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 The Red/Blue battle is less noticeable in these parts, but it has been replaced by an equally bizarre pattern: a competition over how to decorate their heads, bodies, and habitat.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.


  • Alfredo March 13, 2015, 10:48 am

    “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
    ― Mark Twain

  • Negative Ned March 13, 2015, 11:22 am

    “these people are just as intelligent as those that surround you”

    Fully and completely untrue for any reasonable definition of intelligence. There is absolutely no evidence which would suggest that all groups are equal. It is the leftist version of creationism, requiring similar levels of faith in order to believe, but it’s defended with a fervor that hasn’t been seen in Christendom for over 100 years.

    Don’t believe me? approve this comment and watch em line up to denounce.

    To preempt: the Flynn effect shows that measured IQ changes over time (rising generally). It does not suggest that there is an overall convergence occurring.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 13, 2015, 7:27 pm

      Interesting point, Ned – I don’t know much about average IQ by population group or country. I would not be surprised if there are differences, and if there are, I wouldn’t expect my own group to be among the smartest. But you should link to some interesting sources if you want to teach us all some interesting stuff. IQ is not a measure of goodness or morality, so we shouldn’t be insulted if we find out others are smarter than we are.

      Also, while we’re in pure speculation mode: assuming you take my comment about repressed women as referring the Middle East – that area was originally THE hotbed of world thought leadership, with algebra and some incredible early astronomy all coming from around Baghdad. Learning about a centuries-old Iranian Astrolabe in a museum the other week, I was AMAZED at how clever some of the tinkerers of days gone by were.

      • Philip March 14, 2015, 6:08 pm

        Hmmmm…..me thinks the MMM doth protest too much.

      • Negative Ned March 15, 2015, 3:41 pm

        Exactly. No surprise, they’re not equal. British 17 year olds have been historically used as a yardstick and normed to 100, standard deviation of 15. East asians, as you’d expect, are also triple digit folks. Around 103-105. You can find subsets of populations, ashkenazi jews for instance averaging 112-115. You might have noticed, these people have won a lot of nobel prizes.

        IQ doesn’t determine your future. But it does do a good job of predicting it. Regardless of upbringing, almost nobody who works as a janitor would have been able to get a masters of EE. There are limits. When you have a society where 1/20 people have the constitution for MScEE you get Apple or Samsung. When you have a society where 1/2000 do, you struggle to keep lights on.

        Yes the ME was a center of thought and culture back then and even before the Islamic golden age, the Middle East had always been one of the most civilized areas in the world, with the earliest known writing, laws, and if I recall correctly, the first city of over a thousand residents in Syria. Afghanistan, the only country where the burqa is very common, has always been a bit of a backwater, but I’m fairly certain that’s a product of geography and history (Afghan gdp per capita may have been higher in 1150, before the conquests of Genghis Khan, than it is today, and that’s an unimaginable horror).

        http://www.calamitiesofnature.com/archive/?c=619 based on a Richard Lynn (yes, he has a reputation) article in the journal Intelligence.

        Shows Afghanistan around 85 IQ, about a standard deviation below, say, the UK. Does that seem possible? Plausible? Probable?

        Either way, I do appreciate your willingness to tangle with ideas you’re not comfortable with. You wear it well Mr. MM

    • Doug March 15, 2015, 12:12 pm

      Are these people just as intelligent as those that surround you? I don’t know, but the possibility exists those sheeple are just as intelligent as we mustachians, by the traditional measurement of intelligence, namely the IQ test. Where I believe we mustachian types excel is common sense intelligence. Personally I don’t think of myself as being exceptionally intelligent, definitely not a MENSA candidate, but do have some common sense and ability to connect the dots to see the obvious.

      • Joe Average March 16, 2015, 3:37 pm

        People just have different motivations. To some – watching two groups of grown men chase a little leather ball around a big grass field is important. To others studying to save for a rainy day overrides that urge to watch those grown men. We just use our intelligence in different ways.

        Has anyone ever seen a chart that show how many people have a particular IQ? I forget my stats class vocab words.

  • drea March 13, 2015, 11:28 am

    This post reminded me of the ‘Body Rituals among the Nacirema’ article by Horace Miner. I remember his article blowing my mind as a youngster in Sociology 101


  • Jerome March 13, 2015, 11:33 am

    Thanks for this. Really good reminder as I’m currently struggling with several peers and friends who are in the same age group but seem to have gotten “far ahead” in their careers, salaries, pricier car purchases (nothing too fancy but definitely nothing I would call Mustachian), and houses. In one case, I have a friend who just closed on a $1M+ home with his wife and just moved in. Looking at the pictures of it incites jealousy, often resulting in me contemplating how “far behind” we are. But once I cut through the crap, like this article helps me to do, I realize now is the time not to be so outward-focused about what others are doing or what they’ve done or accomplished. Sure, be happy for them (or maybe feel sorry for them if I know how much they’ll be owing on loans, property taxes, etc) but just move on and keep saving. I’m already in a really good situation as is so I’m not about to screw it up with some really stupid purchase decision that stems from “keep up with the Joneses” or rather “Sheeples.”

  • Mrs. R March 13, 2015, 11:33 am

    The biggest heard issue in my life is everyone having kids and expecting me to as well!! Why can’t anyone accept a couple or woman going against the heard on this one?!

    • Markola March 13, 2015, 7:55 pm

      If it helps, know that it’s just one phase, like when “everyone” was graduating, then “everyone” was getting married. At 49, my wife and I have friends who have kids, but the ones we see the most, get to travel with and do other fun stuff are either DINKs like us, single, retired or gay with no kids. In other words, there are plenty of people around to do stuff with. We’re looking forward to about 5 years from now when our friends’ kids go off to college and we can spend long nights eating, drinking and taking long trips with them.

    • Doug March 14, 2015, 8:16 pm

      In a world that’s as overpopulated as it is now, there’s nothing wrong at all with not having kids.

      • Sandy March 16, 2015, 9:28 am

        “Environmentalists have been much too calm about the ultimate threat (of overpopulation and consumption) to mankind.” Paul Ehrlich

        “Either we reduce the world’s population voluntarily, or nature will do this for us, but brutally.”. Maurice Strong, Earth Summit Sec-General 1992.

  • Frank March 13, 2015, 11:52 am

    I’ve not had the chance to read any of the responses, so bear with me if this is a rehash from someone else. I completely agree with your points but as always I have to believe that there are exceptions. Case in point, my brother in law…who retired last year from working long and hard for one of the oil companies. He travelled the world, worked hard. Some time ago during his much younger career years, we vacationed in Austin and he indicated that his dream was to have a lake house so that he could enjoy his retirement years with his grandchildren. He was able to retire and have enough to cover the cost of a fully loaded lake house. The house is so much larger than what he and my sister in law need, but there have been times when it is filled with visiting relatives during holidays. My point is – the lake house and all that comes with it enables him to experience the joy of family. I want to get a new Jeep, because I’ve always dreamed of doing some offroading, camping, Mountain Biking. Yes I could buy a used Jeep, but I’ve always dreamed of having a new one that would make it possible for me to enjoy other experiences with me and my wife. I see nothing wrong with this, so long as one can afford it.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 13, 2015, 7:17 pm

      I’m all for the lake house filled with friends and kids. But you might want to consider a 2012 Honda CR-V instead of any jeep. A better engineered and more capable vehicle, more efficient, and will cost you tens of thousands less over the life of the car.

      • gpisabela March 20, 2015, 11:35 am

        I always see here references to CR-V, never to RAV4. What’s wrong with Toyota RAV4?

  • Mario March 13, 2015, 11:52 am

    I like the conclusion you’ve reached here. Too often, personal finance writers make absolute value judgments that conclude that everything other people buy is ridiculous, but the things they buy are simply modern necessities. Everything is relative, I suppose. The right answer is one that deals with priorities. For example, is it more important to you that your five-seat grocery-getter has a 5.9-liter engine or that you can spend more time in retirement with your grandkids?

    • Joe Average March 16, 2015, 10:48 am

      I’ll make an example of my relative who is retired and just bought a brand new 7 passenger SUV. I don’t care in the least. Their money, their choices. It stills like a goofy purchase though.

      Said it was so they could haul all the grandkids at once. Now never mind that one part of the grand kids lives across the state in one direction and the other part of the grand kids lives a few states away. In other words it will be a very cold day in Hades before all the grandkids are in the same place at the same time and need hauling anywhere. More likely is that the parents of those grandkids will be there as well as the children (remember – my family – I know how it operates) and thus there will be multiple vehicles going to the same destinations such as dinners out and such – except this family *never* goes out together – so even that is highly unlikely.

      Meanwhile this retiree has all the typical old age aliments many of us (and that I will get too) have – diminishing vision, less physical agility, etc. Would see to me that the Prius would have been a much, much better choice. Easier to park, easier to get in and out of, easier to back up, less fuel per errand.

      Like I said – no big deal to me. Retired folks on my inlaw’s side did the very same thing for the very same dubious reasons. That back most seat has gotten very little use in several years and the grandkids are mostly grown and don’t go anywhere with the grandparents except in ones and twos anyhow. Meanwhile it’s become the main family grocery-getter vehicle.

  • Jane M March 13, 2015, 11:55 am

    As the only Moustachian I know, I sometimes get to wondering if I am the crazy one. When I see how everybody else is spending just to spend, and working just to work, I start to doubt my choice of a semi-retired frugal lifestyle. So glad to have these posts and this community to come back to from time to time to wake me up again.

    I do have to disagree with the point about cooking just for “taste”. Every culture and place I’ve experienced, no matter how poor, revels in the flavours of their food (obviously I have never attended an actual famine or met people who are truly starving). The point being, cooking tasty food is not really a luxury, but a universal part of being human.

    • Philip March 14, 2015, 6:13 pm

      Very true. Having spent time at Guantanamo Bay and subsequently Haite in 1994 with many Haitians, they are among some of the poorest people in the world but believe me, they love the taste of their food! Even though they had next to nothing when arriving or when we were in country, trust me, they preferred we simply hand over the staples and they took care of the rest!

    • Joe Average March 16, 2015, 11:07 am

      I definitely get the doubt watching other people’s choices can sew. Friend stopped by over the weekend. Traded in his one year old hybrid grocery getter for a SUV. He’s been a car hopper as long as I can remember. Very eager to show off the new ride. Our one week old to us (16+ years old) Chevy wasn’t nearly as impressive parked next to it. ;) There is the doubt created.

      That said I’m very proud of the “steal” I got on that car. Now a tank of fuel into it – it’s bland but it’s comfortable and gets the job done for the price of two/three new car payments. Still need to get the tires balanced and rotated. Sparkplugs get installed tonight.

      (Serviced the transmission over the weekend myself. Not difficult. For some reason GM deleted the drain plug from the transmission oil pan and did not install a dipstick. Saved the factory $2.25 I’m sure on the manufacturing cost of the car. You check the oil level by putting it on a lift and removing a bolt on the side of the transmission to see if any transmission fluid leaks out. I don’t have a lift nor do I have a flat driveway.)

  • Ben Luthi March 13, 2015, 12:03 pm

    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 neither 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… of 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!”

  • Mark March 13, 2015, 12:06 pm

    I agree with the general sentiment of the post, but as other people have pointed out, where do you draw the line on ridiculousness without becoming arbitrary? Any percentage-wise decrease of consumption will make sense for some people but not for others. The same thing goes for trying to establish any quantitative benchmark on consumption. I think if you have the resources to buy something then it’s well within reason to do so. You might not “need” the new Dodge Durango or other fancy toy, but as MMM has pointed out many times, there’s very little any of us actually need to begin with. Consumption is just a fleeting way of converting your wealth into utility value, and it is the path of last resistance for the sheep.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 13, 2015, 7:15 pm

      I’d suggest to just take the average energy and product consumption per capita in the US, and cut that by 75%. A good target to shoot for, and you can safely call yourself sufficiently non-ridiculous at that point, while still living in total luxury.

      • Philip March 14, 2015, 6:17 pm

        I agree in principle. I think many people think of saving energy. But let’s be realistic; most people simply recycle because the means and methods are provided for them. The average person doesn’t really care what provides the energy to turn their lights on, just that they turn on. Unfortunately, and I REALLY hate saying this, but this is one of those areas where it often requires govt getting involved and dictating.

    • David V March 16, 2015, 1:14 pm

      I think a lot of people are reading a bit too much into what is a pretty simple concept; buying expensive item X (I.E. Dodge Durango) when inexpensive item Y (I.E. Toyota Yaris or something) will get the job done is silly. Now, it’s fine to be silly -if- you can afford to be. Most people regularly reading this here blog believe that until you’ve generated enough wealth that you no longer have to -work- in order to buy item X, then you can’t afford it yet, and should stick with item Y. Better still, of course, would be to apply your brain and/or muscles to beat the system entirely and skip out on items X and Y in favor of something custom tailored to your own specific needs, wants, and circumstances.

      • Heath March 17, 2015, 12:06 pm

        This is probably the best simplification of Mustachianism I’ve ever heard. It’s all comes down to how we define the concept of ‘afford’, as per the high weight we put on individual freedom from ‘having to work’.

  • Lou C. March 13, 2015, 12:07 pm

    This blog has helped me a lot. Thank you, MMM. This post brings to mind someone I think MMM and many others will love. His name is Ethan Hughes and he and his wife started the Possibility Alliance in LaPlata, MO. They use no cars or electricity and grow all their own food. They ride their bikes everywhere and use no power tools. There are two interviews with Ethan on the Permaculture Podcast that will blow you away. It is such an inspiring story. Ethan’s optimism and values remind me a lot of MMM. Please take the time to listen to at least the first podcast. You will not be sorry. Links are below.


    • GIL March 17, 2015, 8:02 am

      Thank you for posting these links. I had never heard of the permaculture movement before, and I really enjoyed hearing about their ideals. The most encouraging part is the idea that small and slow solutions are needed.
      This link was worth reading through all these comments.

  • Marc March 13, 2015, 12:14 pm

    Good luck with you “Danze” installation. Mine for the tub was at least 50% more.
    One more warning: they have “lifetime” warranties, which mean you can’t service them yourself. So if you have a component go bad (as I have) you must wait for Fedex to bring you a new replacement.
    Oh, and the article was great! The mass of men DO lead lives of quiet desperation. Although personally, I wouldn’t be transporting my kid anywhere in the snow BY BICYCLE!

  • Dan Jones March 13, 2015, 12:26 pm

    Your head would utterly explode at the sight. But if you ever make it to Malaysia, I will show you what inefficiency and total insanity regarding cars looks like. It is, without a doubt, the Twilight Zone. Drinks and 47 blog post ideas on me if you do.

    Excellent as always. I sometimes wonder if your friends ever read your blog and go “Hey! You were talking about us eating all that poison and wasting our money!” Oh well.

    • mekN March 22, 2015, 11:44 pm

      “47 blog post ideas on me if you do”

      Totally agreed with Dan. High consumerism and overly cautious about material status are at an alarming rate here in Malaysia. Car madness, electronics gadgets fever, luxury condominiums/houses, a big “fairy tale’ wedding, obsession on expensive handbags and branded items, and the list goes on. People here are constantly whining about high cost of living, yet all the big shopping malls are jam packed with people on every weekends…quite a confusing scenario :)

      MMM, great article as always. Love your blog. Thanks.
      The comment section also useful, thanks to all.

  • ChrisHa March 13, 2015, 12:34 pm

    Hello Mr MM. I’ve been reading your column for a year, and have made some big changes as a result, for which I thank you. But one thing that you don’t speak enough about is the momentum around lifestyle choices, and the difficulty in breaking out of that gravitational pull. The longer one lives in a certain lifestyle, it seems, the harder it is to change directions. Choices I’ve made throughout my life swirl around me in a strong vortex of habits and consequences. Other people are caught up in it too, increasing the momentum. I’m not complaining. I want to continue to change direction. But at this point in my life, I don’t find it easy to fight the current.

  • Scott March 13, 2015, 12:50 pm

    Just a note– the 2015 Durango comes standard with a 3.6L, or you can get a 5.7L HEMI V8. Also, I’m not sure which dump trucks get 25 MPG on the highway, but I’ll assume you were embellishing slightly.

  • Steve March 13, 2015, 1:36 pm

    First, love the blog! But we have 5 kids! So our SUV carrying 7 people over 100 miles of city driving getting say 17 mpg burns 0.84 gallons/person. A car carrying 3 people would have to get almost 40 mpg to get that ratio! So, before you criticize those SUV drivers, realize that some of them may be perfectly reasonable when basically acting like a bus! I do love reading your posts! Maybe you could talk more about living a Mustachian lifestyle with a big family. Thanks!

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 13, 2015, 7:10 pm

      Good point, but you can generally get better mileage with a minivan than an SUV. (Unless you’re using a Highlander hybrid with 7-seat config). If you have two cars, make sure the second is an efficient one, then you can use the van only when carrying more than 5 people.

      The best thing you can do with a large family is just to live in the center of everything you do. Then you won’t need to drive much at all, and everyone can walk/bike to their own activities as they reach the age of independent travel.

  • TommyB March 13, 2015, 2:15 pm

    I’ve only recently discovered that one can actually WALK on those wonderful walking paths in our neighborhood and I am enjoying them immensely. I’ve also recently discovered the horrible exhaust spewing from all those cars waiting to pick up youngsters at the local school as I walk past it during my afternoon walks. Blech.

  • Doug March 13, 2015, 2:20 pm

    Yes, I’ve made the same observations as you, MMM. Just like yourself I ask: what the fuck is going on here? I was born into this western materialistic culture and still don’t get it. Right from when I was a teenager, or even a pre teen, I thought it would make more sense to take some of that extra money and put it into savings and investments and retire earlier or at least work less. I’ve done that and went into semi retirement (working on and off) at age 34 and became fully retired at 53. How’s it working out you ask? Here in Eastern Canada, and the Northeast US, it was a brutally cold winter that seemed to go on forever. I don’t know that from experience, because while that all was going on I “endured” hot midday weather while travelling in Thailand and Cambodia for most of January and February.

    In various places I’ve worked, in conversation I mentioned the idea of working less and more time off rather than layoffs if times got tough. Most people rejected the idea. Those of you who live in Ontario, like I do, may remember Premier Bob Rae. When times got tough in the early 1990s, rather that layoff government employees he brought in the idea of the Social Contract, where employees took off one day a month without pay. I thought it was a good idea, and if I were a government employee I would have requested more time off than that paltry amount. The union screamed, and the idea was scrapped in favour of layoffs with a change of government. I thought that an inevitable consequence of more productivity should be more time off, but it appears most Canadians (and also Americans) want more useless stuff and a bigger place to store it all instead. I think most of us here on this continent are masochists.

    • Howie March 14, 2015, 7:53 pm

      That’s exactly what got Mike Harris elected after Bob Rae. Best part was, he coined his campaign slogan the “Common Sense Revolution”.

      • Doug March 14, 2015, 7:58 pm

        Yes, most of those government employees were glad to see the last of Bob Rae, but I wonder how happy they were when the Conservative Mike Harris government cut jobs instead of hours. The trouble with wishing for something is you might actually get your wish!

  • David McKenna March 13, 2015, 5:18 pm

    MMM: have you thought of getting a TV show as a way to help promote your beliefs? You’ve already reached a lot of people via the Internet and MSM write ups, but maybe by lowering yourself to reality TV, you can reach home and raise up those like you write about in this article?

    • Scott March 16, 2015, 7:45 am

      What network would adopt a show that tells people to stop watching TV?

      That’s the reality unfortunately.

      • Kelly March 20, 2015, 5:12 pm

        It could be a Netflix Original Series.

  • Laurie C March 13, 2015, 9:37 pm

    For training new MMMs… With regard to birthday gifts…our family is trying to move away from “thing” gifts to experiences. I asked my daughter if it would be okay to ask her friends not to give her gifts this year, but she wasn’t ready for that. This seemed like a really good compromise: I asked her to try out a website called So Kind Registry from the Center for a New American Dream. It allows you to tell people the kinds of experiences you would like (she asked for a tae kwando lesson from friends who recently earned their black belts, a trip to the local ice rink, writing a story with a friend, etc.), as well as to request specific gifts, new or used (example: she wants a Rubik’s Cube, and there might be a chance one of her friends might have one they don’t want anymore).

    The birthday party is tomorrow, so we’ll see if the kids enjoy giving these types of gifts, and if my daughter likes getting them.

    I hope it works out, because I love the concept. This gift registry helps you communicate with non-Mustachians in a non-threatening way that you prefer experiences over things. And for kids who aren’t quite ready to go cold-turkey on giving up presents, it’s a way to experience “getting” without the closet full of unused toys.

  • Marcia March 13, 2015, 9:38 pm

    Okay, you totally had me until you busted on the beer and cake.

    Of course, you don’t want to have a steady diet of beer and cake (at least, I don’t).

    And if you are, ahem, a 40-something woman, then you have to very judiciously choose the time and place for the beer and cake (for me, I’m not much of a cake fan, I’d rather eat dark chocolate with almonds for my treats.)

    But you know, it’s a birthday party. It’s okay to have beer and cake! I just got back from a birthday party. I had a margarita (but skipped the cake).

  • Bob J March 14, 2015, 4:30 am

    And it’s not just consumer items. Everyone has to have a pet now.. Oh why not 2? Pet lovers where I live each have 2 or more saying that pets needs a play partner to keep them company.
    Now add up the pet food, vet bills and insurance you have to have when a dog bites a resident where I live and you can see the pet shekels too.

    • Annie March 16, 2015, 11:25 am

      You could say the same thing about children.

  • Mamma March 14, 2015, 5:35 am

    Timely. I have just decided that most of the people in my area must be Sheeple. Thanks for the label! I cannot understand how people afford the cost of housing here (Sydney Aus). It’s completly mad. But somehow obscene amounts of money is paid to live here. I am quite sure they are not making enough income to cover these housing costs and the lavish stuff that goes in the house and the cars and the clothes and have any left over to save. Maybe it’s some kind of inter-generational money shift – maybe everyone has rich parents. Fat credit cards? I really don’t get it. But Sheeple are pushing up the prices and it’s a PITA.

    • Doug March 15, 2015, 8:04 pm

      The same thing that you see is going on in Canada, especially overpriced places like Toronto and Vancouver. It’s probably going to all end badly, for details you might be interested to see this site: http://www.greaterfool.ca . You’ll probably see some parallels to Sydney and other parts of Australia. During my visit a year ago I was surprised to see outrageous housing costs even in Outback towns like Mount Isa and Alice Springs.

      • Mamma March 16, 2015, 4:05 pm

        Yes… looks very similar. Found this page about rent v buy … http://www.greaterfool.ca/2015/03/11/the-lost-cause/

        At least I’ve come to that conclusion already. But unfortunately when the purchase prices go so high, up goes the rent too. Many factors affect different places in Aus – immigrants with money at a good exchange rate (Poms), baby boomers who really did well, mining, pretty easy GFC etc.

        Don’t even get me started on the car choices – Cause everyone drives out bush every week – NOT! MMM you would wear out your fist doing face punches here.

        • Doug March 29, 2015, 1:14 pm

          Interesting you mention car choices. I’ve always driven smaller cars, and, while I lived in Northern Ontario my small front or rear wheel drive cars saw more back roads than the many trucks and SUVs I saw on the streets! It makes sense, when you cut your expenses by not having an expensive truck or SUV you don’t have to work as much paying for it and have more time to actually enjoy the outdoors. Why did I take 2 weeks to reply to your posting? I’ve been busy travelling around in Iceland, when you retire early you can find the time to do fun things like travel.

  • meep er March 14, 2015, 8:00 am

    Six weeks ago I discovered this blog and thought, “Hey here’s a guy who thinks like I do, BUT acts on his thoughts without fear and has done some really cool things to enjoy life to the fullest. I love his philosophy. Get your crap together , Meep er. You are only growing a five 0’clock shadow….toss out fear….and see what happens if you go full out MMM.” Well, I am having a blast, and a new light has broken upon me. I have dumped the car on the weekends and started walking and biking everywhere in my town, which is hilly and very beautiful. Result: better cardio and clearer thinking. Instead of hiring someone to do some remodeling, I just went on Youtube, broke out the tools, and went at it. Result: an awesome bath remodel for 300 bucks (instead of 7k!). The wife is working full time and has been suffering a bit, so I went to 80% at work and took all cleaning, cooking, laundry and kiddie work off her back. Result: a huge reduction in stress for me, good times with my son, and major savings at home (one take-out meal in 30 days, 20% less driving, all clothes dried in the sun, and a much happier wife. I’m even more productive at work.) Our monthly savings rate, which was a solid 25% before, soared to 45%. 45 freaking percent !!!!!!! And I have not even reduced some fat in our home, auto, and life insurance or moved cell carriers from T-mobile to Republic Wireless yet (next month). We are heading for 55% savings, no problem. More than that…the TV is off (except for the wife’s Netflix), I ignore the news except for Sunday, and the internet gets little action. I have so much more time, it’s crazy! But here is the big thing…I DID THE MATH ON THE BACK OF A NAPKIN and holy crap… we are really WELL off. I fired the financial planner, who only two months ago advised working 15 more years and saving up to 2.2 million so that we could retire at 64 and 65 on 110k per year. F- that! I am now moving everything to the MMM Plan. It will be more than enough. Within 22 months the mortgage will be gone. By reallocating our Roths to REITS, some bonds, and simple Vanguard index funds, we will have a nice 40k income stream in just 4 years, even if the market dumps. When I discussed all this last night with the Mrs. and laid out the MMM plan as a serious option, she looked stunned. Questions. More questions. Two hours later, she came to me and asked, “Really? Go to one good economy car . Use the bikes, bus, and Uber a lot more? Cook 90% at home? Just do a few things differently with an eye to reducing costs and we can quit our full-time jobs in four years? We still get to go see my sister in New York? Huh. Hmmm.” She was smiling. Let’s see we where we are in 100 days…

    • Happyback March 15, 2015, 3:37 pm

      Yes, really. I did it with 7 children (and I’m a single mom, now.) You both can, too. It’s actually fun for me to see my own progress, and I love to have a better “handle” on our days. Glad you’re willing to step up on the house help for her. And your son will never lose that time that you’ve graciously given him…it’s his forever. That’s awesome!

      4 years…I hope you guys do it! Great start, tho…!! Your progress is note worthy! Your 5 0’clock shadow seems to have grown into a beard and small ‘stash! Nicely done!

    • Kristine - CA March 15, 2015, 6:39 pm

      Thanks for sharing! This story made me so happy. It’s so wonderful to hear about people discovering how much they already have and getting CLEAR about what matters to them when it comes to time and energy and money….like getting to go see her sister in NY? Such a little thing oh but such a big thing. Sounds like you’ve got a willing partner. Please report back in 100 days!

    • Shangri La March 16, 2015, 7:04 am

      “110k to live on through retirement? This is crazy” was my first thought.
      In my country (Hungary) retired couples live on 10k/year altogether on average and our prices are not so different compared to the US.
      40k/y is from my point of view living like a king anywhere in the world. You can travel + indulge all year round on that amount of money. If you love your work – fine, but to work long years just to have 110k to spend in retirement is “absolute ridiculousness” :)
      It is our mindset that decides what is enough. And enough is enough :))

      • Doug March 16, 2015, 8:41 am

        It depends on where you live in The USA or Canada. If you want to live in an expensive place like Toronto or New York City then yes, $10K is about enough for a subsistence lifestyle. However, if you move to cheaper places (and there are many) then 10K will go a long way, and on 20K/year you can do a lot of fun things like travelling.

        • Shangri La March 16, 2015, 9:14 am

          True. For NYC or Toronto 10k is not much…

          Meep er mentioned they will have 40k/year in a few years only from investments. That is why I think he can stop working anytime.
          There are places/countries where 40k/year gives you kind of “Hollywood” lifestyle.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 16, 2015, 7:38 am

      Wow, Meep – thanks for sharing that – you’re pretty much summing everything up perfectly with just that one story. A few small changes to become slightly less ridiculous, and you get a Massive slice of your own life back.

      Why isn’t everybody doing this?!

      And isn’t it funny how financial planners don’t get it? Nobody even touches the subject of, hey, you COULD always just spend a tiny bit less money.

      And the newspapers write about the “retirement crisis” for people with 25% less income than you, because the math indicates that they NEVER get to retire.

      It is truly ridiculous.

    • Joe Average March 16, 2015, 10:03 pm

      Meep: Your enthusiasm is infectious… Thank you and thanks to everyone else too. I’m learning more everyday.

  • Justin March 14, 2015, 11:25 am

    The fun part is that the Saudi price almost certainly did not take out a loan to buy his ridiculous yacht. He can afford to blow 0.0001% of his wealth on something extravagant and stupid. The average Joe cannot, but does anyway.

  • QQ March 14, 2015, 4:33 pm

    I was right there with you until the end, when you suggested I blow a few thousand dollars and fly on an airplane to discuss this sort of thing you & like-minded folks… on another continent. What???
    Jetting off to Ecuador, while perhaps less idiotic than buying an SUV, is not striking me as great for the wallet or the environment. Can’t you do something like that via the internet instead?

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 15, 2015, 3:41 pm

      You called it right, QQ – a trip to Ecuador is ridiculous, as is taking any long flight just for the purpose of a fun vacation.

      But you can still indulge in such things if you can afford it and weigh it against the resource consumption downsides (I also buy carbon offsets for the trip). You don’t have to become perfect to prosper in this world, just slightly less ridiculous than average.

  • Leontien March 14, 2015, 5:06 pm

    I am reading this blog for a year now, and one of the things that makes me come
    back for more is the sheer amazement about the lifestyle of average Americans – I am from the Netherlands.
    I can’t believe you people really do all that funny stuff! I mean intelligent people who I could meet at a dinner party. Like buying a new car. Who on earth would buy a new car when used ones are so much cheaper? Now I understand that having a new car is so important for you that you are even prepared to get an expensieve loan to pay for the car? And then creditcards. I never understood why I read about Americans boasting about having several creditcards. Nut at the end of the month you pay your dues, what’s the use of paying several dues in stead of one? Untill I understood that people do not have the intention to pay their dues untill ‘later’ ? But when?

    The problem is that most of my fellow Dutch are thinking like me. Which means it is much harder to get oneself a Nice moustache since the relative advantages of a frugal life are much smaller, even though the absolute advantages are quite the same. We all ride our bike to work, no one has consumer loans, most women are working 20 hours a week or less. What should I do to live even more frugal in order tombe able to retire early? Do I make Some misstaken inassuming that it is vital to spe d less than most people do in order to be able to stash, independent of the level of spending of most people?

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 15, 2015, 3:38 pm

      There are many Dutch Mustachians, but some of them do move to the US and Canada to make the most of their superpowers. Two examples I know myself became very wealthy at a relatively young age and retired early, because they brought the frugal/efficient mindset with them from the Netherlands.

      Really fun people to hang out with too.

  • ickabug March 14, 2015, 5:30 pm

    My wife just showed me an ad on craigslist for a dog treadmill.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque March 16, 2015, 6:05 am

      I like when Mrs. Toque shows me things like that.
      We can both laugh and it’s a bonding experience.

  • MikeW March 14, 2015, 5:54 pm

    Perhaps you have read about the Nacerima and the Elibomotua Cult? They clearly were the precursors to the Ridiculous Society you describe so well! Here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacirema

    The Nacerima are now sadly extinct: http://web.archive.org/web/20040807032053/http://naturalhistorymag.com/editors_pick/1972_12_pick.html

  • mcmurr March 14, 2015, 6:58 pm

    Have been following this blog for 6 months, and really appreciate this effort,honesty, and humor. My wife and I were already adhering to a similar value set, although not living it out as hard core as MMM. My ? on this post is as a parent as have 2 small children, and I don’t want them to live in a societal bubble.

    1) It’s one thing to host an event and take the initiative to set the terms (you’ve [posted on this before), but besides avoidance (which is easier as an adult), how are you handling consumer intense functions like birthday parties where there are disposable plates, cheap party favors, crazy over the top stuff, etc. Do you just decline/avoid? Do you just mutely participate?—ie when in Rome…. Do you make small points–ask for a real ‘glass’ or decline the party favor?

    2)How do you teach your children about being grateful/respectful to a someone who is hosting them, and not feel/appear ‘superior’ to someone who clearly is leading a different life with different set of consumer values (even if you believe it to be incorrect) but who is extending you hospitality?

    3)One other poster asked..somewhat jokingly, but this is a legit question: What do you bring to a birthday party for a child? For like minded families, we have donated to a cause in a child’s name, or given a more creative/sustainable toy, or haven’t given anything, or had the kids make a card. Harder with folks that are not in the MMM mindset, and are into the latest disney thing.

    4)This is not to pick a fight…But As your son is aging, and you are increasingly a known entity, how do you deal (or how do you think your son will fare) as you set out your values and publicly comment on his peers/peers’ families choices and values? This was a pretty specific bit of criticism levied at the parents of someone who invited him to a birthday party, as well as at most of the other families at the party who are probably also your child’s peers. Its one thing to have a “devil may care attitude” about what others think of you as an adult, but when it impacts your own kid….well things get different. I ask because I am a high profile person in my local area, and thanks to living a ‘slightly-less-than-ridiculous lifestyle’ am financially well off.

    not criticism. We are really struggling with this.

    • Joe Average March 18, 2015, 7:51 am


      I suggest just going and enjoying yourself like everyone else but discussing with your child why these topics/choices are important. We try not to be rigid on any topic except safety and responsibility – be it religion, politics, or money. Now our kids are old enough to “know better” and they get it. And now they work on taming those same wild and wooly impulses that we all have. Why do we drive older cars? Why do we go through the trouble to do our own chores rather than hiring a service? Why do we switch off electrical things that aren’t being used? – – – They get this now.

      The challenge has been overcoming the “keeping up with the Joneses” impulse the kids (and I) have. They look at their peers who have been “spoiled” with tons of expensive things and wonder why we can’t have those things too since we are saving so much. Then every once in a while someone’s financial misfortune (divorce, layoff, something expensive breaks and they need help b/c they can’t afford to buy a new one or have the old fixed) shows us how perilous their situation really was. They had stuff but they didn’t have financial security.

      You don’t have to worry about the little stuff IMHO. Steadily lead by example. Talk to your kids about why you are making the choices you are and they’ll get it. Connect how little expenditures add up and prevent you from doing the big things you need to do like replace vehicles, fix roofs, pay for educations, retirement, etc. Don’t forget to have fun though b/c kids feed on fun. Its important not to break their spirit while teaching them the lessons you deem important.

      FWIW we’ve never had a birthday party for our kids with all the friends and school mates. First of all – we think it’s part of the popularity contest that is growing up. How many people will come? How good will the gifts be? Will the kids compare parties at school and the losing party ridiculed? We tend to just invite family and close friend parties. We send treats (cookies) to share at school with the youngest. We’re in a small town and our kids birthdays are in the cold months. Not too many places to have an outside party and not too many places to have a nice indoor party – and our house really isn’t big enough to host 30 people.

  • Howie March 14, 2015, 7:48 pm

    One of your best postings! I love it because it was a true rant. It’s amazing how many ways you can communicate what is essentially the same message. The slightly different angle probably gets to just enough new people a little bit at a time, gradually opening people’s eyes. It’s genius! One of these days I’d love to be at one of those parties you host. Love it.

  • Neo March 15, 2015, 9:02 am

    Think about the (bad) habit loop and consider ways to help others and yourself replace the trigger and reward. In my experience, the majority of car-clowning boils
    down to people needing something to do. Invite your neighbors to do anything that doesn’t destroy the planet and help save their car from rolling out the driveway

  • alicia March 15, 2015, 5:15 pm

    Mr Mustache,
    I’d like to know why you are bringing your son to a middle class birthday party? Does your son want to be friends with a middle class kid who lives with middle class parents in a middle class neighborhood? Why are you associating with people who are not like you in the first place and why are you permitting your son to do the same?
    Oh, that’s right. Your son goes to a public school. Surely you know when your own children go to a public school, they will be bombarded with materialistic charms and temptations. Why aren’t you sending your only child to a private school, with people who are the same as you, think like you and have more things in common? Why are you poisoning your son to the threats of the world? Why are you not protecting him?
    To send your son to a public school and then rant and critique and complain the surroundings that are attached to middle classes is stupid, as far as I am concerned. Are you not sending your child to private school because you can’t afford it? Don’t want to spend the money or are just plain cheap?
    I don’t have any problems with materialism entering my children’s world because I send them to schools with people, teachers, parents, students who think like minded as myself. There are no SUV gas guzzlers at my kids school. Most of them take the school bus (paid for with my tax money). There’s no jealousy or rampant stupidity.
    Shame on you for not providing a fair and equal foundation for your son to grow up in and shame on you for exposing him to such horrors!
    If anyone is ridiculous in this world, it is you…..the perfect oxymoron.
    And if you think beheading is such a joke, please wear a great big giant gold cross around your neck, next time you venture out in to a big city. Ride public transportation and see what happens to you. I dare you! Christians in this world are being killed and beheaded for simply believing in Jesus Christ. As ridiculous and preposterous you laughingly think this fact is, I assure you, it’s a reality.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 17, 2015, 10:34 am

      !!!Yes OK!!!

      • Tim March 17, 2015, 11:20 am

        I know you approve all of these comments.

        Are you letting the crazies in to keep us reminded of what’s outside these safe walls?

    • Leslie March 18, 2015, 4:21 pm

      Everyone appreciates good satire now and then.

    • Heath March 18, 2015, 4:48 pm

      Bravo! Perfect trolling :-) It starts out so ridiculous that it can’t possibly be anything but sarcasm and satire. Then it brilliantly devolves into some probable-crazy-levels by referencing their own children and lifestyle. Then wraps up with slightly-more-unbelievable religious shaming. The best/worst part is, I totally fell for it the first time I read it. Consider my bullshit meter upgraded.

      • Mr. Money Mustache March 18, 2015, 10:51 pm

        Heath, I’d bet you a tidy sum that this is not a troll comment. There are interesting comments pouring in like this every day, and certain clues (email address, IP, past comments by the person, etc) suggest they actually feel this way.

        Tim – you got it.. I normally don’t publish too much nonsense but sometimes it is hard to resist..

        • Heath March 19, 2015, 10:20 am

          Well that’s fairly terrifying, and even funnier (though more of the shaking-my-head kind of funny). If they’re not trolling (which I’m still not certain of, but I trust MMM that it’s possible), then the assumptions alicia makes are astounding.

          It means they think children should grow up in a perfect walled garden of like-minded people. Entirely unreasonable, and if possible, horribly damaging to the mind’s flexibility to adapt and understand the true scope of the world we live in. If an entire group of people never associate with people that aren’t like them, then whatever culture they’re glued to will gradually drift into insanity land. Which, accurately, sounds like exactly where the commenter is currently living.

          “poisoning your son to the threats of the world”… what?! So ideas themselves are poison, and we don’t have any control over our own thoughts? I do hope they realize it’s possible to CHANGE YOUR MIND, or even DISAGREE with the people around you :-P Just consider that MMM himself came out of such a society (though probably less materialistic than the one he’s living in now) and he still managed to live as he does and think as he does.

          Avoiding the rest of the world will somehow hold it at bay? Living as a part of the changing and varied world will influence you, yes. But it also, as MMM has demonstrated, allows you to influence the world right back. Lead by example. Tell anyone who will listen.

          “There’s no jealousy or rampant stupidity.” That’s a good trick. Guess all it takes is perfect cultural isolation?

          The shaming bit at the end is so wrong it’s just funny. Should you feel ashamed to be exposing your child to a diversity of ideas, and then explaining and showing-by-example why you’ve chosen the ideas you have? Should granting the freedom for your son to chose his own thoughts shame you? Should you feel ashamed to use even the WORD ‘beheading’ when referring to a fictional world which satirizes our own, just because it actually happens?

          LOL! I’m sorry but that’s just too much, and pushes the entire comment right over the edge of credibility :-P

  • Kyra March 15, 2015, 8:36 pm

    You know mmm, thanks to you I get weird looks when I listen to the radio. Okay, yell at the radio. I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s financial show today while he was talking to a woman who wanted to borrow from her husbands 401k. They had to pay off the 111,000 dollar SECOND mortgage on their house. They claimed over 200,000 dollars in income on their taxes last year. And none of it went to paying off that debt. Apparently, screaming profanities at my radio in traffic is not a child friendly activity. Whoops. I mean, really though. What the hell?????!!!!

    • JB March 21, 2015, 7:02 am

      The level of stupid is amazing. That $11K could be paid off in 3 months.

  • Dee March 16, 2015, 12:40 am

    I don’ t think a trip to Ecuador is ridiculous . WHY did you & your family work so hard to get this far, for what?
    There is nothing wrong with trading things for life experiences. If we want to go on a trip we just adjust our balance sheet and cut back in another area to be able to afford it. When you’re at the end of your life you’ll look back at these memories and know that they were worth it.

  • Marz March 16, 2015, 2:09 am

    Some sheeple at my work have signed up for a gym membership at a special corporate rate of $35 a week.
    For that they get the latest and greatest equipment, steam and sauna rooms, swimming pool, tennis courts, private cafe, free parking, group exercise classes etc.

    In my area, a basic gym costs about $7-$14 a week if you want group classes. You can buy a piece of equipment for $10 a week, cheaper if second hand. Or you can go run on the beachfront and use the free public exercise equipment at the park and body weight exercises.

    Any of the latter options will be a sensible option for living on 75% of your salary. The former is just ridiculous.

    Thanks for a great post, some perfect material for my sticky note awesome quote of the week!

  • TheBestWay March 16, 2015, 8:35 am

    First time to comment, about the 1,000th blog post to read.

    In the last two months with my work bonus and some serious planning I:
    -sold my gas-guzzling Jeep (owed $19K)
    -bought a 2006 Honda Civic with 23K miles! (Right?!) (now owe $4k)
    -paid off my credit cards
    -bought equipment for my CrossFit gym (side hustle)

    Soon to be transferring my direct deposit to Mango Money. Everyone should check it out, 6% interest on $5,000! Not bad at all!

    Thanks MMM, keep it up!


  • CHINCAR March 16, 2015, 9:07 am


    Love the blog! You mentioned that you took your son to a child’s birthday party where everyone brought gifts that were a plastic and metal recreation of a famous movie character or vehicle. I am very interested to know what did you bring? I would assume nothing based on the various articles about not wasting money on useless gifts but maybe you provided something useful like a library card or something.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 17, 2015, 10:22 am

      Yeah, my wife and son have a miraculous ability to come up with gifts that are handmade or regifted, that people actually like. Favorite books, crafted bracelets or necklaces, funny homemade comic books. I don’t have this talent at all, so I am glad they are there.

      At our own birthdays/Xmas/whatever, we insist on nobody bringing gifts, because we have way too much stuff already. The guests tend to appreciate being let off the hook and the tradition spreads.

      • Frugal Bazooka March 23, 2015, 9:29 am

        There is another very practical reality to instituting the “no gift” policy during holidays, birthdays etc. At some point in your life you’re going to want to clean out all the stuff you have accumulated that you no longer use, need or want. We have been doing this for 5 years now. Five long years to clear out crap that we’ve accumulated over a 20 year period. If we had instituted the no gift policy earlier, I’m guessing at least 30% of this stuff would not be clogging my garage. The good news is our local garbage pick up has a free “bulk” pick up day coming and we are “gifting” them 60% of the big stuff. I can’t tell you how great it feels to cut the anchors and finally see my garage floor again.

  • Tim March 16, 2015, 12:23 pm

    Just recently started reading your blog MMM. I love blogs like yours. I have always by nature, fortunately, been a saver and not a spender. It has always been obvious to me that the whole consumerist, debt accumulating way of life we seem to have developed in the last 50 years or so is absolute madness. It is especially crazy as we live in such a tough and uncertain world and it is the Fuck You money that gives us the possibility to ride that out and have some freedom and dignity. I have worked very hard in poorly paid jobs in the past but now thankfully have a well paid but quite insecure job (mining). I am saving everything i can and paying down the mortgage and putting money in my retirement funds. I have never had any consumer debt. I have lost my job a few times in the past but because I have saved and had no debts I didn’t suffer. In fact last time it happened during the GFC in 2009 I spent 4 months travelling around both of your wonderful countries (USA and Canada). My regret is buying a very overpriced house here in Australia when with the benefit of hindsight I should have saved that money into the stockmarket.

  • steve March 16, 2015, 5:33 pm

    • Frugal Bazooka March 23, 2015, 9:36 am

      HP leads the wah wah brigade when it comes to blaming the gov’t for not giving us enough free money. Sometimes they forget that the free money that goes into gov’t programs come from taxes that are generated by people and businesses that actually work for a living and shouldn’t be redistributed frivolously. Of course they also count on scaring people into reading their lying blog dreck and reassuring the masses that wasting money on mocha lattes is a great use of their hard earned money. Thanks for nothing Huffington

  • alex March 16, 2015, 6:21 pm

    Mmm count me as a new acolyte and starry-eyed follower. This is a fucking great site!!

    Ok. Something useful: on national public radio there was a thing about how Asians tend to be super savers and English speakers be under savers something something science not fluff, about how its keyed to whether ones language has tenses or not. Quite interesting. I’m sure it can be dug up…..

    • Daniel March 17, 2015, 2:12 am

    • Joe Average March 17, 2015, 9:39 am

      I would expect that savings rates is a cultural thing, not a linguistic thing. If my family came from countries where historically there was a bit of economic or political uncertainty – then me and mine might carry that fear of starvation or oppression forward. That wouldn’t be much different than my grandparents’ generation which experienced the Great Depression and then living a lifetime with careful spending habits.

      Connecting accents and savings rates would be an example of confirmation bias? I don’t know so I’m asking.

      • JB March 20, 2015, 1:16 pm

        It is a cultural thing. Germans are more frugal than the French. Asians value savings and education. Americans do not. Maybe because most of us can have anything we want.

    • Gerard March 18, 2015, 6:49 pm

      People have been trying to prove that language conditions thought for a long time. Almost certainly silly at the syntax level (really, if you have no future tense you can’t plan???). At the word level, probably worth thinking about for individuals (“buying my freedom” might be more motivating than “denying myself the pleasure I deserve”).

  • Brat March 17, 2015, 11:03 am

    Just curious but have you ever read “The Poverty of Affluence”? This article reminded me of that book.

  • alex March 18, 2015, 12:05 am


    I found it! “The language you speak may help you save money” they’re saying and actually backing it up with some science.

    • Gerard March 18, 2015, 6:56 pm

      Okay, I have to out myself a bit here. I’m a linguist. This article is pretty bad. That’s why it’s in an economics journal rather than a linguistics journal (that, and because economists get the babes). I confess I stopped reading because it got too bad too fast, but the author doesn’t seem to understand how future marking works. And there seem to be very few controls for other social factors.

  • SB March 18, 2015, 12:11 pm

    Any comments from the community regarding this truck ad? :)


  • Steve March 18, 2015, 9:54 pm

    Why not go after something truly ridiculous that is ubiquitous (Keurig plastic pods tossed away by 1 of 5 American households).
    Associated press – Keurig, the single-serve coffee industry’s leader, produced enough plastic coffee pods last year to circle the earth more than 10 times… A YouTube parody depicts aliens that look like Keurig’s plastic pods invading the Earth.
    Life gets exponentially more ridiculous, despite our best efforts. I would be thrilled to keep Humanity happy with the status quo, but the Jeanie is out of the bottle…

    • JB March 20, 2015, 1:14 pm

      How about all the plastic bottles water comes in? Shouldn’t that be first? buy a water filter and a metal canteen.

  • Diane D'Angelo March 20, 2015, 8:14 am

    For myself, this blog prompts me to question, over and over again, the spending choices I make, the familiar desire to want “more,” or “new,” or “shiny.” Every day, something catches my eye – especially online – and I watch the phenomenon of craving take over. Right now, it’s a particular type of shirt at LL Bean that I really like. Two weeks ago, it was a pair of running shoes at Costco that were almost too cheap to pass up. Reading your blog posts reinforces the notion of delayed gratification and for that I am grateful.

  • JB March 20, 2015, 1:12 pm

    Our bathrooms are still from the 60’s with the pink tile and terrazzo floors. I am just too lazy/cheap to have them torn up for 2 months also knowing it will be $20K per bathroom. they are functional. We got rid of the wallpaper and upgraded some cabinet hardware. I will let the owner deal with it. we spent $75K on our kitchen and another $20K on our living room.

  • trent March 20, 2015, 9:52 pm

    Recently ran across this “living wage” calc:


    You’re supposed to be spending at least $34K/year! The intro to the site also points out these estimates are on the low end…

  • CooperJohn March 23, 2015, 9:18 am

    “That in some fields of his country there are certain shining stones of several colours, whereof the Yahoos are violently fond: and when part of these stones is fixed in the earth, as it sometimes happens, they will dig with their claws for whole days to get them out; then carry them away, and hide them by heaps in their kennels; but still looking round with great caution, for fear their comrades should find out their treasure.” My master said, “he could never discover the reason of this unnatural appetite, or how these stones could be of any use to a Yahoo; but now he believed it might proceed from the same principle of avarice which I had ascribed to mankind. That he had once, by way of experiment, privately removed a heap of these stones from the place where one of his Yahoos had buried it; whereupon the sordid animal, missing his treasure, by his loud lamenting brought the whole herd to the place, there miserably howled, then fell to biting and tearing the rest, began to pine away, would neither eat, nor sleep, nor work, till he ordered a servant privately to convey the stones into the same hole, and hide them as before; which, when his Yahoo had found, he presently recovered his spirits and good humour, but took good care to remove them to a better hiding place, and has ever since been a very serviceable brute.”

    — Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

  • Adrian Meraz March 23, 2015, 2:33 pm

    Awwww man, The Thumbnail picture for this article changed. I wonder if some complainypants person was pissed because it was a picture of their truck lol


Leave a Reply

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

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


welcome new readers

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

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

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets