Exposed! The MMM Family’s 2016 Spending!

Well, I might as well come clean on our spending for last year.  It either went up, or way up, depending on how you want to account for things.

Every year, this annual report seems to come out a little bit later – mostly because I’m no longer all that interested in how much money we spend. And Mrs. Money Mustache, my faithful assistant in creating these reports in past years, has disappeared completely from the blog – justifiably more interested in her Etsy Shop than family finances. Such is the nature of retirement.

If you are early on in your journey to financial freedom, you should not do what we are doing. Until you have your finances on auto-pilot so that you are saving 50-75% of your income, you should absolutely be reviewing every piece of spending and adding up all the categories.

(Related Article: How Rich are You? How to find your Net Worth and Savings Rate)

But we’re all done saving for retirement. Our cash outflows feel both luxurious and reasonable, and they are well below the retirement income budget, so it seems less and less necessary to measure them.

After all, if you are happy with your body composition, do you still need to keep measuring every calorie you eat? If your breathing is clear and uninterrupted, do you track your annual number of breaths?

But our Supposedly Low Spending has kind of become my brand. And because of that, there are even conspiracy theories that form around this spending:

“There’s no way he’s making that much money and only spending $25k.”

“Oh, looky there.. Mustache bought an electric car as an “experiment”. I wonder if that will show up on their annual spending!”

“How much of his [travel/entertainment/home renovation/marijuana] expenses is he hiding from us as business expenses?”

So I thought I could do things a little differently this year. I can share the normal family expenditures as well what our businesses spent, and everything in between.

The Basic Expenses

Here’s the familiar chart, updated for 2016, complete with last year’s numbers for comparison.

Mortgage Interest00If we had a $400,000 loan at 4%, we would have paid $16,000 in interest (!)
Property Taxes14111895Massive house price increases in my neighborhood come at a cost (prices have doubled in 4 years).
Food and Dining7,4006,807
   Groceries   6,232   5,980A warehouse store opened up in town, within biking distance of home. This reduced grocery costs a little as I shifted more purchases there. See article: Killing your $1000 Grocery Bill
   Wine/Beer   627   321Fewer large parties this year (boo), plus we cut down our glass-of-wine-or-beer-with-dinner habit (yay!). But many people have been giving me free boxes of beer in exchange for helping them with stuff, which probably makes this cost artificially low.
   Restaurants, Coffee Shop   541   506Mrs. and Little MM started ordering fancy pizza deliveries every time I'm out on a trip.
Medical3,73310,868Here's where the costs went way up this year.
   Doctor Visits   0   3807My poor little lad broke his arm on December 30th (fell from a play structure while playing with me!)
   Health Insurance   3,000   6720A new Kaiser health insurance plan. (A downside of the ACA for those with higher incomes)
   Dentist   256   256
   Pharmacy   42   0Aspirins, bandages, toothbrushes, and such included under "groceries". Thankfully no prescriptions for any of us this year.
   Physical Therapy   435   0
Auto and Transport945490
   Gasoline   332   1051 snowboarding trip, plus assorted errands in the van.
   Insurance   357   449Cost increased in September due to newer car (Nissan Leaf).

Still fantastically cheap thanks to Geico
   Registration & Testing   169   75
   Express Tolls and Uber/Lyft   0   70Still taking Uber/Lyft to the airport instead of driving. Much cheaper than driving/parking, especially if you have some referral credits.
   Service & Parts   88   0Both vehicles in top shape this year, no scheduled maintenance intervals reached. I'll definitely be buying some windshield wiper blades in 2017 though.
   Public Transportation   0   0Nothing against the bus, Bikes are just faster
Utilities16521,575Electricity, Gas (heating, cooking), trash/recycling, city park fees, etc.
Cell Phone5396002 smartphones with data on Google Fi and Republic Wireless
Internet Access692540I negotiated a lower rate for part of the year, then ditched Comcast for Longmont's amazing Gigabit Fiber service ($50/month for 1000 Mbit/S access! - Nerdvana!)
   Home Renovations120   1696Finish materials for my house and the homes of some friends/family. Does not include the $30k detached Studio I built.
   Home Insurance0   0Still self-insured for the primary house. Please don't complain about this in the comments section ;-)
Gifts/Donations1,7472000Does not include donations made by the business.
School Tuition00Little MMM was back to 100% public school this year, due to increased confidence/toughness in getting over anxiety. Go little man! But we also do a shitload of learning at home, because it's fun.
   Shoes & Clothing   754   622Lots more fancy stuff for the gang from Gap, Old Navy, etc.

(my clothes are mostly free stuff, thrift shop or included in grocery receipts from Costco)
   Sporting Goods   0   98Sweet Compound Bow and arrows!
   Shopping Misc   1,274   1000Mostly at Amazon - household/kitchen goods and computer parts
   Books, games, gifts   488   383
   Other   580   422Stuff I am too lazy to sort out. If something is not listed, assume it is here.
Travel2,3762,335Flights to Florida in January, Canada in July and December,
TOTAL$23,941$30,193Adding in our artificially high medical costs is what did this budget in.
   Subtracting Tuition, Donations22,194   28,196
   Subtracting travel, crossfit19,588   25,861
   Subtracting organic/luxury food17,531   23,614Assuming a 33% increase on groceries due to organic + meat.
   Subtracting home renovation expense17,411About $22,000This is what our "no frills" living cost would be (although you could subtract another $6,000 if we had a lower income and qualified for the health insurance subsidy)

So What is Mr. Money Mustache Hiding From Us?

In a word: Nothing – this is my best guess at what our true expenses would be, if we lived a normal, retired life.

But here are the exceptions and special situations, which you can account for however you like:

  • Higher Income is forcing me to pay full-price for health insurance. Health insurance pricing comes on a sliding scale from “nearly free” below $25,000 in family income, up to full price for incomes over $80,000 (see subsidy calculator)
  • But then again, our family business (of which we are employees) pays these premiums on our behalf, so they are pretty painless
  • I built this nifty studio, spending about $30,000 in the process. Is it spending, or investment? Since it increases the value of the house by much more than that amount, and I will be selling this house and moving somewhere else eventually, I chose to treat it as investment. On the other hand, spending money on repairs, changing paint colors, gardens, or swimming pools would count as spending to me, since these items are more likely to be recurring and/or not recouped at the time of sale.
  • I bought a Nissan Leaf for roughly $14,000 after all costs. This was $9,000 more than I got for selling the old Scion xA. Is this spending? Well, I definitely would not have bought it if it weren’t for the blog (it served as a strong form of advocacy) and I think it may have actually made a noticeable difference in US Leaf sales numbers – which was my main purpose. Sure is a nice car, but we barely use cars for personal purposes (I had to become an Uber driver in order to even get enough drive time to properly test the car!)
  • In late 2016, I gave away $100,000 of this blog’s income to various charities, with much more to come. Having a business that makes and gives away money probably reduces the need to give away my real retirement savings.
  • Travel as Mr. Money Mustache (trips to Ecuador, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and a couple of other places) added up to about $4,000 between flights, hotels and food. None of this is stuff I would have done for personal fun, but it may have burned me out enough that I skipped or missed other personal trips (camping, etc) that would have increased my travel spending.
  • Mrs. Money Mustache’s Etsy shop spent more than $20,000 on materials, shipping, tools, etc. Most of this went right back out the door and earned a profit, but you could argue that both of our business expense accounts satisfied our “spending desire”, displacing personal spending in some way. In fact, writing for you consumes so much of my limited free time, that it may prevent me from expanding into other, more expensive hobbies (like upgrading my mountain bike or snowboard gear).

Overall, it looks like another fairly reasonable year. The biggest lesson that I try to emphasize is that spending does not have to scale with income. We spent less than 10% of our taxable income this year, and still cannot see any reason to inflate the lifestyle any further than it is already.

It’s a beautiful life!


Unrelated but Special Thanks to a Reader: Over the last few months, a lot of technical stuff has gone on behind the scenes here. If it weren’t for some serious help from skilled tech people,  this blog’s heavily used forum would no longer be functioning.

 I wanted to thank Kevin Clack – aka Clack Consulting for stepping in to upgrade the forum and continuing to help me with necessary fixes to this day. And if you have a well-established business with technical and web presence needs, you may even be able to become one of his clients as well.

  • kindoflost May 20, 2017, 11:20 am

    The more money you have the less you spend… lifestyle deflation?

  • EDSMedS May 20, 2017, 11:53 am

    RE: home as investment: It would be great to see a joint article between you and Millennial Revolution discussing the dis/advantages to owning and renting. While you claim homes (specifically here the new outbuilding) are an investment, they claim that homes are a great way to lose money and prevent FI. I see value in both perspectives and think it would be good to see both sides of the coin from two well-positioned thinkers!

    • snowcanyon June 9, 2017, 10:27 am

      I would love this! I imagine it kind of like the Cabinet Battle in “Hamilton”

  • Muck May 20, 2017, 12:30 pm

    You mention snow boarding a lot but I never see a line item for lift tickets and fuel to get there.

  • stepho dubs May 20, 2017, 1:27 pm

    So this begs a question my husband and I keep coming back to: what is MMM view on what a couple should do around renting, buying, or otherwise this day in age? We are saving aggressively (60%) and killing unnecessary expenses, but don’t have a clear vision of the how of homeownership (because we do want to have a family and a sense of place someday…) rather than just renting forever.

    • Lauren May 29, 2017, 7:09 pm

      Wait until the bubble bursts again. Then, buy.

  • TwoRoads May 20, 2017, 1:44 pm

    I feel like a major piece of this puzzle is MMM’s skill at home improvement projects. I handle our basic home repairs and small improvement projects. I’ve been deferring larger projects for now. Part of this is a lack of skill and experience on my part in certain areas (like major re-framing) and a lack of time with 3 kids and a full-time job (excuses, but also true). I’ve recently hired out new pavement for the driveway and new garage doors that were at the end of their life. Part of how MMM is killing these yearly expenses is by having the skill and like-minded friends to not outsource this stuff and even more complex home improvement projects.

  • Michael May 20, 2017, 1:58 pm

    As a DIYer, I’m sure any marijuana costs are zero…
    … so when are we getting that article?

  • Kamilla May 20, 2017, 2:15 pm

    Thanks, MMM!

    How do you keep your budget so organized? I struggle to find a good website and keep up with putting in my daily or monthly expenses on mint.com, not to mention a plain old excel spreadsheet…

    The doctor with debt who hopes to retire in 10 years after residency (11 years to go!)

  • Ryan May 20, 2017, 2:23 pm

    Speaking of an e-bike, I put together a 1000w mid-drive recently and it’s a blast to ride! Plus, it was super easy to put together. (You were right). Just wanted to say thanks for bringing them to my attention. I now use my bike for trips to the library, grocery store, soccer practices, etc. instead of the car.

  • Marcia May 20, 2017, 3:44 pm

    Impressive, as always. And I’m happy to see you having help with the forums. I love the forums. Even though the conspiracy theorists talk about the business travel cost being “hidden”. It’s only a hidden bonus if you would do it by choice otherwise.

  • Master Duke May 20, 2017, 3:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing this – inspiring !!

  • David May 20, 2017, 4:17 pm

    I’m jealous of your internet connection, both the price and speed. The best available here is 1.5 Mb/s for $32/month. The only other options are dial-up for 20/month or satellite for a high price.

  • pichirrePeroContento May 20, 2017, 6:14 pm

    I would like to know more about your travel expenses. My wife and I just traveled to the Florida, USA (we live in Colombia) to visit family for 20days and spent around 4000USD.
    The broad costs are
    Car rental 1000$
    New cyclecross bicycle 800$
    New cellphone 140$
    Clothes 800$
    Earphones 90$
    Books 40
    Water filter 60
    Pantry 40
    Other 70
    Restaurants 500
    Going out 400
    Unexpected wussypants medical bill 270
    Gasoline 400
    Parking car 50
    Massage gift 50
    Misc 90

    We drove a crazy 2059 miles in 21days. 200miles a day. We also did some reviewing on how to family solves most problems through spending.. All in all, we did some crazy spendings. It definitely got our of hand.
    Back home, in Bogota, we live with a Budget of 1100usd a month. Having done this imprecise exercise really helps putting things in perspective: I believe I am a frugal person but it turns out we both are very influenciable..

    We quickly got into the shopping (eating, I gained 2kilos that I am trying to lose again) frenzy

  • Megan May 20, 2017, 7:33 pm

    No expense listed for college savings, 529 plan?

  • Brian May 20, 2017, 9:36 pm

    I agree with Kamilla, I wish I could track my budget as well as MMM does. One of my problems is “mixed spending”. As an example, buying gift cards at the grocery store to use for non food spending makes it difficult to use budget tracking software without manually adjusting the expenses.

    One of the things that pisses me off in the MMM family budget is the property taxes. Their house is worth about four times what mine is but their property taxes are only about $300 more than mine. But at least I have crappy roads and mediocre municipal services!

    • Rory June 1, 2017, 3:58 am

      I was thinking the same thing. A $400,000 house in my area would have $10k/yr in property taxes. And my ACA premiums are at least 70% higher, though I do have a 2nd child to his 1. Apparently I need to move to CO.

  • Money Giraffe May 21, 2017, 2:05 am

    Great post as always MMM. The thing that sticks out most for me is that your continued frugality means you can give so much money to charities of your choosing. Now THAT is an amazing way to redistribute wealth. If we could all be in a position to spend 90% of our taxable income helping others… wow! Now that would be something special. I’m borderline retirement status – just another few months full-time from home then a year or so on the odd occasional freelance project – and currently donate only around 3%. Once financially ‘free’, it does make me consider continuing to earn, to some degree, in order to give it away. But that seems at odds with striving to be free of regular work as I know it. A mental dilemma I need to conquer. Would love to hear your – and anyone else’s – thoughts on this scenario.

    • Alison May 22, 2017, 11:54 am

      This is a beautiful sentiment. If you are working only to donate your paycheck, I would imagine you would want to have flexible work hours, and be very part time. If you found that the work was not fulfilling you could always leave as you’re not dependent on the salary. Spending your time volunteering could net you a similar outcome. I say give it a try, start a new trend!

  • Michelle May 21, 2017, 11:01 am

    I love when you release your annual spending reports. It’s crazy how much health insurance and medical expenses can be, but your spending for the year was still at a relatively low level compared to the average it seems. Since we travel full time (there are usually clauses against people like us in health insurance terms), we now belong to a health sharing ministry (not a super strict religious one as we are not religious) and it’s worked well for us so far.

  • Peter stock May 21, 2017, 11:27 am

    Congrats on a successful year. You inspire me to dig in to calculate our annual cost of living.
    But a question. If you say ” We spent less than 10% of our taxable income this year, “, are you saying that you only generated something like $250,000 from investments and from sponsorships from this wildly successful blog? That sounds low.
    How are you defining “taxable income”? If not the exact amount to then what sources you are including and excluding

    • Brendan May 21, 2017, 3:01 pm

      Your quote has “less than” in it.

      Your question: was “are you saying that you only generated something like $250,000 from investments and from sponsorships from this wildly successful blog? ” You can figure this out.

  • OTL May 21, 2017, 3:00 pm

    I’d be really curious about your experience driving for Uber, any plans to write more about that?

  • Augustina May 21, 2017, 6:18 pm

    Great job, MMM. Will you be posting a business expense table or spreadsheet in the future? I see some information in there, but a table or spreadsheet would be much easier to read.

  • Trip May 22, 2017, 8:06 am

    I really like the way you organized your expenses into a table with space for comments. The row which surprised me the most was only $105 for the year on gas. As a single car family for the last 6 years, I don’t think we’ve ever gotten below $500.

    My daughter just asked this weekend what the electric chargers were in a parking lot. I hope by the time she’s driving nearly all cars will be electric (or something even better yet). It really irks me that my ’95 Civic got much better fuel mileage than any other vehicle I’ve had (and even newer Civics have lower and lower MPG with each passing decade).

    Your travels as MMM (Ecuador and the like) is both a business expense and a business investment. The networking keeps growing your personal brand and your reach — which with your powerful environmental message is a great thing. I’m really looking forward to meeting you at one of these in the future sometime. For me, it may have to wait until full retirement as I’m only partially retired at the moment at looking to increase my skills into other areas.

  • FinancePatriot May 22, 2017, 8:22 am

    Thanks for sharing. One thing that popped out was that large ACA premium for little actual benefit. I think with the penalty under the current law it makes sense, but do you think you’ll ever go without insurance and just do self pay instead? Hard to predict the future, but I know the couple at “retire early lifestyle” do a combination of medical tourism and have dropped their policy altogether, but they are above 60 now I think (retired at 39).

    I admire your self insured home. This isn’t a criticism, I just wish I had the same gusto to do the same with ours. For now I’ll have to settle for our 5k deductible. I’ll probably drop full coverage for our aging 2008 Altima when renewal is up in August, crazy I have kept this for so long.

    I know your spending is very low, but have you considered travel hacking to get your flights for free? If you get Amex or Chase points which are flexible, you can use them for many flights from different airlines. The problem you might have is meeting the minimum spend required to get the bonuses.

    If your income is high as I think it is, have you considered a solo defined benefit pension plan for further tax savings? I know your accountant is talented, and I am sure he’d be able to help you out in setting one up. It’s basically an extra tax savings vehicle for the uber high income (say 200k plus or above), but you get deductions from income tax just like a 401k or IRA, and it’s completely legal. It does have some yearly fees, but the tax savings more than offset these fees to set up and maintain.

    Congrats on another good year, hope I helped in some additional ways to optimize.

  • The Magic Bean Counter May 22, 2017, 8:35 am

    Always love these posts. Thanks for all the details MMM. Here’s to another great year in 2017!

  • Derek May 22, 2017, 8:35 am

    Holy cow I spend more in gas in two weeks than MMM & family spend all year. I have some work to do!

  • Amanda May 22, 2017, 8:53 am

    I would love to see one of those silly “what I eat in a day” (or week) posts from your family. Great job with your food budget. I know it can be done and I would love some inspiration!

  • peter May 22, 2017, 9:43 am

    Wow! $1895 annual property taxes for a $400,000 house. That’s even less than I pay on our $100,000 house here in upstate NY.

  • James May 22, 2017, 10:50 am

    I may be confused about this, but didn’t you buy a downtown storefront property? Is that a business expense and not included?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 23, 2017, 4:54 pm

      Yes! Definitely business, and it will be making a small profit as well. But we closed on it in 2017.

  • TigerLily May 22, 2017, 11:51 am

    Excellent! I always find your posts so inspirational and encouraging!
    And may I add that I lL\ove how you GIVE so much away as well (financially, as well as sound advice, encouragement, etc.) I believe that true, deep happiness comes in large part from GRATITUDE, and GIVING to others.
    Keep up the great work!

    Hoping to join you in FI-Land in just a couple of years!

  • Aaron May 22, 2017, 12:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing, MMM! Love seeing these reports. One question that I’m finding difficult to reconcile: the $506 in, what I essentially believe to be, eating out. That’s ~$42/month in eating out spend … which feels really, perhaps artificially dare I say, low! In particular, I know you’ve mentioned some of your life indulgences are “too much sushi” at times and now the Little and Mrs. MMM fancy pizza. I know for my small family of three, one trip to a fairly standard “restaurant” such as Chipotle is typically $20-25. After 2 of those, you’re already at $42 for the month! That’s particularly impressive but also feels sort of difficult to achieve. Any thoughts here? My family and I buy groceries in bulk and often cook at home, but we do sometimes eat out and feel like it would be extremely challenging and potentially even restrictive to keep that within $42/month!


    • Mr. Money Mustache May 23, 2017, 4:56 pm

      I have an easy answer on this one – we averaged less than one restaurant trip per month. Just because our son strongly resists going out to eat, and we already have a beautiful kitchen right here, overlooking the dining room with fireplace. Not too much deprivation involved.

      • Posted On May 26, 2017, 8:50 am

        Can I possibly send my wife to live with you for a month? She values going out to eat at a rate of around 12x the MMM family. :-( Perhaps she could be converted?

  • EmmyTh May 22, 2017, 4:32 pm

    Probably preaching to the choir here, however: if you’re still working for someone else & are traveling for work, if your employer will pay mileage over cab fare or airport parking, have your spouse take you to the airport & pick you up. We do this in hubby’s Prius and instead of paying the airport or the independent secure parking company an inflated $15 per day to park, they pay us for the mileage. Much cheaper for them and each time he flies we get a $55 check. It most definitely costs nowhere near that to drive there & back a couple times.

  • Cassie May 22, 2017, 4:32 pm

    I saw in this article that you saved $ going with Geigo for insurance so I called today and between my homeowners and car insurance I will save 900/year. Thanks for the tip!

  • Mrs S May 22, 2017, 10:30 pm

    Even though the expenses do not translate for us here in India but they are a great insight into how an efficient household can be run, and we appreciate the report.
    However it has surprised me again and again how a major health scare can be more than emotional devastation. In past 2 years we have seen a parent on either side suffer through major health issues which needed immediate attention and though the health care providers varied greatly in service and costs none of it actually ran us dry. We barely felt the pinch as insurance covered almost all of it and my mom was still not happy to be paying a small sum from her pocket.
    Healthcare has been a wild card for us because what if the system ends up becoming same as the US.

  • Butch May 23, 2017, 5:30 am


    You are a terrific example of a positive deviant. The first sentence of this wiki page describes you perfectly:


    And we love it!!!

  • Jay May 23, 2017, 10:22 am

    Mr. Money Mustache might want to expense a new calculator in 2017 because the one you have doesn’t seem to be working. The category totals for Medical, Auto and Misc are wrong. Also, even using the incorrect subtotals would make your annual total $31,520 not $30,193. Using the correct totals would have your annual expenses at $31,605. Just bringing this up in a friendly way, I love the blog.

  • dave May 23, 2017, 12:13 pm

    I like how you structure your budget. I am going to break our budget down in a similar way. I noticed that your health insurance increased, but you explained that was due to your boy getting injured and the increase in income having an impact on the cost. Be safe with the compound bow.

  • Florida Mike May 23, 2017, 1:33 pm


    I guess this is good verification of what you always state as “where” you live being important too as those health care costs and car insurance costs aren’t anywhere near being available in Florida where we live.

    Hmmmm, is there space for me in CO?

    • Florida Mike May 23, 2017, 1:38 pm

      OK he said not to complain about it in the comments section so not complaining…just stating some facts. We are paying $12k for health insurance, $1k for car insurance and $5k for homeowners insurance here in Florida. Thats almost half of MMM’s whole budget just for insurance and I have spent hours trying to find it cheaper but to no avail.

      I guess the one of the many benefits of being FI is the ability to self-insure. I don’t have enough stashed away just yet to do that but someday (stares off wishfully into space).

  • caryatis May 23, 2017, 5:30 pm

    It’s pretty encouraging to see that my expenses are not that much higher than MMM’s — less if you count imputed income from housing.

    Housing: 1895 vs 18,000
    Food: 6800 vs. 4800
    Medical: 10,868 vs 2400
    Transport: 500 vs. 1200
    Home: 1550 vs. 0
    Crossfit/gym: 150 vs. 960
    Misc: 2564 vs. 13,032

    TOTAL 30,193 vs. 40,392

    Hard to see how you get that Miscellaneous so low, though! Maybe I just have more desires.

  • CCW May 24, 2017, 6:19 am

    Hey MMM,

    I feel like I’m about six years late to the party! However, you now have another devoted reader and student of Mustachianism hailing all the way from Melbourne, Australia. I’ve been hanging back for a bit from speaking up and have just been taking it all in but felt compelled to say what an amazing sense of excitement, focus and determination your advice has provided me for achieving an early retirement.

    I came across your blog early in April after doing a general search on FI and have been hooked ever since reading that first article. Still have a lot of reading to do as I’m only up to July 2012 but love reading everyone’s comments in each post as well so it takes a while to get through each one! I couldn’t help skipping ahead when I saw this latest post pop up as it was quite topical as I’ll explain.

    My wife and I recently (August last year) achieved a major financial goal in killing off our $150K mortgage in just under four years. The only issue in having had such a laser-like focus on the mortgage is that we’re currently asset rich but cash poor but have continued growing our ‘stash ever since then and have now started hacking our spending to increase our savings rate. Here’s what we’ve already achieved in the space of a month:

    – Shifted 14,000 idle employees from a “high interest” savings account and put them to work in Vanguard ETFs (a WOW moment after reading your Springy Debt Cushion post!)
    – Reduced our health insurance policy by 30% after shopping around for a better deal – $1,000 per year saved!
    – Changed grocery stores from one of the major chains here to Aldi and have cut our grocery bill by almost 50% as a result.
    – Reduced car insurance policy by $100 per year after picking up on being overcharged AND getting a refund for same amount from previous year’s policy.
    – Running Maximum Mustache May program and spending only on bare essentials. Our spending is going to come in well under 50% of the previous month’s total.
    – Installed Australian equivalent to Mint software and now have a complete picture of where all our money is going. Probably unsurprisingly to you, cars are currently the top spend category. Plenty of work to be done there!

    What is exciting is that I still have a list of other improvements and hacks to address in the months ahead which is only going to improve our savings situation further.

    It is amazing how easy it has been to achieve these few changes once you start to give a shit about every dollar, not just every hundred. It’s also a real wake up call on just how much money we waste when we become complacent and get sucked in by life’s completely unnecessary conveniences.

    I feel like I’m a bit behind the eight ball as I’m roughly the same age as you (almost 42) but now clearly planning on achieving our financial freedom within 10 years, breaking the shackles of having to work and being able to choose to work or not, and truly having the opportunity to experience what life has to offer when you don’t need the money.


  • Acastus May 24, 2017, 8:40 am

    Just a nit. Your auto spending is $ 700, not 490.

  • BicycleB May 24, 2017, 2:33 pm

    Many thanks to the skilled tech people who help with the forum! The articles are great and ones like this add credibility, but it’s the interaction and deep proof provided by forum members that keep me coming back… and that keep me on track in actually implementing suggestions from this blog. Plus, it’s fun.

  • Noah Morgan May 24, 2017, 2:38 pm

    Was introduced to you via a Googler – Rachel Smith who is going to be with you in South America. Amazing stuff.

    Can you give me a brief description on your house? I live in Mid America Mini Mansion that cost Signficanly less than NYC, San Francisco and a cost of living which is 10% less than the rest of the county but my property taxes are still close to $6,000 annually and all my stuff I have a $4300 insurance premiums (Home, Auto, Toys that I probably dont need) .

    I really think your work is great and can tell you inspire many individuals to save and retire early all great stuff!!!!

    The fact you gave away $100,000 to charity is awesome!!!!

    Are you a Rotarian, would you be interested in speaking to our Rotary Club in Michigan or to the FPA Michigan Symposium at our Annual Conference?

    Thank you. Noah

  • Bob May 25, 2017, 12:20 pm

    This is great–thanks for putting everything out there. The property tax numbers hit me hard–we pay a very high amount for a very little bit of land every year. We live in a small NE town with almost no industry (to contribute to the tax base) and no grocery stores closer than about 6 miles. We ended up here because of familiarity with the area, but this budget (and thinking about cutting way down on commutes) has got me thinking about moving. Thanks again for the opportunity to reflect on my own costs and situation.

  • Mark May 25, 2017, 3:01 pm

    “Until you have your finances on auto-pilot so that you are saving 50-75% of your income, you should absolutely be reviewing every piece of spending and adding up all the categories”

    This. The path to financial misery is from a thousand little cuts. Once you get the big things figured out like reducing medical/transportation/housing costs, then fixing these smaller but more frequent expenses becomes critical.

  • Vijay May 26, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Hi, I have been reading your posts and it appears to me based on the belief that the trinity study or 4% rule is somehow sustainable. What you are planning will not materialize in the long run if you ask me, not in the current economic situation that US finds itself in. All the trinity study followers don’t see the trends in the Macro economy. None of these rules will apply when another 1929 happens and unfortunately the US economy is actually headed right there! It is statistically only a matter of time, economies like Japan and US will collapse and will not even be able to pay the interest on their ever increasing debt, and this knowledge is pertinent when you are talking of retirement a decade or two down the road!

    As the population ages, and the medical bills from this aging population eventually piles up on the US government, the only thing the US government could do is get more immigrants to replace the aging workforce and hence the demography changes from predominantly white to predominantly latino and Asian, or to bring in more automation and hence lesser jobs for everyone, or increase taxes and thus destroy the last semblance of savings or middle class! If neither of these happens then the US dollar will lose value rapidly one day, and the ever increasing debt financing burden will eventually collapse this economy. If any of the three options that I have suggested is followed, then there will be upheavals socially and economically moving forward for sure. If you retire early even with the 4% rule, what will you do if the US Dollar rapidly loses value? I know there are plenty of Nay sayers, but these were the same jerks who never saw the AAA rated Lehman collapse overnight in 2008! US economy is a big bubble today and your only major export is slowly getting to be more and more debt, rather than goods and services! You know the US is in big shit, when 100 billion of your debt is held by Russia, yes, Russia! Even your assumption that you will get at least 4% RoI in the mid to long term is stretching it too far if you ask me, when the whole stock market of the US is basically surviving on some 15 Companies that generate bulk of the trade value, and debt based instruments like Bonds cannot go much higher as your debt is too high and even the interest will not be serviceable if the interest rate goes higher than some level. Which is the reason why its been at 0 or close to that ever since 2008, almost a decade now.

    If you ask me, make as much you can and shift to Asia while the Dollar still has its value. Staying in a developing country like China or India is far safer as the money and trade is flowing back East today. If you retire in the US with plenty of life ahead of you, then your life will be miserable for sure.

    • Joy May 29, 2017, 12:37 pm

      Inflation is too high in India. CD rate is high but will loose more than half of the profit due to inflation. I don’t sent money to India anymore as an investment.

    • vijay May 30, 2017, 3:19 am

      Vijay, I differ in the view though I share the same name. :)

      US in my opinion is doing very well and it will continue to perform better for quite few decades at least. Here are some points on why I think that way.

      – Its one of the largest democracy and hence has excellent political stability. You can trust that the system continuous to work for longer period as compared to any military rule / monarchies.
      – Vast natural resources lot of which are still unused.
      – Comparatively less chance of being invaded by any other country. Secured by Sea on both sides and have peaceful neighbors.
      – Still the leader in innovation. Think about all high value goods – software, defense, biotech, genetics research, etc etc.. Most of them still originate / sold by US.
      – Working capitalistic economy.
      – One of the most productive workforce

      Honestly, I can’t think of any other country that has so many things going for it.

      If you are referring to china, please check its debt levels. And It takes 4$ debt for china to produce 1$ worth of goods and services. In my opinion China will be the source of next global crisis. I can buy India story at least – primarily because of the last 3 years. Prior to that it was always “developing” for decades. And I would view our nuclear capable not so disciplined neighbor as a major risk.

      I know there are number of issues in US, but they are present in every country at a much worse scale.

  • lurker May 27, 2017, 5:23 pm

    when do you permaculture your property to lower food costs????? such a great topic to explore? no?

  • Vicky May 28, 2017, 2:05 am

    Do you spend much on social events? Like going to a friend’s birthday at a restaurant? Or friends social events?

  • ZJ Thorne May 29, 2017, 10:30 am

    This is impressive detail. I’m curious why traveling for your MMM-related summits aren’t business expenses. The tax code is super friendly to businesses and, MMM makes enough to cover such low costs.

    Keep on being badass. Thanks for sharing your inspiring life with us.

  • SMM May 30, 2017, 3:16 pm

    “so it seems less and less necessary to measure them.”
    Can’t wait to be on this level. But for now I enjoy tracking the expenses and my calories to get to the idea situation :-)

    Congrats on the less 10% in spending, that’s amazing and even more is the 100k contribution…..AWESOME!

  • Jesse Schimpf May 31, 2017, 12:44 am

    Do you predict that your health insurance will need to change as you and Mrs. Money Mustache get older and have more regular checkups (i.e. mammograms, screenings)? Or do you think that these will still not be a major expense? Also, do you find these screenings necessary? If yes, what schedule do you find necessary and (will) follow? For example: In Europe, women don’t get mammograms until they are 50 and their breast cancer rate is commarable to the United States, whereas in the US women start to get them at age 40.

  • Lost in Space May 31, 2017, 2:10 am

    I’m a spender so YNAB is what keeps things under control. My guide lines are as follows

    1000€ fixed bills
    1500€ everyday spending
    300€ insurance
    300€ debt – this will all be gone in the next little while, mostly due to dental stuff

    A few thoughts

    As we are both spenders and live in the expat community which makes it challenging. Most of our friends come via meetups which usually means an evening in a restaurant or beer garden. To help offset this I’ve really focused on getting our fixed costs way down. Even by German standards our costs are ridiculously low. This allows us more freedom to spend on other stuff. In general my goal to to keep the spending to no more than 1500€ a month and that’s quite doable. This includes shopping entertainment clothes medical stuff for house etc. Once the dog is gone it will be much easier, I budget in 200€ a month food medical grooming and dog hotel.

    Mortgage is gone in T minus 4 . Car insurance will drop as it gets older. Car found a great local garage. Dealer of all things. Brake pads 120€ vs 1000 last garage!!!! Medical costs rise as you get older.

    • Lost in Space May 31, 2017, 2:27 am

      An example of expat costs. Yesterday I had two meetups, both in the city. First one I caught the train in (9.95€ day pass) plus 7€ coffee and lunch. Evening we were invited to a comedy evening 10€ entrance plus a beer so total spending 25€. but as said I offset those costs by saving money elsewhere

  • Juan May 31, 2017, 9:40 am

    It’s a beautiful life indeed!
    Thank you for sharing the 2016 numbers.
    Very impressive and inspiring that your expenses continue to be steady even as income and wealth keep on growing.


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