374 comments

Making Space for Badassity

teahouseIf you’re going to become rich, you need to either earn way more money than you spend, or spend way less money than you earn.

This is the basic math of it, which even the worst complainypants cannot dispute. The whining usually starts when Mr. Money Mustache starts talking about how to implement the ideas above.

For example, observe the following simulated but very typical conversation as I counsel Joe and Josephine Consumer on how to escape from their current situation (buried under a mountain of debt with no hope for retirement before 75), and instead reach early retirement before their young kids even finish high school.

Mr. Money Mustache:

So, Joe, you tell me it’s hard to pay the bills. But I can’t help but notice this 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 4×4 pickup in the driveway of your home here in the suburbs. That was a $40,000 truck when you bought it on credit. It costs 8 times more than any reasonable vehicle given your financial situation, consumes 3 times the fuel, and depreciates twice as fast.

It’s like pointing a firehose of your hard-earned cash, straight at your toilet while holding the flush lever down, 24 hours a day. So we’ll need to sell that on Craigslist – tonight.

Joe Consumer:

But…But… All my friends at the law firm will think I’m a sissy if I show up with a little Honda Fit! Plus, I need a reliable vehicle because I have to drive to meet clients. And I once hauled a dishwasher with this thing, and was thinking of getting a boat to tow with it since we’re looking at buying a cottage this year.. Plus, I’m underwater on the truck: the loan is bigger than what any dealer would give me for it, and I’ve never bought or sold anything on Craigslist before because I’m scared of talking to strangers and don’t know who I can trust, and (voice fades into background)…

MMM: Right. Well, guess what? None of this matters, because you won’t even be driving to work any more – that’s a sucker’s move. Y’all are moving to a smaller house within 8 miles of your workplace, and biking to work from now on. As a bonus, that’s right next to the university where Josephine teaches, so she can walk to work.

Josephine Consumer: Now hold up Mr. Money Mustache. We’re all settled in this house in the suburbs. Plus, our kids are starting school soon and this school district is better than the one downtown. And I’m not walking to work – winters are cold and slushy here. Nor am I biking around town with my kids – I don’t even have a suitable bike and it’s dangerous to ride bikes in the United states and (fades out)….

MMM: Got it. So anyway, we’ll start cleaning up and staging your house tonight so we can have it photographed for sale next week. You’ll start by moving to a rental downtown, since renting is a better deal than buying here in Expensiveville. Later, you can buy a fixer-upper four plex and renovate it yourself over the next few years as you develop your DIY skills. Also, why the hell do I hear your air conditioner running in the background when it’s only 80 degrees outside, while you keep the daylight out with curtains and use antique 60 watt heaters instead of LED bulbs to light your indoors? And why is your clothes dryer running simultaneously as this beautiful sunshine shines down upon your back porch? This casual waste of electricity is burning about $15,000 of your wealth per decade.

We’ll fix this, then move on to your food, entertainment, child-raising activities, vacations, phone service, and soon enough you’ll have a reasonable 60% after-tax savings rate and be set to retire in your 30s.

J+J (in unison): Gaaah! We can see your wisdom, Mustache, but this is all too much for us. We’re not really in good enough physical condition to ride bikes. We don’t even know how to change a faucet, let alone DIY-renovate a 4-plex. The kids are crying, dogs are barking, our garage is piled high with boxes and broken items, and we have daycare schedules, trips coming up for friends weddings, golf games and happy hours, ski passes and TV series to watch. There is just no time to handle all these changes you want us to make!

Mustache (turning to face you, the audience)

See, this is what it really all boils down to: Time. Energy. Mental and physical overload. When your life is already overfilled, it is very difficult to gain the power to make the major, positive changes you need to actually get somewhere.

In other words, if you want to create more wealth and happiness in your life, you might need to clear some space for it first.

The MMM Family’s Secret Frugality Weapon

When people encounter this site for the first time, they usually see my family’s $25,000 annual spending number and assume that we have an extremely frugal lifestyle. “My family could never be as radical as those guys – Mustache’s ways are extreme!”, they say, “but we’ll implement a few small changes in our own way.”

This frustrates me to no end, because I don’t even try to save money any more – all I see is an abundance of luxury in every direction when I gaze out my kitchen window. But I’ve recently come to realize there is one way that we are extreme when compared to other families of similar background: we schedule a lot less stuff into our lives.

While others will buy an unlimited annual ski pass and ride the mountains every weekend, I’ll get a four-pack and make a single weeklong trip with my friends. Others will buy a cottage and split their time between two houses, I’m happy with one. While others will start with a cat, then have a kid, then adopt a dog, then another dog, then create second, third, and fourth kids, I’m feeling plenty busy with just my boy.

None of this is done with money in mind – it is done out of a desire for balance, free time, and a safety margin in life. By keeping our non-negotiable commitments to only 50% of our time, we leave the other 50% open for growth, self-development, and an ability to work much harder to deal with the black swan events that life inevitably serves up. While others might imagine we’re missing out on life by not stacking it up with more activities, I feel we’re allowing ourselves just the right amount of space to actually live it. And of course, the side effect this has on the money side has been very large as well.

I think this difference in life planning style might boil down to my slightly compulsive tendency to think of future consequences. When I was a 26-year-old deciding between BMW and 401(K) as the destination for each financial windfall, I always chose the more responsible option because I predicted my future self would appreciate it. Even today, when I open the fridge at dinnertime and face the tempting selection of ice-cold Colorado microbrews laid out in front of me, I usually leave them untouched, not because I don’t crave one, but because I don’t want the future me to have to deal with a flabby beer belly.

The same thought process applies when I consider signing up for a big future commitment,  like a busy weekend trip or yet another well-meaning project related to this blog, or even adopting  a cat: sure, it sounds lovely in theory, but will my future self appreciate having that much time taken away from him, when he might have other plans?

Of course, you can take future fixation too far and end up with a boring life today, but I correct for this by imagining a future me regretting a boring youth, and do my best to strategically misbehave at optimal levels today. So far, so good as I do not lead an overly pure or monk-like life.

Getting back to the point: To become richer, you need to make changes in your life. But changes take effort, and to perform this effort you’ll need to free up the time and energy to become powerful enough to do it.

How to Make Space for Badassity

When find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. In the world of gaining more leverage over your own life, this means to stop adding complexity. To get you started, here are a few tips from my own book of rules.

Discover the Power of No

 For the next several weeks, say NO to all optional plans which are outside of biking distance of your house. If you don’t have a bike, make that walking distance. You need to start focusing your lifestyle on your local radius. Try having a weekend with nothing planned except catching up on things around the house and exercising right within your neighborhood.

Next time someone other than your very closest friends or family invites you to a distant wedding, make up an excuse and give yourself the gift of staying home instead. Save that energy for the people nearer and dearer to you – including yourself.

Institute a “Purchase Procrastination Program”

Pause any and all research and shopping trips besides food, and make do with the things you have at home. If you have a vacation coming up, promise yourself you’ll get that special purchase made after the vacation instead of before it. If you’re working on a major life goal, delay the purchase until after you achieve it.

Clean, Cancel, and Declutter

By now, you’ll already start having more free time. Use it to attack your garage, your closet, your kitchen junk drawer. Sell stuff on Craigslist, recycle, give away, and trash anything not important to you. Note the new breathing space that opens up in your mind, and even your lungs.

And of course, if you haven’t done so already, cancel cable TV and stop consuming the daily news.

Sharpen the Saw

The most efficient thing you can ever do with your time, is to make yourself a better person. So spend some of your new free, quiet time by starting each morning with a 45 minute walk in the quietest local area you can find. If you’re already knowledgeable in weight training, do a bit of it each day. If not, at least do some push-ups and Yoga for now. Learn about basic meditation, and do it.

And Then,

If you follow these steps, within a week or two you will have roughly doubled your free time and energy, which gives you the power to start really making the more difficult changes.

Sell your expensive cars and replace them with efficient ones from the mid-2000s or before. Get a bike. Find a smarter place to live that is closer to work, or a smarter place to work that is closer to home (and get a raise for yourself while you’re at it – the US labor market is quite literally at its strongest point in most of our lifetimes).

Look through this blog’s list of all posts and implement all of the ideas from the early articles, one by one and watch how your life expenses peel away.

None of this is all that difficult – at this point hundreds of thousands of people, many with far fewer advantages than yourself, have done exactly this and have drastically changed their lives for the better.

If you’ve been poking around here on this site for a while and, still find that major change and plentiful surplus money is in short supply, stop struggling and start by slowing down.

  • Rachel Hershberg July 14, 2016, 2:59 am

    One quibble with the post, MMM – most people DO make lifestyle changes slowly. So if every time they read a post, or get another source of motivation, they can make a change that feels doable. This month, declutter. (For some people, that’s a six-month job anyway!) Next month, start exercising. The next month, cut the cable.

    I appreciate the regular shot in the arm, inspiration and refocusing on the long-term financial independence. I had my husband’s job – I’m so grateful it puts food on the table, but it sucks the life-blood out of him. I do want to add two angles to the discourse:
    One – some people really like their jobs. (For example, my parents, who are of retirement age, but are still working out of choice.) Of course, without FI, they are forced to be slaves to it, but their decision-making process will be different than those who don’t.
    Two – we have four kids. It’s a lot of money. It was our decision, and it certainly postpones the early retirement we’d like for DH. However, we’re really glad we have them, and wouldn’t change that decision. (Actually, if I’d been able to pull it off, I would have had more.) One thing I like about this blog is that is it both confrontational about bad personality traits, while maintaining respect for people’s individual decisions. If you disagree with something about MMM’s personal prescriptive philosophy, like changing school systems not being worth the toll on the family, or whatever, then you can ignore it.
    (The mistakes we made were not getting on the financial education bandwagon as early as I would have liked.)

    Reply
  • chasesfish July 14, 2016, 5:31 am

    I loved the article and the consistency of the message. Everyone has to figure out what the maximum efficiency is for their household to accomplish their financial goals, what is the most you can make while running your household as efficiently as possible! Everyone can run their own business household the way they want, but don’t be offended when people point out how to obtain maximum efficiency

    I’ve always been cheap and a high income earner, but I’m still very thankful for MMM enlightening me on the cost of commuting. I’ve kept the last two jobs within three miles and the quality of life without commuting is incredible.

    Reply
  • Theresa Claveria July 14, 2016, 5:50 am

    Have you written an article about your thoughts on spending (or avoiding overspending) for a wedding? I’m in the process of planning mine and from building a budget I am at an insane level of potential spending, but the impression I’m getting is its not enough. I would love to hear your thoughts on what you did for yours or what you think would help people ward off spending that could be used elsewhere.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache July 14, 2016, 8:23 am

      Hi Theresa, I sure have written such an article: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/08/17/royal-wedding-shloyal-fledding/

      The general idea was that a great wedding is really just a great party, and thus can cost anywhere from around $10 bucks and up. For multimillionaires, it might be perfectly appropriate to spend the $25,000 that the average US wedding costs these days. But for the average person it should be nowhere close to that.

      We need a new social trend where the LEAST expensive wedding is the one most respected, because it implies that the young couple is off to the smartest financial start. Stuff involving forests and waterfalls, instead of Hyatt Regencies and limos.

      Reply
    • chacha1 July 14, 2016, 12:09 pm

      Hi Theresa, fwiw, my story. I got married at going-on-36, my DH was going-on-41. We were the only kids in either family to be planning a “wedding” per se. I would have been happy getting hitched in Vegas, but we were pressured into having the family wedding.

      With that decision made for us, we thought about what kind of party we wanted to have (good dinner; decent location convenient for us; big dance floor ’cause that’s our thing). We then investigated how much that would cost per person. We then debated how many people we needed to budget for (80). We then arrived at a number, calculated how long it would take to save that number, and set the wedding date at the end of that time. (22 months out)

      We had live music for the wedding ceremony (really not necessary), a volunteer (friend) DJ for the reception. My sister did the photography. We hired a videographer (that is a completely unnecessary cost now that everyone has a high-quality digital video device in their pocket). My dress was from eBay and cost less than $300. I hired a stylist to dress me up with my two attendants, both of whom chose their own dresses to fit a broadly-defined color scheme. I ordered invitations online, did not have any “showers” or pre-parties, bought cheap vases and flowers and did the arrangements myself, assembled cheap party favors myself (little box with chocolates inside). We ordered a cake from a local bakery and decorated the cake table with nicely-framed black-and-white photos of our parents at their own weddings.

      The key to setting a workable budget is to figure out the things that you absolutely cannot get away with not doing, find the least-expensive way to do those things, and just don’t do anything else that isn’t truly important TO YOU. For us it was worthwhile to spend an extra $300 on the dance floor.

      Ultimately the key to cost control is in the number of people invited to the reception and in the disposables, like food, drink, decorations, and dresses. (A dress shouldn’t be disposable, frankly, or something you would only wear once – so if it’s something you will only wear once, for heaven’s sake don’t spend much money on it.) Think “what is the absolute minimum that will make this day a pleasure FOR US to remember” and just don’t add things to the list. Good luck!

      Reply
    • Gipsyracer July 15, 2016, 10:17 am

      Although it is now 16 years since we got married, we had the same problem as yourself, not wanting to blow all of our savings on a wedding party but rather paying off our mortgage and saving for the future. Our solution was to split the costs with our guests, but in a way which everyone enjoyed. We hired the whole of Portmeirion Village in Wales for a weekend in February. Google it – it’s a great place. Our guests for the weekend covered their own accommodation costs, but we laid on food in the self-catering apartments, several live bands, a firework display, treasure hunt, a sit-down meal and of course a wedding ceremony. All in cost to us about £7500 for over 100 guests, most of whom had the time of their lives! The venue may be a bit out of your way, but the principle could work pretty much anywhere. Whatever you choose, have a great day and don’t get as drunk as I did – I am still not forgiven after a decade and a half.

      Reply
  • SarahFae July 14, 2016, 6:34 am

    What a great article. We are at a turning point in life and this was a great reminder to slow down and take it a day at a time and not overfill our lives…with stuff or appointments! My only beef if when you brought kids into it. Peoples’ choice of having multiple kids is often quite personal and tied to many different things. I do think it’s wise to consider the effects of one’s decision to have multiple kids with regard to time and money, but I’m not sure it’s fair to condemn people for having more than one. Thanks, as always, for the thought-provoking and action-motivating article!

    Reply
  • Brian July 14, 2016, 6:49 am

    MMM,

    Thanks for yet another great post. I discovered your blog almost exactly a year ago when an uncle mentioned it at an annual family gathering. I’ve since read every article and made a number of exciting and positive life changes.

    My family has two pretty high incomes and a 2-year-old son. Being about halfway to FI, we no longer have any immediate concern over lack of money. Having gained the freedom to turn my attention from income to higher pursuits, it becomes immediately apparent that I remain TIME POOR. It would be possible for me to pay cash for a new Tesla without immediate consequences (though of course that would be a very silly thing to do). But it is not possible to take a month-long Great Western Road Trip with my wife and son (which I would dearly love to do) without immediate consequences – namely, the probable loss of my job due to missed deadlines.

    TIME, my friend, is the most precious commodity. For each individual, time is finite and non-renewable. Most of us are required to sell some of this precious time to others in exchange for money and stuff. This is not necessarily a bad thing; being paid for the sale of our time is one of the ways our society provides recognition for our contribution to the common good.

    But it’s critically important that we not sell all (or even most!) of our time, as your post states so well. My wife and I have both reduced our work week to 4 days so we can each spend have a “Mommy day” and a “Daddy day” once a week with our son. As soon as possible, we will reach FI and have as many of Mommy and Daddy days as our hearts desire. That’s a lot more important that money and gadgets, so I will sell only as much of my time as necessary.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache July 14, 2016, 8:00 am

      Awesome perspective and well said, Brian!

      I hope you will share your calm wisdom with other time-strapped professionals if they ever ask “How can you afford to work only 4 days a week!?”

      Reply
      • Bill G July 14, 2016, 3:27 pm

        Question for MMM which is almost related to the above.

        In the next 6-7 months my partner and I will have paid off our mortgage and still be in our early 40’s. We will not have true Financial Independence as work will still be necessary to pay council tax, buildings insurance, utility bills etc.

        I am thinking that we can switch to all year round part-time work, or full-time project work with equal sized gaps between projects.

        Broadly speaking, is this a dead-end idea? Should we keep going in our full time mode and build a nest egg for true FI? Or enjoy our time and health while we still definitely have it?

        This thought only struck me when I looked at our annual savings and the outstanding mortgage sum. For five years it was a near pipe dream, but suddenly we have a choice on the near horizon and it’s totally thrown me!

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache July 14, 2016, 3:52 pm

          That is a fun question Bill. I’d have no problem going to part time work if you think you would have more fun with the free time. Buying time is a completely different thing than buying more products when in pursuit of happiness.

          In fact, I did a bit of that myself: for my final year before full retirement, I switched to 4 day work weeks in exchange for 80% pay. It was a great improvement over the old schedule.

          Reply
      • Allsmiles July 19, 2016, 3:43 pm

        We were able to achieve this with one simple move: by ignoring the bank’s advice about the size of a mortgage we could take out and getting a house that we could comfortably afford on just 1/2 of ONE salary. I now work 2.5 days which will increase to 70% or 80% when our toddler starts school. My partner works 4 days. Our house is the smallest in our peer group – only one extra unused room ;-) – and it’s located in a non-luxurious (but completely safe, clean and friendly) neighborhood. While I do like those other houses, I really love having our three-day weekends together…every. single. weekend.

        Reply
    • DLcygnet July 14, 2016, 12:55 pm

      I loved reading this. Now I want to shift my hours to a 9/80 schedule so I have an extra day every 2 weeks with my son. My mom has always said, “You can’t get that time back. You can shrink them back down.”

      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  • Jill Hurley July 14, 2016, 7:04 am

    Well Done, MMM. You’ve provided a simple roadmap for people to get started on their own road to personal wealth & achievement…simply by showing the importance of making time for it. We think of decluttering for our stuff but it’s equally (or more) important to declutter our life, our time, our minds.

    Also a great reminder for those of us already on the path. Foolish commitments have a way of sneakily re-entering our lives with great stealth. We need to continually sharpen our mustache so that we live in a state of awareness.

    This is a fantastic post. Thank you for continuing to share your enlightened wisdom.

    Reply
  • kiwiozearlyretirement July 14, 2016, 8:35 am

    1000 kids have been followed in a longitudinal study for 44 years (the Dunedin study) since they were babies and this has provided masses of information about predictors of health, criminality, behaviours. The biggest predictor of success later in life (home ownership, stable well paid jobs, retirement savings, stable happy relationships, health) was not intelligence, high socioeconomic status or supportive families. At the age of 3 or 4 years old those kids who exhibited high self control ended up the most successful in their 30s. If you can’t control your desire to smack people in the head (MMM threatens but doesn’t do it), quit your job when it is tough, goof off instead of studying, eat crap, put your clothes in the dryer, buy crap, gain instant gratification, sleep with anyone who flirts with you; it’s pretty easy to see how this will affect your long term success. Good news is you can teach kids self control but like anything, this has to start early and be backed up with good parental modelling.

    Reply
    • Frugal Bazooka July 14, 2016, 2:12 pm

      Kiwi

      thanks for posting this. This is an awesome concept and I’m looking forward to reading the study.
      the trick is how to create humans who will understand what it will take to be successful.

      Since free will and individual rights are so much a part of Western civilization and culture, shaming people into being better people by sacrificing for the future has become a “bad” thing.

      Reply
  • Kris July 14, 2016, 8:39 am

    I admire your dedication and at the risk of sounding like a complainypants, I am starting a business as an organizer this will require traveling, which currently I see using a car for. In the past we’ve worked in the city and lived in the burbs. While we always looked for, and sometimes found, jobs closer to our home, I loath the idea of living in a city as I value my yard and quiet time more than even retiring early. With that said, I’ve been retired and only now am looking for work since my husband lost his job and our nest egg is not quite large enough.
    Still I find countless ideas and most of all a Think Big attitude here at MMM. That’s more valuable than words can say!

    Reply
  • Rich v July 14, 2016, 8:51 am

    Great post – doing what you do best!

    One very minor change I’ve made is to stop reading Facebook almost entirely. The benefit is not seeing the notice-me posts displaying a lot of consumption by people I’m not terribly close to. Similar to your advice to avoid watching too much news, I am noticeably happier when I am not reading about other people’s lavish vacations, or beginning to wonder why I don’t make multiple week-long trips to tropical locations per year.

    Reply
  • Leslie July 14, 2016, 9:06 am

    We just sold one house and bought another small bungalow. The number one requirement for the new one was a high walk score. We found one with an 84 walk score in an urban environment with a mix of rentals and single family homes. The neighborhood has several air bnbs but the visitors are quiet and friendly. The best part is that I haven’t driven in 2 months. It was funny talking to the realtor about our requirements. She showed us a 4000 square foot home with 4 bathrooms that was far away from the downtown area. We explained that it was too big and not walking distance to anything. She had never even heard of a walk score even though Zillow now posts them on all homes.

    Reply
  • Bryant July 14, 2016, 9:49 am

    MMM,

    A post about your experience with the vasectomy process would be well-received by many of your readers. I’d like to have a vasectomy (I have two beautiful children) but I’m concerned about health implications and side effects. Like you, I enjoy riding bikes and I’m concerned about riding after the procedure. Any advice would be welcomed.

    Reply
  • Kathy O July 14, 2016, 10:09 am

    Very thoughtful post. If you ask a woman how they are, they will almost always answer, “very busy and sooo tired”. It’s become a competitve thing. I am constantly tailgated by women in big SUVs and men in BMWs who throw up their hands in frustration when I come to a full stop at a stop sign. When people ask me how I am, I answer, “busy as I want to be, which is not too busy”. Thanks for letting me know I am not the only one trying to move through life more slowly and with greater appreciation of the world around me.

    Reply
  • Frank July 14, 2016, 10:30 am

    There is actually a study done by researchers at Stanford called the future self-continuity hypothesis, which states that individuals perceive and treat their future self differently from the present self, and so might fail to save for their future. The did neuroimaging of individuals as they asked them to think about themselves, another person, and their future self 10 years down the line. The brain image from thinking of themselves 10 years down the line resembles the brain image of a completely different person far more than the brain image of thinking of themselves.

    http://stanford.edu/group/spanlab/Publications/he08scan.pdf

    Reply
  • DLcygnet July 14, 2016, 12:51 pm

    This is a very timely article. Many of these comments make me wonder if people show up just to troll the forum. Business Insider just posted a related article about a girl taking the thrifty lifestyle to pay down her $100K student loans and even posted a budget; though, I cringed when I read she’s not taking advantage of her company’s 6% match rather than add another couple months on to her repayment timeline. http://www.businessinsider.com/budget-paying-student-loans-2016-7

    The biggest takeaway: “Elberfeld says the easiest places to keep her costs down are housing and transportation, two areas that are minefields for many.” Oh look, MMM is recommending people sell their trucks and houses as a first step!

    Long time lurker from the greater Seattle area. First time posting. Since reading your blog, my husband and I are consistently maxing out our 401Ks, shopping at Costco, and even bought a bike for my husband’s commute (2 year old son got a tricycle for his birthday. I’m next!). Bonus: Our savings rate has jumped up from ~25% to either 49% or 61% (depending on which formula we use) and net assets will soon make me qualified to begin investing in P2P real estate. Please keep up the great work, MMM! I had withdrawal symptoms after a month without a new article.

    Reply
  • Laurel July 14, 2016, 1:00 pm

    I have a question for anyone who wants to answer. It’s about cars and buying new vs. used. I “get it” that leasing is not frugal. And I “get it” that cars lose a lot of value as soon as you sign the papers and take it home. BUT, I don’t get that buying a used car is much better than buying new IF you intend to keep the car until it falls apart. Seems like people who buy new have the opportunity to treat their cars nicely because they know they will be keeping it a long time. I usually keep a car for over 200k miles and 13 years approximately. With that in mind, does anyone still think it is WAY better to buy used? Thanks for your input!

    Reply
    • Jmac July 14, 2016, 1:18 pm

      The general takeaway I get from a “Mustacian” car-use perspective is this:

      New cars are simply not as useful to a person seeking to minimize their driving. If you’re planning to implement biking as a major (or even secondary) component of transportation, that new car will sit in the driveway depreciating away that dealership sticker price you paid for it. A used car (that someone else bought new and took the depreciation hit on) may last you 13 years if you maintain it well and use it less. Further, most new cars will cost you several times what a quality used one will. So, even if you go through 2 used cars in the same period as someone else with one new car, you may still come out ahead.

      I’m fortunate in that I live 5 miles away from work, so leaving my car in the driveway is an easy choice to make (after learning about the wallet-destroying costs of car commuting). I know others may not have that easy distance, but this blog explains how to fix that far better than I can.

      Reply
      • Laurel July 14, 2016, 1:26 pm

        @Jmac, thanks for your reply. Unfortunately, I’m up in years, have health issues, and a 56 mile per workday habit. The car is a necessity for me. My point is that how you treat a car that you own and will keep for many years is going to be different from how you treat a car that you are leasing, or know you won’t keep for long. For instance, even though my Prius has 215k miles it still has the original brake pads. The Toyota mechanics are amazed by that. So, I don’t just mean getting scheduled maintenance, but how you treat a car daily. When I look at used cars I don’t know how they were treated by previous drivers and I think it matters. Thanks for your input!

        Reply
        • Jmac July 14, 2016, 2:25 pm

          Despite the long commute, I’d still say you can save some serious dollars here. There are many good used vehicles on Craigslist. Of course, there are bad ones too. One great tactic is to find a mechanic you trust and ask the seller to allow your mechanic to inspect everything before purchase. A buyer asked me to do this when I sold a vehicle years ago and I had no issue with it. Some folks may balk at the hassle, but lucky for us, there are plenty of used cars around.

          Reply
        • Daniel July 14, 2016, 4:06 pm

          IMO, given you long commute, and how well your Prius served you, you should buy another new one. I think your situation is a clear case when a new car is worth the higher price.

          Reply
        • DLcygnet July 15, 2016, 9:46 am

          I freely admit to being a new car fan. There’s a lot to be said for getting exactly the car you need/want, minimizing time wasted stranded by the side of the road& sitting in a maintenance bay. But I bought a ridiculously practical Toyota (’05 Corolla) just like you. In my area, the used cars you would actually want to own were selling for just a few thousand less than the new cars at the time (I was also shopping at the end of the season with Costco’s buying service); plus my mom offered me a $2K bribe to get something with an inordinate amount of airbags. That car only has 78K miles on it now and beyond regular 5K maintenance, I’ve only ever had to buy new tires. At this rate, I might own the car for 3 decades before I actually NEED to replace it. Meanwhile, if I had purchased a used car with similar stats, I’d probably have to replace it every 10 years like most people. But as the previous posters said, car buying can be a crap shoot and I’m fortunate to have never had any serious accidents. But that was my trade-off: Spend $18K up front for 3 decades of use. Or spend $11-16K every 10 to 15 years. If I had to buy that same car now with all the information the internet puts at my fingertips… I’d consider buying a 2 to 4-year-old car with <40K miles on it [$12K used vs $24K new] if Costco couldn't help me much; new cars are insanely priced now.

          Reply
          • EuroMike July 17, 2016, 3:40 pm

            Why do you have regular maintenance every 5,000 miles? As a European I am always puzzled by reading this from Americans, along with oil changes being recommended every 3,000 miles. The cars I had so far typically recommended a regular maintenance every 30,000 km (~19,000 miles) or 2 years. Oil change is recommended to be done at the regular maintenance. Aren’t the cars in the US and Europe essentially the same? Are we Europeans risking our cars or are Americans paying over the odds for excessive maintenance?

            Reply
            • Mr. Money Mustache July 17, 2016, 5:11 pm

              You’re right, Euro – my Scion instruction manual says to change the oil every 7500 miles, and the interval for other service is more like every 15k. Even then, it is really minor stuff like air and fuel filters and spark plugs. In general, cars need almost no service at all if you’re not driving them every single week. :-)

              Reply
              • DLcygnet July 18, 2016, 10:59 am

                I spy another article in the making. :)

            • DLcygnet July 18, 2016, 10:58 am

              I’m intrigued. The longest interval I’ve observed for a synthetic oil change is 10K miles (nowhere near 19K) and that’s with primarily highway driving. My manual says every 5K (or as needed) to top off fluids & handle other minor checks/fixes that come around on a rotating basis (yes, big stuff at 15K). I’d love it if I could service my car every 20K miles – what brand car/oil? My husband thinks I’m crazy going longer than 3K miles or 3 months (but he bought a Dodge before we got married).

              I’ll let Toyota explain their scheme: http://www.toyota.com/owners/faqs
              See: ” What are the oil change intervals using synthetic oil?”

              Reply
              • EuroMike July 18, 2016, 3:18 pm

                DLcygnet, I drive a Skoda Superb Wagon, which is essentially the same as a VW Passat, just a bit more spacious and cheaper (Diesel, with the cheating engine, too…). The oil is longlife oil 5W-30 (quite expensive – around EUR 100). Service interval is set to variable, which means that the car monitors your driving and decides when service is required. For me, it was always at the maximum 30,000 km (or 2 years, whatever comes earlier). I think there is also the option of a fixed interval which would be every 15,000 km but it would seem stupid to use that. Service includes checking the various stuff like filters, brakes, but also changing oil. I didn’t even need to top up oil or cooling liquid in-between services, only the water for the windshield.

                Of course, now that we have moved closer to extended family, I work from home most days and use the train to go to work occasionally only, and use a bike with kids trailer on most days, I will never get to 30,000 km again within 2 years, so I will just change oil every 2 years in the future, I guess.

            • DLcygnet July 18, 2016, 4:37 pm

              Thanks, EuroMike!

              It looks like Edmunds.com agrees with you completely. US drivers are getting scammed by dealerships & garages that want to keep their bays busy. http://www.edmunds.com/car-care/stop-changing-your-oil.html

              Reply
            • Bike Bubba July 19, 2016, 9:53 am

              We may be overpaying, but one thing that balances it out IMO is that I pay $40 for an oil change every half year and get a qualified mechanic looking over my vehicle. Given that my pickup (I know, but it’s a 1997) is at 182k miles, that’s a bargain.

              And it’s probably a double good idea in my life because it gets a fair number of miles on dusty dirt roads. That accelerates wear and tear on things, especially oil and air filters.

              Reply
    • llbigwave July 16, 2016, 4:14 pm

      Laurel, I’ve come around more toward your way of thinking in the past ten years. There was a time when the expected lifespan of a car was shorter, and thus they depreciated more quickly. A three year old car might have sold for 60% of the price of a new model. Today, with cars lasting longer and longer, that three year old car sells for more like 80% of the new car price. And I completely agree with the idea of treating the car well and keeping it until the maintenance costs become too great.

      Reply
    • FreeTim July 17, 2016, 4:15 am

      For us, 3-year-old used car is the perfect entry point, as it avoids most of that HUGE initial depreciation loss. Let’s not forget ugly TAXES, here in MA we pay a lot in excise taxes and the delta between new vs 3 years in annual excise tax is huge, not to mention the initial SALES tax by-percentage too.

      Yet; a 3-yr-old-vehicle will still have great bells-and-whistles such as airbags and bluetooth as default options. Count me as STILL think it is WAY better to buy used. In our case we chose a certified-used vehicle it was super clean from a dealer it was a big win for us. 10 or 15 years from now I plan to buy-used (3 years old) again = win.

      Okay, one doesn’t get to personally pick-out every single little option but – that’s just a marketing ploy the dealers use to abuse your brain. Don’t buy-in. it’s a fancy wheelchair. For instance I wanted bluetooth… our 2011 would not come with bluetooth (horrors!!) so we ordered a tiny bluetooth adapter off Amazon for $13. Much cheaper than selecting a newer model year, for the win. :) No worries they ALL come with BT now so if you get a 3-yr-old vehicle it’ll have it.

      We got our 3-year-old vehicle with low mileage 19k miles on it, a non-Mustachian had lost it to the dealer (I mean it was ” traded in,” to use dealer jargon, their loss IMHO for our win.

      Reply
      • FreeTim July 17, 2016, 4:23 am

        AND like you – kudos Laurel – we keep every car for a decade or more long as we can – ie No “trading up” every few years. Fiscally the numbers work well EVEN if repairs needed in the ending years, as those are cheaper than ongoing car payments or the equivalent early-year depreciations & taxes…. but for a brand-new-car, the initial sales tax, excise tax, and first two-years depreciation numbers make my wallet run away in screaming pain.

        Reply
    • Glen July 17, 2016, 5:35 pm

      Click and Clack, the CarTalk guys ran the numbers in a book they wrote. They compared buying a new car every 10 years (keeping it for 10 years), and buying a 9 year old car every year, keeping it for one year each time, over a lifetime of car buying, 40 or 50 years. IIRC, the savings for buying used was something like $65,000. Then they had a quiz asking you to compare $0 to $65,000. If your answer was, “About the same,” then you should go ahead and buy new. But if you think $65,000 is “Way more” than $0, then you should probably buy used.

      Reply
  • LateFIBloomer July 14, 2016, 1:17 pm

    MMM, thank you for all you do. I discovered your blog last December, an have been reading your blogs, from post #1. I am still making my way up to the present days. Your blog and the lifestyle that you teach helped me say “adios!” to my executive salary and “career”. I went from top 1.3% earner category to $0, and loving every minutes of it. Wished I had stumbled on your website much earlier. Now, all I can focus on is my time, my freedom, travels and DYI badassity. One wise man said it once (can’t remember who, but to the effects…), “in the world of credits, you can pretend to be a lot of things that you are not. But two things you can’t pretend; they are the leisure of free time, and good health”. Cheers!

    Reply
  • Ecodad July 14, 2016, 1:19 pm

    Hi Mr.MM

    From one fellow Mustachian to another, thank you for yet another great post. Your advice, both here and throughout all your posts, is spot on.

    I worked hard in high school so I could study engineering in college. I worked hard putting myself through college so I could get a good job (while hoping to change the world for the better at the same time). After graduating from college I worked hard at a couple of jobs, lived frugally, and saved much. After working too many hours for too many years with too little time off NOT making the world better, I finally asked myself why? So I quit, shortly before turning 30. I then travelled by bike for 6 month throughout Europe and had the time of my life while living on a dime. My eyes were opened.

    I never went back to engineering. I married a few years later, had two sons, and a few years back, after several years of marriage, got divorced. I’ve lived the Mustachian life throughout. I have my sons half the time, and I am always available to them. We eat together. We play board games together, We play outside together. We veg together. We getaway often, usually on camping/hiking/swimming/fishing trips, with a few nice hotel splurges thrown in. We read much. We exercise much. We eat well. We get adequate sleep. We have a few hobbies. Life doesn’t get much better.

    Keep up the good work. You are truly a voice in this “North American” wilderness.

    Reply
  • DIY Money Guy July 14, 2016, 1:33 pm

    I was just talking with a friend the other day that it had been a little while since the last MMM post. But you have successfully done it again MMM. A great blog post with a simple message, actionable items and even specific direction and examples! It is pretty hard to argue with all of the ideas and actions if you proposed if people truly do value their time more with family and friends more than money and work. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • Marcus July 14, 2016, 1:39 pm

    Im really interested in the picture at the top of the post. I have been researching for a while now how I might build a low cost home with large, energy efficient, modern windows which looks like what you’ve got in the picture. Looks awesome! Is this a picture of your house? I would really love some more info!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache July 14, 2016, 4:01 pm

      That is actually the little 10×10 “tea house” here at my in-laws’ place (we just arrived for a visit) . It is energy efficient only in the sense that it is just a simple wooden structure with screened windows and no heat.

      I used the picture just because it seemed to represent simplicity and space, with their nice forest in the background.

      Reply
  • Moshen July 14, 2016, 1:42 pm

    Hi Mr. Money Mustache,

    I wish you would ease up on the bicycle and walkable city requirements because I don’t think these are necessary for financial independence. Not everyone is as able-bodied as you, and not everyone needs as much social contact as you do. People are different! People can achieve the kind of independent lifestyle you’re advocating in different ways.

    My husband and I get by spending $24,000 a year while living in the country with one car and next to no neighbors. For me, the opportunity to walk or run five miles every day on dirt roads while having only one or two cars pass by, and to not have neighbors bothering us, is precious beyond diamonds. We work at home. Our house is paid off and we have no debt.

    I don’t like to bicycle because I once fell off a bike and got a sprained wrist and a concussion. It’s 15 miles to the nearest supermarket but we go as little as we can, bundling all our car trips together. This adds up to less than 5,000 miles on the car every year, unless we take a road trip as our vacation.

    It would be nice to see you show your calculations for someone who because of their physical/medical condition, couldn’t subscribe to the biking-only rule and who worked at home. I believe the end result, mathematically, would be much the same.

    Reply
  • Bike Bubba July 14, 2016, 1:59 pm

    One thing to note here is that “badassity” is in many ways simply saying “live like people did in the past”, and one of the ways I try to teach it to my children is to remind them of how things used to be. My parents blessed me by teaching me to ride a bike to swim practice, deal with the heat without A/C (hello basement!), share a room with my brother, help my mother can foods, and the like–and it was pretty plush compared to how my parents had grown up.

    If you want to take the next step, read the “Little House on the Prairie” series, or really any set of books documenting middle or lower class life in the 19th century, and imitate. A tremendous amount of freedom and fun happens when you ignore the calls of the world to buy, buy, buy.

    Reply
  • TheHappyPhilosopher July 14, 2016, 2:03 pm

    Totally agree. Too often we try to solve problems by adding something to our lives to fix it. Of course this is wrong 90% of the time once your basic needs are met. We should instead be eliminating things that add no value (news, television, gas powered leaf blowers, 30 mile commutes, etc.) The problem lies in the fact that we are hard wired to believe addition is better than subtraction. As you pointed out, once we reject this narrative we can start eliminating the unnecessary. Just learning to say no is like a super power once you get good at it.

    I found that once I decluttered all the nonsense I did become more badass. Its inevitable because you have a greater bandwidth available.

    Reply
  • Marcus Lehman July 14, 2016, 2:20 pm

    Anyone know where I can find a Honda Fit for 5000$ without having to know how to rebuild an engine?

    Reply
    • FreeTim July 17, 2016, 4:32 am

      Yes actually. Craigslist time-and-time-again. I can offer some tips. 1) Set up an alert when someone posts a Honda Fit so you can read and respond instantly via your smart phone 2) Try to go see it QUICKLY, before anyone else does 3) Bring a friend on the test drive 4) Lowball offer with cash, because sometimes the early bird gets the worm. You need to BEAT THE COMPETITION, bring cash and know what it is worth, and buy it on the spot (if others come to test-drive, they may offer more than you.)

      If you mean it quite literally, then yes here is a perfectly running 2009 but it’s likely gone by the time you read this reply, so I wanted to post the tips instead. Hope the tips help you! boston.craigslist.org/gbs/ctd/5685085961.html

      Reply
  • Laura July 14, 2016, 2:32 pm

    Hey MMM, I have a 2008 Honda Civic which I like for my normal driving needs. But, I want to start carting larger things. I like gardening, for example, and want to cart around yards of compost from the local city compost heap. I could get a trailer from my brother which he no longer wants because he has a minivan. But is a Honda Civic safe to be pulling a trailer loaded with some stuff? I can try not to load it too much, but should I just trade it in for an old pickup? Or is that also asking for trouble?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache July 14, 2016, 3:56 pm

      Hi Laura, trailers are great so this is a perfect solution. The 2008 civic is a big, heavy and extremely powerful car by anything other than US standards. No problem pulling lots of mulch or small loads of rock or soil (up to 1000 pounds or so). It just won’t tow an excavator :-)

      Reply
    • Bike Bubba July 15, 2016, 10:16 am

      Consult the owner’s manual or the dealer. If they say it’s a go, pay $100 or so to get a transmission cooler installed if you’ve got an automatic transmission–towing causes a lot more shifts and work for the torque converter =heat, which kills transmissions.

      Reply
  • Joe July 14, 2016, 2:47 pm

    Reminds me of “Essentialism” – a book I’m sure you have read, MMM.

    My favorite word is “no.” My favorite phrase is “sorry, too much on my plate already.”

    Reply
  • FIREplanter July 14, 2016, 6:08 pm

    ”In the world of gaining more leverage over your own life, this means to stop adding complexity.”

    I like the idea of minimalism, simplicity in life. I just got back today from looking at flat rental, flat share options in the new place I will be moving to next month. On one hand, I had the option of a flat rental with all the furnishing, rental cost, council tax costs, utilities cost to deal with, not to mention sneaky agent fees for rentals!!! On the other hand, I can just pick up a fully furnished room in a house with all bills included. Just move in and stay.

    Sometimes it’s just better to pick the simple option. Less complexity in life frees up your time to spend on other things that matter like sleep and people who matter. :)

    Reply
  • Fiona July 14, 2016, 8:33 pm

    Thank you, MMM! With 8 days to go till we move to our new house that is 4 minutes walk from work, this is all the encouragement I need to get through these last few days of crappy living-in-boxes and wondering if the upheaval of the big move will be worth it. I’m sure it will be!

    Reply
  • ZJ Thorne July 14, 2016, 8:58 pm

    Preserving 50% of your time is a really wonderful goal. I shudder when I see 8 year olds rushing to practice and lessons after school daily. They need to run and socialize away from adults. Learn how it feels to climb a tree. Learn how to negotiate boundaries with other kids. Learn to make some trouble. Learn when to find an adult.

    Reply
  • Syed July 14, 2016, 9:46 pm

    Incredible post. Taking time for self improvement is highly beneficial even though it’s hard to see the direct positive effect. Just taking 10 minutes a day to sit in silence and think and not idly check your Facebook feed after waking up will make a world of difference.

    Reply
  • Tony W July 15, 2016, 7:01 am

    Making space in our lives is a matter of prioritization. As you say, people like to pretend they are victims (need look no further than the rhetoric spewed during our current US Presidential campaign to see ample evidence of this) rather than simply taking charge of their destinies.

    Although I have had retirement savings since my early 20s, I didn’t get serious about financial independence until my mid 40s. I could go ahead and be a complainypants about that – or I could take action and make sure I don’t get into my mid-60s before achieving FI and doing what I want to do.

    As it is, I’ll be 52 when I retire. That’s not as young as many, but far younger than others. I am fortunate to still have my health – and that’s the focus now. There’s little point to saving and deferring gratification if you simply die as soon as you begin to reap the rewards!

    Reply
  • johnson85 July 15, 2016, 8:19 am

    This post could have been written for me personally. There’s lots of stuff I’d like to save money on, but a huge impediment is having an hour and twenty minute commute, each way, to work. That combined with two toddlers makes it to where we can barely keep our head above water during the week, and the weekend is spent catching up on stuff we need to do. Extremely hard to be efficient in meal planning and we end up spending a lot of money on stuff because we don’t have time. I think when I can get rid of my commute, I’ll be able to eliminate a significant chunk of our monthly expenses, like around 20%, just by eliminating the gas and car expenses and then having more time for grocery shopping and meal prep, house and care maintenance, etc.

    Reply
  • Maracvja July 15, 2016, 8:27 am

    MMM My husband and I are in a crossroad as we save for a down payment to hopefully get a home next year. We spend less than we make and we have no debt but our savings are not low but not great either. HSA has more than our high deductible, emergency fund is about 5 month of expenses and 401k is getting funded but I am waiting to increase the % for after we buy our own home. Our cars were bought with cash, we live close to work, no need for cable or other crap because we play music daily for fun. Anyway…we live in an expensive area (around Boston) and I have lots of opportunities here with biotech..rent is high but homes are pricey too. We have consider buying a duplex, or multi-unit (3) home to start and leverage on the high cost on living…both my husband and I like to fix things. But I have that part of me that wonders if we should go for our own modest home since we have waited this long (mid 30s now) and then safe to get some rental property. I just really want a 15 mortgage and have things paid off soon and may be a multi-unit home would allows to do that. I scare, of a mortgage..of regretting not buying a single home or regretting doing so because a multi home should be idea..or should we wait more to have a higher down payment and more options. At this point we have only 10% (or a bit less) of what a down payment of a fixer-upper would be…any guidance you have (or anybody else) is welcomed!

    Reply
  • Beardsman July 15, 2016, 8:31 am

    This latest article is a little disappointing. I used to think you were a hardcore dude, but this step-by-step process you’ve just outlined made “badassity” look really easy. When I get to the point where I don’t have to try to save money, what do I work towards? Where has the challenge gone? Once I’ve achieved badassity is that all there is? Do I just do whatever I want for the next 60 years? Is that enough? Do you have any ideas on taking your lifestyle to the level beyond badassity, whatever that may be? Or is there a point of diminishing returns? Is age 30 the earliest I should retire? Would life be more enjoyable if I rode a fixed gear bike and didn’t have to worry about as much maintenance? Would I get more satisfaction from my beers and spend less money if my buds and I developed some awesome homebrew recipes? Is there a point when society will inevitably consider me a bum, or can I avoid that while living on practically nothing?

    Reply
    • TimConnors July 15, 2016, 1:16 pm

      Another level of freedom is probably not really caring what others think as long as you are satisfied.

      Reply
    • Frugal Bazooka July 23, 2016, 12:02 pm

      lmao…the problems of the rich and retired never seem to end do they?

      If you truly run out of fun, profitable things to do in your free time….think of financial freedom as the pass key to solving every major problem in your house, neighborhood, community, city, state, and uh…nation.

      If you still have time after that, buy a guitar and learn 3 chords…or start a blog and tell other people what they are doing wrong.

      ; )

      Reply
  • Chris July 15, 2016, 8:56 am

    Yes, yes, yes and yes. Follow this man’s advice. I’ve been doing this for years and years before MMM and everything he says is exactly the way it is. Get over your wasteful lifestyle and make the changes. Freedom and relaxation awaits you.

    Reply
  • Weston July 15, 2016, 9:44 am

    Anybody else listen to NPR yesterday about the software engineer and the office administrator in Fort Collins who say they are unable to vacation because of their too expensive house and too expensive car?

    Am I the only one who immediately thought “but, but this can’t be. They live just up the road from MMM” Actually that was my second question. My first question (which remained unanswered by NPR) was “I wonder what their combined yearly salary is?”

    http://www.marketplace.org/2016/07/11/world/middle-class-vacation-squeeze

    Reply
  • TimConnors July 15, 2016, 1:14 pm

    MMM,

    Your financial and environmental understandings are on point, but your teaching skills (as represented in the fictional conversation) need a little work.

    In your conversation you are asking Joe Consumer to change all aspects of his life. This is like getting a 7th graders C+ essay and being frustrated that they are not writing at a professional level. There are many, many steps between a C+ 5 paragraph essay and writing professionally. It is bad practice to give that 7th grader all of those steps at once (grammar mistakes in every paragraph, no style in any given sentence, weak/boring intro, almost non-existent conclusion, borderline plagiarism due to poor citation of sources, etc). That level will overload the 7th grader and often cause the student to simply conclude, “I’m bad at writing.”

    Likewise, your conversation with Joe and Josephine Consumer points out all of the steps to take to get from Joe Consumer to Full Mustachian–those are a lot of steps, some of them quite anxiety-ridden (selling a house or a car) and you are asking them to take these steps in about a week.

    Going back to fictional 7th grader, best practices would say to give him 3 steps to take to improve the essay. Those steps should be carefully chosen with two considerations–what will be most doable for this student, and what doable improvement will provide the best results. So, if they have an essay that is one big 2 page clump of an unintelligible paragraph, understanding the structure of the essay is first order of business. If they have a decently structured essay that is deadly boring, then teaching some grammatical structures to support deep thought is the step to take.

    So with Joe Consumer, what 3 steps are most doable for this guy? Depends on his life and your knowledge of it. What will give the best results? Probably vehicle choice and committing to not making additional purchases while in debt with others (no boat or cottage).

    I know these steps won’t move him to full Mustachian level, and it is frustrating to know what he should do and see him not. But when giving effective feedback, a question to ask is this:

    Do you want to be right, or do you actually want to have an effect?

    Would love to hear others thoughts on this, here is an educational article outlining some best practices of effective feedback: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept12/vol70/num01/Seven-Keys-to-Effective-Feedback.aspx

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache July 16, 2016, 2:14 pm

      I agree with you in Real Life, Tim.

      But my little lesson to the Consumers was in itself a literary device. First of all, a joke at how unforgiving this MMM character can be, secondly a convenient place to throw in a bunch of review and links for further reading for new readers. Finally, it was a deliberate flood of hard-sounding stuff so you could imagine the overloaded mental state these people might feel when presented with change.

      Reply
    • Frugal Bazooka July 23, 2016, 12:12 pm

      I would venture to guess that most of us don’t need to be “taught” about money and savings and lifestyle assessment – we already know what we should be doing, but we’re just too God damned complacent and docile to take the bull by the horns.
      What we actually need is a hammer on the knuckles and punch in the face to wake us up from our over consumption stupor and our under-savings lifestyles. I think it’s safe to say that at least 90% of Americans could use some hardcore nudging when it comes to navigating their financial lifestyle. The blueprint has been in the public domain for decades and now it’s virtually everywhere on the inter webs.
      Most of us don’t need a teacher as much as a coach…and in my case I need the coach to be pretty nasty to get thru my cognitive dissonance.

      Reply
  • Gen July 15, 2016, 3:32 pm

    Dear MMM,

    I am pleased to be able to say that I am someone who has not only read your advice, but has recently put it into action! And it works!

    I recently applied for a job close to home (1.7kms away). I didn’t think it would be possible for me to get a job so close to home. But I decided to change my attitude and simply start looking. I applied and got the first job I applied for! Not only do I save approximately $30/week in bus fares, my new job pays a bit more. It is also a less stressful job that doesn’t require me to work additional hours (saving me about 2 hours/day). In addition, I am saving approximately 1.5 hours/day in commute time. All up, I have approximately an extra 3.5 hours/day of free time!!!!

    While I won’t be able to retire for about 8 years, my ‘new life’ is much more enjoyable and sustainable. I have found time to read books, negotiate better deals, cook nutritious meals and exercise. Life is so much nicer and easier, and I’m happier and healthier.

    I credit you as the inspiration for my new life and want to say thanks :-)

    But like Joe and Josephine, I have resistance to some things (I have a car loan!!!). I’m finding it hard to convince myself that I don’t need the newish car. So I’m going to spend some of my newly found spare time doing the maths and convincing myself to get a cheaper, more badass car ;-)

    Reply
  • Jone July 15, 2016, 4:26 pm

    I like the 50/50 split MMM mentions between non-negotiable commitments and free time for self development. I have always split my day into thirds – 33% work, 33% play, 33% rest. Works out to about 8 hours in each mode.

    I will have to say my personal spending is far above MMM’s $25k/year. I spend more than double that each year just buying stocks and bonds! ;-)

    Another great post MMM! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Terri July 15, 2016, 5:46 pm

    We had to take a class as freshman called Consumer Ed, which I remember only vaguely. I think the most important things I learned about finance and education were from Henry D. Thoreau—
    This one has been with me since high school and now, into my 40s, I realize more and more how true it is:

    “We seem to have forgotten that the expression “a liberal education” originally meant among the Romans one worthy of free men; while the learning of trades and professions by which to get your livelihood merely, was considered worthy of slaves only. But taking a hint from the word, I would go a step further and say, that it is not the man of wealth and leisure simply, though devoted to art, or science, or literature, who, in a true sense, is liberally educated, but only the earnest and free man… ”

    He also said, “Life is frittered away by details…simplify, simplify, simplify.” The original MMM!

    Interesting comments everyone. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  • lee July 15, 2016, 7:36 pm

    We have a dog, if we go on holiday she is looked after by my parents or our grown up children or (the favorite) she comes with us. So no problems there.

    Reply
  • Mikes Reiche July 15, 2016, 8:55 pm

    Holy shit comments pile on fast here nowadays! Perhaps they would slim down if there were more posts? Probably not… I definitely look forward to new posts though. You’ve motivated my wife and I to do way more then we though we could, or even knew how to. We sold our house a month or so ago, WITHOUT A REALTOR! Who would have thought you could sell your house on your own? Plenty of realtors called us to let us know how foolish we were and that they could get us way more money and sell it faster… 4 days after being on the market we had a contract… SUCK IT FOOLS! You were the motivation to do that and so much more. SO, my point is… Thanks, great article.

    Reply
  • Casey July 16, 2016, 7:02 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past year after starting a mission to get rid of my debt and change my family’s future. Your blog has been a great motivator for us and a year in we have paid off 80k of debt and made many of the lifestyle changes you write about. We have become different people than what we were 1 year ago. That said there is one change I can’t emotionally make that causes me a lot of fret which is I LOVE my expensive house and neighborhood in NYC. We also live 6 blocks from my inlaws. For the past year I wrestled with the idea of downsizing but finally said out load I don’t want to move even though I know I could change my life immediately if I did. I will try to offset this by selling my rental house and replacing it with a multiplex that generates more cash. I hope I am not sabotaging my future. Any comments offered would be appreciated. Thank you

    Reply
    • Casey July 16, 2016, 7:05 am

      Forgot to mention I just refi’ed our house at 2.75% for 15 years

      Reply
  • Judy July 16, 2016, 8:06 am

    Before my husband and I found the mmm blog I worried about retirement and what it would be like to live on a reduced income but seeing how rich the frugal life can be from mmm’s example, it has really given me peace and not dread. Really this is how we lived when I was a kid – I was born in 1952. We had a great life. We weren’t poor and we didn’t think we were poor. I was happy with one teddy bear compared to the literally 100’s that kids have today. I remember for example my mom making me a beautiful coat out of her old coat. We travelled but and camped. Our food was simple but good. We never ate out and if we did it would’ t taste as good as at home. We had 2 tv channels and we didn’t need more. Life was simpler and we enjoyed it.

    Reply
  • Erith July 16, 2016, 11:20 am

    My son sent me the link to MMM recently. He said I would really get the concept. I retired early aged 55, some years ago, but 10 years before that had cleared the mortgage, saved hard and worked out that we didn’t need that much money to retire, just ‘enough’. Tried it out for a year or two beforehand, living on what our post-retirement income would be. No problems, so we both just stopped. But then my husband got offered part-time consultancy, working from home doing the stuff he really enjoys, no admin, no boring work. He’s really happy, works when he wants to, does the work he wants, says it keeps his brain going. He can work anywhere there is wi-fi, so it doesn’t stop us travelling. We currently save 50- 60% of our retirement income, all his salary gets put away. So we are definitely FI. But this year we are giving ourselves a treat. We have a 30 hour flight, to see family, and we are going business. Doesn’t fit with MMM, but old bones get very knackered on back to back, 14 hour flight stretches. On the other hand, we did loads of research and found a deal where it was just a little more than economy with other airlines. So maybe some MMM in there! I wish I had started working harder towards FI in my twenties… Fortunately my son is! Good for him. And as for the earlier posts, yes I hang out my washing in the fresh air, smells lovely when it comes it (but I live in the country). Takes 5 minutes to hang it out…. We drive our cars for 10 years at a time, until they need too many repairs or cease to be reliable. I had a bike, but got injured, so can’t do that any more. I use local buses rather than the car, and walk loads. Keep going with the blog – it’s inspirational!

    Reply
  • Tamaren July 16, 2016, 4:51 pm

    I’m ticking a lot of mustachian boxes, but I don’t feel the slightest bit badass. In fact, I feel more trapped than my past self did living pay-to-pay and not caring about the future. I need more time, and this article got my hopes up, but I haven’t seen how to apply the lessons to my life – any one got ideas?

    I’m in my early thirties, I work from home and my partner walks to work. We share one 1994 Toyota. We earn well and save over 60% of our income. We are on track to retire in 5 years, but the stress never stops.

    We do property maintenance in exchange for cheap rent, so there’s always a renovation project on the go at the weekend. We fix our own cars and appliances. We cook meals from fresh ingredients. We keep good records of our expenses so we know our financial goals are on track. But with both of us working full time, plus all the usual chores, every hour of every day is full, we are both at the end of our sanity and we don’t even have any children yet!

    I know some ways we could save time – hire a gardener, cleaner, painter, mechanic, etc. Eat takeaways or ready-frozen meals. Work fewer hours. Get slack on the financial records, rather than spreadsheeting every cent. But these really go against my own values, and those of this blog.

    I would like to grow more of my own food, and build an electric bicycle but the thought of it trying to find any more hours in the week nearly makes me cry.

    Are we just supposed to grit our teeth and make it through the next 5 years like this, then hope we haven’t burned out and trashed our relationship before we retire? Or are there some changes we could make to our lives to make more time/less stress without compromising our goals?

    Reply
    • Helen July 19, 2016, 11:45 am

      Tamaren: I just wanted to let you know how impressed I am with all you hard work and the great skills you are developing. One question, since you work from home, how much time does that count as? Could you qualify as a “real estate professional” which has huge tax breaks? I think you have to document at least 750 hours/year and have no explicitly full time job. The tax breaks may allow you to shelter enough income to cut down on your hours. At least you already know how to keep financial records. I would hire a Roomba or braava before hiring a house cleaner, BTW. Your renovation experience will help tremendously if you decide to buy a multi-family and become the live-in-manager/handyman. If you buy a 4-plex or smaller and live in it at least a year, you can get crazy low interest rates now. How close are you to being able to afford a down payment? Do you need to find an investor partner? Disclaimer: when buying RE of any kind, it must cash flow well with professional outside management and maintenance calculated in. However, given that most management companies charge 10% of rents, plus a leasing fee up to the first month’s rent, plus a 15% additional charge on any maintenance that is done, if you do these things yourself, it will open up a lot of extra cash flow. I wish I could tell you that we are as on-track as you are. Currently, we are about halfway to FI, and it will probably take us closer to 10 years to get fully there, and that’s fully due to the fact that we aren’t taking the hard road. I can’t repeat the swears that came out of my husband’s mouth when he tried to hang curtain rods and the wallboard screws wouldn’t go in. We did a renovation of our new home and realized that even with lots of reading up that we are in no way prepared to do renovation work ourselves – we just don’t have the skills. Then, of course, we realized that our new home is too big for just the 2 of us, and that because we had bought it high (arvada property values are crazy right now) and renovated it not extravagantly but at the level of “I would be happy to live here for the next 30 years” that it would be a marginal rental. Now that renovation and moving costs are out of the way, though, our total monthly costs are about $400/month less than when we were renting, plus my husband can take a home office deduction, since he quite legitimately uses 1/3 of the total space for his office. I’m working on him a bit, trying to trigger the realization that delicious omelets can be made easily for less than $1 each (2-3 eggs, a small handful of cheese, and a little diced veg) and 5 minutes of cook/prep/wash time. I used to make fabulous gourmet frittatas which take 30 minutes to cook in the oven. Which is not time I have at 8pm when I get home from work, so it was easy for him to convince me to go out to dinner. Yes, it sounds like you aren’t getting enough R&R and especially sleep. Is there anything that can just be simplified? For me that means not spending huge amounts of time in the kitchen making fancy food that my husband barely eats anyway (he’s very picky). It means not getting a tv, and making sure that I view my dog as the core of my exercise program (+ some yoga). I have to improve my time management. It means actually figuring out how to get a hydroponics system to grow veggies in the basement – I have a black thumb. For you it might mean editing something out of your life that isn’t giving you the return on effort that you want. It may mean “working smarter, not harder” as much as that phrase is typically ill-used, to redirect your efforts to something that will better utilize your unique skill set, and tailor out what you find to be drudgery.

      Reply
  • Oelsen July 16, 2016, 5:23 pm

    If a well done cheese from around the corner (about 20km from here at most, special label) has a price tag of 5$ (not even organic and with a price of 40 Swiss Francs/kg) and forgoing a car means to shell out 3.5k CHF (a yearly fare Swiss-wide for ONE person), you just can’t save. To have one in High School, a half-time working Mom and a Dad working in Banking (to even be able to save for early retirement) means 8 to 10k CHF for mobility costs alone. Regional mobility costs are about 800/person and year for public transport.

    Your model does only work if there is plenty of immigrated cheap labor providing the stuff. If the wage level is high and fair enough, you can’t retire before 60 at all. And Switzerland STILL doesn’t pay fair wages. Btw, the average costs to rent in Switzerland is 1000 CHF for a normal, two room flat, sometimes lower if you are very lucky. If you move and go to some god awful place where flies and cows play a Jass you pay maybe 800. A month. Health care – which is mandatory, comes to about what reference portals in Switzerland say. Come one, be a wise guy and find out that you can’t go under 350 for a man in his 50ies – provided he pays for his own teeth (some 200-1000/year, depending on the accident and maintenance need, yes, Hungary is an option, sometimes.) and has no additional care whatsoever in a hospital. Those 350 are for a month. One Person. Mandatory. If you have income you can’t circumvent it, except by a strange and very illicit four flag strategy, but who has access to that?!

    Now we’re at 20k mandatory spending. Which leads us to about what main stock of capital to produce those 20k? Oh, you did not eat. The cheese I mentioned earlier? You could eat garbage and lower your expenses. You want a place to plant your own vegetables and you don’t have a house (one million overall life cycle costs here)? Pay about a thousand in the most areas, for lease, water, seedlings and supplies. In most favorable (read: accessible within city limits/without a car) areas more.

    I am tired to search for all the links to proof my point, but I suppose you get the picture. We already don’t overspend, we cut our electricity usage to 1MWh/year and don’t fly around and can’t save significant money. Yes, if we had that money in the US, we would live like kings and save the triple or quadruple amount and we all could retire at 40. Not here. And not in most areas of this world. Recalculate those 450 posts with a federal minimum wage of a fair 20 dollars and you are back in your cubicle.

    Your model assumes immigration and unsustainability.

    http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/railpasses/ga/adults.html as an example.

    Reply
    • Mikes Reiche July 16, 2016, 9:22 pm

      Not sure if you are trolling or not, but if you look through but a few of those 450 posts you will quickly learn that MMM’s first suggestion would be for you to get out of Switzerland as fast as possible, like if your hair were on fire. Sure, beautiful country, but not designed for someone wanting FIRE. If that is your desire then get out quick. MMM himself moved to a more desireable location for FIRE. Had he stayed in Canada he would probably still be FI, but perhaps with a few more years in his cubicle. I suggest you read a little more on the blog and decide for yourself if staying in the most expensive country in the world is worth working for the rest of your life? Cheers.

      Reply
  • DA July 16, 2016, 7:45 pm

    I started doing all of the things you mentioned in the blog, including walking to work as much as possible, Even with an increase in family income this year, I am happy to continue the same lifestyle. Glad to hit a the first goal of having $25,000 in investments( yeah, a little short yet).

    Reply
  • Dr-in-Debt July 17, 2016, 12:06 pm

    I will have to admit, it all sounds great and I have been there and had that freedom earlier in life but I feel like I am heading in the opposite direction as I get older. It stems from having think about the well being of my children/family and not just myself.

    Married, childless and in my residency my wife and I lived in a downtown studio for half a decade; we walked and biked everywhere. Even when we moved and settled down close to the hospital before our first couple of children were school age, we still only had one car, we continued to bike to work. We walked to pick up groceries, pharmacy, parks and we still didn’t have any real need for the car, etc….

    Fast forward 7 years and its a different story. Three school age kids that are admittedly over-scheduled and we have an absolute lack of time. We got the second car(used with 100k miles on it) so I could go straight from work to various ball fields/recitals/school activities. The difference is I recognize that this is just a phase of life and a peer group that I am in. For many of us that have made it to the upper middle class we realize that we are here due to good education / opportunities and with today’s increasingly segmented society if our children are to have the best opportunity at getting the limited number of good jobs in the future they will need to be well educated and well socialized. How many times have you heard that the best jobs are never advertised? http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/upshot/rich-children-and-poor-ones-are-raised-very-differently.html?_r=0 . It is easier to step back to a slower paced life/career once you have been successful than it is to have to claw your way up from the bottom. My children will not be able to say they never had an opportunity to………… Now whether or not they end up happy and successful, that is up to them.

    In 15 years when everyone is out of the house, we will be downsizing downtown again with the clear understanding that there will be no room at the inn for 20 y/o college grads sleeping on the couch.

    I enjoy the blog, keep up the good work!!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache July 17, 2016, 5:26 pm

      Sounds like you’re thinking clearly Dr. Debt, but I still disagree that upper middle class comes with a requirement to schedule our kids into lots of stuff. Heck, we’re technically at the very top of that category and don’t have a single organized activity on the books – for our son or for either of the adults!

      In fact, growing up in Canada I never joined a single sports team or formally organized after school club in my life. Definitely considered odd among fellow rich people here in the US, but my attitude was always, “Shit – school is already WAY MORE THAN ENOUGH adult-organized stuff for me. Why would I want even MORE of this creeping into my free time?”

      And yet job and business opportunities have always been in abundance – both in my teen and early adult years, and even after I left my social and family network and started from scratch here in a new country.

      Slightly related:

      http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/05/16/the-cheap-ticket-into-the-elite-class/

      Reply
      • Doug July 19, 2016, 3:30 pm

        I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t see the point in joining extra activities like sports either, similarly thinking that school was enough organized activities for me. Add to that the extra burden of homework, I can’t see why any sane person would want more scheduled activities. What’s wrong with sleeping in on a weekend, or having an evening, weekend, or holiday to do whatever the hell you want?

        Reply
        • JN2 July 21, 2016, 11:33 am

          >> What’s wrong with sleeping in on a weekend, or having an evening, weekend, or holiday to do whatever the hell you want? <<

          Exactly. In fact, why not retire then EVERY DAY you can do whatever the hell you want! Works for me :)

          Reply
        • Doug July 22, 2016, 9:19 am

          JN2:
          Yes, I’m retired and LOVE being able to sleep in if I so desire and do whatever I want. It’s wonderful, and I’m glad I didn’t trade this life for working harder and longer to buy more rubbish I never wanted or needed.

          Reply
  • Sally V July 17, 2016, 8:53 pm

    This is probably very late in the conversation, but I was struck by Wilfrid’s family size advice. I personally think that everybody gets to decide on the size of their family, and that having no children is a valid choice. My perspective is that I am the mother of 6 adult children, all terrific people. This family has given me a lot of joy, but I’m pretty sure that not too many others will want to join on this bandwagon! Of my children who have had children themselves, none have had more than two, so we haven’t set a trend. Although this choice is unusual, I still firmly support anybody who has one or none … the important thing is to love and support any child you have. And watching for money-managing tips doesn’t hurt either.

    Reply
  • Nat July 17, 2016, 9:05 pm

    Hey MMM, can I just salute you on another superb post! Love your no nonsense approach to complainypants. If you are ever in the UK, please pop round for a cuppa tea and a brownie!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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

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

Cancel reply

connect

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