You’ll Never Believe How Much the MMM Family Spent This Year…

Hiking near home, fall 2014

Hiking near home, fall 2014

Here we go again!

As we do once every year, Mrs. MM and I have spent the day nervously tallying the sinful blizzard of excessive spending that we have been committing over the past twelve months.

If you aren’t familiar with my budgeting style, it is “I Don’t Have a Budget“. Since we know there’s no chance of running out of money at this point, we make spending decisions based on our values rather than splitting up a fixed stream of income into categories every month.

While this is a hazardous approach for beginners*, it works very well once you have trained yourself with my alternative point-of-purchase approach. In short, whenever you feel like buying something, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will buying this really improve my overall lifetime happiness?
  • Is there another, more efficient way to meet this same need?
  • Can the same benefit be had if I delay the purchase?

While I still follow these rules because they have become a habit, the application can be sloppy at times due to the fact that we are still just ordinary flawed humans.

Highlights of 2014 in the Mustache Household


First day of framing the new roof, January 2014

Even retired life seems to be full of change and adventure, and this suits me just fine. This year our boy grew up another notch, and we found his need for creative freedom really started to clash with the formal structure of school. This led us to full-time homeschooling. That required much more time from both of us parents, curtailing some of our other activities but also teaching all three of us a lot more about life and learning. Although the transition amounted to a couple months of emotional face punches, it was worthwhile as such punches generally are in retrospect.

We Moved

2014 will also go down in history as the year of the new house. Although we actually bought the place in late 2013, I started the project in earnest by tearing off the roof last January, framed and welded and sheathed the new structure through February and March, then stepped inside to do the electrical, plumbing, insulation and other trades before outsourcing the drywall. We moved in to the barebones residence in June and I’ve been working since then on more carpentry and details. All in all, we’ve spent about $80,000 on the complete rebuild so far, which I have kept separate from the regular spending budget. This is because the net spending on the new house (after selling the old one) is still a large negative number.

Details of the new house project, where the money went, and before and after pictures will get their own separate post. It is taking a while because work progress has slowed dramatically due to the aforementioned homeschooling

Business and Pleasure Endeavors

The 9-year-old Little MM seems to be following in his father’s path – finding machines, space and science fiction, and creating electronic music (under the stage name Killbone7) to be more interesting than any organized activity we try to coax him into. Luckily he has a growing club of other junior nerds that have banded together for these activities, so he will have company when he starts the next Microsoft or Google from our garage in another six years or so.

This detail is relevant in a spending article because although stuff like this is amazingly educational, it costs the parents very little. We would fully support him if he were into more expensive things like sports leagues, and I do remind him that that is a better way to meet girls once he gets to high school.

Mrs. Money Mustache took the lead on homeschooling, burning through stacks of books and websites and distilling it down once she realized the practice is incredibly unregulated here in the US. As long as you can get your kid to pass a very basic test at the end of each year, you can do whatever you like. We are using this as an opportunity to speed up the educational pace considerably and do fun stuff instead of boring stuff. She also started a secret crafting business on Etsy which I won’t dare mention here lest she lose all her free time to an increase in sales.

And of course old MMM continued to build stuff out of wood and occasionally type some shit into the computer, juggling the demands and opportunities of the Internet against the pleasure of real world physical work. I indulged in a couple of these opportunities for some blog-related travel including Ecuador II and Camp Mustache, both of which will happen again in 2015.

But enough of this blathering on, for it is time for the final number. In the wealthy and spendy year of 2014, the MMM family managed to blow the following incredible of money on ourselves:

$25, 330

And here is where it all went:

Mortgage Interest00
Property Taxes2,5172,120New house has $1000/year cheaper taxes. This figure pro-rated based on months lived in each
Food and Dining7,7397,109
   Groceries   6,984   6,593
   Wine/Beer   466   322
   Restaurants, Coffee Shop   288   194
   Doctor Visits   425   484Includes some personal therapy surrounding our boy's school issues.
   Health Insurance   2,855   3,272$273 / month
   Dentist   366   512Mostly for kid dentist preventative work
   Pharmacy   143   n/a
Auto and Transport2,231490
   Gasoline   1,022   71Excellent!
   Insurance   330   347
   Registration & Testing   294   72
   Express Tolls   80   
   Service & Parts   422   n/a
   Public Transportation   81   n/a
Cell Phone300300
Internet Access360360
   Home Renovations   383   19
   Home Insurance   392   410
   Landscaping/Plants   85   n/a
School Tuition00
   Shoes & Clothing   606   492
   Sporting Goods   566   76
   Shopping Misc   965   654
   Books   46   61mostly used books
   Other   440   815Netflix, kids activities, homeschooling school supplies, local plays, apps, CC annual fee, cash withdrawals, foreign transaction fees
Travel1,9345,057Wow!! $1908 for xmas trip to Canada, $382 passport renewals, $216 flight home from SFO, $552 vrbo in San Fran, $880 safety pirate trip, $245 train travel, $727 flights for summer trip to Canada, $51 Super Shuttle, $96 Mrs. MM 40th Birthday Trip
   Subtracting Tuition, Donations   24,567   24,175
   Subtracting travel, crossfit   21,983   18,788
   Subtracting organic/luxury food   19,678   16,442Assuming a 33% increase on groceries due to organic + meat.
   Subtracting home renovation expense19,29516,423This is what our "no frills" living cost would be, unless we moved to a smaller house (Note: Misc category could be cut down a lot as well)

What the heck is going on here? With completely reckless spending and all of life’s variation, we are still within $150 (0.6%) of the previous year’s spending. There were a few notable things, however:

Groceries were still Ridiculous:

The place our sloppy nonbudgeting manifests itself most strongly is in groceries: high-end local organic stuff from the deli counter, ridiculous little triangles of cheese from the gourmet section, dark 85% chocolate chunks with my espresso, coconut and almond breakfast every morning, and an overflowing salad bowl alongside the dinner every night. And some sort of entertaining almost every week, where we actually prepare and give away large quantities of this fancy food to friends and visitors. It is hard not to feel rich and spendy when this is part of your life.

Driving Performance was Good:

Somehow, we went the whole year on only two tanks of gas for the car. In the past, I have talked up our impressive driving avoidance skills and called everyone else Car Clowns because we don’t use the car for local errands.. but then hypocritically embarked on long cross-country trips that burned hundreds of dollars of gas.  This year it seems I actually walked the talk, and the car was fired up mostly for shuttling people to the airport and to occasional hikes in the nearby foothills. I’ve even started biking for my occasional nights out in Boulder, thanks to the added speed of my Electric Bike. It also helps that the car is a Scion xA, a 5-passenger hatchback that easily exceeds 40MPG. Not on the budget is one tank of gas for my construction minivan – because it was used only for my construction business this year (except a few short trips carrying materials for the house).

Travel Spending was Way Up: 

The flip side of less driving is sometimes more spending on other forms of travel. In spring, we took an adventure on the Amtrak sleeper train to San Francisco and went North to explore the amazing coast and Redwood forests. And we closed out the year with a set of three overpriced plane tickets ($600 each!) to Canada to visit family for the holidays, something we haven’t done in winter for many years (usually we just spend every summer in Canada). Plus a great train ride to get the three of us from Toronto to Ottawa for phase two of this trip. This trip is an example of spending I would have avoided if money were tight, but it was nice to be able to afford it.

On the positive side, our out-of-pocket spending for this travel was really much lower than shown in this budget, because much of it was paid for with points from various rewards credit cards. But I decided to list the sticker price in the annual spending just to keep reporting simpler. In other words, we thought of the credit cards rewards as a form of income rather than a reduction in spending.

Health Insurance Held Steady:

We use a basic plan from Golden Rule that costs about $275 per month for the family. If this pre-ACA healthcare plan eventually expires, we’ll switch to a Bronze level plan under the new health insurance setup that will  offer more coverage in exchange for more money. You can read more about that in this 2013 post on our health insurance situation. None of us had any health issues besides checkups this year.

So that’s it for 2014. Although these updates are starting to look awfully consistent from a numbers perspective, I still find it quite revealing how powerful habits can be in dictating your spending, regardless of income.

And as I go through each year knowing that I’ll have to justify each expenditure to YOU the reader at the end of it all, I find my own life being guided gently away from the temptation to stray into bullshit spending as well.

Luckily for you, you will get exactly the same benefit this year. Because I’ll be right there watching over your shoulder every time you take out your wallet in 2015.


Quick answers to questions that seem to be coming up:

Why is your car insurance so cheap? Living in a city of only 90,000 people, age 40, cheap car with liability insurance only, nothing on driving record. I still use Geico insurance.

Why is your mobile phone bill so low? Republic Wireless – $25/month unlimited everything including data, or $10/month unlimited voice+text. Hint: Get the $150 Motorola G unless you are a serious techie – it is almost as good as the higher end $300 and $400 phones they offer.


* If you are going to train your fiscal discipline muscle with some budgeting, I am still a fan of YNAB software (You Need A Budget), which you can try out for free for a month to see if it fits your own style. Disclosure: I am a friend of the founder Jesse Mecham and think he tells excellent stories.

  • Even Steven January 16, 2015, 12:29 pm

    Just curious how did Crossfit get cut in half for a yearly total? Did you switch and go home gym or give them the MMM you can read my blog anytime if I get a discount?

    • SS Love January 19, 2015, 8:57 am

      I was wondering the same, well that and our CF for two people is about $2800/year…

      • Lexi February 11, 2015, 3:07 pm

        Me too! That was the first thing I flagged. Xfit was $159 monthly with my corporate discount. Needless to say, i took up running.

  • Andrew J. January 16, 2015, 12:33 pm

    Can you provide any guidance on getting car insurance for $28 /mo ($347 /yr)? I live in Colorado with a 16 year old beater, perfect driving record, and minimum insurance by law (liability only) and can only get as cheap as $39 /mo ($468 /yr).
    Additionally, this is with my car listed as a ‘pleasure vehicle’ not for commuting, with only 6k miles allowed a year. I have shopped around and can’t get lower. You have an additional driver as well (I assume) in your spouse.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 16, 2015, 1:36 pm

      I’m still using Geico for car insurance, and I don’t know why it’s so cheap. Maybe it’s because we’re so damn old now :-)

      I wouldn’t sweat a $11/month difference – tell any Canadian what you are paying for car insurance and you’ll realize how great you have it.

      • Lynda W. January 16, 2015, 2:14 pm

        You are SO right MMM. I live in beautiful B.C. and we pay close to $2,000 in insurance for our 2001 Audi. And both my spouse and I are old and have good driving records!

      • Judith January 16, 2015, 5:05 pm

        I live in rural Southern Alberta and drive a 20 yr old Toyota truck (pre Tacoma). Through RBC Insurance I pay $26.27 per month for $1,000,000 Third Party Liability. There is a bit of saving there because I also have my house insured with them as well. My rates are likely rock bottom, and I wonder if Andrew lives in a city that is much larger than Longmont. That can make a difference in rates.
        I “splurged” on studded winter tires as I XC ski and snowshoe, so I consider that cost as additional insurance. :) For people that think a second set of tires is expensive, I remind them that when one set is on, the other set is not seeing any wear!

      • James January 16, 2015, 5:28 pm

        I cannot like this post…but I would if I could. Insurance for my wife and I is $180/mth…with a clean record, and a little device that tracks driving habits! This is for an unmoustachian 2012 Buick Regal and the highest deductibles possible.

        • Self-Employed-Swami January 18, 2015, 10:31 pm

          Is that for liability only, or for full collision coverage?

          I live in Canada, and the liability-only insurance for our 2005 Yaris is $58/month.

      • Chris January 21, 2015, 7:52 am

        I recently switched to esurance and it was about 40% less than our previous GEICO plan. $52/month for 2 drivers and 2 cars. AND it includes comprehensive/collision. I also max out the uninsured motorist . Hard to believe we used to pay over $3K/year when we lived in Cali.

        Side note- I have to respectfully disagree with MMM’s opinion on car insurance. I’ve known too many people who got hit by uninsured motorists and suffered the financial consequences.

        • Mr. Money Mustache January 21, 2015, 9:14 am

          Great find, Chris.

          Note that in my policy, I think “uninsured motorist” coverage is separate, and I might even have it (need to check on that one). However, only hospital bills would be of any consequence. Replacing my $5000 car because of an uninsured bad driver hitting me would be worthy of a few swearwords, but not actually worth carrying insurance against.

      • dave February 2, 2015, 4:54 pm

        You’ve got that right Canucks pay two or many times three times what you are paying for car insurance. Insurance sales is a lucrative career in Canada

  • Erin January 16, 2015, 12:37 pm

    I realize the answer is likely to change as your son’s needs change over time, but I would be VERY interested to hear what curricula works for your family.

    In particular, what curricula do you use for science? History is another one where many of the curricula for sale have tremendous bias.

    Also, how do you balance the son’s need for one-on-one instruction with finding local classes or co-ops?

  • KimberleyB January 16, 2015, 12:40 pm

    Very impressive. We are just getting on the MMM bandwagon and as a reforming shopper, it has been difficult for me! But I am committed, so will do it. Also, as a Canadian, it’s so interesting to read about how much less everything costs in the States for the same thing – cell phone and internet expenses, taxes, utilities. All of those things here are at least double what you are paying.

    Our annual house insurance premium has risen to $2200+ (4x what we paid when we first bought our – very simple, not fancy – house in 2006). We had a claim three years ago to replace the shingles from wind and hail damage, and premiums in our area have skyrocketed since due to the same weather events. Our friends/relatives in the area are all paying roughly the same as us. Do you have any advice about getting a better deal on house insurance?

  • Daniel January 16, 2015, 12:45 pm

    No home insurance expense?

    • David January 16, 2015, 1:16 pm

      Look under the ‘Home’ section: $410

      • Self-Employed-Swami January 18, 2015, 10:33 pm

        Man, is that ever cheap! Ours is up to over $2200/year, as a result of the 2013 flooding in Alberta, and the hailstorms we’ve had.

  • Geek January 16, 2015, 12:53 pm

    Thank you for posting, MMM! Your spending always helps me put mine in perspective. I had great luck for 2 years with no budget, but this year we blew it a bit. So back to some more tracking for us.

    This year:
    -Less restaurants, alcohol, and take-out. Take-out is killer and too easy to get used to! I expect health +5 from this as well.
    -Less electronic gadgets. Mr. Geek and I work in software, so this will be harder because there are free ads for shiny hardware all around our offices in the hands of our coworkers.
    -Less vet trips. We overdid it even for a dog that is often sick as a dog.
    -Cheaper travel. This will be easiest since we knew we were splurging way too much.

    • Three Wolf Moon January 17, 2015, 9:39 am

      Health +5 – LOL. You truly are a geek, Geek.

  • Jason January 16, 2015, 1:04 pm

    I like that groceries are one area where you don’t really skimp and place a high value on quality and nutrition, even though I’m sure you could easily cut this in half if you really wanted.

    It’s easy to look at one year of spending and say ‘sure, that’s what you can achieve in one year if you really try hard’. But when you see a few of years of this consistently strung together, it really starts to hit home that you have a great, sustainable, happy lifestyle that really seems to reflect your true values.

  • Paula January 16, 2015, 1:11 pm

    Your numbers made me go add up the monthly expenditures for 2014 and we suck at $31,144.39 for two people, which averaged out to a little less than $2600/month. Most of this was my fault- my husband is the tightwad, so I’m the one who has to get better about spending. I think I need to write your spending mantra in my wallet and on my computer so that I’ll see it every time I open them up. I also think that keeping the monthly spend in the checkbook spreadsheet where I can see it and try to do better every month would help a lot. I am aiming at no more than an average of $2,000/month, which is going to be hard, but I have to try if we’re ever going to retire. And I want to retire.

    • mable January 16, 2015, 2:49 pm

      Here is what worked for me to drastically cut my spending habit: every single night before bed I record every penny spent that day, putting these expenditures in various categories (food, books, etc). The program automatically tells me what I have spent that month and year to date. It was very eye-opening for me to realize how much money just poured through my fingers…cured me pretty quickly.

      • Elaine November 14, 2015, 4:44 pm

        A lot of people “leak” a lot of cash, and it’s worthwhile recording it. I’ve done this since I was about 12 (am 60 now) and I know where every penny goes. It’s worth the effort.

  • Nick January 16, 2015, 1:19 pm

    Didn’t you build the electric bike this year, same with the hydroponic setup? Which category would it fall under, or is removed as it’s not a normal purchase? Just curious

    • Free Bikes January 16, 2015, 2:40 pm

      Yes, what about your bike expense? And legal fees from your lawsuit?

      • Mr. Money Mustache January 16, 2015, 5:30 pm

        My regular bikes didn’t require any parts this year. The E-bikes are blog-related things rather than personal (the blog bought them to review for your benefit and I definitely wouldn’t have bought one for my normal life).

        And there were no legal fees in the end, since there are so many friendly lawyers in the MMM camp. But even if we had incurred costs, that would of course be a blog-related expense rather than something related to my real lifestyle.

        • Jeff January 17, 2015, 4:29 pm

          If the electric bike has contributed to reducing your real life gasoline cost to $71, it’s related to your real lifestyle.

          Anyhow, this is nitpicking. An overall expenditure of around $25k is a fine achievement.

      • James January 20, 2015, 2:59 pm

        I’ve also wondered about other blog expenses such as travel to Ecuador and such. These expenses, while officially legal business expenses, probably make it easier (less tempting) to avoid other personal travel expenses in the rest of the year. I’m not particularly concerned with MMM’s honesty and the general thrust of the message is still intact, but this is definitely a point that my more moderate mustachian partner likes to bring up in spending discussions, particularly on the subject travel.

        It would be cool to see blog expenses included somehow. Much like an electric bike makes it incrementally easier to avoid driving (versus just a regular bike), certain other business expenses also likely contribute to lower personal expenditures (meals, bar meetups, etc…. not talking about server space or domain fees here).

  • Nimrod Aviram January 16, 2015, 1:29 pm

    Have you considered starting your son’s higher education earlier than usual? Age 7 is obviously too early, but I here you can get into college around age 15-16. Just a thought, hope it might help.

  • Nimrod Aviram January 16, 2015, 1:29 pm

    Have you considered starting your son’s higher education earlier than usual? Age 7 is obviously too early, but I hear you can get into college around age 15-16. Just a thought, hope it might help.

  • AnnW January 16, 2015, 1:30 pm

    I always look forward to this post. Still amazed that you can accomplish so much with so little. No new furniture or towels or stuff for the new house? Glad you addressed MiniMM’s hate of school. One size doesn’t fit all. Looking forward to more pictures of the new house.

  • earlyFI January 16, 2015, 2:00 pm


    Thank you for proving that it is possible to live an incredibly fulfilling life on around $25K per year, year after year. Some seem to think this is impossible, but with the right habits, it is not only possible, but a rich and rewarding lifestyle.

  • OhYongHao January 16, 2015, 2:14 pm

    We just went through ours this year and posted them on our forum Journal. It would appear that the difference between having no kids and having one is about $1,000.

  • Marcia January 16, 2015, 2:24 pm

    So, I very much love this post and am, of course, so incredibly impressed. I’d love to hear how the homeschooling is going.

    My son is almost 9 (I think a few months shy of yours), and I see some same tendencies (of course we are both engineers). We are not particularly “joiners”. So we had dinner with our old friends with two kids, and we hadn’t seen them in forever because…their kids are in a ton of activities, which include traveling soccer. The conversation went into “when are you going to let your guy join a sport?” As if we are preventing him. He tried soccer, didn’t like it much (their son didn’t either until he practiced a lot and got good at it). Right now, he’s in swim lessons – we go to the pool as a family too and we live at the ocean. So I’m fine if his “activity” is beach and pool with the parents. I guess when it came down to it – our son is more of a loner like us, and we turned out just fine.

    Still, your gasoline is impressive and the food too. And even the travel seems great for the sheer amount of travel.

    One question on the dental: do you go 2x a year? Do you have insurance? We are insured (at $1k per year cost to me), but for a couple of years we paid out of pocket. I found that it came out to about $200-250 per person, per visit. At the time that would be $1300 a year for three of us, for just regular checkups and cleanings.

    Also, restaurants – that is killer.

    All in all, inspiring as usual. I was reviewing our expenses last year and found that our internet bill went up to $123 a month (cable internet). They have a monopoly here, so it’s time to call them and whittle it back down to $60 or so. We are apparently paying for “fast” speed, but because we only use the internet in the evening when everyone else is, we aren’t really getting fast speed. (Paying for 100 and getting about 30)

    • Michelle January 29, 2015, 8:07 pm

      MMM – I was also wondering about dental. I currently have very basic coverage, but not having it for a while caused me some expensive problems. I was lucky though and almost all of it could wait until I had coverage, except one extraction which was on the very back tooth so not such a big deal. I have had some friends who have much worse teeth then me and have had no ends of problems because of dental work they couldn’t afford to have done, which then escalated. So I guess what I’m asking is where do you stand on dental work – emergency as well as preventative? Any tips/advice?

  • Mary January 16, 2015, 2:30 pm

    I’m just thinking that you did not drink enough wine! :)

  • Justin January 16, 2015, 2:43 pm

    Where are things like cosmetics (toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc.)?
    Where are things like paper towels (if you use them) and other disposable household goods?
    $196 for whole year on ALL eating out? Really? Family of three goes to a fast-casual place once and it is $25. I call BS on that one, sorry….
    Some of these costs I would like better verification of, particularly since costs are not tracked in real-time. I can track credit card statements too, but it’s not fully accurate when things are intermixed, particularly smaller items.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 16, 2015, 5:27 pm

      Sorry Justin, you don’t have the option of calling bullshit on Mr. Money Mustache’s expense report. This shit is for real!

      – The $30 or so per year we spend on toothpaste and shampoo shows up in the Costco bills, which are part of “Groceries”
      – We have awesome reuseable cloth napkins so there are no paper towels
      – I try not to dispose of too much stuff (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/11/21/the-connection-between-trash-and-stash/)
      – We spend way more than $196/year on throwing parties, but not on eating out. Our son doesn’t go for it.

      When you get into the minimal shopping style that we have ended up in, there isn’t much intermixing and it is really easy to track things. Mint automatically categorizes things by retailer.

      The first rule of badassity is that you don’t question others who have done something that seems unusual or good. You question yourself.

      • Dmitri January 16, 2015, 6:47 pm

        “The first rule of badassity is that you don’t question others who have done something that seems unusual or good. You question yourself.”


      • jessica January 16, 2015, 9:12 pm

        Maybe this is too personal, but do you and your wife ever eat out together sans boy? I mean, my 7 year old son would rather not eat out, but we don’t really make that something he can bring down the hammer on.

        Do you and Mrs MM go on dates? When our son was in school it was so much easier to spend 1+1 time together, we find it much harder now so we spend $ on a babysitter once in a while……

      • M from Loveland January 17, 2015, 2:26 am

        Well said MMM.
        Justin, no need to be rude if you don’t get it. You could have achieved a better response from MMM by being polite, instead of a dumb complanypants.

      • Frugal in DC January 17, 2015, 12:42 pm

        Justin, we also hardly go out to eat due to a family member’s medical condition, so $196/year seems about right and maybe even a tad extravagant. With time we have figured out how silly it is to drive to some loud building so we can rent a table and hire fakey-smiley staff to serve us overpriced food made with mystery ingredients. Way better to cook and enjoy healthy meals at home. We also like “potlucks for profit,” where friends and family bring side dishes, desserts, drinks, etc. and we get to keep the leftovers. :)

      • Jeffrey C January 18, 2015, 12:08 pm

        I think Justin expressed himself pretty poorly, but that $196 figure is probably one that pops for a lot of folks, including myself. Obviously the MMM clan is social and hosts a lot of gatherings and I do the same. But it only takes me a few times out to celebrate friends’ birthdays or to just enjoy a local restaurant before I blow past the $196 and I’m in a fairly affordable part of the Midwest,

        So for many I imagine they just cannot imagine how more than that isn’t spent in a year. They just can’t wrap their head around it. Being self-employed/semi-retired myself as well though, I know many times my eating out can be legitimately expenses for business, so that would not show up in my personal accounting.

      • Andrew January 18, 2015, 12:46 pm

        I spent a total of $45.51 eating out in 2014.

      • Justin January 20, 2015, 9:29 am

        Obviously hit a nerve, given the replies…

        You have no idea what my personal situation and/or spending levels are. Lots of presumption in your response. “Trust, but verify” is all I said. Look, I love your blog/philosophy. But there is a cult-like devotion here and a sense of “one upmanship” in the comments/forums that is not productive. The message is becoming “preachy” and about “who wins the award for spending the least” rather than aligning spending with each individual’s core values and what brings them happiness/life fulfillment.

        I track expenses religiously. I question ability to accurately show a budget like this in a yearly review. This doesn’t mean its impossible. Mint is free for a reason…

        Otherwise, keep up the good work!

        • Rosemary February 7, 2015, 5:08 pm

          I wouldn’t say you hit a nerve – people reacted because you were rude, not because you questioned MMM. “I call bullshit” means you’re accusing him of lying. That’s pretty rude.
          As far as your statement that he can’t have spent so little – you do realise that it’s not unheard of for people to spend $0 on eating out, right? Not everyone likes going out for meals. Personally, I love it, but it’s so expensive where I live that I pretty much only do it when parents are treating me, so my actual cost would be less than MMM.

        • Elaine November 14, 2015, 4:56 pm

          Some people aren’t interested in a micro-level of detail, but people like me are. I’m a bookkeeper, so use a good program to do client work, as well as keep my own personal level of detail, which quite detailed, and which I can customize in any way I like. One set of books covers our personal income and expenses as well as my business income and expenses and assets for both. For those who want the detail, and for whom the detail would aid in their efforts, it’s worth using something that will do it for them.

          • Elaine November 14, 2015, 5:00 pm

            However, to present detail at that level in a blog like this would be overwhelming to most people.

    • Marcia January 19, 2015, 5:52 pm

      I can see why you called BS, if you are a typical American consumer.

      I personally don’t want to eat out much. But if you look at my friends, and my family, and my husband, and my 8 year old – they eat out – sometimes a LOT.

      So for most people’s lifestyle, mine included, it would be nearly impossible to hit that number. But if my son was like little MM and didn’t like to eat out? Would be way easier.

      When I was growing up, we didn’t eat out at all. Maybe went out to get ice cream in the summer 2x a year, and McDonald’s once a year. But otherwise? Never. It’s simply getting in the habit of cooking at home. If you are both AT home, then it’s more natural.

      For example, when we travel on short trips, etc., we tend to eat out. If we have an errand that goes longer than we expect, we eat out. Part of that is that we have two full time jobs, and sometimes planning ahead to take a meal with us is just more than I feel like dealing with. But once you are in that habit, it’s normal.

      Also, we use paper towels, probably too many, but we also use cloth napkins. That’s another thing that just takes “practice” Have a bunch of washcloths to use instead of paper towels. Then the ONLY time you need to have a roll around is if someone has the stomach flu.

  • ael January 16, 2015, 3:20 pm

    Excellent job. We can all strive for your level. We personally seldom have tried budgeting but mostly rely on inherited frugality traits. I wonder though, if it wouldn’t be fair to impute a rental cost for the house? You have it all paid up front, obviously, but there is an opportunity cost associated with that tied up money. We all have either rent, mortgage, or opportunity cost unless we live in a tent, so it would seem like a leveling revelation.

    Second question. I know you enjoy eating meat as do I. For health, specifically heart attack, reasons we eat very little meat today. A by product of this decision is reduced load on natural resources. (Disclosure: I am a farmer who has grown alfalfa as well as corn silage.) You have stated in the past that you hope your lifestyle helps preserve the planet. Would you care to comment?

    • Lisa January 17, 2015, 10:42 am

      I would consider the opportunity cost as the rent. Also, MMM downsized and was able to add an extra $100k to his mutual funds as a result. He optimizes very well. My goal is a small, paid off house and low monthly financial commitments.

  • insourcelife January 16, 2015, 3:22 pm

    It’s amazing what not having a mortgage, daycare expenses or any consumer debt will do for your budget. By the way, if everything else remains the same you might actually dip under $25K in 2015 because of the new house savings.

    Also, no gifts? At all? We had 2 weddings this year and then there is all the baby registry BS that my wife can’t seem to stop participating in… Every year I think it will get better but then someone gets married or has a baby and the gift “budget” category is blown to shit.

    • jessica January 16, 2015, 9:14 pm

      I’m pretty sure they make things.

      • insourcelife January 17, 2015, 9:37 am

        I guess there would still be a category for that since you need to make things out of something? I really do want to know how people deal with weddings, baby showers and things of that nature. If we go to a wedding there is an expectation that we need to at least pay for our plates but we usually give more than that. I think $250-300 is a good ballpark of a check we write and that’s not including travelling, hotels, bachelor parties, tux rentals if in the wedding party and other related expenses. Most of these I can’t control – like the last $200 designer tux rental that was ordered by the groom or the bachelor party costs that were decided by the group including us paying for the bachelor.

        • Three Wolf Moon January 17, 2015, 10:17 am

          MMM’s extended family decided long ago to abandon the consumer-driven concept of exchanging gifts every time a Hallmark-generated holiday rolls around on the calendar (see the Happy Buy Nothing Day article from Nov 2011), and favors gifts of time spent with each other over material things (see Mrs. Money Mustache Receives Many Gifts for Her Birthday) – I’m guessing they take a similar stance with their friends as well.

          • rob January 17, 2015, 12:01 pm

            That works well for Christmas and birthdays. I personally love homemade gifts. For a baby shower a thoughtful gift several homemade dinners or help with the cleaning and or babysitting will work. But As others have mentioned that’s harder to do with a wedding, especially if your in the wedding party.

        • Jessica January 19, 2015, 1:03 pm

          Must have a lot of friends! :) Which is a good thing!

          Maybe, though, since your friends seem to have spendy spendy weddings, and you are taking life on at a different angle. Just acknowledge that. Honestly I don’t believe people are having a giant wedding and *expecting* you spend enormous amounts of money on consumerism as your ticket to enjoy the day with them and I would question what leads someone to purchase an ultra pricey gift as some sort of guilt driven necessity. Is that a good friend? I don’t know. The whole wedding thing blows my mind nowadays. For example if I was your groom, I would rent the tuxes for everyone, if that’s what I wanted. It seems tacky to shove that expense to you. You don’t have to go to ANY of these events and you’re not a bad friend for not going. You don’t have to give a gift. I would much rather have someone present for the wedding, than a gift.

          I would start to distance myself from this group or find new friends.

        • EarningAndLearning June 25, 2017, 10:34 am

          My frugal (and also wealthy) brother goes to weddings (with no purchased present) and says “My presence is your present” because of exactly those costs you mention: flights, hotels, tux rental, personal grooming pre-party, parties around the actual wedding where you bring wine or cigars, etc. It all adds up! He has never purchased a wedding gift in his life. I agree with his logic and I’ve started to do the same. If I’m paying hundreds of dollars to travel to your wedding, I’m not going to ALSO go on your registry and buy 2 plates of an overpriced set of 8 that you just MUST have. Also, I’m in my 40’s, so by the time my friends and family are getting married these days, they already have more than the means to buy what they need, or they already HAVE what they need and have had it for years now (especially if it’s their second or third wedding).

          I think our culture needs to re-evaluate gift giving at weddings and showers. Once upon a time, when most people were marrying in their early ’20s, leaving their parents’ house and moving in with their new spouse, owned NOTHING and were making no money yet, it was wonderful to get wedding presents like dish sets and wine glasses that they needed. But the whole practice now seems outdated and wasteful.

          I know someone who makes $300,000 a year who had a baby shower for herself and neglected to say “no gifts” which I couldn’t believe — this is when her much-less-wealthy friends and family were flying down to her shower and staying in hotels in a major America city. And of course, bringing gifts.

          If and when I get married, there will be NO gift registry and if guests insist on buying something, as some people feel they must, I’ll invite them to donate in our name to a charity, and offer them a few options. I don’t want stuff and I most definitely do not want my loved ones to feel obligated to spend money on me. Their presence will be our present.

  • nicoleandmaggie January 16, 2015, 3:29 pm

    I’m looking forward to your home renovation post!

  • Norm January 16, 2015, 3:49 pm

    Very impressive, as usual. I enjoy going through and comparing our expenses to yours. Despite only being two people, I’m happy to at least come CLOSE to your total Food bill. Still missed it by about $100.

    And where the heck do you get $30/month internet from? Here it’s $55, take it or leave it, unless you want the slow plan. Don’t tell me that there’s actually competition out there driving prices down. That would be infuriating.

    • Lisa January 17, 2015, 10:43 am

      He may be sharing internet with a neighbour like he did in his last house. Don’t know for certain though.

      • Juanita January 20, 2015, 6:49 pm

        Maybe, but if so he wouldn’t be able to talk about that. I was actually able to get away with $25/mo internet for a whole year because Century Link messed up my install so badly that the installer actually suspected me of stealing internet. That didn’t go over well with me and they ended up giving me that price. That price is now expired so i’m looking for alternatives again.

    • ColorOfCash January 18, 2015, 8:08 am

      I used to live in CO and CenturyLink has plans that low for Internet. You can also split the service with a business like MMM and have the business pay the expense (not an accountant here, DYOD).

  • Jeremy January 16, 2015, 4:19 pm

    Impressive as usual! These annual posts are always helpful to pause and reflect on our own spending. I’ll use this as a not so gentle reminder to look at our food spending, which is 2x yours for the two of us

    Our spending was at record highs, but worth it considering Winnie is pregnant. And Medical Tourism saved us 80% off US prices for IVF

    We are a few years behind you, but homeschooling will likely be an integral part of our nomadic lifestyle. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your experiences here

    Thanks MMM

  • Rob Jordan January 16, 2015, 4:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! I am really amazed how little transportation cost you had and how little you spend on food.

    We have cut our spending over the last 2 years (since I found this website). Our biggest challenge is food and misc. We are spending ~3.5x the MMM household on food!

  • OrangeSnapDragon January 16, 2015, 5:18 pm

    YNAB is a fantastic product. I have been using it for 2 1/2 years. Their approach to ‘budgeting’ is different, check out their website as I’m sure they will explain the philosophy far better than I can.

    Getting started on a budget can be terrifying and incredibly easy to put off, but if you have financial goals it’s essential. Now that I know exactly where all my money is and what it is being spent on I have a peace of mind that I’ve never had before. When a particular category gets out of hand, you know it right away and can start to fix it. Groceries were a big one this month, so next month we will focus on eating more from the pantry/freezer, cutting out on some of the fancier stuff and making more budget type meals.

    Our goal this year – pay off the house, only $20,000 left!

  • LeisureFreak Tommy January 16, 2015, 5:25 pm

    Very impressive. One area that hits us beyond just grocery is the cost of cleaning supplies and personal care products. Something that seems to jack-up our cost for a trip to the grocery store now and then. Your low lifestyle cost without a budget just shows how once you develop smart frugal financial habits, having access to more money doesn’t have to change you into some mindless over-consumer.

    • Leadbyexample January 18, 2015, 12:33 pm

      We clean with white vinegar and baking soda, and i make my own personal care products and laundry soap. This saves me lots of money plus since i only use natural products it’s not harmful for the environment. It is not a lot of work at all. Apart from that I do like MMM and use washable where possible.

  • Jimbo January 16, 2015, 5:34 pm

    I asked this in a response post, but didn’t hear back. Do you and MrsMM go out for date nights? Do you ever get a babysitter? What do you do for alone time, especially now with the kid being homeschooled. We probably spend $100-150 per month on babysitting so we go running or bike riding together, so I’m curious what you guys do in this regard. Those of us pre-FIRE don’t have the option of doing these things when the kids are at school. Thanks.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 16, 2015, 5:47 pm

      Ahh, that would be convenient. Because of unique personality circumstances, we’re not in a situation where we can leave the kid with a hired babysitter.

      We do have a great close friends network, so our son and all the kids around here are always spending time at each other’s houses. Plus there are grandparents in Canada, which is one reason we take such long trips there.

      Even so, when I look back there have been very few date nights over these first 9 years of parenthood. We tend to do evening activities outside the house on an alternating, separate basis, and everyone-together gatherings here at home. Things might get easier in another 9 years, however.

      On the positive side, our home is a nicer environment than most possible date destinations anyway.

  • Deb January 16, 2015, 5:43 pm

    I notice that every year I get older, I’m 35, I find that I spend less and less time at restaurants. It’s probably due to my friends all having kids…they don’t leave their houses as much. I end up going to their house, bring a side for dinner and have a ball just hanging out.
    I’ve been able to cut my “going out” budget from $200/month (spendy I know) to $100/month for the last 6 months. I plan on keeping it at that amount indefinitely. Some die hard mustachians might say that’s still excessive but delicious sushi is my treat once a month which takes about 30% of that “going out” budget hahaha! I work it in there though.
    One day I will learn how to make delicious sushi at home. Time for Youtube University to learn that skill!
    Well done on the spending MMM!!!

  • Jamie January 16, 2015, 6:02 pm

    Congrats on the gasoline costs. That is a good drop.

    It is great to have an update on your homeschooling. We are homeschooling our three children. We have just started our 4th year. We have a 7yo son, a 10yo son and an 11yo daughter. Our daughter has just started her first year of high school homeschooling (in Australia), so that is a new challenge in our homeschooling days.

    Have you ever checked out the early coding courses on Khan Academy for your son? I’m sure you could teach him lots with your background (my husband has an IT background), but there is some fun introductory stuff on there for kids.

    • DMB January 17, 2015, 8:23 pm

      Jamie, it’s great to hear more Australians are homeschooling.
      A few years ago when we started homeschooling our kids – one was in grade 5, the other starting grade 9 – we received nothing but criticism and concern from other parents.

      We had pulled our kids out of an expensive, high pressure, private school. Some of the criticising parents also had kids at that school and continued to send their kids to that same school, assuming it guaranteed their kids future success. We didn’t start homeschooling just to save money. I really felt it was the best all round option for our kids personalities and for the lifestyle we wished for them.

      Getting back to my point: I hope this encourages you. Both our kids obtained entry to one of the leading universities. Our eldest is about to graduate with High Distinctions in I.T. The youngest is starting his Psychology degree this year. Both of them obtained entry before our critics offspring did.

      Great to hear about fellow Aussies that don’t believe there’s only one path to take regarding our kids education!
      I wish you all the best.

  • Chris January 16, 2015, 6:30 pm

    Bravo Mustache. Blown away by the gas bill!

  • Dragline January 16, 2015, 8:25 pm

    Scandalous! ;-) Congratulations.

    And make sure you thank the Missus. It takes two to MMM tango.

    Although perhaps not appropriate here, it might be useful to know how you contributed to your health (non-moneywise) in addition to spending on it. For most average people, its either home, health or car expenses that do them in.

  • Peter January 16, 2015, 8:48 pm

    I must say I am tempted to call BS like Justin did – but I do not. I trust that everything here is accurately reported. Compared to our budget (Southern Ontario residents) the much lower cost on property taxes, car insurance and to some extend utilities are a result of location. I would add groceries to that list too a little more expensive here.

    Everything else is a challenge for use to make the same decisions and choices if we want the lower costs. Already being retired from the traditional work is part of the advantage here too but that came after make the changes to get there!

  • Lucas January 16, 2015, 8:58 pm

    I burst out laughing when I read this: “Somehow, we went the whole year on only two tanks of gas for the car.”

    That is awesome! I hope to be anywhere close to that number when I get a car. Haven’t had one for 4+ years.

    Also +1 for YNAB. It’s the budgeting bee’s knees! Anyone wanting to learn how to budget, download the software and *take one or two of their free online video classes* — you’ll starting saving right away and be a budgeting pro in just a few months.

  • Monetary-Meg January 16, 2015, 9:18 pm

    Wow! I am blown away by how expensive it is living here in Auckland, New Zealand. To live a lifestyle like yours (with no mortgage) it would cost us a minimum of NZD32,000.
    We have a much harder time getting to early retirement because our utilities and insurance costs are way more expensive, as are our groceries.
    We noticed how much cheaper food (and alcohol) was in the USA on a recent visit.
    If we were prepared to live in the middle of nowhere (i.e. sell the Auckland house) then we’d almost be at early retirement, but we’ve decided to stay here working a bit longer because this is where our friends and family are.

  • David January 16, 2015, 10:54 pm

    I saw in the comments that your wife cuts her own hair! I would love to see a how to post from the Mrs.MM on that! Seems like a great skill to have!

  • kathryn January 16, 2015, 11:07 pm

    Great budget MMM.
    We also live a very similar low cost lifestyle,splitting our time between Canada and Australia.
    Live very well, for under $20k. Our average food bill (which also includes any other food related purchases, anywhere else) is $50 week total.
    We eat meat, almost every day.
    Our grocery budget also includes all toiletries and cleaning supplies. For example my $1.99 roll on deodorant lasts 9 months. It always amazes me how much people claim to spend on toiletries and cleaning. Maybe they should learn to look for deals.

  • Cynthia January 17, 2015, 12:20 am

    This whole time I’ve been trying to get on your level and MATCH your spending!! I was so proud to see our annual numbers the same until I realized I’ve been including 10k of rent the whole time! That leaves me at 10k a year (in one of the most expensive places in CA – South bay) O.o

    Guess I’ve reached max badassity. Actually, no. I need to start biking to work before I can earn that title!

  • Frugal Bazooka January 17, 2015, 1:34 am

    Regardless of your proclamations to the contrary, the sheer willpower and control your budget shows is practically impossible to fathom. Add to that the fact that you have a wife and a kid who are co-conspirators in your march to whip money into your image and likeness – I’d say you’re a very lucky man.

    As much as I respect and admire the way in which you live your life, financially speaking, I realize that it would never work for me to that degree. For me frugality is more gamesmanship and a challenge to thwart my ingrained rampant consumerism and overconsumption that surrounds most Americans from birth. Having said that I’m don’t think I really want to exist below a certain standard of living that, while well below the average American’s lifestyle, would seem wildly decadent compared to your spartan numbers.

    Just like my huge biceps (lol), I can choose when and where to flex my huge frugal muscles and that feels good – having that control. The fact that I choose to be a bit more spendy at times is the reward I have bestowed on myself for getting to where I am financially. Let’s call it a gift from my younger, more frugal self to my slightly older less frugal self. Thanks me.

    On a slightly different note, I’m amazed that your son seems to roll with the element of family frugality with little or no push back. My kids pushed back hard and while they came around as they got older, in their teen years there were some ferocious conversations about what value is and who has control of that value. Getting your kid on board of the USS Battleship Frugal could be the greatest accomplishment of all time.

    • Helen Wallace January 17, 2015, 10:32 am

      I agree FZ everything seems to go swimmingly until around 10 years of age and then the serious complaining/whinging and ‘I wants’ seem to set in.. this does seem to come as a surprise to parents I know who have been congratulating themselves on their abilities to communicate with their kids until that fatal ‘individual consumer’ age!

      • Mr. Money Mustache January 17, 2015, 3:47 pm

        Right.. but luckily these little individual consumers will be paying for their own consumption out of their own piggybank. So it’s self-limiting, unless he gets a career off the ground before middle school :-)

        • Frugal Bazooka January 18, 2015, 8:50 pm

          Helen is exactly right. My kids were fine with my (at times) socially embarrassing frugality until they were 12 and then all hell broke loose. They swore they would never be as “cheap” as their parents and I still have massive psychological scars from the TRUE RELIGION JEANS incident. The reason the kiddo sense of entitlement is so fierce is because so many of MY contemporaries shower unearned income and gifts on their offspring. Thanks a lot yuppies for increasing the demand curve to unreasonable and unfrugalable levels. Of course we ultimately won the war, but the battle scars are many.

    • Greg January 19, 2015, 8:46 pm

      It also goes the other way (as a retire-by-28 child of spenders).

      I’m totally for your choice of priorities as well, and think there’s a debatable balance between allowing children to make some chices about their own lifestyle–my life improved immensely when I was finally in control. That said, it doesn’t give your children a right to drive you broke either.

      How to align incentives to mirror the real world while still holding a veto power on lifestyle? It’s a hard balance.

  • bowen January 17, 2015, 3:17 am

    Hey MMM – This is great stuff as usual. As I recently became engaged the future wife and I have spent some time sitting down and discussing income/expenses/budget etc. We generally live VERY comfortable lives and are still able to save more than half our take-home pay but working on how we can further increase that savings rate.

    However, this past year (in the last few months actually) a few big purchases came up, like needing a new laptop and also buying an air purifier (we live in China) so there was nearly $1,500 in unwanted, but necessary, expenses.

    Similar expenses that might drive unwanted spending include a cell phone breaking, needing some new kitchen appliances, or even gifts for friends and family.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t appear like you had anything big like that come up in the past two years. Am I missing something or have you figured out a few hacks to get around things like that?

  • Ken LaVoie January 17, 2015, 3:45 am

    MMM I don’t know how you do the grocery part. We do as much organic as possible. We live in rural Maine and don’t have whole foods but use a local organic market for a bit of our food but Hannafords and WalMart for 80% and our grocery expense is $850 per month (10k~year) for a family of 3. We don’t use coupons but that’s mostly because 90% of our “non grocery” grocery shopping is generic brands with no coupons. I’d love to hear more about how you manage that number. For what it’s worth, we insist on nearly zero preservatives and dyes, hence not single thing we buy is processed other than a few organic Indian microwave bag meals for emergencies.

  • Jason January 17, 2015, 4:18 am

    1 income, 1 kid (second on way), SAH wife/mother. Converted from AUD to USD: $19,509.20/year – just under $376/week. We can still shave further – excessive spending on “entertainment” is just over $1,080 a year for our internet link, and $1,440 for mobile/cell plans and phones. 2 cars, a ’93 mazda 343f hatch that does 80km/week while I drive to and from the place I go to do cool things with gear I love (severely banged up knees, large hills, and still haven’t found an electric bike I like), and a 5.7L V8 I’ve had for 8 years that I’m replacing with a 4 cylinder 6th hand car a friend is offloading for 3k when he is ready (soon, second baby is due in <5 months). January is new insurance month, I'm shaving nearly $400/year off by switching to a local company for cars. Council rates are going up soon though, will probably wipe that saving pretty quick.

    Drawing a lot of inspiration in the last 6 months from MMM and ERE, wanted to share a bit of my story to say thanks :)

  • Joel January 17, 2015, 6:06 am

    About a week before you wrote this post, Ramit Sethi wrote a similar post called: “How I Spent $50,000 in Luxury Services Last Year


    On the surface, they look two opposite extremes of financial blogging. But then I saw your “travel” expense ($5000). You actually both agree on cutting to the bone the unimportant expenses – but spending on the things that matter. You both focus on financial freedom (not working at 9-5 jobs) though you have entirely different methods of getting to that goal.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 17, 2015, 4:22 pm

      Yeah, I’ve been enjoying Ramit’s year of MORE so far. He and I are not as different as it seems on the surface.

      I read his posts and think, “Yeah, I am very pleased that I could afford all those amenities too these days. But I’m even more pleased that I don’t actually want them. Still, it is very nice to have options.”

      In his situation, with the big IWTY business he is running with 100+ staff or whatever, I would absolutely be rocking the personal trainer and chef to increase efficiency. The big difference is in personality type: I love being at home with a few family and friends and am quite vigorously avoiding hiring even my first employee for this blog, because I don’t want to run a business at this point in life.

      Plenty of fun going already, absolutely nothing to be gained by adding MORE. In the next stage of life, beyond the “father of a young boy” stage, who knows??

  • jestjack January 17, 2015, 8:41 am

    Kudos on several fronts….First to be able pull together one year’s expenses by the second week in January…truly amazing. I do this for taxes every year and I hate/dread it. Second I’m very impressed with the utility line…$1600 “soup to nuts”….not too shabby. And the gas expense …WOW… don’t now how ya do it….And lastly the health insurance costs of $273 is just “crazy”…I pay more than twice that for a “grandfathered plan” that just went up 15%. It’s a fair plan but far from “Cadillac Care”…Thanks for the timely blog that will motivate me to get off my “duff” and get my tax stuff ready….Best Wishes for 2015!

  • Jen January 17, 2015, 9:47 am

    Wow! I just wanted to say that I think you are a true inspiration. I finally wriggled myself out of student loan debt after carrying it around for 14 years. I paid off 28K this past year alone. I’ve never felt so free and I’m glad to finally be able to life a frugal debt free lifestyle like you do. FYI, My personal expenditure this past year was 12,533 minus my student loan payments.

    I hope to be able to learn a lot from you and your family. Kudos!!

    • Greg January 19, 2015, 8:38 pm

      You go, Jen!

  • DDDudeRanch January 17, 2015, 10:05 am

    Good reading. Just wondering why there are no expenses related to your trips to Canada other than travel, ie. contributing to meals and gifts for relatives, etc. when you get there. What about Canadian spending when you spend your summers in Canada in 2013 – what do you usually spend there? Here in Canada, $332 for beer and wine would get you about 15 bottles of “fairly good tasting” wine, about 1 bottle/month. I note there is nothing in the budget for gifts. If you have a lot of friends/relatives there are always birthdays, weddings, anniversaries with gifts and related travel and accommodation. Why no spending is this area?

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 17, 2015, 3:43 pm

      Another good question! We seem to have fallen into a nice “Vacation Exchange” type of visiting pattern with our Canadian family (especially on my wife’s side). When we stay at their place, they pay for the groceries. When they visit us, it’s the reverse. We all get along great so we do a lot of these visits. During my months in Canada I don’t drive or buy much of anything, so the credit card statement is close to zero for that time.

      And as an extended family, we’ve all agreed that buying gifts is an unnecessary consumer addon to life, so we’ve pretty much all agreed to end the arms race. So in my family, you never have to buy, or deal with, a purchased gift, ever. It is a great bit of freedom.

      My idea of a gift is helping people with things they might not be so great at themselves: working on their house or car, negotiating with their fussy insurance company on their behalf. Or giving bigger chunks of money to people who can genuinely benefit from it.

    • Kristine - CA January 19, 2015, 10:43 am

      You have to spend $20+ per bottle to get “fairly good tasting wine”? Might that be an example of tiny detail exaggeration? I’m aware that people who really care about wine want most bottles to be an experience to remember. But are there no acceptable everyday wine options under $10 in Canada?

      • EarningAndLearning June 25, 2017, 10:54 am

        I live in the province of BC in Canada, and found a bottle of white wine for $9.60 last week, but usually the cheapest bottle will be around $11 or $12. BC pays the highest tax on alcohol so cheaper bottles can probably be found in Ontario and other provinces but yep, that’s the wine story up here! When I vacation in California I’m blown away by the wine prices — full bottles of wine for $4 or even $2! Absolutely never see that in Canada!

  • Grande January 17, 2015, 10:39 am

    I do believe it. Because that’s about what you spent last year.

    71 bucks for gas??? Well done.

  • Maneesh January 17, 2015, 11:31 am

    Big fan. Fascinating reads, resonate well with me, but still not able to bring down expenses below $60 K per year; living in Silicon Valley, 1500 sq ft home; small family. I am curious about your typical weekly food menu. We do use quite a bit of frozen ready to eat food, and that is close to $5/person/meal. Just like many, we give ourselves permission to ‘splurge; in name of convenience; even though we make sure that it is whole grain, and on the healthier side. I want to see if we can build habits; like you have, and preparing meal does not take a long time. If you could, please share.


    • Frank January 17, 2015, 11:45 pm

      Maneesh asked “I want to see if we can build habits; like you have, and preparing meal does not take a long time.”

      I accidentally watched a YouTube video of Caldwell Esselstyn (a short Ted Talk, I think) a while back that led me to a better diet. His wife also had a video discussing how to cook on this type of diet. She said something like “if you think you can’t eat this way, you need to get Jeff Novick’s fast food DVDs.” I took her advice. Novick shows how to cook a very nutritious meal in 10 minutes. Well, I think the 10 minutes understates the time a bit. The variant I usually use probably takes me about 20 minutes. I make a big batch and it lasts for a number of meals, so the per-meal time is very low.

  • Reid January 17, 2015, 12:04 pm

    I’m equally impressed by the gasoline number (seriously, that’s badass), the continued lack of restaurants in your lifestyle, and the (I assume) satirical clickbait title. In fact, I wasn’t surprised at all by how much you spent this year- as you said, it’s getting pretty consistent!

  • EcoCatLady January 17, 2015, 12:47 pm

    OK… so you inspired me to tally up my spending for 2014. Came out to around $17.5K ($4.5K of which was for the cats… OY!) Anyhow, I’ve posted details on my blog if anyone is curious…

  • Ben Luthi January 17, 2015, 1:50 pm

    Well done! I wouldn’t sweat the grocery costs too much if I were you. All it means is that you’re putting quality fuel in your bodies rather than the garbage that comes from a processing plant. We’ve been slowly increasing our food budget to incorporate more whole and unprocessed foods and it’s had a huge effect on how we feel.

  • Aaron Lowry January 17, 2015, 2:20 pm

    Riding your bike as much as you do, how do you get by with spending zero dollars on bike maintenance? I have to budget at least 10 bucks per month to cover tires, tubes, break pads, cables, and other parts that wear out and/or break with regular use. And that’s buying all of this things at the best price I can find and while putting most of miles on a relatively simple and low maintenance single speed.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 17, 2015, 3:30 pm

      You’re right Aaron.. I do patch and eventually replace quite a few tubes, living in this goathead-infested area that I do. You can assume $10 a month and it is probably buried in my “miscellaneous” category.


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