MMM Challenge: Can You go Car-Free This Weekend?

local haulThere’s a subtle yet powerful difference between the Standard Consumer, who manages to spend all of his income regardless of how much is coming in, and the Mustachian for whom saving is an effortless activity. For the first type of person, saving money means deprivation, struggle, and painful budgets. For the second, saving consists of living a rewarding life, then casually sweeping the few thousand dollars of leftover cash into investments at the end of each month.

The difference seems to lie in the design of the underlying lifestyle. If you get this part right, success comes almost automatically.

At a party recently, I met yet another Prototypical Modern Successful Family, a rather common occurrence in my area. The guy was a doctor. The woman was a professor. They had appropriately hip Colorado-style clothing, muscular calves, cool rectangular glasses, and rode bikes to the party along with their two cute young children. Everything looked stellar on the surface until my new friend and I got to talking after a few drinks.

“It’s a bit of a mess these days”, he said, “These kids are so precious, but they’re growing up fast and I hardly ever see them. I took a job at a practice in the city because it pays better, but it means I get up at 5AM. The kids do competitive swimming and ski racing on the weekends, so we’re never home to recharge.”

This seemed like a pretty simple set of White People Problems to me, so I decided to throw in a bit of advice disguised as self-effacement: “Oh yeah”, I said, “We solve that problem in my family by making our lives much less exciting than yours. We just hang around Longmont most of the time, and because of that we have a lot more recharge time and were able to cut back on the two-career thing f0r a while.”

“Man”, he said, “That would be nice. I’ve been in medicine for 16 years now, and to be honest I’ve had enough of it. But we could never live on just her income. Professors just don’t make that much, even tenured ones at a good university.”

And therein lies the trap that ensnares so many otherwise-fortunate people. It is called the Poisonous Pitfall of Piss-Poor Lifestyle Planning.

Fortunately there is an antidote, which is quite literally Simplicity itself. If the situation above sounds even remotely familiar to you, I am excited to deliver this bit of good news, because it is very easy to solve. You can very quickly give yourself the gift of a much better life, just by chopping out a good chunk of the unnecessary activities that currently distract you from living.

We could go on and on about the detailed benefits including greater happiness, lower stress, better health, better relationships with your significant other, family, and children. More money, lower needs, deeper wisdom and even a longer life*.

But instead, I thought it would be helpful to just start with one giant baby step. An instantaneous taste of the good life, at no cost to you and with the chance of starting a massive life transformation. Are you ready? Your assignment is as follows:

Give the damned car a break for the entirety of this coming weekend. Instead, try living two days of non-motorized life.

That’s right. This weekend, there will be no errands, shopping trips, drives to the mountains or the beach, horseback riding lessons or Harley cruises. Just you and your actual body, doing things that it is actually meant to do.

You’ll want to prepare in advance. If you live far from a grocery store, make sure the house is stocked with food. Get your library books ready, make sure the television is unplugged, tune your guitar if applicable, dust off the bicycle, walking shoes, recipe books and board games, invite some local friends over if desired, and let’s make a weekend of this.

What you’ll be doing, although it may sound somewhat novel to my new doctor friend, is living approximately like the Mustache family has always done. Although I’m not a hermit or a homebody, I often feel just a bit of anxious terror when I hear about how much activity most of my fellow wealthy Americans pack into their weekends. And I’m simultaneously filled with Pure Joy every time I wake up on a Saturday morning, walk with bare feet through my back yard and into the park beyond to watch the sun rise, and only then decide what I  might want to do that day. If he’s awake that early, my little son often comes along for the event.

On weekends, we simply chill together. It is my idea of living, and it is the foundation of our relationship together as a family. We sit on couches and read and write books and comics. The boy and I ride down to the creek and carve channels and dams in the rocks and sand. Then we’ll climb some trees, max out the swingsets at the park, and maybe do some urban planning in the sandbox. We get home tired and nicely sunned out, and he’ll disappear to his room and make songs with Ableton while the lady and I will make some dinner. At this time of year it tends to cool down and get dark outside pretty quickly, so we’ll start a fire in the woodburning stove I built into the new house. Some wine may be poured. All of that, and it’s still only Saturday night. There’s still time to have friends over, or walk over to someone else’s place to mingle all the neighborhood kids and prepare a feast.

A key to successful chilling is the complete removal of television as one of the options. As much as you like your favorite shows or sports events, the experience deprives you of what you would have done if the TV hadn’t been there. It is in the void left behind when TV disappears that real life can start to occur.

Living a Local Life

The headline of this article sounds like just another meaningless personal finance tip. Sure, you can save fifty dollars if you cut out the 100 miles of driving that gets packed into the typical weekend. Maybe a couple hundred more on the restaurants and shopping trips you forego. All told, changes like these would increase your wealth by about $200,000 per decade.

But the transformation of attitude and lifestyle that you can learn from it is much greater. What I’m really hoping we can all learn about is living a local lifeYou can become friends with the people who live right around you. There are trees and hills and features of your environment that you miss completely if you never slow down to actually live where you live.

Once you give it a try, you will find it quickly becomes very natural to live this way, because it is really how we were meant to spend our days. If an event pops up in another city, my own family usually considers it briefly, then politely declines. Because we realize we don’t live in that city, we live in this one.

The world gets more exciting every day. There are more activities, opportunities, and bits of entertainment packed into the atmosphere than ever before. The modern culture dictates that we take every chance to pack our days with exciting things, limited only by our need to sleep. If you don’t do this, you are “missing out.” But I propose that the opposite is true: the Good Life is found in between those times when you are engaged in travel, being “entertained” and participating in too many organized activities.

So by living a life driving around afraid of missing out, you are in fact missing out on your entire life. Let’s fix that this weekend.



* In a sad coincidence, on October 27th, the day this anti-car-culture article was originally scheduled to publish, Mrs. MM’s childhood best friend died in a car crash back in Canada. Rest in peace Janet.

Further Reading: In this Article, researchers found that kids who are allowed to spend more of their time in unstructured play develop greater independence and judgement. Could this be related to why some adults are hopelessly sucked in by the consumer/debt/industrial complex and others are able to step out and make their own choices? 

I like to imagine this all as an evolutionary response – you can adapt to a regimented life or society if that’s what you are born into, but given a more freeform existence, you are better off becoming more experimental or creative. I feel that the second option is now much more productive: both for early retirees, and for dealing with a rapidly changing world. But this is pure La-Z-Boy scientist chatter – real scientists are welcome to make fun of me for throwing out such a speculation without any testing :-)


  • Carpe Dime October 28, 2014, 7:37 pm

    Normally, we could accept that challenge, but this weekend my wife and I (and our two cats) are moving to Boulder (driving our 43MPG Honda Fit). We look forward to biking or busing to the next Mustachian Meetup in Longmont.

    BTW, our choice of neighborhood was driven (convenient, but unintended pun) in part by minimizing our time in the car. The grocery store is 1 mile away, The nearest trailhead is .5 miles away and the closest bus stop is a little more than a block from our house.

    • Greg October 28, 2014, 9:47 pm

      Are you getting 43 MPG out of your Fit anywhere but the highway? What year? My 2007 Sport with manual transmission has hit 43 before, but only on the highway at 60-70mph.

      • Carpe Dime October 29, 2014, 3:47 am

        Ours is a 2009 5-speed. The high MPG is maintained via minimal city driving, although I think I could keep it close to 42 without too much trouble. Since our move to Boulder is about 1700 miles I’m wondering how high I can get the average (I’m hoping to crack 45). I’m tempted to not reset the gauge to make it more of a challenge to hit that number.

        • Kavan October 29, 2014, 6:11 am

          We are actually doing 47 mpg relatively easy on the highway by going 60 mph!

          • Mark AW October 29, 2014, 3:31 pm

            Wow, I feel like I’m doing something wrong. I drive a 2012 Fit Sport and the best I’ve achieved is 39 mpg when driving 200 miles @ 55 mph in a snow storm. Does that high altitude Colorado air have anything to do with it? I’m in Michigan, so there are some hills but nothing major.

            • Ryan October 30, 2014, 7:05 am

              Also in a 2012 Fit Sport here, and around 39 is pretty typical for a tank here (upstate New York). However, the numbers quoted above aren’t impossible for long highway drives.

            • Orthros October 31, 2014, 2:13 pm

              Mark, if it makes you feel any better, remember that MPG is a diminishing return exercise.

              If you originally got 20 MPG, then you may spend $2,400 a year on gasoline (assuming 12,000 miles per year –> 600 gallons @ $4/gallon).

              If you improve to 30 MPG, you’now have shaved your gasoline usage to 400 gallons, saving $800 (200 fewer gallons @ $4/gallon).

              If you then improve to 40 MPG… well, that’s nice and all, but that extra 10 MPG only saves you 100 gallons or $400.

              Going to 50 MPG from 40 MPG is even worse… $240.

              Certainly, the “every little bit helps” philosophy is great. But I’d rather quote that Best is the Enemy of Good. if you can get to 50 MPG, God bless you…. but the best and most critical steps, both financially and (if you care about such things) environmentally, are the early ones.

      • Isaac November 7, 2014, 12:08 pm

        I just have to be a bit of an ass hole…. 1995 Geo Metro, 210,000, bought used for $1,000. Little rust, runs great, easy to get under the hood…. gets 39 mpg when doing delivery driving in a heavily congested urban enviroment (Ann Arbor, Michigan)…. I can only imagine what kind of mileage it would get on a long freeway trip drafting a semi or anything else big and bulky (being more aerodynamic than other cars I’ve driven on long trips, probably not as much to gain)

        • megak8 November 7, 2014, 1:10 pm

          The Mythbusters proved that drafting a big rig in a passenger car is too risky to justify the mileage gain http://green.autoblog.com/2007/10/28/mythbusters-drafting-10-feet-behind-a-big-rig-will-improve-mile/

          Bottom line: Drafting is best suited for professional racers, regardless of the vehicle they’re operating (also works for bikes!) and geese flying in formation.

          • Isaac November 8, 2014, 12:21 am

            You can follow at great enough a distance to see both of their mirrors and still get significant fuel savings…. but I prefer to draft large vans, particularly Dodge and Mercedes vans with raised roofs… the shorter length means that air flow hasn’t normalized as much for the same following distance, plus they often go faster increasing the length of there wake while also allowing your cars engine to run closer to it’s optimal brake specific fuel consumption. But that link isn’t even to the right Mythbusters Episode, the one you want is the one where they show what happens when a semi gets a blowout, but the problem with that episode is frame of reference, the shredded tire may have a velocity of 50mph realative to the truck it is coming off of, it’s velocity relative to the ground is nearly 0mph.

    • alex October 29, 2014, 10:01 pm

      Spooky! I would also do this challenge, but here in New Zealand, my family is also moving this weekend. And our choice of new home was driven by the wish to be part of a community, to be within biking distance to work, and to have a park close by ffor romping. Thanks for the (ongoing) inspiration MMM…

    • Brooke October 31, 2014, 2:23 pm

      Wow yeah I am wondering if something is wrong with our 2008 Honda Fit. We get about 27 in the city, 32 on the highway. And that’s even including the 1400 mile move we just made from Atlanta to Denver. We changed the spark plugs ourselves and that did make a difference, but I can’t ever see getting up to 43 MPG :(

    • Geek November 2, 2014, 8:27 am

      Next weekend then?

  • Mr. Frugalwoods October 28, 2014, 7:42 pm

    Condolences to Mrs. MM. That’s terrible!

    If we aren’t going hiking, our weekends tend to be car free. We haven’t found a train or bus that takes us to the trailheads yet!

    Last weekend was a good example. We:

    * Walked to the local Korean grocery store and bought the week’s produce ($22) and basically ate lunch from the free samples.

    * Worked on the house using dumpster scavenged building materials (it’s criminal what the pros throw away!)

    * Took Frugal Hound on a long walk to a nearby college campus to hang out and enjoy the sunshine.

    * Cooked dinner at home (split pea soup and fresh baked artisan bread!)

    * Watched some hilarious British TV on our Roku using youtube. Free and awesome!

    Cheers to having car free weekend enjoyment! A good weekend to practice it too, what with the kiddos running around in masks after dark :-)

  • MichikoMustache October 28, 2014, 7:43 pm

    Since the surf forecast looks good for our local break this weekend, this challenge will be a breeze.

    • BD October 29, 2014, 3:17 am

      Similar here: we have a friend visiting and will go hiking together, right behind our backyard.

      And condolences to Mrs MM. :(

  • Preston October 28, 2014, 7:47 pm

    I don’t understand HOW people drive everywhere anymore. It makes me nervous just sitting in one these days.

    Condolences to MrsMM

    • Eldred October 29, 2014, 6:30 am

      Nervous of what? What are you afraid will happen?

      • Terry October 31, 2014, 1:31 pm

        100 people dying every day in car accidents is pretty scary. 100 people dying every day from ebola would have this country in lockdown.

        • Eldred October 31, 2014, 1:50 pm

          While ONE person dying in a car accident is too many, it doesn’t scare me or make me nervous as it appears to do to others.

          • Melissa November 4, 2014, 11:29 am

            See? That’s what I don’t get.
            I guess if you’re not scared of that, you’re not scared of anything.

            • Eldred November 5, 2014, 6:29 am

              I wouldn’t say THAT… Actually, I’m more afraid of being hit BY a car while on my bike than I am of being injured IN a car accident(I’ve been in 2, and had three crashes happen right in front of me). But I’m also a fan of auto racing, and I’ve driven on Laguna Seca Raceway and Michigan International Speedway, both at 130mph+. So 80mph on a highway doesn’t bother me at all…

    • Ashley October 29, 2014, 8:06 am

      I actually feel the same way, though it doesn’t help that the friend I most often drive with goes really fast, changes lanes super quickly with maybe 2 ticks of a turn signal (and not before starting the lane change), and has a bit of road rage. I moved straight from college to Chicago and neither places require a car, so maybe I am just not used to being in one. But car accidents are a not uncommon, so I feel like I am putting myself at risk when I get into a car.

      • LennStar October 29, 2014, 9:32 am

        “not uncommon” is a bit of an understatement.

        I usually use this in spying and terror fear discussions, but well ^^

        After the planes crashed into the World Trade Center, a lot of people had fear to fly. So they traveled by car instead.
        Some scientist have calculated that in the month after more people have died in *additional* car accidents then in the 2 towers. Not to speak about the “normal” ones.

        Statistically speaking, the only think with a greater death risk then driving by car is going to the hospital.
        Which proves that you should always know the question if your answer is a statistic ;)

        • Green Girl October 29, 2014, 12:05 pm

          I agree. Our car culture has made driving very dangerous. Both from accidents and from health related issues, mostly obesity, stress and too much sitting.

          When I used to fly gliders (engineless airplanes), people would say that they were afraid to fly in one of these. Statistically, their most dangerous part of the flight is the drive to the gliderport!

          • Elyse October 30, 2014, 7:05 am

            That probably stems from the fact that pilots have to take way more training than the typical driver. If you are trained more more thoroughly, you tend to do a better job.

            Not to mention the regulations that go into flying. I used to have to deal with the FAA very often.

            With regulations so strict and so much training, I would have been amazed if it was unsafe. If we all had hover cars like we have regular cars, the skies would be so terrifying.

          • Doug October 30, 2014, 9:50 am

            I can believe that statistic. Some time in the last 2 years there was an article in the paper (in the automotive section) that said because pilots have a better understanding of physics and aerodynamics, as well as having to plan ahead (flight plans, weather forecasts, equipment checks, etc.) they make much better drivers than the average person.

            • megak8 October 30, 2014, 11:27 am

              Commercial pilots these days are mostly high-tech sentinels because their aircraft’s software and hardware mostly flies itself. I bet more pilots favor self-driving cars than John Q. Public because they have been operating the same kinds of technologies for years.

              I wonder if elf-driving cars will boost or reduce oil consumption…assuming that the self-driving cars still use fossil fuels…

            • Doug October 30, 2014, 9:44 pm

              It’s pretty much a given that self driving cars will reduce fuel consumption. If all these self driving cars can communicate with each other, they’ll likely make traffic flow smoother and with less congestion.

            • Neil November 3, 2014, 2:12 pm

              There is a legitimate concern that self driving cars will really increase the amount of traffic on the roads.

              The theory is that people will be much more prone to do long commutes or long distance travel by car if they can sleep, read or watch tv while the car does the driving.

              I think increased traffic is a very likely outcome.

  • Eldred October 28, 2014, 7:48 pm

    I can’t do it this weekend, but I’ve done it before. Usually, it’s because I simply didn’t GO anywhere. I’ve never done it on *purpose*, though, and the places I would have to go aren’t close enough to walk or bike. So I guess I’d fail your challenge, since the only way for me to not use my car is to stay home. :-( I’ll have to figure out some ‘on-purpose’ car-free weekends next year when it gets warmer. I have about 5-6 months to plan.

    Condolences to Mrs. MM on the loss of her friend…

    • Matt October 31, 2014, 2:33 pm

      I think not going anywhere is the point. Where do you go on weekends? You probably don’t need to go there.

      Some things are necessary, like buying food and going to work if you have a job. If buying food happens to fall on the weekend that’s fine, but it would be better to plan ahead and buy food on the way home from work to save a trip. Anything else is optional or can be put off indefinitely.

      I bet you could spend one weekend a month not going anywhere. Increase it to two or three weekends a month as you find things to do at home and get better at combining necessary trips with your drive home from work. You don’t have to sit at home all the time, but you shouldn’t have to go somewhere all the time either.

  • Mike October 28, 2014, 7:50 pm

    Living in a city as you describe definitely sounds convenient, however I grew up in the country, 10 miles from the nearest town. As my wife and I try to decide where to raise our family, it is very difficult to decide between the financial sense of living in a city versus living in the country which just feels like home (to my wife and me).

    • Kenoryn October 29, 2014, 2:12 pm

      I hear you on living in the country – that’s where we want to be, too! But the upside of living in the country is that it gives you space to do things for yourself, like grow your own food, that might otherwise require trips to town. Plus, in the country you most likely have neighbours within biking or walking distance who produce useful things that you can source from instead of town. And if you make friends with said neighbours you can keep your social life pretty local, too.

    • neversummer October 29, 2014, 2:19 pm

      It is difficult to do this living in the country. We are about ten miles from our little town, but we often accomplish it especially in the summer when there is the garden to work in, yard to tend, farm work to take care of (does it count not to drive a car if you spend the day in a tractor?) and the horses to ride are just outside the door.
      In our nearest big town, 5000 people give or take, it seems like a nearly impossible task not to accomplish. No public transit but the town can’t be more than a mile wide with hiking, biking and horse trails surrounding. Jobs might not pay as much but housing is sooo much cheaper and there is no commute. Plus the schools are awesome. The city isn’t the only choice for a mustachian lifestyle.

      • MG October 31, 2014, 8:46 am


        Good to see another country mustachian on here. I think there are trade-offs both ways, but I’ll take country over city any day…. I plan to spend the weekend in a tree stand quietly calculating the economics of wild game hunting for protein.

  • CL October 28, 2014, 8:06 pm

    I think that it sounds like an interesting challenge. But complainypants warning, I have to go to church on Saturday and Sunday. It’s not negotiable and requires a car. I’m capable of planning around going to the library and grocery store prior to the weekend, but those holy days of obligation will get you. Technically, Saturday is waived this year, but we’re still observing it.

    Condolences for Mrs. MM at this time.

    • Rebecca October 29, 2014, 10:28 pm

      Technically church IS negotiable… If there were a fire/natural disaster that prevented you from going, obviously you wouldn’t. There’s also the option of worshipping from home ;)
      All jokes aside, I admire your commitment. Sometimes these things will get in the way of achieving our mustachian goals, but life isn’t black and white. We need to figure out what’s important to us personally (and spiritually) and work from there.

      • Orthros October 31, 2014, 2:22 pm

        Rebecca, I can tell from the clues in CL’s commentary that they are Catholic.

        No Catholic worthy of the name would skip Church on Sunday or Holy Days of Obligation… of which All Saints’ Day on Saturday is one for Western Catholics (basically, everyone in the USA with a few exceptions).

        This article resonated with me due to the amusement in the absolute dichotomy between my family’s personal beliefs and lifestyles vs. those of MMM.

        We have several children, homeschool specifically and explicitly to keep them from the public school system (both spiritually and intellectually), think climate change is hooey, go to church at least weekly and usually more often….. the list goes on and on.

        …. but I posted this article in my Facebook profile as a shining example of how radical progressives and radical traditionalists are on something of a circle rather than a linear spectrum: We both live our lives more simply, focused on family instead of the insane modern intensity with minimal to no TV, lots of walking/reading/board games/spending time together and a good cup of tea beside a roaring fire.

        The only real difference is why we do it.

      • Matth November 1, 2014, 11:17 am

        As Catholics, Orthodox, and high church Protestants will tell you, worshiping from home is not worshiping, since there is no priest and no liturgy.

    • Kristin December 1, 2014, 9:57 pm

      Thank you for writing in, CL, Orthros and Matth. It’s helpful for me to see people from more of a religious background working through these ideas since some of the considerations are different but the goal of living more simply and frugally is the same.

      I live within easy biking distance of at least two different Catholic churches, but I have been driving 26 miles round-trip on Sundays and some Saturdays (like a car clown, I guess) in order to be at the church where my friends are. I just moved last year for a job, and I haven’t found the same kind of community in my new city. The demographics are quite different, for one thing. I am going to try to make more of an effort to bike to work at least and then combine errands with my church trips. Five car-free days and two days of driving without much traffic would be pretty good if I could stick to it.

      For mapping nearby Catholic churches, http://www.masstimes.org/ is good, though sometimes their times are out of date.

  • RDC October 28, 2014, 8:06 pm

    I do the reverse of this post: I commute to work via bus/walking/bike/rail. The car gets used on the weekend for long errands and leaving town. Living for 7 years without a car completely makes it pretty easy.

  • Julia October 28, 2014, 8:10 pm

    My family lives this challenge everyday….It’s a good way to live.

    • Lisa October 30, 2014, 6:27 am

      Mine too. I feel like I’ve given myself a great gift by never owning a car. I’ve only taken the bus once in the last six months.

      Condolences to MrsMM. How very sad. :(

      • Julia November 2, 2014, 7:07 pm

        You’ve never owned a car?…That’s awesome! We went car-free last December, Christmas day actually, and haven’t looked back.

  • PatrickGSR94 October 28, 2014, 8:18 pm

    Lately I’ve been driving my 94 Integra as little as 3 days a week. I’ve increased my bike commuting to 3 days a week, over 90 miles total, and often only use the car once or none at all on the weekend. I use my other bike and huge cargo trailer for groceries on the weekends. So far I’ve managed to go 20 days on one tank of gas.

    • Kenoryn October 29, 2014, 2:18 pm


  • Aarchman07030 October 28, 2014, 8:22 pm

    Better yet–in my opinion–DON’T stock up the pantry before you ditch the car keys. Make a bike trip to the farmer’s market the centerpiece of your Saturday. Load up your bike bag or backpack with some fresh, locally-grown autumn produce and enjoy the health-giving, mind-clearing pleasures of using your own strength to power you home to prepare the bounty. Riding your bike as an actual means of transportation–as opposed to an expensive piece of specialized sporting equipment–turns mundane chores into an outing. The fun is only increased if you can make it a group event with your partner, your kids or a friend or two.

    • Julia Bloom October 29, 2014, 1:49 pm

      Yes! Biking to the farmers’ market is always a weekend highlight for our family. As well as making a point to bike past the two apple trees we’ve noticed on public property near our house, and pick up windfalls to bring home. The photo for this post reminded me of how we did that last weekend on our way home from a family (2-on-2) soccer game in the park!

      I also bike with my kids to and from school (2.5 miles round trip) every day – another simple joy we get to experience together for FREE!

      Also re: not stocking the pantry – most of us have plenty of food to get through a weekend, even if the fridge is practically empty. See what sort of creative meals and snacks you can make from nonperishables!

  • Eva October 28, 2014, 8:22 pm

    My husband and I sold both our cars a little over two years ago when we moved to the Washington DC metro area. We haven’t missed them a bit. I walk to work (my office is a little over a mile from where we live), and we rely on public transportation or the occasional taxi for excursions. Our total transportation cost each month is significantly less that what our building charges just for renting a parking space!

  • Dee Smith Peachfuzz October 28, 2014, 8:31 pm

    My condolences to Mrs. MMM and Janet’s family and other friends.

    My auto rests most of the week. I have a trail head .5 miles from my abode; 2 grocery stores within walking/riding distance and no desire whatsoever to get out on the road with 10K other crazed individuals concentrating on all other things except that they are supposed to be in control of a ton or two of potentially lethal weapon.

    I use my auto to attend my choice of worship service on Sundays and to go see my Dad Sunday afternoons and discuss whatever his current hobby horses might be (My dad is a hoot!). I quit driving so much last October when I began to work in my city center. My attempt to be a good citizen turned into an amazing benefit for me. I get 45 minutes on the local bus (it’s truly a local, not a rocket from the ‘burbs) to center myself, read, contemplate what I wish to accomplish that day. I arrive un-frazzled, totally nerved and ready for anything. I get the benefit of watching the sun rise and color the sky all pink and purple on the horizon as I walk from the bus stop to my office. It is rather awesome.

    Vehicles, like money and personal skills are tools to create the life one envisions. I find it sad that too often we become slaves to the very tools that ought to enhance our lives.

    Thanks for the challenge MMM!



  • insourcelife October 28, 2014, 8:34 pm

    I try to do that every week. Come back from work Thursday night, park the car and try not to get back in until Monday morning. It helps that I usually telecommute Fridays. We still end up driving too much on weekends though…

  • mrbasepaul October 28, 2014, 8:39 pm

    Poker night Saturday, but I can bum a ride from a fellow member, and not worry about beer intake.

  • Cheap Mom October 28, 2014, 8:46 pm

    We’re scheduling the crap out of this weekend: driving the kiddo off to grandma’s, driving to a wedding out of town, driving back home, driving to the Home Depot to pick up a new vanity, trim and paint to finish the powder room, finishing as much as we can or at least the noisy bits, then driving to pick up the kid and have dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s.
    Mustachian fail.

  • Stacey October 28, 2014, 8:49 pm

    I’m going to share this with my Consumer Ec class tomorrow. Words to live by.

    My condolences to your and Janet’s family. What a horrible way to go.

  • Anonymous October 28, 2014, 8:54 pm

    I do this roughly 4 out of every 5 weekends. That last weekend is generally spent getting together with friends, who unfortunately live too far away to bike to and far away from any public transit stop, making a car necessary to reach them.

  • Dividend Mantra October 28, 2014, 9:05 pm


    Good stuff!

    I can’t take this challenge on because the weekends are actually the only time I drive, due to stocking up on groceries and miscellaneous other errands. However, we almost never drive during the week. Less than one tank of gas this month!

    However, your points behind the challenge are well taken. It’s all about spending more time with others enjoying the simple things in life.

    I hope your doctor friend reads this!

    Best regards.

  • Teri October 28, 2014, 9:31 pm

    My deepest sympathy for Mrs MM.

    Another great post, MMM. I, like Cheap Mom, have a fully scheduled week-end involving a lot of driving. But it is a family vacation week-end too, not something we do regularly, just a few times a year.

    I hope try a carless week-end sometime soon.

  • Michelle October 28, 2014, 9:52 pm

    I could definitely do this over the weekend. I have a boring, but relaxing weekend planned!

    I’m so sorry about your friend Janet. Hope you and her loved ones are okay.

  • RH October 28, 2014, 9:57 pm

    We don’t have a car, so this will be easy! However, I do need to unplug the TV/Roku more….

  • LeisureFreak Tommy October 28, 2014, 10:15 pm

    I won’t be able to take up the challenge this weekend. Although I am a frugal mustachioed freak I happen to be an auto enthusiast and plan to enjoy the hell out of a drive over a twisting road this weekend. I absolutely see your point made about unplugging, enjoying nature and being in the moment. I spent almost all summer that way and only filled the tank of my primary vehicle once in 4 months but this weekend its about a freak and his long owned sports car. Its my hobby and I know goes against your mustache teachings so I will ask for forgiveness from you and fellow MMM followers.

  • Damian October 28, 2014, 10:20 pm

    What about the things that need to be done on the weekends?, mowing the lawns, house maintenance, washing clothes,catching up on weekly sleep deprivation, work related reading, housework, bike servicing (I clock a few hundred kms a week, and thats only commuting 3 days out of 5 – 6x 37km rides a week is exhausting enough)…. thats most of my weekend gone.

    We often stay home all weekend, but having no spare time during the week we still get very little time to relax on the weekend while doing the minimum to make sure we don’t get visits from the council over long grass, our house doesn’t fall down and we have clean clothes for next week.

    Australia is particularly bad at having most of the jobs in/near major city CBDs and even a hovel near the CBD being unaffordable on most wages (easily a million plus for a 1 bedroom), so leaving home at 6:30/7am and arriving home at 7:00/7:30pm is pretty normal for the average ‘working class’ family. Employment opportunities are pretty tragic in smaller centres so thats a very risky option.

    • dave November 2, 2014, 10:37 pm

      Thats the same in canada

  • Big Guy Money October 28, 2014, 10:42 pm

    To me, it’s interesting how everyone is focused on whether they can, or can’t, participate in the car free weekend, and completely missing the point of the article which is to intentionally build margin into your life. I know I, especially lately, have been guilty of this as much as anyone. Build margin in, whether it be by ignoring the car, ignoring the TV, ignoring the cell phone, social media, blogs, or a host of other things trying to pull us away from the truly important things in our life. Nice post MMM.

    • Tallgirl1204 October 29, 2014, 9:55 pm

      Thanks for this. I was feeling this too, but you said it so much better. I might not drive this weekend, but the bigger challenge would be to shut down the computer. I KNOW beyond a doubt that I will not lie on my deathbed wishing that I had watched more tv, read more trashy novels or cleaned out my closet an extra time. My son is also 8 years old, and time with him will never be regretted, and letting go of technological distractions to see what would fill the space (music probably) would be a good thing.

    • Nancy November 1, 2014, 1:31 pm

      Exactly BGM! It’s about maximizing MY priorities and not letting my energy/time/resources go to non-priorities. Knowing the difference and building my life with that knowledge has led to a bone-deep satisfaction. It wasn’t easy at first to dump a lifetime of programming, stop worrying about others’ opinion of me, and really tune into the difference between short and long term gratification. Thanks MMM for sharing what that looks like for your family.

  • jen October 28, 2014, 11:05 pm

    No driving is pretty much our goal every weekend – much more fun to ride our bikes, have slow, lazy mornings and enjoy some quality reading and house care than to spend it sitting in traffic….

  • The Roamer October 28, 2014, 11:16 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss Mr.MM

    Thank you for your challenge MMM. I am going to do my best to make it a car free weekend. I guess we will have to plan to hit the store on our way back from work. This weekend should be a great weekend to go car free with the kids all hopped up on candy.

    @BGM I totally agree everyone is saying can’t but what they mean is wont. You can, its just inconvenient

  • Cathy October 29, 2014, 12:02 am

    I’m 23, well on my way to retirement, and I’ve never even learned to drive. I don’t have a driver’s licence, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. It always makes me chuckle when people talk about a car as if it were a necessity, especially since I spent most of my life living in an area with very poor public transit. I actually think my limited mobility has been a major contributing factor to my frugality, since it’s harder to spend money when you can’t easily get around — and I view that as a good thing, not a deprivation.

    • Eldred October 29, 2014, 9:28 am

      How far away from home do you work, and how do you get there? I agree that it’s harder to spend money when it’s difficult to get around, so THAT is a bonus. I’m curious – what do you do for entertainment?

      • Cathy October 29, 2014, 9:48 am

        I worked from home until recently. A couple months ago I moved to the bay area and a lot of the big tech companies here, including the one I now work for, have a system of company shuttles that run throughout the day. From leaving my apartment to reaching the employer’s campus, it’s about a 20 minute commute (involving a short walk and then getting on the shuttle which stops near me), which is long, but it’s rational in the circumstances.

        I spend my free time reading to learn new things. My specific focuses have changed over the years. As a young child (ages 5-10), I used to read books on programming and computer science, which is how I learned the field. I also used to contribute a lot to open source projects, including starting a few. I also taught myself the law by reading thousands of court cases over the years. I’ve published some articles as well.

        “Lately” (for about a year now) my focus has been on learning about finances, investments, and so on. I was actually very confused about the whole topic throughout school. People around me were always talking about how tough it was to find money for things and whatnot. Meanwhile, I was quite lazy, only working a part time job, and somehow my bank account had tens of thousands of dollars in it. It didn’t really make any sense to me how people much older than me could have so much less money than I did as a university student. Even as I’ve started to accumulate far more over the last few years since finishing school, I didn’t know what I planned to do with my money. There was nothing much I wanted to buy. My parents said I should buy myself a house but I did the math and determined it was better to rent (in the area where I was living). Luckily, since finding MMM I finally have a specific goal for my saving, namely to retire in a few years.

        • Postscript October 29, 2014, 11:26 am

          Really enjoyed reading your story, Cathy. Thanks for sharing it!

        • Beric01 October 29, 2014, 12:27 pm

          Sounds awesome, Cathy! I’m 24, living in the Bay Area and car-free as well. You should have come to the recent local Mustachian meetup!

          I am shocked by how much money I am saving not owning a car, and I can still go everywhere I used to. I view freedom as NOT needing to own a car.

          I bike to work every day (my company pays me extra money monthly to do so). I bike to get groceries once a week. I often bike on weekends to visit family and friends. I currently rent a studio apartment, but am planning to switch to renting a room starting next month to save even more money.

        • Rob November 2, 2014, 1:10 am

          Check out the latest planet money podcast, When Women Stopped Coding, fascinating


    • Marcia November 3, 2014, 9:08 am

      This is a very good point.

      We tend to spend our weekends near home. And the people we hang out with are our neighbors.

      One of my neighbors is in her 50’s with two small children (she’s got 4 grown children too, and they adopted two more). She doesn’t drive. She grew up in NYC and never learned to drive. She’s taken lessons but never got a license.

      So she walks everywhere. Not only does she NOT spend a lot of money (because she doesn’t have a car), but she’s pretty fit too.

  • Sandy October 29, 2014, 2:14 am

    This article is right on the money… again!! Thank you.

    I anticipate this weekend will be much like most our weekends. We’ll get up when our 11m old baby decides it’s time for us to get up (which is usually around 08:00). One of us will attend her while the other bikes down the the local bakery to pick out something lovely for breakfast, as is our habit on Saturday.

    DH will enjoy playing with his daughter until it is her nap time, at which point we’ll settle into our luxurious recliner couch with our books en enjoy some reading. After nap time there will be more playing with the baby. DH works 4 days a week so the other 3 he likes to make a point of playing with his adored little girl.

    In the evening we bath the baby together and when she’s off to bed we break out the board games. We have a nice selections of 2-player games and we enjoy the evening with the games, some wine and some crackers and cheese. Ah… the good life.

    On Sunday, we wake up well rested from our chill-down Saturday and we might take our bikes out (with proper babysat installed just this week – before we had a bike trailer with a baby seat in it) and bike through the countryside, enjoying the cows and sheep that are still out or one of the many parks or woods etc. We’ll eat our pre-packed sandwiches and enjoy the weather!

    On Monday, DH does not work, we do chores around the house. A little cleaning, some admin chores. We do this together so that it takes up as little time as we can possibly manage for it to take, thus leaving us with more time to play with the baby and read our books and play our games.

    Nowhere in this scenario is the tv or the car turned on. Ever!! :)
    Ah… the good life!

    Condolences to MrsMM for the loss of her friend.

  • Frugal Bazooka October 29, 2014, 3:17 am

    We’re in the middle of an interesting economic trend re: oil. Part of the MMM philosophy seems to include a reduction in car usage which also reduces oil consumption. This trend is not unique to frugal-meisters. The entire First world and some of the 3rd world has reduced oil consumption exponentially. This, combined with the massive increase of oil and shale production in the US recently has caused the price of oil to plummet. I’m about to buy a gallon of gas for less than $3.

    Ironically continued reductions in consumer oil usage as well as increased production (US and Saudi in particular) and sinking prices will have two long term side effects: 1. Oil will remain viable for the long term 2. Efforts to replace oil w higher cost alt fuels or methods will not be economically feasible

    The improving U.S. economy and stellar stock market owe at least some debt to the reduction in oil prices which is giving Americans a hefty tax cut of sorts. Those of us who are investing in the stock market are benefitting tremendously.
    The consumption we decrease today has the unhappy result of insuring continued oil consumption for the long term.
    It’s an interesting dilemma and the epitome of “no good deed goes unpunished”

    • Maggie October 29, 2014, 12:52 pm

      There are many factors in the decrease in the price of gas, including Libya exporting 40% more this year than last, the Saudis reacting to that with lower prices, etc etc etc. It will not last. And I don’t for a minute think that “oil will remain viable for a long time” nor do I agree with your premise. BUT my car stays parked this weekend, as it usually does, regardless of how much gas I can buy now :) I’ve crafted my life to need a car only rarely, and that has been one of the best decisions I ever made.

      • megak8 October 30, 2014, 8:33 am

        yes, and another factor is that oil prices nearly always fall when the northern hemisphere experiences fall/autumn (oil prices rise when he northern hemisphere experiences summer). You can confirm by examining trends for oil prices in May vs. October/November.

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 30, 2014, 9:48 am

      Frugal Bazooka – that is a fun bit of oil and world energy speculation and I enjoy the practice myself. As long as we both acknowledge that the world is a bit too unpredictable for our predictions to actually mean anything :-)

      With that in mind, here’s my own armchair economist speculation: the alternative energy cat is out of the bag, and there is nothing oil prices can do to stop it. The stuff is too cheap, and advancing too rapidly, for any oil price drops to prevent its advancement. Oil will always be limited by the complexity of harvesting it (which rises as we drain the easy stuff), while solar energy will always be abundant and free (and that harvesting is already cheap and dropping). Most of our collecting area is sitting dormant (urban rooftops).

      On top of that, electric cars will soon be cheaper than gas ones, and they are already much more pleasant to drive. But fossil fuels will still have an important home where energy density is required – long-haul freight and airplanes.

      The preceding forecast is still 100% made up shit, but technically it is pretty feasible.

      More on this idea:

      • Frugal Bazooka October 30, 2014, 10:59 am


        You map out an energy scenario that is highly optimistic and I like it. The cost drop in solar panels is a major piece of the puzzle, since recouping the cost of going solar used to be marketed at about 15 years in California. If they could guarantee recoupment in say 2-5 years it would mark the beginning of the end of grid based/oil based electric energy. In other words solar dominant households would be the norm.
        My main point (which I don’t believe contradicts your predictions) was that changing economic behavior has unintended (sometimes negative) consequences – a la ethanol. I know this is not a new idea, but it is at play in the oil game. The oil companies/oil market speculators have been able to raise prices because the assumption of the consumer was oil was running out and naturally we will have to pay more for it. The oil companies (and OPEC) allowed prices to get so high that people changed their attitude about consumption. Now, the price of oil is dropping because consumers have changed their consumption levels at the exact same time that alternative energy use is peaking AND the US has been able to harvest new – and yes – easy oil in the Dakotas as well as thru shale harvesting.

        I appreciate the fact that as environmentally committed as you are, you are pragmatic enough to consider the legitimate place oil has in our economy. This is why you are a breath of fresh air in the sometimes dogmatic environmental movement.

        I agree that the alt energy trend will not be stopped by decreasing oil prices per se, but oil reserves will continue to grow, the price of oil will continue to drop and at some point I would think that new start up alt energy companies will have to do a more extensive cost/benefit analysis before jumping in. Personally I love the idea of being weened off of consumer oil completely and look forward to the day when Volkswagen releases the 300 mpg prototype they recently unveiled. Having said that, my fleet of 2 wheeled wonders beats any car any day for pure fun and efficiently.

        I enjoy the irony of economic unintended consequences – especially when it works in favor of the consumer. Oil company profits will plummet as the price of oil goes down -people will have more money to invest in clean energy. Local monopolistic electric companies will become obsolete as hoards of frugal consumers jump ship to low cost solar panels. The cost of food (in Calif) has dropped significantly as the cost of getting it to market has dropped and increased competition due to NAFTA has caused large grocery stores to lower the price or lose market share.

        Rarely have economic factors lined up so much in favor of the consumer as they are today. For those who seek financial independence, the next 2 decades could turn out be a golden age.

  • Enid October 29, 2014, 3:51 am

    Sounds like a plan. Even though we have everything in close proximity and where we live in Dublin is very walkable – to our shame we still drive our car a lot. :-(

  • MandalayVA October 29, 2014, 4:16 am

    My condolences to Mrs. MM on the loss of her friend.

    I am gradually teaching my Taz of a husband to relax and enjoy weekends. We will take the car to go to the farmers market on Saturday morning–Richmond is getting bike-friendlier but it’s got a long way to go still–but after that we’ll chill. Amazingly considering it’s football season we’ve watched very little this year. It used to be that my ass would indent the sofa for half the day on autumn Sundays so I consider that a major step forward. Sundays are now cooking day for the week.

  • Victor October 29, 2014, 4:31 am

    MMM – regarding television I have a question. I have cut out cable but still have some netflix. What seems to be a bigger struggle is the computer however – playing video games and reading websites (such as these) also cut into the time to really chill and read a book and these activities are harder to get rid of than watching TV in my opinion. How do you do dose those?

    • Jonathan October 29, 2014, 8:29 am

      I second the video games. I use them to chill by myself over the weekend and although I’ve quit buying new ones, I still have plenty to play. It’s obvious they take me away from family and friends in the same way that TV would have.

      • Ashley October 29, 2014, 11:06 am

        I don’t think computer time is necessarily bad, but its more how much time you spend and how you spend it. Reading articles like MMM’s increases your knowledge, or at least gives you a guide towards what book topics could interest you. I think if you spent the time reading social networking sites then computer time isn’t so good, or even if you spent all your free time reading MMM then maybe your time spent is off balance in relation to spending time with friends/family.
        Same idea for video games, plus they engage your mind in a different way than reading does. Playing video games is also sometimes how I relax, just as I might read a non educational book to allow myself to unwind. Bonus points, I play coop with my boyfriend a lot and working together can be a bonding experience :). Video games are not bad, the bad thing would be to play video games all the time.

        • Beric01 October 29, 2014, 12:29 pm

          Fully agree, Ashley. Everything in moderation.

  • taekvideo October 29, 2014, 5:09 am

    Sounds like a great way to live :)
    My idea of the perfect life is very similar, though of course with some differences as well.
    I’m pursuing it vigorously and will achieve it much faster thanks to you and Jacob (ERE) who showed me it was possible.
    Keep doing what you’re doing… changing the world on person at a time!

    ps. i don’t have a car (never have) so I think I’ll win this challenge ;)

  • Danno October 29, 2014, 6:08 am

    Mr MM, it sounds like a really boring weekend, especially for your son. I love the majority of your stuff and have been a silent lurker on your site but tonight, after a glass or 2 of red, seems this article has crystallized what has been bothering me. We are not so different to you, we have an old bomb we bought 10 years ago, going strong, fingers crossed. I grew up in abject poverty and self learnt many of the things you teach, infact I often marvel that I should have written MMM as my decisions and tactics have been so similar to yours. As a result, like you I am financially set for life and have been for several years. But life is not about dropping out once you have enough coin, it is about discovering your purpose and pursuing it whilst allowing others to do the same, especially your children (I have 3). You can actually keep busy and get involved in the world without spending a lot of money. Why would you not be involved in community clubs and activities rather than just mucking about in the creek and thinking you are better than everybody else as you relax all day long. This weekend my kids are involved in sporting activities with community clubs that are run by parents at a low cost. They learn fitness, teamwork, winning and losing, sportsmanship and hang with a whole bunch of kids from different schools. My wife and I mix with a whole bunch of parents we normally do not see. They also play learn music in a local group run by volunteers and my wife has recently finished running a community art show which our kids (and others) played a big part in. We all have a great time and it costs us almost nothing. The kids learn the lessons of discipline, effort and teamwork that will help them when it comes to earning (and saving) huge amounts of money in their early careers, as you did. On occasions we have to drive to a venue that is further than we can walk or ride. We even have to get up early and rush around sometimes. Is that so bad. I am sorry but I worry that you are so enamored by your celebrated lifestyle that you may not realize that your hang back and relax ALL the time approach may not be in your son’s best interests. You should get him involved in a community sports team or activity outside your normal world, perhaps with coaches or leaders other than you as a different influence. Your posts regarding your son always seem to revolve around yourself and your dominant presence in his activities, this is not in his best interests in the long run. It seems to me you have achieved your purpose in life and created this fabulous MMM website and persona, but have perhaps dogmatically shoehorned your boy into this life too rather than giving him other options. This may backfire in the rebellious teenage years. Good luck and thankyou for your generally excellent service through your website.

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 29, 2014, 9:11 am

      That’s a great criticism Danno, and I think about that issue quite a bit when helping my son get involved in stuff other than playing with his Dad.

      At this point I’ll have to admit something I usually try to deny: there are various personality types in the world and not everything will work for everyone. My son and I are “creative introverts”, in the sense that we LOVE having free time to tinker and absolutely HATE the idea of organized activities more than about once a week. I love being around people, but as soon as it becomes a committee or involves megaphones and folding tables, the fun drains out of it for me. According to my own Mom, I’ve been like this since birth, and my son has displayed signs of this from birth, so I can’t blame him.

      So yeah, if your group activities are bringing happiness without regret or a feeling of being too busy, go for it! I am surely a bit towards the one extreme. But this article is suggesting most people get themselves too far towards the opposite extreme.

      For example, the idea of that being a “boring” weekend mystifies me. What could be more interesting than engaging with nature, creating stuff, and spending time with your favorite people in the world? I probably should have put in more details about the community aspect, like how guests are always stopping by the house at unpredictable times. But the basic picture is accurate.

      Forcing yourself to have a bit of alone time is what allows creativity to flourish, and the act of creating (rather than simply participating or consuming) is one of the most satisfying things people report in studies relating to happiness.

      • Laronda October 29, 2014, 1:14 pm

        How timely! I was just lamenting to my husband that this time of year is my least favorite because of how often we are in the car and heading to activities! Many of our kids’ friends birthday parties are in Oct/Nov; throw in a trip to the pumpkin patch, parent-teacher conferences, and the odd run after a Craigslist find, and you’re looking at a very cranky family.

        I do think different types of people are comfortable/happy with different levels of activity and interaction with others. That said, I am also a parent of 3, one definitely a “creative introvert,” one energetic extrovert, and one too new to say yet. I think they all benefit from having plenty of unstructured time. We also frequently “do nothing” on the weekend, or at least one full day of it. We putter around, maybe walk or bike to the park, walk down the nearby trail, catch bugs, raid the recycling bin for craft materials, cook, clean up the house, whatever. There’s plenty to do and enjoy, but the pace and timeline are relaxed. We have an amazing children’s museum just down the hill from us that I frequently take the kids to during the day, but we don’t even usually go there on the weekend. Just don’t feel the need.

        My oldest is in basketball, my middle child is in dance, and I absolutely think they learn important skills like teamwork and sportsmanship and, more importantly, they have fun. I think those skills can be learned on the neighborhood playground as well, though, and such “old-fashioned” sources of interaction and learning are too often overlooked these days. And I, personally, worry far more about my kids being shoehorned into a hectic round of extracurriculars that prevent them from exercising their creativity and independence (not that that’s what you’re doing, Danno) like I see in so many of our acquaintances.

        People are amazed to hear that much of our family life takes place within a 1-mile radius of our home–school, grocery store, park, rec center, museum, trails: check! But we’re all, no matter our personalities, happier when we have room to breathe and go about our day in a non-rushed manner. Part of that may be using the car less; part may be taking a weekend “off”; part may be cutting back on the scheduled activities. There’s nothing wrong with being busy, if that’s what you enjoy, but I do think most of us need to carefully evaluate if it’s really what we want and what works best for us or if it’s just the way family life is “supposed to be” these days. Of course, it could be that my family and I are just lazy :)

      • Tara October 29, 2014, 3:26 pm

        Yay! Let’s hear it for introverts. The prospect of tons or organized scheduled public activities makes break out in hives. Your weekend sounds perfect! (and since I don’t own a car, the carless weekend is a no brainer)

      • Maverick October 31, 2014, 2:29 am

        Very nice, polite point and counter-point.

      • Angela November 3, 2014, 3:14 pm

        Yes, well said. I enjoyed reading your counter.

        I’m more of an introvert who can certainly turn it on when the need arises, but would prefer to keep to myself. If I have more than one activity planned for the weekend it is often too much for me. This weekend my husband and I along with our 10 month old son spent the weekend lollygagging around a local arboretum. It was a great way to spend the day. The only problem was we had to drive there, but we live in Houston where driving is a way of life.

    • CTY October 29, 2014, 2:05 pm

      Danno, I must say I was thinking the same thing. MMM’s son though is still quite young. We have 2 boys & they couldn’t be more different. The oldest, had no use for friends or social activities; the youngest was a social butterfly. For the oldest, I had to coax him to get involved with the community, but even when he did get involved (stage plays) he spent his down time at the rehearsals reading a book by himself. He really did not have friends until 11th grade (3 of them). The other son, had to have his activities limited early on & had lots good friends from many different circles.
      In the end I doubt MMM will have much trouble with the teen years because they seem to have a solid, mutually respectful relationship and good communication.

    • Johnez October 30, 2014, 3:55 am

      I think a lot can be said about getting kids together in organized sports and clubs. It allows kids to excel in a structured way, giving them a sort of blueprint for success. For an indoors kid like me though, it was a total bore. I would have much preferred playing with my legos, reading my books, or walking the creeks with friends than being carted off here and there to be in positions that didn’t matter in sports I had no interest in. I’m sure if little MMM had an interest in some specific sport MMM would inquire further, perhaps getting his son set up in a league if little MMM’s interest was budding-MMM seem s the type to listen with all that free time on his hands. A lot of parents assume they have to put their kids in sports, perhaps as a way to make up for their own life lacking those opportunities. Too many times the kid sitting in left field picking grass is told to “try harder” when in fact the parent should simply pay attention to what that kid can excel at. Not everyone is built the same…

  • dolly parton October 29, 2014, 7:10 am

    “As much as you like your favorite shows or sports events, the experience deprives you of what you would have done if the TV hadn’t been there. It is in the void left behind when TV disappears that real life can start to occur.”

    By my calculations, I watch about 12 hours of TV (most of it sports) every weekend. This is insane. And worse, I think I’m being minimalistic in my sports watching: I rarely watch random games, only my favorite premier league team, favorite college team, favorite NFL team, etc. And then of course my mood is totally affected by the performance of these teams – for good or for bad. Is there anything less stoic than relinquishing your happiness to athletes hundreds of miles away, far from my circle of control?

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 29, 2014, 9:04 am

      There are probably worse things, but I can’t think of them at the moment. Nice work Ms. Parton for at least calling yourself out – it’s a first step.

      This will make me unpopular even with some friends, but TV sports are a BULLSHIT CONCEPT!!!! And that’s before we even get to the advertising/corporate aspect.

      If you aren’t actually playing the sport, or at least know the athletes personally and handing high fives and water bottles as they come off the field, there is no need to be watching other people engage in sports. Go create something instead.

      • The Roamer October 29, 2014, 11:55 am

        Totally agree! It’s so boring too!
        My husband also doesn’t watch sports and when ever I mention this to coworkers they seem to want to imply this makes him less manly.

        Really? Hmm. I don’t actually rebuttal. It seems pointless.

      • Mel October 29, 2014, 9:18 pm

        I know you have a long list of ideas for future articles but, if it is not already on that list, this topic should be!

        I am an American living in Asia and one of the things that I notice to an even greater degree about my homeland is the unhealthy (!!) obsession Americans (in particular…but certainly applicable to other lands) have.

      • MandalayVA October 30, 2014, 12:27 pm

        I would happily give out high fives and water bottles but the team hasn’t lifted the restraining order against me yet … ;D

        • Rick November 2, 2014, 11:46 pm

          Couldn’t agree with you more about wasting time on sports. But you know what? I enjoy it. In fact I wish I enjoyed it less. But being financially independent and wanting to live my life more “in the moment”, I find I often enjoy being involved in local sports teams. And so does my wife. That’s what’s so great about being financially independent: you can waste your life on anything your heart desires. Sometimes you don’t feel like being creative. Is that so bad?

  • rjack October 29, 2014, 7:22 am

    I think this article is destined to become another MMM classic! I particularly liked:

    “…The modern culture dictates that we take every chance to pack our days with exciting things, limited only by our need to sleep. If you don’t do this, you are “missing out.” But I propose that the opposite is true: the Good Life is found in between those times when you are engaged in travel, being “entertained” and participating in too many organized activities…”

    Very Zen! My wife and I call people “crazy busy” when they try to pack in as many scheduled activities as possible in a given day. My wife often takes a brief nap in the afternoon and this shocks and amazes her close friends. “How can you possible have time?” they say. “It’s easy, I just leave lots of free time in my schedule.” she says.

    Since I retired early, I’ve learned that life is meant to be experienced wherever you are. You don’t need to build a frenetic schedule that makes it impossible to appreciate what you are doing right now because you have to worry about the new scheduled activity.

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 29, 2014, 8:59 am

      Right on, R-Jack! I love the part about your wife’s Shock and Awe Nap program.

      I have adopted this planning philosophy where you never plan more than one activity in a given day. One event is plenty to make a day rich and fulfilling. Like, “tomorrow we have that party planned, so let’s put the big hike on the following day instead”.

      It seems like most people try to 3-4 things every day, and since most things naturally run overtime due to human nature, they are perpetually late for one thing, or having to leave early for the next. This is my pet peeve at social gatherings. One Fucking Party in a night is enough, people. Commit to it, come early, feast heartily, drink properly, then stumble home nice and late.

      • WageSlave October 29, 2014, 11:51 am

        “I have adopted this planning philosophy where you never plan more than one activity in a given day.” Personally, I look forward to weekends with zero planned activities, but I’m afraid of my future becoming like your friend’s at the party: “The kids do competitive swimming and ski racing on the weekends.”

        Let’s say you had more than one child, and they were not “creative introverts” (as you described above in the reply to Danno). Say your multiple kids are “social butterflies” who are happiest being involved in a million activities (queue “Friday Night” by The Darkness). How would you reconcile this situation with your philosophy? It seems like you’d be forced to compromise somehow, either cramming multiple planned activities into single days, or making your kids unhappy by restricting their involvement.

        Another hypothetical scenario: say your tween or early-teen kid’s group of closest friends all got into some extracurricular activity that was high-cost (something that required a lot of up front equipment costs and ongoing dues or facility fees or whatever). The “tween/early-tween” qualification was quite deliberate, because this is when conformity and fitting-in become dramatically important for a lot of kids. You could simply say no—you are the parent of course—but that’s going to be quite hard on your child. Junior’s first face-punch?

        • Eldred October 29, 2014, 1:02 pm

          Re: your hypothetical scenario – Wouldn’t you have the same problem if you *couldn’t* afford it? If you had a son that wanted to play football, one that played hockey, and a daughter that liked gymnastics, that could add up to a TON of money every month. So if you didn’t have the resources to do that? You’d have to tell the kids no – food and lights is more important. What if you could only afford one of the three – would you draw straws to see which kid got to live their dream? I’m serious – how do parents with multiple social butterflies handle limited resources?

          • sheepgetlambs October 30, 2014, 11:08 pm

            I have a creative introvert child and when she became enamored with tumbling (through the city rec department, ie. cheap but not free) I pointed out that it meets Saturday mornings and that would mean she would have exactly zero mornings during the school year to hang out in her jammies and just play. (We go to church on Sundays.) She thought for a moment and said, “No. I’d rather have a day to play.”

            • Andy October 31, 2014, 11:08 am

              Not to get into a religious debate, but I hope she was given the option to have Sundays “off” from church in the fall.

            • Matth November 1, 2014, 11:38 am

              I don’t understand this comment, and I’m genuinely curious to know the background. I was forced to go to church until high school, when I promptly quit going altogether. It was awfully boring, but I don’t think my parents should have given me an “off” option either. Can you give some more explanation on why you think sheepgetlambs should be giving her daughter the choice?

        • John October 29, 2014, 1:02 pm

          I suspect that MMM would encourage the teen-aged MMM Jr. to obtain a revenue generating activity and thus fund his expensive extra-curricular activity.

          • sheepgetlambs October 30, 2014, 11:03 pm

            I have a creative introvert child and when she became enamored with tumbling (through the city rec department, ie. cheap but not free) I pointed out that it meets Saturday mornings and that would mean she would have exactly zero mornings during the school year to hang out in her jammies and just play. (We go to church on Sundays.) She thought for a moment and said, “No. I’d rather have a day to play.”

        • Barbolarb October 31, 2014, 9:06 am

          We have this exact scenario in our house, albeit ages are younger (preschool); one kiddo who leans more introvert, and one who is a total extrovert (and a baby who is to young to tell). When I chat with the extrovert about her day, the favorite parts she always highlights involve “playing with friends”. We have made a conscious decision to keep our kids’ days mostly unscheduled, and instead have at least one trip to the playground across the street every morning and sometimes an afternoon outing like going to the beach, the pool or paddleboarding in the harbor. All of these activities are within a 10 minute walk to our house. However, we try to accomodate our extrovert daughter’s needs by frequently inviting friends along- we text another family for a meet-up at the playground, invite friends over to throw dinner on the BBQ, or meet another family to take turns going out on the paddleboards. This seems to meet everyone’s needs really well right now, and as the kids get older we will look for more ways to balance out the very different needs of each member of the family. It also allows us to build a really nice community around us, with families whose kids we watch grow up with our own. Also, it keeps the adult relationships vibrant, but without extending invitations where the kids are always unwelcome.

  • Trevor October 29, 2014, 7:34 am

    Please accept my condolences on the passing of Mrs MMM’s friend.
    Trevor, from Ottawa (Met both of you at the wonderful Ottawa gathering in the summer of 2013).

  • C.R.E.A.M October 29, 2014, 8:03 am

    “This weekend, there will be no errands, shopping trips, drives to the mountains or the beach, horseback riding lessons or Harley cruises. Just you and your actual body, doing things that it is actually meant to do.”

    Being car free for a weekend does not mean you have to live within your 1 – 5 miles radius and relax at home the entire time. As MMM has pointed out in previous posts, biking is an efficient commuting/travel option. Invest in a good bike and you’ll never look back. If you have chosen to live in an outdoor focused area (Denver, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, etc.), you can hit the grocery store, run errands and hit the mountains/beach all by bike. I routinely go car free on weekends by biking everywhere. A few (car-free) weekends ago, a group of us rode 50 miles to a cool brewery to pick up some growlers, hit up the beach on the way back home, and then picked up groceries for a BBQ for the evening. Remember that your lifestyle is a choice. Choose wisely and reap in the benefits.

  • Little House October 29, 2014, 8:06 am

    I love just lounging about on the weekends and taking it slow. It’s the simple pleasures that I’m most fond of, like coffee and dark chocolate! I love biking to work during the week (which I do most days), but this weekend is a no-go for me. We’re traveling out of town. Perhaps we’ll try a no-car weekend next weekend.

  • Jessi October 29, 2014, 8:10 am

    I rarely use my car on the weekends, so this won’t be too much of a challenge at all :)

    I’m too much of a homebody. Weekends exist to not have to leave the house.
    When I do go away for the weekend or have a busy weekend with lots of activities, I regret it when work comes around on Monday.

  • JayP October 29, 2014, 8:16 am

    I have to say first and foremost that I am a MMM fan. Defying consumerism, living deliberately, and escaping the corporate grind all resonate completely with me. Having said that, I do have to admit that I find MMM to be slightly hypocritcal on the oil/vehicle/travel sometimes. It seems like car users are constantly chasened, but don’t you travel very frequently by way of car and plane? There was once time I read an article about how little MMM did so well to drive only 80 miles or so in a month, but yet added 1,000 miles in the car for a vacation. Equador(every year), Canada, Moab, Hawaii. Is this really any better than the guy like me who drives the 5 miles to work due to hazardous conditions along the way? Love the biking, love the goal, just the whole “clown car” seems a little preachy and slightly hypocritcal in that context. Am I missing something?

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 29, 2014, 8:52 am

      No, I think you got it pretty straight Jay. We live a ridiculous and luxurious life – it is just SLIGHTLY less ridiculous than average if you add up the energy/spending footprint, especially relative to income. It is a baby step meant to be appealing to other high-income residents in wealthy countries, because a more hardcore approach would not reach this target audience.

      So it’s not about perfection, but rather questioning each of your choices and deciding if you could do things a little better.

      • JayP October 29, 2014, 3:07 pm

        True, there are always opportunties to be a little more conscious! Great point about over-scheduling too, which I am surely guilty of.

    • The Roamer October 29, 2014, 9:28 am

      Yes he mentioned cars but I think your kind of missing the point. He talked about so much more. He talk about taking it slow and more importantly being present!

      Like maybe you really love ice skating and so you take the family out but you have a packed day ahead. So maybe yes you are ice skating but you are not actually there. You aren’t in that moment living it because you are thinking about something else. Watching the clock.

      He just used the car because it is with enables us to pack so much into our day.

      All the people who are saying can’t because I have a day planned. That’s the point exactly. You actually can you just won’t. The whole point is to scrap the plan, if he is talking to most Americans a free weekend doesn’t exist as far as the eye can see they are planned. You have to create them you need to make the choice to make the time.

      Ditching the car forces you to slow down because if you are walking or biking you probably won’t be able to jump from one place to another via a 15 min car ride. Which means you have to schedule less.

    • Green Girl October 29, 2014, 12:47 pm

      @ Jay P –

      Hi Jay, As a sustainability professional, I have struggled with this conundrum myself. However, when you compare airplane flying or cross country driving to daily commuting, it is usually just in ‘carbon footprint’ terms. Real sustainability is more than just carbon and global warming. It is about people, profit & planet. Most people only fly occasionally, whereas driving has become a ridiculous habit for the majority of Americans, driving a mile to the grocery store at times, or worse, driving a mile to the gym!

      I try to fly no more than once or twice per year, and I try to make the trips as impactful as possible to reduce my travel needs. I think MMM does the same.

      People: The health and safety impact of driving is FAR worse than flying. Driving increases (on a daily basis) stress and too much sitting.

      Profit: Driving regularly and maintaining a car costs the average American $6-8k per year. I never even come close to spending that much for a year of airplane travel.

      Planet: Airports are compact compared to our commuter road system. Driving promotes urban sprawl which means more big box retailers, more shopping for ‘stuff’, more stand alone houses and bigger garages (i.e. more roofs), less pedestrian and bike friendly neighborhoods. All of this increases storm water runoff and urban heat island effect, both of which can kill off trees and cause a positive feedback loop.

      I’m not saying do away with all roads, after all, we still need to transport food and other goods, but building highways and parking lots for daily commuters is getting out of control. I’d rather see driving become expensive with an externality tax and then use that extra revenue to build bike/ped paths and good public transportation infrastructure. This will discourage driving and make alternative commuting more appealing.

      It may seem inconvenient in the short term to reduce driving, but in the long term your health, wealth and happiness will soar!

      • Green Girl October 29, 2014, 12:50 pm

        Sorry, I meant positive feedback loop!

      • The New Normal October 30, 2014, 4:34 am

        driving (a hybrid or fuel efficient vehicle) actually consumes an equivalent amount of fuel per mile as flying

        the belief that flying is safer than driving is a myth because most studies look at fatalities/accidents per mile and don’t normalize for the frequency one flies vs drives – there has to be an adjustment for the fact that driving a mile to the grocery 1000x is not the equivalent of taking a single 1000 mile flight

    • Leo October 29, 2014, 11:13 pm

      The clown car article was about unnecessary driving. How do you get to Hawaii on a bike? In that case the plane is necessary.
      For me the point is to make travel meaningful and worthwhile. Don’t waste it on a 5 mile trip you could easily bike (sorry I don’t buy hazardous conditions).

  • Bob Werner October 29, 2014, 8:16 am

    Feel so sorry for the doctor and his family. Such highly educated people who can’t seem to figure out a decent lifestyle.

    • mysticaltyger October 29, 2014, 2:56 pm

      Just goes to show you common sense and IQ are not synonymous.

  • dude October 29, 2014, 8:40 am

    I can do this occasionally, but most weekends, I want to be climbing, and that means driving a couple hours to where the cliffs/mountains are. I will say though that this past weekend, DW and I did some yardwork together, then went for a gorgeous bike ride along our scenic rails-to-trails bike path (stopping for a beer), and on Sunday night went to a show (English Beat) at a local music venue (just 1/4 mile from our house). We did have a really great time together, and none of it involved driving.

  • Gerard October 29, 2014, 8:49 am

    As this will be my 1564th consecutive weekend of not owning or driving a car, I’m pretty sure I’ll get by! But I will treat this excellent post as a reminder to slow down.

    (Mrs MM, Random Internet Stranger Hug and condolences.)

    • Eldred October 29, 2014, 8:54 am

      You haven’t owned a car for over 30 years?!? Impressive! Where do you live that you’re able to do that?

      • Gerard October 29, 2014, 12:44 pm

        Canada! Over those years, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and St. John’s.

        • Eldred October 31, 2014, 12:36 pm

          NICE! I’ve *owned* a car since maybe 1982(so 32 years), but I haven’t had a car payment for most of that time. I wish I would have had the discipline to put the amount of that payment aside each month, though. I’d probably have a decent chunk of money by now.

      • Mari InShaw October 29, 2014, 12:57 pm

        I was car free for 17 years until I married a man who brought a car into the marriage.
        I lived in and around Washington, DC. I purposefully chose to live in places where I could get to a grocery store and where ever I worked. Except for one place, the supermarket was in walking distance. I took buses and used the subway to get around . Can’t say I’ve been car-free because I did rent cars, either for an hour or a day.
        It is possible, but you’ve got to be purposeful about it.

        • megak8 October 30, 2014, 8:54 am

          I too have lived in the DC ‘burbs for nearly 30 years and I mostly drive for customer visits (business travel, not commuting). We have terrific public transit, and bike-friendliness has increased during the past decade in particular, and it will continue to improve. My neighbors stare at me in disbelief of how far I walk, bike, bus, train (and sometimes combine 2-3 forms of transportation) from our subdivision. You can haul a 4×10 corrugated pipe on a Metrobus! What could be more red, white, and blue than that?!?

  • Ann October 29, 2014, 9:20 am

    Mr. and Mrs. MM, a question for you: how do you balance cultivating skills and talents in your son with free time? For example, oldest child has a crazy musical ear and can play and transpose better than most adults, let alone kids. He should be encouraged to cultivate this skill…which means lessons with someone who can teach him and opportunities to play and perform…which leads to busy-ness. We have chosen to live centrally in a small town and are within walking distance of his trumpet teacher, but to have opportunities to interact with other musicians or perform requires driving to a larger town. Multiply times three since we have three children… So do you force mediocrity on your kids by letting them relax and not cultivating the work ethic required for excellence, or … what is your strategy? Your kids can only be good at the things you or someone you can barter with are good at? What about activities that require working with others? I want my children to be able to live a Mustachian life, but that also means that at some point in time, they need to be able to excel (or at least be competent enough) at something to build wealth or be self sufficient.

    • anonymouse October 29, 2014, 12:55 pm

      Well, that’s one of the main benefits of living in a larger town or city, isn’t it? The ability to interact with lots of other people, especially ones with a more niche interest. Yes, small town living certainly has its benefits, but it also involves some tradeoffs, and this is definitely one of them.

      • ann October 29, 2014, 10:15 pm

        The thread rjack started was more in line with my thinking. We do NOT have a house full of interverts, rather they covet an audience. My youngest is dreaming about being involved in the community theater (two block walk). The lower COL and no need to drive during the week definitely confirm my preference of small town living but it does make for more weekend driving.

    • Marcia November 3, 2014, 9:33 am

      I find this to be an interesting comment. For me – my 8 year old is pretty easy. His interests right now are math and chess, and as engineers, we can cultivate that for free (math) and for very little (after school chess group).

      You can cultivate a skill without “experts” though.

      First, what is wrong with mediocrity? Why does your child have to be “the best”? If you child takes in interest in something, and you help them with that, at what point do you need to provide “more”? There’s learning to do a lot of things very well and becoming “expert”. Why is “expert” necessary?

      Also, how can you equate “work ethic” and “excellence”. You can cultivate “work ethic” without it necessarily becoming “excellence”. Some people work VERY HARD to be “mediocre” at something. What is wrong with that? I think I’d really like my children to learn hard work, and not giving up when things get hard – that may or may not result in “excellence”.

      So I grew up in a small town without many activities, and my parents were high school graduates. I went on to do many things well that I never learned from my parents. I played HS volleyball – I could cultivate this interest because practices were after school and I took the bus home, and it was free. I was also heavily involved in the yearbook. I continued volleyball on my own time in college and after by paying for lessons and for teams. (Sadly, I’m 5’2″, so it’s not like I went on to medal – but it means when I moved to coastal So Cal I could hold my own.)

      I went on to major in engineering, and work my butt off, and learn from my professors, bosses, etc.

      When it comes to things like sports (or maybe music, but we aren’t really into music), our philosophy is to get our kids to be “good enough”. Good enough to have fun with their friends, to go out on the court, to go boogie boarding at the beach and not drown. If they have interests, that’s great, but I don’t need them each to have two interests at once.

      If it comes right down to it, I think it’s okay to limit them to one activity and to one time of the year. For sports, that would mean – indoor volleyball OR summer soccer OR fall basketball. But not all three, and summer soccer AND fall soccer AND indoor soccer.

      Then again, I’m a jack of all trades.

  • skunkfunk October 29, 2014, 9:34 am

    I’ve been car free so far this week, but sadly I must whine and complain and say I can’t do it this weekend. The FIL fell off a ladder while tending a tree and the pregnant wife will not be biking the 75 miles to see him. I’ll join in by going car free until Friday, though.

    The one area that following this blog and trying to keep up that has left me most unsatisfied is that I get pissed off by the volume of cars. I see all the cars and think, why aren’t at least half of these people on bicycles or foot? It’s really becoming a new stress that I don’t care for. I think I’m becoming an asshole whenever I see these Lexus and BMW cars driving around and honking at me in the low-income neighborhoods that I cycle through to get to work and I react in this manner.

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 29, 2014, 2:56 pm

      It’s great practice, learning to accept the Car Clowns, which dominate my own tiny bikeable city as well. Most of the time, I let them bring me joy instead of anger as I see all their pale, chubby, unhappy faces yacking on telephones and am thankful that I am out in the fresh air, breathing far too vigorously to ever consider indulging in a phone call.

      But sometimes, if someone dares to honk or otherwise imply that I don’t have full right to the road, things will get ugly and I’ll find myself pounding on somebody’s driver-side window. I’m still working on that, but the goal is even deeper happiness from honks.

  • Jonathan October 29, 2014, 9:42 am

    I have been car free since August 27. In just those short two months, my blood pressure has dropped from a slightly above normal 120/85 to a healthy 100/60. No change to diet, just more exercise and 1 less hour a day of commuting.

    I relocated to NYC, live a pleasant 25 minute walk to work, 2 blocks from the grocery store, drug store and 4 from the library. All told I’m saving close to $400/month(!!!!!) over my old carclown ways. Even after the extra round of income tax, modest boost in rent over LI and $50 a month of MTA credit for trips out of walking distance (or rainy days to the office), I”m coming out about $100 ahead, so that’s a pretty sweet deal, too.

  • Frank Bellemare October 29, 2014, 10:06 am

    Great article, the title really hides the true beauty of it. I think you should rename it “The Poisonous Pitfall of Piss-Poor Lifestyle Planning”, you really have a way of coining out memorable catchphrases.

    Your best articles have a way of bringing to light simple and profound truths, the kind that gets buried by speed, stress, the rat race, TV, video games, Facebook and every other maddening brain-deadening thing we do.

    Reading your articles, I often get the feeling I’m rediscovering some age-old wisdom that we’ve all forgotten about. Old truths about living a simple, joyful and fulfilling life by choosing to have less and taking the time to enjoy life and its simple pleasures surrounded with our family, friends and neighbours.

    I often forget about these things.

    Thank you so much for reminding me.

    • Eva October 29, 2014, 8:11 pm


    • Heath October 30, 2014, 9:38 am

      Exactly this.

      Thank you so much, MMM, for reminding me about the Gifts that life can offer to those who know what’s truly important.

      Also, Frank, your reference to MMM rediscovering age-old wisdom makes quite a bit of sense when you take into account that he’s a Stoic, which traces it’s philosophical roots back to ancient Rome :-) Check out his recommended books section for a wonderful book on the subject…

    • Kaizen77 October 30, 2014, 11:03 pm

      I agree w/ the article renaming and the phrase coining (the Poisonus Pitfall of Piss Poor Life Planning); I like “P4LP”
      To all: feel free to plajorize…

  • JaneMD October 29, 2014, 10:42 am

    :Laughing very hard: Don’t you all know any Orthodox Jews? We are essentially car, phone, cooking, and electronics free every single Friday to Saturday for 25 hours. You can’t adjust the heat, turn on your oven, spend money, take a bath or turn off/on your lights during that time. During this past high holiday season, I had to do it from Wednesday night to Saturday night, three times in four weeks. I was not remotely bored during that time – I had my husband and 2 children home. It’s all about set up though. As with all Orthodox Jewish communities, the neighborhood is deliberately walkable and we visit all of our friends who are in the same situation. We actually have a great time reconnecting as a family, playing with our kids and ‘other’ couple related things.

    • Eldred October 29, 2014, 10:56 am

      That’s a good point – I hadn’t even THOUGHT about Orthodox Jews. I don’t know any PERSONALLY, but I live in a suburb with a large Jewish population. And even the infrastructure of the freeway that runs through the area was designed with that in mind – there are two ‘plazas’ over the freeway so that people could get to their synagogues by walking, and have family areas to congregate. I didn’t know you couldn’t adjust your heat or take a bath, though…
      So everything that’s on or off Friday at sunset has to stay that way all weekend? I’ve heard of people leaving their oven on all weekend because they couldn’t change the ‘state’ of said oven during that time. Do you leave all your lights on as well?
      And after re-reading your post, I wonder – do you go to work on that Thursday/Friday? You’d have to interact with technology there, most likely.

      • Garrett October 29, 2014, 1:39 pm

        Shabbat requires that observant Jews refrain from all work (which is why driving, cooking, turning on lights, etc are included) from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Many observant Jews will therefore work until 12 or 2 on Friday and then leave so they can get home in time to observe Shabbat.

        • Eldred October 29, 2014, 2:01 pm

          Thanks for that explanation! Like I said, I don’t PERSONALLY know any Orthodox. It appears their lifestyle has some built-in Mustachianism… :-)

          • Mysticaltyger October 29, 2014, 2:32 pm

            Actually, I think most religions have some Mustachianism built into them. Fasting, going to church on Sundays, discouraging or prohibiting shopping/working on Sundays, etc.

        • megak8 October 30, 2014, 9:02 am

          I’ve always wondered why/how modern interpretations of ancient principles like refraining from work during Shabbat constrain 20th century activities like driving & turning on lights when none of those activities existed when these principles were formed. Can anyone explain that?

          • Sir Osis of deLiver October 30, 2014, 10:21 pm

            I’m not Orthodox (or even Jewish!) but used to live in NYC and worked and interacted with quite a few Orthodox Jews. My understanding is that the ancient prohibition is on “using fire”. That would preclude an internal combustion engine for obvious reasons. Electricity is not fire, of course, but is interpreted to be akin to fire in its ability to do work. And as I understand it, Shabbat is about putting aside technology and conveniences to rest, rejuvenate, and contemplate the spiritual.

            Years ago I had an amusing moment while walking along a street in midtown Manhattan. A rabbi stopped me mid-stride and asked, “Son, are you Jewish?” I was a bit perplexed, but managed to answer “no”. He then asked me to turn on the lights in the synagogue for him, which I happily did. Apparently the prohibition on using fire and technology on Shabbat only applies to Jews, not gentiles.

            Anyway, as I said I’m not Jewish so I’m sure someone more knowledgeable will correct the inevitable errors here.

            • Diane C October 31, 2014, 12:24 am

              When we bought our house a year ago, the fridge had to be a specific size, so we ordered it on line. It came via a New York company.
              I just noticed yesterday that it has a “Sabbath Mode” button. What does this mean?

            • Eldred October 31, 2014, 6:59 am

              I remember hearing about that years ago, but I can’t remember where. Sabbath mode for a fridge or oven will disable the light that comes on when you open the door. Some appliances have an ‘auto-shutoff’ feature for safety. For an oven or stove, it lets you disable that so the appliance can be turned on before Friday sundown, and run all weekend.

      • JaneMD November 4, 2014, 1:06 pm

        Trying to answer all of the questions people had – we do not work from sundown to sunset Friday to Saturday every week all year for life. It is explicit and specific in my physician contract and my husband pre negotiated it for his work as well. Then you schedule around the Jewish holidays.

        ‘Work’ is forbidden on the Sabbath/Shabbat and many rabbis have written and consequently updated what constitutes ‘work’ in modern terms. The big issues you asked about are being personally responsible for making changes in electricity/heat. Cooking is work so you cook beforehand and leave Saturday’s meal in a crock pot on low or warm. You may leave a few lights on – we leave our bathroom and kitchen on, everything else you preprogram timers so you are not actually doing it on Shabbat – thank goodness for CFLs. The big energy drains, computer, TV, music, are all expressly forbidden. Car is out because of electronics and lighting fire in an internal combustion engine to name a few.

        It’s all about set up, and occasionally you will mess up and forget to turn on/off something that is pretty critical to making it through the Shabbat. That is when you find a non-Jew and ask them (usually not explicitly) for help.’We are Orthodox Jews and we forgot to turn our heat on in January. We are not allowed to turn our heat on, but non-Jews can.’ Who wouldn’t get that hint? Often you get a non-Jewish neighbor who will do these things with some humor. Also, we make exceptions to using the phone for life threatening emergencies, injuries, etc.

        I get a huge kick from new agey articles suggesting the ‘ground breaking technology free weekend.’ Unplug and get in touch with yourself. We’ve been doing it for 3000 years, lol.

        • Aimee April 12, 2016, 3:35 pm

          I know several Orthodox Jews and was on vacation once – a big group trip. We had to let them into their hotel rooms because they had electronic keys and couldn’t use them to unlock the door. :)

          Poor things were ready to sleep in the hall!


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