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!

  • Anonymous November 25, 2014, 10:47 pm

    It all comes back to the concept of life-energy. I’m not frugal for frugality’s sake. All expenses are a balance between the happiness I derive from them and the happiness I must forgo to fund them. So saying I am deprived is not accurate.

    If you love your job and it gives your life meaning I can see how you can rationalize all kinds of expenses. It’s a bit sad in my view because I think a lot of these people will die having spent most of their lives occupying a cubicle, and 100% certain that it was the best they could do. I find my job to be a waste of time for the most part so I have to weigh all expenses against that.

  • Snor November 25, 2014, 11:26 pm

    Hi MMM, another great article. Thank you!

    One small point of comment: when you calculate what amount of spending your lifestile amounts to before financial retirement, I think you should include the cost of working as well as the mortgage / rent. This will mainly be the cot of commuting, but I can also immagine that many people buy clothes (suits?) they only wear for work.

    So your lifestyle probably compares to spending 50 or even 55 k per year.

    Perhaps that higher figure could pull a few more people over to the mustachian side :).

  • Richard Howes November 26, 2014, 6:47 am

    Stumbled on your site today because of that New York Magazine article. I’ve been reading for hours!

    My wife and I live on a game farm in Africa, and between us manage to earn around $150k per annum. We have two small children of 9 and 10. And every month we barely make ends meet and cannot understand how that’s possible.

    “We earn x a year and don’t have any disposable income. Its insane!”, is a common phrase in our regular conversation. And reading what you and your family live on per annum it is insane. This attracted me to ‘minimalist’ blogs before but they always seemed to espouse a lifestyle that seemed too ‘cheap’ for me to buy into. Extreme frugality never seemed practical, and definitely not something I wanted.

    But your blog has the metal cogs screaming at max RPMs. Last year the four of us did an hike along our beautiful coastline. We are not great outdoors people (ironic living on a game farm I know) but we did it because we felt we should.

    It was 55km (35 miles) of tough hiking over five days. Two days in the mountains and three along the coast. Day one was cold and rainy with strong winds, we did not have the right rain gear, and couldn’t see more than a few metres ahead so missed what must have been spectacular scenery. We were all wet and freezing. Half way through day one my wife and I started having knee problems and we hobbled for the last four days in serious pain using two sticks each to remain mobile and upright. We were not experienced enough to pack well so we had a lousy food supply. My wife’s shoes were too small so she suffered foot problems as well. We weren’t nearly fit enough.

    We have been married for 18 years and it was the BEST FUCKING FIVE DAYS OF OUR LIVES!

    No cell phones, TV, electricity or any other modern distractions. We talked. We marvelled at the extreme beauty around us. We talked. We cooked together and watched the sunset each day. After we had finished the day’s hike, and had settled into our camp, we took a walk together on our aching knees. We talked.

    We LOVED IT!

    The pain were were in seemed completely irrelevant. So did the first day’s lousy weather (the rest were perfect). I’ve never been happier.

    That five day hike felt like a month. Not because it was painful, but because it was filled with so much family communication, joy, adventure, and nature that it seemed to never end.

    Fast forward a year and here I am reading your blog and we have done nothing like that this last year. We worked and spent and made no financial progress and no physical or family progress.

    Experiences not things.
    Frugal not cheap.

    Thank your Mr Money Mustache. Here we come 2015, watch us ROAR!

    • Carolina on My Mind November 27, 2014, 2:16 pm

      What a great story about the hike. This blog really is life changing — welcome!

  • Steve (NWOutlier) November 26, 2014, 10:15 am

    Hi MMM!

    Love your write up, listening to the pod cast and checking out the trending article. First; you’re right – they don’t get it. For me, when I read your blog and JLCollins – i pick out the things that will work for ME, in MY situation for MY family; I notice when people want to write about you they take your word verbatim or litteral. For me, and where I live – I’m targeting 36k-54k yr with your guiding priciples to achieve my goals.

    I’ll follow up in the forums (continue blog conversation) or post again here after I see their interpretation of this ‘trending titan’

    Stay you, stay the course.


  • Rick November 26, 2014, 11:05 am

    I share so many of the perspectives regarding the choices wee make and the impacts those have on our well being (health and wealth). The greatest challenge is often allowing ourselves to see that what generates success for businesses is not always what leads to an increase in success for individuals. Convenience redefined to conisder the whole impact rather than a narrow use case. I highly recommend Masanobu Fukuoka’s “One Straw Revolution” as a book that provides a very similar message via a review of one man’s experience farming. From his experience, he appllied science and logic to the practice of farming, and discovered that if you understand your land, and nuture what works with the land you have, your yields can be great. If you attempt to grow that which does not grow on your land, you will need far more resources (chemicals, labor, electricity) to generate lesser yields. I find this similar to your perspective on evaluating how we define success. Thanks,

  • Nik R. November 26, 2014, 4:36 pm

    Wow, what a good article! I just finished reading all the posts from the beginning of time, and this was the perfect closer. Since I starting reading MMM two weeks ago, I’ve cut monthly expenses by $289 and paid off my credit card. There are plenty more steps to take, but these two victories feel good! Many thanks to MMM and the community!!

  • Christian November 26, 2014, 4:58 pm


    Great article. I am new to your site. I felt like I was talking to myself while reading this entry. 34 years old, 10 Years in the military and I can’t tell you how many people (military and civilian) automatically assume you cannot get rich earning a very modest military salary. Funny how the same people who tell me this all drive new high-end cars…while I drive my 2002 Camry. That’s just one example, there are many others. I shake my head and carry on. 10 years in, $665,000 saved (all cash). Nothing fancy going on here. In fact, I’ve never once invested in the stock market (very skeptical of things I don’t understand). I live below my means, bag my lunch most days, never bought a new car, always get the free cell phone offer, etc (pretty much everything that is out lined in this blog). My motivation, like most here, was always to put myself in a position to work only for myself by a certain phase in my life. I never accepted the notion of having to work until I am 65 years old (the typical BS that is talked about on TV concerning retirement). The prospect of such pains me to think about for even one second. I cringe while I am writing about it now. I can’t express how good it feels knowing that I can walk away from my job whenever want to.

    Spend a lot less than what you make…and do so for a good chunk of time. It’s really that simple. Along the way, learn to do things yourself so that you can fix your own things that need fixing and/or perhaps use this skill to earn extra money on the side. There is no mystery or magic required to reach financial freedom (even on a very average salary). It just takes an ounce of discipline. Lastly, people who need visible examples what not to do, just look over at your neighbor to the left and right of you, observe them a while (really pay attention and look)…and then do the opposite.

  • ElMono November 26, 2014, 8:33 pm

    “MMM is just a tight wad who sits at home all day and doesn’t enjoy life at all” – Say the people surrounded by a plethora of shit that they don’t need! Look, this lifestyle of living below your means isn’t self deprecating, it’s about enjoying life for what it is, not the shit around you that burdens your health. I am glad people are very critical of this – it just means that there is a part of them that realizes how stupid they are, and how much they have messed up. So, to the consumer who lives beyond their means, keep doing it, because I’m not – and someone has to make up for me.

  • Val November 27, 2014, 12:28 pm

    So, I wasn’t looking for a guru, but I think I’ve found one anyway, or at least my tribe. I’ve been steadily working my way through all the posts over the past couple of weeks (since stumbling on MMM by accident) and have come to two realizations:

    1. We’ve always been Mustachian (no TV since ’94, bike commuters, no credit except the mortgage, live close to work, etc.) but we just didn’t know that’s what we were.

    2. We could be even more Mustachian and be both happier and richer. (Putting this into practice already — looking forward to the results!)

    It’s great to be inspired by the community that has come into being here.

  • TJ November 27, 2014, 5:38 pm

    Patagonia’s Triple Bottom Line has always motivated me to buy their products, but only when I have to. This article is pretty fitting given the ensuing ‘economic doom’ portrayed in the linked article if everyone adopted frugality.


  • Andy Arenson November 27, 2014, 11:38 pm

    I started riding my bike everywhere I could last year. My friends think I’m crazy to do this in winter. I have a car, I have plenty of money, it’s bloody cold, why am I doing this?

    Thank you for continuing to articulate a better viewpoint — it feels right, but in the moment I’m sometimes stumped about how to explain it.

    • HenryDavid November 28, 2014, 6:08 am

      When you bike you’re really immersed in the environment. The weather comes in though your pores. You don’t see life through the windshield.
      I get bored driving because proportionately I spend so much time sitting at stop lights. It’s easy to time the lights on a bike, and on bike paths it’s less of a factor. So I’m always moving forward. Not sitting there letting the impatience build up. It’s just so much nicer even in the cold.

  • sarah November 28, 2014, 7:29 am

    I’ve always wondered why you don’t grow most of your own food. Gardening is right up your alley. Hard work, fresh air, cheap seeds, organic food all right in your own backyard. Easier than hydroponics. Just dig, plant, water, reap, save seeds and repeat.

  • Scott November 28, 2014, 9:42 am

    One thing really stuck out to me:

    > I will give [my son] 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.

    Particularly that last line. What if he decides he’d rather inflate his lifestyle even more than it is already, once he’s on his own? What if he goes through a rebellious teenage phase where he buys a car and a TV? I’m very curious to see how Little MM progresses through his teenage years and beyond.

  • Marius November 28, 2014, 10:07 am

    Dear Mr Money Mustache,
    Whilst I did enjoy the “debate” about the bidet, thus enjoying the toilet humour that seems to permeate most individuals thoughts … most of the time … I cannot help but be saddened by most peoples thoughts and comments on the topic. I do understand your frustration with the small minded thinking of those that criticise your writings in so far as that I believe they don’t get the bigger message that you advocate on a regular basis.
    I myself have been helped through a major part of my life where as a professional person had to face the fact that I value myself based on such archaic things as how much I am able to purchase and then having being a victim of an economic downturn and other political challenges out of my control that affect my life, by your message of … if not frugality but rather of understanding my own value.
    In that I find that your … and I dare use the word … “gospel” can and should be taken to indicate how far we have fallen from understanding our own worth as individuals.
    We see value in monetary terms, and equate love by how big of a gift we give each other, we see trust in how much of our wealth we are willing to leave in the other persons care, we aim to leave financial “things” to other people and then (in wills and testaments) aim to control how they use this … and miss the plot completely.
    All these things have become redundant to me, because of what you advocate…
    Whilst I’m still in a high paying job, earning an income which most can only envy, I’ve learned to distance myself from seeing my value in that. My value is in the time and effort I give others … my wife, my company, my clients, my family.
    For this, and the openness of thought and freedom you have given me, I want to thank you.

  • Kayla November 28, 2014, 10:48 am

    You make so many good points in this article. It’s really not about how “extreme” you can be with your frugality. Instead it’s about using your frugality to create the lifestyle you truly want. If you don’t truly want to be financially independent, then by all means continue with your mindless consumerism. (That’s what I want to say to people sometimes!)

  • TJ November 28, 2014, 12:10 pm

    My first comment didn’t get approved. Hopefully this will. Yvon Chouinard’s Responsible Economy. Now that’s leadership!


  • Cubic November 28, 2014, 5:18 pm

    I find it amusing that MMM thinks it’s badass. Try working for a living at a normal job and raising a family on that income!! That’s is truly badass. Frugality is default in this scenario. Put up with minimal raises and the only real reward for years of hard work is getting to “keep your job.” This is what working class americans (I didn’t capitalize americans, because they are the forgotten class in this country) put up with and if you haven’t lived it your not badass by any stretch.

    Another amusing item on MMM is the idea of living where you work. It’s a great idea, but mostly impractical for most people. It’s also idealistic for badass working class americans. Affordable housing isn’t always available close to where you work.

    If MMM were truly badass it would include more practical ideas for working class families to get ahead!

    • Mikes Reiche November 28, 2014, 7:34 pm

      Troll? Got to be, right? If not then maybe read a few more articles, like starting from the beginning… Too much to try and educate you on the way of the Mustachian (I capitalized that because this is what you, the “working class”, should be striving for) in this little blurb. Good luck getting ahead, maybe a little polishing of your optimism gun is in order?

  • Rob in Munich November 29, 2014, 3:59 am

    Thanks Pete, needed this as I do struggle with consumerism. My wife just got an iPhone 6 Plus for her work phone. Than when I walk the dog at night all the neighbours have 60 inch plus TVs, than I told my wife we do need to make some sacrifices if we want to make her goal of retiring at 60 (8 years). Her concern was, understandably, was to enjoy the next 8 years, as we don’t know how long we’ll have health (just got a cancer diagnosis – very treatable). So posts like this remind me of what’s important!


  • Patrick Barrett November 30, 2014, 7:49 am

    Thank you for another great article. Thank you for always helping us all lead a better life.
    Ever since I started reading your blog, my happiness and savings have soared while my waist line and spending have dropped.

  • brydanger December 1, 2014, 12:28 pm

    This one just topped my MMM recommended list as well.
    We constantly experience people mistaking our choices and our “creative home use plan” as us living in strife. Even friends who know and understand our goals look at us making choices on how to spend/manage money and assume we are broke or stressed about cash when in fact we are living quite well (and insanely happy).

    True, we made serious cutbacks in spending, purged most of our belongings and chose a different style of living- but then we quit our jobs, traveled for a year and now leave for months at a time when we decide it’s time. Everyone working thought we were crazy for leaving. Then on the road we decided that life at home was better than living in a van and everyone thought we were crazy for returning. Now we have a home base in one of the best neighborhoods in one of the world’s greatest cities (portland, or) and live a somewhat nomadic life- and people still think were nuts.

    Since leaving our full time jobs we are infinitely happier, spend more time doing what we want and significantly more time traveling. We are now spending our free time helping others design small homes that allow them to live free of the hamster wheel- and really enjoying the chance to continue meeting others locally who share in our view of the world and vision for what can be without giving up what we love.

    As you point out, we didn’t/don’t make any of these decisions for money, but for happiness… but the money starts to work out when you put yourself in a place of happiness not connected to how much you have in the bank or spend on a daily basis.

  • k December 2, 2014, 7:52 am

    damn. straight.

  • Justice December 2, 2014, 9:30 pm

    I really love the article. I am now living abroad and enjoy traveling to other countries, but mostly to get out into nature. It can be a little expensive but it can be cheap as well if done right.

    I think there’s a time and place for international travel and as Americans, ‘we’ need to be more exposed to the world. However, I will plan on moving back to the USA next year and plan to simply explore nature in the USA and to not travel abroad for a long time after that

  • Dr. J. Galt December 4, 2014, 10:55 am

    Great article. It turns out that the revolution will be televised- but it will also be misconstrued, misinterpreted, and generally misunderstood in the process. Is anyone really surprised??
    I’ve enjoyed this blog for the past several years- before and during the first 2 years of my semi-retirement, and find it to be an enjoyable place of encouragement whenever doubts creep in. I am instantly reminded that time is our most precious resource, and that opting out of the rat race to correct a “work-life” imbalance is the ultimate expression of personal freedom. Make your time, into time that you in fact own and control. Being “free” to do so, ironically enough costs nothing.

  • BobJ December 10, 2014, 5:03 pm

    Hey.. I’m a tv news producer..and our job is to turn story titles into attention grabbing headlines..even if the headlines are not true. But honestly I love the helpful advice on this blog. My name is Bob and I am addicted to spendind

  • Bob Derek December 11, 2014, 5:44 am

    I think that’s the important point for any reading this blog. You’re a spoiled rich kid giving advice to other spoiled rich kids. The stunningly rich kid advice about warm water vs. cold water bidets sums up what goes on here. If you are a middle class person in this country working your butt of just trying to get by, while your job may move overseas at any moment, or you may be replaced by someone willing to work for less, this blog is useless. So I recommend that you rename this Blog “The New Snobbiness for the Upper 5%.”

    • Eric December 15, 2014, 4:25 pm

      Hmm, a search for “bidet” on this site shows MMM mentioning them a sum total of zero times. Numerous posts such as “50 Jobs over $50,000 – Without a Degree” clearly aren’t written for the upper 5%, and I dunno, might actually have helped some folks along the way. This site has saved me thousands, and I’m certainly not in the upper 5%. Maybe before you call someone a spoiled snob you should spend a few minutes seeing what they actually write, as opposed to mouthing off at the first user comment you take offense to.

      And regarding bidets, I don’t plan on ever buying one but if someone has determined they can save a few bucks by not wiping their butt then more power to them. I just hope they went with the warm water.

      • wilco December 16, 2014, 10:21 am

        Bam! Nicely done, Eric.

        I didn’t understand how Bob could mention middle-class people in fear of losing their jobs, a totally legitimate fear, and fail to absorb ANY of the ideas on the site. Blinders, I guess.

        • Eric December 18, 2014, 11:36 am

          Yeah, underneath Bob’s snarky tone there’s a legitimate point that plenty of other people have made, and MMM has addressed before. It’s the “this advice does nothing for the bottom [insert random percentage] of the population.” That’s absolutely a valid topic for discussion, in fact just in the last 24 hours I’ve randomly come across two related items:

          – In the personal finance subreddit someone was asking about obtaining cheap or pro bono advice from a financial adviser. Someone mentioned the existence of a growing field of “financial social work”, which sounds like a great thing:


          – Yesterday Slate ran an excerpt from the book “Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America” that made a number of good observations like it being hard to save money buying in bulk if your cash flow won’t allow you to make a larger purchase now to save money later:


          For MMM, you’re always going to be able to find some segment of the population that’s so poor they just can’t do much with even the most basic advice of not buying things they don’t need, keeping housing and car costs down, etc. because they’re already at rock bottom. That’s where posts like the 50 jobs over $50k come in – for many people the only goal worth working towards right now is increasing income.

          I think the bulk of MMM’s advice is aimed at those Americans (or those living a “western” lifestyle wherever they are, I should say) who feel like they’re just scraping by, but if you peel back the layers of waste could in fact be living much happier and richer lives. What people like Bob don’t get is that this isn’t the upper 5% – it’s literally almost everyone.

  • GoateeStriving December 16, 2014, 12:49 pm

    Dear MMM,

    I found your site in early November and quickly became addicted. Not only is it very well written, coherent, logical, funny, and fascinating, the comments section has some of the most intelligent postings I’ve ever seen on the Interweb. (Gratuitous flattery of Mustachian readers, check.) This is the first blog I’ve ever read regularly – on other blogs, the abysmal quality of the writing and the awful trolly comments make spending time there extremely unpleasant and unrewarding. But this is a community of people who are optimistic, well-read, generous, and eager to make positive changes in their own lives and the lives of others. That’s a group I want to be part of.

    In any case, since becoming an MMM reacher, this is what has changed in the life of my family:

    – My husband and I stopped eating lunches out. Period. Also no coffee. Each of us was spending $2-4 per coffee and $6-10 per lunch, EVERY DAY. Savings per month: $400.
    – We stopped going out once a week to our local wine bar or a new restaurant to relax and blow some money. We still go out, but more like twice per month now. Savings: $100-250 per month.
    – My husband started biking to work, every day, in rain and snow and ice, pulling the trailer once a week to pick up our farm share. Savings per month: $112 on the Metrocard, plus $160 for the extra fee to have the farm share delivered all the way to our house. I already walk and take (reimbursed) public transportation, so no savings for me there.
    – I called our insurance company and negotiated a lower rate for car insurance. Turns out they’re dying to give you discounts (for side air bags, automatic security systems, etc. etc.). We only drive about 7,000 miles per year so I got them to factor that in, too. Savings per month: $25. Next I’m going to take a defensive driving course, which will save us $100 per year for three years.
    – We finally got around to combining all our accounts into Mint. Turns out we had a bunch of legacy IRAs and random Vanguard accounts from old jobs that we had never combined and were just sitting around in savings for the last six years (Yes, I know! It hurts me too!) while we moved three times, had a bunch of job changes, and hatched two small children. It was over $200,000 and is now being consolidated and invested. Potential growth: 7% per year forever.
    – I rolled over my random legacy IRAs into my current TSP account, upping the balance to $250,000.
    – I opened a new Vanguard account to reward myself for not wasting money. Examples: late on a rainy night, leaving a play with a friend, I almost called an Uber, which would have cost at least $40 to go across town. Instead, I walked to the subway, waited for it, got out at the station and rode my bike home along quiet streets, enjoying the peace, the fresh air and my own self-reliance. I paid myself the $40 into the Vanguard account. Another time, one of our kids threw up in the car and the car wash place wanted $140 to clean the interior. My husband and I laughed. The next night, I put on my rubber gloves, brought out a bucket of soapy water and a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner, and did it myself. Took 15 minutes, and I paid myself $140. Easiest money I’ve ever earned.
    – Realized I have a double stroller, iPhone 4, old bicycles, and mountains of toys and clothes to sell on Craigslist. Potential savings: $600+, which will go straight into the Vanguard account.

    You get the idea. We still live a great, cushy life in Manhattan, Ground Zero for conspicuous consumption. We eat entirely organic food from a farm share that supports our friend, the farmer. I work a professional job and dress very nicely in clothes I buy on super-sale or get for free when my spendy sister cleans out her (huge) closet. We’re going on a family vacation to Hawaii next month that we have already paid off.

    The point, which Mustachians already know but most others can’t seem to believe, is that frugality enhances the experience of your life instead of detracting from it. Scarcity leads to appreciation. I enjoy restaurant meals more when it’s a change from the food we cook at home most of the time – when I was eating out all the time it just wasn’t special, and got boring anyway. I feel so empowered that I am totally in charge of my life choices, and that I can put my hard-earned resources where I value them most: towards investments, earning security and freedom for my family instead of paying for random crap we don’t need and have no space to store.

    And one last note: my husband works in private equity, and this year he had a deal that was so good he put ourselves and his own mother into it. He also offered it to all our friends. Guess who had money to invest in a potentially life-changing deal? Not our “rich” finance friends who travel abroad four times a year, threw themselves a $4,000 birthday dinner, and live in a $2 million apartment. Not, the ones who made the $100,000 investment that could potentially change their lives were: a self-made friend who built his own house and watches his expenses like a hawk; a non-profit worker who has saved all her life; a doctor and professor who live in Washington Heights and have two kids in public school. In other words, regular people who saved: Mustachians!!!

    Thank you so much for all you do in the world. It’s good.



  • Molly January 18, 2015, 12:50 pm

    The one good thing about that NYMAG article is that it brought me here! And I’ve now read nearly all the articles to date! *Mustachian-in-training*

  • Michelle M January 30, 2015, 2:28 pm

    Never was interested in Disneyland mayself, even as a kid. That could be because I was very shy and found the giant fuzzy character costumes creepy. But my parents always remind me of what an oddball I was – at six years old trying to run up Mount Rainier as fast as I could during our yearly trips to visit extended family was my usual priority.

    I think a lot of us are naturally Mustachian at the start but slowly drift into consumerist habits (which you’ve said before)… I’ve spent the past year getting back to where I was as a kid and it feels great just as you said it would (not the least because of reduced stress over money)…

  • Ddub925 February 2, 2015, 2:30 pm

    This is the post that started it all for me MMM! Tim Ferriss tweeted this link, I clicked it, and spent the last two months reading the whole funkin blog!!!!!

    I love your work MMM and I am making slow progress away from consumerism toward mustiachianism! Thank you for the inspiration and lessons in badassity. After reading this post again, I know why I was drawn in: I’m probably your target reader, my wife and I make 200k per year but haven’t been able to grow our net worth and are still in a debt emergency, no wonder why I’m 50 lbs overweight and depressed! but just by reading you and making some slight changes over the last 2 months I now I see the light and have hope.

  • FIndependantIndian February 17, 2015, 1:56 am

    This reminds me of:

    “Isn’t “visiting Disneyland someday” the right answer to what your life ambition should be? Why not spend some money to “live a little”?

    The reason I saved my money is so I can live a lot!”

    Source: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/about-the-blog

    These are mostly people who spend 5 minutes on the site and, then, based on their “detailed research” and general prejudices, try to understand what is essentially a different philosophy of life compared to what they know. That is, why would anyone want to do that when they can just get a McJob, drive a McCar, eat out at a McRestaurant, and become a millionaire when they are 60? Isn’t being a passionate assistant sales manager for Who Cares Incorporated, doing recreational shopping on weekends, and hopping on a jet plane for a 5 day stay in an exotic tourist destination a couple of times a year, supposed to be what life is all about?

  • Matt June 26, 2015, 12:24 pm

    Hey MMM, I was glancing through Pope Francis’ new encyclical on the environment, and came across a quote I thought might resonate with you and your philosophy, so I thought I’d share it.

    “A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfilment… It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things… Such sobriety, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating. It is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full.” (Laudato Si, paragraphs 222-223)

    Looks like you’ve got an even more famous figure preaching Mustachianism. Or does this rather mean you’ve been ahead of the game preaching the latest addition to Catholic Social Teaching? ;)

    • Paul Atkin February 4, 2016, 6:50 am

      Good connection. Catholic Social Teaching also gets a favourable mention in HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? : The Love of Money, and the Case for the Good Life by Robert and Edward Skidelsky. Well worth reading

  • Dragline February 3, 2016, 2:48 pm

    So the headline for this should be “Mr. Money Mustache really hates Disneyland”, right? ;-)

    (Yes, its a joke dear reader.)

  • ernie williams May 1, 2016, 12:50 pm

    Just wanted to send a big Tennessee THANK YOU your way. I started out years ago as a “better than I deserve” follower. It has served me well, but I consider you graduate school material. I’m putting my head down and hope to be in your shoes in 5 years or less. You are changing lives. Thank you again.
    House is paid
    375k in retirement
    0 debt
    Time to stash cash, but a step ain’t nothing for a stepper

  • Alexandra Taylor June 3, 2016, 4:34 pm

    OMG. OMG. Mr. Money Mustache, I stumbled on this website three days ago and have been totally preoccupied with reading every post ever since. This is totally already me. The choir, c’est moi.

    BUT sometimes I like a little luxury item, and a blog like this…what a gift! What a wonderful motivator to stay focused and flex my frugality muscle!

    My husband and I are Dave Ramsey afficianados (we are Christian and teach Ramsey’s class at our home) but I can’t relate to a lot of Ramsey stuff–too lightweight–because now I see I was always a Mustachian. One place we differ from the Mustache is that my husband and I shoot to save 30% and give away 20% of our income, and live on the rest. I notice this blog doesn’t seem to mention much about giving, which can be a very, very powerful motivator to not become a “exploding volcano of waste”. We make quite a bit of money and our love of giving will probably have us working about fifteen years longer, but we love our jobs (teacher and social worker), so it’s ok.

    Just…thanks! Thanks so much for reassuring me that my way of looking at money isn’t crazy! I’m going to direct our higher level Ramsey class students to you!

  • Sarah De Diego August 31, 2016, 7:28 pm

    Growing up, I was given everything and the kitchen sink until I had enough money (and when I say enough, I mean the exact rent down to the penny in my bank account) to support myself. I was 22 years old. I had a part-time job and was in university part-time. Up until that point, I had never taken my parents generosity for granted and regularly thanked them for it. Even though I didn’t have to work for much, I valued money and all the freedom that it could give me. The last day I worked was my 32nd birthday. But my question isn’t about me.

    My question is, why shouldn’t I give my kids everything they need? In their twenties and/or beyond if I can (which I can)? Do people really think that they won’t learn the value of money or appreciate xyz if they don’t have to work for it themselves? I would be genuinely interested in reading about the psychology of it (will hit up Google when I’m done writing this).

    I’m proud of a lot of things that I’ve done in my life but none of the top 25 items (maybe more, I’m not even sure that I have 25 items on my list) have anything to do with something that I purchased (quitting smoking and not getting married to my ex are at the top of the list).

    Love your writing style and can’t wait to read more. Speaking of reading, do you have any book recommendations on investing for Canadians. I’m more beginner than I’d like to be.

    Besos Sarah.
    Located in Ottawa, ON and previously an employee of likely the same corporation as you and Mr. Toque.

  • EarningAndLearning June 20, 2017, 1:04 pm

    “This Tightwad is Trending” made me literally laugh out loud, and has given me a few laughs this morning! I actually laughed a few times reading this article, ie at your outrage, and at your usual wonderful caricatures and metaphors.

    Having read all your articles from the beginning (yay just now in the last month of 2014!) I really GET that Mustachianism is not about deprivation and cost-cutting, but about freeing ourselves from the consumer culture we’ve been brainwashed into from birth by TV and social pressures. And once we are freed from it, there is a lot of peace and freedom to be found.

    Thanks for all the work you do, for YEARS now, putting out this valuable message. I can imagine how infuriating it can be to read headlines like “This Tightwad is Trending” (oops there I go, another good chuckle!). Keep up the good fight, the war against planet-destroying and soul-sucking consumerism must go on! Thanks for all your wonderful posts, which somehow just keep getting better!

  • Paul W April 9, 2018, 10:54 am

    “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.”

    I know what you mean by “other unnecessary parts of the world,” but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t read the way you want it to.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 10, 2018, 4:19 pm

      Haha.. good point. I did not mean to imply the US is more “necessary” than other parts. In fact, in many cases (such as resource consumption per capita) the opposite might be true :-)


Leave a Reply

To keep things non-promotional, please use a real name or nickname
(not Blogger @ My Blog Name)

The most useful comments are those written with the goal of learning from or helping out other readers – after reading the whole article and all the earlier comments. Complaints and insults generally won’t make the cut here, but by all means write them on your own blog!

Cancel reply


welcome new readers

Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets