Efficiency is the Highest Form of Beauty

This year, I’ve been spending a lot more time at the local elementary school, as our boy has rejoined his friends in fifth grade after two years of homeschooling. Through the daily bike rides to and from school, and my weekly gig as a volunteer math/engineering teacher for a small group of boisterous advanced learners, I get to meet a lot more new people from the community than I had in the preceding two years.

As a not-all-that-normal person, it is always a delicate challenge to spark up casual relationships with brand new people. For one thing, there’s the whole issue of being 11 years into semi-retirement, which makes any discussion of work schedules, mortgages and debt, or even overall goals in life a challenge: you either make up a superficial cover story or you open up a huge can of worms that will take an hour to explain.

Unless you are lucky enough to be conversing with another highly abnormal person, this conversation can quickly turn to a blank stare – those “normal” people don’t quite understand the idea of deliberately working hard even if you don’t have to, or not buying stuff even when you can afford to buy it. When you get the blank stare, it’s time for a quick, cheery wrap-up with a reference to the weather or how great the school staff is this year.

So the superficial story usually wins:

Random other parent in the schoolyard: “So what do you do?”

Me, when trying to keep it simple: “Well, these days I’m mostly a Dad, and I do some carpentry while he’s in school.”

But an even bigger disconnect comes during my travels around town. Strangers don’t seem to know quite what to make of the slightly imposing flannel-shirt man in his 40s who is always zooming around on a bike at the highest speed his legs can manage at any given moment. Usually with a slightly overstuffed backpack that might be filled with cucumbers, 10-packs of electrical outlets,  beer, or even smooth rocks from the creek for use in ornamental gardens. On special occasions, maybe even a trailer with some lumber.

Is he homeless? A hooligan? He’s definitely not as well-off as me, as I hold my mobile phone like a tray in one hand and use the other to operate the steering wheel of my GMC Envoy.

At Home Depot I sometimes slip up and start discussing my unorthodox plans for the materials I am buying – perhaps an off-grid charger for an electric car, or a collection of heavy scrap metal pieces to weld into a homemade barbell set. But that blank stare comes back to remind you that this is not the place to open up such a can of ideas.

Personally, I enjoy this little disconnect between me and most people. There are enough friends around here (and Mustachians out there) for all of us to find plenty of community as well as plenty of time to dabble in our own little science labs.

But what I don’t enjoy, is how the rest of our society is missing out on the beauty of this endeavor.

It bugs me to see people standing on the airport escalators when they could be sprinting up the adjacent stairs with a suitcase in each hand. I’m annoyed that people still trundle around in cars they can’t afford, wasting fuel and asphalt that wrecks all of our living spaces, just because they can’t be bothered to swing their leg over a 25 pound aluminum sculpture with wheels that makes most of our fattening 20-trillion-dollar urban infrastructure unnecessary. Then they fight, with lobbying groups and misinformation, if anybody dares to tell them there’s a better way.

It also bugs me that high spending is still considered a desirable thing, and that living on less money is assumed to come with a reduction in happiness. When really, measuring life by your spending level is like judging a town by the size of its parking lots. Is your goal to maximize the amount of asphalt and SUVs you can spread out across the land, or would you rather just get into that damned grocery store so you can get yourself some nice stuff for dinner?

Spending is a skill: a Mustachian can buy the same lifestyle with $25,000 that might cost a Consumer Sucka $100,000 per year. If you can cultivate this skill, the Art of the 75% reduction, at any income level, you can go from a lifetime of being in debt, to being rich enough to retire in less than 10 years.

Similarly, a company that can operate with this level of skill will quickly become the most successful company in history, and a similarly efficient government would find the world sitting peacefully in its palm.

The reason I pursue and love the idea of finding new ways to live life in an industrialized world, is the same reason I love music, and art, and writing and all of the beautiful, advanced, inspiring things that people do. It’s because Efficiency is Beauty.

Think about it. What is it that has allowed humans, despite our soft and weak bodies, dull noses and eyes, inability to swim or fly, and mostly-hairless skin that is only really comfortable unprotected in the tropics? Tigers, Owls, and Sharks would mock us ceaselessly if they were smart enough to open Twitter accounts. But of course they cannot, because we are the only ones with these kickass brains that have allowed us to overcome all obstacles to take over this entire planet – with more planets eventually to come.

This domination has been entirely the fruit of our efficiency. I mean, sure, monkeys will seek out straight sticks and use them as tools to harvest bugs from a nest, but early humans sought out even more specialized sticks, arranged them into better shelters, weapons and animal traps. We caught animals and used every part for ingenious purposes, to create even more advanced tools, weapons, and methods of preserving information.

On and on through the generations, our survival and advancements have been won only as we became more efficient with our resources. Even our ability to create art, music, literature, and the social structures like laws and governments that allowed us to stop killing each other so often, was only made possible by buying ourselves free time – by efficiently securing food, which gave us time to play at night.

This uncontroversial history lesson could have come straight out of the pages of the Duhh Journal or Obvious Magazine. But yet, the idea of efficiency has been consistently ignored in our more recent society, and this is the source of most of our current problems.

For example, the accepted norm is that as we get richer, we spend more, borrow more, and work harder than ever to beat each other in the highly-competitive economy. The richest people earn the right to consume the largest share of natural resources.

However if we still valued our efficiency, the very thing that got us here and the biggest gift of being a human, the opposite would be true: The wealthiest people could afford to be the most efficient.

These wealthy people (you and me among them) would find ways to have the largest amount of fun, but with the added dimension of seeing nothing going to waste. We could live with a zero or negative environmental footprint, and enjoy this incredibly prosperous, engaged lifestyle without even needing to step on anybody else’s head to enjoy it.

The added dimension of knowing we were accomplishing this rich life on two dimensions would take the satisfaction level to a new level as well.

While the beginner rich person is a corpulent businessman who buys himself thrones and treats to emulate the life of ancient kings, the advanced rich person is measured by how much better they left the world, after subtracting any value they destroyed along the way.

In a more efficient, rational world, the rich people would be the ones least concerned about advancing or preserving their own personal wealth, because that is obviously not an efficient use of time when you’re already rich.

Yeah, But How Could We Actually Create Such a World?

I can see you nodding there, but you don’t really think this is possible. If you’re a scientist and into evolutionary motivations, you will remind me that efficiency is only a human priority in times of scarcity. After that, we branch out because it is actually more efficient to chill out, and in fact making a show of waste is a show of genetic superiority.

“Look at me! I can afford to grow all these impractical colorful feathers! Or dump water on this big green lawn and pay servants to water it, and I’m not even here because I’m in Monaco this month. Now, come have sex with me because you know you want some of these superior genes!”

This is indeed a problem, and it’s what drives most of the ugliest problems in the world. The world wars and the cold war. Dictators and politicians who seek personal power over society’s advancement. Certain CEOs and their followers who teach themselves not to understand climate change because they fear it would hurt their superficial profits.

It’s all the byproduct of when we throw our energy into our simpler ape-like instincts, instead of the more beautiful instinct of Efficiency that got us out of those tree branches and into this much richer life in the first place.

But rather than surrendering our world to the simple dictators who cater to their own ape-like instincts, we can actually hijack their weakness for our own benefit. Because in a world where our material needs are met, the ultimate competition is for status. And status means emulating the richest, most powerful beings of your particular species. If you happen to be one of the richest and most powerful beings, this means everybody else will emulate you.

I hereby suggest that you, the self-selected curious and generally very wealthy people that happen to be reading this article, represent a significant portion of the world’s most powerful people – the ones with the status. People are watching you, wondering how you got all that money, maybe how you manage to run such a successful company, and why you seem to have your life together, with free time to spend with your kids or the motivation to stay in such good shape. They want what you have, and thus they will do what you do.

If you happen to agree with me that efficiency is beauty, the world would be a better place if we became more efficient, and that most of our biggest problems come from too many people missing that obvious fact, you can fix the whole problem by doing just one thing: demonstrating and celebrating efficiency in your own life.

As your peers and the more junior members of your tribe see you riding your bike to work, not moving to an even bigger house, playing with your own kids in the public park and raking your own leaves, and packing up your hiking boots and a tent instead of getting picked up by an airport limousine to begin every vacation, that’s the life they will want for themselves.

You’ll note the obvious similarities to the Tesla Motors master plan here, which the company has used to go from a 3-person garage experiment to the world’s most sought-after luxury automaker, while simultaneously ditching the 150-year tradition of the gasoline engine all in only 10 years: Start by attracting the top of society, allow them to demonstrate that your idea is desirable, then watch the rest of the world follow.

However, as a collection of the world’s highest-status trend setters, we can outdo even Elon Musk. Rather than just upgrading our existing infrastructure to be more efficient, we can upgrade the entire culture.

Instead of just building a billion autonomous electric cars to drive (or fly) us through our trillion dollar sprawling networks of concrete, we can choose to live closer together in the first place in beautiful, verdant neighborhoods that can be traversed in bare feet. Instead of just building solar arrays and storage batteries to cleanly power our gluttonous yet slovenly and unsatisfying lifestyles, we can upgrade to badass, muscular outdoor lifestyles of deep human and natural connection – while also putting up as many solar panels and batteries as it takes to keep the good music playing all night long.

And as we dance in this utopian environment, we’ll note that efficiency has again proven its beauty. Because while it is brilliant and noble to strive towards advancing the efficiency of our technology, it’s even more efficient to directly to change our culture.

I can’t do that all by myself just by riding my bike around town. But you can.

  • JA Novac November 24, 2016, 1:54 pm

    The issue is conspicuous consumption and perceived poverty.

    Basically, if one is not over consuming, going into massive debt to support it all, then one is poor and boring.

    Individually, EVERYONE would agree with greater efficiency, in the herd however all about badges and how you appear to be doing, rather than actually doing.

    • Gerard November 25, 2016, 10:30 am

      That’s why we need Conspicuous Non-Consumption!

      • Ben November 28, 2016, 6:09 am

        I think that’s the big problem. Non-consumption is pretty inconspicuous. MMM has done it but it has taken a lot of work for him to make his non-consumption conspicuous.

        • Jo December 4, 2016, 6:22 pm

          I just read an article in the ny times that said that electric cars might actually polite more than efficient gasoline vehicles depending on where the car generates the charge. Some areas have a high coal plant electrical generation and they list d Denver as being a bad place to own an electric car because of the amount of green house gases it would generate.

          Not only that but the process to make an electric car is very polluting. Another article in wired magazines says that the mining of rare elements that are used in magnets and the fancy screens in the cars is very green house gas producing to extract and also very polluting beacause of the chemicals that are used to extract and put back into the environment.

          In addition, the extraction and disposal of lithium batteries is highly polluting. So hmm maybe a small highly efficient gasoline powered vehicle should be on the mustachien list instead. But of course it would not have the cool or feel good factor that owning a very expensive car would have.

          It’s a lot like recycling, it makes baby boomers feel way less guilty about their crazy consumption but it only helps the environment a little bit in reality if compared to the damage of the consumption.

          • Huppie December 5, 2016, 4:32 am

            The production of any car is very polluting. EVs are only slightly worse at production. I’ll copy and paste an earlier reply from myself from the “I bought an electric car” comments:

            The dutch government did a study on the total production chain of EVs versus hybrids versus regular vehicles. It was conducted by TNO (“Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research”). I only have a dutch link for you but I’ll do my best to translate the summary here:

            Production / Destruction
            – With 45g/km CO2 for the ‘material lifceycle’ emissions (basically: the construction / destruction process) conventional (ICE) vehicles are the lowest of all vehicle types. In comparison the ‘material lifecycle emissions’ of a full electric vehicle is about 45% higher (65g/km CO2.)

            – The emissions of the total Well-to-Wheel chain of conventional (ICE) vehicles are at least 150g/km (non-plugin hydrids) up to 200g/km. At the same time with electric vehicles this depends on the energy mix used to charge the vehicle. This varies between 10g/km for full electric vehicles charged with ‘green’ energy to 150g/km for plug-in hybrids that are charged with ‘grey’ energy.

            – The total CO2 emissions varies between 250g/km for a regular ICE vehicle and 70g/km for a full-electric vehicle powered by ‘green’ energy. Even when using ‘grey’ energy, an electric vehicle still averages about 30% less total emissions compared to a regular vehicle or 15% less total emissions when compared to a hybrid vehicle.
            – The total CO2 reduction for a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicle powered by ‘grey’ energy is 15% less than a regular ICE vehicle. This is because their assumption is that because of the small battery PHEVs are driven only about 30% of the time on electricity. When powered by ‘green’ energy a reduction of ~25% can be achieved. * It also notes that for PHEVs with a battery that’s twice as big as most current PHEVs the reductions compared to regular vehicles may grow to 25% (grey) to 45% (green.)

            Furthermore there’s various notes:
            – Other emissions (NOx and Particulates) that are very low for electric vehicles (basically only a little bit of particulates from tires.)
            – Indirect emissions (i.e. from production / destruction) are found to be way less impactful than the direct emissions from the cars.
            – For ‘green’ energy, other emissions (NOx, PM, SOx) are about ten times lower than the regular energy mix.
            – It is important to think about proper ways of recycling to prevent scarcity of materials.
            – Safety of EVs in general is comparable to regular vehicles
            – There is a slight increased risk of accidents with pedestrians because of a lack of engine noise.
            – There are courses available for emergency personnel to learn how to handle EVs when damaged.

            Source (in dutch): http://www.rvo.nl/sites/default/files/2015/04/TNO%20Factsheets%20Elektrische%20Voertuigen.pdf

          • Jim December 7, 2016, 1:39 pm

            I think that’s likely a bit of a scare tactic. I like the Times, but the fact is only 30% of the electricity in the US is now produced by coal.
            I like to think of anything that uses fuel as something that can likely be outdone by smart capital investment. Wind and solar will outperform Coal and gas in the next 2-3 years for the simple reason that they don’t need fuel that has to be purchased.
            Tesla is also moving he battery production to the US, which is one of the most environmentally regulated markets in the world. If the production of the batteries produced that much pollution, it would likely be cost prohibitive.
            Everyone should feel good about recycling, it’s much preferred to wasting 100% of what you’ve already purchased.
            If your concerned about greenhouse gasses from your own electric car, you can install solar yourself. It will have the added benefit of powering your house if you don’t use the car.
            Solar + heat pump electric heat also starts to look more attractive/efficient once you look at the long term cost of gas/oil.
            If everyone looked at things with a 20 year horizon instead of a 5 year timeline, I think most people would opt for the more efficient option. In Europe there are houses that have been lived in for generations, perhaps we need a longer outlook on life.

          • Jeff December 7, 2016, 11:22 pm

            The old adage “the best car you can buy is one that’s already made” applies to electric cars as well. My Volt is 3 years old and I got it for more than half off the price of a new Volt and I have only used 19.4 gallons of gas in the 6,000 miles since I bought it. 10 gallons because I had to make a 350 mile trip that I didn’t have time to plan an alternative for.

    • Hilary November 25, 2016, 8:23 pm

      “…then one is poor and boring.” I would add: … one is poor and boring and life itself is boring and hard and not to be desired and especially not encouraged.

      • Shreyas Prabhu November 28, 2016, 3:04 pm

        And by the way, talking about efficiency – being childfree and marriage free is the most efficient technique to FIRE. Would love to hear comments on this from Mr. Mustache.

        • Dylan December 2, 2016, 10:49 am

          I would think that marriage would make FIRE more efficient. You are sharing costs with someone else that you would have to cover yourself if you were single.

          • Hayley December 6, 2016, 6:05 am

            Totally. When I got married my effective income doubled. We had each been paying for a place to live, so our living costs halved. It basically made FIRE possible for me (us).

            • The MAD Consultant December 15, 2016, 8:44 pm

              Amen MMM. Probably one of my favorite articles I’ve read. If only more people thought like this the possibilities would be mind boggling. Ha and funny I just posted on your new workout article about going up the escalator with luggage and you mentioned it here – crazy.

              Dylan & Hayley I’d agree that marriage makes FIRE much more possible for some people, so it really depends on each situation. Although it’s still easily attainable if you’re single. Sharing costs is definitely the big advantage. As a newly married man myself I finally have a front row seat to dealing with marital money issues.

              The only thing is when you get married your tax situation changes dramatically. In some cases it can benefit you, and in others it can serve as a disadvantage. I actually did a Topstep Trader segment about that. Here’s the link. http://www.themadconsultant.com/2016/10/investors-corner-with-mad-consulting.html. I highlighted situations where marriage has an adverse impact

              Would love to hear other peoples thoughts on this.

        • Aaron December 2, 2016, 11:32 am

          Child-free: Yes
          Marriage-free: Depends
          If you are married you have a built in roomate. As long as your spouse shares your savings beliefs and works (i.e. is not totally dependent on your income) then you actually build towards retirement faster.

          But no need for MMM to comment, you just need to look at past blog articles if you want to know his opinion. He mentions raising kids and being married in quite a few of them, but he’s also got a few specifically about these topics:

        • Motion_man1 December 6, 2016, 8:18 am

          I agree on the many, many efficiencies to be gained from living childfree. Even among those dedicated to living sustainably, minimizing carbon footprints, and getting out of debt quickly, there is often an attitude that their decision to have a child is not merely a decision but an inevitability that weirdly deserves special treatment and sympathy for the extra costs that housing and raising a child entails. It’s not usually popular when me or my partner reminds them of the fact that having a child was always a decision and one that they consciously made, not a condition imposed upon them. This is especially true living in rural Virginia where conservative values leave very little room for discussion or consideration of something like reproduction as a choice.

          As a young person, my marriage to a like-minded partner has made us a more efficient unit in the short-run, but I’ll admit that many of the costs we share could also be shared by copasetic roommates (utilities, rent, even groceries) but the game-changer is when you’re looking at a mortgage or joint purchase of a high-dollar item like a shared vehicle. That’s where sharing long-term goals and being invested in living side by side for decades to come really starts to enhance efficiencies based on lifestyle choices. Also, getting married young (25yo) quickly shifted our lifestyles from working in the service economy, going out to party/waste money, and living in Miami to getting a graduate degree, inexpensive home out in the country to establish a homestead, cutting expenses, tackling debt, and building wealth and careers instead of just floating around and having a good time in the pool of life.

        • Meeper December 11, 2016, 7:19 pm

          Let’s be clear — the old proverb that “two live cheaper than one” is quite true. More than that, most people are happier with a companion around. And I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to screw up, if I merely depend on my own decision-making skills. The Mrs. has a way of making me think both more effectively and more efficiently.

    • Jim December 7, 2016, 2:04 pm

      Part of the issue with the issue with services and products in the US is that we’re geared for convenience. In the UK, offices have dishwashers instead of using paper plates and cups.
      Tea and coffee can be made in pots and mugs for pennies, rather than using individual plastic items in a machine to make a beverage at about $.50 a pop.
      When installing heat and air conditioning, things are oversized rather than putting in time and effort into a real measurement of the required equipment (I’ve run into this numerous times).
      Old refrigerators are used, when more efficient models are available on craigslist that would pay for themselves in under 18 months. The analysis of the convenience is often the first step in identifying a more efficient way. I think that is often glossed over in consumer driven society.

    • Carson Chan February 25, 2023, 1:02 pm

      I completely agree with the idea of improving walkability of neighborhoods rather than solely focusing on infrastructural solutions. A local urban planning blog suggests that America’s Euclidean zoning bylaws is a root cause of all the urban sprawl. They suggest that by loosening these strict residential only bylaws, and allow low impact commercial activity within these zones, many commutes can be saved.

      Thank you for this blog; I appreciate it! Wish you and your family well!

  • Mr Crazy Kicks November 24, 2016, 1:56 pm

    My superficial story lately has been that I’m a writer. “Oh, so how do you make money doing that?” is usually the response. “I don’t.” Then the awkward stares come. My friends and neighbors however are starting to notice me being around more working in the garden or riding my bike around the neighborhood. Some friends even are starting to take some interest. This gives me encouragement, because I would love nothing more than for my friends to also have plenty of free time to hang out and follow their passions.

    Here’s to a brighter future. We can’t force anyone to do anything, but we can set examples :)

    • Stockbeard November 24, 2016, 2:58 pm

      Totally agree. I’m still figuring out how to convince my friends that frugality and efficiency is the way. The best thing we can do is lead by example

      • Steve Divicent November 25, 2016, 1:57 pm

        100% Teaching the kidos is also a great way.

        • Jimmy Tweenr November 30, 2016, 11:11 am

          Good call Steve, we do our best to set the example for our kids. They’re surrounded by consumerism at its worst, there’s no one better to show the way than the parents. I’ll tell you that it’s an uphill climb at times though!

    • Katatonic November 26, 2016, 4:47 pm

      I am so using that! Writers (and wannabes like me) don’t seem as subject to the level of confusion or dismissal as those who are FIRE.

      Dec 16 is my last day at my corporate gig. Over 28 years with this company, plus a decade of other jobs prior, and freedom is finally within reach. I’m 54 so it’s later than most FIRE but I made it!

      NONE of my co-workers can understand how or why I can do this, even though they’ve seen me commute via bike, pack my own lunches, and move/live close to work the past 4-5 years, which is what made it happen (if ONLY I’d found MMM/FIRE sooner!). I suggest MMM’s blog, along with any others they can relate to in the FIRE online community, but they’re either too stubborn or too stuck to make any changes. :( Since 3 of us are going at once, we’ll have a ton of corporate money for our retirement party. It’ll be a SUPER happy New Year!

      • Nancy November 27, 2016, 11:45 pm

        I recently left my job (8 weeks ago) because I could (yeah!). I’m 54 and many people asked me what was I going to do? Would I look for another job? Was a retiring? Since I worked in a higher education setting I tried to give them answers they could relate to; I’m taking a gap year, I’m taking a sabbatical, I’m living off my savings until I run out (I won’t), it’s a mini-retirement. But they all wanted to know how I did it. There were several answers that they could understand without me being preachy. One answer: My mandatory expenses are low. My house is paid for (7 years of sacrifice by me), my son’s college is paid for (thanks dad! for the college fund), my electric bill is low (only two people, 1200 sq ft house, line drying, efficient light bulbs, etc), water is bill is low (could be lower, but I do enjoy the luxury of the dishwasher), no cable bill, no internet bill (paid for by grown college son, thanks son!), low garage service (every other week because we don’t generate much garbage), paid for cars, low insurance(old cars), low food bills (mostly vegan household). Some couldn’t relate but others could see the possibility, but all were fascinated. I wasn’t shy I gave them all my expense numbers (they did ask after all).

        My second answer: With my bills so low I saved up a pile of cash. This they were astonished by. This total number I did not share, because most don’t even have $1000 in their bank account and it would make them feel bad. Because although I have advantages of living in a great bike commute city, with free city buses, great farmers markets, reasonable housing prices, etc, they do too and have not chosen the same path as me.

        My third answer: Check out Mr Money Mustache blog, Dave Ramsey and YMYL (I used all of the philosophies to get here).

        The other thing they all wanted to know, and actually I think this is where some people are fearful, what are you going to do with your time? Even I didn’t know the answer to that question, but my standard reply was “I’m going to take 6 months to recover my soul”. They loved that answer, somehow that answer hit home with them.

        I think we have to talk about our choices, if for no other reason then to save our soul and those of our friends and family. (Soul is not used in a religious context, but a self context).

        • Mr. FI November 28, 2016, 1:51 pm

          Sounds great, glad you are able to get out of there for that soul-recovery time! Do you mind if I ask where you live? Your city sounds great!

          • Nancy November 28, 2016, 8:34 pm

            College town USA, Corvallis, Oregon

        • Henry November 29, 2016, 11:47 am

          Congratulations Katatonic and Nancy, very exciting! I’m making the jump at 51 in January. “Regular” people are mystified as to how I can do this. It amuses me.

          Many of my colleagues and friends are curious, we are an unusual bunch in this culture. I tell them anyone can do it, once you get over the barrier of unexamined materialism.

        • MNK December 4, 2016, 6:10 pm

          My husband and I took last year off as a sabbatical. We are in our mid-late twenties, and had enough savings to take a few years off. It was magical. We were able to spend time reconnecting with family that lived far away and then volunteered for a few months in Europe.

          We also did a lot of hands on things: made cider/beer, learned about foraging, baked bread regularly, and took many walks and hikes.

        • Kortney December 9, 2016, 3:53 pm

          What city may I ask do you live in that has free bus transportation? Congratulations on FI!

      • wolverine00 November 30, 2016, 4:41 pm

        Well done and well deserved after 28 years. Best of luck in the years ahead.

  • Mustard Seed Money November 24, 2016, 2:01 pm

    Awesome post!!!

    I have been talking to friends at work about how I am a few years away from FIRE and I get blank stares. On top of that I have friends that tell me all the time that saw my wife and son walking to the grocery store and they act astonished that she would do it. Here’s the crazy thing, the grocery store is literally less than a mile from our house. We walk there all the time. Getting some cardio, savings money on gas and lifting some grocery bags for weights is a win/win in our book.

    We are drinking the Kool-Aid and we’re ready to make a difference!!! Thanks for casting the vision and we’re ready to do our part.

  • Mike Reiche November 24, 2016, 2:08 pm

    Conversations with the in-laws have begun to get tense as we grow our stash. They believe that when you come into money that you should share with family and not keep it all to yourself. But what they don’t really grasp yet is that we didn’t just come into money, we worked and sacrificed and gave up things to amass what we have and that we don’t intend to “blow it all” for the mass benefit of those around us. But the conversation there is moving forward, luckily!

    I don’t believe many people have stepped back and evaluated themselves to determine how efficient they are with their lives and finances. Those who you can break through to on that level, one of introversion, are the ones that have success or at least hope! If someone just can’t get to that point of looking at themselves subjectively then they have no hope of evaluating and streamlining anything personal. When the topic surfaces, the only real advice I give to someone initially is to look at what they already spend money on regularly, the “fixed” expenses, and find a way to trim just a little off of all those bills each month. If they can go that far then you influence them to the next step. Being an example is, by far, the easiest way of moving people into action. Riding my bike everyday to work has opened up many people at work to possibilities of what they can do and how they can change little things to be more efficient. Lets keep the way of the mustache growing and moving forward!

  • Bob. Frugal+as+dirt. November 24, 2016, 2:10 pm

    This may be your most epic post ever! Changing the definition of what constitutes utopia toward something much more efficient could well be the highest form of art that we achieve as humans.

    • Trip November 24, 2016, 3:08 pm

      I agree that this is a great post and the utopia MMM describes is one that I desire as well. “We live to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.” If only everyone could see the beauty in efficiency.

      This post speaks mostly in terms of logic, rationality, and doing good for the future world by setting an example. How can we speak to people’s emotions to make them desire to set such an example? That would really reinforce just the logic which all too many often ignore.

      • kruidigmeisje November 25, 2016, 5:33 am

        We have a few hamlets where people live like this (“Ruigoord” is a tiny village near Amsterdam, NL where artists and other mustachians live). but for Mostpeople this is neither a desirable lifestile (too weird), nor is the mustianism in a reachable distance from their comfort zone (that must be cold to live in in winter!) to even comtemplate the options whether or not they want this. let alone how to get there.
        So a good promotional campaign to explain the desirability of this utopia is needed for Mostpeople, to link the idea of everlasting holiday and no-work=freedom life to wealthy people.

      • Green thing November 26, 2016, 10:32 am

        “We live to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.”

        I need to put this on a giant poster above my desk.

    • Juan November 24, 2016, 7:17 pm

      I agree as well! I always enjoying reading MMM posts, but this one felt special. I have had a few friends emulate what I am doing and seek a better life in terms of money, health, and freedom. It is very satisfying and fulfilling to see somebody change their lives for the better and knowing that you played a part in it.

      Converting people into Mustachians is a challenging process. For whatever reason, not many people are receptive enough or willing to change. From my experience, and a couple of talks I have given, only about 5-10% of people get it and are willing to start making changes. Maybe I suck at delivering the message :)
      Overall though, the 5-10% who get it are totally worth all the blank stares, funny looks, and awkward conversations.

      • SwordGuy November 25, 2016, 1:12 pm

        5 to 10%? That’s not sucky. That’s totally awesome. You’re asking people to drop what they’ve been doing and totally refocus their life in a totally different direction. For that kind of change 1/2 of 1% is really, really good.

      • BicycleB November 26, 2016, 9:54 am

        I agree with SwordGuy. I’ve read studies of salespeople and evangelists that concluded a person whose life embodies a big idea, shares that idea enthusiastically and invites people to join will have their invitation accepted by about 1 in 15 people who listen to them. Juan, you’re right on target.

    • tglouis November 25, 2016, 5:49 pm

      I agree – just the kick in pants we all needed! MMM’s special talent is showing us the consequences of the decisions we make in how we live our lives, and the benefits of living the efficient life for our planet, our communities, our children, and ourselves. Never stop never stopping!

  • Utdelningsseglaren November 24, 2016, 2:20 pm

    Well spoken!

    I try to do my best here in Sweden :)

    Best regards

    • Mr FOB November 24, 2016, 2:38 pm

      Indeed well spoken!

      I try to do my best here in The Netherlands as well :)

      Cycling as much as I can and spreading the word about enjoying a life of frugality.


      • Frapa November 25, 2016, 3:39 pm

        Indeed² well spoken!

        I also try to do my best here in Germany :-)

        I also cycle as much as possible, save as much as possible, try to spread the word, stop spreading the word because people do not understand, wonder how they manage not to have money but buy the whole time a lot of useless crap, and enjoy seeing my stash growing!


        • Attila March 23, 2017, 8:16 pm

          Hi Frapa

          Just a little addition , I have the bike and earlier used it a lot for many years to get into office . Lately decided to walk . It takes 5000 steps to walk into the office and around 40 minutes . I have the bike but use less now , sometimes if need then do errands to buy vegetables or hurry to do sports somewhere . Using public transportation only if the biking not possible. Cheers !

    • Newman November 25, 2016, 2:05 pm

      Du är inte ensam, seglar’n :-)

      • Jabben November 25, 2016, 3:19 pm

        Här finns en till

  • Steve Divicent November 24, 2016, 2:20 pm

    It is so darn tough to be efficient!

    Our whole society is built on consumerism and waste. It’s like a tangled web that just traps you the moment you let your guard down.

    I try to keep myself efficient in only certain areas that I have the most control over (finance) but there is definite spill over into other spaces (gardening, DIY repairs). If the whole world worked on this level the amount of wasted energy would drop to next to nothing.

    • Jay Cope November 26, 2016, 1:10 pm

      I agree Steve, What nation state wants the “people” to be efficient, self reliant, and very wealthy. All the “programming” seems the opposite. I think M&M is very brave for voicing his methods but I hope he is being very careful please!! leading by such a great example is bound to get some attention from some wealthy elite folks that may not be as open minded as M&M or willing / able individuals to see the change as a benefit.

  • Delta November 24, 2016, 2:37 pm

    It’s good that you didn’t mention your Thanksgiving day. It has turned from giving thanks into the official start of excessive eating and spending and consumption that rivals Ancient Rome and goes on from now to January.

    • Carrie Willard November 25, 2016, 5:57 am

      Agreed. I don’t celebrate the holiday because it’s based on lies, and because gratitude should be a daily exercise. Last night while traveling to my place of worship with my family, we passed by the local WalMart. Cars were wrapped around the building. It was disturbing. People are literally putting their lives at risk (every year recently there are injuries and even fatalities from people acting badly at Black Friday sales events), for what? A TV that they could get just as cheap on Craigslist?

      Meanwhile, my son and I bike to WalMart to buy our groceries, and after, we check out the dumps behind the shopping center. Yesterday we found toys and games for the little ones, an unopened box of zipper bags (great for those brown bag lunches) and a box of sparkling cider (fun for the kids, because I never buy juice!), nothing wrong with it except one jar in the box broke. The rest were perfect.

      • Steve November 25, 2016, 11:31 pm

        Fantastic use of resources and time that many frown upon. I love dumpster diving for treasures and useful stuff. And good on you for instilling that in your son, too.

        On the Thanksgiving note, my wife, children, and I only really celebrate it like most Americans do when we are near enough to family to be obliged to partake in the tradition. Thankfully, that’s not very often.

        Rather, here’s to another day of efficiently using time and energy to do stuff and eat an adequate amount of delicious food.

      • Geomatic November 26, 2016, 12:46 am

        I agree with you Carrie. We should celebrate thanks every day. I know I do. Having said that I do celebrate thanksgiving. It’s a great time to spend with extended family. Although in Canada it’s not as consumption focused. I think that’s a positive thing.

      • Carrie November 26, 2016, 5:03 am

        My husband & I were just commenting how the charities & churches in our area all work hard to serve the poor a meal on Thanksgiving (and other holidays) but don’t bother to care about the poor any other time. Sad, to say the least.

        • STBJ November 27, 2016, 6:56 am

          Have to admit I am guilty of raising funds for needy families only during the holidays. Hope you guys are doing a better job of being generous throughout the year. We still consume a lot more than we should but the MMM readings have helped me reduce spending by about $500 per month and allows me to read intersting posts like yours.

        • Bike Bubba November 28, 2016, 9:58 am

          Actually, most churches I’ve been a member of have a “deacons’ fund” that helps the poor year round. One of the biggest challenges is to figure out who really needs help, and who just wants a few more forties. Very often, the “poor” person disappears when one of the church’s contractor members offers him a job.

          Really, a lot of well meaning people do incalculable harm to people whose real problem isn’t poverty, but rather substance addiction and/or mental illness.

        • Heather T December 4, 2016, 10:59 am

          Charities actually DO care for the poor all year round. They just emphasize the holidays in their fundraising, because that’s when they can get people to actually care enough to donate.

  • Mixed Money Arts November 24, 2016, 2:46 pm

    I get those same blank stares when I tell people that I don’t have a car here in Southern California, and a patronizing “Oh good for you!” once in awhile. But the conversation gets less awkward when I tell them that I moved here from a less than 300 square foot apartment without a kitchen in New York. And my commute back then was just as long as my bike commute now. After that experience, living in California is pretty sweet, car or no car.

    Your post gives me hope that our love for frugality is making the world a more efficient place.

  • Karen November 24, 2016, 2:49 pm

    I think the loss of efficiency suggested here is more apparent than real. Humans excelled by being adaptable, not necessarily efficient. Survival of the fittest allowed us to adapt (in part by working in social units) and thereby dominate all other species. We developed traits that maximized reproductive potential, not longevity, much less sustainability. A bright insight of the Paleo Manifesto is that modern agriculture accommodated many more humans, but ones that are, arguably, less healthy. The advent of high-yield, petrochemical-supported farming has encouraged a burgeoning of our species. That may seem efficient in the narrow dimensions of time in which most of us think–but is incredibly inefficient in a long-term sense, as we are destroying our habitat.

    • Christopher M. November 24, 2016, 7:23 pm

    • Evan November 26, 2016, 9:03 am

      If you look at the research on Paleo diets, yes, they are healthier than a standard American diet but not as healthy as a whole-foods plant-based diet. Also, Paleo diets are incredibly inefficient from a land-use perspective. There’s no way to feed the planet on meat. The high-yield, petrochemical-supported farming is to support the consumption of animal products. The vast majority of those grains and soybeans are going to feed animals, not humans. Habitat destruction is caused by animal products consumption, not eating plants. Look at the Amazon rain forest. 91% of it’s destruction is directly related to the consumption of animal products. If you look into any environmental depletion issue, it’s intimately connected with animal products consumption. If you’re interested, read Comfortably Unaware by Richard Oppenlander.

      • Marcia November 26, 2016, 11:53 am

        You have to be more specific about your definitions. Technically, a paleo diet and a whole foods, plant based diet are not mutually exclusive.

        “Whole foods, plant based” suggests a diet made predominantly of plant foods.

        A Paleo diet is defined more by what it exludes (dairy, grain, legumes).

        You can design a paleo diet that is low in meat and would still be “whole food, plant based”.

        • Greg December 8, 2016, 8:37 am

          Hi Marcia, “whole foods, plant-based” actually is usually to mean vegan. It’s a little less laced with assumptions and controversy to say “whole foods, plant-based”. We’re vegan (and vegan bloggers) and we often use the phrase ourselves. Although I am a little more likely to be slightly more MMM attitude-like about it. :-)

        • Doc January 10, 2017, 9:15 pm

          Evan is right about the healthfulness and environmental impacts about these diet choices. The problem with what you suggested is that a “paleo” diet excludes healthful foods like legumes and whole grains. If you were to also exclude most meat/eggs/other animal products, you’re left with mostly nuts, vegetables, and fruits. Sure, you can live on that, but it’s not ideal.

          And along with what Greg said: The reason for specifying a whole-foods, plant-based diet is to highlight that this is a truly wholesome, ecologically-minded, healthful (and usually inexpensive) way to eat. Technically, you can be vegan but eat lots of potato chips, white bread, and other refined, sugary, garbage “food.”

      • Paul d'Aoust December 7, 2016, 4:31 pm

        Some very clever people would argue that there are gross inefficiencies in the modern style of meat raising, and that by closing our supply loops we could raise the same amount of meat, on the same amount of land, while sequestering carbon and rebuilding ecosystems.

        Closing our supply loops, in this case, means converting the cornfields back to grasslands (the original biome of the Great Plains), and moving the livestock off the feedlots onto the new grasslands. This isn’t simple pasturing; it’s called ‘intensive rotational grazing’, and it mimics the way giant migratory herds of grass-eating beasts tended the great American savannah before we ate most of them. In the process it has the potential to sequester massive amounts of carbon, increase ecological diversity, reduce erosion and soil loss, provide a good livelihood for farmers, and provide us with a high-quality source of protein.

        We haven’t reduced our land footprint in this scenario, but all of a sudden we’ve converted a whole bunch of it from a net ecological loss to a net ecological gain.

        (You’ll note I didn’t mention the Amazon rainforest. I honestly don’t know if the above technique works there.)

        While I’m mostly vegetarian myself, I think this has an immense amount of potential. It’s better than laws that attempt to prevent ecological degradation, because it comes with an economic incentive so people are likely to actually try it. That’s powerful.

        You can get a taste of what people are doing in this space by researching Allan Savory and everyone’s favourite nutjob farmer, Joel Salatin.

        • Julia December 13, 2016, 3:02 pm

          Yes!! Another excellent person to look into is Greg Judy. He was just about bankrupt when he learned about intensive rotational grazing and holistic management. He started out with cattle he didn’t own, on land he didn’t own. He improved the land and raised beef cattle without any supplemental feed, summer and winter, in Missouri.

          Now he’s thriving, teaching interns, giving talks from time to time. He still uses a lot of rented land, although some of his landowners are so pleased with how he is improving their land (he puts in ponds, he’s bringing back the prairie species) they don’t charge him rent. He’s developing multi-species grazing systems, similar to Joel Salatin over in West Virginia.

        • Lars January 4, 2017, 9:49 pm

          Great points…we gave up meat a few years back and it’s amazing how much simpler and inexpensive eating has become. It took some time but now we would not ever go back. Holidays are a snap with no chance of overeating or spending as we have fresh, well prepared, creative meals that sustain us in health, energy, and ethics. Our energy levels, cognitive skills, digestion all improved immensely. We cook from primarily the moosewood restaurant cook book and sup w/on line discoveries.

      • Carlos December 7, 2016, 8:24 pm

        Glad to see some common sense regarding the beauty of an efficient diet. Like riding a bicycle instead of driving around an SUV, a whole-food, plant based diet is not only one of the most efficient, but also highly beneficial for our shared environment, animal/human welfare and personal health. Oh, and it provides the same nutrients at a lower financial cost too! There’s no downside other than occasionally having to deal with morons making snide, ignorant comments. That’s all good though! I’ve been a mustachianist and bicycle rider for many years already, so I am used to dealing with narrow minded people.

        • Tim December 21, 2016, 9:45 am

          Zinc, vitamin b12, and CLA would all like a word with you, as would Retinol.

  • Frugal Bazooka November 24, 2016, 2:53 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving MMM, u and your crazy ideas have made me a boatload of money, but more importantly, they’ve made me much happier. Utopia is unachievable by definition… efficient lifestyle VERY achievable. I’d like to write more but I’ve got to get back on my bike.

  • rafe November 24, 2016, 2:54 pm

    Well i figure i cant fix the world but i can build a better ebike. so I built the most efficient transportation system. an ebike that weighs 30 lbs goes 30 mph and has 30 mi range.


    • SR November 30, 2016, 11:27 am

      +1 for ebikes!

      A 10 cent charge is enough to commute 9 miles both ways and just as fast (or faster) than driving a car in rush hour traffic.

      If you add up all costs, It costs me $1.50 per day to ride my bike (including consumables such as battery, tires etc..) vs $8 a day for my car. A standard non-ebike is also about $1.50 a day if you include food and other consumables, but it is twice as long of a commute and not as fun :)

      The main reason for this increased efficiency is that I don’t carry an extra 1000 lbs back and worth with me everyday – I don’t understand my co-workers who drive pick-up trucks to work just to carry themselves!

      BTW I ride all year round (take the car about 5 times a year) in Western NY -doable with the right gear.

  • James November 24, 2016, 3:12 pm

    Great article. I’m only through the first half, but the paragraph about the wealthiest living the most efficient lives spoke to me.

    That’s exactly the decision I’m currently making. Previously, I did the big house thing in a high COL suburb of the Bay Area. But I realized that for the same money, I could get a small apartment in the most efficient city in this country, New York. Instead of a 20-30 minute car commute, I could have a 10-15 minute walking commute. Instead of burning tons of carbon to heat a large house, I could live in a small, efficient space that takes far fewer resources to maintain at reasonable temperatures. Instead of driving dozens of miles to the nearest cultural centers, I could take efficient electric trains or shared bikes to do the same.

    It’s an option that’s only available to me because I’ve been very lucky to have had the opportunity to work at a super-high compensation job the last few years. Most people will never have the option to live as efficiently in such a desirable locale as I will. But I like to think that instead of spending an extra $20k a year on becoming LESS efficient (by buying a fancy car, taking extra international trips, building a bigger house), I’m becoming more efficient through my expenditure of extra financial resources.

  • ChooseBetterLife November 24, 2016, 3:36 pm

    Can’t wait for Musk’s solar roof and battery to make it to the market!

  • HenryDavid November 24, 2016, 4:12 pm

    The more one backs out of the consumerist web, the stranger it all looks. So you back out a bit further, and it looks weirder still. So you just bail out of 90% of the whole thing! And then folks have the effrontery to call plain old ME . . . peculiar!
    Just biking around today looking at all the empty suburban mansions full of Top Of The Line Stuff, all alone and silent inside those mortgaged boxes while their people slave away to make payments, I was sad thinking of the needless stress and effort to make needless payments for all the needless shit that people needlessly think they need. So inefficient!
    (Meanwhile if you ask they all say “I just wish I had more time to relax, enjoy my family and take care of my health and be happy.” Uhh, if you really mean that, there’s a short way you could choose . . .!)
    OTOH, an overly optimized and efficient system risks becoming a fragile system. So it can also be good to lighten up a wee tad on that, just to create a cushion. But in our materialist/consumerist hell, there’s very little danger of OVER-optimizing the 75% or more reduction, though. Especially now that Black Thingy is upon us:

  • The Vigilante November 24, 2016, 5:31 pm

    I’ve actually been thinking a lot of the idea of “leading by example” lately. Especially since seeing Elon Musk’s presentation of Tesla’s new solar roof. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mUJnKI3ipI

    See, I’d love to take advantage of this solar roof if it’s on the market for a reasonable price when I need a new roof. I’m optimistic, because it hopefully won’t be necessary for a couple of decades considering our townhome was constructed in February 2016.

    But I’m concerned with the HOA – particularly since it is a townhome and or roofs must match. Not everybody thinks solar roofs are a good idea, and even though I hope opinions change in the coming years, who knows? When the time comes, I anticipate a lot of resistance in the form of “Well, it won’t look right!” or “It’s expensive!” or “It doesn’t really work!” or “Shut up, hippie!” without any research to back those opinions.

    Luckily, Mrs. Vigilante will likely soon be taking her seat on the HOA for our small set of townhomes. I hope that her influence can make a difference. And also luckily, our neighbors currently love us, and at least one neighbor (a couple 30 years our seniors, one of whom is already retired) knows vaguely of our FI plans and seems to find it interesting rather than suspicious/confusing/frightening. Perhaps if we can show our neighbors that our ideas of “efficiency above all” have some merit in bringing happiness, we can influence them to favor adding some efficiency to the whole neighborhood, compliments of Musk!

    • Frank November 25, 2016, 1:48 pm

      Hey, depending on your state, HOAs may or may not prevent you from installing solar. In CO, they have to allow it. Maybe worth supporting such legislation in your neighborhood?

      • The Vigilante November 25, 2016, 3:03 pm

        I’m not 100% positive, but here in Pennsylvania, we do not have solar access laws as far as I know. I believe the HOA has the right to restrict our use of solar in the form of any attached fixture. And frankly, I’m not sure if I’d like to support legislation that allows people who entered into a contract to ignore that contract for specific purposes. Even if it is for a good cause, like the installation of solar! (Although that’s easier to stomach if those Tesla solar roofs work and look as well as advertised, because then it’s scarcely even noticeable to those who care about the appearance.)

  • Abandoned Cubicle November 24, 2016, 5:32 pm

    I think we’ll have no choice but to become more efficient as resources dwindle and geopolitical situations become unsustainable. The generation coming out of WW2 felt it won first place and set a pattern of consumption that continues today. The next generations will have to pay the piper. But hey, at least the Mall of America is closed today. Progress?

  • The Green Swan November 24, 2016, 5:51 pm

    I’ve been trying to amp up my efficiency and love the message you share. We can all take baby steps to get better. Last year my wife and I installed solar panels on our roof and the feeling of being able to generate our own energy on a sustained basis is pretty amazing!

  • Margaret November 24, 2016, 6:05 pm

    Just yesterday I was on an hour long commuter train ride. I was returning to the Hamilton area after attending a medical appointment with my son in the provincial capital of Ontario, Toronto.

    Seated across from me was a quartet of very loud women who had evidently spent the day protesting the high electricity rates in Ontario. They had been on the lawn of the provincial legislature and were looking forward to seeing themselves on the 6 o’clock news. The mood on the train was very festive as we made our way west. One of the women complaining about high electricity rates began her argument with the phrase “I have a hot tub, BUT….” I honestly cannot remember the rest of her statement as I was shaking my head at the absurdity of it.

    It was a party atmosphere. Many of the passengers, both from this group and not, were adding tid bits here and there. Each person had a high electric rates horror story.

    My own contribution started with my concern over the lack of transparency around local power rates. When taxes and surcharges are added our rates are MUCH higher than they appear. The actual rates are quite complicated to figure out.

    But Then…I explained to the group how my family had dealt with rising rates by using less power. By being EFFICIENT. Because of the recent series of price increases our family has moved to the next level of efficiency by engaging in activities such as 12 month clothes line drying, LED lightbulbs everywhere, lowering/raising of thermostats, stc, etc, etc.

    I also explained that we have a family motto. ‘Suck it up ’til Seven’ .It is a reference to Ontario’s ‘time of day pricing’and the imaginative ways in which we use that to our advantage.

    At that Ms. Hot Tub informed me that she did not think she should have to “eat dinner at 8pm”. She lacks what it takes to make this work for her.

    And then today I read this article and I got it….!! These women on the train were demonstrating AGAINST efficiency. And being covered by the 6 o’clock news.

    Whether intentional or not it appears high power rates lead to greater efficiencies. This appears to be evident in the prolifereation of wind turbines just outside of San Francisco and solar cells in Hawaii.

    Yes there is Beauty in efficiency. But yesterday I saw blindness to the beauty of these efficiencies.

    • Higginst November 24, 2016, 7:01 pm

      Beautiful comment. Thanks for sharing.

    • The Vigilante November 25, 2016, 3:06 pm

      Love this comment! Can’t stop chuckling as “suck it up til seven” and can’t stop chucking uncomfortably at “demonstrating against efficiency.”

    • Chris I November 25, 2016, 9:41 pm

      This is why “consumption” and “sin” taxes are a good thing. Some people (very few) are naturally concerned with waste and inefficiency. The vast majority of the public needs to feel it in their wallet before they do anything. The US needs a huge gas tax increase, but it is political poison, for some reason.

    • Cheyanne November 26, 2016, 6:00 am

      I also live in Ontario and I love your observation about the power rates issue. I’ve struggled with understanding the opposition people have to it. The whole thing was theoretically designed to encourage people to use power more efficiently, but it hasn’t achieved that at all. Ms. Hot Tub is a great example of why. We live in a country where we have access to nearly unlimited electrical power whenever we want. We can super heat a tub full of water for no other reason then to sit and enjoy it. But people can’t contemplate taking on the ‘burden’ of changing their habits slightly to save money? Entitlement and #firstworldproblems at it’s finest.

    • Idgy November 26, 2016, 8:53 am

      Fellow GTHAer. Been following following all the whining about hydro. A lot of hydro bill comes down to personal choices. We choose to install new windows to make house more energy efficient instead of a big vacation. We choose to use led lights. We choose to use programmable thermostat. We both work from home. In winter this means long johns under our clothes, hot beverages and a blanket while at our desks. In summer, we open windows and use ceiling fans. No a/c until inside of house is >28oC. We are both comfy and able to be very efficient with our work. We recently stopped using our dishwasher and wash by hand. No change in water bill, but hydro bill has decreased by 1 kWh/ day. Our family of 4 has 1470 sq for house and we pay <$90/ month in hydro. I think we can get that lower :)

    • Melissa Yuan-Innes November 26, 2016, 8:08 pm

      I agree that we should try to be energy-efficient, but *not* so we can pat the Ontario Liberal Wynne government on the back for their corrupt ways. Here’s an article on how, for example, the price charged consumers to use power in off-peak hours has increased by 149%: https://cpi.probeinternational.org/2016/07/07/why-are-ontarios-hydro-bills-soaring/
      Hydro rates don’t only affect consumers who have a choice to “suck it up ’til 7.” Small businesses are going under as their costs skyrocket.
      An environmentalist and an Ontario doctor who has her pay cut regularly by the Ontario government.

      Notes on the health care side of it:
      Our video: https://youtu.be/cKUQvrmYdAc

      Liberal government has cut nearly a billion dollars from the healthcare system since January 2015

      Telehealth calls cost twice what they do in other provinces.

      Auditor General’s 2015 verdict: the LHINs cost $90 million dollars without improving health care over the past ten years.

      • Margaret November 29, 2016, 8:16 am

        I would like to make it clear that I support NO political party in my comment. Like many I consider the Wynne/McGuinty folks to be crooked, and corrupt.

        The MMM article I commented about was about EFFICIENCY not politics. My comment was about how in a twisted kind of way people were PROTESTING efficiency.

    • Laura November 28, 2016, 7:39 pm

      I had to chuckle upon reading this post. I swear I heard those women on the CBC that evening. I remember shaking my head as they complained about the hydro consumption associated with being at home with small children. HUH? Now in the case of our poor, rural, northern families who are struggling with soaring hydro bills I have a different level of compassion.

      We have a medically fragile child so some of our hydro usage is absolutely non-negotiable (feeding pumps, air compressors, power-based ceiling track lifts, and so on all need hydro and are essential for my son). However we limit our use of all extra stuff, including all major appliances for the post-7pm stretch. We have a huge sign in the laundry room asking our nurses not to run the wash during the day unless the linens heavily contaminate with bodily fluids.

  • saveinvestbecomefree November 24, 2016, 6:14 pm

    Great article! My guess is that a large portion of the FIRE crowd naturally values efficiency in resources, including our own time. This often correlates with more school and career success as the most productive and effective people do well. Valuing our time (and money) also happens to coincide with less stuff, maintenance, and other time-wasters as we continue to get wiser. So a disproportionate group of us get all the money we need relatively early in life. I completely agree with the premise in the article that to bring change, the most effective method is to be the change you are looking for. If what we are doing truly leads to more freedom and happiness, others will see that and become curious. And that begins the process of sharing knowledge and leading to progress, just like MMM and other thought leaders are doing through their blogs and other methods of outreach. It’s pretty exciting to live in a time with such powerful and accessible ways to share knowledge with each other and ultimately live better and happier lives.

  • Linda November 24, 2016, 7:06 pm

    Utopia sounds nice but I’d settle for people just looking hard at the companies they are giving their money to and how much power they have amassed. I think we’ve all learned that our biggest problems won’t easily be solved at the ballot box. But the things we buy have serious consequences, beyond our own bank accounts. That is one thing we do have control over.

    • Patria November 30, 2016, 11:37 am

      Right on, Linda. For example, it is so satisfying to pay a bit more to buy food from farms where the animals get to live a decent life.

      This post reminded me of Walter Mosley’s recent think piece: *Folding the Red into the Black, or Developing a Viable UNtopia for Human Survival in the 21st Century.*

      Here are a few quotes, if I may…

      He points out that, historically, many of the “attempts to attain a [utopic,] perfect state of social harmony have been, paradoxically, the cause of dystopic malfunctions in societies around the globe…”

      “Our misplaced faith in science and systemic social and economic formulations has been the cause of genocide, war, famine, and deep, deep enmity between peoples who should by now have learned to get along…” (Mustachians might add … and unfulfilling, SUV-enabled lifestyles that lead to feelings of emptiness, waste, and addictive prescription drugs…)

      “[the untopia] is not a physical place, not an eternal city, but rather a frame of mind that has as its goal the dismantling of expectations of perfection … when it comes to government.
      “The untopia announces that we are unruly beings that need time to play and room to move.”

  • Suvi November 24, 2016, 11:13 pm

    Beautiful post. But have to say I totally lack the optimism needed to believe in this. I see some things getting better in my native Finland ( just some time ago there was a sadly tuned story in a newspaper of how people buy less clothes nowadays and how that’s tough for the market) but mostly I see people wasting just about anything. I could even be doing better myself. Do I even need to mention the recent political climate change? My work get’s me involved with all kinds of people, maybe even steers towards the consumerant end and the way most people think has started to really tire me out. So I just dream of retiring of society alltogether. But this was beautiful still and it’s true that pessimism gets in the way of any change, so thank you for the effort!

  • TNuke November 24, 2016, 11:18 pm

    At Thanksgiving dinner just a few hours ago I was speaking with someone who has a 14-year old daughter. The topics ranged, but at some point I mentioned that I had gotten my 10-year old son an equity investment. The amount of the investment is pretty small, but the point is that with the magic of traditional returns on equity and compounding, the amount could actually be pretty substantial by the time he is, say, 40 or 50. Most people reading this blog know the argument; it’s quite simple.

    The other person looked at me as if I had 2 heads. She essentially rolled her eyes and turned to talk with someone else. What intrigued me was not that she didn’t know what I was talking about (they don’t teach this stuff in school), but that she had no interest whatsoever in understanding the concept. Herdaughter doesn’t have much money, but she does have the advantage of time, which advantage is being squandered.

    Oh well, next year I will talk about football or something.

  • Marcus November 24, 2016, 11:19 pm

    It seems that we are approaching a pivot point in society where these efficiencies that MMM wrote about will be a necessity. The insane addiction we have with debt is slowly causing us to regress to serfdom. I believe this is the case because the crippling debt loads and over consumption essentially chain us to our employers and make us very vulnerable to say the least.

    I think that, in line with this article, having increased self sufficiency through a lower expense lifestyle and perhaps solar power generation, battery storage, etc. that we could actually be on the precipice of huge growth spurt like what America experienced in the 1800s. My basis is that these freedoms would be similar to land grants or cheap land purchases that existed back then which encouraged an enterprising person to make the most of their lot. Being tethered to a 9-5 plus commute existence can be very destructive to the innate creative ability we possess.

    • TGod November 30, 2016, 12:05 pm

      I completely agree with your comment “The insane addiction we have with debt is slowly causing us to regress to serfdom.” We were discussing this last night. We hear a lot about stagnating wages for middle class and the overwhelming amount of debt that people take on. My husband made the point about Henry Ford deciding to pay his workers a good wage so that they could afford to buy the products that they produced. Businesses no longer have to play by that rule because of the role of debt in out society. It used to be if you wanted something you saved for. If you didn’t make enough to save for it, you didn’t buy it. Now however, your wage may be stagnating or you have a low paying job, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t “afford” to buy a new car or tv or quad, because there is credit. Credit and debt has taken the place of good wages. Large corps don’t need to pay people a decent wage or keep up with the cost of living because they know that the appetite for the product is there and that consumers will find a way to buy it regardless of whether or not they can afford it. It has made for precarious financial situations for a LOT of people, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at them because they have it all. But many people don’t own what they have, the banks own it. So they basically work all day to give the earnings to the bank or credit card company in interest payments, these players are the new Lords or Princes that command their monthly tax. The only way corporations and businesses will change their ways…maybe…is if consumers stopped buying all the stuff that they can’t afford. Otherwise there is no incentive to pay good wages, when they can instead shovel the money out to the shareholders and CEOs. But given the lineups for Black Friday shopping that change isn’t coming any time soon.

  • Christine November 24, 2016, 11:28 pm

    I am so glad you are enjoying teaching at your sons school. I have read your blog for years. I stayed home with my kids as we lived below our means and saved. Now that we are becoming wealthy and don’t need the money I work 50 hours a week as a teacher “for fun.” It is fantastic! I’m trying it as an experiment. My favorite is walking in every day with no financial worries and I can focus on being good to the kids. When I hear teachers complaining about pay, and how they wish they didn’t have to work, I just keep quiet. I feel like that girl in “The Breakfast Club” who says, “I’m here because I had nothing better to do.” It helps I live modestly, nobody knows my wealth. I try to just act “normal.” I related to the disconnect you talked about when explaining your life. When I went back to work, people assumed my husbands job was not going well. He has been promoted to the top and barely anyone knows. We have some neighbor friends that I suspect are also Mustachians in hiding. We live in a blue collar neighborhood. I have a neighbor who is a stripper, and another sells pull tabs at a bar. The bank tells me we qualify for a million dollar home. We’ve toured the brand new expensive homes, but they don’t impress us. We just shrug our shoulders and talk about how our house is just right for us. It’s right by school, we can bike to a brewery, and we are next to a lake and bike path. The expensive homes are a ways out, very inconvenient. It’s all about priorities.

    • Ms Blaise November 25, 2016, 5:44 pm

      I really like this. I find myself buying into the “we should move to a bigger and fancier home” mentality every now and then ( I love real estate and renovating), but then I remind my self how much I love my home and that it is, as you say, just right for us and close to everything we like to do, or need.

      • Amanda November 28, 2016, 11:43 am

        Christine and Ms. Blaise – I completely agree and admire your lifestyle. I wish I had the same mindset 15 years ago before I had kids. I wish I had never heard the expression ‘starter home.’ Several years ago we made and corrected the mistake of leaving our starter home for a huge colonial. It suck money and energy constantly. Sold it 2 years later and are now living in a cottage with our 2 kids that is smaller than the first house. I am huge proponent of ‘just right house’ living. Loved your comments!

    • Patria November 30, 2016, 11:43 am

      Yes! MMM, could we please hear more about what you’ve learned by wrangling your way into your son’s school and “hacking” the school by volunteering? I’m interested in trying that, but I’m intimidated by the beaurocracy.

    • casserole55 December 10, 2016, 8:43 am

      Contentment is wanting what you have.

  • Primal Prosperity November 25, 2016, 1:02 am

    Wow, this was great. Funny thing… when I ask people what they think of when I say “Primal Prosperity”, they have no idea, but you just hit the nail on the head with this article.

    Also, my biggest pet peeve in last few months…. we moved into a building with a gym…. and every… single… time… when I see someone coming out of the gym, they head for the elevators, when the stairs are equidistant. This is only a 7 story building, so most people from the gym should be able to handle that.

    FYI, I am also an engineer. My degree is in Civil and I was ‘taught’ to control nature. Now, at 43 years old, I want to ‘re-wild’ nature.

    • Eldred November 25, 2016, 7:46 am

      Well, I can understand being too tired to take 7 flights of stairs after a hard workout…

      • Frapa November 25, 2016, 3:56 pm

        Well one of the most ridiculous thing I saw in my life is people going by car to the gym which is only 1 km away from home. It’s contradiction in terms!

        People seem to have fallen in the idea the you do sport only in the gym… Actually my current lifestyle is exactly the opposite: get as much exercise as you can while doing daily activity. It’s just another way to be efficient!

        I recently switched from public transport to bicycle (15 km each way everyday) and I notice that I do not need to go jogging anymore (I go only on weekend). I am actually getting much more exercise that before, while at the same time saving wasted time in the metro and avoiding that horrible feeling of not having done enough sport that strikes sporty people when they don’t get enough exercise.

        An we are not here to be weak lazybones, the more extreme the challenge, the better!

  • Erith November 25, 2016, 4:23 am

    Great article. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to ride a bike due to a long term injury. I used to enjoy cycling to/from work, it really cleared my head, and left work problems where they belong – at work!

    Now retired, I live in Edinburgh, Scotland which has excellent public transport. Even better the Scottish Government gives everyone a free bus pass when they turn 60. Best birthday present ever…. The result is that we either walk or use the bus the vast majority of the time. Our car rarely gets used.

  • Biglaw Investor November 25, 2016, 5:35 am

    Thanks for articulating both the power and beauty of efficiency, what you called “the Art of the 75% reduction”. I’ve been looking for one or two words that can describe this to other people as it’s the most difficult part of explaining that a reduction in spending does not equal a reduction in lifestyle. I think we could still use a marketing phrase that works as well as “Financial Independence” does – if you say that to someone, they instantly get it even if they aren’t familiar with the background. What’s the two words to describe “by living an efficient lifestyle, I spend less than you do and yet have the same or better quality of life than I would otherwise”?

    • Michael November 25, 2016, 12:35 pm

      “Common sense?” :-)

    • Dave November 25, 2016, 1:02 pm

      “Frugal Happiness”

      • Nick November 25, 2016, 3:13 pm

        “Smart Consumption”

    • Ms Blaise November 25, 2016, 5:47 pm

      designed life ( as opposed to designer life)

    • The Vigilante November 25, 2016, 5:59 pm

      “Practical Magic”

      But then again that sounds like it could be a Sandra Bullock movie.

      • lurker November 30, 2016, 5:00 pm

        waste not want not

        less is MORE!

    • FrugalsaurusTex December 1, 2016, 5:48 pm

      Biglaw, I’ve thought of this two word phrase since you brought this up last week, and I believe I’ve stumbled on a phrase that encapsulates the idea or process of deliberately spending less or a shift from a place of high spending to one of frugal spending without a concomitant reduction in lifestyle and happiness. A change and a philosophy that uses the power of efficiency and minimalism to liberate rather than confine.

      Juliet Schor speaks frequently of downshifting, a term denoting the deliberate reduction of spending, but downshifting can at times connote sacrifice and loss. My proposal is a new term that adds the element of liberation to the definition. In other words, downshifting that leads to little or no loss of lifestyle or happiness and that liberates and edifies rather than constrains. Even if one argues that this is the existing definition of downshifting, the presence of “down” in the word can have an unintended negative connotation.

      Instead of downshifting, I propose the epithet “efficiency shifting”.

  • Brian November 25, 2016, 6:46 am

    I could only hope a fellow parent at a school/scouting/church/whatever event would start a conversation about something interesting instead of bitching about mortgages or work schedules. We need more mustachians.

  • vinyl1 November 25, 2016, 6:54 am

    This reminds me of the laments found in many audiophile magazines – “how can the general public possibly stand to listen to crappy MP3 files on cheap headphones? Don’t they realize that glorious sound is available by spinning $50 records on $38,000 turntables? If only they could hear my system, they would understand and become enlightened!”

    Nowthey wouldn’t. The general public doesn’t give a rat’s patootie about what you think. You’re a nut, and what they give you is a wide berth.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 25, 2016, 9:03 am

      Right, but you’re missing the point: the “general public”, which you could define as the somewhat homogeneous group of people with a median IQ of 100, behaves like a herd. They take their cues by looking up the social and status ladder – to the rich people, which include company leaders and other celebrities.

      The argument of this article is that WE, the readers around you right now, are the lucky rich people who get to lead by example. Any website will of course collect a wide range of readers, but over the last 5 years I have become very impressed by many of the people I have found out are reading this one. So it seems reasonable to remind them of this occasionally.

      • Louie November 25, 2016, 1:57 pm

        When I happened upon this blog a couple years back I found it inspiring and applied some of the mustachian principles you espoused, none of which resulted in financial independence (nor did I expect them to ), but at least helped me pay off most debt, live more frugally, and invest and save more wisely. Practical advice that led to practical solutions. However your tone, which always carried a subtle elitism, and now more clearly disparages those not as smart as you, or as ruggedly individualistic as you, or as mechanically talented as you, or as RICH as you, turned me off. Having been away from this blog a while and after reading this post only confirms my opinion. I get the jist you’re not a fan of opinions though, especially ones that are critical of yours, and you’ll probably censor this or maybe pay it no mind, as it doesn’t fall in line with the syncophantic praise found in most comments; but as a former avid reader of this blog and at risk of being called a complainy pants, somewhere in your world view–where only hip engineers and financially successful programmers, and those with the right breaks to grow up in the right regions under the right circumstances, rule the world–I hope you realize your idealism, while noble in its own right, applies to only a select few and alienates the masses which your message paradoxically seems intended to reach. Your ideas lack nuance and neglect the real American society most citizens grow up and live in. And that society certainly doesn’t include wide, tree-lined streets with bike paths, clean community parks, and markets where fresh organic produce is readily available. I would love it to include all that and try to do my part to live responsibly, but I am a realist. And I take particular offense to elitists browbeating the poor and unfortunate, whom most often (because poverty is generational) are crushed by the weight of overwhelming odds and inequality from the very start. I’ll gladly sign off not expecting a response or a challenging dialogue, because in my view I’ve said what I’ve wanted to say for awhile now, and whether it reaches the right ears is not up to me.

        • The Vigilante November 25, 2016, 6:00 pm

          “Poverty is generational.”

          Thank you for reminding me to stay poor. My bad!

          • Ryan November 25, 2016, 8:39 pm

            It is because copy what they have seen. Hence why children of people who are bad with money, think the world is unfair and eat like crap will do exactly the same as their parents. Parent had kid at 16, kid eventually has a kid at a so!ilar age. Parent treats mom like crap, kid finds himself doing the same things when he starts dating.

            People are generally blind to their own programming. And the world is split into two camps, those who think that life happens to them and those that believe that they are in charge of their lives.

            Don’t knock a dude for his tone, its his opinion on his site. Take the knowledge or thought provoking idea gained(or not) and go back about your business.

        • Darell November 26, 2016, 12:12 am

          You are a talented, careful writer. And I appreciate your considered input.

          The part of your message to which I take exception is the concept that you are a realist (as evidenced by bringing up all the reasons why the general population is stuck where they are) while those who have ideas that can change this reality are denigrated as *idealists.*

          I think it would be wise to understand the enormous size of the population that *does* have every opportunity to change their reality, yet choose play Keep Up With the Jones’s instead.

          • Louie November 26, 2016, 8:33 am

            Appreciate the constructive and intelligent response. And I absolutely see your point. I know there’s a huge swath of the population that exists to buy crap they don’t need and to live above its means to maintain certain status symbols; but there’s also a large swath of disenfranchised people that are just trying to exist, to eat, to do their best to give their children hope for a better future, and who face challenges every step of the way because of widening inequality and social injustices (for example, a family’s life savings being wiped out for a medical emergency, or your zip code determining whether or not you get a decent k-12 education).

            Probably not the forum for my ideas on poverty, but what seems to be a recurring theme on this blog (and its comments) is resentment and ridicule towards those who haven’t adopted mustachian principles, and casting that group as a ‘herd’ with a low IQ seems counterproductive and self-congratulatory.

            Alas, it’s MMM’s site and he can do whatever he wants. He’s brilliant and has helped hordes of people (myself included) with his progressive and unorthodox ideas. Just wish it wasn’t such a ‘smart us’ vs. ‘stupid them’ approach. Again, just my opinion.

            • Ben November 28, 2016, 11:20 am

              You’re right. This blog isn’t for those systemically disenfranchised people. It’s for those who are capable of becoming free, but who make choices not to. Appealing to a specific audience is not a bad thing. There is no one size fits all silver bullet.

            • Dan November 29, 2016, 4:04 pm

              I think it’s worth keeping in mind that MMM is an individualist. His writing strongly suggests he believes that people can change their actions despite environmental, social, educational, etc influences to the contrary. It’s a very American view to hold and, as MMM has said many times, if you’re trying to convince people who have the means but not the desire, it will work well. If you look back at previous comments to responses like yours MMM is quite clear that his target audience is not the people you’re worried about. So yes, this isn’t aimed at people who have obstacles in the way as you rightly point out, it’s aimed at people who have money and are throwing it away.

              I don’t think people who are poor due to upbringing, social status, race inequalities, and lack of opportunity, are poor only due to their attitudes and choices. That gap will have to be bridge in some other way. Perhaps you can contribute ideas you have on the topic? I’m afraid that since individual people have little control over those circumstances there is very little that a blog can do to help them.

            • Patria November 30, 2016, 12:06 pm

              Louie, I also have picked up on the elitist tone. I live around many disadvantaged people, and it bothers me that suburbanites don’t realize why poor people are poor, such as being refugees, having a sick or disabled child, growing up with addict parents, abuse, or having a felony on your record.

              I think there is a positive side to this post, though… the side effects for the poor could be awesome as Mustachians rise up to live conspicuously and unashamedly great lives. How much better for poor folks to emulate the Mustachian style than to keep up with Kanye and Beyoncé? The poor tend to be enslaved by fancy clothes and fancy cars and iPhonez and manicures. It’s not a bad thing for biking and camping and cooking your own food to become “status symbols.”

        • Mary sewing November 26, 2016, 6:25 am

          Louie, I agree with you that the well-off don’t comprehend the overwhelming odds and inequality. Living in an area with high poverty, I can see that a lot of it is about what people are or are not taught. We’ve all seen the news stories about a humble cleaning person who dies and leaves a fortune to a college, so some figure out this frugality mindset on their own. But what I don’t see much discussion of on this blog, and what a lot of us reading MMM may not consider, are the challenges to the poor, of institutional practices which benefit elites. What if my mortgage costs me a higher interest rate because I am a person of color? What if I can’t even get homeowner’s insurance because I live in a red-lined area, so designated whether it is legal or not? What if I go to a Medicare Advantage informational session in an area with a 25% people-of-color population and the room is full of hundreds of people, all of whom are white? FIRE knowledge is free, to be sure, but directing it where it needs to go is not limited to telling rich people to consume less.

        • Breadwinner November 26, 2016, 9:00 am

          MMM is not putting down those who are truly less fortunate, he is putting down those who have also had a lot of lucky breaks and have been sloppy with those lucky breaks rather than making efficient use of those lucky breaks.

          I for one had a less fortunate start than MMM in many ways, but I have had some advantages, the greatest of which is a mentality that I can take control of my own situation and develop the skills and resources to live a beautiful life.

        • BicycleB November 26, 2016, 10:22 am

          As far as nuance… Louie, glad you said your piece, you’ve been carrying a lot on your shoulders. As an intermittent defender of the poor myself (just being honest about my standing) it is heartening to hear you take offense to “elitists browbeating the poor and and unfortunate…crushed by…inequality from the start.” But as a more frequent reader of this blog, a close reading suggests to me that MMM generally browbeats prosperous people who waste their money, not those “crushed by overwhelming odds.”

        • Kim November 26, 2016, 11:25 am

          Louie, I appreciate your bringing up another view. I also appreciate Darrell’s comment to you. We need more dialogue with different points of view in our world. I’m new to this forum and enjoy it. MMM’s tone makes me laugh. I recognize the truth of his message in the elite world I live in, and I really appreciate someone who says, “your ideas lack nuance.” I remember volunteering in a homeless womeless and children shelter doing art with the kids. I was astounded by how the parents spent the money they did have. The kids bragged about going to the movies ($$$) and their sneakers, and a gold capped tooth. A compassionate view of the parents is they wanted to buy their kids what they could to make them feel some sense of “normalcy.” My parents opted out of the “rat race” in the 70s and it was a source of huge embarrassment for me as a kid. It bred in me wanting everything we didn’t have. I wanted to be normal, I.e., accepted, loved. I pursued that path and then (decades later) learned it sucked. I don’t have any ready made answers, but I value living the questions. Let’s raise more questions, challenge the dominant voices within us, on this blog, with each other, and let’s try to get into the shoes of the other half of America that I’m convinced we really don’t understand even though we think we do. In praise of nuance.

          • Louie November 30, 2016, 6:16 pm

            Every child/teen thinks fitting in is priority, regardless of class, race, financial status. Most kids love movies, the latest sneakers, passing fads, (gold teeth sounds like a bit much but I’ll go with it). The perception though is more critical of a poor kid who wants the same as any other kid, especially if the poor kid’s parents reinforce this behavior.

            Unfortunately, for the parent the message is lost, or at least largely ineffective, when trying to convey mustachian principles to one who’s been conditioned by lifelong experiences, has fallen victim to the rat race, and regardless of the reason, still imparts the same beliefs to their offspring. I also agree with most of you that the pervasive ‘rat race’ attitude defies race, class, and all logic.

            And there you have it, Kim–starts with the kids. Ironically, reading some of the comments to my original post has restored my faith in mustachians; and I wish the lot of you with your idealism, respect for conservation, and highly useful and practical skills, could be lured into the education sector; if not as teachers, as volunteers, or guest speakers, or living examples of ‘unconventional’ success. I believe that’s the audience mustachianism, to expand beyond its base, could very well reach. (To Roger below.)

            What any kid should understand is what MMM understood, what was part of his DNA from a young age, when he would meticulously iron his dollar bills knowing they would someday work for him instead of impulsively making them disappear on useless stuff. Best thing he had going for him is what we all wish we had. Financial stability and the myriad ways to achieve it is grounded in one basic premise: time. Something the youth have that outweighs the greatest of our abilities. We as a society (largely mustachian disbelievers) do a great disservice to the next generation not to emphasize that. Hell, it should be required reading or some form of applied instruction in all K-12 schools.

        • Roger November 26, 2016, 11:29 am

          Louie, you deserve a bit of support here, which you’re not getting from the other MMM loyalists. Because you’ve identified somewhat of a core intellectual weakness that most of the fans of MMM (myself included) sometimes choose to ignore or sweep aside.

          The promises of Mustachianism as expressed on this blog do indeed seem to be more easily applied to engineers that earn $100K+ than to other segments of society. And that precisely is what holds back MMM from having the degree of social and cultural influence that he deserves. This blog’s readership is large and growing, but Mustachianism is by no means as mainstream a cultural phenomenon as it should be, given its truth and power.

          What does that mean for MMM? The great minds throughout history have been the ones that could generalize beyond their personal experiences – while remaining informed by them – and come up with universal, compelling systems of thought. MMM has been very successful with his trademark, rough-cut, no-holds-barred style. But there is a limit to the amount of influence this style can exert in its unpolished state, without some intellectual elbow grease to stretch into that uncharted territory. What does Mustachianism really mean for someone who earns less than $50,000, or less than $25,000? Who is a single parent? Who lives in the Bronx, or Appalachia?

          I think if anyone I’ve read recently can answer these questions – the most pressing ones we face today as a society – MMM himself is a strong contender. Turning the very good ideas on this blog into truly great, world-changing, history-making ones would take some hard work, but the foundation is there.

          MMM, you’ve got real talent as a writer and as a thinker, and a lot of productive years ahead of you. Are you up to it?

          • DCJRMusctachian November 27, 2016, 3:24 pm

            MMM has repeatedly said that his target for this blog is the middle->upper classes, the folks already “doing well” who are mindlessly consuming. Those earning 30k and below are already following his core philosophy because of necessity.

            The carrot of early retirement doesn’t apply to the lower income folks unless they can improve their incomes. He has posted some ideas of trades that pay well but don’t require higher education, like his hobby of metal-working.

            But I think his thoughts on the expense side are mostly universal, and lower income readers could today benefit even more from cutting cable, banishing high-cost cellphone plans, learning to calculate accurate commuting expenses, biking more, optimizing food costs, etc.

            • Mikey November 28, 2016, 10:24 am

              On the contrary, I have many peers making about the same as me, who are not remotely “mustachian”. I’m a 24 yr-old with tuition to pay and who made $12,000 last summer. I’m expecting to make an extra $1,000 – 2,000 through part-time work and random jobs. People in similar financial situations do all the dumb things that MMM raves against (buying brand-new F-150s on credit, while eating out every month and taking random vacations to Europe, etc…). Sure they are limited somewhat by “necessity,” but a lot of people have a very limitted understanding of their actual necessity to live frugally. “Affordable” is defined as “Do I have the cash flow?” rather than any reasonable standard of affordability. Stupid, but people live like that. Therefore, I think this blog is extremely useful, even for a large number of people making less than $30,000 (or $15,000!) a year…

        • Moose November 26, 2016, 11:40 am

          I would put it differently. I think MMM is very intelligent, and has a lot of ideas that are applicable to all, but doesn’t pretend to be, and shouldn’t be seen as, an authority on intersectional finance issues.

          For instance, as a racial minority that is considered to be non-criminal, I am able to drive my $1000 22-year-old Toyota without fear. When my friend, who is black, drove her beater car, she was pulled over, weekly, for things she did and did not, do. When cops follow you, thinking you’re a criminal, they inevitably find SOMETHING they can pull you over for, and then you get a ticket. Even if you don’t get a ticket, you lose time, and being late for work has consequences. Then there’s the physical cost–you could get that one bad cop where your simple traffic stop escalates into something worse.

          She ended up buying a new-model SUV with tinted windows, and the number of times she was pulled over went from 50+ per year to 1-2 times per year. In her situation, it was a financially necessary decision, because $300/mo in bullshit traffic tickets buys a lot of car.

          So, sure, MMM doesn’t talk about these things. He doesn’t talk about how to eat if you’re stuck in a food desert or what to do if you have a conviction that limits your employment prospects, or how to save 75% of your salary when you’re being crushed by the costs of probation, or any of those other things that other people who are not MMM have to deal with.

          But the fact that MMM stays in his lane, instead of lecturing people about how to overcome things that he has no experience with, is a GOOD thing, not a bad one. There are people who have experienced all the above and have helpful experiences that they’ve shared. MMM is not a one-stop shop.

          TL;DR: MMM tells people what he does, and no, he’s not a haven of intersectional advice, but there are valuable principles expressed here and everyone can learn from them.

          Someone from a giant, poor family
          Whose parents are from giant, poor families
          Who paid off her mortgage 16 days ago
          And is 2 years from FIRE
          (Assuming she doesn’t need to bail out her sister again, but life happens.)

          • Kathy Abell November 27, 2016, 8:13 pm

            As a white person I can not even begin to imagine the experience of a black person who gets pulled over for stupid stuff 50+ times a year! Nor the fear that during any one of these times “you could get that one bad cop where your simple traffic stop escalates into something worse.” As a wannabe mustachian, I take some pride in driving my “cheap” ~$15k new 2010 Nissan Versa sedan (purchased because we didn’t want to spend ~$30k on a clown car), but even I can see the frugality of driving an SUV with tinted windows that saves you money (and time!) every month by avoiding stupid stuff traffic stops resulting from the prejudicial thinking of certain traffic cops.

          • Kirstin November 30, 2016, 2:49 pm

            MMM would also likely emphasize that in this scenario, better than owning any car would be moving close to your workplace so you can bike, walk, rollerskate or take public transit. Savings in all of those choices and no worries about being pulled over.

        • Marcia November 26, 2016, 12:05 pm

          You do make some good points – namely, empathy. It’s truly hard for some to be understanding and empathetic to others when they haven’t experienced true poverty. It’s hard to accept or understand privilege.

          Life is nuance and shades of gray – and that’s hard. It’s hard to understand, and it’s hard to navigate. Black/white hard core are “easy”.

          But I think that both are important. My kids are growing up in a bit of a upper middle class Southern California “bubble”. Yet – more than half of the kids at school are on free lunch. Some are homeless. So maybe not much of a bubble.

          There’s no simple answer. Truth is, what MMM espouses is very very true for the upper middle class. And his points are valid – upper middle class folks are consumers, and we need to convince our peers to stop wrecking the earth. Much of the world gets worse because the poor emulate the rich and cannot wait to consume themselves.

          I don’t see the poor themselves as being much of a problem from an environmental standpoint. I grew up rural poor. Yes, there are plenty of pickup trucks, but hunting, fishing, gardening abound. People were much less wasteful when I grew up, making use of hand me downs, consuming less, hanging laundry to dry – because they had to. The urban and suburban poor in my town do much the same. They walk, ride bikes, take buses out of necessity. They shop used. They wear things out.

          Not having experienced it doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Of course one thing that I’ve found now (or maybe it’s just my own experience) – when I was a kid, the poor had skills (out of necessity – building, cooking, sewing). The practice of “making do” was worthwhile. I see some of that being a lost art. There is less interest in that. Skills are lost. Thus people living in poverty have less ability to get out. And of course the amassing of money wealth in the hands of the few makes it worse.

          • Donna December 3, 2016, 8:44 am

            “Skills are lost.” So true. When MMM talked about his efficient solutions that he came up with that is not sold in stores, I wish he has more “how-to” posts educating people on how to do those things, instead of just complaining about how many other people just don’t get it. I have enjoyed his posts on installing radiant heat etc. I don’t have an engineering background or mind-set, so I need super-detailed step-by-step instructions. When I want to do home DIY projects, I ended up spending hours look up you-tube videos, but so many of them have conflicting info, and many of them don’t show all the steps,so I just ended up feeling intimidated or confused.

        • Minerva November 26, 2016, 1:46 pm

          First, I want to say that I understand and appreciate Louie’s opinion about exactly which masses MMM’s message is reaching. I grew up very poor and entrenched in societal norms. That being said, I am living proof that, not only is poverty very much NOT generational (I managed to work my way up in the hotel / resort industry from a simple housekeeping position to General Manager over 3 properties – with NO college education!) but that we as humans can do anything we set our minds to. After a series of debilitating medical issues crippled (no pun intended) my career after only 17 years, I was forced to not only endure the stigma of living on disability, but also the very limited income it provides. At first, I was very angry at being shunned by society – it was as though all of my talent, hard work, and contributions didn’t even matter anymore! There was also the depression that came with chronic pain and being forced to live under the poverty level. Then something miraculous happened; a sort of freedom came over me as I struggled to survive and realized that being impoverished financially didn’t mean that my quality of life had to be equally impoverished. I could choose to be happy and find ways to work around the lot I had been dealt. So I spent some time re-defining the meaning of “impoverished” and realized that I was anything but! I just needed to decide for myself what was important and realized how lucky I was to have an income at all and to not have the stress of a 60 hour work week. I had to make some MAJOR adjustments to my lifestyle. I had to accept my limitations and learn to work with them, not against them, make my health a priority for the first time ever, and learn to become the Queen of Budgeting! By the time I discovered MMM’s blog a year or two ago my life had undergone a serious overhaul. I’m very proud to say that not only did I “get” MMM’s message even though he obviously comes from a very different background (and does seem to be much smarter than I am! LOL!) but his message drove home all of the new things I had incorporated into my own lifestyle (very much NOT typical of the societal norms). He made me feel less like an outcast and confirmed that I was on the right path all along – and that no matter WHAT our backgrounds, some of us do have a common thread and newfound goal of creating a “new cultural norm”, as it were. Here’s the key: it comes down to whether or not you value living a more simple, efficient lifestyle (most people don’t – they look at that as “failure”) I am currently living on approximately $13,000 per year. I am focusing my efforts on working a home-based business which I hope one day will be the majority of my income rather than social security. Any extra income is spent on paying down debt and saving to buy a small house where I hope to grow a garden, raise bees, and incorporate solar panels for energy. I focus these days on pain management and increasing my mobility rather than where I will vacation next and I have learned to meditate and really enjoy nature instead of stressing about where next month’s rent will come from. I find that I spend less on food, not more, now that I have learned to eat cleanly and less often (it took me a long time to learn that eating is NOT a source of entertainment!) And I have hope again, now that I have learned to focus on QUALITY of life, not how much crap I can accumulate…And, MMM, f you ever need anyone to “lead by example” and show that it IS possible to live a good and happy life on less than minimum wage provides, I am planning to start my own blog and would happily team up and help you spread the word! After all, one thing has remained consistent – and that is; anything you REALLY want, you can get – no matter where in society you come from – you just have to want it bad enough and be willing to sacrifice for it…

          • The Vigilante November 27, 2016, 3:02 pm

            For what it’s worth – I’d read that blog. Thank you for your story!

            The “poverty is generational” line bothers me tremendously, and I feel like you’d be able to relate. While statistically there is plenty of truth to the line – many people who are raised in poverty continue to follow the same path as their parents with regard to education, employment, spending/saving habits, and relationships – there is still an individual choice to be made by each and every person who is fortunate enough to, for example, have internet access. There seem to be FAR more people who have smart phones, internet, and no desire to change their circumstances (by, for instance, reading this blog) than there are people who have nothing, have been told they are worth nothing, and are so hampered by the “digital divide” as to not be able to realize the inherent untruth in that statement.

          • dll November 28, 2016, 9:21 am

            Geez, I have often thought that as consumerism has increased in our culture that it has become more difficult to be lower income in the U.S. Therefore it would make sense that mustachian values would make it easier for a lower income person to achieve serenity with regards to who they are and their place in the world. Mustachian promotes the values that can’t be bought.

            • Minerva November 28, 2016, 11:41 am

              Well-stated, both of you! While I think that there is a common misconception that anyone who does not fall into the middle-class is either lazy or has something REALLY wrong with them (and trust me, I know that misfortune and bad luck can happen to ANYBODY!) I have also known many who fall above the middle class who have that sense of entitlement and use that as an excuse not to accomplish anything for the benefit of society (thinking, perhaps, “I’m already rich and have lots of nice things, my job is done”.) The point is, I’ve known lazy people on both sides of the spectrum and highly ambitious people on both sides of the spectrum. Perhaps most disturbing to me (again, having grown up in deep poverty) is that I do have one other sister who managed to crawl her way out enough to “make it” to the middle class level – but our mind-sets are totally different! I love her, but when I talk to her, she goes on and on about how she works 60+ hours a week and how stressed out and sick she always is…. She seems to wear it like a badge of honor, all but implying that I should be ashamed about working toward a stress-free life, focusing on health, helping the homeless, and making this world better for future generations. But she is so afraid to alter this lifestyle of hers because she is DEATHLY afraid of going without. What she doesn’t seem to realize is that going without doesn’t have to mean going without. Our needs vs our wants have become so blurred! The increase in consumerism seems to have done just the opposite of what many think – it seems to be widening the gap between the middle class and the very poor as our priorities become more and more about having things and less and less about making sure our fellow man has what they need. Anyone paying attention to the Christmas ads this year? “Shop Black Friday for bargain gifts for less than $100!” What?! A good year for many of us is if we can afford to buy gifts at all! And what happens when the indentured slaves we call the middle class start to lose THEIR jobs? Has anyone noticed us trending slowly towards the majority holding part time jobs instead of full time? And even most full time jobs fail to give us what we need anymore. Sadly, I don’t think things are seriously going to change until our collective mindset changes. There IS no such thing as “job security”. I see us eventually getting to the point where only the rich can afford to buy anything and the majority rest of us resort to more of a barter / trade society. Mustachianism DOES promote the values that can’t be bought and I think we as a society will be more evolved when we learn to value people who have achieved a less stressed way of life, strive to be healthy, don’t need to work 1000 hours a week to have what makes us happy, and those who work at SOMETHING even when they don’t have to. If we learn to take care of each other, there IS no reason to be afraid…

        • James November 29, 2016, 11:37 am


          I hear what you are saying and I offer a counter point: I do not feel brow-beaten by an elitist. Instead, I find a refreshing antidote to all of the TV, radio, newspaper and magazine adverts that tell me that I NEED to buy product or service X in order to be (fill in the blank: rich, happy, sexier, etc). As long as the “working stiffs” in the world “buy” in to this line of thinking he/she will be forever searching for the next shiny new toy to fill in the blank (puns intended).
          BTW: who has the “right ears” that you refer? This site has many stories of people with modest incomes that have made a difference in their lives by taking control of spending and what is important. Granted; there are poor people and there will always be people living in poverty – always have been. Your turn.

        • Warren November 29, 2016, 4:12 pm

          I think Louie brings up an important point regarding this blog, although I don’t totally agree. Where I do agree: yes, this blog can be intimidating as hell, with all the technical life / financial maneuvers covered. And, yes, sometimes I feel like the responses to posts can be sycophantic, and starts to feel like some sort of self-serious cult.

          That said, people might think of this sort of philosophy as a religion (all or nothing!!). Considering it that way misses a lot of the nuance – it’s like saying if you’re not Olympic caliber athlete, then your level of exercise is a failure. Jeeze, if you even absorb 10% of this blogs ideas, and think twice about all the stuff you buy, and all the unnecessary driving, and how it makes you chase your tail on the “work-spend-consume” not so merry go round, then you’re better off. I think anyone who has a job (or is in charge or the household budget) and can read can benefit, maybe not become “black belt” level, but still benefit.

          • STBJ December 6, 2016, 2:22 pm

            Hey I am applying 25% of the principles and in two years have been able to buy a new house and save more for retirment.  If I applied 100% of the principles I could have sold the old house, held on the to money, and been FIRE in 2 years. Since I bought the new house FIRE won’t happen soon. Still my income rises, savings, rise and debt falls steadily. This upward incline is my measurement of success.

        • Aimee December 14, 2016, 7:59 am

          Your statements are interesting but not fact-bearing. My grandmother grew up in an abusive household in Germany. Poor as dirt as well. Thrown out by her crazy mother and sent to America (where she didn’t want to go) with a horrible husband and a 2 year old (my mother). My mother grew up the oldest of 5, in an abusive household where her alcoholic dad repeatedly raped her mother and never brought home a steady paycheck. They didn’t always have enough money to eat and were constantly moving because they couldn’t pay the rent. They had no family support and struggled every day. My mother was able to look past all this to make a better future for herself and her children.

          Growing up, we didn’t have much. My father didn’t make a lot of money as he was “just” a handyman but they bought a two family house with a military loan to help pay the bills. Both my sister and I learned early on that we couldn’t have the things that others had. Are we now elitists because my family has chosen to rise up from the fierce struggle of life?

          I went to a trade school instead of college, because I knew I needed to start contributing financially instead of leading myself into debt. My sister has managed to get herself a Ph.D. and we are doing fine. How is that possible if poverty is generational?

  • Ellen November 25, 2016, 7:23 am

    Interesting that the motivation for conspicuous consumption seems entirely extrinsic and motivation for an efficient/ FIRE life is stongly intrinsic and requires deeper self knowledge.

    • stoaX November 28, 2016, 1:04 pm

      Excellent observation! In our noisy, distracted digital world, intrinsic motivation and deep self knowledge seem harder to come by.

  • casserole55 November 25, 2016, 7:38 am

    At some point human society is going to need to separate the conjoined notions of growth and success. Economists freak out when GDP dips just a tiny bit. “Investors” become “jittery.” Who the heck are these jittery investors? MMM, gives us a glimmer of hope that we are starting to turn towards a new paradigm, one where economic stability can be achieved with, perhaps even measured by, LESS growth. Where “consumer confidence” is the quiet sense of security that comes from knowing that you have more than enough than you need, largely because you don’t need all that much. Today, Black Friday, Americans with the currently held notion of consumer confidence are letting themselves be devoured by the current growth-based paradigm. We will spend the day raking leaves.

    • Eldred November 25, 2016, 7:48 am

      Fortunately(or unfortunately), I don’t have anyone to buy gifts for. So I can avoid all the Black Friday mayhem at the mega-malls…

    • Mikey November 25, 2016, 9:09 am

      That is a very interesting comment. It’s actually one I’ve been thinking about over the last fews months. GDP is such a flimsy measurement of wellbeing, as it puts $10,000 worth of cars on the same level as $10,000 worth of groceries. When I’m pretty sure most mustachians would agree, the $/(actual value) ratio for the entire car industry is way overinflated. Vehicles worth $30,000 simply don’t exist; I don’t care how much the dealer will let you pay him…

      The argument is that national wellbeing is proportional to purchasing power – holding all other factors even, an increase in purchasing power means an increase in wellbeing. Of course, MMM has argued that opposite is actually true, as excessive purchasing power generally leads to clutter, stress, health problems, etc… I more or less agree with this; GDP growth I think is more a measure of potential wellbeing than actual.

      It would be interesting to an alternate indicator used. Maybe some kind of hybrid variable which factors in GDP and national savings, or something along those lines. Thoughts?

  • Dianne November 25, 2016, 7:39 am

    Fantastic post. I am constantly greeted with vacant stares when I suggest a solution to a financial problem of one of my friends. Most recently it was the topic of Christmas shopping and when I suggested our extended family had all agreed years ago that we didn’t need anything and just bought for the little ones you would have thought I had gone mad! Surely scaling back in just that one area once a year would take massive pressure off so many, but no many people just go on along buying bigger and bigger and whining about their debt for the rest of the year. I might add they usually then complain at me for only working part time now and moan how they couldn’t afford to do that. Yes you could I want to yell, stop buying crap!

    • Minerva November 28, 2016, 11:59 am

      I agree! There are soooo many creative solutions out there! One year, our family decided to exchange hand-made gifts only… and it was HUGELY successful! While many just exchanged baked goods (which was fine with me ‘cuz I can’t cook for sh*$!) I was pleasantly surprised at some of the talents my family has (everything from quilting to photography to dress design) that I would not have otherwise known about! Not to mention the fact that, because of our “no Christmas debt” pledge to each other, we can afford a family reunion in the spring!

      • Tigerlily's mom November 30, 2016, 3:32 pm

        You have so much wisdom, Minerva. I appreciate it, and can relate to just accepting what my body
        can do, and know I can be happy and grateful for what I have. For the past few years DH and I have given each other wanted repairs or services rather than ‘things’. Like getting something mended
        for example. These are very much appreciated. I love staying frugal when we don’t need to anymore. Home baked bread and granola is not only far less expensive (I figured out that my rye
        whole wheat sourdough bread costs 75 cents a loaf), but also tastes far better too.

    • Aimee December 14, 2016, 8:09 am

      We only do gifts for the kids as well and there is a cut off age. This year my sister is picking up lotto cards for every person so we can all have something to do together just for the heck of it. In my immediate family, we generally exchange gifts only if it’s something we know the other person has been eyeing or can use. This year I’m betting on getting cash because my family knows I’m trying to work my way out of some temporary issues. Come on, Santa! :)

  • Steve November 25, 2016, 7:39 am

    This is why I enjoy studying economics. It seems like increasing efficiency should directly result in less waste, but it generally results in even more consumption. That’s why houses are bigger and more miles are being driven. On the flip side, inflation and recession are great for forcing a real lasting reduction in consumption. Common sense is no match for economics. Sadly, the US is terrible about manipulating the natural economic order to maintain low interest rates and inject quantitative easing. We can’t seem to help but dig deeper into national debt and trade defecits.

  • Sarah November 25, 2016, 7:55 am

    I have a new job, close to home, which was directly inspired by MMM. I bike 2.5 miles to the elementary school where I work and my son rides on a special passenger seat we attached. He is a student there. At my new job, teachers get like $20 per hour to sign up for special duties outside of school. Repeatedly, people (boss, co-workers) have offered me these duties first, saying I could probably use the money. I used to feel kind of offended that they obviously view me as poor (the bike, the handful of outfits I repeat, the packed lunches, the son’s second hand coat). I finally figured out what to say: “no, i don’t need the money. I don’t even spend all the money I already earn here. Plus I want to get home to my family.” It feels good to be able to express that I live this way on purpose. Frugal is the new fancy, after all.

    • aceyou November 25, 2016, 8:20 am

      “no, i don’t need the money. I don’t even spend all the money I already earn here. Plus I want to get home to my family.”

      Well said Sarah.

    • The Vigilante November 25, 2016, 11:05 am

      Good for you! The honesty/integrity of expressing that you’re living a frugal life intentionally is really, really important to the idea of leading by example. Plus it’s not as in-your-face or “offensive” to people as approaching them with financial advice, which is often perceived as too aggressive for polite conversation.

      But more importantly: If there’s any use for lawyers with babysitting experience to fill in on these special duties, feel free to send them my way! With student loans, I can definitely still use the cash :)

    • Minerva November 28, 2016, 12:14 pm

      LOL! I love it! I hope you’re right – that frugality IS the new fancy! I used to get offended when people were surprised that I invest even though I’m living on disability, as if I’m wasting THEIR money! First of all, I worked hard many, many years and paid ALOT into my disability, hoping I would never have to use it…but now that I have to, what should I be doing with it, sitting in a dark corner sucking on a wet rag perusing the Black Friday ads? I’ve actually learned to be thankful because otherwise, I would never have learned to be the Budget Queen I am today! Nowadays, my response to them is, “well of course I invest! I’ve always invested, why would I stop? It’s the easiest way to build your income, no matter what the source!” That’s one of the biggest reasons MMM has also inspired me – he has shown that ANYONE can find ways to save, cut back on what they THINK they need, and build their income, no matter what their circumstances.

    • Canadian teacher November 29, 2016, 6:50 pm

      Bravo, Sarah! I have done the same thing, and biking to school along the ocean is a treat. I take my child’s helmet and his bike on a trail-gator for after school, as he likes to take the morning bus. Colleagues often offer rides and help, even though I have my winter gear on and the car is home in the driveway. Life totally inspired and made possible reading MMM.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher November 25, 2016, 8:34 am

    Agreed. It’s tough making new friends since The Mustachian Way is so unorthodox. I’ve had people become genuinely upset with me about our lifestyle choices! But there’s so much beauty in pursuing a simple life where you’re free to create.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 25, 2016, 8:50 am

      We had a fun group discussion about this during last week’s “Chautauqua” trip with some Mustachians and other friends in Ecuador. I was one of the dissenters, because I don’t think the actual lifestyle (aka my desire to ride a bike and not accumulate bank-financed Mercedes SUVs) causes any problems to the average person.

      For me, the thing that allows a possible friendship is having a compatible personality type. This means I like people who are curious, creative and silly (I work hard to avoid serious, quiet monotone corporate boardroom-type people). People like that are generally excited about new ideas rather than critical of them.

      So they automatically like the concept of Mustachianism, just as they would naturally be in favor of Duct Tape or Stephen Colbert – it’s just a byproduct of being a cool person.

      • Hulu November 26, 2016, 8:20 am

        I’ve found tempered advocacy and consumerism makes life EASIER for light and heavy consumers alike. High level I try to get the most “awesomeness” just as a consumer does. Just different definitions. My efficiency of buying a powerful non-fancy laptop every 6 years lowers the cost of the Surface Pros that my sister bought yesterday. I got the same specs for less than 1/2 the price and we are both happy for each other. If sis or her friends become interested in FIRE then all the better. Last night at a $100 a plate dinner her nice, educated and workaholic friends were impressed that her much younger brother retired. Meanwhile I was having a blast at home cooking, babysitting and playing Clue. I enjoy being the change

  • The Wealthy Accountant November 25, 2016, 8:40 am

    “Is he homeless? A hooligan?”

    I’m going with hooligan.

    Keep living the dream, MMM.

  • Josh November 25, 2016, 8:59 am

    keep up the good work. you continue to do an amazing job articulating shared thoughts on many things, and you strike again on the pursuit of efficiency. I fill a strong urge, a “duty,” to the universe to maximize 2nd law efficiency in all ways and feel strongly that it supersedes and would aid more typical social and economic goals.

  • MustacheInOttawa November 25, 2016, 9:18 am

    While reading GoCurryCracker, I discovered Millennial Revolution, which lead me to MMM’s blog about 6 weeks ago.
    I’ve been reading and learning about saving and investing for the last 7 years. I thought I was super aggressive (when compared to friends, family, colleagues), saving 25-30% of my net pay annually, until I started reading MMM’s blog posts. It took a month to read through everything and here are the very simple changes I’ve implemented:

    – Rebalanced my non-taxable investment accounts and opened a taxable account
    – Cut the cable bill
    – Cut the home phone bill
    – Selling unused possessions on eBay and Kijiji (Canada’s version of Craigslist)
    – Reduced natural gas (a/c & heat) consumption
    – Reduced electricity consumption (lowest consumption ever by KwH on last bill)
    – Reduced Dryer usage (40mins per week on Medium setting – see previous line item for result)
    – Reduced monthly grocery bill by 40%
    – Reduced vehicle usage and gasoline consumption (only spent $27 on gas the last 2 months)
    – Walking more (groceries, bus station, errands, etc..)
    – Planning on moving closer to work to eliminate Bus commute
    – With more to come…

    These very simple changes will effectively double my savings rate.
    All of this is due to the MMM blog – a very big thank you to MMM and his incredible message.
    Now to find an amazing Ms. MM who feels the same way, haha!
    To all the practicing Mustachians, keep up the great work and positive message!!

    • Houston November 26, 2016, 2:44 am

      Hey Mustache in Ottawa,

      Nice work stepping up your game! Just wanted to reach out to invite you to connect some time in Ottawa. My wife and moved here a couple years back and we are cultivating a solid group of mustachian friends. Always room for one more!

      • Frankie November 26, 2016, 6:59 pm

        Also from Ottawa here. Been following MMM for over a year now. My husband and I would be interested if there was ever a meet up in Ottawa. It’s always nice to meet new people with similar interests! :)

        • Audrey November 29, 2016, 4:44 pm

          Is there any Mustachian group in Ottawa? Would love to connect with you lovely people :)

      • MustacheInOttawa December 1, 2016, 10:29 am

        Hi Houston,
        Thanks for the kind words. I’d be curious to hear a little bit about your journey to Mustachianism.
        As for the invite, and as Frankie mentions below, it would be interesting to connect with others in the area who are interested in MMM’s message.

        • Houston December 5, 2016, 11:06 am

          Nice! Let’s get an Ottawa meet up going. My wife and I can host something early in the new year. I’ll post something in the “Meetup” section after the holidays.

          • MustacheInOttawa December 14, 2016, 2:08 pm

            Sounds good, I’ll look for it in the forums!

    • STBJ November 27, 2016, 7:11 am

      I did the same thing a year ago as I started reading MMM. The reductions at first seemd small but then I realized I was able to put another 100 or 2 towards retirmenet every month and it made sense to purse the low hanbging fruit of frugality.

      • Kathy Abell November 27, 2016, 8:43 pm

        Re: “pursue the low hanging fruit of frugality”

        I love this phrase because it implies how easy it would be for many people to choose the frugal option when making a purchase (or non purchase!) decision. Here in the United States we have such a range of good quality products at such a range of price points, why not make the most frugal choice? If I need a timepiece, why make it a Rolex? Why wear a watch at all when my smartphone – which is always by my side – has not only the time but the weather also? Is having that Rolex really going to make you that much happier? Even if you purchase something “on sale”, think how much MORE money you would save by not buying it in the first place. ;)

        • STBJ December 6, 2016, 1:27 pm

          Hmm I think I should use spell check before I submit these posts. :) Yes the key has been to make less purchases. Even if you like stuff, buy luch at work, and still consume silly things you can do this without buying the Rolex level of anything and gradually save more money.

  • SirSaveALot November 25, 2016, 9:28 am

    Another solid post MMM! Happy belated Thanksgiving (whether you celebrated American, Canadian, or both!)

    My wife just informed me she finished our Black Friday shopping. Compost bags were on sale. If someone’s going to discount such highly aspirational items as compost bags for then we’re going to take advantage!

    I completed the Maximum Mustache a while back and have been working with my family to make changes ever since. Some of my favorites include:
    – Bicycling / Running More. My favorite conversation with our (then) five year old daughter after a ride in the rain? Her: Do I have a rooster tail down my back? Us: Yeah, it goes up to your hair. Her: YES!
    – Moving to within walking distance of work and school. One of the only downsides is that we’re no longer within biking distance of Gasworks Park for MMM visits.
    – Spending more time with our daughter hiking, reading, playing, etc. Do you know what’s wrong with having only one child? NOTHING!
    – Reaching out to my mom’s best friend from high school. I had no idea she and her husband were featured in YMOYL!
    – Investing in board games. We now play 2-4 times a week and love it.
    – Signing up for Personal Capital. It’s really helped us cut out our unnecessary spending and – more importantly – given us a lot of positive reinforcement!
    – Cutting Cable. We still get Seahawks and Irish football games on our digital receiver… which is about all we waste the electricity on now.

    We still spend WAY too much money each year – mostly on rent, sports/education, and too many meals out.

    [intermission for obligatory face punches]

    Nonetheless, we’re making great strides.

    We admittedly have a long way to go before we can feel comfortable going on an Ecuador Trip. Thank you for everything you’re doing to help people like us escape the rat race!

    • Minerva November 28, 2016, 12:31 pm

      LOL! No face punches, it sounds like you’re doing GREAT! My boyfriend is a HUGE football fan, so we use that as our excuse to go out, have a drink and watch the games (we have gotten to where we only go out 2-3 times per year now!) And if we go to the bar at the hotel that he works at, we get to take advantage of his employee discount. We dropped our cable altogether when he bought one of those manta ray – looking flat antennas off of Craigslist. It’s great, because it gets all of the basic free channels that float through the air (ABC, NBC, FOX, etc.) that many people don’t even know they don’t have to pay for. As a result, we watch a lot less TV and spend a lot more time outdoors!

      • SirSaveALot November 29, 2016, 9:31 pm

        Your response made my day! My wife’s by far the bigger football fan of the two of us. I wound up buying a TV not long after we started dating for that very reason.

        Also, I’ll never look at our digital receiver the same again though. It totally looks like a manta ray!

        It’s awesome you and your boyfriend are prioritizing your finances now. If my wife and I knew then what we know now we’d probably be FI!

      • Greg December 12, 2016, 6:09 am

        I seriously need to give those a try. Was it hard to get channels tuned in? Do you get HD broadcasts or just SD?
        I managed to cut cable about a year ago and we went with just internet streaming (Netflix, Hulu, etc with an AppleTV). It worked well, but was assisted by the fact that the cable/internet company never blocked the regular broadcast channels CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and we were able to watch them in SD. My wife is a HUGE football fan and it was tough getting through last year’s season so I paid for cable again starting in September to go through Super Bowl. (painful paying that every month – $120 instead of $36!!)

  • FTF November 25, 2016, 9:37 am

    As someone who has spent his career as a change agent in a corporate environment I can tell you the biggest impediment is people are afraid of change. You can have the most logical idea but if people are not open to change you won’t be successful. Instead you have to convince them it is their idea. Efficiency is beautiful, and the reality is I probably have a higher standard of living then others that make or spend four times as much because I don’t have debt. But telling them that will just make them wonder which lottery I won.

    • Green thing November 26, 2016, 10:26 am

      While I’m not a professional change-maker (I’m an architect) I’m currently involved in upgrading the sustainability goals of our company. Omg. Bringing this change to the corporate environment inspires a level of fear and resistance that I didn’t think was possible from a group of educated professionals. I’m one of those people who thrives on challenges and change, so I’m all ready to dive in head-first while they’re still back there pouting and whining about why and it doesn’t seem worth it and we can’t do this and I don’t care and I need even more training and maybe next year etc. I don’t know what to do about it because that’s just not how I operate. I doggedly persist because sustainability is basically my life mission. Plus I’m not even remotely concerned about ticking people off and losing my job. “Make them think it’s their idea” is a good insight and it would take me a long time to figure out how to do that. It’s probably worth it!

      I keep completely mum about MMM outside my relationship and a few very select people. If I’m going to effect change at work I can’t seem outwardly weird and challenging. My family reacts with disbelief. Even my dear best friend thinks it’s just another of my nutty personality quirks, like being an anarchist. She bemusedly tolerates me, which is good enough. I think if I tried to convert her I’d get the same reaction as from my co-workers.

  • Walty's Friend November 25, 2016, 9:38 am


    I try not to comment on web sites to just provide pats on backs and build egos, but you are deserving of that type of action. I am older than you but have lived a “mustachian” life style all my life….just did not know that was what I was doing. Just felt right in my gut…perhaps in my spirit/soul. You have articulated so many of the reasons behind this approach to life that it has been a joy to read your blog throughout it’s existence. But in particular the last several years where you have really provided “leadership” beyond financial independence to the actions that potentially could truly provide a better world. In particular, your recent post showing people how to be more generous – not to mention being more efficient in that generosity – puts you in a category of a truly great man and leader. Very cool.

    God (however you perceive him or her) bless you young man! Continue to provide the ideas and leadership so we can make this country and this world the truly beautiful place it could be.

  • Shannon November 25, 2016, 9:39 am

    It’s amazing how resistant people in my city (Richfield, MN) are to biking/bikers. The city is actually taking great steps to make it a much more bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly city by reworking main roads to have sidewalks and bike lanes…but most people will just complain about how it’s “slowing down traffic” and how they “never see bikers anyway” and how it’s a waste of money.

    I love it! I can get around most of the city by bike, as well as bike pretty easily to Minneapolis and other surrounding cities. I’m so excited for more of the projects to be complete so I can bike with my toddler more safely!

    • Tom November 26, 2016, 8:18 am

      The 9-Mile Creek Trail will be done soon. That will be a nice addition.

  • rachael November 25, 2016, 9:42 am

    Efficiency is the ultimate frugality. As it’s not just about conserving / care with money, which is part of the journey. It’s about making the most of your time, knowledge and opportunities to make the world better because YOU are here.

  • Kelly November 25, 2016, 9:52 am

    I can relate to having to talk to “normal” people, I never feel like I fit in. I am still working toward early retirement and work full time but I feel like I have nothing to talk about with normal people, they don’t understand not participating in a consumeristic society.

    • DailyGrindFree November 26, 2016, 10:10 am

      I am experiencing the same thing. What I learned so far is that after a few attempts of sharing my thoughts on the issue if they are not willing to look at things from my point of view at all I don’t see the reason to push it any further. I guess I let my actions and results to speak for themselves. :-)

  • Seonaid November 25, 2016, 9:55 am

    I would love to hear, if you feel like answering, why you decided to stop homeschooling.

  • WFredC November 25, 2016, 10:09 am

    Ever since I read Your Money or Your Life ,when it was first published, I was just sure that a low consumption life style with financial independence was going to be a huge movement just around the corner. I failed to take one thing in to account. Merchandising to Sheeple. As long is advertising is a huge industry the average person will never adopt this life style. Why do you think Pharmaceutical companies spend more on advertising than research.?
    The upside is we will never have to address the question, “What would happen if everyone reduced their consumerism”.

    • jakew December 12, 2016, 6:22 am

      I could not agree more. Getting people to become more efficient is an uphill battle given the ever present Madison Avenue drone of spend, spend, spend… Our message to live within your means is drowned out buy sophisticated behavioral economically designed messages. I am currently reading Dan Ariely’s book Predictably Irrational. As outlined in His book the Sheeple and defenseless against the subtle strategies employed against them. And if you try to point out the deception, you are labeled as a conspiracy theorist, or just plain old paranoid. So we just to have to part company with that group and wish them the best.

  • B.C. Kowalski November 25, 2016, 11:12 am

    Funny, I recently had the opposite experience – introduced to someone by a mutual friend, and there was this slow dawning as we spoke that we were both MMM readers and frugal living peeps. Our mutual friend seemed amused as we shared stories and tips for saving money. I guess it stuck out so much because I’m used to the opposite reaction. Being tight with money isn’t uncommon where I’m from, but doing so by choice and not of necessity is.

  • Chris November 25, 2016, 11:13 am

    Great article! I actually think it’s funny reading this post on Black Friday lol. Thanks for sharing I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving

  • Marcia November 25, 2016, 11:16 am

    This was a very enjoyable read. I’ve thought about efficiency and the like a lot lately. We recently (Sept) started biking to work again, after a 5-year hiatus (last time we regularly biked was when I was pregnant). Bonus, nowadays LED bike lights are a lot brighter! I used to get passed a lot biking – and now it seems like there aren’t as many people biking as before (I’ve gotten slower, not faster!) Only once did I see another middle-aged female out there in the bike lane, and she was riding a standing-elliptical bike-type thing (it was pretty cool).

    It’s hard to stay strong though, in the midst of seeing your friends upsize and double the size of their homes and cars and vacations. Luckily, I live in a predominantly working-class neighborhood and have a mix of friends.

    The comment above about the electrical efficiency conversation on the train to Ontario also made me sigh. We have similar issues here in So Cal with water and the drought. Locally we have reduced water usage 35% (doesn’t matter, the lake is dry). As I have returned to taking “Navy showers”, I was having a convo with an acquaintance who lives in my neighborhood. He said “wow, your usage is LOW. You can go online and look at the typical usage in our area, and it’s horrible.” Well, I did look, and it used to be very bad. But now it looks like an average of 71 gallons a day, or 3 HCF a month per residential customer. But some homes use up to 12. I can only imagine that they have older toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers. And leaks?

    Also, happy to see you volunteering at the school. My husband is the volunteer math club teacher for 5th grade. He really enjoys it, and gets to hang with about 10-15 ten year old boys and girls once a week.


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