The Uncommonly Effective Entrepreneur: an Interview with Jesse Mecham

As I wrote that last article on making sure your life isn’t too busy, a nagging thought kept coming up in my mind. It went something like this:

“Sure, Mustache – you’ve found great value in simplifying your own life. But you’re kind of known for being the Anti-Commitment guy. You get uneasy if somebody tries to plan activities for the coming weekend before lunch on Friday. Also, plenty of people you’ve met have their financial and family lives together AND still get a lot more done than you.”

You’ve got entrepreneurs like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income fame, or Ryan Carson who runs the online learning company called Treehouse. Both of them younger than me, raising more children, managing employees, staying in good shape, writing interesting blog posts and occasionally zipping off to deliver an entertaining keynote speech to a thousand people here or there. Then there are smart economists like the Freakonomics guys or Ezra Klein who not only break down the complexities of our world with meaningful analysis, but go on to build insanely popular media empires like Vox, built on educating the populace rather than pandering to it with consumerism and fear.

Figure 1: You Need a Budget software

Figure 1: Current incarnation of the ever-evolving You Need a Budget software

But for me, the ultimate role model of simultaneous you-are-too-lazy guilt and inspiration is Jesse Mecham, the founder and CEO of a software company called You Need a Budget (YNAB for short).

A dedicated husband and father to not just one or two, but six inquisitive and charming children, not just in shape but genuinely pumped up due to a rigorous Crossfit training regime that he blasts through with an equally impressive wife. Not just an entrepreneur but a benevolent leader of a software company that seems to treat its employees and customers like gold.

In his spare time, he has casually dashed off more than one small self-published book, then a big-publishing-contract major book (not yet released), while the rest of us were thinking of how to begin our Table of Contents. All while being a genuine and honest person who actually cares about the world, constantly challenges his own assumptions (the family of 8 lives in a normal suburban house but is just about to close on another place that is a bit smaller), and maintains life-of-the-party wit while never drinking anything as mood-altering as even an  earl grey tea, ever.

Now, all of us have different desires and goals in our life. You may not want your life to look exactly like the life of either Mr. Money Mustache or Jesse Mecham. And indeed, if you are happy with the life results you are getting right now, you should continue to do exactly what you’ve been doing. But I’m still a big fan of the cheat sheet approach to life optimization: if you want things to change, it helps to look at somebody who is getting the results that you want, and see how they are doing it.

The alternatives of blaming the system, citing luck or privilege or tragic events in our past, striking out at others to prove that their success is invalid and other favorites may well be justified and politically correct and sympathetically documented with great intellectual rigor in reputable East Coast publications. But around here, we just call it complainypants.

The reason I think it’s useful to study other people, and take a few notes on exactly how they run their lives, is because of the surprising effects of  daily habits. You may be a completely different person with a different history, but life doesn’t care about that stuff. Because overall, the vast majority of your life’s results comes not from birthright or large external events, but from small behaviors, repeated thousands of times over the decades. Sure, habits are notoriously hard to change and some of us are compulsively self-destructive. But knowing is much more powerful than not knowing, and with all that in mind let’s begin our little interview.

An Interview with The Uncommonly Effective Entrepreneur


MMM: So Jesse, I think I first heard of you through your customers – the oddly dedicated fans of You Need a Budget. It seems there is a big overlap between YNAB budgeters and MMM readers – both groups are often diving into the somewhat dizzy life alterations that come when you start to get serious about improving your finances.

As a result, you somehow heard of me as well, and then in 2013 you showed up as one of the 24 attendees on our first Ecuador Chautauqua, which seemed like a wacky idea at the time. What possessed you to sign up for this excursion?

Jesse: I’m not much of a blog reader, but our lead mobile developer at the time had mentioned something about a mustache and a blogger that had done crazy things to retire extremely early. I did what most folks do, and binge-read your site for a day or two. It was simultaneously a breath of fresh air and very uncomfortable. I loved it!

At some point later you mentioned the Ecuador trip and I signed up right away. I was pretty sure it would attract some interesting folks with you headlining. Plus, you know, Ecuador.

MMM: Let’s cover a Brief History of the Budget. As I recall from your stories, you originally created a budget spreadsheet while working as a newly-minted accountant, then started trying to sell it. Soon the product became more sophisticated and morphed into a desktop application, which then sprouted a fancy phone app, and now everything is integrated into the cloud. How long has all this taken to occur, and how many people are working in the company today?

Jesse: I actually built and started selling the spreadsheet while I still had two years of school left, back in 2004. I’m pretty dense when it comes to opportunity, so all of this took quite a while. Spreadsheet to software was two years. Then we released new iterations on the software every two to three years. This last push to get it all cloud-based took a little over three years.

Today we have 42 team members or so. About 41 more than I’m comfortable with.


MMM: One of the most striking things about YNAB is your acceptance of remote workers. You have embraced it fully even while some tech companies still insist on having everyone commute into a central office. What percentage of people are remote? How many countries and states are represented? What do you see as the upsides and downsides, and by what multiple or percentage would you say the upsides are winning?

Jesse: 100 percent of our team is remote, but Chance (COO), Caitlin (Exec Assistant) and I all choose to work out of an anonymous building in Lehi, Utah. I do this mainly because Julie kicked me out of the house during work hours.

Seriously though, shortly after I’d stopped working from home (because Julie kicked me out, to be clear), a neighbor stopped by to see me and one of my ~butlers~ kids answered the door. My neighbor says, “Can I talk with your dad?” My kid responds: “He’s moved out.” Word gets around fast.


The team is spread across six (seven, soon) countries and 21 states.

The upsides to remote work are pretty obvious:
– No life-sucking car commute.
– A flexible schedule.
– No office overhead.
– No drop-in distractions.
– No awkward birthday situations (for introverts).
– No geographical restrictions when hiring top talent.

The downsides are less obvious, but also pretty fierce:
– No life-giving bike commute.
– Face-to-face is gone, and video chats are still a far cry from a replacement.
– No awkward birthday situations (for extroverts).
– Timezone lag.
– Loss of over-the-shoulder collaboration.
– Loss of visual cues in body language and other communication nuance.

As we become _better_ at working remotely as an organization, I’m liking it more and more. For us, major improvements have been to:
– Battle timezone lag and promote communication accuracy by going quickly to synchronous communication (video chat vs. email).
– Get together in person as often as is affordable. This means semi-annually as a small, function-focused team (product, customer, execs, etc.) where we work like crazy, and then annually as an entire team where we just mess around for several days.
– Document earlier and more frequently when it comes to objectives, features, projects, initiatives, etc.

Remote work is not an end-all be all for the employee or the employer. If you’re going to do it as an employee or business, you have to do it intentionally or it won’t work.

MMM: Those of us who are parents of small families are probably wondering how it is possible to raise six young-ish kids at once. How have you and your wife made this model scalable? Are six kids really 300% of the work of two kids? Do your older kids help with some of the work? What kind of interesting strategies have you all come up with to make it work?

Jesse: Some things scale really nicely. The house, for instance. Don’t believe that garbage about scaling on anything else though. Two kids, twice the work. Three kids, three times the work. Our roughest transition was four to five. Then we waited four years for this last one (my favorite) to come along. What a dream. It’s like being brand new parents but this time you know what you’re doing.

The first kid is definitely the hardest relatively, because you’re whole life just flips upside down (and the midnight panic attacks). With each new arrival though, you do get better at knowing what to care about. That might actually be where you can “scale” a little bit. You start to sniff out what matters and (because of universal physical laws) only focus on that stuff.

I grew up with five siblings, and now have all sorts of forgiveness and awe in my heart that just spills over when I think of that time my mom just drove away because she was so mad at us (she came back). What a saintly woman.

As far as tactics go, don’t put the food out on the kitchen table during meals. Leave it in the kitchen. There’s no way I’m going to have my four-year old passing food around the table. We plate everyone’s food like at an upscale restaurant (go for height and it looks fancier!). I always make sure the plates are organized in age-order, left-to-right, top to bottom. If we have guests, it all still applies. My mother-in-law hates being in the bottom-right position when plating but hey, that’s life.

One thing that doesn’t scale is one-on-one time. I set up a lunch date with one of the kids every Friday, so they each go out to lunch with me once every six weeks. They get to pick the restaurant, with the exception of the Chuckarama Buffet, which I banned. We get some rare one-on-one chat time and I can keep the lines of communication open. That’s the goal.

My job is to teach the kids morals, honesty, and hard work. The rest is up to them. I suppose that scales pretty nicely.

MMM: On our recent Tesla Roadtrip, we got into your daily and weekly schedule a bit. It struck me as amazing because of its regimented nature. Could you step us through a typical weekday, versus a Saturday for you?

Jesse: I wake up at 4:40AM, read for 20 minutes, plan my day, then head to the gym with Julie. We joined a Crossfit gym about four years ago and that’s kept me pretty entertained. We usually get back home around 6:45am and I plan my food for the day, eat some of that food, and get to work by 8:30.

My schedule at work is pretty all over the place. I spend a good bit of my day talking to people, and try to get home around 5:30PM. If I’m on my A-game, I remind myself that I’ve just completed Act One of the day, and when I walk through the door, it’s now Act Two. Nobody wants a lousy Act Two, so I try and be intentional about hugging each of the kids, looking at them as they tell me things, asking questions, and playing whiffle ball.

Saturdays, Julie basically runs the show. It mainly consists of yard work, chores, fixing stuff, and then Julie and I can usually go out for a long date. I try and get those dates started around 4PM because I’ll be honest, by 9PM we’re both pretty keen on getting some sleep.

We keep telling ourselves we’ll do something “fun” on Saturday with the kids but we’re pretty bad at that. I think the kids end up just trying to avoid us so I don’t rope them in to helping me shampoo the carpets or something.

MMM: When I think of “tech company CEO” I usually picture an indoorsy-looking scrawny person, or an expanding beer belly, or perhaps an awkward combination of both. But you seem to defy this stereotype to a more extreme degree every time I see you. What combination of stuff are you doing to gain fitness and strength? How many hours and sessions per week does this consume? What single change would you recommend to an office worker who wants to start being more physically fit? (in both the exercise and nutrition departments)

Jesse: I’ve outsourced my fitness to my Crossfit coach and I just do what he/she says. It’s broadened my horizons on movements I would have never entertained (stuff with rings, olympic lifts, prowler pushes, etc.) and has improved my mobility tremendously. I take it seriously while I’m there, and then I don’t think about it again until I show up the next morning. Four days per week, usually about an hour a piece and then cooldown.

Right now I’m on day 18 of measuring my food to a level of accuracy that is insane. I’m liking it. It means I have a digital scale out while I’m plating the kids’ food, but it works out all right. It’s cool to not be hand wavy about what I’m putting in my body, and seeing how it’s affecting my workouts, energy level, body fat percentage, etc.

For someone that’s pretty sedentary and wanting to get moving, just go for walks. Long walks. I’ve started walking during the middle of the day to clear my head and give my brain a chance to reset. It’s pretty stimulating. You don’t feel like taking a nap after a nice long walk. Also, for anyone doing anything for fitness, measure whatever you’re attempting. What’s measured is improved.

MMM: Although your family is almost three times the size of mine, you often mention the idea of scaling the concept of a Tiny House to meet your needs, or spending a year traveling in an RV, or living in an apartment in New York City. This is the opposite of what most CEOs seem to do when their company starts to see some success. What’s the motivation behind all this deviant and un-American behavior? :-)

Jesse: My motivation is two-fold:

1) Learn. Learn what it’s like to live in a Tiny House, or in NYC as a family of eight. I just want to do things that will provide me with a learning opportunity. It keeps things interesting.

2) Give my kids opportunities to learn. They lead pretty posh lives, where you’re forced to essentially manufacture difficulty on their behalf. If I can expose them to some “extremes” then maybe they’ll learn a thing or two, and experience a few things that provide some needed perspective.

MMM: If I understand correctly, YNAB had built up a huge base of loyal customers and was based on profitable sale of a downloadable desktop software app. Then you and the team recently flipped the whole model completely – discontinuing new sales of the old software permanently and moving to an all-new model based on online subscriptions. It was expensive and risky. Why? And how is this turning out so far?

Jesse: The switch was (still) expensive, but it would have been far more risky for us to maintain our pay-once-and-maybe-upgrade business model. It’s allowed us to ship software much faster, iterate far easier, and deliver more ongoing value. Our (fantastic) fans will let us know if we’re not delivering the value and we can adjust accordingly. So far, it’s going really well. We’ve been able to grow the team and have some cool stuff in store to make sure people can really be aware of what their money is doing, and if they like what they see.

MMM: Since you’re less consumption-oriented than many people, does this carry over into the way you run the company? Have you had any Mustachian Moments where you realized: “Aha – good thing I didn’t over-leverage myself earlier on X, because this lets me take advantage of bigger opportunities on Y?”

Jesse: I’m really glad Julie let me take our “house downpayment fund” back in 2006 and spend it to build the first real version of the software. I gave it all to this stranger I’d met on the internet named “Taylor” and he delivered. He turned out to be a real person, with real development skills, and now he’s my real CTO.

Honestly, my hat goes off to Julie, because it seems like all I do is tell her to “just wait until…” and then you can fill in the blank. There’s always something next on the horizon, some reason we need to keep reinvesting, some reason I need to keep pushing, and she takes it all in stride. She handled it so beautifully when I spent $65,000 on a software project in 2007 and then junked the whole thing. Even though we could have furnished our house (quite nicely, I would imagine). Instead, we lived in an empty house for several years.

People underestimate how many opportunities they miss because they’re maxing out their lifestyle. During that “spreadsheet” time from 2004 to 2006, I quintupled my meager student income. However, we lived in the same 600 square foot apartment (even though we added another kid, because we’re always adding a kid), drove the same single car (a ’98 Chevy Prizm, RIP), ate the same calorically-high cheap food, and cooked at home.

Basically, I was making a solid “adult” living and we still lived like poor married students. I’m so glad we did that, because when the opportunity came to reinvest in YNAB, we could make the attempt.

MMM: What possessed you to upgrade from an old 2002 Honda Civic to a 2015 Tesla Model S? And has hedonic adaptation now spoiled you so that you now think it is normal and boring that a 7-passenger car can silently accelerate from 0-60 in five seconds? Would you recommend the purchase to other people who can actually afford it?

(Aside: which I would define as being already financially independent with paid work now an optional activity, plus sitting on at least $80,000 you can’t think of anything else to do with. I think Jesse is currently just leasing his Model S for 3 years which is a slightly smaller and more tax-efficient commitment.)

Jesse: Honestly, I think it was a combination of stress and boredom. I’ve been watching Tesla for years, and figured eventually I’d get a Model S. My Civic (which now belongs to my niece) was still humming along just fine, but I wanted something to do. In 2015 I basically gave up all of my hobbies to focus solely on the business and family, so the Tesla has kind of become a stand-in hobby for me until I back off my focus again. It’s got to be the most expensive hobby I’ve ever had. Put another way, it’s a very expensive gadget. I told Julie I was seriously considering buying one and her response was so classic: “You should. I think you’d have fun.”

How am I so lucky?!

Is it making me soft? Absolutely. I yell at the car if she (it’s a she) doesn’t brake soon enough when I’m flying down the interstate and we get to some stopped traffic. I express my disappointment in her when I flip the turn signal up and she’s not aggressive enough in sidling into the next lane over. I’d like her to be more aggressive off the line… there are ways she could be a better (autopilot) driver and I complain about every one of them. Although, to her credit, the other day I had her pull into the garage on her own and she’s improved a lot with that. She now really does a nice job of squeezing into tight places (moving boxes are everywhere).

All that being said, if the Model 3 had been out last year, I would have bought that. What a good-looking car at half the price!

Is it an efficient use of capital? Absolutely. Does it bring me joy? Absolutely. Do I measure all of my purchases by a strange capital-efficiency ratio? No, I do not. Should some of your crazy readers buy one? If they can afford it, and really want one, sure. What else could I possibly say to that?!

MMM: To many of us, it would seem that you’ve “made it” – you’ve done so much yet you’re only 35. You could sell the company and retire right now if you wanted to, but so far you have chosen to keep working. What are you going to do with your remaining 70-80 healthy years of life?

Jesse: It’s all about learning. If I’m learning interesting things here at YNAB, then I’m going to keep doing it. It’s a pretty rewarding gig, helping people turn their financial lives around. The team we’ve put in place is made up of some of the nicest people on Earth. My only regret is that we don’t get to see each other more often.

It’s a nice merger of things I love: teaching, technology, and creativity. I’m a pretty blessed guy to be able to simultaneously check those boxes and feed all of the people that live at my house.

Honestly though, what does it mean to “make it?” I’m still trying to figure that out.

Further Reading:

After we first met back in 2013, Jesse invited me to join him on the YNAB podcast. (audio here). We had a fun talk with no expectations, but the results surprised me: an incredible quantity of YNAB customers showed up after publication, and stuck around. This little software company brought in more new Mustachians than bigger-sounding events like that recent long story in the New Yorker. That’s a real hint at the compatibility of our goals.



  • Dan July 28, 2016, 8:59 am

    Haha. I was just on the site finishing up reading the ENTIRE blog. And then a new post popped up. I feel like Achilles in Zeno’s paradox!

    • Dividend Growth Investor July 28, 2016, 10:19 am

      MMM doesn’t update the blog every day, but many of his articles reflect concepts which would easily be quite relevant several years from now.

      • Jim Wang August 17, 2016, 6:33 am

        When you consider it, many of the lessons regarding money are the same – it’s the stories around them that change. Use less, spend less, save the earth – timeless lessons for sure.

        • JC August 18, 2016, 9:27 am

          I’d like to see a bit more on “save the earth”. It seems to me that MMM’s philosophy is very compatible with the “Earn to Give” movement, and he did talk about Peter Singer a few years back, but most of the MMM community seems more focused on quitting their jobs as soon as possible.

        • The Vigilante August 19, 2016, 1:04 pm

          I don’t know about timeless – Earth has an expiration date. How about…time-inelastic subject to catastrophic time-sensitivity…lessons?

    • Juan July 28, 2016, 11:30 am

      Haha nice! I wish I could say I was having as much fun before this post popped up (studying for the CPA exam is not as fun as reading MMM and other great blogs). With that being said, it is interesting to see that Jesse was formerly an accountant :)
      First heard of YNAB in a Jlcollinsnh post. Very inspiring story!

  • Mark Ferguson July 28, 2016, 9:00 am

    Nice article and interview. I am a huge fan of daily habits. That is one reason why I have been successful and happy at the same time. The daily habits keep me focused on what is really important in life. Yes, I like money and my cars,but they aren’t everything.

    • Carlos August 24, 2016, 7:50 pm

      I hope you have some insight, when I try to stick to a daily plan I find it stifling, confining. I understand the advantages. I want it to work for me. I end up sabotaging the whole thing. After a few weeks I think again “you know how you can be more efficient and get done those things you are always thinking about? It is by having a daily/weekly/monthly routine.” And the cycle starts again.

      • Jeff Y September 9, 2016, 7:50 am

        Maybe to piggyback off of the previous MMM article, when you try to create your routine, you could try having down time scheduled in there. Having a routine doesn’t necessarily mean every minute has to be spent doing a specific activity.

  • Addison July 28, 2016, 9:08 am

    I love the focus on always seeking new learning. I think that’s why a lot of us are still here. We keep learning from each post and from each other. Thanks MMM and Jesse!

    • PoF July 28, 2016, 9:25 am

      Indeed. One of many reasons I’m choosing a path that includes early retirement is to have the time to learn more and read. It’s smart for Jesse to build in some scheduled reading time into the morning routine.

      There are many, many books I’d like to read, and blogs I’d like to better keep up with. The competition for my time is growing. Eventually, the day job will be the loser.


      • Dividend Growth Investor July 28, 2016, 9:41 am

        The most interesting thing is that if you truly dedicate yourself to learning and building new skills, you will very likely end up with a lot more money as a side result over time.

        Having unscheduled time would be great, and something I am looking forward to by the end of this decade. Warren Buffett ( who is someone i deeply admire) is actually one person who just spent his life reading, and not really scheduling time in advance. He is famous for stating that the only appointments on his calendar are to visit his barber ;-)

        • RocDoc July 28, 2016, 1:02 pm

          I’ve also found that a love for learning and building new skills seems to result in more money as a side result (sometimes totally by accident!) I was unhappy with the amount a contractor wanted to charge me for home repairs after a flood in April so I googled the required tasks, bought the tools and did the repairs myself. (Husband helped a bit too but he was extremely busy with a critical work (real job) project and so I did most of the repairs. My girlfriends were SHOCKED and amazed that I did so much carpenter and tiling work myself. (Plus I lost five pounds-awesome!) Now I’m known as a bit of a neighborhood “handy woman!” I also was able to keep and invest a lot of the insurance money since I did the work and didn’t give it to a contractor. Hopefully you don’t ever have a flood, but if it happens, I recommend googling the work needed and try to do it yourself. Making a big profit on a bad thing such as a flood certainly made a sad event kind of excellent in the end! Plus I learned a lot of new skills that really impressed my friends!

          • Grayum August 11, 2016, 2:19 am

            Wow, now that is proper Mustachianism right there!!

            • RocDoc August 21, 2016, 2:54 am

              Thanks Grayum,
              I had never done much carpentry or tiling work myself so it was a great chance to learn. It was reading MrMoneyMustache over the past few years that inspired me to try to learn the tasks. I had so much fun that I doubt I’ll ever hire a handyman or contractor again (other than electrician and plumber.)

      • Jen G August 17, 2016, 12:10 pm

        Haha….I was raised LDS. If you’re a Mormon “early morning reading time” is code for scripture study. Nothing wrong with it, but a little misleading.

  • Linda July 28, 2016, 9:12 am

    YNAB transformed my family’s finances. It is ludicrous, but before YNAB, my husband and I had no idea that we were spending a combined $1500 a month on food. Some conversations ensued.

    • Screaser July 28, 2016, 1:09 pm

      Can I ask why YNAB vs say Mint, which is free and would definitely help to uncover big expense areas like eating out? (Not judging or anything — just curious!)

      • Bruce Jacobs July 28, 2016, 10:17 pm

        Hi Screaser,

        I am a former Mint user turned YNAB convert. I found the biggest difference is that YNAB helps me plan for my future true expenses, because it makes you start with your current income and give every dollar a job until you reach zero. You set your own priorities with your own categories, not a preset, overwhelming list of possibilities like Mint gives you. I also found that Mint was always miscategorizing my transactions and it didn’t make bank reconciliation easy like YNAB does. In short, YNAB is about planning for the future and preventing problems, whereas Mint is like looking back in time at the financial mess you’ve already made, trying to figure out what happened. Worth every penny, in my opinion.

        • Kimberly July 29, 2016, 8:23 pm

          I just switched to YNAB from Mint and this is perfect summary of why it hooked me. I had built a complex system around Mint to track and forecast my money and I still wasn’t meeting my goals. YNAB just does it. The time I’ve gained back from not having to double-check receipts and categories is alone worth the $50/year.

          Not to mention the buggy mess that is the Mint UI (which is actually what pushed me to dip my toes into the YNAB waters).

      • Brandon July 28, 2016, 10:51 pm

        I’ve done both, Mint was alright but I thought it was more difficult to use and it felt like it was just a way to track where I was spending money. YNAB’s system is built so much more around teaching you about how to take control of your money and spending, it’s value is not just in its easy-to-use software but in the educational value provided with it. I felt like Mint did an alright job at identifying problem areas in my spending, but it didn’t do much to help me find a solution and change.

      • Joe July 29, 2016, 4:27 am

        I looked into that myself as a former Mint user, lots of info online if to search Ynab v Mint. We like YNAB a lot better even though it’s not quite as automatic (we enter most of our transactions manually), however you can have accounts auto-connect. I’ll let Jesse explain the difference better than me:


        • Shira in NYC July 29, 2016, 3:17 pm

          I’ve heard great things about YNAB, but I don’t think everyone needs software or an online program to create or stay on a budget. I personally worked out categories through years of tracking expenses – now I don’t have to because almost everything is automated and then I use 6 cash envelopes for the rest, variable expenditures (one envelope for each week of the month, one for treats and one for other things that come up). Old fashioned cash and envelopes work well for someone like me who likes things as simple and straightforward as possible, plus the fun and extra control mechanism of handling cash.

        • Amy July 29, 2016, 4:10 pm

          YNAB isn’t just a piece of software, it is a philosophy of money management. You start with the four rules, and you continue to learn through the Whiteboard Wednesdays. And of course training courses. And you can get a free 34 day trial!

          • Shira in NYC July 31, 2016, 2:33 pm

            I took a closer look to see what makes YNAB special. ANYTHING that gets people actively managing their money, let alone excited about it, is fabulous, and I sense a sense of excitement about YNAB, so hats off to Jesse and his team! However, I wouldn’t call it a “philosophy” as the four money rules – possible exception of #4 (“age your money”), which is stated in a novel way – are common sense and something I and probably most people managing their money well are already doing. We’re not all technologically inclined, and any time I see download, link, input, scan, watch, etc. – simple as it may be – I just can’t/don’t want to. (That said, my finances are all in order.)

            I read on the blog that Jesse frowns upon cash and envelopes. For me, still, simple is best and old-fashioned works. If it isn’t broken, don’t complicate it.

            However, since so many people have such trouble getting in tune with a money management system, I still think YNAB seems great at what it does and I will be giving “gift subscriptions” (something they should be pushing, especially around graduation time!) to two family members starting out in their adult lives. I’d never considered before what a great gift that makes! (vs. a couple books that might never get read, and offers of help that usually aren’t redeemed (: )

            • Adam August 2, 2016, 8:59 am

              It’s true, Jesse personally frowns on envelopes, but if you scour the YNAB website, you’ll see more than one reference to the phrase “the best budget is the one that works for you.” He may personally dislike envelopes, but if they work for you, he’d be happy with that.

  • FinanceSuperhero July 28, 2016, 9:21 am

    Not only is Jesse an uncommonly effective entrepreneur, but he seems to be uncommonly efficient to boot. It takes dedication, planning, and commitment to balance so many responsibilities along with a large family.

    I’m not a YNAB user but I have always admired the company mission and model. Again, the creation of a team of remote workers and the various steps taken to minimize overhead are models that more companies should adopt. It is amazing to see how a bit of intentionality can lead to great success.

    Thanks for the interview, MMM.

    • The Long Haul Investor August 13, 2016, 11:33 am

      I’d second the amount of admiration for Jesse’s effectiveness as an entrepreneur, and family man. Seems like a fun innovative place to work for. Love the idea of exposing the family to some extremes too. Will definitely turn into valuable learning opportunities. Awesome article to see behind the scenes.

      Jesse when is the IPO?

  • Vicki July 28, 2016, 9:21 am

    “It’s all about learning.” I love it! I also love the point about long walks and stimulating your thinking. Some of my best ideas and lessons (as a teacher) have been created on really long walks. (It’s just hard to get the ideas down sometimes!) There is much to be learned about what Jesse is doing for himself and his relationship with his wife and kids. If learning from one another can give you ideas of even one thing to try or change, it is well worth your time spent. Thanks for sharing!

  • PoF July 28, 2016, 9:22 am

    As someone who struggles to do half of what I’d like to do, I’m always so impressed by those who make the time to “do it all.”

    I am blown away by the life of your acquaintance Jim Dahle, The White Coat Investor, who has maintained a full-time Emergency Medicine job, a wildly popular blog, comments all over the place (11,000+ at Bogleheads), a household of 6 that also includes a baby, and an avid hking & canyoneering habit.

    Jesse is clearly cut from the same cloth. Very impressive.


    • Dr-in-Debt July 28, 2016, 8:47 pm

      There are millions of these people across our country! I am sure we all know an individual like this. The difference is that some of them chose to live and share their lives with us in a very open and public manner through their blogs, writings, and creations.

      I will have to admit; many of these amazing individuals have inspired me to reach out, to do more and share more of my day with others.

  • The Green Swan July 28, 2016, 9:33 am

    Hi Jesse, thanks for the interview! I enjoyed the read. I love that you have a Tesla too! I can totally see one in my future. The Model 3 would be a lot cheaper and easier to swallow, and that could even possibly be my next car. The SUVs are awesome looking though. Maybe if/when they come out with the next version of that I will be ready to get one then. Not to shabby getting up to 60 mph in a few seconds!

    Curious if you charge yours at home most often or if you take advantage of the public power stations? I have solar panels already on my roof, and would consider just adding a few more and buying the power wall too. It all gets expensive obviously, but the tax credits help as long as they are still around.

    • Jesse July 28, 2016, 1:02 pm

      95% of the time I charge it at the office so I can deduct the electricity…

  • PistolPetePilot July 28, 2016, 9:33 am

    An amazing character and an amazing story. I found YNAB and became an avid reader of Jesse’s blog and listener of the Podcast. I’m glad to finally discover the Tesla story!

  • Will July 28, 2016, 9:35 am

    Although I do all of the family’s budgeting/spreadsheeting, Jesse is so engaging, level-headed and forward-thinking that I am very tempted to try the free-trial on his site to see if it makes a tangible difference with our finances.

    His thoughts on remote working are very interesting as well. It makes me wish very much that more companies adopt that style of employment.

    I can’t even begin to imagine the efficiency they would need in a household of 8 to keep everything running so optimally. I feel like I am near my maximum most days with a family of 3!

    Great interview!

    • Lucas July 28, 2016, 3:04 pm

      YNAB is a method, which their software is built to facilitate. You can see an overview of the four rules here: https://www.youneedabudget.com/tour

      I believe the main reason Jesse’s company is so successful and popular with their customers is because they invest heavily on support and education for the customer to use the method well. That includes well-written, in-depth guides, handbooks, and live video classes (they have 6 teachers on staff – that’s 15% of their team!), and a forum.

  • The Wealthy Accountant July 28, 2016, 9:47 am

    Jesse sounds like an awesome guy, Pete. I need to add him to my to-do list of people I want to meet. I think we become like the people we associate with and like you, Jesse really has an exciting game plan for living life.Awesome post!

  • Cannot Wait! July 28, 2016, 9:49 am

    Would love it if you could swing an interview with his wife!

    • Vicki July 28, 2016, 11:11 am

      This is a great idea too! I’d love to read that.

    • Lisa July 28, 2016, 11:26 am


    • The Roamer July 28, 2016, 1:04 pm

      Me too she sounds very successful in her own right.

      I’ve heard a lot about Jesse and ynab but I never went into debt. He sounds like a great role model and is a stark contrast to MMM and his style of life. Not regimented vs. very regimented.

      I also like how he makes one on one time for each kid. I need to get back to that. :)

  • Matt Warnert July 28, 2016, 9:55 am

    Interesting interview. Learning and growing is so important to improvement. Thanks for the reminder that my current skills are only a fraction of what they could be.
    I’d be interested in hearing more about all the things Jesse is measuring and looking to improve upon.

  • Fervent July 28, 2016, 10:07 am

    Thanks for the openness and honesty Jesse. I struggle to tackle my list of t0-do’s on a daily basis, so I’m impressed by your ability to fit a lot in to the same amount of time. It’s great that your day job includes helping people right their financial ships. I’ll be on the look out for YNAB accounting/finance job opportunities ;)

  • Sara July 28, 2016, 10:21 am

    It’s amazing to me to see how faith can be such a driving force for keeping people healthy, both physically and mentally. I know the LDS church is big into being good with one’s finances, so it’s no surprise the founder of YNAB is a member. I also love his idea of spending one-on-one time with his kids each week. I think that’s so important to keep those bonds and communication pathways open.

    I only wish more office jobs were as open as his company is with working remotely! I know there are some jobs that can’t be (for instance–I work in a non-profit fundraising, so at least 2-3 times a week a person would have to physically be at the office to handle the checks and cash received) but even if 100% of a job can’t be remote, at least making jobs more open to working remotely 1, 2. or 3 days a week would be ideal. It takes good planning and good management, but I know a lot of more office jobs could definitely do it. And for all the naysayers–look at Yahoo and how they cut back on working remote 3 years ago. Has that helped the company? They’re still cutting staff so I don’t think the anti-remote work policy helped much.

  • Jon July 28, 2016, 10:40 am

    I enjoyed the article but found somewhat of a contradiction. Jesse says he doesn’t view every single decision as a financial move. Yet, when you are grinding away at your business, that’s all you could ever possibly be thinking.

    • David Wendelken July 28, 2016, 11:08 am

      Jon, you spouse must not be as cute as mine. Mine can derail my thoughts in a heartbeat. :)

    • Jesse July 28, 2016, 1:05 pm

      I don’t view every *spending* decision from a financial standpoint. Much of the day is certainly indirectly focused on the financial side of things as I work to grow YNAB.

      The main point is that the Tesla purchase was not a smart financial move, but there are other ways to measure decisions. :)

  • Vawt July 28, 2016, 10:55 am

    That is a very busy schedule! I struggle with a schedule that is way less packed than that one.

    I use YNAB because of the way it segments the money you already have. I don’t want the subsciption based version though, so I am still using the old software.

  • misterhorsey July 28, 2016, 10:56 am

    Wow, quite inspiring. I just finished a book called ‘Brain Rules’ by John Medina (which I’d highly recommend), which emphasised the importance, as well as pleasure, of lifelong learning. Then I read your interview with Jesse and the cup overfloweth with the emphasis on learning. Have i inadvertently tapped into a mainline of frugality, happiness, growth, knowledge and learning? I hope so!

    Been an obsessive reader of MMM since Sep ’14. Thanks!

  • Allison July 28, 2016, 11:11 am

    I am so glad to see an interview with Jesse Mecham! I actually found MMM through YNAB, reading users’ comments. YNAB has been critical for me financially. I discovered it right after a divorce that left me starting over in life with zero savings, no job, living in a new town, and a big ten-year mess to clean up. YNAB gave me a whole new perspective on money, and how to manage it. I could see exactly what each dollar was going to do for me, and I knew that the money I set aside could not be earmarked for three different things. I devoured his emails, read his series on investing, and applied all his advice. Within just a couple of years, I have retirements savings, investment accounts, and emergency savings. I plan for every expense, see where all my money is going, and spend (and save) according to my priorities.
    Thanks to Jesse and YNAB, in two years I have gone from about $1,000 net worth to $16,000 (zero debt) while getting free of back taxes, legal fees, and other garbage from past mistakes. I know it’s a small ‘stache, but I am thrilled with the progress and am very thankful! I have been a zealous advocate of YNAB to any friends struggling financially as well. Thank you Jesse!

    YNAB changed my financial situation, and MMM changed my mindset – Thanks, MMM, for being the voice in my head saying “ride your bike today” and “learn to do it yourself” and “don’t be a complainypants.” This blog is far more life advice than money advice, and for that, I thank you.

  • Mr. Tako July 28, 2016, 11:19 am

    Interesting to see how MMM’s peer set has changed over the years. He used to be just a mild-mannered engineer, but now hobnobs with CEO’s.

    Fascinating what success does to a person.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 28, 2016, 4:09 pm

      Haha.. sounds pretty snobby when you put it like that. But I do notice more friends who run companies now. Entrepreneurs are fun people!

      I suspect the REAL cause of this is that I’m getting old. I’m 41 now, very close to the age of Elon Musk, Larry and Sergey from Google, and much older than Mark Zuckerberg.

      What do you call an optimistic, high-energy engineer or other educated person, 15 years after she/he starts working? Pretty often the CEO of their own company. Since I only hang around with optimistic people, and tend to get along with techies, the ones who are still working tend to have this designation more than they did back when I was 21.

      But I also really like carpenters :-)

      • Nuke August 4, 2016, 4:51 pm

        Is it possible that you have a man crush on this guy? He wakes at 4:40am and seems to have every minute of his day and life scheduled. That doesn’t sound very mustachian. Certainly not the way I’d like like to live my life.

        This coming from a fan, so no offense intended.

        • Jesse August 9, 2016, 2:53 pm

          I’m pretty sure the man crush goes the other way. And I should say that it’s pretty easy to get up at 4:40AM if you go to sleep at 9:30PM ;)

          • Nuke August 10, 2016, 5:40 pm

            My point was that the very earliest MMM articles talked about how great it was to be able to rake leaves at 11am on a Thursday and work only when you felt productive, not tied to a fixed schedule. At least that’s what I took away from those articles. Great stuff.

            Now MMM seems to be extolling a guy who most definitely does not casually rake his leaves on Thursday morning — maybe that is scheduled in from 10-10:07 am.

            Neither approach is necessarily right or wrong, but the approach of the entrpeneur in this article seems to be 180 different from MMM’s earlier approach.

  • Lisa July 28, 2016, 11:23 am

    Hey Jesse, I loved this interview. Thanks for taking the time!

    I loved YNAB for about two years and felt sad when you went subscription-based. Part of me felt a little cheated since my original software purchase was supposed to be good for life (I mean, not that $60 for two years is a bad deal, just… it wasn’t the deal). Around this time, WealthSimple announced their partnership with Mint, which was a solution to my problem tracking investments in YNAB.

    So, I switched to Mint. I prefered budgeting with YNAB way more. It had such much flexibility. But the auto-tracking that mint does has really made it all easier. I’m sorry to have to leave! Still a fan of the YNAB blog!

    • Lost in Space July 29, 2016, 1:24 pm

      Yeah I felt the same but you know if it keeps the company viable that’s Ok with me. Beside that I’ve got my whole family on YNAB. Crazy thing is sooo many of them were living pay cheque to pay cheque, a year later they all have money in the bank. Thank you Jesse!

  • Cork Hutson July 28, 2016, 12:09 pm

    Avid fan/reader of MMM and YNAB. The Cloud version of YNAB is awesome and a vast improvement for ease of use. Good interview.

  • SmartFamilyMoney July 28, 2016, 12:13 pm

    I am a newer YNABer and I completely understand why YNAB has such a loyal following. I think Jesse is a great example of how an entrepreneur can make a lot of money by just being a good person who genuinely wants to help people solve a problem. I think that’s capitalism at its finest.

  • TheHappyPhilosopher July 28, 2016, 12:27 pm

    “The alternatives of blaming the system, citing luck or privilege or tragic events in our past, striking out at others to prove that their success is invalid and other favorites may well be justified and politically correct and sympathetically documented with great intellectual rigor in reputable East Coast publications. But around here, we just call it complainypants.”

    Lol, nice subversive face punch!

    Very inspiring interview – makes me feel lazy ;)

    • Jesse July 28, 2016, 1:07 pm

      We should have included the part where I binge-watched “Parks & Recreation” in fairly short order.

      • TheHappyPhilosopher July 29, 2016, 10:37 am

        I’m beginning to feel your days have more hours in them than mine ;)

        • Lost in Space July 29, 2016, 1:25 pm

          Ha Ha I don’t think he sleeps LOL

  • Marcia July 28, 2016, 1:06 pm

    That was an enjoyable read. I liked the concept of remote work. I’ve had a little bit of experience with it – I do work remotely occasionally, but my difficulties come in that it’s usually when one of the kids are sick. So I’m distracted by sick kids. As my company has offices in Asia, it’s pretty common for us to do regular conference calls. There is a bit of a language barrier though.

    I am impressed with people who can get so much done! But then I remember, I used to be like that too – in my 30s. Full time job, up around 4 am every day to nurse the baby, pump, and go to the gym. Straight to work, then kids, then meals, etc. I’m not sure if I’m getting old (well, that’s part of it), or if it’s the insomnia, or what. But that kind of schedule wears me down these days (I’m 46, now with 2 kids). I’m impressed with their Crossfit at 6:45 am (do they have a sitter? Are their kids old enough to babysit?)

    In any event, I am a huge fan of daily habits. From brushing your teeth, sunscreen (for the kids), feeding the fish, taking your allergy meds, popping in that workout DVD (or laying out the workout clothing the day before), putting your keys in the same place every night, charging the phone, washing the dishes right away, hanging up your clothing, putting away the toys, recycling the junk mail… small habits turn into big habits that can free your life up for “other things”.

    This quote:
    “The alternatives of blaming the system, citing luck or privilege or tragic events in our past, striking out at others to prove that their success is invalid and other favorites may well be justified and politically correct and sympathetically documented with great intellectual rigor in reputable East Coast publications. But around here, we just call it complainypants.”
    I think it’s a fine line here. I think it’s good to recognize luck and privilege. It’s good for people to have it to remember that (it’s too easy to say “I just worked hard” and not recognize that you were born on third base.) I think it’s important to also consider tragic events that people go through. I wouldn’t necessarily expect the same “outcome” for a middle class white kid and a poor kid who was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

    The important thing, of course, is LEARNING. You may not be able to repeat someone’s success (you probably won’t), but what can you LEARN from it. Never stop trying to learn and improve. It’s hard to look at others’ success, try to learn from their success, WITHOUT comparing your current status to theirs. You have to separate the two, and it’s a challenge.

    • HeadedWest July 29, 2016, 1:57 pm

      Well said, Marcia. I’ve struggled with mental health issues for over 20 years. Certain times in my life were pretty bad, and during these times, my spending habits were negatively affected. Although I am financially independent now at 37, I probably would have gotten there years earlier (30, perhaps?) if I had found the right kind of help sooner, or better yet, been more “normal” to being with. Instead, I fought through – maybe developed some daily habits – and I wouldn’t use a term like complainypants for people like myself dealing with these issues.

      • Lynne July 31, 2016, 4:55 pm

        I think it’s really important to be aware of privilege. I think it’s complainypants if you use your lack (or perceived lack) of privilege in a particular area to excuse yourself from even trying to improve your own circumstances (e.g. my older brother who’ll tell you all about how the World Did Him Wrong – much of which is quite true – and then not mention all the years he’s wasted…not trying. That’s complainypants.)

        Personally, there are ways in which I’m privileged, along with challenges I’ve had to face, like growing up in poverty, that most of my friends haven’t. It’s something to acknowledge, but not a reason to not strive for the things I want out of life. I see no point in that. (Though some people seem to, like my brother. It’s very annoying – lack of privilege is a thing, but at some point you have to take responsibility for choosing not to try to change your life.)

  • Heather July 28, 2016, 1:24 pm

    Great interview! I am a HUGE YNAB fan and am slowly converting all of my friends. I remember reading the post about the Tesla road trip and thought to myself! OMG, these two are friends?!! It’s like the day I encountered my first Nancy Drew AND the Hardy Boys book, two great groups in one HAPPY package. Keep up the great work and Posts MMM and Jesse!

    • Jesse July 28, 2016, 5:14 pm

      Cool analogy as long as MMM’s Nancy Drew and I’m Joe Hardy.

  • Military Grade Mustache July 28, 2016, 1:27 pm

    First-time poster/long-time reader here,

    Excellent interview with Jesse. I especially like the bit about downsizing your family’s living space to something like a tiny house or apartment….hey if Jim Gaffigan can do it, so can you! For many of the same reasons Jesse mentioned, my wife and I made the decision in 2013 to massively downsize our living space to a tiny house. Faced with the added reality of job related moves every 2-3 years as a member of the military on active duty, the opportunity to provide a stable internal environment in one that was consistently changing made a lot of sense to us. 3 years later, my wife and I (and our 4 boys) continue to love living in our tiny home on wheels.

    So to Jesse or anyone who may feel the urge (I’ll call it a conviction) to downsize…listen to your conviction! Go tiny or go home!


    • Mr. Money Mustache July 28, 2016, 4:01 pm

      FOUR BOYS in a Tiny House!! That is indeed a Military Grade living optimization – I bow to you, MGM.

      Such a perfect strategy towards a career where your work location changes regularly.

      An meanwhile people use much less frequent job changes as an excuse to drive 20-30 miles each way to work for years on end: “No sense moving to live near work, because what if I get a new job someday?”

    • Kathy Abell July 29, 2016, 10:15 am

      What a creative solution to add stability within an environment of constant change. I’m sure your children appreciate being able to come home to “these same four walls” regardless of where those four walls happen to be located.

      • Shira in NYC July 29, 2016, 3:24 pm

        There are massive benefits to living in a smaller space – our family of 4 lives in 2 rooms, less than 650 square feet. Home costs are the #1 contributor to that statistic that kids costs $250,000 to raise to 18 and it’s almost totally voluntary. In addition to saving on the mortgage or rent, you save on moving and transaction costs, utilities, decor, furnishings, renovating, maintaining, cleaning, and buying less stuff because there’s no room for it. That frees up money AND time, and less space pushes the family together which I think is a good thing. Instead of having one’s own room, the kids (and adults, for that matter) can do time shares and other creative solutions. I hope Jesse DOES move to a NYC apt with his big family – it’d be a happy adventure i’m sure!

    • WanderingWhitehursts May 18, 2018, 9:11 pm

      Happy you recognized the benefits of the mobile home/RV and compatibility with the military. Had I recognized them when I was younger I’d have full-time RV’d for my entire military career. Not only does it work for family stability, but awesome as a single guy that can just throw the home in storage whenever out to sea or deployed to foreign lands. As it is, the RV life has been equally beneficial in the military reserves. I cringe whenever I hear of parents on 6-12 month stateside orders that don’t bring families along because it’s just a short TDY, or its “disruptive” to their established life. Much like MMM encourages designing your life to be locally focused (work, home, friends, necessities) all within a short biking radius, we’ve designed our life so that the family is always together. A new set of military orders to San Diego… off we go, home and all! It takes intentionally to design such a life (MMM’s or something more similar to my own), but well worth it. It’s just that so few people consider it at all. They piecemeal decison making based on inconsistent perspectives and goals, and end up with a complicated mess of a life.

  • Hernan July 28, 2016, 1:45 pm

    I am puzzled by the Tesla.

    • Johnny Ro July 28, 2016, 6:13 pm

      Its a fun cool very nice car. Expensive. OK for people who can peel off the cash without blinking and who know what it costs.

      An alternative to a wine collection, or a travel hobby, and the like.

      A fun way to spend surplus money built up, hopefully while spending little on low-real-fun frivolities.

    • HeadedWest July 29, 2016, 8:35 am

      Nobody’s perfect. In the past I have sometimes been puzzled by my own alcohol consumption…

  • Andres July 28, 2016, 2:19 pm

    Hold on a second. Six kids, and before 2015 you had HOBBIES?! I have enough trouble finding time for hobbies with one kid!

    • Skippy July 28, 2016, 2:50 pm

      He did say the first one was the hardest and streamlining comes after…

      But perhaps you’ve got another, less important, timesuck that you could do without (readers may offer you free facepunch if it’s a 2 hour commute :p )

  • SJ July 28, 2016, 2:35 pm

    I enjoyed the article expect for very small detail where Jesse points out that he plays favorites with the kids (the last). I appreciate the honesty in that, but I do hope it’s not obvious to the rest of the bunch!

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 28, 2016, 3:54 pm

      That was probably another joke – the last child is a baby born only this spring. Her life consists mostly of sleeping and growing so far.

    • Jesse July 28, 2016, 5:16 pm

      Just a joke ;)

      • SJ July 30, 2016, 1:23 am

        Haha, okay! I can’t tell you the number of times I read MMM posts and let out a “Amen!” or “Hallelujah!”. Indeed I read with a certain enthusiasm not unlike some who might read the gospel. Did Jesus make jokes??? :) Congrats!

  • Will Bloomfield July 28, 2016, 2:53 pm

    As a father of five, I enjoyed the interview. I heartily concur with Jesse’s emphasis on daily habits and on the need to be ready for Act Two when I enter my home after work. When I return from work, my kids and my wife now need my attention and my support. To those without kids, five kids might seem overwhelming, but this Act Two is the most liberating and meaningful part of my day–particularly when I put my wife and my kids first and serve their needs rather than my own. One of the most helpful habits for me in doing this is taking the phone out of my pocket and putting it on the counter, where there’s little temptation to regularly check it. And whiffle ball with the kids is also a great suggestion!

  • JV July 28, 2016, 3:12 pm

    So who does the cooking, shopping, cleaning, taking the kids to Dr, school, pay the bills, etc., etc.? I find that I don’t have the opportunity for the kinds of activities that he does because I’m stuck with the daily minutia required to keep a household and family going. His wife is the glue and I guess he has “butlers”?
    Mr MM give us an article on dealing with the stuff no one wants to do.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 28, 2016, 3:53 pm

      It sounds like Julie is handling a lot of this right now, although I imagine they have figured out how to streamline, optimize, skip or outsource some of the stuff as much as possible.

      Jesse’s comments about “butlers” was a joke – that was what he called the children in that part of the story.

      The article right before this one was my own solution to the problem: keep your life compact, then you suddenly have plenty of time to do the stuff “nobody wants to do” (also known as living life) – you find yourself actually wanting to do it.

      But because the Mecham family is so much different than mine and yet still successful at life, I thought I’d present them as a counterpoint.

      If you want to summarize their particular approach, it is “work really hard, be very efficient, and don’t complain about it”. Never once in these 3+ years has Jesse (or Julie) complained to me about anything, or talked about having to do things they didn’t want to do. Hardcore positivity seems to be part of their secret.

      • JV July 28, 2016, 11:05 pm

        Thanks for the reply!

  • Heather July 28, 2016, 3:40 pm

    I found MMM from a blog that Jesse did several years ago! Maybe it was a transcript of the podcast? Been a YNABer since 2011, MMM convert since 2014!

  • Bob Hall July 28, 2016, 3:49 pm

    Haha, I started reading this and hearing the life of Jesse being described and I thought: “Wow, he sounds like my Mormon cousins!” So I google him and lo & behold….. Mormon :)

    • Zen Headspace July 28, 2016, 4:25 pm

      “Anonymous building in Utah” should have been your first clue. Superhuman enthusiasm and six kids is a dead giveaway.

      • Frugal Bazooka August 4, 2016, 10:07 pm

        This is so true. We have a Mormon Ward not far from our house and our experience with Mormons is exactly what you wrote. One of the most hardworking, non-complainypants group of people I have ever met as well as honest and completely unselfish. I don’t care much for their beer, but other than that incredible group of people.

  • Stuart July 28, 2016, 4:26 pm

    YNAB changed my life! I am so glad that I found it back in 2013.

    At that time we were £8000 in debt, had just bought a second house after renting for a year, and then our tenant renting our other property gave notice that he was moving out and we feared the worst. Fortunately we made it through that period but I knew we couldn’t go through it again.

    I found YNAB (and MMM shortly afterwards) and things have been on the up ever since.

    3 years later and we’re £20k in the black and using rule 4 to live on last months income. Changed everything for us.

    Thanks to Jesse and the YNAB team, and to MMM for the change of perspective.

  • Joe July 28, 2016, 4:40 pm

    “Also, for anyone doing anything for fitness, measure whatever you’re attempting. What’s measured is improved.”

    Absolutely! Doing this right now!

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher July 28, 2016, 5:33 pm

    It’s so refreshing to hear about a company that emphasizes remote work. I’m totally jealous! I think working at home can be such a frugal option (no commute, less/no car costs, etc.) I have a long way to go to improve my own complainypants nature. If this guy can be so accomplished, I know I can if I eliminate my remaining excuses. ;)

  • Vanguy July 28, 2016, 7:43 pm

    One point I didn’t understand. They have five kids but both parents head off together at 6am to do Crossfit each day.
    That’s Mustachian parenting ji-justu if the kids can feed and potty themselves in the morning.
    Kidding aside – an inspiring read. Thanks

    • Jesse July 29, 2016, 9:28 am

      Our olders kids run the show when we’re not there in the early hours of the morning. Most of the time we come home and everyone’s still asleep. For YEARS we had to tag-team the early morning workout schedule. This is so much nicer because it’s like we’re going on a date every morning!

  • MrRIP July 29, 2016, 3:10 am

    … so I’m not the only one around who binge read entire blogs? :)

    Nice interview, MMM, but I’m still not impressed by him more than I’m by you. He seems to be too voracious and life demanding, while you’re moving toward badassian buddhism who rocks!

  • Elizabeth July 29, 2016, 4:32 am

    Hi! Two of some of my favorite internet people TOGETHER. Yes!

    YNAB helped us super charge and more quickly get rid of my $80K SL’s and small car loan in 2011. Still a big user of it today (the new web version is Ah-MAZING!).

    I can attest to the overlay of the MMM and YNAB users as I am one of them! That 2013 podcast or blog that MMM references is what brought me over too. I was really struggling with being a new working mom and felt like, “is this all there is? working for the next XX years until I die?” I binged on articles, made changes, sold stuff, instantaneously started saving THOUSANDS per year (e.g. cut unnecessary life insurance, cut home security system, started shopping at Costco, index funds vs. actively managed funds, maxing out 401k’s/Backdoor Roths to save on taxes, own a bike and use it, thermostat changes, cut my hair and my kids’ hair, moved to smaller home in an awesome school district that is walking distance of everything).

    Thank you to the two of you for teaming up. You two have changed our lives. I am now a SAHM to 2 little ones and my husband will be leaving his job soon. We are in our mid-30s.

    The ideas the two of you presented single-handedly changed the trajectory of our lives. Have a great day!

  • Winslow July 29, 2016, 5:10 am

    Thanks, Jesse, for sharing your insights with us and leading an inspiring life. Thanks, MMM, for putting a spotlight on another hero engaged in the epic struggle of providing more good for our families, friends, and society while spending less and wasting less. I see more cracks in the foundations of Consumerville.

  • Jessica C July 29, 2016, 7:43 am

    So excited to see this interview! I found YNAB on another blog about 5 years ago. YNAB and MM have completely changed my way of thinking when it comes to money. Still lots of work to do but feel more abundant than ever! As a mom in a family of six, I was envious of Jesse’s ability to leave for the gym with his wife in the morning and go out on weekly dates on a Saturday afternoon. Curious, who is watching the kids? Does the MIL live with you?

    • Carlos August 24, 2016, 7:52 pm

      I Agree, MMM and Ynab were able to organized a lot of frustration I had in my life.

  • Eric July 29, 2016, 11:49 am

    I’ve been using YNAB and reading the MMM blog so long I don’t remember which came first! Both have helped us focus our efforts in achieving FI. YNAB is a great tool and I’d highly recommend it to anybody, I’ve even purchased it as a gift for a few friends. I had the chance to talk to Jesse a few years ago as part of a user interview program they were doing – great guy.

  • alfredo July 29, 2016, 4:24 pm

    Excellent post… my question is if YNAB works for me in Mexico… Thanks!

  • Jone July 29, 2016, 6:47 pm

    I am another YNAB convert and offer many, many thanks to Jesse and the YNAB team. I’ve always been a saver to the point where my emergency funds have cash reserves. YNAB’s visual representation of giving each dollar a job made it blatantly obvious that I was leaving money on the table. I couldn’t find enough ‘jobs’ to give the poor little green critters. I had to send some “off budget” to do some real work in the stock and bond markets.

    Further, YNAB helped me see the flow of my money between/among various accounts and helped me to minimize the number of back and forth transfers. Now, the dollars come in, get quickly assigned to their work stations, and reproduce themselves quite contentedly.

    Thanks Jesse!

  • Huck July 29, 2016, 9:17 pm

    I highly recommend the RV travel for a year concept. We just finished a 6 month trip. I loved living small and mobile with so much focused family time. Go for it! Oh, and there is even an RV park one subway stop away from lower Manhattan… So you can “live” in NYC from the comforts of your rolling home!

  • Michael N July 29, 2016, 11:15 pm

    Ha! Nice to see a crossover episode of my two favorite frugality guru’s hanging out. I can’t recall any crossover episodes on TV and don’t read many comics, but I imagine it is like that, George from Seinfeld appearing on and episode of Friends or something. Love the YNAB, definitely a great budgeting tool, helps me easily track and plan spending, makes me think about money in each category. At first I prosthelytized to everybody about both MMM and YNAB, now only when asked, to the relief of everyone around.
    I was very excited when I got a YNAB year under my belt to look at my savings average, average category spending. I’ll upgrade to the new YNAB soon, once ‘reports’ come out. You guys are like part of a frugality super group, trying to think who else needs to hang out, Buffet or Boggle or something, do you have costumes ?

  • sGoico July 30, 2016, 8:40 am

    That’s it .. I’ve read EVERY SINGLE POST on this blog. Living in a different part of the world (Argentina) makes it somehow difficult to apply every concept you’ve poured into my mind .. but I am doing my best. In the last 3 months I made some changes regarding energy consumption and car clown driving, I even bought a really cool bike I use to commute (~2km).

    Just wanted to say thanks ..

  • Ken L July 30, 2016, 7:26 pm

    I love YNAB and it changed my life. I just wish they still sold the old desktop software version. I mean just have it out there. This is my biggest disappointment in YNAB, other than that I love it.

    • Patricia July 31, 2016, 7:22 am

      I pretty sure it’s still available via steam.

      • Patricia July 31, 2016, 8:35 am


        I double checked Steam btw and it’s there. A tad pricey but Steam has good sales on several times a year so it would be well worth it to get it at the next one!

  • Markola July 31, 2016, 5:37 pm

    It’s so great that you profiled Jesse and your description was right on. He’s impressive and, yet, unaffected. Somehow he also has time to do regular 5 minute podcasts, which I don’t think I’ve missed in 3 years. YNAB is a great tool and Jesse is a standup guy behind it all.


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