If You Think This is About Extreme Frugality, You’re Missing The Point

A few months back, I joined in fnymagor an episode of a podcast called the Disciplined Investor. The host Andrew Horowitz and I were chatting about money, raising children, stock market crashes and so on, and then this question popped out of the void and really surprised me:


So, there must be something you really miss. What’s the thing that it hurt most to give up, to live the way you do so you could retire early?

What happens when your son wants to go to Disneyland, and you have to turn to him and say, ‘Sorry, that’s just not in the budget this year’?”


For some reason, the question stirred up so much stern enthusiasm in me that I had to loosen my collar to let some of the steam shoot out. There were so many wrong but telling assumptions behind it. It was asked from such a well-meaning but self-defeating position.  I quietly took a deep breath and did my best to explain that this is exactly where the path of the Sucka Consumer divides from that of the Mustachian.

More recently, this lifestyle you and I share showed up in New York Magazine, which brought us a good amount of new attention. The writer Annie Lowrey seemed to get the idea pretty well, describing Mustachianism as a thing people (even rich people) aspire to by choice, rather than a wacky  thing that some extremely warped people are doing because that’s all they can afford. Economist Ezra Klein mused on Twitter that frugality might now be becoming a status competition that replaces clueless consumption. I sure hope so.

Unfortunately, the article was capped with a flashy but  misleading headline*:  Meet The Blogger Who Wants You To Spend Like You’re Poor.

 Another version of the same article was given the label This Tightwad is Trending“.

Those were probably calculated phrases, because the goal of any headline is to capture attention and draw in readers. The problem is that too many of those readers still aren’t getting it. You end up with comments like,


“Fiscal responsibility is one thing but I haven’t time for cheap people. I am financially careful but I refuse to deprive myself of the few luxuries I prefer to indulge. People like Mustache take it to another level.”

“So the point of living like you are poor is to have enough money to retire in your 30’s and live like you’re poor… perpetually? No thank you.”


So let’s break it down real quick so brand new Mustachians will know what this shit is about, while the old timers can stand in the back and sing along.

This is not about being cheap, minimalist, or extreme.

It’s about using logic and science to design a Slightly Less Ridiculous Than Average Lifestyle in order to live more happily.

The Mustache family does not lead an “extremely frugal” lifestyle by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, holy shit, we are a multimillionaire family living in an expensive house with a stream of luxury goods, services and food shooting at us from all directions.

Not only do we bathe daily in this spectacular river of affluence, but we even walk casually away from it a few times a year in order to ride in Jet Aircraft which allow us to sample other unnecessary parts of the world. The total bill for this nuclear explosion of consumption is an outrageous $25,000 per year, which would be closer to $40,000 if you accounted for mortgage interest or rent on a comparable house. The life we lead in this rich part of a rich country is extreme, but at the other end of the scale than that suggested by the critics.

The only unusual part by American standards is that we could afford to spend many times more, and yet somehow we choose not to do it. This is a lifestyle of choice, not a sacrifice we make just because we don’t want to have to go back to the office. And therein lies the reason this blog is of any use to anyone:

 Learning to separate “happiness” from  “spending money” is the quickest and most reliable way to a better life.

The side-effect of this is that your life will become much less expensive and you will therefore become much wealthier very quickly.

But it’s not about the money, and as long as you think it is about the money, you’re still fucked.

 So I explained to the man in the interview that if we wanted to go to Disneyland, we would go to Disneyland. Hell, we would live inside the park or perhaps one of the Disney-owned cruise ships if we saw fit. We just happen to find that tourist traps like Disney are a pretty pale and distant second place compared to the fine places that Mother Nature has built for us.

We don’t use our bikes for transportation and hauling instead of our cars, even in the dark and even in the middle of winter because it saves us a few dollars of fuel. We do it because it’s an awesome way to connect with your own town, stay in proper condition, adapt naturally to your own climate, and live like a real human instead of a sanitized, flabby car clown.

I don’t swim and and paddle kayaks and canoes all summer because I lack the funds to buy a twin-engine motorboat. I do it because when it comes to recreational pastimes, muscle wins over motor every fucking time.

I’m not expecting my son to earn his own living early in life and pay for his own higher education because I’m a tightass or because it would break the bank to fund a Harvard doctorate. I set out this challenge because pampering your kids only encourages a dependence on Pampers, while giving them the advantage of working for their own rewards is the best possible gift. I will give him unlimited time, guidance, and access to knowledge, and teach him how to amass an embarrassingly large fortune in a short amount of time. It will then be his choice how to put this knowledge to work.

We spend most of our time at home, a place which I built from the ground up with the valuable helping hands of a few friends. We do our own cooking and cleaning and of course maintenance. Entertaining, creating things, stories and music and hosting a neverending stream of fun guests. Even my gym, workshop, and office are right here in the same spot.

None of this is done because this is a cheap way to live, but because it’s a rich and efficient way to get in touch with all the things that make a human happy. We could go out and get faint approximations of these same services by driving around constantly to various cities and manage to spend more, but why the hell would we do this?

Oddly enough, it hasn’t always been this way. At age 21, I had a fairly materialistic life planned for myself: perhaps a 4500 square foot luxury home in the best neighborhood and a reasonably flashy car like an Acura NSX. Maybe a vacation house or two later on, once I made CEO.

But over the years, this has changed. Even after retirement, our costs have continued to drop even as our income has increased. The choices are no longer based on saving money, but rather on doing our best to live a good life. This was a pleasant surprise to me, but it seems to be an incomprehensible incongruity to the average consumer.

I told the man that my family’s lifestyle was not designed from the top down, starting with a restrictive budget and chopping off important activities based on their cost. Instead, it is a work in progress where we learn as much as possible about the entire planet and the various lifeforms therein, and do whatever we feel is most worthwhile given our limited time aboard this fine ship. Nothing is off-limits based on cost, because making money is fairly easy at this point. We do whatever we want, go wherever we want, and buy anything and everything we feel is worthwhile.

And as for that New York Magazine headline, no, I don’t want you to Spend Like You’re Poor. To me, that would imply car loans, processed food, hair salons, restaurants, lawn care companies, housekeepers and all the things that people get when they follow the standard script of a people who are starved for free time and chasing material comforts as a replacement for happiness.

I want you to spend like you are the richest person in the world, a person who has so much happiness and balance in your life that you can’t imagine anything you could buy that would make you any happier.


* Annie has since confirmed to me that writers for most magazines don’t get final say on their own headlines. I think you need to fix that, NY Magazine. If you’re going to hire people to write for you, why go in and subsequently mess with their shit? These are artists, and you get a better product if you don’t run in with a can of spray paint to make little adjustments after they finish their creation. Otherwise you’ll find an empty desk waiting for you as soon as they reach financial independence themselves.


 Further Reading: New people might enjoy this list of frequently complained questions, which I wrote a couple years back after a similar media incident. Glad you’re here!

  • Steve Adcock November 23, 2014, 4:07 pm

    Point very well taken here. I believe true happiness to be enjoying the simple things in life. Early retirement isn’t about being cheap. It is about being realistic and much more honest about what you true “need” to be happy in life. I’ve written many articles about this topic and absolutely believe that you are 100% correct to this end.

    It’s not about being frugal. This is about happiness, through and through.

    • Catherine Jean Rose November 23, 2014, 8:30 pm

      Right on, Brother. In the past year I’ve been told that I’ve “gone off the deep end” or “deprive my children” or been given looks of pity b/c people think I must be poor or struggling or SACRIFICING. Fact is, I’m happiest I’ve ever been and my net worth has increased 100K since discovering MMM one year ago.

      What makes defending this lifestyle difficult is the fact that I don’t like to openly discuss my higher than average savings rate or net worth. I consider that poor form. Sooo…I’ve come to the realization that sometimes it’s just better to let people assume I’m needy and deprived while I happily hum along creating DIY toilet paper squares from cut-up, old t-shirts that I wash and re-use… NOT because I can’t afford TP, but because I want to reduce my carbon footprint on our beautiful planet. Hey! If it’s yellow let it mellow….

      Anyway, having friends, family and co-workers make fun of me, question me passive aggressively, or give me outright looks of repulsion when I tell them my bathing suit came from Goodwill, has resulted in me giving up on converting people. I just spend a lot more time on the MMM forum with other like-minded geniuses.

      • Joel November 23, 2014, 10:35 pm

        On that thought, I for one find it totally ludicrous that we as a culture collectively decided that the best use of millions of gallons of clean, potable water, was to use it to defecate in and pump it out of our houses.

        Even better on the carbon footprint than reusing toilet paper (an admirable effort, don’t get me wrong), would be to switch the toilets into the composting type. I don’t think it would help much on the frugality front as the payback would be quite a long time though.

        • Patrick November 25, 2014, 5:03 am

          It’s not that crazy…our sewer system is an insanely good public health measure. I suspect it wouldn’t take very long during a hypothetical walk in 18th century Paris for you to realize that the stench and the cholera epidemics is more than worth shitting in a little bit of water.

          Instead, I find it ludicrous that people take daily 30 minute showers and spray thousands of liters on useless patches of grass. A couple toilet flushes a day is a drop in the bucket compared to those lifestyle choices.

          • ezra November 25, 2014, 9:28 am

            good point on public health. lulz.

        • KF November 29, 2014, 8:55 am

          There was an eco-concept house built nearby a few years ago, and they tried to put in a graywater system in place for flushing the toilets. The city gave them such a hard time about it that (if memory serves) they eventually just put in a conventional system and focused on other, less-controversial changes. Which basically means that no one will be able to put one in place for real without a huge shift in public policy. Frustrating!

          • Nick March 5, 2016, 10:03 am

            Grey water can be a tricky deal if the city handles your sanitation. They estimate sewage cost (output) based on your water meter (input). That model only works for them properly if input = output. If you have your own water well/septic tank I suspect a gray water system would not be an issue.

            I work at a university where we had an efficient building constructed with a gray water system and ran into the same issue with the city.

      • Andres November 24, 2014, 12:39 am

        Check out bidets, too. Great alternative to toilet paper, they *actually* get you clean, and they can be added to an existing toilet for like $40. We go through about a roll of toilet paper every 6 months (mostly due to guests). Aside from money savings, you’re using less water than the amount needed to create the toilet paper. And no trees, of course.

        • Jonathan November 24, 2014, 9:23 am

          Any brand recommendations, or are all bidet’s created equal?

          • Lisa November 24, 2014, 11:52 am

            Biffy. We have had one for six years. Luxury.

            • nm_dude November 24, 2014, 12:52 pm

              heated or chilled? porcelain water is amazingly cold in all seasons.

            • Brian Leggett November 25, 2014, 12:43 pm

              My toilet’s bidet attachment takes water right from the water supply, not from the porcelain bowl. We have unheated, and it’s fine. Great even. I don’t recommend fooling around with a heated bidet, just one more thing to break, plus it costs more to begin with.

            • Lisa November 25, 2014, 12:58 pm

              You could spend money on the heated one. I never had an electrical outlet close to the toilet to plug it in, so I adapted to the colder water. Cold water is nice in the sultry summer of the south but in the winter….you just get used to it. There are not many cold/heat receptors in that region if that is any comfort.

          • LennStar November 26, 2014, 6:41 am

            If you want any toilet recommendation, Japan is your place.
            Theres even a quite big WP article

            Unfortunately I cant recommend any brand – havent done comparative studies :D

            • KF November 29, 2014, 8:52 am

              I have actually used the Toto fancy electronic toilets (a friend works at Google, and they have them in all the bathrooms there). Ridiculously luxurious, and a little stressful – I’m not used to having to make a lot of decisions during my toilet experience…

          • Andrew November 30, 2014, 2:52 pm

            YOU HAVE TO GET A TOTO WASHLET – You will thank me for this….

        • Katie November 27, 2014, 11:41 am

          We use our cloth diaper sprayer as a bidet. It also come in handy to clean the toilet. The water is a little cold but you get over it fasthttp://shop.fuzzibunz.com/collections/laundering/products/diaper-sprayer?variant=922615775
          I even attached it myself and I would not describe myself as handy.

      • insourcelife November 24, 2014, 9:46 am

        “while I happily hum along creating DIY toilet paper squares from cut-up, old t-shirts that I wash and re-use…” SO… here we are – a second comment in a post that’s supposed to convince an “unmustachian” to see the light and change their ways to become more “mustachian”… Am I the only one that finds it funny? I can totally see a member of the “unmastachian” target audience clinging to this little nugget of frugality and discrediting the bigger message because they don’t want to be associated with a group that includes people who are wiping their butts with old t-shirts that they then wash and re-use. Even if you do it to be more green, this is so outside the norm that most people will call you a nutcase and run the other way. If I were to sell someone on mustachianism, I’d wait to bring up this subject until they were firmly on board, if ever. Baby steps…

        • Mr. Money Mustache November 24, 2014, 11:10 am

          Yeah, that’s why I’m waiting a while to publish the article on how fun it is to add insects as a source of food ;-)


          • LennStar November 26, 2014, 6:46 am

            I have seen a very nice documentory on tis topic, unfortunately its in german, doesnt help you here very much.

            Very impressive was the input/output of protein rate compared to e.g. cows. I dont remember the excact numbers, but ~1/10 of feeding, 1/10 of space is a nice rate.

          • Richard November 27, 2014, 3:52 am

            I’d love to read an article about eating insects!

            I know it’s popular in parts of Asia and Africa, super environmentally friendly, really healthy, and supposed to be tasty.

            Hard to know where to get started, I can’t quite see those cockroaches running around the house as food.

            I eagerly await a practical guide.

            • Genevieve Hawkins January 3, 2015, 11:09 pm

              Most insects taste like deep fried anything which is the most common way they’re served in Thailand–generally still hot from the palm oil, with a bit of salt and MSG added for flavoring. My husband knows immediately which ones are good and which are not–safest general bets is grasshoppers and crickets, which he’s thought about gathering here in the States. The ants are tricky and some will bite your tongue if not fully cooked, the bee larvae depends on the type of bee and the mealworms you should raise yourself. Most roaches are not good even though technically edible–and keep in mind that they are closely related to shrimp, so if you have an allergy, be careful…and the beetles get you high if you eat the wings and head…

            • Joe Average February 5, 2015, 1:43 pm

              I thought MSG was bad for you???

        • catherine Jean Rose November 24, 2014, 4:54 pm

          Ba ha ha ha ha ha ha – though I WAS trying to be funny – the spin-off discussion on bidets was completely unintended, I assure you.

          Readers who are adept at recognizing tongue-in-cheek humor are always appreciated.

          Your comment made me laugh. Thank you.

          Now, when is MMM publishing The Roach Diet? I’m intrigued.

          • Nuke December 7, 2014, 10:34 am

            Ha! Nice one, catherine. I knew it was a joke immediately upon reading it, and was curious what kind of response you would get.

            On a more serious topic, you do reuse dental floss, right?

      • Amy November 24, 2014, 11:47 am

        Sometimes I think that people feel they don’t deserve to keep their money. I don’t know how else you would explain the constant upgrading of lifestyle.

        • Joe Average February 5, 2015, 1:47 pm

          Nah, they just spend time fretting over the fact that the new widget is 0.52% better than the old widget. I’ve seen people do this with computers, software, cars, jetskis, etc.

          A guy my father once knew spent thousands of dollars upgrading his jet ski b/c it was 2-3 mph slower than another brand. In the end the guy sold two very nice, almost new jetskis and took a big loss. Then he went out and bought the other brand. This is the same guy that sold a brand new truck b/c the trailer hitch installer added an extra hole in the chassis in the wrong place to bolt the hitch on. No safety issues, just another hole.

          Husband and wife were working 80 hours a week to fund decisions like this. As you might have guessed, the marriage failed in just a few years. No kids fortunately.

    • Yvonne November 24, 2014, 10:52 pm

      To quote a documentary I watched recently, for me it’s about shifting your mindset from “I want it, but I can’t have it” to “I can have it, but I don’t want it.”

      • Kathy Abell November 25, 2014, 12:49 am

        It took me a while, but I finally reached the point of “I can have it, but I don’t want it” for almost everything. The things I really want can’t be bought in any store.

        • EMML November 25, 2014, 8:16 am

          Me too. After my dad died and I got an inheritance, I could suddenly buy a really nice car, or a much bigger, nicer house, etc. What I wanted the most was time. By not spending the money, that’s what I got out of it–freedom and more time. I’m not completely FIRE yet, but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
          (Thanks Dad!)

      • Ant December 28, 2015, 3:40 pm

        Hi Yvonne,
        If you don’t mind, what is the name of that documentary?

    • Nate November 25, 2014, 8:04 am

      I once asked a Buddhist monk what to do to be happy, his answer was “Compassion, generosity, and gratitude.” I found it interesting because it is such a different answer to what we typically view as the recipe for happiness.

      • LennStar November 26, 2014, 6:52 am

        The difference is not surprising.
        One answer is from people who want you to buy their stuff.
        And the other answer is from people who have a thousand-year old history of thinking and getting down to what a (good) human beeing is.

        I admit its a bad example for gratitude, but if someone hits you on the right side of your face, you have 2 options:
        1) Get angry and shouting and whining how that hurts or
        2) be happy that it wasnt right AND left side.
        The facts dont change, but 1) makes you feel even worse. 2) possibly makes you feel better, also I admit this would be a challenge ;)

        You can put these 3 things together: Do it with your heart.

        • Warbo December 24, 2014, 8:09 am

          A less controversial example than yours is being “lucky” vs “unlucky”. Of course there’s no such thing as luck, but there *is* a difference between these two kinds of people. People who count themselves “lucky” are optimists; it’s lucky they only broke a leg when they fell off the roof. People who count themselves “unlucky” are pessimists; they’re so unlucky they fell off the roof!

          • Lennier November 25, 2015, 8:36 pm

            I’m optimisticlly pessimistic. I’m unlucky I fell off that roof, but boy, am I lucky I fell onto the freshly mulched garden bed!

      • wilco December 5, 2014, 1:28 pm

        Another fine example of the wisdom of Buddhism. This philosophy really clicked when I read their take on humans’ insatiability: no sooner do we fulfill one material want…then we forget it and go back to striving.

  • Rafael Glatzl November 23, 2014, 4:14 pm

    Another fantastic post, MMM. Got some free time this month and read your blog from the first post to this one.

    I’m trying to live by the ideals of the mustachianism here in Brazil, but its being kinda hard. The sallarys are VERY below the USA ones. Anyway, working hard on the stash =).
    People’s mentality is mostly, like, the complete opposite of your ideas for a good living. All about sucka consumerism around here too, and increasing every day. Hard to explain living a “normal life” without buying stuff I don’t need to impress other people. Oh, and being 25 university graduate without a car is like a capital sin…go figure.


    • LennStar November 26, 2014, 6:54 am

      Ignore the people that say you should. I now it sounds harsh, but if they leave you because of this they werent real friends anyway.
      And if you live how your ideals are, you will find likeminded people that will stuck.

      Keep going! The bigger the struggle, the higher the reward in your heart!

  • Chris November 23, 2014, 4:15 pm

    Bravo Mustache.

    Unfortunately, I suspect the message won’t be absorbed by most. The power of TV is strong on the herd.

    PS-Surely you can’t truly be happy without a Disney vacation:)

    • Michael November 24, 2014, 4:44 pm

      Abiding by Mustacian principles doesn’t mean that you can’t afford to go to Disneyland.
      Sticking it on the credit card is what you can’t afford.

  • Zambian Lady November 23, 2014, 4:18 pm

    It is interesting how misleading titles can make a reader not get the message the author (in this case MMM) has to say. I have understood from your blog that you advise people to save on non-essentials in order not only to be able to retire early if they want to, but so that they are also able to spend on what they consider essentials. I hope other readers got the real points you were putting across.

  • Jeffrey Cufaude November 23, 2014, 4:18 pm

    I’ve long thought of this as calibrating meaning and means in our life. What I appreciate about your writing and perspective is that it aligns with creating a life rich in meaning, but requiring less than anticipated means.

    Many of the New York magazine comments came from people who seem to equate a direct ratio between means and meaning: if it requires more means, it will have more meaning. Even if it were true, that’s an unsustainable way to live.

    • Kyle November 24, 2014, 12:14 pm

      Well put!

  • Ellen November 23, 2014, 4:19 pm

    Thank you for writing this and for pointing out that frugality as a lifestyle choice is not about penitence or a puritanical belief system.

    When you tell your work mates that you are going bicycle camping, or building a snow cave, to learn about winter mountaineering, and they tell you about their second home in France. When you drive your 15 year old car on a vacation to a camp site through Nevada, and do not stop in Las Vegas. Well, for me those experiences are worth more than staying in a 4 star hotel or the upkeep of a second home in a resort area. I am grateful to have the choice, and that is a luxury in itself.

    • ClaireB November 23, 2014, 6:29 pm

      Ellen, where do you live? You sound awesome.

      • Ellen November 24, 2014, 10:47 am

        Thanks, Claire. We live in California, in Silicon Valley.

        • Eric November 24, 2014, 4:14 pm

          Cool, same here. The housing costs are insane, though – makes me sad to realize that we spend as much on rent for a small apartment for two as MMM does for his whole family budget. It’s had me wondering where we actually want to put down roots.

        • Katie November 25, 2014, 2:59 pm

          Hey Ellen! I’m in Silicon Valley too and just bought a new bike that I want to go camping with. Is there a group you go with?

    • Ken L November 23, 2014, 8:38 pm

      “…is not about penitence or a puritanical belief system…” It couldn’t be put any better. Finance and the FI lifestyle can turn one into a religious fanatic, who loses sight of the true meaning of it all. I was that person, and I’m starting to change. Sobering thoughts for this Thanksgiving weekend….

  • ptpw November 23, 2014, 4:27 pm

    “But it’s not about the money, and as long as you think it is about the money, you’re still fucked.”

    Preach. I listened to “Disciplined Investor” podcast earlier. Not only did he miss the point, but he also doesn’t have a clue about “investing”.

  • Daniel November 23, 2014, 4:27 pm

    As I write this, my beautiful wife is watching the Broncos and the Dolphins, my kiddoes are watching Harry Potter and my dog is chewing on a bran new rawhide chew bone. The fireplace is on, it’s snowing outside and there isn’t any place on earth–even if I had several billion in the bank–where I want to be other than right here, right now. Total cost…$0.00.

    • Ann November 26, 2014, 11:12 am

      …except for the cost of the TV(s). And DVD. And cable. And rawhide chewbone. And lost heat from using a fireplace….

  • Ted Hu November 23, 2014, 4:28 pm

    In economic parlance, it’s about maximizing choice for a meaningful and happy life.

    Pure Happiness is Hedonism of the Moment. Meaning requires Contrast in Life – Hard Work Yielding Choices That Matter to You, had at its True Cost. not Drawing Down on your Future Value via debt to pay off said Present Day Hedonism.

    we too are millionaires that choose to live a frugal lifestyle minimizing future claims on our life which have no meaning to us. we buy things as close to true fixed cost at bulk pricing as possible sans interest as possible (we happily take advantage of say 18 month no interest financing) yielding intrinsic value as tools for minimizing Time Wasting Activities of Unimportance to free up time for things that matter.

    at macro level, people get it. Consumer deleveraging is occurring at a rapid clip. Banks are trying to regenerate frothy lending but people aren’t biting – witness the low interest debt environment unable to spur mortgages, retail sales and the like.

    However, it’s also worth noting the fallacy of composition. If everybody decided to rightsize their budget all at once, the macroeconomy would experience an economic shock that would make this lifestyle relying on investment returns, untenable.

    I quote: “The biggest mistake people have with modern macroeconomics is probably the fallacy of composition. This is taking a concept that applies to an individual and applying it to everyone. For instance, if you save more then someone else had to dissave more. We aren’t all better off if we all save more. In order for us to save more, in the aggregate, we must spend (or invest) more. As a whole, we tend not to think in a macro sense. We tend to think in a very narrow micro sense and often make mistakes by extrapolating personal experiences out to the aggregate economy. This is often a fallacious way to view the macroeconomy and leads to many misunderstandings. We need to think in a more macro way to understand the financial system.”

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 23, 2014, 8:32 pm

      Yeah, but a little more investment wouldn’t hurt either.

      Just to use one example: how many dollars will it take to build all the cool stuff to get us mostly off of fossil fuels, for example? Entirely new power plants, city layouts and transportation technologies. Many trillions. Millions of person-years of work. And all with a great ROI that will continue for centuries, paying dividends in many areas of life.

      That sure isn’t my idea of a collapsing economy!

      • skunkfunk November 24, 2014, 12:30 pm

        A change of focus like that would necessarily have an enormous impact that is tough to quantify.

        Check out this guy – http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/09/discovering-limits-to-growth/

        That can be a bit of a nerd snipe as the author has many compelling arguments on the limits of energy and economic growth.

        The point is that there is an expiration date on a growth economy and the ever-increasing consumption model that you can’t really get around. The above author puts some physical limits on it with some relatively simple physics. It will someday change one way or the other. – not that people can plan or do anything differently at this point; any changes an individual makes would be no more than random guesses as to future optimal behavior.

        • Patrick November 24, 2014, 3:55 pm

          Another really excellent (free) book which I heartily recommend is by a cambridge PhD prof called: Sustainability Without the Hot Air . It’s extremely readable, but again, physics applied to sustainable energy. http://www.withouthotair.com/

          quote (from the motivations section):
          “First, fossil fuels are a finite resource. It seems possible that cheap oil (on which our cars and lorries run) and cheap gas (with which we heat many of our buildings) will run out in our lifetime. So we seek alternative energy sources. Indeed given that fossil fuels are a valuable resource, useful for manufacture of plastics and all sorts of other creative stuff, perhaps we should save them for better uses than simply setting fire to them.

          Second, we’re interested in security of energy supply. Even if fossil fuels are still available somewhere in the world, perhaps we don’t want to depend on them if that would make our economy vulnerable to the whims of untrustworthy foreigners. (I hope you can hear my tongue in my cheek.)

          The UK has a particular security-of-supply problem looming, known as the “energy gap.” A substantial number of old coal power stations and nuclear power stations will be closing down during the next decade, so there is a risk that electricity demand will sometimes exceed electricity supply, if adequate plans are not implemented.

          Third, it’s very probable that using fossil fuels changes the climate. Climate change is blamed on several human activities, but the biggest contributor to climate change is the increase in greenhouse effect produced by carbon dioxide (CO2). Most of the carbon dioxide emissions come from fossil-fuel burning. And the main reason we burn fossil fuels is for energy. So to fix climate change, we need to sort out a new way of getting energy.
          The climate problem is mostly an energy problem.

          Whichever of these three concerns motivates you, we need energy numbers, and policies that add up.”

          • tcmJOE November 24, 2014, 7:19 pm

            I’m a big fan of David MacKay’s book. There’s a similar book (also free online) called Sustainable Materials: With Both Eyes Open that is worth a read.

          • skunkfunk November 25, 2014, 7:21 am


            In this article he deals with the possibility that by the time we have to start replacing fossil fuels it will be too late to build the infrastructure. We have a booming energy supply right now, and if we wait for it to dwindle it could be too difficult to actually replace it.

      • Patrick November 25, 2014, 5:10 am

        I appreciate the optimism, but there is no money for any of that. Almost all nations on earth are suffering from crippling debt.

        I like to balance MMM’s endless optimism with a bit of pessimism – I’d recommend James Howard Kunstler’s “Too Much Magic”. I don’t agree with everything he says, I am roughly in the middle of his pessimism and MMM’s optimism.

        And besides, I can rest easy knowing that even if the world does fall apart when peak oil strikes, food prices spike and famine and war are rampant, there’s population contraction and permanent economic collapse (our economy is based on endless growth) – I’ll be sitting pretty, making the best of a bad situation, knowing that it’s out of my control like a good Stoic :)

        • LennStar November 26, 2014, 7:01 am

          Not to mention that you, as a mustachian, are better prepared then 95% in the “developed” world to survive this.

          Its a bit like the investing thing: If everything blows up – yes, you dont have anything from your money.
          But until (and if) this happens you have a better live. So no reason to dont go mustache. It would be liek not learning to swin because you could be eaten by a shark on a holiday on the other side of the world.

  • Casey November 23, 2014, 4:32 pm

    I dig it! This is one of my new favorite posts! I often get similar comments and questions from people when I try to explain Mustachianism and I can never quite put together a good response as clearly as you have here. That last sentence really sums up what I’ve been wanting to say but couldn’t put into words.

    • Ken L November 23, 2014, 8:41 pm

      AMEN! This article is going into my form email I sent to folks that ask abotu Mustachianism. However sometimes I fear it might be, “too Inside Baseball.” Because for me I’m still learning and realizing more everyday about what this all means.

  • Mrs. PoP November 23, 2014, 4:42 pm

    I think it’s largely about figuring out what is important to you personally and intentionally putting that above the rest. Few people would say that their “things” or their status as a consumer is what is most important to them – if they do, I guess the life of the standard American consumer is best for them – but I don’t think that life truly aligns with the priorities of the vast majority of the people that follow it.

  • Sarah November 23, 2014, 4:45 pm

    For those interested, MMM portion of that podcast starts at 17:14.

  • Mikes Reiche November 23, 2014, 4:56 pm

    “no, I don’t want you to Spend Like You’re Poor. To me, that would imply car loans, processed food, hair salons, restaurants, lawn care companies, housekeepers and all the things that people get when they follow the standard script of a people who are starved for free time and chasing material comforts as a replacement for happiness.”

    Just because you can pay for it doesn’t mean you can afford it! Great way to phrase it, love it.

    • Laura November 24, 2014, 11:38 am

      I’d also add:

      Just because you can pay for it doesn’t mean you have to buy it!

      • Mikes Reiche November 28, 2014, 4:10 pm

        If we are following the “mustachian” way then if we feel we can afford it then we surely can buy it! We already applied several test parameters to the purchase and figured that we need it and since we can afford it (no debt involved in purchase) we should buy it! The quote referenced is specifically towards outsourcing jobs that we should not even consider paying others to do, with exception to people who truly cannot perform work account some kind of disability (lazy ass not considered disability).
        Of course what you said is in no way untrue… just because we can pay for something we still have to choice and option not to buy it!

  • Jesse Jones November 23, 2014, 4:57 pm

    You’ve mentioned in previous posts your plans to provide minimal financial support for your son’s education and adult lifestyle.

    Hypothetically, would those plans change if he took a path that made ‘stache accumulation difficult, such as a long-term volunteer or as an independent artist? Would you consider granting him a trust to take care of his basic needs (maybe $150-200k for $14k per year* to pay for rent, utilities, health insurance, etc.)? Do you think that would reinforce a “trust fund kid” mentality and disincentive him from growing, or would it provide him peace of mind to pursue his passions without worrying about essential needs?

    *Not to imply that this figure is in any way a basic minimum budget for a single person.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 23, 2014, 8:23 pm

      Man, that’s an interesting question when you put it that way. I think it is a really worthwhile challenge for kids to become young adults and then full adults, while getting the money thing sorted out for themselves. And it really is quite easy if you start early and know the fundamentals. And fun, too.

      But I wouldn’t want to take this to the extent of a stubborn ideology, since that’s the quickest way to show off one’s own stupidity. There are surely some unique situations where a kid turns out better with parental support.

      I am just against the default assumption of most rich people that it is best to plan on this from day one – from the funded college and wedding, through to the first house and the large estate waiting at the end, which of course has to be protected from the taxman so as to preserve a family dynasty.

      • misterfancypantz November 25, 2014, 12:58 pm

        MMM, Don’t assume all rich people just because they plan for their children ruin them, even if it is the default assumption.

        My mother-in-law inherited a multi-million dollar estate from her parents, her father was a very successful small business owner. She inherited her millions when she was in her late 50’s my father-in-law was already a multi-millionaire on his own from a successful corporate career.

        My in-laws have never touched a penny of the inheritance except for charitable giving, the remaining is left in Trusts for their children/grandchildren. My wife and her siblings all had their education paid for and each of them are multi-millionaires now in their mid to late 30’s and have never inherited a penny. I too am independent from my wife a multi-millionaire, my family has money but not like my in-laws, I never inherited anything either.

        My children are being taught how to be frugal and really have no idea how much family money they will one day be custodian too. They will have their educations paid for as our family feels that education is the best gift you can give your child, both at home and formal. Fiscal responsibility is a huge part of that, charitable giving and taxes included, as no one is above the law.

        You will raise MM Jr. with the ideals you instill in him, he will be as fiscally responsible as you make him, you can trust him with your estate, he will never need it, by the time he gets it he will have made his own way in the world.

        • vicki from NZ November 25, 2014, 4:00 pm

          I never got a hand up from my parents although they own a few investment properties, I studied, worked both employed and then self employed in a professional career….then Boom!! aged 35 I have been diagnosed with a health problem that means I can never return to that career and my future prospects of earning the big bucks are gone as my health prevents me from using my meal ticket.

          I have 4 kids and I teach them frugality (out of need mainly) and how to work hard, we bike heaps etc, grow veges all of that. If I have the means to help my kids in the future I will give them everything I have and teach them how to use it wisely.
          Forcing your kiddies to stoic when you have the means to support them is cruel in my opinion. I still hold it against my parents to this day and it effects our relationship.

        • Heidi Kneale (Her Grace) November 25, 2014, 10:04 pm

          FancyPantz, you sound like Old Money, and I mean that in a good way.

          It doesn’t matter where the money comes from (well, legally, at least), but what matters is how you handle it.

          With Old Money, the money is old because each subsequent generation knows how to handle it and keep it in the family. They know about investment, money management, and how to live within one’s means. These are skills taught from generation to generation.

          Old Money knows how to put money to good use. New Money says ‘Look at all this cash we can spend!’

          Me, I’m teaching Their Ladyships how to be Old Money, because I know what they want to do with their lives, and I want them not to have to worry about finances while they pursue their arts. I also want my future grandchildren free from the same worries.

        • dude November 26, 2014, 9:52 am

          Yeah, have to agree here. While I did the old bootstrap method, went in to the military, earned an academic scholarship after paying for my first year of college, and borrowed heavily for law school, I have friends from law school who, despite having come from very privileged backgrounds, are some of the most grounded, hardest working people I know. Yes, I definitely have met others on the other end of the spectrum, who despite every advantage turned out to be slothful shitheads. But I have to agree with MrFancyPants that it’s not a foregone conclusion that paying for your kids’ college is going to make them somehow unappreciative of the value of money, etc.

          I do wonder how my brother’s kids will turn out though — my brother is a fantastic dad, and he’s worked hard (along with his wife) to provide everything for his kids that we never had growing up — since they are quite spoiled and have had a lot handed to them. I don’t think they have any idea whatsoever of how different life for their dad and uncles (my brothers and I) was. But part of me is pretty glad they won’t know the hardships we did.

      • Bud December 1, 2014, 4:06 pm

        One follow-up on the “funded college” issue your reference — not that I disagree that there is a benefit to paying one’s own way through college, but what if you go at it from the perspective of paying it forward? My grandparents paid for my parents to go to college, and my parents felt an obligation to work hard, make money and do the same for their kids. Having received a college education myself, I now feel an obligation to provide one for my kids. There are expectations that came with my paid-for college education. So, I will have paid for a college degree — just not for my own. Is that necessarily a bad or sloth-inducing way of looking at it?

        To put it another way, having received the benefit of a free college education, how can I justify having accepted that benefit but deciding not to pay it forward (with the same expectations that were put on me) in the interest of having my kid earn his own way? Wouldn’t I just seem like the money-grubbing loser who broke the benefit chain by not paying it forward (while essentially pocketing the money)?

        • Mr. Money Mustache December 1, 2014, 5:11 pm

          Yeah, I like that idea Bud. I guess it could just depend on the wealth of the parents. Right now a bunch of already-strained people are straining and borrowing further just so their kids can pay three times as much to attend an out-of-state college. Everyone would benefit from relaxing and realizing there is no shame in kids earning money themselves, cutting costs by living off campus with roommates, knocking some credits off in advance at the community college, going through college car-free, etc.

          • PowerMustache December 1, 2014, 6:08 pm

            I agree. I don’t think having college paid for will automatically ruin a child’s work ethic. There are many other ways to instill frugality and badassity in children.

            This has been one of the few points of the MMM philosophy that bothers me. MMM, I think you stated it better here in this comment than you did in the original blog post: while it is absolutely a valid choice to prioritize financial freedom over paying for child’s education, paying for said education doesn’t automatically ruin the child either.

            I had college paid for by my grandparents and it was the most amazing feeling to know I would not be buried under debt just to study what I wanted. It so happened that I was interested in engineering and wouldn’t have had much trouble making it financially anyway, but that freedom was amazing during the college years. I have a fairly large family and have seen this play out in a reasonable sample size of individuals with college paid for. As far as I can tell, some do just fine knowing they will have college paid for and some waste the opportunity. Not that much different from the population at large, really – I suspect the funding source for education is a rather small factor in how kids turn out compared with the myriad other environmental influences in childhood. If I had to guess, I’d say an early bond with parents and a feeling of physical and emotional safety throughout childhood are much more important.

            Which comes back to your original point, MMM; the funding source of college is irrelevant, so if forced to choose, it’s probably better to retire early and spend more time with your kids than keep working to pay for their college. Keep up the good work.

            • Scott December 2, 2014, 6:39 am

              I am damn glad my parents agreed to pay for my education. My mother had to work full time through school and said it was a huge source of stress for her, and she didn’t want me to have to do that, nor start life buried under a pile of debt. I’m extremely grateful for that, and I’m doing my best not to squander it. I’ve got a part time job in my intended field and I bank almost all of what I make– easy enough when my basic expenses are beer and gas. I’m only making $18k/year but in my first year I’ll still max my Roth AND have after-tax money to invest. Then compound interest can take over and work its magic as early and as long as possible!

            • Joe Average February 5, 2015, 3:42 pm

              My parents and I did not see eye to eye about alot of little things through my teens. As a result there was alot of tension between us for many years and not enough free and easy conversation. The conversation was pretty one sided. You WILL blah-blah-blah…

              When I was ready to set out on my own I really did not have enough information due to a lack of that easy non-judgmental conversation to make informed choices (rather than their one way) and I wasted two semesters of college. And the Mom ‘n Dad college ride ended there. My sibling got a free ride through college and alot of handholding afterwards. Now twenty years later my sibling finally realized that they don’t like being steered either… Somehow right now – I’m the good child all of a sudden. ;)

              With no alternatives I went off to the military for six years and it was the best thing for me. Distance, grew up, responsibilities, made my own choices, etc. Came back and my parents treated me like a 16 year old for a couple of weeks until I bailed again and left for college across the state.

              I worked my way through college, bought a house, car (still driving the darn thing nearly 300K miles later – good car) and graduated with no college debt. Along the way I married my wife and baby #1 came along. $50K worth of daycare, other life expenses.

              It was a slow college career that was full time some semesters and part time other semesters. Avoiding debt was the main priority.

              The important thing here that I want to share is that I “wasted” several years making piddly pay at full time jobs because I was not a full engineer with a diploma.

              I was estimating lost wages during that period I was attending classes. It got even worse if I included my years in the military. ;)

              Encourage your kids to go into college with a plan and more or less aim for graduation – don’t let anything delay their graduation.

              For me I don’t think there was any other way that would have worked for me but the “lost wages” estimate is still depressing. ;) Would much rather have those wages in the bank so to speak. My home would be paid off a couple of times over.

    • EcoCatLady November 23, 2014, 10:51 pm

      Interesting… I am the child of financially stable frugal folk. My parents paid for most of my college education – I still had to work all through college as well as taking out student loans and paying for all of my living expenses, but my parents set up a fund that paid for most of my tuition. I chose to go the artistic route after college running a non-profit music school, which meant that I never made much money. I never asked for help from my parents for basic living expenses, but they did provide me with a number of gifts that made my life a lot easier – a reliable car, help with a down payment on a house, and an interest free loan ($10K) to help me start my own passive income generating business.

      Fast forward… I’ve been financially independent for 8 years now – got there by age 39. And, I got there without EVER having to have a “real job” so I’m grateful for the help those gifts gave me.

      I would have been just fine without those gifts… and I would still have reached financial independence, but it would have taken longer because it is difficult to amass large savings/investments when you don’t have the benefit of a big salary or extras like health insurance and 401K.

      Anyhow… I guess I think that there are some gifts that promote independence and others that detract from it. My parents managed to give me the former rather than the latter.

      • Marcus Croucher November 23, 2014, 11:33 pm

        One of my biggest takeaways from the Millionaire Next Door research is that one of the only consistent ways to successfully spend money/transfer wealth to your kids is to invest in their education. So well done your folks!

      • lorenlaurenlorraine November 25, 2014, 2:30 pm

        the “hand-up” vs the “hand-out” approach!

  • Dragline November 23, 2014, 5:34 pm

    Hmmm — I wonder if they will ask Warren Buffett why he lives in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska instead of living in Disneyworld, or at least New York or Chicago. And then accuse him of living like impoverished white trash.

    • Mr. FC November 23, 2014, 5:50 pm

      And ask why he drives a whatever American car instead of a Maserati…

  • Mr. FC November 23, 2014, 5:36 pm

    Funny you should mention Disney…we were just there yesterday (family freebie – one of the benefits of living in LA, having people to sign you in). We were there 4 hours and Master FC says “Can we just go see Grandma & Grandpa?” (who live 3 minutes away from the park). He then ran around with his cousins for hours and was 10x happier than he was at Disneyland. Not to mention how much more pleased his parents were about being able to leave that abysmal cesspool of consumerism and bullshit. We have now sworn off Disney for at least a few more years. It just makes us too angry to be there.

    Maybe it’s just the number of people, or the forced happiness, or the full shitshow of what passes for American culture these days vomiting itself all over Orange County, but it’s depressing. To see a family of six step up to the ticket booth, throw the whole thing on a credit card, and (to use MMM’s example) shaft their future selves for a day at Disney is just too much.

    And that’s maybe where you know you’ve caught the mindset. I agree that it’s not about the money – something as big as Mustachianism can’t be confined to just the money – but to know that what people do every day (commute/job/buy/consume/repeat) makes them no happier and if anything forces them to keep on doing the things that make them unhappy, to see what passes for modern life in this country for what it is and to know how to make it just STOP – that’s the real magic.

    Clickbait headline notwithstanding, I thought the NY Magazine article was good, up to basically the end which is where the writer revealed her Sucka Consumer bias. You can’t really hold that against her, since it might just as easily have been an editor’s work. But still.

    MMM is the red pill, guys. He can’t do it for you and he offers only the truth. Only that this reality is so much better than staying hooked up to the machine of Consumerism…why would you ever want to go back?

    • Cheap Mom November 23, 2014, 8:47 pm

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought the author of the NY Magazine really missed the point!

      We’re at the stage where we need to budget. If we don’t, we waste our money on fast food and other “conveniences” that we don’t actually value. For now I enjoy being creative to live within the constraints of our budget. Hopefully one day our spending habits will match our priorities 100% and we will be able to live without a budget, like you!

      • Frugal in DC November 24, 2014, 5:17 am

        The author of the NY Magazine article is very bright and eloquent, but has a history of missing the point on other issues. I have to wonder if she does it intentionally as an attention grabber. I have stopped reading her articles and had to force myself to read this one. Hopefully it will attract more people to a saner and happier lifestyle.

        The question about Disneyland mad me chuckle. My family and I found ourselves there a few years ago somewhat on a whim. After a day of scary big crowds, long lines, crazy expensive shit, and exhaustion, we swore we would never go there return. Download the free Disney app–or better yet, check out some books about it from your library–and see more of Disneyland than you would in person. Learn to draw cartoons or anything else you like! The whole Disney extravaganza began with a drawing of a mouse. In any event, our local county park beats Disneyland any day.

        Just the other day I found myself in a fancypants expensive town wondering how so many in the so-called first world think that lifestyle is desirable. Expensive gas guzzlers, designer clothes and bags, people clogging the roads harvesting bags of stuff they don’t need, overpriced restaurants serving huge entrees laden with wheat and who knows what else…it all seemed so silly and pointless. I couldn’t get to get home to cook with real food and spend time with my family.

    • Mari InShaw November 24, 2014, 9:56 am

      We went to Disney World earlier this year. Being a Florida native I’ve been to Disney World and the associated parks more times than I care to count. We were there in March, less crowded, but it was a wonderland of strollers. Strollers, strollers everywhere. Seriously are these kids gonna remember any of this (if you failed to take pictures)? I don’t remember my first trip to Disney, but I do remember the trips taken during high school. I’d hate to be anywhere near Disney in Summer. Long lines, sugared up kids, overpriced everything, sacrificing your child to the cult of the mouse, not for me.
      Disney does some things well, like studying hospitality and crowd control, I will give them that. They are also very good about selling the fantasy.

      • casserole55 November 24, 2014, 10:31 pm

        My husband had to go on a high school trip to Disney, as a music teacher. The trip to Disney was a recruiting tool to build numbers in choir. Parents had to pay a ton of money to send their kids. Most of the kids saw it as the trip of a lifetime, but they only sang in the park for about 30 minutes. It would have been nice if all that money had gone to supporting the music department. Anyway, one day I called my husband at the Disney Hotel, and the receptionist told me to have a “magical day.” And I said, “no thanks.”

  • Dan November 23, 2014, 6:01 pm

    Mmm, this type of arrogance,jealousy,short sightedness, and overall heard mentality by critics and people not willing to put in the brain power and conscious thought and effort in everyday living is exactly why your brand of functional frugality is needed and must be pushed to the masses! Every critic, (under toned) question is reassurance we mustachian are on the right path!

  • Roger November 23, 2014, 6:04 pm

    You mention that you are a multimillion net worth household who can buy anything you want that is worthwhile. Interesting, does not sound like how you talk in the past, almost comes across as boasting a bit.
    I think you may risk losing your primary segment of readers – your messaging these days is more and more off brand in my view.

    • henry November 23, 2014, 11:08 pm

      Perhaps you should read more carefully. MMM is as on-message as ever.

    • laura November 24, 2014, 1:01 am

      I think it’s a difficult concept for people to grasp – that everything they’ve prioritised in their lives might have been wrong. People can *just about* understand the concept of cutting back to save up to spend the money all at once – eg a house deposit, but the concept of spending less to retire early and not have ‘much’ to spend in retirement, because you don’t need much to live a great life, is a totally alien idea to them.

      MMM is undermining everything they’ve ever been taught about how the world works, ie work hard so you can earn money to spend on gadgets or fun such as eating out, so that everyone can admire your lifestyle and how hard you worked for it – so it’s natural that they’d push back against this with the thought ‘MMM’s life must be so deprived because of all the things he surely can’t afford to do, otherwise why wouldn’t he be doing them?!’
      MMM stating that he’s a multimillionaire is to challenge their assumptions, get them to think ‘…so he could afford to do x, but he doesn’t… why not?’

      • G. Oz February 26, 2016, 10:04 am

        Sorry, but I believe Roger has a point… and I’m speaking purely with regards to Roger’s comment, not MMM’s; I have no opinion either way on that alone.

        Look, the world is full of rich cheapskates, with Ingvar Kamprand at the top of the list. At first glance, that would strike your typical american consumer-minded citizen as “eccentric” or “unconventional.” We’re talking in this thread about getting a message across, more specifically, getting the uninitiated interested so the sum total of humanity gets just a little bit better right?

        MMM isn’t preaching anything new, as he will admit himself, but IMHO the true power of his message lies in the MEANS to which he achieved his end. It speaks for itself, and speaks to ANYONE about how attainable financial stability can be, regardless of income/birth/etc. When a skeptic learns he’s rich first, all sorts of assumptions come in to cloud their perception, and ultimately they learn nothing.

        I’ll break it down one step further:
        .. .so there I was in my 20s, with a goal to retire by 30 – “huh, interesting, how did he do it??”
        I’m a millionaire, so… – “ah, another rich guy talking about how he got rich… read that book already.”

      • Leslie February 26, 2016, 10:20 am

        Excellent comment. Questioning assumptions about what is necessary to live well is what MMM does best. I have noticed that the assumption that millionaires only live in certain neighborhoods and drive expensive cars sets up a system of keeping up with the Joneses which is self defeating. Also, retirement never meant that you would sit around and not do anything productive. You can be more productive on what you consider your core values because you aren’t living someone else’s dream.

    • Kathy Abell November 24, 2014, 1:09 am

      Roger, MMM isn’t boasting. He is simply providing objective evidence that he is a fancy frugal trending tightwad not because he is forced to be one due to lack of adequate funds but rather because he has broken free from the delusion that spending money equals happiness. Some people break free of that delusion sooner than others; some never “get it” and spend their whole lives in a quest for purchased happiness that can’t be bought.

      It’s not about the money or the things that money can buy; it’s about living a contentedly fulfilling life.

      There is a beautiful park within a short walking distance from my house. While I was a “wage slave” (aka “working dead”), I never seemed to find the time to go for walks in that park (although I always had it in mind to do so). Now that I’m retired, I go for walks in that park all the time. I can’t imagine anything I could buy that would make me any happier then when I’m walking in the park counting the turtles swimming in the lake or sunning themselves on the rocks that line the shore.

    • LoneStarStateWorkerBee November 24, 2014, 7:35 am

      He was responding to the interviewer’s question/implicit assumption that his family could not go to Disneyland.

    • Druid November 25, 2014, 2:05 am

      I think MMMs success with this website is bringing him more income than he originally suspected. I definitely don’t blame him for pursuing income from his site. This site has been hugely influential to me and the whole community that follows him.

      I don’t think his message has changed, but his story is not as motivating as it used to be. When he was living on the 800k portfolio it really convinced me that I could do this. Now that he is a millionaire some new readers might overlook how available the early retirement lifestyle is to them. However this is not MMMs fault, but just an unfortunate consequence to his success.

      • MJB November 25, 2014, 7:40 am

        Let’s look at the big picture here. Why would we not expect income and stash to grow from 800k to 800k + X, when freed to pursue side businesses and passions? How often has MMM reminded us about the Position of Strength and that retirement is not a game of waiting on the sofa watching NetFlix until the undertaker calls? I’d also argue that what motivates me more and more as the stash grows, readership grows, is that the main message (crystallized in this post) is reaching a lot more people. If it’s not motivating you personally, maybe you need to find your own motivators like MMM did before he started his blog. Check out the books in MMM Recommends, for starters.

    • Kiwikaz November 25, 2014, 3:36 pm

      Becoming a multi-millionaire household is the result of saving and investing money, and building your portfolio over time. Money begets money. Sure you might start with $800k but with compounding interest, dividends, capital appreciation, and clever investment decisions, that $800k will be several million in a few years. Helped along of course by a record breaking share market in bull phase and the recovering property market. Over time MMM will get richer and richer and richer – it does not mean he has gone off message, only that he is living proof of the success of the message.

      • dude November 26, 2014, 10:05 am

        EXACTLY! With an initial $800K portfolio, and $25K annual draw (adjusted upward for inflation 3%/yr), assuming an 8% return, in 10 years, MMM would have close to $1.3 million in the stash! Shit, it goes over a million at the end of year 5. So if he never made a dime on his blog, he’d still be a millionaire, headig for multi-millionaire status in just 18 years. Do the math for yourself:


  • DrFunk November 23, 2014, 6:41 pm

    Back to your wheelhouse!!!

    Excellent post MMM.

    • Greg October 25, 2016, 11:49 pm

      Whenever I see comments under MMM’s articles that completely miss the point, I’m reminded of this quote: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they’ve been fooled”.

  • Gordo November 23, 2014, 6:44 pm

    What amazes me is how few people “get it” even after you clearly explain it. Why do so many still think living an unhealthy, consumerist, high stress, rat race life is a better alternative or a road to happiness despite being fat and miserable? Last week I was riding my bike through town and a random stranger yelled at me “what are you smiling about, it’s cold out here!” This was a little affirmation that I’m doing something right because I didn’t even realize I was smiling until then. I love that my expenses are ridiculously low and I can be truly free, that I take care of my body, feel great, and sleep well. I look at every week as an opportunity to learn something interesting. If you want to be happy, look at people who are and try to be like them. Is that so controversial or complicated?

    • Kathy Abell November 24, 2014, 1:15 am

      re: “If you want to be happy, look at people who are and try to be like them. ”

      People have a hard time believing it could ever really be that easy. By telling themselves it would be such a hard thing to do, with many difficult sacrifices, they can feel good about doing nothing other than staying on the rat race consumerist treadmill.

      • EDSMedS November 24, 2014, 9:19 am

        “People have a hard time believing it could ever really be that easy. By telling themselves[…]”

        I agree: it is SO fucking simple that it is actually harder to believe than to conduct. I will not agree that it is ONLY people telling themselves it is difficult. There are industries established to create narratives that we all repeat; most commonly, those narratives are something like “you are not safe,” “you don’t know enough to do it right,” “you need a professional to do that for you,” “THE ECONOMY AND ISIS AND EBOLA ARE GOING TO DEATH-BOARD YOUR GRANDMA!!!!”

        MMM is a breath of fresh, winter air. Step 1) realize you are safe and capable. Step 2) find what makes you happy. Step 3) do it. Step 4) oops, you have accumulated a shitload of accidental wealth.

        • Kathy Abell November 26, 2014, 1:34 am

          re: “Step 2) find what makes you happy.”

          That is the hardest thing. Rather than do the hard work of figuring that out, people just blindly listen to all the commercials, i.e., “If you buy this car you will be happy”, “if you buy this brand of clothing you will be happy”, etc., etc., et cetera ….. So they buy all this stuff they are told will make them happy, then wonder why they are not happy. *sigh*

          re: “Step 4) oops, you have accumulated a [LOT] of accidental wealth”

          Once you figure out you don’t have to buy all the stuff to be happy, and are in fact much happier without all that stuff, your money starts piling up because you are no longer spending it on all that stuff. Just like snow accumulates in huge drifts if it never gets plowed, so does money earned/invested grow if it never gets spent. (Not that I’m saying never spend any money, but just be mindful regarding how you are spending it.)

  • HenryDavid November 23, 2014, 7:06 pm

    My own experience attests to the following:
    When you are sitting around the table with friends eating fantastic food that you cooked using actual groceries, instead of spending 10 times more to sit in a noisy restaurant, probably with large TVs harassing you, and the staff dying for you to finish so they can seat more customers at your table . . . you are Winning. Who cares that you’re saving a few hundred bucks while doing it?
    When you are biking along the lovely riverside bike path here in my town—Calgary, Alberta, Canada—and watching the car people fuss and tense up and text and sit there burning money and irreplaceable fossil fuels, which makes you look away to admire the sun glinting off the water . . . . you are Winning. Even in winter when you’re layered up in wool and big fat mittens and have an ice moustache. And so what if you’re saving maybe $6000.00 every year at the same time? And also maintaining the same fitness and weight you enjoyed in your 20s? It’s simply a more enjoyable “commute,” one of the great moments of the day.
    When you’re cleaning your own home in a leisurely fashion and taking the time to appreciate the amazing good fortune that lets you live in a comfortable house, who cares that you’re also saving $1000 or more every year compared to your friends who “enjoy” hiring a cleaner?
    When you’re opening the thermos of aromatic home-made coffee you brought to work, instead of lining up and fussing and texting and getting impatient so you can buy a $5 latte . . . you are Winning. And so what if you’re saving a couple thousand bucks every year?’

    Add up a whole bunch of that kind of Winning, and yes, you can truly enjoy life on half the cash your friends and neighbours seem to “need.” And sure, you can then make the choice to retire a decade or two earlier, because you have so many other interests and activities to pursue instead of working. That’s all great. But even without the money-saving part, choosing to live on your own terms, and seeking high-quality experiences over highly-advertised or costly ones, was better the whole damn time in any case.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 23, 2014, 8:40 pm

      Fucking-A, Henry David! Between your comment and Mr. FC’s above, I can see I have become obsolete. I’m gonna hang up this keyboard and let you two write the blog from now on ;-)

      • Mr. FC November 23, 2014, 9:01 pm

        Sincerely flattered…..though I’m sure you’re doing this all for the money anyway :)

      • HenryDavid November 24, 2014, 8:22 am

        Well thanks for the kind words–but you’re doing good work here, helping so many people step to the beat of a different drum. And using the power of kickass writing to do it, I must say. I can’t speak for the planet–who can?– but I’m sure she thanks anyone who can convince us to dial back our consumption to something closer to sanity.

        • Chris November 30, 2014, 11:06 am

          Henry David
          How about Calgary city Council deciding to kill the budget for continuing the bike lanes for the next two to three years. Aside from that when I travel to Calgary for work I walk around the city with my MMM eyes and the madness of Cowtown is very rampant and is keeping consumerism and the race with the Jones’s well alive. On a side note I wonder what the price of oil will do to the non MMM crowd in Calgary after the fun of Christmas has passed.

          • HenryDavid November 30, 2014, 10:48 pm

            Oh yeah, Calgary: a dazzling Disneyland of decadence. It’s treated as an actual front-page news story here when some even-more-expensive store opens its doors on a new collection of needless bumf. You gotta treat it as a wonderland, to be marvelled at. Lotsa good stuff here though, art and book and music-wise. Nature-wise too. And as for biking, it does take some stubbornness to make it work. All part of the fun, seen from the right angle.

    • Ken L November 23, 2014, 8:46 pm


    • Edward November 24, 2014, 1:20 pm

      Coworker: “I always see you walking home from the grocery story with a huge backpack of groceries. That must suck?”
      Me: “Don’t you pay for a gym membership? And then drive yourself there? ”

      So much happier with all facets of life since I began Mustachianism. If you try something and it doesn’t work out, what’s the harm done? I composed a large list of ways in which my life is more relaxed, rewarding, social, and healthy. Win, win, win, win!

  • Stephen November 23, 2014, 7:07 pm

    Thanks for putting into words the thought process of many individuals who ascribe to a mustache-filled-life expirence on a daily basis. Even after living a similar lifestyle for many years, I can find to hard to explain the reasons and motivations behind my actions on a moments notice. People get caught up in the saving money part of the equation and zone out before I can fully explain that the lifestyle choices I make are beyond financial. Thanks again for putting everything into clearly articulated thoughts for sharing.

  • Liam November 23, 2014, 7:08 pm

    MMM, I found your site a little over a year ago. At first, it did hit me like a punch in the face and I refused to believe it, but then push came to shove and I needed to make a few changes in my life, so I started on the path to mustachianism. My wife slowly started along the path as well.

    Well, fast forward one year and my wife just wrote a post on her blog which mirrored one of your recent posts (she’s never read your blog), so I decided that now was the time to send your blog to her. I did so, boy did she grab a hold and run with it. She now accuses me of cheating on our ‘stache.

    It’s really difficult to explain to people that you really don’t need all that crap and that you’re actually HAPPIER without the crap. However, my wife and I are learning that hand over fist as money has ceased to be important and has become merely a tool to FI.

    Thanks for your writings.

  • whydavid November 23, 2014, 7:38 pm

    Maybe a precondition to future interviews should be getting the right to refuse fucking obnoxious click-bait titles. It doesn’t matter how eloquently the philosophy is explained if the lead-in refers to you as a “tightwad” or conjures up imagery of a poor lifestyle. I suspect your competitors – and ultimately that’s what these folks see themselves as whether or not you are really “competing” with them – know exactly what they are doing when they throw those labels around.

    Fantastic post. Instant classic.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 23, 2014, 8:47 pm

      Nah, it’s totally fine. All those iffy headlines in big newspapers have still brought quite a few million people to this site over the years, and when you look at the statistics you can see an awful lot are sticking around. The opportunity to show up in a legit, historic culture magazine like New York is something to be really thankful for.

  • Done by Forty November 23, 2014, 7:38 pm

    Another one to be bookmarked, MMM.

    As well as this article articulates the mindset of people trying to achieve financial independence in this way, I keep thinking that it’s something that can be experienced, but can’t easily be explained. It’s like Plato’s cave: it’s hard to describe what the world looks like in the light to someone who’s only seen shadows.

  • Catherine Jean Rose November 23, 2014, 7:59 pm


    And may I add, the well placed F-bombs gave it that certain je~ne~sais~quoi that makes your writing so appealing.

    I was beginning to think you had gone soft; therefore, reading the hearty derivations of FU was truly inspiring! Rock on.

  • smbysw November 23, 2014, 8:17 pm

    The crazy thing about the “meet the man who wants you to spend like you’re poor” headline is that the MMM family’s annual spending is significantly HIGHER than the federal poverty level income for a family of 3 ($19,790 at present–and that’s gross income, not net). So, one in four U.S. kids is growing up in a family whose income is roughly 20% lower than the MMM family’s annual spending, and yet the mainstream media acts like the MMM family is weird.

    • deepseafalcon November 26, 2014, 12:14 pm

      I think MMM’s “spending reality” even farther away from “poor” than that:
      MMM reports he spends about 24k p.a. for his family.
      However, that is not only net spending (hence requiring an accordingly higher gross income when funded directly by a paycheck), but also based on “free housing” as his house is paid off and he does all the maintenance.
      So I would argue that his comparable net living cost is closer to 45k p.a. (considering 1500 p.m. for rent or financing, plus 3k p.a. for regular maintenance) … and that is in an area with very low property tax.

      Grossed up, this would put him where? I’d say close to 60k p.a. gross income needed to sustain his lifestyle.
      That is considerably higher than the national median household income (52k p.a.)

      But that’s not it yet: In reality, MMM spends even more “lavishly” per member of his household because the median income for 3 person households is less than the national median!

      And finally, all of the above is before any savings such a median household should fund before spending the rest (and sadly in many cases does not).

      MMM spends for his lifestyle significantly (!) more than the median household in the US can afford!
      My guess is that the true cost of his lifestyle is on par with the top 25% of the US households.

      In part I think MMM is responsible himself that the myth is perpetuated that he lives a pauper’s life, because he continues to point out that his family of 3 lives on only 24k p.a. which is a great headline all in itself.
      Above shows that this is not entirely true … intentionally or not :)

      I think it would be interesting for many readers if you did above exercise a bit more detailed, and figure out how much gross income a family would need to earn in order to afford a similar lifestyle you enjoy … based on comparably frugal spending …. but assuming there is no passive income … and a more “regular” life choice of “employment-based income until retirement age” (hence only minimal savings levels to fund a 401k or so)

      • Heidi Kneale (Her Grace) November 27, 2014, 10:08 pm

        Now that would be an interesting article.

        How much would Joe Average American spend to achieve the current lifestyle MMM enjoys?

        How is it that they’re dropping US$45K-65K when he’s only spending US$25K or less?

        What would make it even more impressive would be an historical analysis (as MMM has done a few of these before). How much did the MMM family spend, comparitively, in 1995, 2005, 2015? Do factors such as being able to own a house outright (as opposed to servicing a mortgage or even renting) make such a big difference?

        After all, it’s not the lifestyle that drives the money, but the money that drives the lifestyle.

        And which lifestyle should one choose? Ultimately, that’s MMM’s message: choose a better lifestyle. The consequenses of your choices will be reflected in the health of your body, your relationships and your finances. He just happens to phrase it from the angle of money.

      • brydanger December 11, 2014, 9:03 am

        Why don’t we also factor in the fact that it would cost more if he lived in a different area, more if he lived on the beach, more if he drove the same car(s) as you, if he drove to work after dropping the kids off, if he needed to pay for therapy to stay sane at his hated job etc…
        I feel like you’re missing the point.

        The takeaway for me here is that once you get to a point where you don’t have the mortgage and bills – life is not only better but its also cheaper. I can also attest to this being true, even though we didn’t stumble upon MMM until after we found our freedom.

        It’s always far too easy to sit back and look at someone who has the lifestyle we want and make excuses why we don’t/can’t have it. I used to do the same thing.

        Rather than trying to change the numbers in MMM’s lifestyle to match your own i think the idea is to change parts of your lifestyle until the numbers in your life is as free/happy as his and you too can live happily off 24k p.a.

        • Matt February 10, 2015, 2:59 pm

          brydanger I agree I lived like MMM way before he even was grown up. I think that is exactly the point. Save and invest living below your means and when everything is paid and you have a 25x’s or larger portfolio you can call your own shots. i didn’t retire till mid 40’s and now that I did it is a great feeling. If you factor in my 2 rental properties (I live in part of one) and my 2 autos yes I think the lifestyle is more expensive than what I actually live off of in dollars today. That is the point of investing and than reaching a point of FI.

          deepseafalcon if he is FI or not is missing the point. Being careful with your spending opens up doors most Americans wouldn’t see and can’t understand.
          Once you are FI I find nothing wrong with enjoying things that you like even if they are expensive. Otherwise why did you invest anyway?

          Let your money do the working for you

  • Ken L November 23, 2014, 8:34 pm

    This one article sums it all up. Why MMM is different than other financial philosophies, and websites. Hell why it isn’t even a financial philosophy at all, it is a mindset, and a lifestyle. Finance and money is just the tip of the iceberg. I will be making this my Holiday email to share this with all my financial buddies this season. Thanks MMM :)!

  • Mjb November 23, 2014, 9:03 pm

    “Coach Mustache” … You keep us regulars pushing towards bigger goals. I mean, bigger than chucking-your-Keurig-big: let’s try saving ourselves from becoming Wall-E World…. So valuable and highly appreciated. Thanks for bringing us into your “living room” and building something special with this community. Man. It’s special.

    To the naysayers, just recall your happiest times. College years, maybe? So low on cash but flush with time, friends, and ideas.

  • rocketpj November 23, 2014, 9:06 pm

    The Disney thing is funny because we are in the process of planning a trip to Disneyland right now.

    Before anyone punches me in the face, let me explain. We have some very close friends, one of whom was recently hired by Disney to work on a film. His position is such that he can give us free tickets/access to the park and amenities. Additionally, our friends also have extended us an open invitation to stay with them free of cost. So essentially the only cost of our trip will be whatever we spend once inside the park (not trivial but not as much as some might) and our transportation costs.

    On top of that his job is only for the duration of the film production, so in two years this option will be gone, and our kids are nearly the perfect age to enjoy it (old enough to remember, not old enough to be embarrassed at having parents).

    However, if I hadn’t found MMM earlier this year we never could have afforded to take the trip.

    • Mr. FC November 23, 2014, 9:33 pm

      No punches at all (hell, we just went yesterday, he who throws stones should not live in glass houses, etc.), but in that circumstance AND presuming you’ve got this whole thing saved / covered off…tough to say no. Our kiddo DID love meeting Mickey and that was pretty cool, admittedly. It was just everything we had to go through to get there that sucked and will prevent us from going again for a good long time.

      I mean, even if you pay for it with cash or credit card or loan from a guy called Little Tony or whatever, it’s not like there’s some law that bars one from going to Disney. There are just some circumstances under which going is less of a future-self-screwing than others. In yours, it sounds like it’ll be more than fine. In others, and I would argue most others, not so much.

      And if you’ve never been, it’s the Happiest Place on Earth. Promise. :)

    • Kathy Abell November 24, 2014, 1:32 am

      rocketpj – During your Disney Resort vacation, I hope you have time to also visit California Adventure. If so, don’t miss Soarin’ Over California, Radiator Springs Racers, and the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Animation Academy is fun too – you learn how to draw a Disney character (but you won’t know in advance which one).

      Will your friend be able to drive you? The charge for parking is OUTRAGEOUS! I think it is up to $20 now

      • Michelle November 24, 2014, 1:44 am

        rocketpj – Definitely, Like Kathy Abell says, don’t forget Soarin’ Over California at California Adventure Park (if you can Park Hop). It’s amazing!!!

      • Mike November 24, 2014, 9:34 am

        My girlfriend and I tent camped about a mile up the road from disney land at an RV resort, soft green grass, a nice shower house plus an electrical outlet for my coffee maker and queen size air bed. Even better was the view from our tent window it was perfectly aligned with the nightly fireworks display! So $55 for 3 nights of “camping”, no parking because we walked to and from the resort each day, and I got a 3 day access pass that included both parks for $125/person. We went during the week so the crowds were nonexistent, the only line I had to wait in for more than a few minutes was the cars ride at the adventure park which was totally worth waiting an hour for. Indian Jones and Space Mountain FTW!

        • tallgirl1204 November 24, 2014, 12:59 pm

          Hey Mike, give a girl a break– which direction from Disney was said RV resort? We go every couple of years and are thinking of taking our camper (pickup-truck style) this time, to avoid the hotel $$$, but I couldn’t think of how to do that— FWIW for the person who talked about the expense of parking, when we have gone in the past we take the city bus to the park– about $1.50 a person, and the drivers are super nice and helpful to the “touriests.” We enjoy Disneyland, as a BIG treat every once in a big while (twice now)– but we didn’t start going until our son was old enough to do all of his own walking and remember it. Now that he is old enough for the single rider line, the game is on– it allows you to jump the main line in exchange for not riding hand-in-hand with family. Our last trip we did more than 50 rides in two days– we scheduled it for weekdays in “low” season. We take our own food and don’t buy souvenirs, and when we consider the quality of the rides, infrastructure and personnel, we feel like we’re getting our money’s worth of memorable and fabulous entertainment. (Compared to the crappy local county fair and the cost of its rides, especially). But it is a rare extravagence, no doubt–

          • Kathy Abell November 26, 2014, 2:01 am

            The single rider option is great where available – not all rides have them. Plus you have to be careful using the single rider line for Soaring Over California – I’ve had to wait longer in that line than in the regular line!

            Regarding the nearest campground – I’m assuming it was on the north-east (?) corner of Harbor and Ball – it’s now all fenced off with big mountains of dirt. Guess there will be another expensive high rise hotel there soon?

            FYI: Check out Orangeland RV park (http://www.orangeland.com) on Struck, off Katella just past the Honda Center east of the 57 freeway. I’m assuming once the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC, http://www.articinfo.com) is open for business, you could walk from the RV park to ARTIC, then catch a bus from ARTIC to the Disney Resort. That still would be cheaper than a Disney area hotel and resort parking. It could even save time, since you don’t get caught in all the surface street traffic, waiting in line to pay for parking, waiting in line to park, walking from your car to the shuttle bus, waiting for the shuttle bus, then riding the shuttle bus to the resort itself. Whew. Hey! Since parking at ARTIC will be free for the first year, maybe I will try that method next time I’m headed to the Disney resort area.

            UPDATE: After checking out Orangeland RV Park, they seem a bit pricy, but then I haven’t checked out the prices of motels/hotels nearest Disney, so I have nothing to compare their prices with. Plus it looks like they only take RVs, not tents.

      • jestjack November 30, 2014, 3:38 am

        Disney….has gotten just nuts…DW and I were thinking about going back. In the past we have stayed in the Park…(ie. Wilderness Lodge)…Well checking out the rates…it’s now like $4-500 …A NIGHT. Add to this the cost of going to the Parks @ over $100 per person per day and a vacation to Disney becomes prohibitive….

  • MagicNumber November 23, 2014, 10:04 pm

    Hi MMM, according to this post, you have really performed fantastically in the last 7 years with your work and investments. Reading a good majority of your posts, you mention that you earn from index funds, home rentals, dabble in P2P lending, and I am guessing this blog somehow (I’ve only seen a few examples of possible ad revenue here, so I am curious on that too). Would like to know what I am missing here as I am also trying to plan the future according to your strategies which I completely agree with.

    In the following post, you mention that in 2007, you had 800K of assets (incl property).


    In this post, you mention you have 2+ million in assets (by definition of multi-millionaire). That’s at least a 1.2 million increase in assets over the course of 7 years. Using 10% as return on investment of your base 800K over the last 7 years, you would have 1.5 mil by now. You have noted that your rentals pay your bills, so this is included in the guess.

    What investments did you make to get the additional 500K+ stash that I am missing? I know you sold your house, but since you included the value of it in your initial stash, I can’t think this has given more than 10% yearly return as well that you have cashed in on.

    Sorry for the (possibly intrusive) question, but you have been very transparent on this in the past and it would be good to understand what you have done to break the 10% investment return threshold. Apologies if I missed this in another post you have: am not trying to be rude or waste your time, simply curious.


    • Mr. Money Mustache November 23, 2014, 10:13 pm

      Glad to see you are doing the math, Magic! Since the $800k estimate in early 2006, the extra dough has come from normal property and stock appreciation, plus the fact that we ended up continuing to earn money in what I still like to call “retirement”. And remember there are two adults in the equation. Our little business has done construction, real estate, consulting, investing, and of course the blog you are reading now. The blog has been the only unusually large bit of that, but even small things start to become big numbers as you pass the decade mark.

  • LeisureFreak Tommy November 23, 2014, 10:38 pm

    I have noticed the same clueless misunderstanding by people at large whenever my own early retirement is discussed and I am nowhere near what I would call extreme frugal. I just think the thought of living the smart frugal life and giving your middle finger to unbridled consumerism is viewed as less than living by the masses. They miss the point and criticize because otherwise they would have to admit they are money slaves. This lifestyle is all about freedom and they can’t seem to get it.
    BTW I did do Disney this past September because we wanted to and I even took my daughter, her husband and my grand daughter with us. All budgeted for. I paid with a rewards card and paid the card off immediately before due date. All of the anti-moustachioed can take that and shove up their…
    Keep kicking keister MMM!!

    • spartana November 24, 2014, 12:17 am

      This^ I retired at 42 on a small income (even smaller than MMM’s) and have never felt that I have denied myself anything at all. It’s all about the freedom to live your life to the fullest everyday. Wish more people could see that.

  • Anonymous November 23, 2014, 10:39 pm

    I think part of the problem is that the people writing the titles of these articles can understand the concept of spending less or doing without in order to get something better in the future, because that’s a lesson that has been drilled into them many times. But they can’t fathom the concept of not *wanting* it.

    If I had a few billion dollars in the bank, I’d live where I do now, I’d spend very little more than I do now (OK, I’d probably never sit in a coach-class airplane seat again), I’d seriously consider keeping the job I have now, I’d keep spending time with the friends I have now, and the biggest thing that’d change is that I’d spend a fair bit of time setting up charitable endeavors that would last forever.

    • Kathy Abell November 24, 2014, 1:51 am

      You are right that the key concept is not wanting it in the first place, and that is a difficult concept for most people to grasp. I will concede that about the only happiness money can buy is purchasing an airplane seat that is NOT in coach class! For a recent overseas trip to England (from the West Coast) we splurged on Air New Zealand’s premium economy “space seats”. Now we are spoiled rotten and can’t stand coach class seats! Although we did bite the bullet and flew coach for a recent trip to the midwest to visit family – while I was tempted to upgrade, it just wasn’t worth it for that trip (i.e., it was a shorter flight, with no need to be well rested for sightseeing).

      • Kiwikaz November 25, 2014, 4:13 pm

        I think that is the beauty of frequent flyer credit cards – rack up enough points and you can use them to upgrade to premium economy or business. I’m happy to suffer short haul flights, but long haul the upgrades are bliss.

  • SalleyMatters November 23, 2014, 11:01 pm

    Salutations, Triple M:

    Happened on your blog 6 months ago and agree with a frighteningly high majority of what you preach. I just want to say, as a 28-year-old computer engineer who works all the time and takes care of his aging mother, I love the family-centric underpinnings of the Mustachian brand of frugality. Yeah, it allows you to flip off your possibly hellacious employer early in life and give you freedom to explore more of your personal interests , but the kicker is the fact that it allows you to be physically present for your current and future family. Just giving yourself the ability to nurture your child and support your spouse more effectively should make anyone want to trade in their Complainypants for a good pair of work overalls. Cheers.

    P.S. – One facet of life I haven’t been able to effectively apply frugality is the dreaded Healthcare Industry (read in a Vincent Price voice). A few posts about navigating the buffoonery that is our Healthcare System would be welcome.

  • Michelle November 23, 2014, 11:12 pm

    That question irritates me on many levels. Even taking the mustachianism out of it. So many people, nowadays, feel it is impossible to tell our children something “isn’t in the budget”. My brother and I were told Disneyland wasn’t in the budget all through our childhood. Instead we drove to Vancouver to visit our Grandma and had Stanley Park and the Ocean and we loved it and survived.
    But now, such a statement would be somehow be depriving them of something so why not just slap it on one of the many credit cards to assuage us of our guilt? (I say with tongue firmly in cheek).

    Great post!

  • Fredrik von Oberhausen November 24, 2014, 2:26 am

    Some things, some people will never get and it is often not worth the time to try to explain it to them.

    Good for you, and us, Mr. MM that you got this blog to write off some steam.

  • Frugal Bazooka November 24, 2014, 3:16 am

    i get the feeling that when an angry over consuming human strays into the MMM forest they believe it be filled with frugal zombies lockstepping to the radical frugal beat. Try as we might I would suggest that most who agree w Mr M use his fantastic ideas as inspiration or maybe a blueprint but otherwise we each build our own version of frugal paradise. While the million dollars at the end of the frugal rainbow might be a nice carrot, most of us have figured out that the journeys the thing that fills our lives with excitement and fun. A lot of us started this journey long before there was an MMM website – or even an interweb for that matter – but how much fun is it to sit around and revel at how things have turned out? The answer is – a lot of fun. My hope is that people who don’t believe they can do it or that the system is stacked against them WILL give it a try after reading a website like this. Think of MMM as an inoculation against the bullshit the media tries to infect us with daily.

  • DanielSon November 24, 2014, 3:29 am

    This is spot on brilliant. The trouble for me is getting to that point of 25x the annual living expense number. But it’s a hell of a goal, and much better than not having any plan at all (and always assuming 40+ hours per week is going to be something to deal with for the rest of your young life). I think I’m on my way there however.. Paid off car, 30, decent job, almost 90k in the 401.. 11k in VTI (non retirement). I’d say 15 – 20 years more.. But that’s alot better than the originally planned 35+. 15 yrs or more work just to drive a new car every 3 years? No thanks, I’ll get one every 10-15, if not for the way better gas mileage and safety alone.. and only then if I don’t live in a walkable/bikeable city! (Sometimes the real estate is way cheaper out of town than in town, so that’s always a consideration, even with a car) ** Note I never said car “payment”.. cash only :)


  • Mike November 24, 2014, 5:08 am

    Only one word for this article – Amen!

  • Robert C November 24, 2014, 5:42 am

    I heard the original interview with Andrew and I think he missed the point. I also was disappointing at how little research he had done before having you on the show. I listen to his podcast quite a bit because its free and he’s entertaining.

    I’ll give another perspective on Mustachianism: I’ve always been frugal, but thought I was chasing some ungodly retirement number that would leave me old and wrinkly but with a six figure post-retirement income. This site has helped me realize that: 1) I already have enough money to basically scale back or retire as long as I make reasonable choices about where to move to and what to spend and 2) I actually enjoy my job and want to keep doing it. This was about a year’s worth of realization and acceptance (along with a good market). Two years ago I didn’t think I enjoyed work because I was chasing this ever moving goal of “retirement” with no end in site.

    I believe this whole philosophy of MMM is to get financial independent, don’t be a slave to your own habits, then do whatever the hell you want to that helps you find life fulfillment. For me, I get to wake up and go get paid great money to play a game (that others consider work). I happen to enjoy this game. My expenses now may not look entirely mustachian, but its because I already have walkway money and am adding a ridiculous amount to it each month. The point of this post is more of a thank you to MMM, I appreciate you being a rule-breaker and challenging the underlying premise of what other people consider “normal”. Keep up the good work,

  • Ishmael November 24, 2014, 5:46 am

    The biggest thing that all of these people* are missing is that you ARE buying something with your money – FREEDOM.

    Instead of accepting a life goal that’s implanted into you by marketing people (i.e. buying stuff from them), Mustachians are choosing to purchase the freedom to choose how they spend their time, the single most precious resource they have.

    Mustachianism is all about making intentional choices and then accomplishing your goals efficiently. As part of making intentional choices, it’s important to understand the whole picture, including how buying stuff affects happiness. (Spoiler: most of it causes a short term bump, then back to normal, hence the term “hedonic treadmill”).

    The funny thing about all this discussion in the main stream is that if people who are frugal said, “I’m trying to watch my money so I can buy that vacation home/fancy sports car/etc”, no one would ever question it. But to save money, they don’t understand.

    * Moneysense magazine (Canada) made a similar erroneous comparison in the most recent issue, lumping MMM and ERE together without understanding that the commonality between them is pursuit of freedom.

    • Kenneth November 24, 2014, 8:17 am

      Yes – most people think of savings as being for a goal, like a car, 65 inch tv, new home down payment, fancy vacation etc. Once you’ve been down the Mustachian path a while, savings becomes one way – it adds to your invested stache, and is never withdrawn. Even in the endgame of financial freedom, you adopt some type of 4% safe withdrawal rate, for your daily income needs, and the stache is never “touched” and hopefully lives on forever.

    • Tim November 25, 2014, 11:21 am

      William Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!

  • rjack November 24, 2014, 6:58 am

    MMM – You amaze me! Even after all these years of reading you, you still teach me new stuff:

    “But it’s not about the money, and as long as you think it is about the money, you’re still fucked.”

    I still get excited about saving and seeing my investments grow even though I already have enough. Being excited is OK, but I need to focus more on the quality of life and less on the money.

  • Even Steven November 24, 2014, 7:21 am

    When I first read MMM, I thought he was a bike riding hipster living in a dream world full of build your own this and make your own that and don’t spend $ unless you are making it or growing it yourself or at least putting in your bike trailer in the dead of winter to take home.

    Fast forward about a year and 90% of what MMM has said I do and practice, take away the bike and a few less DIY projects, but I made a choice I wanted Financial Independence and the choice to retire early, which is a far cry from my days of owning a Mercedes and taking vacations on my credit card. I’m not there yet but I’m on my way and MMM has a lot to do with getting my mind straight. Living like a poor person, certainly not, but choosing to take a trip to the park with your family instead of a shopping trip is the new direction. Thanks MMM.

  • Hillary C.-- no not THAT one. November 24, 2014, 7:39 am

    My husband and I are running into this problem. As we close up shop on our sexy-DC jobs for a quiet Mustachian life in rural PA, most of our friends and colleagues just don’t get it. We can explain and elucidate all we like, but they cannot see the forest for the trees. I find that people are just frightened. They are frightened of different ideas, frightened about the future, frightened about being “wrong” (expecially here in Type-A Land). The can’t see that we’ve worked our butts off to get out of here without any reason to fear– no debt, a completely paid off house in an amazing location with every thing we need, and family nearby.

    Why would we slave our lives away being unhappy just to have a piece of the dream, when we can have it all? Thirty-eight days until we are free– not that I am counting.

    • Joel November 24, 2014, 12:16 pm

      It seems that the people who are most frightened have every reason to be. I’d be terrified if I had to depend on my next paycheck to pay off a mountain of bills, and being laid off for less than a month would send the entire house of cards crashing down…

      It’s just so sad that they can’t see that the only way out is to “spend $1 less than you make.”

    • Kathy November 27, 2014, 9:19 am

      Hillary C–congrats to you! That is awesome and inspiring.

  • David C November 24, 2014, 7:43 am

    I wouldn’t call it living like a poor person. More like living like an intelligent and self-aware individual that gives a shit about his family’s future and freedom, as well as our planet’s future.

    Some people will never get it.

    • Chris November 24, 2014, 8:37 am

      Love this comment.

      My goal is not to build wealth, but to build happiness. Financial wealth is often a byproduct of that effort. Still tryin to become more mustachian every day, but not because of some sort of grand payoff at the end. I simply realized that simplifying my life makes room for more fun and happiness.

    • Doug November 24, 2014, 9:41 am

      My thoughts exactly. It’s all about maximizing output and minimizing input, as well as a sensible conservation ethic.

    • Milos November 24, 2014, 10:31 am

      Yes! This is the heart of the difference between Mustachian thinking and hyper frugality; MMM is getting at the enjoyment and positivity of being able to live enjoyably with less dependence on commercial/material products.

      Why is this so very upsetting to people? I think it it is because they are defensive on some level – otherwise why would they even want to engage angrily with those who seem happy and encouraging?
      I feel very content with my areas of overlap AND my areas of difference with MMM. His blog is an inspiration and a reminder of choices that are not featured in conventional media all that much.

      Also, MMM’s writing is so often a treat! Keep at it Mr. MM – we love you.

  • Old School November 24, 2014, 7:49 am

    Well said MMM. I think people around me (most of my friends and their wives) think that my wife and I are crazy for living on so little. Here is the thing…we have a mortgage aka a debt which must be slaughtered. Even after the debt is slayed why would I increase my lifestyle instead of just saving and giving? Sure we might spend a little more on travel, but I’m so freaking comfortable right now and have an “embaressment of riches” that I don’t think we are living poorly at all. Luckily for me I married a wonderful woman who feels the same way, and have a frugal feline to boot!

    Thank the Lord for all we have, great post, and have a happy thanksgiving!

  • Bob Werner November 24, 2014, 8:25 am

    Living right sized is the best revenge! I just wanted to thank you for including your off budget cost of housing in your post bringing your cost from 25 to 40K. I think that 40K is a reasonable amount for a 2 income family in many parts of the US.

  • Chris November 24, 2014, 9:35 am

    It’s really weird to me when I look at “the other” people, or the “average” ones. Just as they don’t seem to understand wanting to retire early, they don’t seem to understand my drive/need for future flexibility. And I don’t mind a trip to Disney, but it can be done a lot cheaper through some travel hacking!

  • Doug November 24, 2014, 9:38 am

    Excellent post, I couldn’t agree more! I’m definitely the old timers standing in the back and singing along while you preach to the choir. Over the years I’ve met so many people who think I’m living an existence of severe deprivation when I have managed to accumulate wealth just fine without deprivation. Why do I need a big house, cluttered up with junk I rarely use because I have to work more hours to pay for it all? Personally I’d rather have what I really need and actually have time to enjoy it, preferring quality over quantity. I could go on and on, but you probably get the picture. Besides MMM, one other I know of person gets it, an Aussie fellow at this website: http://www.thelifestylecompound.com . Let’s hope that, as MMM has said many times, we are at the fore front of a new societal trend, but of course realize that’s not likely.

  • KRFP November 24, 2014, 9:50 am

    This was awesome. Really inspiring, totally vindicating, just right on. Thank you.
    I was very proud to see MMM in New York magazine. These ideas are the sort that should be getting national coverage, snarky headline and all, I think.


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