When Ridiculousness is Ubiquitous

The Loop of Lunacy

The Loop of Lunacy

Imagine that you are floating comfortably above an alien planet observing the really insane species that lives there.

We’ll call these beings Sheeple, because their incredible tendency to follow the herd even if it is running right off a cliff is quite similar to the behavior we see in sheep here on Earth. Almost everything an individual of this species does is heavily influenced by the Sheeple around it. Despite the potential for incredible intelligence, they rarely stop to evaluate why they are doing what they do each day.

As you zoom in on various parts of the planet, you notice fantastic patterns. In one area, the Sheeple wear red costumes and fiercely criticize those who wear blue. But just on the next continent, blue-wearers are in the majority and they are beheading those who dare to wear red. Great books and ornate traditions are built to describe how wearing Red robes is The Way, which are cited authoritatively to discredit those who believe in Blue, and vice versa.

In other areas of the planet, the societies appear more advanced. They have built great cities. The Red/Blue battle is less noticeable in these parts, but it has been replaced by an equally bizarre pattern: a competition over how to decorate their heads, bodies, and habitat. In the great cities, Sheeple work ceaselessly to buy and trade decorative materials, and just as quickly put them to use. They give up sleep, autonomy and time with their loved ones to earn more of these things.

The heads pile taller with decorations. The habitats become so full that they can barely squeeze into them. Every year, the producers of decorations declare all previous iterations to be obsolete and release a new type of decoration. Believe it or not, this triggers an even more intense flurry of working and buying to acquire still more decorations. The most successful Sheeple buy larger dwellings and throw out and replace their decorations at the fastest rate, some even employing a sub-staff of Sheeple to buy, organize and replace decorations without the need for the leader to even see them.

It’s all an amusing day of Science from the comfort of your spaceship until you return to Earth and realize we’re exactly the same. Except multiplied by ten due to our ridiculous invention of consumer borrowing.

Noticing this myself, I’ve been doing some closer bits of scientific observation right here on our own planet.

In one incident, I traveled to a distant suburb with my son to attend a child’s birthday party. The homes in this middle-income area were tightly packed with short driveways, but each place was outfitted with at least two enormous luxury vehicles – often trucks – so big that they had to spill out to consume the entire street. The interior of each house was clad with beige carpets, artificial finishes, and tiny windows placed with complete disregard to the prevailing direction of the Sun.

At the party, every food was an unrecognizable assembly of chemical compounds ripped out of a brightly-colored box, served on styrofoam plates which were promptly discarded into a black plastic bag. Every gift was a plastic and metal recreation of a famous movie character or vehicle, ripped out of another plastic package. There was a television in the kitchen blaring news and advertisements. The unhealthy parents drank beer and ate cake, and sighed about not having enough time or money to spend more time taking care of their home, or their kids, or themselves.

All of this took place in a neighborhood with beautiful walking paths and parks, and a modern utopia of a school just down the road. But every weekday at 2:45 PM, an ominous horror begins. An immense and powerful passenger vehicle will ease down the road and come to a halt at the prime spot of the school’s pickup loop. And the engine will be left running. This leader will soon be followed by another van or truck, and another ten, then another hundred.

Soon there will be a poison-spewing circus of completely batty people sitting there idling in sleek 400-horsepower Mercedes SUVs, or clackety Diesel jacked-up yellow offroad diesel Super Duty trucks, comparatively small-looking Honda and Toyota minivans, new cars, old cars, and anything else they can find that burns gas and wastes money. The lineup grows to fill not just the gigantic asphalt loop provided by the school, but also the driveway leading to it and hundreds of feet of the public road. Everyone talking on their mobile phone. Everyone idling. Killing each other, and each other’s kids. Everyone in debt, and many with a net worth less than zero. Most of them dangerously out of shape and beginning to suffer from health problems due to inactivity.

And every one of them convinced that he or she is going through life in a perfectly reasonable way, trying to get ahead and take good care of their kids, but things are just hard these days unless you’re one of those privileged lucky elite 1% multimillionaires that we read about in the paper while cursing our own fate, the fate of the middle class.

What. The Fuck. Is Going On Here?

Why are we so Ridiculous, without even acknowledging that we are?

Curing the Disease

See, I can pretend to be astounded by what is going on, but it’s a natural consequence of our evolutionary history – the way you and I and all of us are built. We are social beings, which is our greatest strength because it allows us to work together to accomplish bigger things. But it is also one of our greatest weaknesses, because it allows us to adopt stupid and irrational ideas in mass quantities as long as we see the other people around us doing the same thing.

It is hard to become any less ridiculous without realizing this massive, critical flaw in our reasoning that nobody ever talks about. Like the innocent beings on Planet of the Sheeple, we take our cues from our immediate surroundings.

Just look outside your own country or time period to see how big this effect is. In some areas, it is totally normal to require a woman to be covered completely in fabric so that no other male human can lay eyes on her, and some of these women even voluntarily enforce and pass on the tradition. This is happening right now, and these people are just as intelligent as those that surround you. In a nearby country, the women lounging in bikinis on a public beach may be attorneys or chief financial officers on the weekdays. Which tradition is considered ridiculous depends on who you are – in other words, which social surroundings you have absorbed and adopted as your own.

Here in my own country, similar social traditions have traditionally regulated what you can eat or drink, whether you can vote or marry, and whether you should teach science or the local religion in science class. The battle that I am currently fighting is comparatively mild: Is it reasonable to spend 80-120% of your money as soon as you earn it, or to spend a smaller portion while keeping the rest to reinvest in your own future?

In each case, the prevailing opinion seems completely normal, (often labeled as common sense) to the people who enforce it. But in many cases it has only become common because we are easily fooled social beings. To get ahead of the pack, you need to drop this weakness.

The key is to put the ridiculousness into perspective – the perspective of your current income and wealth, of human history, and of science.

Let’s start with a warmup. One of the richest Saudi princes has a 590 foot yacht, and one of the areas inside is reserved for a display area for 3-d models of all of his other jumbo jets and yachts. At least one of the jets has a “throne room” in it. Here in the US, a Texas woman made the news for her 3000-square foot closet. A flying throne room or 3 stories of shoes and handbags: obviously ridiculous, right?

But what about a Dodge Durango, a popular American-made SUV. Ridiculous, or normal? You see them in every suburban driveway, so they must be reasonable. But they are not! The SMALLEST engine you can get in this piece of shit is 3.9 liters, and the largest is 5.9! That is enough engine displacement to easily power ten passenger vehicles, if they were designed by vehicle designers rather than marketing representatives. It has the passenger capacity of a wagon, but the engine (and fuel economy) of a DUMP TRUCK OR A SCHOOL BUS! The performance is blundering, blind spots are enormous, build quality is poor, and yet the sticker price is astronomical. And yet people line up by the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS TO BORROW MONEY TO BUY THESE THINGS AND USE THEM TO DRIVE TO SHOPPING MALLS!!!

my_ridiculous_faucetBut it doesn’t stop there – I’m just revealing my personal bias because my own social surrounding is mostly Mustachians. My own lifestyle is also totally ridiculous.

I’m building the second bathroom in my house right now, which is already ridiculous because we already have one perfectly good one just at the other end of the house. Over 1300 pounds of floor-to-ceiling tiles and concrete, and that’s just the prep work so I can add the brushed steel trim kit to the insane Danze shower valve – a system that cost me over two hundred dollars.

This shower project has taken several weeks, because it is frequently interrupted by time spent with my family, or trips to go out for beer with friends, or host parties here at the house, or the trip to New York City last week. Sometimes I even have to go out and restock the house with internationally sourced bits of fine cheese, meat, vegetables and fruits. I barely have time to type stuff into my choice of high-end computers or make use of the other distractions around here. And this is in a life that is labeled by the newspapers as extreme frugality?

It is ALL ridiculous. Your life and my life, and the lives of all of the normal people around us.

If you’ve ever bought a garment, vehicle or dwelling with “style” as even a remote consideration, or prepared a multi-course meal with “taste” as one of the factors, then congratulations – you live a big, wonderful, ridiculous life. If you have any means of transportation besides walking, congratulations again, because you’ve hit the big time. You have so many options open to you – so much flexibility to change your lifestyle, empower yourself, spend less, earn more, and move to new places as you see fit.

But to claim that freedom, you need to look around you and see that these trapped, tiny Sheeple around you are not normal or sensible. They are obedient followers of the social script, trapped so tightly that they can barely move. And although you’re a social animal too, you can rise up to a far happier lifestyle just by becoming a tiny bit less ridiculous than average.

It is ridiculously easy.


  • Robin March 12, 2015, 12:35 pm

    Personally, when I need a kick in the pants about living a frugal life, I reread Thoreau’s Walden. It makes us look like a bunch of materialistic idiots (which is pretty accurate to be honest.)

    • Free Money Minute March 12, 2015, 1:37 pm

      “Materialistic Idiots”. I like that. A great way to describe most Americans these days. Glad I can say that I do not fall into that group.

      • Adam March 13, 2015, 11:52 pm

        I am a materialistic idiot but I do admit my life is ridiculous and it is pretty fucking great. Good article.

        • Robin Follette March 23, 2015, 6:33 pm

          I think knowing we’re ridiculous puts us in a class separate from the idiots!

    • Rosie March 12, 2015, 4:05 pm

      But while Thoreau sure has some beautiful thought I think it’s worth remembering that he only lived a mile from town and his mother did his laundry and brought him treats :) I think a few indulgences are fine, just within the confines of common sense. You don’t need to be an ascetic to live a less materialistic life.

      • Robin March 13, 2015, 3:07 pm

        But don’t forget he walked everywhere he went– through the woods and sometimes in the snow.(Probably uphill both ways, too.) ;)

        • ABC March 16, 2015, 9:45 am

          If he only had a Dodge Durango.

    • KeithTheConfused March 13, 2015, 6:35 am

      I get what you are saying but maybe “materialistic idiots” is a bit harsh. Keep in mind most people have never seen another way of doing things. I don’t know about you, but it I feel totally lucky to be on the path and in the mindset I am now (FIRE by 40). My adoption of frugality was more like being “woken up” rather than “becoming self-aware”. It was not actively trying to grow in my perception/understanding of the world…It just kind of happened. All we can do is live a conspicuously joyful, content, fugal life and let the people come to us. They key is joyful and content. Frugality is not just a means to an end. It is an end in itself. We have to make this stuff more attractive than then crap they are buying!

      However, for people who have been exposed to another way of doing things and are too lazy or prideful to change…then I agree, they are idiots.

      • Robin March 13, 2015, 3:33 pm

        I’m not pointing any fingers here– I’m right there in that idiot group.

        What I’m saying is that even though many of us think we live very frugal lives, a lot of us are still a bit too materialistic when you look around and see all the crap we still have– even the most frugal of us. MMM even pointed it out when he wrote about redoing his SECOND bathroom. MMM is considered extremely frugal in today’s world, but when you take him out of this context and compare him to someone like Thoreau, suddenly it’s a different ballgame. Even he can see it. :)

        Thoreau had so few things that he could empty out his entire cabin within a few minutes in order to sweep the floors. I’m willing to bet that none of us could boast that.

        • KeithTheConfused March 14, 2015, 10:09 pm

          Thats a good attitude to have Robin, I agree, it is easy to give ourselves a pat on the back just because we are not as wasteful as the people around us (whoopty doo!). I am close friends with alot of grad students from nepal and india; my idea of frugal is constantly being challenged by them. We live in a relatively sucky apartment complex yet, just by having clean air, good roads, constant power, constant water, and a grocery store, it is the most luxurious place they have every lived!!

          I am glad doug. I guess I came to the same realizations pretty early as well (25). I hated my job so badly and wanted out ASAP. I was lucky enough to have a friend point me to this blog. I would have never come to that conclusion on my own. For most people it takes practice to become an independent thinker, they need to be explicitly shown a beaten path before it seems attainable. My point is that it is hard for most of society to go against most of society. Our job is to spread the word.

          • Ashish Gupta April 16, 2015, 11:44 pm

            Ah! Your mention of some Indians in the context of frugality prompted me to respond :) I recently started reading the blog and relate much to it. I own a bike and small second-hand car (that I barely know how to drive–bought a few months ago!)

            We don’t own a TV or a PC at home. The office laptop suffices for day job and home connectivity. I have a 4 year old school going son. Our living room has exactly a sofa set (5 seater; wooden; bought second hand from an office colleague), a bean bag, a central table (borrowed from my in-laws as they had an extra), a shoe rack (used previously as cloth almirah for the kid), and an old desert water cooler. Nothing fancy at all. The focus is on living it up rather than showing it off!

            IMHO, getting out of the job is not necessarily retirement. As mentioned in another post, retirement is freedom from money! We must get out from what we dislike and what is unsustainable. That’s is the only thing there is to frugal living.

      • Doug March 14, 2015, 3:21 pm

        Never seen another way of doing things you say? I grew up in the same materialistic western society as everyone else, but by the time I was a teenager (possibly even a preteen) I saw the insanity of it all and figured it would make more sense not to play the overconsumption game, save more, and retire earlier.

        • BlessingS March 16, 2015, 11:36 pm

          Its easy to see how abundant life is. If you have a moment to look around you, you cant help but realize it. I love the concept of the “sheeple”. Thats what most people are, they dont question their ridiculous situation and they take things for granted as they obediently follow each other like sheep to the slaughter…

      • Prudence Debtfree March 16, 2015, 8:35 am

        “Joyful and content.” That is honestly what is drawing me to a more (and more) frugal lifestyle. Keith, you don’t seem too confused to me : )

  • Mark Ferguson March 12, 2015, 12:42 pm

    I don’t always agree with everything in your posts, but this one was great. So many of my friends are stuck in the rat race trying to compete with everyone else without thinking about what they are competing for. My brother in law just spent $90,000 on a camper trailer so he could haul his razor, then he had to buy a brand new diesel truck to be able to haul everything. It was funny because the family said you may want to trade your brother in law your Lambo for what he just got. I scoffed, because I knew he had just bought another really expensive toy, instead of saving money. I knew that toy would be worth a fraction of what he bought it for in a couple years when he would need to replace it with another one.

    Yes, I have expensive things, but I also saved and scrimped int he beginning to buy 13 rentals that produce enough passive income to pay for those expensive things. I bought a 1999 Lambo that has already gone up in value in 6 months and I still have never bought a new car. The sad part about my brother in law is he is always asking me about how he can start buying rentals. My simple answer is save your money for a down payment and he looks at me like I am crazy .

    Although I have too nice of cars and a houses to be considered a mustachian, I do love your view point on many things including the giant SUV, truck craze right now. Buying everything you can on debt and saving for retirement later. etc. failing to realize what is important in life.

    • Mr. 1500 March 12, 2015, 4:08 pm

      I want a ride in the Diablo.

      • JB March 20, 2015, 2:41 pm

        The Dodge Hellcat is 701 HP.

    • 9 O Clock Shadow March 12, 2015, 4:35 pm

      El Diablo returns! Now with bigger horns to poke the MMM’ers in the arse thanks to your lack of debt, the fact that its paid for, and most gloriously (for you – not the rest of us) the uptick in value.

      So appropriate that the mascot for Lamborghini is a Bull with large horns, and the Diablo is Italian for another horned creature, the Devil who by parable has the job of tempting us. If anyone else bought that Bull and paraded it around in the MMM China Shop, there would be cries to “SELL THAT DAMN BULL! ITS GOING TO DESTROY EVERYTHING!” But thanks to the increased resale value, it just quietly added a teacup to the shelf. Maddening!

      • Aaron March 13, 2015, 9:59 am

        • 9 O'Clock Shadow March 24, 2015, 9:59 am

          Well Aaron it’s been nearly 2 weeks since I wrote this and another ‘you can do better’ comment on MMM’s comedy writing. And I haven’t come up with a new idiom other than:

          “A Lamborghini at an early retirement party!” (…audience member coughs …some polite tennis clapping is heard)

          Shit. Effective writing takes time. I’ll be funnier when I’m retired.

        • Xtal May 1, 2015, 6:57 pm

          Aaron is just being a killjoy. I thought the “adding a teacup to the shelf” metaphor was quite clever. :)

    • Insourcelife March 12, 2015, 6:59 pm

      Have you heard about my Lambo? Classic!

    • Mat Mobile March 13, 2015, 7:35 am

      [Like] –> Click!

      @Mark, although I would never buy a Lambo (not very practical…) I do like the fact that it was bought cash. But some people just don’t understand. Good job!

      • Joe Average March 13, 2015, 10:14 am

        I wonder if I could buy a roof rack for that Lambo. I need to haul home some lumber this weekend… ;)

        My cars have always been multi-purpose vehicles. Trailer hitches and/or roof racks.

        Would love to see that Lambo up close. Great post.

    • Joe Average March 16, 2015, 11:24 am

      Cheap gas will do nothing but further the big truck/SUV craze. Then when the Saudis close the taps a little, we’ll all be back to watching the guy being interviewed by the local evening news complaining about how much it costs to fill up his commuter 15 mpg something or another. And the cycle repeats…

      • Doug March 16, 2015, 4:50 pm

        You’re quite right. I’m 54 years old and I’ve seen it happen many times before. Everything goes full circle, eventually petrol prices will go up again and there will be an oversupply of big fuel guzzling trucks and SUVs few people will want and the demand will be high for small econo cars, until petrol prices drop again……

        • Joe Average March 17, 2015, 7:31 am

          I have to wonder if the Saudis are trying to kill off the fracking industry and companies like Tesla. Who wants to conserve when the real deal is so cheap???

          If anyone finds a free Tesla S. Send it my way… ;) If I was 14 again I’d have a big Tesla S poster on my bedroom wall.

          • Doug March 18, 2015, 3:32 pm

            Joe, I would also like a Tesla car (not only are they electric, but good performance) but don’t feel like parting with 100 grand to buy one. If you really want to be mustachian, you could build an electric car on a budget. How? Have a look at http://www.forkenswift.com and see how a guy from Brockville, Ontario built one on the cheap.

          • David O March 18, 2015, 7:50 pm

            A number of our investment managers at work said this about OPEC. They are keeping supply up to drive down the price of oil. This makes the costs of fracking for natural gas too expensive to make it worthwhile.

            In my own words, they are keeping market share the wal-mart way.

      • JB March 20, 2015, 2:42 pm

        The price of new cars should scare people away. $3.50 gas isn’t going to make or break those making more than $100K. If you make less, then have a more fuel efficient car.

        • Joe Average March 21, 2015, 7:30 am

          Around here (small southern town) it’s the folks can afford poor gas mileage the least who drive the 15 mpg vehicles. A sort of badge of membership in the good ‘ole boy club. Some do NEED them to get their side jobs done. Some drive them b/c of the style more than the need. Those are the guys I hear complaining when gas gets high because a fair number of them drive from one county to another to work or play or shop – and they do it in those 15 mpg vehicles. Buddy drove to work yesterday 30 miles (each way) in his “big ‘un” and then ran around town at lunch doing errands. He could have accomplished the same tasks on a scooter but it didn’t match his “style”. ~5 gallons of diesel. Live and let live.

          Want to see how the economy is doing? A fellow told me to watch the tires on the country boys’ trucks and Jeeps. When they are driving around on bald tires the economy is lousy. The kind of work the country fellows like to do is drying up then. Construction, farming, logging, etc.

          A set of tires might be $1500 for some of those lifted trucks and Jeeps. Easy corner to cut. I wondered if it might be a measure of consumer credit as well since a person can prop up their finances for a while that way.

          • meep er April 13, 2015, 9:43 pm

            A little late comment. When gas hit $4.80 here a few years ago, a buddy told me about a co-worker of his who was going bankrupt. All he did was bitch and whine about the POS and one political party. When my friend asked him about his Ford F-350 and gas consumption, this guy went off on taxes. Turns out he and the Mrs. we’re driving 75 miles each way to work, both alone, both in huge pick-ups. It was costing them $100 a day in gas. Both were heavy smokers, too. Another $20 a day. They had several huge dogs for pets, and claimed they would rather starve themselves than give them away. His dog food budget was 65 per week. When my friend told the guy his own finances improved a lot when he dropped cable TV and got a small car, the guy actually implied he was a weakling wuss. He eventually went broke, and the repo-man got the trucks.

            Such madness…all to look cool and act tough. Want to see badasses? Show me the guy or gal who hikes it to work several miles in the heat or cold. Show me the person who rides a bike 20 miles a day to work and parks the tin can. Now that’s tough.

  • judith March 12, 2015, 12:45 pm

    As you (we) observe this ridiculousness… how do you not get depressed? It is all this head in the sand blissful consumption that is causing Climate Change and the world to drown in plastic and other serious toxins. I am 60 and I care more than my kids who are about to have their own kids. I am either seriously depressed or I take on a “who cares” attitude…. though I still live a frugal life.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 12, 2015, 1:05 pm

      The encouraging part to me is that our herd-like behavior implies we can all move very rapidly towards rational behavior just as easily as towards irrational. The key is getting the stampede started, and you are part of this starting effort right now!

      If our lives have become as great as they are even under a regime of ridiculous waste, imagine how much better we can make things if we put even the tiniest bit of thought into where we direct our efforts! The possibilities are limitless. You have absolutely nothing to worry about in the fates of your grandchildren.

      • Mark Ferguson March 12, 2015, 1:14 pm

        I think there was an experiment with Monkeys on an island. I tried looking it up but I could not find it. They introduced a new food, or something and if only a couple monkeys ate the food, most of the other monkeys would not. But once a certain amount of monkeys started to eat it, then it became acceptable to the group and every monkey started eating.

        I do think being frugal is definitely gaining speed in society and the healthy natural food idea is gaining speed as well. They are finding that a healthy diet in children cures all types of disorders that most doctors try to cure with pharmaceuticals.

        • jack March 12, 2015, 2:27 pm

          There goes my Pfizer stock…

        • Robert March 12, 2015, 3:47 pm

          The same concept was used in the grocery store business to introduce the shopping cart, so people would buy more in each trip. The first guy who tried to implement it couldn’t get anyone to adopt it, until he paid people(actors) to start using them. Once other people saw this, they were adopted. I think I remember reading that in Robert Cialdini’s book Influence.

          • Joel March 15, 2015, 7:16 pm

            And nowadays the shopping carts (and our dinner plates) just keep getting bigger and bigger (along with our waistlines). I’ve always hated the gargantuan carts at Costco… and the worst part is people drive their shopping carts worse than they drive their cars!

        • Mat Mobile March 13, 2015, 7:40 am

          I often feel like the first monkey trying the new food when I go do my groceries with my bike trailer.

          The thing is… it feels good. :)

          • Hollyluja March 13, 2015, 1:15 pm

            You should look into the history of the potato in Europe. The rulers realized that this new food had the ability to end famine in a generation, but the population was suspicious. Louis XIV (The Sun King) made all his court wear potato blossoms in their button holes, and commissioned a potato-only feast in his efforts to convince people to eat the things.

        • EcoCatLady March 13, 2015, 4:30 pm

          I think you’re referring to The Hundredth Monkey:

          • Jordan March 14, 2015, 8:44 am

            The author invokes direct monkey to monkey telepathy as the most likely explanation. Which, in my opinion, casts some doubt on the entire story.

        • Jimbo March 16, 2015, 8:33 am

          Here’s an interesting TED talk about the importance of the initial followers to starting a movement:


      • Shelby Kauth March 12, 2015, 9:15 pm

        You should have said that in the main article. As I read this article, I kept thinking “It’s actually not that easy to break the herd mentality.” This was demonstrated on a recent episode of brain games. I was thinking “You just have to find the right herd.” We will almost always follow someone. But the smart people choose who to follow.

    • CRP March 12, 2015, 3:58 pm

      Don’t be depressed, Judith. There are many of us, it’s just that there are many more of them; and us not wanting to look weird learn how to look more ridiculous than what we really are.

      I think it would be cool to have a mother like yourself. I begrudged my own parents inaction, when I was young and therefore by definition always in the right. Now I have come to peace with the fact that I would have not done much better in their place. I still try to be a better model to my own children, though.

      What I think about Climate Change and the like, is that as the thing keeps getting worse and worse, family and friends will recall that we tried to warn them once, and will come back asking what to do. Again, don’t be depressed, be prepared.

      In the worst case, if your children never get to wisen up, your grand children at least will have a different role model to follow when they come of age. One advantage the younger generations have is that economic malaise is hitting them disproportionally hard. They never will buy in to the illusions of today. And while they will have to overcome some very unproductive habits (which admittedly are picking up thanks to us, their parents), they will be way open for alternative ways to build their own lives. Every role model that can present them with one such viable alternative is going to have a hell of an advantage over BAU.

      (That last point is, me thinks, the reason why MMM and their ilk are having such a success right now)

      • dwasch March 14, 2015, 6:02 am

        Three reasons for optimism:

        1. Today’s youth are buying and using cars less often than older people: http://www.uspirg.org/reports/usp/millennials-motion

        2. Americans are paying off debt and reducing borrowing:

        3. Today’s youth seem to be less materialistic than older people:

        Perhaps these are leading indicators of a positive change in the direction of the herd.

        • Cheryl March 16, 2015, 1:27 pm

          I think one significant reason kids are less materialistic is simply that they don’t need to be, because their phones provide all the entertainment they could want!

          Which isn’t to say they aren’t also more socially conscious, but I think technology is going to help people live less wastefully by simply making it more convenient to do so! I’m car-free – which is easy when I can pop open my google maps app for biking directions anywhere, or a bus schedule if necessary. I’m going vegetarian – easy, with a thousand websites giving me recipes and health advice specifically tailored for “frugal vegetarian runners new to cooking”! I get my entertainment from the library – via download. Haven’t been there in person in months! I want to buy or sell something – Craigslist, and pages of advice for using it! No recycling in my apartment complex – city website found me a drop point in easy biking distance! Don’t want to buy from companies that test on animals – there’s an app for that!

          Basically, I think the Internet is going to save us all.

    • deva March 16, 2015, 6:20 pm

      I am 60+ and my kids are in their thirties. I have been gently harping for years about being frugal, saving, not over-consuming and being kind to the earth. I never gave up hope my kids would see the light and they have (but not until each one of them was over 30)!! They eventually became anti consumers, realized that tomorrow does come and they’ll need to save and, what the fuck, this world just might be going to hell in a handbasket so time to get serious. Although wealthy we never over consumed and I think that’s the best example one can be – for our kids, our neighbors and everyone. I think the most difficult thing about being a mustachian is waiting for everyone else to get on board. It’s a wonderful world – just keep on trying to save it.

  • Steve Adcock March 12, 2015, 12:48 pm

    It is ridiculously easy – in fact, it takes more effort to remain a part of the “ridiculous” than it does to be slightly less so. The more “less ridiculous” you become, the simpler life gets and, I would argue, the happier people become.

    • Raging Ranter March 12, 2015, 7:08 pm

      Absolutely totally true. One sheds so much baggage when one downsizes and simplifies. I always tell myself, “Don’t be afraid to be different. Be afraid to be the same as everyone else.” When I start pining for a home twice the size I need, or a new car when my current (paid for) one is running great and looking like new, when I start feeling the need to fly to a resort for a week and come back with two weeks of severe gastro inflammation, then I know it’s time to be afraid.

  • Tx Jim March 12, 2015, 12:48 pm

    I once regularly worked with sheeple and surprisingly they were not all the same. During my work day, they were all penned up in pen A. Each day, I filled all the hay troughs in the adjacent pen B and just before leaving opened the gate joining the two pens. During my rounds I noticed that one particular individual was always at my side, #227. This was strange since most of the sheeple were very afraid of me an kept their distance. Finally I figured it out when I noticed that #227 was always the first one through the gate whenI opened it and easily got the best feeding spot.

    So, I am 68 and now on my 4th car (2002 Civic) with 200K miles and 39 mpg. I own my home in the far suburbs and have no debt and am secure. I grow a lot of my own food 6 months a year. I treat myself to those wonderful grape tomatoes and fresh Italian parsely. I have few gadgets and waste little. So, a comfortable bathroom or solarium with bright sunny windows doesen’t make one a eweple or rample.

  • JDA1984 March 12, 2015, 12:48 pm

    Another great post, MMM! There is certainly a lot of waste around us. I agree that people working together is one of humanity’s strengths, but it often seems even those who have similar backgrounds/values have a hard time getting along. Maybe I just need to use my optimism gun more frequently…

  • Jo_bof March 12, 2015, 12:50 pm

    Hey MMM, just an FYI you can apparently retire by 55 these days. Who knew?

    • D_to_the_Izzle March 25, 2015, 3:51 pm

      You should read the comments though, they generally are pretty good! Not a complainypants to be found*. How refreshing!

      Also that $17,000 for healthcare is concerning, does anyone have any numbers for what a mustachian health plan might cost someone in their late 50s (in the US)? Though I guess if your “income” from investments is only around ~30k the cost would be much less after subsidies.

      *In the first 10 comments, when I posted this.

  • Pamela March 12, 2015, 12:52 pm

    Hey MMM, You’ll “enjoy” this. It was in the news just today that Canadians have hit a new high (or low) spending 163% of their income.

    • Mr. FC March 12, 2015, 4:53 pm

      Man that’s depressing….

    • Jeremy March 13, 2015, 6:18 am

      Not spending 163% of their income – the average Canadian has debt that is 163% of income. Still very facepunch-worthy.


    • Mr. Frugal Toque March 13, 2015, 6:33 am

      Hold on, now.
      It’s the rate of debt to income that has hit 163%, not the rate of spending to income.
      That’s a bit higher than prudent people like, but if it’s in low-interest mortgage debt, it’s not *that* bad, all things considered. I mean, if you made $100k/a and had a $163k mortgage, I don’t think anyone would find that too alarming, right?
      The cause for concern is actually the percentage of that which is credit card debt. I don’t have those numbers, though.

      • Mr. FC March 13, 2015, 8:21 am

        Yeah, that’s a bit different. Actually I don’t know if the debt / income ratio means much mainly because of what you’ve pointed out. I’d be more interested to know how much income goes to servicing debt on a monthly basis, or total spending vs total income on a monthly basis. That’s where you start to see how far folks are living outside their means.

      • VancouverPat March 13, 2015, 2:46 pm

        Like any stat, it can be misleading especially as it doesn’t take assets and equity into consideration. I’ve just calculated ours as 189% but I’m not concerned one bit. Why? Because our Net Worth and type of assets are such that we can pay this off in an instant, the LOC are for quality investments, our investments cover the interest costs multiple times over, and all of the interest is tax deductible.

      • TK March 18, 2015, 3:28 pm

        For a specific situation or individual like your example it may not be that bad, but for a whole nation as an average it is extremely high regardless if it is mortgages or credit cards, as there should be a number of people that have lower debt or own homes outright or rent etc. I will point out that in the US the peak Debt-to-income hit about 120% and that was just before the whole financial crisis/economic meltdown.

        • Mr. Frugal Toque March 19, 2015, 6:40 am

          That’s true. For every person who has a paid off mortgage, there’s somebody on the other end of the curve, holding $100k in high interest loans and a $200k mortgage.

  • CAtoTX March 12, 2015, 1:18 pm

    You reminded me of the days when I would walk the mile to school with my daughter (who would ride her bike) or push my son in his stroller (he has a disability). Moms would lean their heads out the car window as they drove by and ask if I needed a ride. !!! How crazy.

    • Kate March 18, 2015, 7:59 am

      I have that same experience regularly. I like to walk in a very car-centric area. People stop all the time and ask if I need a ride. I have noticed that it is OK if I am wearing workout gear, but if I am wearing regular clothes, a backpack, it throws people off.

      Crazy, but I appreciate that they are thinking of me.

  • Jeffrey March 12, 2015, 1:22 pm

    It’s easy to find absurdity in anything. For example in my opinion any effort or resources that are not directed toward the single-minded zealous pursuit of some scientifically defined state of maximum universal secular-humanistic-ecological-utility via scientific methods is completely and utterly absurd. The value or even the very concept of your own existence is meaningless, the self interest in your own family, an expensive distraction. Let’s just Godwin the thread right now and declare the entire human race meaningless with respect to some absolutist thinking. It’s easy to rail on consumption, but many of your barely veiled criticisms in this article are irrelevant or even antithetical to financial independence. And they’re ultimately a reflection of your arbitrary value system, which is as you admit, a substandard reflection of the thinking you demonstrate here. Are you an early retirement blogger or what? Why is your family focus less arbitrary than anyone else’s earthly pleasure?

    edit: It isn’t my goal to criticize (even though I’m the second most critical person I’ve met), but challenge. These are issues I’ve struggled with for the better part of my brief life.

    • pka222 March 12, 2015, 2:22 pm

      @ Jeffery- Great post.. thinking about this is way better than financial reporting..

      Meaning can be thought about at a meta scale or a micro scale and meaning will have different manifestations at these levels. This blog is scale dependent – focusing on the micro to small scale meaning- minute to minute- day to day year to year and life time to life time- while your statement that humanity is meaningless, is scale dependent as well- over geologic time or glacial time – totally correct- but to my cat- humanity and my existence is very meaningful at the day to day scale- he likes food and cuddles.

      The take away for me is that when one (like yourself) puts a significant effort in to coming up with a life philosophy and alining one’s actions to that philosophy – you end up by-in-large with less ludicrousness- at least it reduces hypocrisy and importantly less arbitrariness.

      Regarding consumerism – which is more arbitrary ??- the consumer who sees the neighbor with a new lawn mower and gets one based on that observation or the previous lawn owner who replaced their lawn with a vegi garden (still consuming seeds and tools) based on their personal philosophy?

      While the meaning of our existence is potentially meaningless- personal and cultural Arbitrariness is reduced by thinking and acting in accordance with your values.

      • HenryDavid March 12, 2015, 4:08 pm

        Things can be arbitrary in the “ultimate” or “objective” sense. It’s true nobody knows why humans are on the planet, what the ultimate meaning of life is etc.
        On a more immediate level not everything is arbitrary though. The anti-consumption aspect of this blog seems grounded in a valid, demonstrable observation: planetary resources are finite. Over consumption which goes waaaaaay beyond any plausible level of human enjoyment (see above) needlessly accelerates the depletion of those resources. And for no good reason! Because all these MMM people show how you can enjoy a wonderfully fulfilling life at a far lower level of consumption. To me that aspect of the blog is more interesting and important than the money-saving, early-retirement part. Though that’s nice too.
        The family-focus part may not be that arbitrary either. Humans are animals. We’re social. Plus we can only survive infancy with careful protection and love. So you wanna maximize that. More time, more love, more nurture. Those are demonstrably good things. Not just for the family, but for the community. So: less consumption, more preservation of the earth, more energy for nurturing human relationships. Bring it on.

      • Jeffrey March 12, 2015, 6:00 pm

        I agree completely but I see discord between the values espoused and the actions taken for financial independence.

        I can accept that I take it too far, but why is 75% reasonable and not 95%? Seventy-five percent is probably not reasonable enough if you accept current global rates as harmful and profess any desire for lifting (allowing?) 7-10b people 25% of American consumption. It’s maybe a great stop along the way. But for example, its but one of a number of serious resource related issues we face, for example, the paleo diet extrapolates hopelessly based on its ecological footprint. The caloric advantage of grains is staggering. Alternatively solar energy on your house is likely cash flow positive (and probably even lucrative based on DIY ethos and present regulatory regimes), but it doesn’t match the returns of selling turbo diesels to your neighbors.

        Why are your lines better than those drawn at 95%? Or a well-intentioned but less informed line drawn at 25%, which may result, for example in a 2012 Suburu Outback kept for 6 years?

        This isn’t exactly where I was headed with my post, but I do enjoy the conversation. In addition to the anti-consumption angle, I picked on what I felt was a deep criticism of human social behavior including basically all religion and traditions. Criticisms that I basically accept as accurate, but are probably antithetical to my personal financial independence.

        Let’s acknowledge where the rubber meets the road. How do we advocate for 75% less consumption while relying and planning for it? What really are our driving motivations if we can’t put our money where our mouth is? I’m not criticizing, again, I have these same troubles too.

      • Jordan March 12, 2015, 7:11 pm


        An arbitrary decision is one made on a whim, without reasoning. Making a decision based on the conclusions of a personal philosophy, is exactly the opposite of arbitrary.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 12, 2015, 4:00 pm

      Are you telling me my hatred for the Dodge Durango only arbitrary and its stupidity is not enshrined in the structure of the universe as one of the laws of physics?


      Seriously though – I think you are taking the line of thinking to absolutes, which is not necessary for the purpose I’m after here. I just need people to consume about 75% less fossil fuels (and a few other scarce natural resources), and we’re good after that. Just the slightest adjustment of our thinking is enough to do that, and after that we’ll be fine to work on the deeper questions in the coming centuries.

    • Ken March 13, 2015, 5:32 pm

      “It’s easy to rail on consumption, but many of your barely veiled criticisms in this article are irrelevant or even antithetical to financial independence.”
      -Please explain what you mean by this. His points are relevant and necessary to financial independence for his target audience (someone with a moderate income who wants to retire early or at least build a large stache for when they do retire). Also, I don’t think he is trying to veil his criticisms at all.

      “And they’re ultimately a reflection of your arbitrary value system, which is as you admit, a substandard reflection of the thinking you demonstrate here. Are you an early retirement blogger or what? Why is your family focus less arbitrary than anyone else’s earthly pleasure?”
      – MMMs focus on friends and family is not quite arbitrary…an immense amount of research has been done on what makes people happy over the long run and it all points to having quality relationships rather than material things (of course there are always outliers, but this is true for most people). So, how does all this relate to early retirement? Buy less crap (the point of this article) -> save more -> retire early or work less -> spend more time with friends and family -> be happy.

  • Jim McG March 12, 2015, 1:27 pm

    You could argue that the capitalism that has taken us this far is the same that is allowing some of us to opt, very comfortably, out of it. Not everyone can be a Mustachian, unless you’re some sort of goddam pinko Commie. So let the Sheeple herd happily to the mall and keep the economy stoked, the stock market growing, property moving forward, schools being built and the rest. Meanwhile I can look in the mirror and lovingly stroke that little line of fluff on my top lip and hope that nobody notices a gradual change in my appearance because it’s coming at their expense.

    • Matt March 12, 2015, 3:46 pm

      I agree our economy and markets need people to spend. If everyone saved like we do our stocks and capital markets wouldn’t do as well. Jobs would be less and everyone would be worse off. So the Sheeple made me a lot of money. Thanks I say.

      • Ryan March 12, 2015, 8:21 pm

        There is nothing inherent to capitalism that requires high rates of consumption for growth or the health of markets. Aggregate demand isn’t just consumption–it’s also investment in structures, equipment, software, and R&D. There’s no reason to think that less consumption means fewer jobs and everyone being worse off. Economic growth is about our ability to produce, and the way to produce more is not to consume more. It’s to invest more.

        The “what if everyone did it” problem isn’t about consumption. It’s about lower labor supply! http://updatedpriors.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-early-retirement-movement.html

      • jian March 12, 2015, 11:25 pm

        That implies it’s a zero-sum game, which I’m not at all convinced is the case. Our financial security and independence does NOT depend on others being financially reckless.

        In fact the 2007-2008 economic meltdown is a prime example of just the opposite – out-of-control capitalism (which lead to misaligned production and mindless consumption) brought everyone down, at least temporarily.

        This is not an “us vs. them” game. We would all benefit, if we organize our way of production and living better so that our economic growth is much more sustainable and our lives healthier and happier. Now, that’s thinking at an aggregate, macro-economic, and policy level; the MMM site is obviously focused on the micro-level where we can (at least we should be able to) control our own way of living and consumption.

      • Doug March 14, 2015, 3:15 pm

        I also agree that idea is wrong. In the 19th and early 20th century, productivity increased and that productivity resulted in increased wages to buy good that actually made life better. For example does anyone really want to give up mechanical refrigeration and go back to ice boxes? That all changed by the second half of the 20th century, where consumption had to keep increasing to keep unemployment down, even if it were conspicuous consumption and buying rubbish nobody needs, which is what has happened. If everyone were like us, this increased productivity would instead have resulted in everyone working fewer hours, which is what should have happened in the first place. In such a society everyone would be less stressed out, happier, and healthier.

        Something else I should add is that by being retired I’m one less person out competing for jobs and thus am leaving a vacancy for someone else who really needs the money. I feel good about that and rightly so.

        • Ryan March 19, 2015, 2:56 pm

          Your second paragraph commits what economists call the “lump of labor fallacy”. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lump_of_labour_fallacy

          • Doug March 23, 2015, 4:09 pm

            That whole discussion is a lot of abstract ideas and is inconclusive. In other words it is rubbish which has nothing to do with the real world. The simple fact is there are a lot of younger people, even with a lot of education, who can’t find work. By retiring and getting out of the way, I am leaving a vacancy for one of these younger people. What is so hard to understand about such a simple idea?

  • Mr. Frugal Toque March 12, 2015, 1:28 pm

    I would appreciate your Sheeple Planet metaphor a lot more if it were illustrated Dr. Seuss style.
    At least around here, most people just let the school bus bring their kids home, but then I don’t hang with a lot of private schoolers, so maybe it’s different over there.
    I can see how viewing such nonsense might be frustrating, but it actually makes me feel kind of relaxed – I know that I’ve managed to step outside the asylum with very little social consequence. For some reason, that’s very comforting.

    • George March 12, 2015, 1:52 pm

      Even with buses, it’s amazing the number of parents I see sitting in their cars waiting to drive the kids to/from the bus stop! Seriously, you & your kids can’t walk the one or two blocks?

      • K March 12, 2015, 2:48 pm

        Just the other day, I walked out to my car and noticed a nice Acura idling at the stop sign. I assumed it was picking up our neighbor kid but then saw the bus come, the kid get on the bus from the Acura… and the Acura turned around and drove to the house 2 houses down from me. We live on a dead end street. It was not cold out. I then realized that I’ve seen this Acura at the stop sign every morning for awhile. Is it really that hard to walk 3 houses down and stand outside for maybe 10 minutes!? UGH.

        • Joe Average March 13, 2015, 10:52 am

          Helicopter parent. Must keep little Joey safe from the bad men as detailed on 20/20 and ABC Primetime news. We let our kids play outside, wander all over the neighborhood, etc. Every once in a while we discover that right there – 750 ft away – there are kids living in houses that never step outside. We have neighbor kids that our kids play with. Those kids are not allowed off of their property. If for some reason those kids need to come get our kids – the parents drive them. We are four houses away. The mother is the problem there.

          • danny March 13, 2015, 1:34 pm

            That disturbs me so much. By overprotecting kids, you’re protecting them against threats that will likely never ever materialize – but instead threaten them with an adulthood dealing with depression, anxiety, and obesity. Kids need to get out there and take (reasonable) risks. It builds them into strong, healthy human beings.

      • Jessie March 12, 2015, 3:32 pm

        In our school district young kindergarten age children are not allowed to walk home even if it is just a block away and they have older siblings. What a shame it is that we do not train our children to be self reliant. They will grow up thinking it is ok to have some one else tell them what to do.

        • A mom March 13, 2015, 7:05 am

          I can’t help it if I sound like an old lady: In first and second grade I walked a mile to school, then I walked a mile home for lunch, then I walked a mile back to school, then I walked a mile home after school. So I walked four miles a day.
          So did all the other kids. It was normal. We had crossing guards. This was in the 60s.

          • MiningFrugal March 13, 2015, 8:32 am

            In your day, 8 year olds were allowed to play in the park without parental supervision. Now parents are brought up on charges of child neglect for doing such things.

            They say this is because the world is a crueler place these days. I don’t know that I’m convinced. If it seems that more bad things happen nowadays, I’d say there’s 2 possible reasons.

            One is that information gathering is better. It’s easier to see that bad things are happening.

            The other is that people are more hesitant to take action when they see wrongdoing. Remember as a child when some unknown adult would call you out and correct you for doing something wrong? When is the last time you saw that happen?

            • Mr. Money Mustache March 13, 2015, 9:57 am

              For the record, that ridiculous overprotective crap is not present where I live in Longmont, CO. We still have free-range kids who walk to school at all ages, play in the parks independently, experience all the seasons without automobile protection, and grow up with an appreciation for being a human rather than a plastic bubble product. I would never live among people who are against this philosophy.

            • WageSlave March 13, 2015, 12:02 pm

              I read an article (sorry, lost the link) about a woman who was visiting out-of-town family with her young (4 years old?) son. Running late for the return flight, she had to make a quick stop at a store. Her son threw a huge fit in the car about not wanting to go in the store. She was parked such that there was full visibility of her car from the store, it was daylight, well-lit, nice part of town, nice weather, etc, plus it was a quick in-and-out task. So she left her son (happily amusing himself on his tablet or whatever) in the (locked) car. Some unrelated person recorded the whole thing on video, and sent it in to the police. The woman was taken to court, and plead guilty on child neglect (“momentary lapse in judgement” or something like that), and was hit with a fine, community service, and mandatory attendance of parenting classes. And now she has a record!

              IIRC, her story got back to the author of “Free Range Kids” and they had a long discussion about the situation.

              What does the alien observer think of *that* scenario? :)

            • Philip March 14, 2015, 2:55 pm

              Unfortunately, we don’t/can’t all live in Longmont and if those that share your philosophy about kids and relocating moved there, you’d soon be looking for another place to live!

            • MiningFrugal March 17, 2015, 10:54 pm

              I’m actually just a short drop south from you. About a 6 hour bike ride to put it in MMM terms.

              Unfortunately I don’t think it matters too much on the area so long as you are in the same country. Public opinion travels fast, whether it makes sense or not.

              I think the line of thought goes something like this…

              Bad people are out there that might do bad things to kids. The best course of action to counter this is to punish the parents for letting the kids venture out where the bad people are.

            • jessica March 20, 2015, 7:42 pm

              Wow, this is such an interesting comment.

              You would never live among people against this philosophy….

              Do you mean associate?

            • Joe Average March 13, 2015, 10:53 am


            • RandomDoctor March 13, 2015, 7:15 pm

              I live in north Queensland, Australia. It is hot enough here that leaving a small child in a locked car on a sunny day is rapidly fatal (as in, less than 10 minutes). So, a charge of negligence would be completely normal for the scenario described if it happened here.

            • vickie March 20, 2015, 7:00 am

              I began raising my four “free range” children before it had a name. I was reprimanded by a friend for letting my 5 year old play on a playground with other children and watching him from the adjacent softball field. I guess it is a good thing she doesn’t know that I let him wander on our 16 acre property by himself and ride his bike to the local playground by himself, isn’t it?
              My kids play with other free-range children, and I make friends with their parents. It is a quick way to weed out adults that I do not share values with. Amazingly, our kids are highly successful independent adults in their early twenties while the overprotected kids are still living with their parents. Could there be a connection?

          • Marcia March 13, 2015, 9:35 pm

            My husband did that in kindergarten, early 70’s.

        • Philip March 14, 2015, 3:02 pm

          It’s the same here; K/1st grade cannot get off the bus without a parent/guardian waiting for them…..and my front door is literally 100 paces to the bus stop.

        • casserole55 March 25, 2015, 6:13 am

          Same here – but then why don’t the parent and child walk to the bus stop? Probably because the parent does not feel up to it. Or the parent needs to rush off to work in his or her car the moment the bus pulls away. The same problem exists at school re recess on cold days. I suspect that recess is cancelled, not because it’s too cold for the kids, but because the teachers and administrators don’t want to stand outside.

    • Keith March 13, 2015, 6:52 am

      “When you’re born into this world, you’re given a ticket to the freak show. If you’re born in America you get a front row seat.”

      ― George Carlin

    • Shannon March 13, 2015, 10:15 am

      I live in Las Vegas, which is basically a giant suburb. I kid you not, the entire street, on both sides, is packed with SUVs waiting to pick up kids at the middle school I live near. Yes, middle school… As in 12, 13, and 14 year olds. SMH.

      • Joe Average March 13, 2015, 11:05 am

        Our town is like that too. Part of it is a poor reputation the school buses have for bad beahvior on the school buses. Part of it is that we live in a small town and it’s easy to drive over to the school and get your kids. We drop our kids off in the morn b/c we drive past the school on our way to work (carpool). They ride the bus home.

        The second chapter to the bus line soap opera are the parents who won’t allow their children to exit the vehicle and walk the sidewalk to the front door of the building. They will wait in line for an extra 10 minutes so they can let little Jane or John off as close to the front door as possible. Car #2 will actually wait for car #1 to finish unloading their children before car #2 moves one car length to let their children out. We let our youngest out on the fringes of the parking lot, our teen walks the youngest over to the sidewalk and then he’s on his own for the length of the sidewalk that takes him to the front door. Maybe 150FT. I’d let the youngest walk further but there are two lines of very distracted parents/cars to pass through and this is the teen’s role. To get the little one through the traffic safely. The car line can take 20 minutes to circulate through start to finish. idle, idle, idle. We do it in 3 mins.

        The other phenomena are parents who have to idle their engine while waiting for their child after sports or other school activity. Even on a pretty cold evening, I can switch off the car and stay warm for 20 minutes or more. They’ll sit there for half an hour or more in mild weather with the heat or a/c on. I can hear the a/c compressor cycling on and off. If it was 5F I get it. Not when the temps are 60F. Went on a Cub Scout trip one year and was surprised to find a sizeable number of parents retreating to their vehicles in the parking area Sat mid day to idle the engine for a/c to listen to the football game on the radio. Apparently nobody has a transistor radio anymore? Some did this for hours. ???

    • Marcia March 13, 2015, 2:50 pm

      That’s interesting. We were just discussing that more than half of our kids are bussed, and that’s a BAD thing. See, we are in a small city with many elementary schools, and our kids are supposed to MOSTLY live close enough to walk to school.

      But the poor kids generally live downtown, some are homeless, and thus they are bussed to our school. So the % of kids that are bussed is a measure of poverty of the school.

      The other parents though – I would say maybe 10% of them walk and the rest drive, and yes, leave the car running.

      (Full disclosure, my neighbor drops my son off 4/5 days, we walk the other, and I pick him up by car because I’ve already left work and picked up my toddler by car. But I do PARK the car and walk down to sign him out of school.)

      • Rebecca B March 14, 2015, 10:04 pm

        I make my kids walk a half mile every day to catch the bus. Even in the rain. Figure it’ll turn them into men some day. The amount of swearing they learn from the high schoolers on the bus has me reconsidering. Last week my nine year old asked me if D-I-C-K was a bad word. He even spelled it out, which made me laugh. I don’t have TV, so I suppose it’s nice that they’re getting exposed to profanity some where else.

    • Fran in TX March 14, 2015, 9:25 pm

      My child’s school has reduced the pickup lines. School gets out a 3:45. Last year, kids could stay until 4:00 and then they had to go to the library and be considered in the afterschool program which cost $5 for the first half hour. So parents who could, would pick up their child between 3:45 and 4:00. This year, kids still go to the library at 4:00 but parents are not charged until 4:30, so parents can pick up their child between 3:45 and 4:30 at no cost. It has reduced the pick-up lines immensely. It would not be hard for other schools to do this (although ours is a private school, I don’t see why public schools couldn’t).

    • Cas March 19, 2015, 10:15 am

      I work in a school in a nice village not far from the city. Most kids have the opportunity to take a bus because there’s no actual sidewalk by our school. Many, many parents drive their kids… Because they don’t want their kids to wait at the bus stop. And, we used to have a drop off at the church next door, but that was too far for their kids to walk, and they were dropping them off at the side of the road; a no stopping zone and very hazardous due to buses entering and exiting close by, plus the traffic of other parents doing the same and making u-turns. We had to adopt a “kiss and ride” program. This allowed for the driveway to be divided into two lanes: one for buses and one for parents to drop off kids. And a teacher designate has to meet the child and cross with the child across the bus lane. Craziness. Just to save a few steps. While I’ve had students with physical disabilities who qualified for busing AND special transportation, simply walk to school via the side streets and back schoolyard.
      These are not helicopter parents driving their kids. These are lazy parents raising lazy children who put everyone’s life in danger, and subject everyone to their cars’ noxious fumes.

    • Julie March 21, 2015, 1:19 am

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sneetches_and_Other_Stories Here is your illustrated Dr Suess equivalent

    • Liz C October 23, 2017, 7:57 pm

      When my son was in second grade (and through all of elementary school) I’d walk with him the 1 km to school almost every day. Our path led through a patch of woods, over a highway bridge (with sidewalk) and past a friendly crossing guard. We walked all year, except in heavy rains — even during snowy/icy weather, when I felt safer walking than driving. When it was hot, we wore light clothing, when cold, we bundled up.

      The school had the usual policy of “no recess when it’s too cold”, too cold being about 20F. Apparently some parents would not send their kids to school with warm enough clothing or boots … and this was an upper middle class suburb!

      My son’s teacher knew how important recess was, and would send the kids out in light rain and moderate cold. But Mr S had to keep the kids in sometimes, and they would get squirrely. Except my son … Mr S let me know that my son could handle being indoors all day because we were outside mornings and afternoons.

  • Neil March 12, 2015, 1:34 pm

    I’ve always loved your slogan of living a “slightly less ridiculous than average” lifestyle. That’s exactly what we aim to do, and while it feels completely reasonable to us, it seems crazy to the uber-consumers we know. No doubt it would seem crazy in a different sense to those from developing nations who have much less than us. It is hard to transcend culture and think rationally about matters that are taken for granted. For example, I’ve read that many objects in our homes are centered around the Western obsession with always being several feet off the ground (bed frames, couches, tables and chairs, etc.). Never thought of it that way until hearing another’s perspective.

    • B March 12, 2015, 1:50 pm

      Our beds are raise off the ground because air is a great insulator, and also to reduce the risk of pests from making their homes in our beds and furniture.

      Our couches, tables, and chairs are raised off the ground for ergonomical reasons.

      • Neil March 12, 2015, 3:11 pm

        All true. Just an example of how cultures differ and we take ours for granted.

        • m March 13, 2015, 8:40 am

          Good point to call out. Consider that many Japanese still sleep on futon mattresses on the floor and eat at tables while also sitting on the floor. They also dedicate less space to beds and table/chair sets. The futons are folded up and tucked away when not in use and the tables have no chairs.

          Think of the impact this has on the amount of space required for a living area.

      • Em6 March 13, 2015, 10:01 am

        Ergonomical in what way? Maybe the fact that we Westerners don’t sit lower to the ground, which means we don’t flex our hips as much, thereby causes hip problems later in life?

        I have no idea if hip problems occur in other cultures. Just throwing this thought out there.

        • Eldred March 26, 2015, 10:36 am

          It also takes more ‘effort’ to enter/exit a sitting position on the ground than one on a couch or chair. Until reading this, I hadn’t thought about the cumulative effect of our furniture on our physical health. It’s also probably in the American consciousness. Note any ads where a family is sitting around watching TV. The kids are usually sitting on the floor, and the parents are seated on the couch. It’s almost a ‘rite of passage’ when the kids are finally grown enough to sit on the couch… This is all just speculation on my part, though. :-)

        • Kay in Mpls September 28, 2015, 2:02 pm

          Check out the book Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman, bio- mechanics and alignment specialist. She explains why it’s best for humans to move, change positions and squat when possible each day, along with lots of other really good practical help for all of us who sit or even stand in one place too much. Even if you exercise regularly it will not save you from the effect of “sitting disease.” We need to move often.

  • pka222 March 12, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Excellent post once again. I notice this on the small islands on which I work- the American territories are some of the worst (CNMI, Guam and American Samoa) but even “least developed countries” like Kiribati and Vanuatu have heighten levels for ludicrous spending. For example on an island with government provided running water only 8 hours a week (4 hours every 3 days) families will forgo a water tank that will store drinking water for the days without running water in favor of… flat screen TVs!! Not 50 miles away their country men/women are still living without power or only enough solar power to turn on a light and a radio.. so in many cases the ridiculousness has only started and is already out of this world. This all results not from local pressure but from the fact that the sheeple in the US and Australia are seen as role models or aspirational examples of what is “good” . Blah.. it is hard to fix this problem without first fixing western consumerism…

    I wish MMMs million readers were visible – providing a viable alternative to the creep of credulous consumption we see here. For those of you who can- wave that banner of frugality high!

    • Philip March 14, 2015, 3:06 pm

      I feel your pain….I was stationed for 2yrs on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

  • duketg March 12, 2015, 1:45 pm

    If only the sheeple would wake up…be careful what you wish for tho.


  • LennStar March 12, 2015, 2:12 pm

    Isn’t it illegal to let your cars engine run when you not need it? Its here in germany, even if it is one of the things no one ever enforces.

    Wait, I forgot: USA. Its probably mandatory to let the engine run ;)

    I live 30m away from a school gate, so I can watch the procedure every day. Fortunately its not half as bad as in this post. Lots use the bus.
    What me surprised where the many SUVs at the start of this school year. Just a few month ago teachers went on strike for more money. And then half of the new teachers (there was a rearrangement of which age at which school building, so a lot of teachers changed, too) drive shiny new SUVs!
    Cant be that short of money, can they?

    AND because of all the big cars now *I* have problems with parking space. My car would fit 8-9 times in front of the apartment house, but now 5 teachers stand here and no space is left.
    Quite unfair.

    • Ann March 12, 2015, 9:12 pm

      Our schools are “idle free” zones. So at least we’ve got that going for us…my 5th grader prefers walking the 0.9 miles home, and my 6th grader walks home from the middle school. But I confess, I pick up my kindergartener from her school. When there is no longer ice on the road and it is safe for us to ride our tandem bike, we will be doing that again!

    • Mr. Frugal Toque March 12, 2015, 9:13 pm

      I’m worried that it’s the law in Ontario, Canada that we have to leave our engines running. If it’s true, I bet the excuse is “safety”. I’ll let you know when the Ottawa Police Service gets back to me.

      • Jeremy March 13, 2015, 6:28 am

        There’s no Ontario law that I could find regarding idling. But most major municipalities in Ontario have their own bylaws.

        Ottawa (where I believe you live) has a bylaw to prevent idling, but it does not apply to occupied vehicles where the temperature is >27°C (including humidex) or < 5°C (including windchill). So that gives drivers an excuse for a pretty sizable portion of the year.

        I live in Toronto, which has no such exception.

        • Mr. Frugal Toque March 13, 2015, 11:30 am

          I had been told there was such a law in Ontario, requiring cars to be running while in traffic. I contacted the Ottawa Police Service and they replied today thus:
          “Good afternoon,
          There is nothing in the HTA that says you cannot turn off your engine at a stale red light. If you have any further questions about traffic, feel free to email …”
          HTA = Highway Traffic Act
          And yes, in Ottawa, you’re not supposed to idle your engine anywhere for more than 3 minutes.

  • Joy March 12, 2015, 2:18 pm

    Yesterday, I went to the home of a long time acquaintance. We have been developing a slow friendship and, this was a first invite to her home.

    In our conversations past, she has made statements that made me feel she was conscious of the money she spent.

    Once in her home, I was surprised to see a newly updated EVERYTHING! The outside is a standard older ranch. The inside looks like it is ready for a House Beautiful Photo shoot. I mean down to the smallest detail. She drives one of the
    power house vehicles you describe above.

    So, today I have felt like my home NEEDS updating. Now, the day before I was content with my furnishings. It is indeed a sad fact that we are influenced by our surroundings. I have spent the better part of the morning looking at sofas, end tables, chairs, dining sets, rugs, curtains, wall decor etc..

    Thanks for perfect timing MMM. Whew! Things might have turned ugly around here without you doing a little house cleaning ;)

    • MM March 13, 2015, 12:38 pm

      Isn’t it crazy that even when you “know better” you can still be struck with those feelings?! Thanks to MMM I’m still driving my older and paid for car, and generally feel great about it. Last weekend I took my son to a birthday party and every car in the small parking lot was new and fancy, most were SUVs. I had car shame for the rest of the day, but thankfully it passed before I made a really bad decision.

  • Brian March 12, 2015, 2:22 pm

    Spot on – and it really doesn’t take that much to change. I too purchased a 5.9L Hemi V8 beast of a truck and spent a couple of months mostly sitting in bumper to bumper traffic with it. While nice to be able to haul things, it was over the top wasteful (gas, money) and spewed far more pollutants into the air than necessary.

    I realized my ridiculousness and downsized – I think others can easily do so too. They just need to see the light and be motivated by the direct saving of money and indirect saving of the environment.

  • Justin March 12, 2015, 2:34 pm

    Word of advice. Take the two cents for what it’s worth. You’ve done a lot of great things and have helped many people with this blog, I’m sure. At the end of the day, however, the value-system is arbitary and it’s not your job to tell people how to live their lives or that your decisions somehow are more valuable than theirs. This blog has slowly fallen into a holier-than-thou mindset, both in the posts and in the forums/comments – your “disciples” are just as much sheep as those you point out in your post in their blind adherence to your gospel. It’s one thing to be “funny” about pointing out wastefullness and another to separate the world into “us and them.” Some of the people in this comments section need to get their own life and stop worrying so much about others’ life choices. I’m a frugal man, but I don’t pretend to say that I live life better than the next. I live the life that I want, which I’m fortunate is a simple one. That doesn’t make me “better” than the guy next door.

    I like what you do a lot. I’m only trying to help. This post was in poor taste, as is the direction the blog has taken. There is a difference between being “frugal” and “cheap.” Many people here are “cheap.”

    • DC March 12, 2015, 3:16 pm

      Your premise is that value systems are arbitrary, but I think very few people will accept that at all. Some values are better than others. MMM works to demonstrate why that is the case.

      • Jeffrey March 12, 2015, 3:43 pm

        And what value system is demonstrated when we openly criticize practices from which we also handsomely profit? A major if not majority of index fund growth is fueled by excessive consumer spending and requisite waste. And it’s not as if alternative mission based investment funds and strategy don’t exist, they do. Tell me again how superior your values are when you eschew them for money and higher returns

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 12, 2015, 3:47 pm


      The Holier than Thou mindset was there from the very first post, April 2011. There have been 430 posts since then, all written with generally the same sense of humor. It has always been Us vs. Them. Mustachianism has always been a lifestyle, cult, and fake religion all in one.

      It sounds like you don’t get it – which is fine, but why are you trying to change the blogger himself, rather than simply figuring out how to get your web browser to display content other than Mr. Money Mustache?

      Jeffrey – while it is possible to retire early even without investing in index funds, I believe a lot of the economic activity that occurs is beneficial to humankind. And if we make the right choices as consumers, even more of it will shift to become so.

      • Jeffrey March 12, 2015, 4:11 pm

        Sure, and you can avoid investing in Big macs and lifted turbo diesel trucks and via grade and better inspire useful economic activity with slightly more active investment strategy. By not doing this, your essentially selling diesels, fast food, and drugs. So is the fictitious mmm cult more about the lifestyle values or the returns? Words say one thing actions say another. Let me just say both perspectives are ok. Certainly my ideological investing has been a mixed bag and demonstrated the inherent conflicts in all levels of participation. It’s generally secondary to frugality, savings, and lifestyle reflection, however. I would also like to thank you for allowing this conversation to take place.

        • just some guy March 12, 2015, 5:52 pm

          Jeffrey, I have to point out the error in your statement “your essentially selling diesels, fast food, and drugs”.

          You would have been correct if you had said “you’re essentially PROFITING FROM THE SALE OF diesels, fast food, and drugs” But in the world of investing, your purchase of any given share in no way supports that company or makes it more able to do what it does (with the exception of IPO’s of course). You just bought that share from some other person who was most likely not involved in the operation of the company in question.

          Your ability to affect the success of a company, and their ability to sell more of what they like to sell, is limited to your consumer purchase choices, not your investment choices.

          Having said that, I try to minimize the big mac’s and V8 engines in my portfolio anyway. I see it as avoiding the receipt of “dirty money”, and don’t kid myself that it is useful in preventing more of these things to be built and sold.

          • Joe Average March 13, 2015, 11:34 am

            I have heard a few smart people over the years say this: lead by example.

            Don’t try to tell people how to live their lives. Just live your life the way you see fit. If other people decide to make the same choices and attribute their inspiration to you – then kuddos for you. Maybe they’ll ask for your advice. Maybe they won’t. Offering unwanted advice never turned out well for me for anyone except my immediate family (wife and kids). I have a strong knack for sounding critical anyhow. Best to just keep my opinions to myself.

            That’s the great thing about the internet and blogs like these. A place for like minded people to discuss openly whatever they want to discuss as it pertains to the blog’s purpose. Anyone can come here and participate and learn. Maybe that’s why my contributions are so long winded. Feeling like I have so much to ask or share. I’m not a good writer so I tend to rely on illustrations and experiences.

            I spent a few years openly discussing my choices with family and close friends but found it very difficult to clearly define my choices without sounding as though I was criticizing the different choices they had made. That’s what you’re supposed to do – or be able to do – learn from your elders and peers. It was easy to listen to their lectures but hard to give constructive feedback without sounding critical. It wasn’t until later that I began to realize that they are the classic American consumerists and thus have different approaches to life. Yeah, I can be that thick-headed and slow about it all.

            Now I enjoy our (wife &I) choices quietly and let the rest do as they please. Sometimes we are on the same page as our social circle. Sometimes we aren’t but we do get along better than we used to. I secretly use our social group as “test subjects” and silently predict to myself the outcome of the decisions they choose to share with everyone. I have a pretty good track record I think and I do realize that there might be multiple right or multiple wrong answers to any question. Some right answers might just be more right than others.

            “Yep – he’ll find that be an expensive failure or he’ll realize it wasn’t the bees knees after-all.”

            Right now I’m predicting we will be among the few of our social circle who will be able to retire comfortably and securely. They know where to find us if they want to be pointed to what we’ve read or studied. If Dave Ramsey can’t even help some of them, then I think they are truely set in their ways.

          • Alex March 14, 2015, 7:12 am

            I agree with Jeffrey that MMM is holier-than-thou, and his disciples are his own herd of sheeple. But I think that’s fine. It is a blog group, it’s kind of cultish, and they have a religious fervor of their own. Everyone thinks that their religion is the right one, and the die-hard Mustachians are no different. But that’s no reason not to read it, and it’s no reason that MMM needs to change his tone.

            I will dispute “just some guy’s” argument that he’s NOT really selling diesel V8s and Big Macs. Baloney. You’re an owner in the business. Your retort that “I just bought a few shares [through index funds] from someone else not that involved in operational decisions, anyway” could just as easily be extended to “I just bought an F-250 off the dealer’s lot that was going to be sold, anyway.

            No, buddy, you’re in the business. Own your decision. And so are you, MMM.

            • just some guy March 16, 2015, 3:52 pm

              I can see your point, Alex, that as an owner (although an owner of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the company) of, say Ford, I would indeed be in the business of selling F-150’s.

              However, it’s incorrect to say that this is comparable to the purchase of an actual F-150 when it comes to promoting or enabling the future sale of more F-150’s.

              If I buy some shares in Ford, it DOES NOT increase their revenue, it DOES NOT increase their ability to manufacture more trucks, it DOES NOT increase their marketing budget, etc. In short it DOES NOT make it more likely that more F-150’s will be sold in the future.

              If I buy an F-150 off the lot, it DOES increase their revenue, it DOES increase their ability to manufacture more trucks, it DOES increase their marketing budget, etc. In short it DOES make it more likely that more F-150’s will be sold in the future.

              I think we are arguing slightly different issues. But I just wanted to clarify what I mean. If you want to shape the world with the way you spend/save/invest your money… you can cast your votes with your consumer dollars, but not with your investment dollars.

            • JB March 24, 2015, 10:24 am

              But you wouldn’t buy Ford Stock if you didn’t think they would be selling more cars and trucks. The stock price won’t go up if they start selling fewer cars/trucks.

      • Keith March 13, 2015, 7:02 am

        Don’t get sucked into this kind of conversation, MMM. It always turns out bad. They’ll take your words, twist them and step up the assault.

        I don’y mind dissenting opinions, but the best way to get your message out is to start your own blog. It’s not nice trash-talking someone on their own log. Some might even call it rude.

        The guy (MMM) provides periodic free entertainment with an underlying message and useful ideas. I like it, even if I don’t always agree. Sure beats reading a blog written by an ass-kisser.

      • Heath March 13, 2015, 2:28 pm

        Just have to say that I loved this reply. The humor and attitude of your writing has inspired me to the cult of Mustachianism since the first few posts. My life really is better by all of the standards I hold dear, simply because I seek to emulate your lifestyle. I’m sure it helped that I was raised with similar values. So, while I recognize it’s just more of the same “following the crowd” traits, I’ve very carefully chosen which crowd to follow :-)

    • 9 O Clock Shadow March 12, 2015, 4:32 pm

      I also worry about the of the Blog with posts like this too, but not MMM himself. I read it twice and enjoyed it, but to be fair to your perspective, did it make you laugh at the ridiculousness described? Posts like these are like standup comedy to a large audience, and the best comedians make fun of things that the whole room can laugh at, particularly when they relate to human behavior. Think of George Carlin and his Stuff monologue – it applies to all of us, but doesn’t single out anyone in particular. It is a masterful, poignant piece of comedy totally relevant to the spirit of this blog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x_QkGPCL18. It is very difficult, but I hope MMM aspires to write at that level. It would multiply the effectiveness of the message many times over.

      The forums are a bit like a locker room though, where singling out someone for a laugh is more tolerated. Those can be cult-like. And I am a member!

      • casserole55 March 25, 2015, 6:39 am

        I think that MMM does write at the level mentioned above. One of the things that I admire about this post is that MMM takes a shot at HIMSELF re the 2nd bathroom. He shows here that he’s not “frugalier than thou.” All of us need to make decisions about how we want to spend our time, talent, and treasure. And none of us are perfect. This blog is about learning to do better.

    • Eric March 12, 2015, 7:08 pm

      You’re right that there’s a lot of slamming of mainstream living that takes place on the blog and forum, some of it pretty harsh. I think most people just don’t realize there are other ways to live because of how they were raised, what they see everywhere around them, what they get in the media, etc., and so I try to be sympathetic and non-judgmental around these issues. So I’m with you there. However I don’t agree with your statement:

      “the value-system is arbitrary and it’s not your job to tell people how to live their lives or that your decisions somehow are more valuable than theirs”

      Because our lifestyle choices affect each other via the environment, the health of our communities, the economy and politics and so on, it’s not out of line for MMM to step up and say “wait a minute – your giant truck is bad for yourself and others.” Expressing his values has been a central part of this blog from the beginning, and I think a large part of it’s success. He could just be a numbers guy and talk about Roth vs. blah blah blah, but the more philosophical aspects about how we’re living and what life is really about are much more rare and valuable.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque March 12, 2015, 9:10 pm

      “At the end of the day, however, the value-system is arbitary and it’s not your job to tell people how to live their lives …”
      Speak for yourself, dude.
      I come here exclusively to be told how to live my life.
      And the swearing. There’s always the swearing.

      • Louisville March 13, 2015, 8:09 am

        “the value-system is arbitrary and it’s not your job to tell people how to live their lives or that your decisions somehow are more valuable than theirs”

        So, then, what’s the point of ever expressing any opinion about anything?

        • Mike March 20, 2015, 2:38 pm

          Are you from Louisville, KY?

      • Mr. Money Mustache March 13, 2015, 9:45 am

        Yeah, isn’t that funny how some people repeat that “it’s not your business what others do” assumption?

        The statement is based on a generally true rule that liberty works well: don’t mess with other people’s shit, and they won’t mess with yours. It applies well when it comes to lifestyle choices, and if in doubt we should fall on the side of liberty.

        But when stuff is obviously affecting others – like the jacked up truck racer who leaves a trail of black smoke across my soccer field so all the kids have to lie on the ground and take shelter for a couple minutes until the smoke clears . That is not a personal choice anymore – that is stealing MY liberty, and I will retaliate.

        And with our new big population, we have to have at least a TINY bit of a watch on stuff like CO2 pollution. Pretending that doesn’t affect others is just boasting about one’s unwillingness to learn about their own world.

        • Markola March 13, 2015, 7:25 pm

          Aye, and those super loud motorcycles that are apparent attempts at testosterone replacement therapy, and which ruin peaceful evenings at home with the windows open and al fresco lunches. Dislike.

          • Matt (Semper Fi) November 27, 2016, 9:36 pm

            OH my GOD. I’m in total agreement with you. Discourteous asswipes.

        • Philip March 14, 2015, 5:09 pm

          Easy there big fella….just because you’re vehicle doesn’t pump out visible smog doesn’t mean it’s not still contributing as well. Just because you’ve chosen to live in a smaller house and use solar doesn’t mean you’re not contributing to the carbon footprint. Until you decide to walk to Ecuador for conferences you’re impacting my liberty. I don’t like taking things to extremes but well, you started it, lol.

    • Leslie March 13, 2015, 10:48 am

      Driving a fuel efficient car is not being cheap. Growing your own vegetables is not being cheap. Canceling a cable package is not cheap. Borrowing books and DVDs from the library is not being cheap. Foregoing a smart phone for a regular cell phone is not cheap. Shopping at Goodwill is not being cheap. Making your kids walk to school is not being cheap. You are also being judgmental when you call everyone on this forum cheap.

      • Joe Average March 13, 2015, 11:46 am

        I’m cheap…. ;)

      • Doug March 14, 2015, 8:06 pm

        You aren’t being cheap, you are being sensible and efficient.

    • Scott March 13, 2015, 1:34 pm

      As an economist, I must say I agree. We all have different utility curves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indifference_curve) which represent different preferences, which in turn dictate different decisions. And I have no problem with that, so long as the costs of all externalities are baked into the prices of those different bundles of goods. Some of us, such as those of us reading this blog, when deciding between an IRA and an SUV, are willing to give up a lot of SUV for a little savings. Others, deciding between food for the week and cigarettes, will give up a lot of food for a little cigarettes. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s their decision to make. (Again, this assumes all costs, including social costs, are reflected in prices. I realize that’s not the case. But it’s important to remember that the optimal amount of pollution is not zero!)

      • Mr. Frugal Toque March 14, 2015, 5:08 am

        What if your utility curve involved enjoying a chain of cigarettes in a restaurant where no one else can stand the smell? Ignore for a moment the threat of second hand smoke, and just look at the way you’re ruining everyone else’s evening.
        How does your utility curve work then?

        • Victor March 14, 2015, 7:17 am

          I’m not Scott and not really an economist (but taken a couple courses + strong interest) and you could treat it as an external effect and if the price takes into account that it would be no problem. Like you ask people (and they cant lie) how much in monetary value they are bothered by the smoke. Lets say there are 5 other guests and each of them think that the smoking reduces their value of the night with 5 USD. That means a total of 25 USD. If the smoker thinks smoking inside is worth 30 USD to him in pleasure it means that if the smoker gives each of the guests 5 USD for them to allow him to smoke the total utility in the room actually increases.

          • Mr. Money Mustache March 15, 2015, 3:48 pm

            I always liked thought experiments like that. Similarly, I feel people with barking dogs should pay me $1.00 for each bark I hear coming from the unattended/untrained dogs they leave outside in their yards. On some days, I would net over $1000, which would considerably improve my feeling about each bark I overheard. Other neighbors would be eligible too, which would quickly make (noisy) dog ownership unaffordable to most. Win/win!

            • Matt (Semper Fi) November 27, 2016, 9:41 pm

              Dude. I am so with you on this. People think that once they have a yard, well, shit, they’d better put a dog in it! Which isn’t bad in and of itself, but they should at least train the damned things.

          • Scott March 16, 2015, 7:19 am

            Almost entirely correct. The smoker would indeed give up $25, but it would not go to the nonsmokers, as that creates perverse incentives (nonsmokers say it’s actually worth $50 to them, or more nonsmokers show up just to get paid, etc). Instead the $25 goes into a general fund. In practical terms this usually means tax revenue.

            Obviously, this doesn’t really happen, and it isn’t really practical in such a situation (there are some situations where it is practical), but it is a neat way to sort out the externality problem (and my personal favorite). It does introduce new problems such as determining the difference between the socially optimal outcome and the market outcome, and there is the added inefficiency of collecting tax revenue, but overall the idea is sound. I’d much rather be raising tax revenue by taxing a negative externality than, say, taxing income.

        • Philip March 14, 2015, 5:13 pm

          Strawman. Absolutely nothing to do with the comment about utility curves.

          • Mr. Frugal Toque March 15, 2015, 6:53 am

            What an odd thing to say.
            Unless we somehow “bake” the price of annoying people with the smell of cigarettes into the price of cigarettes,I don’t see how this system can work.

      • just some guy March 16, 2015, 4:28 pm

        Back to Scott’s original comment about utility curves… I agree with him that people should be free to choose their preferred point along the curve (given a situation where all externalities are accounted for). BUT, I think a big part of what MMM is pointing out here is that most people are not consciously making these decisions, or that they are making them with a skewed set of “facts”.

        They see the SUV cost as just a monthly loan payment (and miss the lost investment revenue, increased gas and maintenance costs, reduction in health for spending more time driving instead of walking, etc.).

        They see the IRA benefit as negligible (money that is no good to me until I get really old) instead of the purchase of their own freedom that it actually is.

        Everyone should be free to make their own decisions. But everyone should also be better educated as to the actual costs/benefits involved. I think that’s what MMM is trying to accomplish.

        • Dan March 18, 2015, 4:21 pm

          Isn’t the point not to be satisfied with the utility curve our society has drawn for you but to re-perceive your actual utility curve?

          And appropriately value the positive externality of your own badassity?

  • Tawcan March 12, 2015, 3:36 pm

    Love everything you wrote in this post. It doesn’t take much to follow the herd and then become more and more ridiculous when it comes to owning things.

    Following the herd can be a good thing too. If more and more people come to their senses and become conscious about spending vs saving, maybe the rest of the population will follow. I think there’s hope.

  • John Dough March 12, 2015, 3:42 pm

    I share your exasperation.
    Sheeple want to be normal.
    Thinkers and Mustachians don’t want to be “normal.”

    • HenryDavid March 12, 2015, 4:09 pm

      “Why be happy when you can be normal?” –Jeanette Winterson

  • John Dough March 12, 2015, 3:44 pm

    They laugh at us because we’re different.
    We laugh at them because they’re all the same.

  • Wade March 12, 2015, 3:49 pm

    One issue is you can’t see non-ridiculousness.

    If we do 47 n0n-ridiculous things and save a shit pile of money and then buy “any” new car, we were just ridiculous and everyone saw it.

    Some people buying the Suburbans, Expeditions and Durangos could make that in interest/dividends per day on their pile of index investments. It probably doesn’t make it “right” but they are winning.

    Assumptions. I make them. You make them. Some are right. Some are wrong. I just don’t know.

    But I do like the message and all your thoughts resonate in some form with me.


  • RH March 12, 2015, 4:13 pm

    My parents got a large new RV trailer 6 months ago. They then “had” to buy a V8 Landcruiser to tow it. They then had to find a facility to store it for the 95% of the time when it’s not in use. They then have to stress out hauling the beast in traffic to their “campground”. They then pay $100+ a night at a “campground” when they do use it. Plus, all the maintenance, insurance, gas…$$$

    It just doesn’t make sense when you could get a used Honda Fit, travel all over the US and just do AirBNB’s, etc…for a fraction of the cost. Heck, you can even do a AirBNB in a RV with an Oceanview https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/820227

    Oh wait…my Mom’s sister recently got an RV….that explains it…just like Sheep. Baaaaaaa

  • Mr. 1500 March 12, 2015, 4:19 pm

    Kindof related…

    I’ve always wondered what the MMM endgame is, literally. You mentioned a couple posts ago that you already have multiple millions. Great! Since you’re only 40 and spend only $24,000/year, when you make your final exit, you will leave a huge lump of money behind. Great again!!

    If I had to guess, I’d say that you plan to leave most of it to great causes like the Gates foundation. The world will be a better place in the wake (get it, “wake?”) of MMM.

    It may be a worthwhile goal to start your own foundation at some point. With your readership, you could certainly round up some hypersmart people to manage it.

    • AEBinNC March 13, 2015, 9:14 am

      I too wonder what the bigger plan is. I’m hoping it’s something really kick ass that would create a public good, and the funds to maintain it. Like helping to expand a greenway for bikes or setting up a park in a poor neighborhood.

      • Heath March 13, 2015, 2:36 pm

        MMM has talked a bit about this before. Pretty sure he’s planning on giving it all to various charities. See this post: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/09/29/weekend-edition-the-life-you-can-save/

        • Mr. 1500 March 24, 2015, 9:47 am

          Thanks Heath! I need to blow the cobwebs out of my ‘Stashopedia.

          I think often about MMM’s effect on the world. MMM himself will probably leave a sizable estate behind, but it will still be small compared to the really big guys like Mark Zuckerberg, Gates or Buffett.

          This blog will have a much greater effect. Getting millions of readers to change up their lifestyles is huge. Those millions will then effect their circles. On and on.

          If he ever does it, I’d certainly throw my money behind MMM to support worthwhile causes. Lots of others would too.

  • Joe March 12, 2015, 4:19 pm

    Whenever the urge strikes to upgrade my already great lifestyle to one of more luxurious living (the one that my immigrant grandparents would deem as totally ridiculous), I read another new MMM article and promptly punch myself in the face. Excellent, as usual. Consider me a “disciple.”

    • Philip March 14, 2015, 5:19 pm

      Sometimes I think what I like about MMM is it is a nice reminder that there are people in my generation that get what previous generations never even had to think about. Nothing MMM writes about is a revelation to me; it’s just good reinforcement that I’m OK.

  • Tamara March 12, 2015, 4:23 pm

    I know a family living in a state that has dirt cheap cost of living and yet they still managed to stretch themselves financially to the max. I think they’re trying to keep up with the Joneses, not realizing that the Joneses are high net-worth AND high-income individuals while they themselves are only high income individuals. Theoretically they should have a massive nest egg by now but instead, they’re wondering why they don’t have any money. For some reason, there is also a weird belief that if your children ask for stuff you HAVE to give it to them because all the other kids have these stuff. It’s “bad” if the parent “can’t afford” to buy their kids certain stuff. Well….curing spend-itis is a good way to have the money to be able to “afford” important stuff.

    baaaa~ baaaa~

  • Simon Cunningham March 12, 2015, 4:36 pm

    Bill Murray from Groundhog Day: “People like blood sausage, too. People are morons.”

    • Matth March 13, 2015, 7:26 pm

      I like blood sausage.

    • Carrie March 14, 2015, 7:54 am

      I like Morons

  • Katie March 12, 2015, 5:06 pm

    Read the title of this post and could not stop laughing! great post, spot on about the herd following and that we never stop to analyse our situation and whether it is or is not ridiculous. We just blindly follow. It’s also great to put things into perspective. I live a luxurious life and it doesn’t matter what person A or person B has. My own values, morals, ethics should and do influence me, not other Sheeples’!! Thanks MMM, awesome read.

  • Ward Robles March 12, 2015, 5:20 pm

    Our brains are evolved to live in tribes, IMO. We are therefore concerned about others’ opinions, mostly without being consciously aware. But if we stop ourselves before we make a purchase and analyze it in the context of our deepest values, we can make much better choices. The kind of enlightenment described is thousands of years old, though. In Ancient Greece Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, asked Crates, the Cynic, to teach him. Crates made Zeno carry a ceramic pot of lentil soup Like a servant to teach him to not be concerned with the opinions of others in order to be free. When Zeno became embarrassed, Crato smashed the pot, causing the soup to stain Zeno’s robes and run down his legs looking like diarrhea and basically said “why are you upset? Nothing really bad has happened to you.” How many more options in life would be open to us if we were not concerned about the opinions of others?

    • Doug March 13, 2015, 2:34 pm

      Good point, we have evolved to live in tribes. However, I didn’t find much commonality with those fools who live, or should I say exist for being in bondage to materialism I found in many work places or other places. I’m retired and travel more now and guess what? I’ve found a lot of commonality with fellow travelers who I observed are far more like minded that the general public. I’ve had amazing conversations and great socializing with fellow travelers. With the right life choices, you can pick the right tribe.

  • Rj March 12, 2015, 5:26 pm

    Wow, you are right, those new durangos are nice. I’m going to save $300 a month by leasing instead of buying. This will make my work commute much more enjoyable. I can justify the mpg because I live next to sams so I don’t have to drive far, which equals out to +5mpg.

    Your information is really helping me live a better consumer lifestyle. I deserve a nice vehicle.

  • Mr. FC March 12, 2015, 5:27 pm

    Mind-blowing how people think you can buy a happy human being from a store. It’s hard to flip to the other side of that coin, but once you do it’s tough to see the world the same ever again.

    I don’t care what religion you follow or where you grow up, math is math and freedom is freedom. We live in a seething cesspool of ridiculous wealth in this country but it’s depressing to see people continue to sell themselves into bondage so they can buy a lifestyle. Fuck that.

    • PL March 13, 2015, 9:18 am

      Yes. Unfortunately, the majority of people don’t see the relationship between money and freedom. If they did, it would be much harder to part with it so easily.

  • Kenneth March 12, 2015, 6:44 pm

    I had to read every comment to make sure no one else pointed out that you misspelled UBIQUITOUS. But you did. I loved your post and have followed your every post for nearly four years now. Thanks for being the voice of reason when the rest have gone insane.

    present, appearing, or found everywhere.
    “his ubiquitous influence was felt by all the family”
    synonyms: omnipresent, ever-present, everywhere, all over the place, pervasive, universal, worldwide, global; More
    antonyms: rare

    mid 19th century: from modern Latin ubiquitas (from Latin ubique ‘everywhere,’ from ubi ‘where’) + -ous.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque March 12, 2015, 9:15 pm

      What’s more alarming, that he misspelled it … or that this article is only the *second* highest google search for “ubiquitious”?

    • Geek March 12, 2015, 10:29 pm

      Occasional misspellings give me confidence that MMM isn’t a robot programmed by a bad tempered miser ;P

      • Mr. Money Mustache March 19, 2015, 11:56 am

        OK, OK, I fixed it. My excuse is that the Wordpress editor doesn’t do spell-check on your headlines so I never got the red wavy line to warn me that I typed it in wrong.

        • Heath March 19, 2015, 12:06 pm

          Awww, I enjoyed ‘ubiquitious’. I figure it must be pronounced either yu-bih-quih-tee-us or yu-bih-quih-shus, and is perhaps an amalgam of two words. All of my efforts for an entertaining fictional definition have failed up to this point.

          Anyway, we’ve still got it preserved right here in the comments … and the URL of course :-)

  • Lucas March 12, 2015, 6:54 pm

    It’s great to make fun of all the ridiculousness around us in Western society. It’s all a good reminder of cushy and abundant our lives really are. Now I just have to make fun of myself more often, which I do whenever I drive somewhere closer than 10 miles.

    There’s really no point in trying to change what others are doing, though. All the work is in making our own lifestyles true-happiness-efficient, which doubles as an exercise in freedom-seeking. The tide rises naturally from there. But it may take a couple more generations.

    • Joe Average March 13, 2015, 12:00 pm

      Depends on how hilly that ten miles is or how safe the roads are for bicyclists. As much as I like our town, I don’t like the streets here. Can’t bike to work safely or efficiently.

      • Heath March 13, 2015, 2:46 pm

        Sounds like you’re a great candidate for the MMM dream project of a documentary in which he goes to people’s houses who say they ‘can’t bike’ because of X, Y, or Z, and then proceeds to ride his bike right around and through the impossibilities :-)

        This comment brought to you by a dude (me) who intentionally moved 3 (very flat) miles from where he works :-P

  • MynameisnotKaren March 12, 2015, 7:50 pm

    MMM, I’ve been reading your blog for over a year and it’s completely changed my life. I’ll have my 350K house paid off in less than 2 years, and I cannot tell anyone for fear that I anger someone. I try to un-brainwash my kids every day. I try to share your blog with my family and workmates but no one will listen. I guess that’s how I know I am doing something right….right? Hugging you through my computer, thank you!!!!

    • Lisa Olsen March 13, 2015, 5:50 pm

      I know exactly what you mean. I’ve tried passing along some of the amazing tips I’ve picked up from this blog, and people get really uncomfortable. Like I’m threatening their lifestyle with a machete and a pair of pliers to suggest they might want to get rid of cable TV or buy something second hand. Why do people cling to such wasteful practices when you can show them first hand how successfully it’s changed your life?

      • Smart Money MD March 19, 2015, 1:05 pm

        These uncomfortable looks I get help me develop a tougher skin. The higher income bracket of people you speak to about consumption reduction, the more of a hippy they view you as. Alas, those upper middle class people are those with the greatest ability to quickly fix their situation.

  • Nick March 12, 2015, 9:48 pm

    Darn, that was an entertaining post!
    I had that WTF moment a few weeks ago when one of my neighbors showed up where I live in my middle class apt complex in a freaking Lamborghini (!) and a few days later I meet him again with 4 people pushing it out of the parking lot because it couldn’t start!
    This kind of ridiculousness only comforts me that Mustachianism is the smarter way.

  • Nathanael March 13, 2015, 12:02 am

    “They are obedient followers of the social script, trapped so tightly that they can barely move. And although you’re a social animal too, you can rise up to a far happier lifestyle just by becoming a tiny bit less ridiculous than average.”

    This is very similar to something I realized one evening years and years. The turn of phrase that naturally occurred to me at that time was “the struggle to rise above mediocrity” — with respect to what I saw (and see) as a financial system that is deeply designed to prevent people from realizing what they are capable of. From childhood we are inundated with marketing and consumerism, and as adults still reeling under that constant onslaught we are BLED at every opportunity by hidden, additional, intentionally understated or otherwise ridiculous costs, especially by the banks and credit companies. Before I go on a rant here, suffice to say that I think it isn’t *really* us versus them, but us versus It. The thing is, most people are indeed so enmeshed in It that they don’t even realize It, and ruffled feathers are to be expected.

    But as I recall, Morpheus didn’t hold back on Neo in the dojo or on the rooftop, and even taunted him a little.

    • 9 O Clock Shadow March 14, 2015, 9:21 pm

      “Not us vs them, but us vs It”

      Great insight and turn of phrase. Captures so many of humanity’s struggles.

    • tlars699 March 18, 2015, 1:55 pm

      Ugh! You know how I know you read A Wrinkle in Time as a kid? Because of IT being the perfect descriptor of the leading philosophy the zombie like droning masses are forced to follow.

      Mrs. Whatsit was totally a badass, though.

  • thejuntotimes March 13, 2015, 4:07 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for about 3 years now, and you know what the funny thing is? I forget this sort of thing ALL THE TIME.

    I guess it’s because of the people I am surrounded by. I am considered ‘extremely frugal’ by all my friends, at times almost to the point of isolation… it’s a little sad at times.

    I think media etc influences us so much… Pretty much 50% of the informational modern books are not in any way what they say they are, they are just glorified magazines to convince you to buy more products………. rather than just being timeless complete documents of information………….

    Life can almost become a circus show where you are constantly floating around, getting pulled towards consuming different things……. and it definitely gives you a buzz if you buy something which you think is going to result in positive reinforcement from your peers, as you say it’s the way we are wired.

    I guess we just have to look past our cognitive biases… but it can be very difficult when every thing is working against you!!

    Thanks for the timely reminder.

    Peace and Love.

    • Ms. Must-Stash March 13, 2015, 9:31 pm

      ME TOO! I’ve been reading MMM for 2+ years now and do a number of things very well — and yet it’s so easy to forget this basic lesson and be lulled into complacency. Love the jolly face punch / reminder.

    • Joe Average March 16, 2015, 11:21 am

      “I guess it’s because of the people I am surrounded by. I am considered ‘extremely frugal’ by all my friends, at times almost to the point of isolation… it’s a little sad at times.”

      YOU SAID IT!

      Am surrounded mostly by people more or less content to be part of the herd and follow along. I even have one friend who points out life’s little problems yet still participates with the rest of the herd. (Example: he’ll mention how unhealthy fast food is, and then he proceeds to eat it most days because the work crowd goes there. And of course I’m the “weirdo” that eats it rarely and thus eats my brought from home lunch for a fraction of the cost. Ate an Arby’s sandwich last week with the crew and actually felt a little sick afterwards… No more, thanks.)

      I ALMOST wish I could experience the blissful ignorance of what goes on around me. Just be part of the circus show you mentioned but I know a month or a few down the road I’d be very unsatisfied with it again as it absorbed all my money and delivered very little value in the long run.

      We watch TV but it is universally only the streaming variety. I LOVE having my family disconnected from the standard commercial driven TV format. I first experienced this when I lived overseas for several years. I had no idea what the current fad was and it was liberating.

      When we unplugged a few years back (’09 or so?) bliss returned slowly after we got over the feeling that we were missing something by not having live TV. Now we as a family have a hard time watching it when we visit with friends or family. We watch it without comment but each time when we drive home one of us comments on how frequent the commercials were or how bad they were (local check cashing, title pawn, low end insurance, car dealer ads). Thanks but I don’t need my TV delivering multiple ads about little blue pills or those “electronic cigarettes”.

      We just repeated that disconnect with the purchase of the Chevy. Our other car has a decent stereo that I installed when the original volume knob quit years ago.

      No more canned/pre-recorded music b/c the Chevy has a basic factory stereo. Need to dig out that cassette/aux input adapter. The radio commercials seem to endless and the same songs seemed to come on each time I go somewhere. Need to get podcast capable again. Nothing wrong with silence too…

  • jestjack March 13, 2015, 4:27 am

    In my neck of the woods the “herd” has certain characteristics that go with the seasons. As Spring approaches we start to see the for sale signs go up. Too many of these sales are forced by foreclosure AND/OR financial distress. Upon settlement I finally get to understand how these folks did it….”they were up to their eye balls in debt”…and when they depart have little or no equity. I have witnessed it more than once and it’s painful to watch folks in their 50’s grasping at straws as they run out of options. Recently a “good time Charlie” around the corner from me just had his home go to foreclosure. This gent had all the “toys”….His house was put up for sale at $219K….records indicate he paid $325K about 12 years ago…and had outstanding equity loans over $150K. Despite debt approaching $500K…the Bank just wanted out….I guess the balance owed went to “money heaven”….

  • EDSMedS March 13, 2015, 5:30 am

    I had a great conversation last night about familial expectations with an Afghan man who immigrated to the US two years ago. There is no way for a reasonable person to learn about other cultural experiences and remain beholden to the norms of one culture.

    Thank goodness I have always been odd and ill-fitted to my surroundings, forcing reflection and “the search.” And thank the fucking stars that MMM is bold enough to speak against the majority.

    Keep the thoughtful antagonism flowing, brother!

  • Will March 13, 2015, 5:57 am

    Not to sound like a complainly pants, but the Durango’s smallest engine is a 3.6L. I have know idea why that bothers me so much.

  • Michelle March 13, 2015, 6:43 am

    This is my struggle. I grew up relatively poor, and I have stop myself from trying to provide for my children what I didn’t have (but what they don’t really need either). I felt like a bit of an outsider growing up, so I struggle with making choices that make me (and my children) seem like outsiders again, but what can I do? I marvel at the money wasting in our very affluent town.

    • Lisa Olsen March 13, 2015, 5:53 pm

      Oh, this happens to me to! I find myself living vicariously through my kids, giving them things I never had a chance of owning when I was young. It’s been hard to turn that mindset around and go back to re-learning some of the tips and tricks for making do with less – but I’m trying! It’s definitely been liberating to pare things down around here instead of constantly buying new stuff!

  • Vertical Mode March 13, 2015, 7:17 am

    LOL. I used to drive a Dodge Durango several years ago. You can move half of the herd in one ;-)

    I will say in its defense, in the snow that thing was practically on rails. Not worth it for the 17 MPG highway, though.

  • misschedda March 13, 2015, 7:38 am

    Your sheeple remind me of Dr. Seuss’ Star-Belly Sneetches. Both species could do with a bit more critical examination of their lifestyles.

    • PowerSuiteRecall March 16, 2015, 8:40 am

      One of my favourites :)

      “All the rest of that day, on those wild screaming beaches,
      The Fix-It-Up Chappie kept fixing up Sneetches.
      Off again! On again! In again! Out again!
      Through the machines they raced round and about again,

      Changing their stars every minute or two. They kept paying money.
      They kept running through until the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
      Whether this one was that one or that one was this one. Or which one
      Was what one or what one was who.

      Then, when every last cent of their money was spent,
      The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up. And he went.
      And he laughed as he drove In his car up the beach,
      “They never will learn. No. You can’t Teach a Sneetch!”

  • Andy March 13, 2015, 7:45 am

    To help curb some of my own ridiculousness, however seemingly simple, are started pickling cucumbers and other veggies. I was spending over ten dollars a jar for local gourmet pickles! It turns out pickling is fun and easy and cheap.

  • Hunniebun March 13, 2015, 8:40 am

    The one thing I want to know is…what did mini-MM bring as a gift to the birthday party? LOL! My guesses include the following a) Nothing – the celebration with people is more important than a gift b) a cash donation to the child’s likely-non-existent education fund c) a whiteboard with dry erase markers to foster fine motor skills and spur creativity or d) Lego (still plastic…but at least has room for imaginative play) :)
    As for the red carpet line up to collect children from school…it may seem silly to many…but the fact is that in this country it is actually currently illegal to leave a child under the age of 12 (for my province) unsupervised for ANY period of time. Parents are spending time in jail, on probation and having their children taken away by child and family services for letting kids under the age of 12 walk home from school alone or even leaving them at home for a few minutes to get groceries. These are facts. There are articles in our news paper at least a few times a year with these types of stories. ‘Neighbours’ are calling the police because kids are playing outside in their own yard unsupervised by an adult. So…you can either pick your child up from school or you can risk losing them. It is absurd…yes. But this is the reality for parents. Sad but true.
    As for the comical state of our over consumption, it should not be a surprise to anyone after reading MMM hedonic adaptation blog – which basically means “no matter what happens to you in your life, you’ll very quickly get used to it’. Since most of us all always seeking that illusive happy feeling and quickly get used to have 20 minute long hot showers and 40 minute commutes in our massive farm trucks…we are so used to it that we have to buy campers to bring joy…but then we get used to that and buy boats to go with it :)

    • Matt (Semper Fi) November 28, 2016, 6:48 am

      Parents can walk, or bike, to school to pick up their kids. Unless they live more than a couple of miles away.

  • Green Guru March 13, 2015, 8:56 am

    Much of it is because we have become a low trust society. People move to expensive exurbs to avoid living in proximity to poor people. They drive their children to work because they fear their neighbors even in the expensive exurbs.

    As for the ridiculous SUVs, that’s because the government outlawed full sized cars years ago via the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. SUVs got classified as trucks (until very recently), and so the people who used to buy full sized cars now buy trucks. Also, nearly all cars are sports cars today: bucket seats and high acceleration. You need it to get on our overcrowded freeways.

    In the late 1980s you could get a full sized car that got close to 30 mph on the highways at 70 mph with the air conditioner running. I’m referring to my old 1986 Oldsmobile Delta 88. It didn’t have bug like cab foward design. The trunk lid was large. The seats were cushy split bench seats that you could sit in for 400+ miles and not feel exhausted afterwards. But the acceleration was crappy by modern standards. And it fell apart after 100K miles.

    And, by the way, it had a 3.8 liter engine. Engine size is not the only factor driving up fuel use.

    • Matth March 13, 2015, 8:02 pm

      Fuel use is actually steady, or even declining. We’re actually at consumption levels equal to the late 1990s, down from a peak in 2005.

      • Aashish March 15, 2015, 7:17 pm

        Since people seem to get sensitive to ideas or suggestions, we can do this generically. Can most of us reduce our fuel consumption (and consumption in general) by 5-10-20% without sacrificing any happiness in life? Everyone finds certain things harder than others to reduce/give up, but most everyone should be able to find some ideas to reduce their overall footprint. Reduce. Analyze. Repeat.

      • Joe Average March 16, 2015, 3:31 pm

        I wonder if gasoline stays around $2.25 if consumption won’t climb again once people “overlook” the $4 gasoline we paid here for a short time. We got to a point where our goal was not to even start a car over a whole weekend. ;) Now we still stay close to home most weekends.

  • Kayla March 13, 2015, 9:46 am

    There are lot of different ridiculous-ness-es (is that a word? I don’t think so) going on in our world today. Thanks for calling attention to some of them! :)

  • Giovanni March 13, 2015, 10:00 am

    It’s funny, I live in a fairly frugal, environmentally conscious town with a mild climate (especially this year) and yet the SUVs and trucks still line up down the street at the nearby middle school. It’s a wonder that kids figure out how to get themselves to class when they graduate to high school :)

    Also reading an interesting book on an OG Mustachian, Henry Ford and his philosophy called My Life and Work: Free on Kindle http://smile.amazon.com/My-Life-Work-Henry-Ford-ebook/dp/B0084AMXOY/ and you can also find free PDFs of it online as well-

  • Mr. Enchumbao March 13, 2015, 10:39 am

    Cheers to being less ridiculous than average! :)


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