Is Mr. Money Mustache Ruining Your Marriage?

octoThe following is an actual conversation from my email. Abridged a bit for sanity and privacy.

An Enraged Reader Writes:

Subject: Please Stop

Dear Mutilator of My Monies,

Please stop writing. My husband is enthralled. I am watching all of my dreams of a mommyhood filled with Tahoes, lattes, endless monogramming, and a pottery barn dream house go up in smoke. I am tired of hearing about your stupid blog. My husband actually used the phrase “the power of positive thinking” in conversation yesterday…like it was his original thought!!! Vomit.

I stopped by my husband’s office to visit him yesterday. I walked into the lobby there were patients waiting, so this is good. I walk through to the back, more patients waiting in chairs, so this is good. I walk back to his office. There he is! “Hey Ba – ” What is he doing??! He was reading your stupid blog!!! (I was secretly pleased that he was doing this at work during his time and not in the evenings during our time.) I now watch movies by myself. He lays beside me with one eye on the screen and one eye on his computer. He wakes up at 0500 bc he “can’t sleep” and reads the blog. Wahhhh You’re ruining my life.

I thought I was the most wonderful spouse on the planet because we recently paid off 6 years of student loans. And now here we are planning to scrape by for the next 50 years. I do not want to talk about money every hour of every day for the rest of my life. I don’t want to buy already crapped in cloth diapers for my baby on Ebay!

Please think about female spouses. There has to be a limit to the money talk, and the money supervision, and gearing our whole lives around counting dollars. We already live in one of the cheapest apts in town. We sleep in a double bed that was bequeathed to me at age 8. Our “couch” is a blow up bed. A broken blow up bed. WE ARE TOO CHEAP TO REPLACE OUR BROKEN BLOW UP BED COUCH. I dream sometimes about just coming home from work and stabbing it with a kitchen knife and watching it deflate.We live in a stifling, muggy, suburban town that takes 20 min to get to work. I am NOT riding a bike. I do drive a Prius which is as far as I go. No need to punch me in the face.

There has to be a balance. Your theory is flawed bc it is based on men. Families are comprised of men and women. The number one reason a man is able to save adequately is having a wife who saves adequately. How does a modern, style conscious, professional woman thrive with a male-infused idealism of mustachianism? The two cannot coexist. Women and men have different opinions about what is valuable. I value Starbucks as a treat. However, my husband and I literally drive away from the drive through to the same tune every time “This is RIDICULOUS! I can’t believe people pay this much for coffee!”

Don’t be mad. Just consider that a blog for men is only 50% of the fight. Maybe your wife wears a mustache like you, but this is rare. Very rare. Where is the other 50% for normal people?

I was both interested and amused by this submission from a non-reader. While there were definitely some misinterpretations and complainypants in there (especially with that incorrect attitude about biking), I also thought I sensed some light-hearted humor. So I wrote back:

Mr. Money Mustache Replies,

Dear Enraged Reader,

I sense a mix of sarcasm and real problems in there. Obviously no sane person would mourn the loss of a GMC Tahoe, but an inflatable sofa could be a valid source of long-term concern. Can you tell me more?

You can turn the tables on your husband and have him read ‘Frugal vs. Cheap’ to you. My lifestyle has always been pretty luxurious, after all. (I’m on a train to California drinking wine as I type this on my fancy phone).

On the other hand, you might want to explore your feelings towards challenge. I mean, who is so soft that they prefer a gasoline-powered throne to a muscle-powered bike? And is this weakness something to cherish and cultivate, or to overcome so we can live a more fully human life? We should talk more. I think there is a happy middle ground.


Enraged Reader Replies,

Hmm. Well, first to address the Tahoe issue which seems to be the most concerning to you. I drive a Prius. I drive a Prius with 4 hubcabs.

Correction, I drive a Prius with 4 broken, cracked, bent, hubcaps. Actually, I believe I still have a piece of one of them stuck in my side door pocket. Why? I seem to have a blind spot for curbs and large rocks next to curbs. I can’t seem to miss them. I have friends that have the same problem and also want SUVs. SUVS allow you to ignore conventional road side barriers as well as get elusive parking spots other sedans cannot get. The reverse can also be true I suppose. I like the thought of being up high, and I like knowing that I would be safe in the event of a wreck. I just recently discovered that people in SUVs can see TWO cars ahead of them. My whole life, I thought that we were all on an equal playing field, but we’re not. The SUVs know what’s going on before I do. They’re all in the fast lane, while I’m stuck in the slow lane!! I also like the thought of just being able to throw my whole life inside a Tahoe without having to tetris-pack my belongings. For example. “We need to go borrow a latter to paint the living room? Sure! Let’s pick it up in the Tahoe!” Or, “Let’s go by some large bushes or small trees at Lowes, and we can put them in my Tahoe!” Or “I don’t have time to pack- just grab everything and throw it in my Tahoe!” Or, “Girl trip to the beach? Everyone pile in my Tahoe!” When we have little kiddos, I want to be able to keep everything they could possible need in there – diapers, small stroller, jogging stroller, baby toys, extra wipes, etc with extra room for groceries. Sounds great, right?!!!

Also, I fear that the comment, “who is so soft that they prefer a gasoline-powered throne to a muscle-powered bike?” has quite missed its mark. I like “soft.” Remember, I am a woman? I put conditioner in my hair so that it’s softer, I shave my legs, so they’re softer, I put lotion on my arms, so that they’re softer. I even smudge my eyeliner a bit to give it a softer look. “Soft” is a feminine thing to be desired and in no way is it a turn off. Sooo YES! I am SOFT! And if a Tahoe makes me softer, bring it on!!! Also, I’ve never had muscles in my life and am totally ok with it.

Also I feel like you may not have tried to transport yourself by bike through a large suburban town. That means it’s 10 minutes by car to the grocery store, 20 minutes to work by car, 20 minutes to church, 15 minutes to our friends’ house, and 10 minutes to the canal in your car, where most bicycle enthusiasts then unload their bikes from their cars and then go biking along the river. What would be your solution to biking in a sprawling suburbanopolis?

And I guess it’s not just the blow up couch that drives me crazy. It’s the cumulative effect of a cheap life where we scrutinize every penny and are reticent to indulge in simple life enhancing pleasures. We are poor. Not financially, but outwardly, we are poor. My husband has an orthodontic practice, I work full time as a nurse practitioner, and yet we live like going out to eat at a restaurant with waiters will bankrupt us.

We were listening to a podcast last weekend, and you said that some people have a predisposition to the MMM lifestyle. I would like to introduce you to my husband. Watching him research different financial strategies has been like watching one of those toddler toys where you have to match each different shaped block to the appropriate shaped hole in the container and push it through. Mr. C is an MMM block. He didn’t know it until he tried to fit into several different financial holes without really fitting all the way around, and then finally found the MMM shaped hole and slid right in. He wants to retire early and take up hobbies, and travel, and be at home. He wants me to jump on the band wagon. That’s great. Except for the fact that I’m tired of self-induced poverty. My understanding of the MMM lifestyle is that you work hard to be poor while your young so that you can be poor without working when you’re old.

Being poor is okay if that’s what you’re called to or that’s what you’re life situation is. I would be okay being poor if I could stay home and have babies or was doing overseas missions or something. But I work hard Monday-Friday, and I can’t even enjoy a bottle of coke once a week! It is not a lifestyle that I want forever. And my husband would have to loosen up with the little things before I could throw my block into the MMM shaped hole. Something has to give.



park_cityAs you can see, quite a battle has formed between the three of us, and it scares me a little, since it’s a battle in a much younger couple with a much newer marriage than my own. Are these folks doomed?

They may be. Some people just develop drastically different perspectives, which may not be compatible. For example, my own wife would take strong offense at the idea that women are supposed to be soft. I would personally spend my time shooting holes in those amazing misconceptions about cars, bikes, and SUVs and the concept of “scraping by”.

At the same time, it sounds like the husband depicted in these letters could also use some tips on Selling the Dream of Frugality, as well as the difference between Frugal and Cheap. And if you are battling over monthly spending allowances while simultaneously feeling the desire for $100 golden sandals, something is bound to give.

But by gaining a broader perspective, there may still be hope. Every time I get a chance to meet with readers, I see couples who have arrived from both sides of the gender gap. About half the time, it is the girl who was frugal, and wrangled in the dude. Sometimes (as in this case) the man is the instigator. In my favorite stories, a high-income person, couple, or family spontaneously sees the light and chops a $200,000 lifestyle down by 75% or more, then shows up to report how much happier their lives have become. Doctors and successful financial advisors sell their golf course McMansions and move into the neighborhood next to their practice, and start walking to work and setting priorities straight in life at last.

Successful frugality must come from an alignment of philosophies, not an ever-stricter regime of bean-counting. So in Part Two of this article, I’ll share another story of a different confrontation between partners – one which led to much greater agreement and better results.  Until then, we can all chill out and realize that even the worst of financial disagreements is still a tiny detail in the grand scheme of our excellent lives.

Update: A Word about Internet Troll Speculation

A few dozen comments into our morning here, I can see quite a few speculations about the true intent of this email. Some think our author is a “troll”, which is someone who writes something artificial and inflammatory just for the sake of getting a reaction.

While I can’t prove it because I don’t know these folks personally, I would strongly disagree. Trolls are common on Reddit, but rare in the Mustachian community, because we are a smaller group with a more focused mission. Plus, this was a series of personal emails where the author had no idea it would get published.

More significantly though, is the fact that I hear about battles exactly like this one every single day. The perspective of the typical non-Mustachian consumer really is exactly as you read it here: frugality is deprivation, SUVs are valid road-going vehicles and little luxury purchases make you happy. When you try to spring a low-spending lifestyle on a person with this perspective, this is exactly what happens, and this is why we see effects like 90% of cars in the US being bought on credit. People are buying depreciating mechanized sofas that cost more money than their entire net worth. By the million. Every single month.

This shit is for real, and that is why I believe the sentiments here are genuine. The question remains, then: how can you completely turn this perspective on its head and end up with a person that actually enjoys frugality?


  • JoeJustDoIt July 19, 2014, 7:57 am

    Excuses can always be made on why you can’t be frugal.

    But Mr. Money Mustache…I live in a city with insurgents so I need to buy the latest bullet-proof-vest and drive around in an armored-SUV to buy Milk…


    I live in the Ecuadorian Amazon that routinely floods every season so I need a helicopter and a girl with a tattoo on her back so I can find dry land…

    Frugality (not cheap) is a mindset. Savings will abound if you search and/or cultivate them. Maybe biking isn’t an option but how about public transportation or carpooling? That pesky SUV blocking your view in your 50mgp vehicle? Switch lanes. Keep denting your hubcaps – install curb feelers on your car. Can’t possibly live without a car? How about planning your trips so you make the most out of each drive while maximizing mileage? Getting the “hey baby” calls while cycling? Ignore and move on. Don’t give others power over you. I’m Ecuadorian and had my share of beer bottles thrown at me while being called a “spic”. I just ignored it and went on my merry way. I’ve been a victim of several attempted robberies and learned to be aware of my surroundings as a consequence. I now feel safe traveling anywhere. There is absolutely no excuse for not implementing frugality into your life – just do it.

  • TheGoyWonder July 19, 2014, 8:12 am

    It is scary that I could crash my bike, go to Urgent Care or the ED, and have my life in the hands of such an irrational, negative care provider.

    Status is the motivating factor here. I wonder if as NP, she sees herself as Queen Bee of the Nurses instead of an independent provider much like a PA. Maintaining an alpha-female status would be extremely taxing and foster her strange mentality.

    On the other hand most medical doctors I know take things to extremes: they like traveling so they buy a plane, they like sports cars so they own a garage full of Porsche, they like the mountains so they buy a mansion there. The husband could easily be taking this blog way too far.

  • Judge Stew July 19, 2014, 8:24 am

    My first comment since discovering the site 9 months ago.
    I was wondering how many marriages you were wreaking besides mine. Since I discovered you about 9 months ago I have made some small changes and have been attempting to influence my wife to become more frugal with the idea of achieving Financial Independence.
    At the start of 2014 I decided to not buy things or stuff unless I really wanted it. So far I have spent $9 on things this year. I have been reasonably frugal my whole life but have just taken it to a slightly higher level.
    However, as a result of your blog I have realized that I can achieve Financial Independence. This led me to see where the money was going, which led me to my wifes spending which has led us to marital strife.
    I have e-mailed her some of your articles and she reads them and then makes snarky comments and she refuses to change.
    I have given up on having her see the light and feel as if I am tied to an anchor and am now going to descend to the ocean floor whilst drowning in a sea of material garbage.
    I love your blog and will continue to read it until caught up to date. I will continue to work on my wife but feel that it is hopeless.
    Thanks Judge Stew

    • Rick July 21, 2014, 11:54 am

      Judge Stew,

      Make it work. If you are a judge, or a lawyer like me, you know how big a financial hit a divorce is. Even if you ended up saving money in the long run, would it really make your life happier?

  • Just Me July 19, 2014, 1:07 pm

    My husband and I started out as Dave Ramsey followers. It was me who initially wanted to start the Financial Freedom process and my dear husband reluctantly agreed. Together, we searched the web for more knowledge and came across your blog. Fast forward years later and my husband had medical problems which required him to retire early. Thanks to the frugal lifestyle, it wasn’t an issue. I work because I love my job. I think the writer’s comments on your blog being geared towards men is inaccurate. She’s entitled to her opinion and if she wants to work the rest of her life so she can have a Tahoe and Latte’- more power to ya but it’s not for us. :)

  • Miki July 19, 2014, 1:39 pm

    No one has mentioned here yet that hairstyling, makeup, wardrobe, and other “soft lady” concerns are much more about skill-building and resourcefulness than it is about BUYING STUFF. Sound familiar?

    I am a professional actress and the beauty/self-maintenance standard I deal with is far higher than it is for women in other professions. And yet, I have found that through practice and innovation, I am able to present myself at auditions, red carpets, and on stage for performances with just as much style as an actress who spends 10 times what I do on products and hires people to cut their fingernails and brush on their eyeshadow.

    How is learning how to paint your own face any different than MMM learning to regrout his shower stall or whatever fab project he’s got going on any given day?

    • Mrs. Money Mustache July 19, 2014, 7:08 pm

      YES!! Thank you Miki. I completely agree! I also strongly believe that just being healthy, clean, and carrying yourself well and with confidence is more than half the battle to looking good and “presentable”.

  • Annie July 19, 2014, 1:44 pm

    The thing with Personal Finance blogs, and maybe most blogs in general, is that they are very personal. I love the MMM concept that buying a new car will hold people back financially, but I do have to say that his bike&backup-car stance is on the dogmatic side. Public transit and car-sharing, two other good ways to get around, are generally only mentioned in the comments section. What works for one person or family might not work for everyone.

  • AbsofSteel July 19, 2014, 2:47 pm

    Mr and Mrs MMM, This is my first comment on your site, which is btw my FAVORITE!! Thank you both so much for all the effort you’ve put into such a great blog; really, it’s finally given me the vision of the future I want so badly, but before now had a hard time envisioning. My trajectory has (in the last 3- 5 yrs) been a good one, but with no real vision of my end goal, other than to be debt free, which in and of itself is not a fool-proof motivator. After craving some ideas on improving my personal finance, i ran into your site through an article on msn money (i think, and yea, i know i’ve been soooo misguided). I started at the beginning and was up to date a few weeks ago. I had been waiting a few weeks now for the the next one. Needless to say, I have a strong urge to punch more (alot more)… anyway, I definitely take offense to this women’s post. I don’t think she represents the majority of women and would rather she not try to speak on my behalf. I’m not a psychologist (or a fortune teller), but sure sounds like a breakup is in her future unless she can just let go of the preconceived bs and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Really, it does take two, so she can’t blame her husband for her own lack of creativity in finding some common ground. I mean, come on now, your seriously considering getting aggressive with an object is a waste of time when instead you could be searching craigslist for a used couch?? People are practically giving unwanted furniture away. Not sure I believe a women who earns her own money cannot seem to take some control. Also, lets not separate being soft from a beautiful mustache; I sure do enjoy being a soft woman, butt approach it from the inside out (ie consume healthy foods and oils). I am even more so proud to be strong and fit, independent and frank. I want my skeleton and supporting muscles to be strong when I’m old, not mushy and splintered and I want control of my life and mind. I think women should be strong and wear (even if not visible to the naked eye) a big, happy mustache. So, thanks again MMM family would love to read some more posts from Mrs MMM (no pressure : P).

  • Mrs. Money Mustache July 19, 2014, 7:02 pm

    Oh man… some of these comments are magic. I need to go through and read everything thoroughly one of these days.

    My thoughts on this woman is that she is damn funny. I couldn’t stop laughing when I first read this e-mail. I really enjoyed her writing and her story. And while she was funny, I think I know a few women who also feel this way…

    The thing about frugality is that it’s different for everyone and it requires proper perspective. It takes time as well… MMM has always been hugely concerned about the environment, ever since I met him. I’ve sometimes brought him to tears with purchases that I thought were perfectly legit. When you’re in a relationship with someone, you need to understand them, they need to understand you, but you also need to understand yourself. There’s a difference between being frugal and being truly free from consumerism through time and perspective. The difference is huge and it is a big gap to jump across, but once you do, frugality becomes easy. It doesn’t mean you don’t struggle sometimes to find balance, but you have an easier time because you’re already 90% of the way there through your beliefs and values.

    So, while I would never want to have a blow-up couch in my house (unless blow up couch technology has really advanced lately), I can just have one couch that lasts a really long time. Possibly forever? I don’t know… our 14 year old couch still feels brand new to me.

    I also think that leaving work allows you some freedom that others do not have, mostly time. When you have a lot of time available to you, decisions about whether to drive or bike become easier. Buying new clothes is not as important. You’re less tempted to go out and eat when you’re in a rush, so you cook at home. BUT, conversely, having biked and cooked at home a lot, also gives you the perspective that it’s easy — often easier than going out to eat and driving. In fact, not only is it easier, but more fun and healthier. So, maybe it requires changing your habits (perhaps through something called mustachianism?) to see how much fun the alternative really is and change those habits forever.

    So, I think it really takes doing it for a long time and acquiring new habits, while still being yourself and being good to the environment, and then you find yourself not needing stuff. In fact, you may find you hardly need anything at all.

    This is where MMM and I are at, and this is the perspective we come from. It’s hard to convey to those who aren’t there or who are feeling deprived… these are legitimate feelings, but we’re telling you what it feels like from our side. We have a lot of stuff from our past days, so while we don’t buy much now, we have 20 years of buying under our belt and plenty to show for it. We still buy clothes and go out to eat and drive and spend money, but we do it consciously. I think that just being conscious of your buying and not doing something out of habit is half the battle.

    For this couple, they obviously need to sit down together and figure out their goals. Obviously, one is far from the other and they need to close that gap. But, it can’t happen overnight and it may be a lifetime struggle. It requires some compromise and maybe there’s a point where things become really good for both sides. It’s going to be different for everyone. I know my journey here took a long long time and I’m still nowhere near being a badass, but I’m doing pretty good. MMM and I agree 95% of the time, but he probably wishes I could go the extra 5%. Some days I do, some days I don’t, but the key is that he knows me and doesn’t complain.

    • Mrs. Money Mustache July 19, 2014, 7:33 pm

      Oh, and regarding the male/female thing, I don’t see it as it refers to this blog. Yes, I am a woman, but I enjoy being a strong, wise, gray-haired woman. And while I think women are beautiful and fabulous, I guess I don’t identify well with the word “soft”. There are many examples of incredible badass women that I would love to emulate. While I consider myself to be a feminist, I don’t relate well to the women who need to have their nails done or don’t want to get dirty or who think they can’t help with moving a couch.

      On the other hand, I can relate to women who are afraid to bike due to various issues (safety, for example) and I find it unfortunate that some women don’t feel like they can bike due to harassment in their area – I would also be reluctant under these circumstances. Luckily, my exposure to harassment on my bike is very limited, but in every case, I was certainly glad to be biking quickly past instead of walking or running. Maybe there are better routes to take or traveling with a partner also helps. Many of my nighttime commutes were with MMM, which made me feel a lot more comfortable.

    • MrsMoreWithLess July 24, 2014, 8:13 am

      I’m not sure if it’s just a result of big city/East Coast culture, but I’ve found that women who leave the workforce as you did or telework to stay home with a child as I have are viewed by other women as very wealthy, or, with a sort of passive disapproval (“I could NEVER do what you do! I’d get SO BORED at home!”). Do you experience that as well out in CO? Out here, one of the first things a (professional, college educated) couple expecting a baby is asked isn’t just is it a boy or girl but “What are you going to do about daycare?”

  • Boganvillia July 19, 2014, 7:51 pm

    I belong to yet another couple where the lady (me) is the Mustachian, and the husband is being dragged along semi-reluctantly.

    The stereotype of the spendy lady: I am afraid have anecdata which suggests that this idea may be bollocks. The women in my data population are almost all women who dislike shopping and dislike spending money.

    It may be a self-selecting group, seeing as they are all colleagues at my work, and not earning very much money. So maybe as a group they are more likely to appreciate the value of money, seeing as they are going to out to earn it themselves, and there’s not very much money to go around.

    I discovered the blog about 5 months ago, and have since dragged the family finances through the wringer. My husband thinks I am extreme in my approach but is secretly pleased with the state of the balance sheet, and that we haven’t had to approach the bank to extend our home equity line of credit, which we most certainly would have to have done by now otherwise.

  • Kirsten July 20, 2014, 5:03 am

    I disagree with the writer that you need to consider women. I’m a woman and seen to be closely aligned with the writer’s husband’s perspective on money. She’s aligned with my husband. There are just some people who feel entitled by their paycheck. But I like your note that we need to align our perspectives and not just bean count. Maybe she can get a used mid sized SUV and a barely used couch and be a lot happier with other really frugal choices. But I fear the real problem is that they are not having an actual dialogue.

  • Daisy July 20, 2014, 7:51 am

    While I haven’t read all 300 comments I do find that I agree with the sentiments of some. On the whole I like the MMM philosophy of frugality vs. cheap and the importance of personal empowerment and choice within the realm of one’s life. I find there are many positive, take-home messages on this blog.

    That being said I also find his message, at times, patronizing and belittling to those with dissenting ideas. His tendency to label things “complainypants” etc. at times dismisses real and valid critiques, or divergent experiences, simply because they don’t line up with his particular brand of frugal and independent living. For example, the bike thing drives me crazy. I find comments about “complainypants and lazy people using cars vs. bikes” really offensive. There is the whole safety thing noted above by many women, not to mention the fact that many with disabilities cannot use a bike. My son is profoundly disabled. If we want to go somewhere we need to travel in a converted mini-van. No Pruis for us, and certainly no bike.

    Again, while I like the sentiment in this blog, at times the ideas definitely address the experiences of educated, able-bodied, healthy, middle class, white male privilege and dismisses the valid experiences and real-life challenges of those who do not live that life.

    • Chess July 22, 2014, 8:24 am

      Daisy, I hear what you’re saying, but I think there’s also a bit of a misunderstanding. The MMM blog makes no secret of speaking to the average middle-class person and addressing the wastefulness inherent in that “lifestyle.” There’s nothing wrong with that. I spend a lot of time in an academic context dissecting the “othering” of our culture, and I believe it to be a real phenomenon – but I still don’t believe that addressing the a certain group is a crime. In fact, I think it’s problematic for someone from one experience to try to pretend to have a real insight into a different experience. I write a lot about low-cost housekeeping, but I shy away from pretending that I have insight into things like SNAP benefits, not out of disgust or recrimination, but because how dare I try to claim someone else’s experience that I have not lived? No small blogger can be all things to all people, and to try is perhaps more offensive than to remain honest about limitations.

      I think MMM’s clarion call, and use of the word “complainypants,” refers to a vast pool of people with multiple privileges who use any excuse they can find, even in the midst of so much opportunity, to avoid any discomfort. The term “complainypants” also refers to people who differ in experience from MMM on a few points and use this as a reason to throw out the entire concept of living frugally and achieving a more solid financial foundation than they might otherwise. My family is very different from MMM’s. I’m confident, like you, that I’m not being a complainypants when I say that my family needs two cars. That’s our final conclusion, given our family’s unique challenges – but MMM made us think really hard about it, and that’s the big picture. And instead of wishing I could afford something better, I’m now bursting with gratitude for our banged-up old Japanese sedans – every time I turn the key, my life feels really rich. We could save more money if we biked everywhere, but we can’t, so we work around that; MMM’s experiences are in many ways very different from my own, and he speaks to a different audience, but there’s a lot to learn nonetheless.

  • Asset-Grinder July 20, 2014, 1:34 pm

    Lol sounds like me and my wife right now. I want to sell it all but she wants to hoard everything. Tough to get on the same page

  • Justin July 20, 2014, 8:49 pm

    Sadly, I feel that the “Enraged Reader” as well as a few other commenters here are missing the whole point of Mustachianism – it is mostly mental, not as much tactical. MMM isn’t much of a fan of budgets in the first place; there is no Mustachian “rule” that one cannot buy pantyhose, birth control, etc, or even that a Mustachian must bike daily to work (there is walking, carpooling, public transport, working from home, etc). The Mustachian mindset and mentality can apply equally to men, women, couples, even if those specific line item budgets might look different from one person/couple to the next.

    Living a Mustachian lifestyle is about prioritizing based on your shared values and pursuing true happiness over material-induced. The tactical piece of MMM will fall into place if both parties to the relationship are focused on a common goal and their financial priorities line up.

  • Jen July 20, 2014, 9:57 pm

    They are living cheaply – not frugally. She absolutely needs to take a knife to the inflatable sofa and purchase a high quality, like new on off Craigslist..

  • Kathy July 21, 2014, 3:37 am

    Hubby and I are on different pages regarding finances. I am frugal and save about 30% of my income. I do allow myself some indulgences now and again, though. Hubby on the other hand, is a spendthrift and did not save anything until a year ago. Now both of us contribute USD100 per month for our travels. Now he gets excited whenever we have to take a trip because we already have the money. (I always had the money while he had to scramble). Since he is still excited about the ‘magic’ of saving, I will propose that we increase our savings by a small percentage.

  • margot July 21, 2014, 4:56 am

    The author of this letter seems primarily committed to being a victim and to hanging onto her reasons for complaining. Were I in her shoes, I would have found an awesome, like-new, pretty couch on the free section of craigslist, for free on freecycle, or for a pittance on the “for sale” section of craigslist. Why spend so much time and energy hating your blow-up couch when you can fix the problem without actually affecting the finances at all??

    Second, it’s odd that the letter writer blames her problems on the gender bias of MMM’s approach, yet she seems to ascribe to oppressive gender roles in her own household. If I didn’t agree with how the finances in my own household were being run, I wouldn’t spend my energy writing to a third party about it. Instead, I’d deal with my husband, and I’d make it known that I planned to use my money as I wished. You are equal to your husband, FYI. If you don’t like how your household is being run, you have 50% of the voting power to change that. I think your life will be better if you mostly follow MMM’s blog suggestions and if you listen to your husband’s concerns and dreams and try to at least meet him half way, but if you don’t agree, go ahead and do whatever you want rather than just complaining and blaming.

    Finally, I can’t believe how much space was dedicated to pantyhose in the comments. People, you really aren’t such victims. I’m a professional woman who has worked in a six-figure, conservative profession, and I’ve worn pantyhose exactly twice. I’ve been to the White House without pantyhose. No one cares. Just wear pants or a skirt of modest (knee or so) length. Even in work places where some women wear pantyhose, I’ve never noticed a penalty for women who choose not to. I’m guessing that about 0.1% of work places these days make a fuss about women wearing pantyhose. Stop looking for excuses to spend money where none exist.

  • Sarah C July 21, 2014, 11:33 am

    I’m not sure why my first comment got deleted, but I was going to come back and add something. As I’ve thought about it over the last few days since reading this post, I have to say that MMM is IMPROVING my marriage. Talking with my husband about our shared values (financial and beyond), our shared goals (what to do with our time and money), and what we want to do with our lives together makes our marriage and our connection to each other stronger. We are lucky, it’s true, that we are so in sync on this topic as this letter-writer and her husband don’t seem to be, but we hadn’t been having active conversations about our financial and life goals before I started reading this blog a few weeks ago. Forcing ourselves to talk about WHY we want to save cash and ride our bikes for errands has been immensely liberating and enjoyably — talking concretely for the first time about what retirement should look like for us, and when we can get there just solidifies that we are in this together, and that we intend to enjoy our relationship for many years to come.

  • Rick July 21, 2014, 11:49 am

    I’m a lawyer. A few quick thoughts:

    1. One incredibly efficient way to destroy your savings is divorce. For reasons financial and otherwise, this couple should be encouraged to progress together in their goals, not to break up. Even if the wife is not a full-on mustachian, she is clearly not a spendthrift to have gone this far with her husband. Let the woman buy a Coke and maybe a couch without being nagged.

    2. Dresscodes – with regard to comments above, at least for those of us who have to wear dressy attire to work, women do have it worse. I (male lawyer) can get away with 3 suits and some shirts. Women cannot get away with just 3 outfits.

    3. The wife clearly has more lofty ambitions than having a large SUV – motherhood and overseas missions came up. The husband should focus his sales pitch on how frugality can further those goals.

    • Bert July 21, 2014, 2:41 pm

      “2. Dresscodes ”

      I have seen this repeated a lot throughout these comments but do people not shop at thrift stores? Every time my wife goes to the local Goodwill she comes home with brand new clothing (tags still on) that cost her less than $5 per item.

    • OverseasMustache May 22, 2016, 2:39 am

      Is it really true that women need more than three outfits? I am a professional woman in a conservative profession (diplomat) and I own two cheap suits. I have several shirts though. These have proved just fine for meeting ambassadors, heads of state, and an assortment of diplomatic functions. Also, I don’t own pantyhose. my husband however, has to wear a tie. So whose wardrobe is more expensive now?

  • Caligirl July 21, 2014, 1:03 pm

    I’ve been reading this blog for a while and find it nothing short of inspirational. For me, it’s not necessarily about retiring by a certain age, but more about financial freedom whenever I do retire. At the end of the day, I come here because I get a lot of great ideas and reading about other people’s journeys keeps me motivated. I think it’s about taking information from others and applying that information in a way that makes sense for you. The balance I have found is determining what is important to me and what isn’t. I spent several thousand dollars on a mattress and have no regrets. Those back problems I had for years are gone. For me, that’s a quality of life issue. It’s not for others to judge my quality of life. That being said, I walk to work every day carrying a lunch I made at home, and (as a woman), have little care to spend big $$ on clothing. I enjoy managing my maxed out 401(K) and back door and mega back door ROTH IRAs. BUT, different things matter to different people. I had an uncle who saved every penny and died tragically young and never enjoyed any of it. I know people who blow every penny and are shocked when they can’t retire. I think for me there is a happy medium, and only I can figure that out. So, instead of criticizing how people spend or don’t spend their money, I think it’s more important for me to learn what I can from how others live their lives. I don’t think biking across the city would be my thing, but it certainly does encourage me to keep walking to work and even to complete a few additional errands on foot now and then. So keep posing, and I’ll keep reading. :)

  • Bert July 21, 2014, 2:39 pm

    I know I bug my wife sometimes due to my cheapness (sometimes extreme) but I am glad that she is at least frugal. My wife enjoys her small hatchback that we paid cash for, our small house, and enjoys eating at home, hiking, running, and other free/cheap activities. What she doesn’t enjoy is when I am too cheap to pay $60 for a really nice dresser on Craiglist or that I wear torn jeans because I am too cheap to buy brand new ‘irregulars’ (I swear that I can never find what is “irregular” about them) for $5 at the local discount store. I am working on my cheapness though and hope it makes our marriage even better than it already is.

  • Chess July 21, 2014, 8:30 pm

    On some other post, MMM said something great that I think of all the time: “You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.” I think that would be really apropos for any negotiation, whether it’s in a marriage or in dealing with children. The Mustachian way of life doesn’t seem to be about having a little as you absolutely possibly can on some kind of dare – or else MMM would be living in hole in a tree, eating squirrels, and with no fancy phone to record the experience – but rather it’s about zeroing in on the very few pleasures, and finding the line between what makes life truly lovely and what starts to weaken it.

    When I started reading this blog and applying some of the principles to my life, I just assumed that I was going to have to adjust it for my idea of femininity. I’d tried flouting all of society’s expectations about female beauty and … it wasn’t for me. I resembled something that crawled out of the gutter and I was scaring the children. I look a solid one billion times better with a little makeup, which is a pretty good ROI on a six-month supply of colored goo I can get at the drugstore for $5.94, so I buy it (though I often buy it from eBay, new in package and just fine). I don’t see this at odds with Mustachianism at all; in fact, it was Mustachianism that gave me the idea to pare my makeup bag down to the bare minimum. I made a conscious choice that I was going to purchase basic neutrals and replace them when they ran out, which is quite different from shopping as a hobby or compulsion, or being the puppet of marketing that tells me that I’m not really a person unless I have this season’s new nail color.

    In fact, the whole idea that spending money on beauty is equivalent to being weak, sybaritic, and compulsive is where the whole thing runs off the rails, especially for the letter-writing-wife. She equates the softness of femininity with the softness of indulgence, to which I cry “Nonsense!” It is possible to take care of your beauty and femininity in a reasonable, measured, economical way that doesn’t just open the floodgates of your heart to wanton, unchecked appetite. Maybe a real John Wayne would take a look at a lady’s giant tub of Kirkland conditioner and tell her that she’s weak, but in all honesty, nobody’s failing to achieve financial or mental independence because she spends judiciously to keep her hair from turning into a tumbleweed. No, it’s the idea that if you value soft hair then you OBVIOUSLY also need a soft, Tahoe-driving life to match it that keeps someone from financial and mental independence.

    I do feel for this wife, though. I think if her husband approached her a little differently, and was careful not to be miserly, she might be able to discover that she could have a life that was both frugal and feminine by her definition of the word. She’s got an all-or-nothing mindset, and she’s choosing all; he’s got an all-or-nothing mindset and he’s choosing nothing.

  • mandy mcdude July 22, 2014, 7:36 am

    For me, the key benefit of Mustachianism is reclaiming control over my life. Back from my employer. Back from the commercials on TV. Back from the Joneses.

    This woman (whether she’s real or not) clearly feels out of control. So I don’t blame her for feeling this way. Her husband seems to be driving the car, and she doesn’t like his driving. I think they need to agree on a middle-ground; that way they both can be drivers.

  • Brian July 22, 2014, 8:01 am

    I am not a particularly religious man. But, having studied the reader’s letter and hearing her thoughts and tidbits of information like, “going to church” and “overseas missions”, I would strongly recommend the reader read more about “the virtuous woman” in Proverbs 10:31. Look, I am not trying to proselytize an alternate way of living here! But, for many people who value their faith traditions, using the Bible as an authoritative source on living may indeed be more persuasive to them based on their convictions in life. All that being said, you can pick up an actual couch at Goodwill for $25 usually. No need for blow ups! Personally, my couch was a hand me down. Income 140k ish. 30 years old and single. Net worth somewhere between 250-400k. House will be paid off in one year. And, even I have a hand me down couch and am very comfortable with it! As far as Starbucks goes, my only advice there would be to pick up some Starbucks Gift Cards on eBay for 30% off, like I did, and enjoy your simple luxuries with your girlfriends at a discount : ) Have no idea how to cure your Tahoo predilections.

    • CincyCat July 26, 2014, 1:14 pm

      I, too, wondered about the role of their personal family culture/traditions/religion in all of this. If her husband feels it is his “duty” to manage their finances, and she feels it is her “duty” (albeit resentfully) to submit to his decisions, then it is highly unlikely that she will be able to buy a $25 couch without feeling like she should ask his permission first. If he won’t let her buy a Coke once a week without a lecture, then it is unlikely that he will “give” her the $25 (part of which, she herself has earned)… It’s a vicious cycle.

    • CincyCat July 26, 2014, 1:14 pm

      I, too, wondered about the role of their personal family culture/traditions/religion in all of this. If her husband feels it is his “duty” to manage their finances, and she feels it is her “duty” (albeit resentfully) to submit to his decisions, then it is highly unlikely that she will be able to buy a $25 couch without feeling like she should ask his permission first. If he won’t let her buy a Coke once a week without a lecture, then it is unlikely that he will “give” her the $25 (part of which, she herself has earned)… It’s a vicious cycle.

  • Gort July 22, 2014, 1:18 pm

    Having been single for a couple of years now, I make it known fairly early on when I’m dating someone what my views on money are. Not everyone is cool with it and that’s OK. Different stroke for different folks, and all.

    But having gone from having massive house, truck, and credit card debts along with a 40 minute commute when I was married to having a paid off house, car, and zero credit card debt with a 15 minute WALK to work, I am much, much happier where I am now.

  • Meredith July 22, 2014, 1:30 pm

    This woman doesn’t get that frugal can be fun!

    I enjoy not throwing my hard earned money away on every luxury item or status symbol that I see. I can’t remember the last time I bought a coke, unless it was for someone else. Yet I have very nice things, nice houses, and nice cars. It’s not because I made more than the average person, it’s because I saved more. Because I can enjoy coffee brewed at home just as much as coffee from Starbucks. Because I can enjoy a movie at home just as much as one at a theater. Because the meals I cook at home rival those in any restaurant. Because my adventures are things like kayaking (a one-time investment in a kayak), hiking and climbing mountains, and seeing the world, most of which doesn’t cost a whole lot. And to be frank, I still have way too much stuff. How much stuff does one really need? I can only carry one purse at a time… I can only wear so many clothes/shoes in a year… I have a nice car that I haven’t even bothered to drive in almost a year…and there’s only so much room in my house/garage/yard. At some point, stuff just weighs you down.

    The biggest part of it is that I think she’s missing the point. Being frugal enables you to do so much more and live with so much less worry. Frugal does not mean cheap or miserly. It just means you have more liquid assets to trade for what you may want later. Try doing that same thing with a depreciating asset like a car, or used clothes.

    Finally, I am a woman and I’m more frugal than my husband. I don’t see what gender has to do with anything. And I would advise her to go get some muscles — soft is only good for teddy bears and toilet paper. Women can be frugal and strong too.

  • insourcelife July 22, 2014, 2:51 pm

    “And I guess it’s not just the blow up couch that drives me crazy. It’s the cumulative effect of a cheap life where we scrutinize every penny and are reticent to indulge in simple life enhancing pleasures. ” Well, if I lived like this I’d probably have the same sour attitude as you. Tell your husband to learn the difference between cheap and frugal and the rest will fall into place. You should be able to easily save 50% or more of your income and spend the rest IF you so desire and still be in a fantastic financial shape, given what sounds like way above average household income.

  • Mark July 22, 2014, 3:36 pm

    Funny correspondence from the spouse. It sounds like she feels like her husband moved the goalposts on her — she agreed to scrimp and save to pay off their student loans with the goal of living a more typical suburban, affluent professionals lifestyle once things were squared away. Then, her husband became an MMM addict. It’s hard to have one goal in mind, reach that goal, and then not get the reward that you had promised yourself.

  • Wayne July 22, 2014, 9:12 pm

    Jacob, of ERE fame, has separate finances from his wife. She wanted a car, he didn’t. She got one, he did not.

    For a while, he was FI while she was not. (Ignore legal stuff/divorce/etc….)

    Why couldn’t something like that work here? As a PA, I’m sure she could afford a couch with her money….

  • jessica July 22, 2014, 10:39 pm


    I used to work with my father who is a registered investment advisor (RIA). Not sure how many readers are on or use one, but they are useful when needing a more focused direction on a large portfolio.

    Anyway, he never signed an engineer. Or a ‘do it yourselfer’ as we liked to call them. Each and everyone came in and would happily sit for many sessions to absorb all the information and analysis then leave. I think this is a version of cheap. But we knew they wouldn’t get the 15% returns my sad averaged for his clients, so it didn’t matter. They just liked to waste our time for their advantage. They are a hard nut to Crack when it comes to diversified investing.

  • JT July 23, 2014, 1:28 am

    I think the trick to embracing frugality is to understand it fully. Walk in its moccasins for 1000 paces, that sort of thing.

    You’ve pointed Mrs Enranged Reader to some good articles. God! Won’t it be funny if Mr Enranged Reader reads this too!!! Meat, sandwich!!

  • CentimentalFreedom July 23, 2014, 7:24 am

    Reading this article made me smile. It made me think about when I first started reading this blog and posted my story in the MMM forum. The MMM community has taught me a lot. Assuming that she isn’t a “troll”, the following are only my opinions:

    I think that she has simply confused Mr. MM’s blog with her husband’s adaptation of the information he read. I am assuming that her husband has taken little tid bits from reading on ALL sources and integrated them into his own lifestyle which has caused some turmoil in their lifestyle and/or relationship.

    Franklly, I think she needed someone to blame for the frustration that has been building up in her marriage and Mr. MM happens to be on the receiving end (Albeit not a bad choice. At least he’ll have the attitude and sense of humour to handle the situation).

    I believe that this person’s response is an example of the struggles that many couples go through on their journey to financial freedom. To be honest, I was worried that I would struggle selling the frugal lifestyle idea to my husband. Fortunately, it turns out that my husband was reading Mr. MM’s blog as well.

    Although we don’t adapt all of Mr. MM’s idea (Mr. CF won’t let me do the roof or any construction without hiring. Sigh), I think that we’re working towards our own version of the MMM story. I hope that this couple will eventually discuss the real underlying issues of their relationship, find out what they both truly want and start being happy.

  • Deserat July 23, 2014, 4:33 pm

    What struck me about the post was their professions – she’s a nurse practitioner and he’s an orthodontist. Those are not low paying professions – unless they are living in downtown San Francisco or New York City (or even Chicago), they could most probably live well on one income and save the rest. Based on her comments regarding their material possessions, it seems to me they are trying to live on one half of one income….You could have both of them go read your simple number towards early retirement post…the percentage of what one saves of their income – at 50% it will still be an early retirement. Being married means one needs to balance each others needs and wants. They could both get what they want if they’d discuss what is feasible with their means. And based on the above, they have quite a bit of feasibility.

    As for a blow up couch – uhhhhhhh – just go buy one already or get one free from Craig’s list. Heck, we can’t get anyone to buy our sleeper sofa and matching chair and it looks like we may have to give it away. The paying threshold for used items has definitely gone downward due to sites like freecycle and Craig’ list. If he were smart, he’d go get one for her :-) That would tick one item off her complaint list….

    Also, if she wants children, she will need to learn frugal habits…Amy Dacyczyn has a good set of books on how to do that. She always said that one did not need to follow her extreme examples, but pick those ones that resonated and met one’s needs. Having a creative mindset and being willing to try new things was key to being frugal – i.e. the frugal mindset.

  • quiviran July 24, 2014, 7:02 am

    Wow, what a thread! First time I have ever read all of the comments on a posting and they’ve been terrific. I think Enraged Reader wrote with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek. And I think she’s pregnant and her nesting instincts are kicking in. The broken couch isn’t suitable for her new babys environment and what is a Tahoe but a big rolling nest? (OK, a big rolling McMansion) I also think she’s not as physically soft as some have surmised. Why else would she want a jogging stroller? She has definitely given us plenty of lines to read between.

    I also spent some time reading some of the links posted by other commenters. Good stuff, made me feel a lot less isolated and weird. Good to know there is a community (are communities) of folks that worry about the same larger issues I do. Back when I was in college, I had the opportunity to hear Buckminster Fuller speak. After his excellent presentation, he was asked how he was able to make a living doing what he loved. His reply was, essentially, “Work. If what you’re doing is worthwhile, you’ll get by.” Good site, MMM. You’re living proof Bucky was right.

  • Marie July 24, 2014, 8:53 am

    I’m a Mustache. Been reading since Jan 2013, have learned so much (thank you!), car free and ride a bike. I am reading Judy Wick’s “Good Morning, Beautiful Business.” I have a business degree, interested in social change, and never understood personal finance (shrouded in mystery). Judy talks about David Korten of Yes magazine, who writes numerous books about big business and ethics.

    What do Mustache’s think about David’s ideas? I am new to personal finance, coming from a long history looking at social economics. I want to master merge the two.

    Mustache advocates index funds as a way to build wealth.

    David advocates that adding money to the stock markets does not support real business. David thinks stock market money goes to corporate executives in evil industries cashing out on personal fortunes. They are not using their stock price appreciation to re invest in the businesses.


    Much like eating grassfed beef, I would prefer benign investment options. I don’t eat meat however I would like to invest in something with a return on investment in order to live off that appreciation, rather then the principle. Mustache 101.

    I don’t want to profit by buying index funds that support lethal activities and damage human rights (prisons, landmines, war).

    I’d love to hear what the Mustaches think. I worry about the corporatization of local economies and I worry about the future we create for our children with growing prisons and more war.

    I will read “Agenda for a new economy : from phantom wealth to real wealth” as my homework

    • Steph W. July 24, 2014, 6:05 pm

      Marie, I feel similarly about a lot of things, and especially investing. So far I’ve found two ethical ways to grow my money, locally. In 2009 my husband and I had a $10k CD expiring. After doing a lot of research, we lent the money to a farm that delivers our biweekly organic veggies and eggs. The farm was offering 7% interest when interest rates were at record lows elsewhere so, after some research, we went for it. We get paid interest in food and have for five years now! It saves us a lot on groceries and the money just sits in the bank, making the farm look like a strong borrower if they need something like equipment (they then get better terms thanks to having our cash sitting there).

      Earlier this year, I also lent $15k to a local textiles business that’s getting started. The best small business loan a bank would give them was 7-14% depending. I lent it at 4% and will have it all back, with interest, at the end of this year.

      I do wish this were easier, and I’m toying with the idea of serving as a matchmaking service for folks that need money and folks that want more ethical things to do with theirs. So far, so good! :)

  • MrsMoreWithLess July 24, 2014, 9:40 am

    Regardless of whether this is a true situation, it’s not a bad example of “after the fact” frugality. After spending yourself into oblivion, now you want to start cutting back. The poster is used to a certain lifestyle already. It’s not about being soft or anything like that; it’s about lifestyle choices. Mustachism isn’t easy, but as it is with learning a foreign language, it’s a lot better to start the learning process earlier.

    How many of us came from a big house in the suburbs that our parents took out a huge mortgage for– a house that was in hindsight, too big for the family in the first place and maybe, as happened often in my own neighborhood, increased in size with a second mortgage with the addition of yet another bathroom, even bigger kitchen, bigger bedrooms etc– only to be yelled at when you were a kid for leaving the lights on in your arena-sized bedroom?

  • Steph W. July 24, 2014, 5:59 pm

    What most troubles me about this (as others have noted) is the lack of the core concept of a household, from her side and also from his (the Frugal vs. Cheap distinction). When you partner or marry, you are forming a household. You sink or swim together, and as goes the partnership so goes your household. Though I think this guy may be going too far toward cheap, his primary motivation does seem to be the good of the household. I didn’t get the same feeling from her.

    In many ways, she does seem to be living the MMM lifestyle, which is why I’m not convinced that it’s the “doing without” that’s the problem. It’s that she has some belief systems being challenged by what her husband is reading. She seems to think, for example, that it’s a given that they will continue living in sprawling suburbia, for example, when that’s just another choice. But if sprawling suburbia is a “requirement,” that can make it easier to justify not biking and having SUV envy, and avoiding other possible changes. If other women are all like her, that too makes it easier for her to describe *choices* as “nature.”

    It can be scary and upsetting when you begin to break away from the comfortable, mainstream masses. It’s just easier out there, in some ways. You go to Target every single weekend with everyone else, you buy a big SUV, you live in the sprawl. It’s “normal,” you don’t have to think about it too hard, and nothing mainstream will do anything but reinforce your choices. When someone (like MMM) starts to poke holes in that, it gets uncomfortable.

    I remember those early surprises: seeing just how many people were trying to take my money and all the ways in which they tried to take it (and I’d let them; admitting how and when I was being ripped off and wasting money; learning just how many people were up to their ears in debt to have SUVs and fabulous trips; and yes, setting aside some ideas of what femininity is (lots of shopping and primping and “this season’s colors”). Oh, the money I’ve spent in the past on $100+ highlights in my hair, Bobbi Brown cosmetics, and shoes. Mea culpa! “But I’d be ugly if I gave them up!”

    Well, it turns out I don’t look any different in photos with little or no make-up on, and now I’ve got a LOT more money. But I had to embrace the bad ass side of myself that I’d been hiding to please some strange idea of what men liked. It meant moving from the suburban Detroit hellscape I was in (which I did bike in, and it’s entirely possible if scary at times). It meant ditching my car in 2001 and living car-free for almost 10 years to use public transit and bike instead. It meant biking *all winter long* in Chicago, 14 miles roundtrip, and being at a fancy dress-up job afterward. (The deal was, I couldn’t have an apple fritter in the morning unless I’d biked in. Hey, when it’s 4 degrees without wind chill in the pitch black morning, you need a LITTLE something to get your butt in the saddle.) All along the way, people thought I was nuts.

    And then I met someone who didn’t think I was nuts at all: my sweet husband, my household. I’d grown up poor in Detroit; he’d grown up well off in Orange County. I introduced him to MMM ways and… he loves it. He LOVES that his wife is not spending the entirely monthly household income on crap (like the spouses of so many acquaintances do). He loves that, together, we’re about to pay off our house in San Francisco at age 37 and 38, and that he can stop working right after we do that. How great a life is that?

    It’s a very different life, and that may just be what’s scaring her the most.

  • Lil July 24, 2014, 7:37 pm

    Yea. I think my husband is getting me tired of talking about MMM. After I read this article, he actually asked if he could get a PS4! All I could do was laugh.. bad timing buddy. I actually don’t restrict what he buys. So if he really wants to get it, he could. He knows we’re fine, but I’ve definitely explained to him the numbers. So now he’s a little hesitant and maybe because he sees from my example of not buying “stuff” and me telling him.. “hey, look how much our little dollars are working this month!” Thanks MMM!

  • Larry July 25, 2014, 2:49 am

    I do not agree that women have a different way of thinking. Most men and women have an extravagant mindset. My wife is more frugal than I am. I can see both sides of this. I agree in one way. I am not willing to bike everywhere. So I own a 2007 pt cruiser convertable, 2012 ram 4×4 crewcab 1/2 ton with the highest tow rating. Yes, I know, a great big polluting gas hog. My wife has a 2009 Smart car convertible. And we own a 2001 travel trailer, we want to buy a new one in a couple years. All were purchased new. I would not live without a decent couch and recliner to sit on. But it would last many years after I bought it. I won’t sleep on an uncomfortable bed. My wife was happy with a cheep futon. I was not, neither were my back or joints. Our mattress is about 10 years old. Guess, it’s about time to spend 1k to get a new one. I see those advertisements for a $3-4 k bed and get tempted. But I need to remember to be comfortable not extravagant.We did build the platform its on because we wanted storage under the bed. And one with storage was to expensive, So it was a compromise.
    I retired at 40 and her at 42. Having never made more than 100k per year between us. I’m now 45. We could of retired at 32 if I didn’t have expensive tastes. But we have been very careful in many ways. My last pickup was a 99 bought new and driven till 2013 when I bought the new 2012, I shopped for several months to find what I wanted for a decent price. I care for my vehicles without lots of frivolous driving. I will plan my trips and do all my shopping on one day a week. So that I do not make a trip or more everyday to stores. I make sure the maintenance is done. But it reached the point I was doing to many repairs. So I bought a new pickup. I think a new vehicle should last 10 or more years unless you have a long commute or traveling job. I shopped and found a new 2012 for a great price in mid 2013(32k) yep I know extremely extravagant. When We worked I drove 5 miles each way, and she drove 15 each way. To far to bike. I do walk once per week about 2 miles round trip for the Sunday newspaper because they do not deliver. The stores are 3 -7 miles from us. So we do not bike. We could of made wiser choices in where we lived and worked. So that we could walk or bike to work and shop. But we decided on cars and made the trade off to live on our rental property to save money. If we lived in a nicer house, we would of watched the location and saved on cars. If you ever want to retire early, remember if you make one extravagant decision you need to counter it with a frugal decision. We have no problem buying nice new things. But make them last a long time. We bargain shop for sales and stock up. Sometimes a 12 month or more supply of certain food when we find a deal on. We buy good new cloths when on sale and wear them for several years. We have saved up to half of our income and save to this day. We have made some compromises. Instead of a 300k or more home. We bought a small trailer park, rent spaces and some homes. We live on one of the lots, and bought a very nice repo manufactured home to live in. Yep, I know retired trailer trash. Between our rental income and investments we bring in 50k per year and still save part of it. We are on track to pass 1 million net worth well before 50. I have been a conservative investor that started stock investing at 18 with small amounts. But never stopped and never sold my stock. Except to buy something else. I preferred large cap high dividend paying stocks. Not to risky, now we make well over $1000 per month in dividends. All from no more than a few hundred per month invested over the last 27 years. We could build a house now but we are happy with our life. We like knowing that our life is simple and we could survive on less than $1200 per month if we needed to. Yes, our car addiction, eating out , and extensive travel would have to give. But it could be done. The last few years have cost us $400 per month to pay for and insure our cars so it’s an expensive addiction. We save up for any large items so they are payed for before we go purchase them. We do pay for almost everything on credit cards, because it’s easy. But we pay them off every month, And we love the points. If you are not able control yourself , Do not use credit.
    We eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. And mostly home cooked meals. But I do like to eat out someplace nice $50-75 for 2 people a couple times month per. And fast food 1-2x per week. My wife thinks it’s extravagant, but I enjoy eating out. So it’s a compromise. No eating at $100 per plate places. And no eating out everyday. Instead I’ll find good reviewed places online that have early tasting menu’s or are lower priced but well reviewed. I have researched a lot and learned to cook after trial and error those fancy meals I crave. Most meals are $2 per person to make. But I do like my $25 per person for ingredients meals every couple weeks. We spend about $125 to 150 per month per person to eat at home. But we eat very well. We find do not buy tons of pre made food. That will break a budget. And have to watch very closely for specials. We also do not buy very much at places like Wild Oats, Or other high priced grocery stores. We also do not frequent places like Starbucks often. If you go to Starbucks and eat out everyday, you either need to make a lot more money than we ever did or retire when your 75. Instead I’ll by good coffee and a very good coffee maker and make some at home a few times per week. Because even at home you cannot afford to make $10-20 per pound coffee several times per day on on a budget.

    We have traveled all over the USA, Canada, and Mexico, and a little in Europe. And love to camp for several months per summer. We have not had children by choice. Some people would call that selfish. But we did what we wanted. We do not buy many things. For instance I have 5 pairs of good quality shoes. Some of them were several hundred per pair. But they were bought when we found a good sale for around $100 or less per pair, quality will last for many years. We buy nice but not extravagant things and use them for a long time. I am handy and have learned to read and look online to repair anything I can.

    I found and purchased a kit online this week to repair my 10 year old dryer for $28 to replace the bearings , seal around door and several other things on it. If the kit was to expensive I would have just replaced it. If this does not work out well, we will go buy a new one. I bought a part a few weeks ago to fix the ice maker on a few year old fridge for $25. But if I was not handy or the parts were to expensive I have no problem buying a new one. Don’t buy a $3000 -5000 fridge try to stay in a $1000 or less sale budget. Just make it last 10 or more years and enjoy it.

    I use a prepaid tracfone for $200 per year. (Plan on switching to Republic $10 plan and $25 plan when out of town, next February) I used net10 that for $200 per year before this but wanted a basic smartphone. My wife has a prepaid Tmobile simple phone because she uses the phone less than me, $100 per year. We have a home phone for $40 per month. Thinking about changing it to Republic $10 plan because we like having a line for the rental property and to give out. That way I do not get to many calls on my personal cell phone. High speed unlimited internet $69.00 per month. We do not have cable but have broadcast antenna tv, netflix streaming and 3 disks at a time about $25 per month. 2 new iPads airs for Chrismas. These will have to last for 3 years. We bought a new computer a year ago $1000. I like reading so I have a $100 e-reader, I get my books online from the library or go check out books not available online. And buy a few from Amazon. So as you see we like to have a few extravagances. And could cut our budget more. But we try to do it stick to a reasonable budget. Many people we know spend multiple times what we do for cable, highspeed internet, cell phones. Do you want a fancy cell phone and expensive plan or 50k or more in the bank when you retire. If you invest $1k per year instead of having a expensive cell plan. You can easily have well over $50k extra in your working lifetime of 30 plus years. Do that with a few things over your lifetime and you will have several hundred thousand saved. All without extreme pain or sacrifice.

    For those of you that say hmmm well he does not have kids so he cold retire early. I know a lot of this can be done with children. My parents had 5 boys. My dad build his own nice 1800 sq house valued at about $250k on 3 acres of land, and owns 12 rental properties. They travel, and are headed out on a multi state trip this week that will last for over a month. They have been retired for 16 years and are in there mid sixties. And never made more than 100k per year. And now have a 100k per year income between rentals and retirement.

    If you are willing to give up some extravagance, and be frugal. You can gain many years of free time to enjoy life. I have 4 brothers and non of them are willing to be as frugal as I am. They want to eat out a lot. Have no problem spending 2x what I do per person on groceries. They want to enjoy life. Have new cars every couple years. Bigger, nicer houses. But, they get to work into there sixties. I have heard many times over the years. I want to enjoy life now. All I can say, enjoy your extravagant lifestyle. While I go do whatever I want. I’m happy on my semi frugal budget. I’ll have worked 20 years of my life and you get to work 40 years. What is 20 extra years of freedom worth to you. We even went on a picnic today, while you slaved away for that latte. If you love your work, and it’s your dream. I have nothing against it. But I love my freedom. Ok I work 10 hours a month on my rentals and do whatever I want the rest of the time. Tomorrow morning I’m getting up and taking my Polaris 4 wheeler out for a fun drive and collect minerals. While you fight traffic on your way to a job. Who is living now.

    Ok, I’m sorry for this long post. But it works me up when I hear how hard it is to live frugal.

  • rachel g July 25, 2014, 8:20 am

    I immediately dove into this post when I saw it in my email, because not being on the same page as my spouse has been my biggest obstacle. BTW, I am the wife and the saver. And I must say that I feel for my husband, because I wasn’t always this way – so for him, the person he married, grew up and changed – who am I to think that he should do the same, at the same time? But I’ve often wondered how much nicer it would be to have the person you’re sharing your life with feel the same way about money as you do and work as a team instead of against each other…I’ll admit, I’ve wanted to give up when I’ve clipped coupons to save a few bucks while my husband pays $100 to DirecTV. It’s frustrating! MMM, how would you have handled things if your wife had not agreed with you about your lifestyle, and she was more like the lady that wrote you the email? What would you do if she insisted on driving an SUV, and shopping, and salons, and private school for the kid? My relationship is wonderful with my husband in all aspects except (now) money. After 9 years together and sharing everything and having joint accounts, I finally had to put my foot down and split the money down the middle. I spend/save how I want, and he can do the same; At least he can only waste half of our money. However, it is still the source of tension in our relationship (although he slowly getting more on board after seeing what I could save:) ). I guess this will always be something I have to deal with, but I’ve wanted to tell you MMM, that you should have a link on your blog – sort of like a Match.com or eHarmony type thing – where like-minded people who want to grow an awesome ‘stache can get together.

  • JJ July 25, 2014, 6:37 pm

    The solution to their problem is simple. They should both work until they have enough savings that the husband is able to stop working. This shouldn’t take long given the fact that the wife is a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioner is a decent job with a decent salary. That salary coupled with some savings and paid off student loans and they probably aren’t too far from the husband staying home. The wife wants the “soft” lifestyle, so let her work for it. My wife became incredibly frugal when I left my job to stay home with our kids. When you see your spouse staying home with the kids and truly enjoying life, it really SUCKS to go into work every day. Voila… frugal wife!

    • jj July 25, 2014, 6:50 pm

      I guess what I’m saying is that spouses need to have the same goal and that goal should be…

      Stay at home mom -AND- stay at home dad.

      When that is the goal, both spouses are quite naturally frugal. I guarantee you this “softy” thinks in terms of driving the kids around in a new Tahoe with various strollers while the important father is toiling away in mouths all day. Yah, that’s cool. Not selfish at all. I’d call her anything but a softy. She’s hard alright, just not on herself.

      • Chess July 26, 2014, 11:29 am

        Hear hear, JJ. I’m frugal for a lot of reasons, but one of the most important ones is that my husband works for an employer and I stay home with children. Not only do I want him free from that as soon as possible, but every day I’m just so aware of his dedication to our family when he gets up and goes. Except for very occasionally and always for social reasons, I would never go get a cup of $4 coffee and throw away time he spent working in the form of badly-spent money – let alone Tahoes and Pottery Barn.

  • CincyCat July 26, 2014, 12:57 pm

    Forgive me, but I could not get through all 429 posts before adding my $0.02. I hope this post makes it thru…

    While I appreciate the fact that the enraged writer probably is a bit complainy-pants on the surface, the fact of the matter is that she is simply not ready to embrace a more Mustachian lifestyle. I hope she gets there eventually. I also agree completely that her husband needs to understand the difference between being frugal (deliberate) and being cheap (deprivation).

    That said, reading between the lines of both of her letters, it seems that she is married to a man who feels that he should control the purse-strings absolutely, and unilaterally decides how their **jointly-earned** income will be spent. If this is the case, I believe he is unquestionably the one in the wrong, not her – regardless of how Mustachian his decisions seem to be.

    Again, just my $0.02.

    • JJ July 28, 2014, 5:55 am

      WRONG! It seems he is married to a woman who sees her self jet-setting around town in a shiny new SUV with multiple strollers while her husband figures out how to support her lifestyle. If she wants that sort of life let HER work for it and let HIM stay home and cart the kids around.

      • CincyCat July 30, 2014, 8:04 am

        JJ – I think you overlooked the fact that she IS working for it. Quoting from her email, “My husband has an orthodontic practice, I work full time as a nurse practitioner…”. HE’s the one deciding how THEIR money will be spent, which is wrong.

        Also, it seems as though he has set an expectation with her that he had no problem supporting them while she stayed home, and now he is changing gears.

  • bayrider July 26, 2014, 11:16 pm

    I thought she meant weekends at Lake Tahoe! I was totally sympathetic…

  • space July 27, 2014, 10:57 pm

    Interesting – who needs to see two cars ahead to react, anyways? If it is so needed, buy a Parrot AR drone, then just set it to fly a set distance away from your car/phone, then use your phone as a display. It’s not cheap, but it’d be cheaper than getting a large SUV. Also: I’d think that the risk of running into the sidewalk would be greater with a large vehicle than a smaller one? I’ve never managed to do it myself except for once, when I was on a private road/loop and accidentally let go of the brake while not paying attention.

  • Salmon July 28, 2014, 9:44 am

    MMM, I don’t think your blog is sexist! I’m quite female, and more badass than most of the men I know. While the majority of them can take me at arm-wrestling, I can out-run, out-walk, out-bike, and out-paddle most of ’em. This is true simply because I DO these things on a regular basis. I’ll probably also OUT-LIVE most of my paddy-ass aquaintances, of both sexes.
    When I read this unhappy wife’s post, what I get is that there is an imbalance of power in the marriage. It is only being manifested at this time in the financial arena. The differences of opinion beteeen her and her husband regarding finances and lifestyle are giving them the beautiful opportunity to look at, work through, and resolve this underlying issue.
    On a practical level… She is a nurse practitioner. As such, she brings home a pretty good salary of her own. While an SUV and the fuel to run it may be a huge expense… a sofa? For cripesake, woman! Take your money and buy yourself a sofa! This is a no-brainer… and yet it has become an issue in their marriage.
    I hope this couple can embrace their differences and come to a compromise with which they both feel good, loved, and valued. After all, love really is more important than money. Money is the means to an end… and that end is a free and happy life with your loved ones.

  • Chris July 28, 2014, 12:37 pm

    There’s obviously a lot going on here besides just a disagreement about Mustachinism. Why does he leave patients waiting while he desperately reads about a potential escape? Does he hate his work? What would he do instead? Is he obsessive in other ways? Perhaps he has this tendency and needs some help controlling it when it is counterproductive.

    Your correspondent can at least express why she wants the Tahoe. Maybe she can find a compromise vehicle that fulfills some of these needs. Mustachianism isn’t an all or nothing philosophy. I’d say they need to discuss their goals and see what sorts of financial decisions will help achieve them. Surely their combined professional incomes leave some room for compromise and varied goals. I have a brother who has found a compromise with his wife. They both contribute to shared bills and then do what they want with the rest – as he says, “she spends hers and I save mine”. I’m sure that is an exaggeration but they seem happy with their choices. I’m not sure how this will work out in their retirement!

    Drawing the problem in terms of male vs. female choices most likely will get in the way of finding a middle ground. Your correspondent and her husband each have different money styles and they will have to find a way to reconcile them for the marriage to survive. Her sense of humor should help. I also totally understand her desire to have some conveniences while she works so hard. Sometimes it makes more sense to save some time and clear the way for a higher income. We don’t all have the energy level of Mr. Money Mustache. And maybe she loves her work.

  • Marco July 31, 2014, 8:16 am

    I am a strongly convinced Mustachian myself, never the less, troll or not troll, this woman writing the letter certainly has a point and has a very good sense of humour, mad me smile several times and defenitely made my afternoon.

    Thank you


  • sara August 1, 2014, 2:10 pm

    Am I the only reader who had no idea what a “mommyhood filled with Tahoes” could possibly mean. I mean, I know what lattes and mongramming are, and even pottery barn, but the only Tahoe I could think of is a lake in the Sierra Nevadas, and as far as I know there’s only one of it and even Bill Gates probably can’t afford to buy it.

    Thanks MMM for clarifying in your response!

    Of course, I drive a 2001 honda civic with 63,000 miles on it, so I’m clearly not up on these things.

    • space August 1, 2014, 6:03 pm

      I only know what a Tahoe is from a (fairly good) 4×4 racing game I used to play a number of years ago. They’re actually not that popular anymore – most people who have the money to maintain one of these things go for a Land Rover or something more upscale instead…

  • switchback August 1, 2014, 4:50 pm

    It seems that there is an easy answer to this problem. They both work and get a paycheck. Separate the finances, ensure both are saving for retirement and sharing the required expenditures, and then she can do what she wants with the remainder. New Tahoe, fine; new furniture, fine.. Just be sure that the spending on her side doesn’t incur debt. In the end her comfort level would rise and he would maintain his mustachian ethics.

  • Bogdan August 2, 2014, 1:35 am

    I think the best view on SUV’s and their uselesness is presented by this guy:
    I couldn’t agree more with him. You buy an suv to be safer when you crash, not to avoid the crash.
    Totally useless.

  • -JR August 3, 2014, 3:15 am

    In reality, this doesn’t sound like a war between frugal and spendy halves of a marriage, but a lack of communication. It sounds as if the husband has spontaneously found an addiction that is driving the wife nuts, as she was pretty intent on living the classic upper middle class suburban life with all the fixings (Starbucks and SUV, etc). It appears the couple need to resolve their squabble by discussing GOALs and how to get there, and where the compromises need to be made.


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