? Because you’re building equity, and a dollar in house equity is the “same” as a dollar of portfolio. Add those dollars in and see what your savings rate is!

    • Econowiser June 4, 2014, 1:19 am

      Hi Rhonda,
      I have to agree with all the other commenters here. Your statement might prevent you from seeing opportunities to “get there”. I used to be a complainypants about my situation here in The Netherlands as well. Houses are so expensive, waaah waahh, we have to pay more fees when investing, waah waahhh, it’s impossible to reach FI with our stupid tax system…waaaaaaah WAAH!!!
      I gave myself a kick in the butt for being such a complainypants. Fuck all the yes, buts….I am going to do it! HA! (And well on my way ;-) )

    • David B June 5, 2014, 7:50 am

      Don’t knock moving to help your situation. I know moving to a trailer park is a joke in your comment, but doing it, or something like that could help you get FI years sooner. My wife and I moved out of our house and into one much smaller. We have to do without a few things until I can add them on, but it is worth it as it has gotten us closer to our goals and now we have about 4 years left to work instead of 10

      • Carbonero June 7, 2014, 5:42 pm

        I agree with David B on not dismissing moving. From what I have experience since immigrating, “renters stigma” is alive and well in Canada, and it is really hard for most to even consider selling their homes and renting, even if it makes financial sense. It need not involve a trailer park – I know it would be WAY more expensive for me to carry the costs of owning the same place I rent. I live in Vancouver, where that ratio is perhaps worst in the country, but from what I have seen at least Toronto is pretty crazy, too. With the price to rent, price to incomes, ownership rates and other indicators of the housing market in Canada, I would suggest renting does come with less financial risk as well at the moment.

        I hear plenty of arguments ofr owning – that kids need to grow up in a stable home, that you have a sense of pride in owning your home, etc. – I think these should be up for questioning against a financial analisys of your situation and your goals. It sounds like your mortgage interest (and property taxes, maintenance, and host of other costs associated with your “owning”) are the major cost compoent of your budget, so clearly one to analize without any preconceived ideas.

    • Nigel June 5, 2014, 2:31 pm

      Hi Rhonda – regarding the cell phone, do you have access to cheap pre-paid phones in Canada? I spent $10 (US) on a Tracfone about five years ago – it’s totally lame compared to today’s smartphones, but it still works just fine for talk and text, and I just buy a $20 or $30 airtime card a couple times a year, because like you I don’t use it much. If it finally kicks the bucket I can just transfer the number and purchased minutes to a new one (they still sell for $10 today!). You might want to check a Walmart or equivalent type store near where you live and see what they are selling – just double-check the coverage areas before buying, though. Not a big-ticket item, but if it works out it could put a ~$600 dent in your annual spending. Good luck!

    • Slappy January 11, 2015, 9:59 am

      Hi R, I live in Ontario, & pay $25 per months cell with Kodoo. (With data). My son is with Virgin & pays $21 per month (with data). .

  • Nicola June 1, 2014, 4:40 am

    As someone who is relatively new to this kind of thinking, and who is at the beginning of the journey, I’m yet to stop worrying about money. However, because I know I’m now on the journey, I know that one day I’ll be in the situation where money issue won’t stress me out so much. Just need to stop wishing life away and remember to enjoy the present too – the journey is the exciting part really.

  • Jef Miles June 1, 2014, 7:32 am

    Completely agree, I had an example where I had to spend $400 odd on dental fillings and the fact that I had a stockpile or stash meant that I did not have to think or concern myself with it much or at all..

    Can not wait to get to the stage where I reach FI, any aussies who are keen to form a like minded group hit this comment up :)

  • Joe (yolfer) June 1, 2014, 11:09 pm

    Great post, but Biff gave his past self a sports almanac in Back To The Future Part II, not the original! :)

    Thanks for coming to Camp Mustache!

  • MP June 2, 2014, 2:50 pm

    This is a timely reminder for ‘hardened’ mustachians such as myself. Although I generally don’t fuss on the occasional night out, I do sometimes get pissed off when I feel like my money is being spent uselessly; My real concern has to do with potential relationships though. The last two people I dated were the spendy type who hardly put money aside and thought it was normal to eat out 3-4 times per week and adopt clownesque car usage habits, all of this despite having a very average income. Although we clicked on several levels, I just couldn’t get past the fact that they were throwing their money away in restaurant outings 3-4 times a week + clown-like car use. Getting the ‘potential significant other’ to see the light in this matter isn’t so easy in today’s consumer-driven society.

    • Monica June 2, 2014, 3:20 pm

      I hear you, MP. It’s tough in Los Angeles to find mustachian friendly guys. A lot of guys I meet are either super into money and aspire to drive BMWs that cost over $100k (which effectively ends the date for me…so not into that regardless of salary) or are way in the financial hole, do their grocery shopping at convenience stores and pull out $20 at a time from ATMs that charge $5 fees or more per transaction (cue visual of Munch’s painting The Scream). Ironically, both types are waaaay too interested in my finances. It feels like I can see their mental tickers going when they look at my house, salary range based on profession and personal satiety with less consumption. That’s when I generally launch into sharing my intention to get FIRE’d in the next several years and live on a less than $20k a year. The LOOK on their faces is priceless.

      It’s funny because Los Angeles is notorious for folks to judge people based on what vehicle they drive (me: 2000 Toyota Avalon, 153k miles and going strong…gifted from my folks 10 yrs ago…) My friends are always yelling at me to buy a “goddamn decent car” which makes me laugh. However, I am just as judgmental as the next person … just 180 degrees in the opposite direction. I find the mindset involved with plunking down big $$s on hyper expensive cars to tend towards vanity and preening. And, I can’t help but thinking, if they are careless with their $$, they’d be twice as careless with mine…These are traits that are hard for me to trust and/or respect.

      I think finding someone who already shares and values frugality/minimizing consumption on their own would be an ideal platform to build a relationship on among other things…

      • insourcelife June 2, 2014, 8:58 pm

        I love your take on being judgmental 180 degrees in the opposite direction. I find myself engaging in this “reverse discrimination” often when I see a fancy car or a shiny SUV. I’ve owned several BMWs by the way, although they were all older and with a lot of miles. Funny how views change as your priorities shift… For me, the birth of our son really opened my eyes to what’s important. Fancy cars are just another THING trying to get me work longer and spend less time with my family. No thanks!

      • Free at 55 June 3, 2014, 11:50 am

        Would you marry me???

  • Andres June 3, 2014, 2:25 am

    Quote that comes to mind:

    “2 things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything”

  • sir books alot June 3, 2014, 6:28 am

    If only stop worrying was as easy as saying to myself “Dude. Chill out. You’re already rich, and thus it is time to start living that way.” I could say that to myself everyday, throughout the day – and the worry will remain.
    I have also tried to relax about splurging on a fun night in the city with friends or family. I might be ok with enjoying one overpriced drink, then there is the second drink, and the fancy food on small plates. Something inevitably pushes me over the edge into worry – no matter how much I try to enjoy the money splurge or tell myself that I am rich. I have plenty of money, yet I still try to hold onto it with all my might.
    I have come to the conclusion that worry will remain, unless we replace it with something. Worry will continue to act like that beach ball in the pool that we try to push under the water, yet it keeps coming to the surface. We need to pop it. Destroy the worry. Replace the worry. But with what? What can we pop it with?

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 3, 2014, 10:41 pm

      Tricky question there. Knowledge? A deeper understanding of one’s own psychology? Philosophy too? All I know is that it can definitely be done, and the rational path is the one of least worry.

  • Scott June 3, 2014, 8:21 am

    This post was much needed. I’m already on track to FIRE in 4 years at 35, but was definitely the guy who shut down and yelled “inefficiency!” I’ve gotten better recently, much to the happiness of my still-very-Mustachian wife.

  • Free at 55 June 3, 2014, 11:48 am

    Hey, thanks for the “pep talk” MMM. I just dropped $50K on a new vehicle for my wife. I was feeling depressed, anxious, and most of all, hypocritically unmustachian. However, by employing some of the techniques you’ve described herein, I’m no longer losing any sleep over it. I look at it as the giving of a gift to a non-mustachian. I would never treat myself to such an extravagance, and am content in just knowing that I have no personal desire for such indulgences. So, I have rationalized the event as a win-win situation. The wife is happy (happy wife, happy life), and relatively speaking (no pun intended), I’m no worse for wear due to years of the practicing of mustachina frugality.

  • Money Saving June 3, 2014, 12:43 pm

    This is a great read for me – thanks MMM.

    I’m one of those folks that are steadily gaining and really have no need to worry about money, but I still do sometimes. Learning to let go and live a little every once in a while is a skill I’m still developing :-) Thanks for the words of encouragement.

  • John June 3, 2014, 5:27 pm

    Here is what I have issues with. In MMM’s case , the net present value of every day he doesn’t work as a software engineer is 10a of thousands, if not more. How can one get comfortable with frittering away that kind of earning potential?

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 3, 2014, 10:08 pm

      That is a great question, because it really makes the difference between a contented life and one of constant regrets. For me, it is actually very pleasant to give up earning opportunities and I do it every day. Forget piddly software stuff.. recently I got the chance to turn down a couple of seven-figure offers for this blog! Doing so makes me appreciate my real life even more, because it reminds me not to worry about money.

      Once you have Enough money, it is wise to let yourself fully off the hook about earning any more of it. It’ll probably still happen, but don’t worry about missing out, because really, you’re not.

    • Lee Lau June 3, 2014, 11:37 pm


      What seems like a long time ago I worked out what I would need for my wife and I to “retire” based on our lifestyle and no dependents. When I hit that goal I walked away from career track. Busy law practise I downsized and pretty much dropped. Lucrative buy-side finance gig I dropped.

      But then I had seen what the 80-100 hour weeks did for the people I worked with. The constant stress. The dog-eat-dog mentality. The constant need to win and get ahead. I hung in there for 8 years – but it was enough. One year of skiing and biking pretty much full time and I got bored and began to work again in bits and pieces. Sure I sometimes think about the fact that in my early-40s I should be at the peak of my career making bling bling but to what end?

      Through some happy accidents I’ve gotten what I want and saved the FU money that I needed for piece of mind. Anything more than that is just gravy. Sure it’s a pile of money to count the thousands if not millions of earning potential to walk away and I’d be lying if I didn’t sometimes thing – gee what if I had taken that corporate counsel job in Cupertino when the headhunters came calling. Then I go skiing …

      Hope that makes sense in a hedonistic kind of way

  • Big Guy Money June 4, 2014, 8:56 am

    I loved this article. Unnecessary, inefficient spending ties my stomach in knots. If left to my own wishes, we’d spend as minimal as possible, however my wife definitely balances me out. Not in a bad way, but in a “Dude, you can’t be a hermit until we’re FI”, loving, way.

    We’ve only been on our FI journey for a short time, so I still do worry we’ll suffer lifestyle inflation, however as each month and year goes by I’m more and more confident that if we do have financial ‘hiccups’, it’ll just be a bump in the road. It’s a process, right?

  • Kabwe June 4, 2014, 9:59 am

    When I first started on my path of financial stability I realized that I did not have to get rid of every indulgence, but learnt to budget for it no matter how small. This helped me not feel as if I was missing something. (My first desire was to be stable financial, but now I want that independence).

  • Bex June 4, 2014, 2:24 pm

    Great post MMM – For my little brother’s high school graduation I gave him $100* Under the condition that he reads this article and the Zero to Hero in 1 Blog Post and call me with his future plans. And the $100 will go into a high yield savings account until he has $1000 – Then we upgrade to his first Vanguard account.
    He rolled his eyes at me but accepted the challenge. :)

  • Franklin B June 5, 2014, 6:40 am

    I cut out an ad about 15 years ago from Citibank because it had a line that resonates the theme of today’s entry. Once ALL the debt was gone and the power of spending under my complete control, the game tilted in my favor.

    Wealth on your terms, that you define ………Being wealthy is not about having a lot of money. It’s about not worrying about money.

  • jestjack June 5, 2014, 2:37 pm

    Good article, Just don’t know if it’s possible, for me anyway, to not worry. I have lived and continue to live a thrifty life. But my income is based on investments and income from being a landlord. Sooo when the economy takes a crap my investments take a hit AND the RE biz takes a hit as it is harder to rent things in a down economy. Of course we’re not gonna miss any meals but I worry just the same.

  • HappyLater June 6, 2014, 3:37 am

    I am not a true Mustachian but I would like to be. I have been working hard at it, my biggest demotivation are the socializing osts that my wife incurs. That’s lunches with friends and socializing drinks. I am almost sure she does not spend the money for the food and drinks but to be able to fit in her circle of friends. Saying that i too have a lot of things to work on but I make progress month by month.

  • Mrs Nickels June 7, 2014, 12:28 pm

    B-o-o-o-i-i-i-i-n-n-n-n-g. That’s the sound of your words bouncing around in my skull.

    “But you know that spreadsheet of yours that predicts a net worth in the millions in a surprisingly short time? That shit is for real, and it really does tend to come true.”

    A few years ago my husband and I were 40k in debt. We dug our way out in less than a year, and just as we cruised into debt-free kingdom, I found you. What perfect timing that was. We originally had a plan to do the ‘ol 15% to retirement and then slave away for the next 30 years.

    But then I found your blog. Light bulbs went on, fireworks went off, and I made “the spreadsheet.” It said if we saved 60% of our income, we’d be millionaires in less than 8 years. It took a 30-second glance by my husband and he was on board. But I freely admit I was still skeptical. Fast forward, and we ended up saving $80,000 THAT FIRST YEAR. We’re on track this year too, and have already put away $35,000 in 5 months. We made our $125,000 mid-year benchmark last week.

    This shit IS for real, and it IS coming true. Thanks for the inspiration, MMM.

  • SimplyMom June 8, 2014, 2:14 pm

    Loved this article. We’ve always been pretty frugal to support our desire for a large family and we are well on track to meeting our goals, on a one income, state government employee salary. I’m expecting our 11th child this summer (3 are adopted, 1 moved out and married, 1 passed away as a baby, 8 (soon 9) kids at home 13 and younger). I’m a SAHM, homeschooling my kids and stretching the money. I recently found a lady who will come in once a month to do a “mom cleaning” of my bathrooms and mop and whatever else she can fit in 3 hours for $40/month. Those are the jobs I HATE. Kids do the basic day to day cleaning, but it still needed a mom level cleaning regularly. Every month I tend to feel guilty when I pay her, because it is something I really could do myself. It’s nice to feel like I’ve been given permission for my luxury splurge! One of the things I think is awesome about a frugal lifestyle is that it lets each person/couple decide what their priorities and luxuries are.

  • Nicole June 10, 2014, 8:03 pm

    I have recently been inspired by MrMoneyMustache to go back and analyze my spending for the last year, one huge area for improvement: weddings! My husband and I spend at least $1,000 per wedding we attend. I love weddings and I will not cut back on my attendance, but one easy place to cut back is on gifts. Instead of our usual $300 check, we can give a meaningful DIY gift: http://www.buzzfeed.com/notquiterichwhitegirl/6-truly-awesome-homemade-wedding-gift-ideas-rwvx

  • Mrs. GreenPennyGardener June 16, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Dear MMM,
    Thank you for this post. This is exactly what I needed to hear. I tend to worry even though we make way more than we spend, so much that sometimes I can’t even enjoy a special night out because all I can think about it how much money we are spending. You are right – we are already rich and I should stop letting money take over my mind. Thanks for the timely reminder!

  • Andres July 27, 2014, 10:48 am

    I have to say, the idea of stressing out over money in this way does seem so silly to me.

    Especially if you have the money to spend!

    Sure, you can be a coupon-clipping “millionaire next door,” and accumulate wealth better than 99% of the population.

    But if you value your time at a high enough per-hour rate, then in no way does it make sense NOT to hire someone to mow the lawn (unless you enjoy the activity, in which case of course do it!).

    Frugality is great, but overthinking little fun things like spending $10.00 on a cocktail makes life boring and un-spontaneous.

  • MJ January 7, 2015, 5:18 pm

    This is a great post overall, but I really appreciate this part:

    “Suppose you somehow end up downtown, and your spendy friends want to go to hit the $50.00 restaurant, sip a few $7.00 drinks and then take a taxi home. You’re out of your element: there is no nature around and there are no bikes in sight. Everything is bullshit. People idle their cars in unnecessary lines and pay $25.00 to park them in frustrating concrete mazes. How do you react? The old me would start to sweat. ‘Inefficiency! Irrational spending! A week of grocery money flying out the window! Must escape situation and be unhappy until inefficiency is resolved!'”

    As a recent college graduate, I constantly find myself in situations with friends who want to dither away our entry-level-job-starting-salaries (or rack up credit card debt!!!!) on trendy restaurants and exotic cocktails. The parking alone (as you mention) for a night out at these downtown hot spots costs more than a month’s supply of boxed wine. Yikes!

    Anyway, I’m so grateful for that you/your blog/follow Mustachians exist to provide guidance/inspiration as I venture into the “real” world.

    Perhaps I will give my friends the gift of bookmarking your blog on the laptops :)

  • J Money June 11, 2016, 10:38 pm

    Have always been frugal-minded, but started reading this blog nonstop to find ways to maximize my potential when i realize I could a lot sooner than what the mainstream wants you to think. This is definitely the hardest part. I am constantly looking for ways to cut every penny from the budget. Every purchase is deliberated and scrutinized. I am always on the prowl for ways to boost income. Every dollar invested means less time I have to spend on things I’m not passionate about. I don’t think it’ll be easy to flip the switch once i hit that magical FI number after all those years. I am at the point where it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice, but it is something i am always thinkibg about. Everything has a dollar cost associated with it in my head and i dont know if thats good or bad :/

  • Stephen November 3, 2016, 9:15 pm

    I’ve written similar posts about not worrying about money and adapting your financial mindset to live well within your means. I’m currently living in a province that has been hit hard by the low oil prices and I could be unemployed any moment. Thankfully I have my bills honed and can cut them down even further if that happens because I’m always expecting it.


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