The Twenty Dollar Swim

Gratuitous mid-lake selfie from yet another day of nearly-zero-dollar “motor”boating, earlier this week.

It was mid July, and I had just finished a sweaty run on the trails which criscross my older sister’s farm in Canada. I was overheated and heading straight for their swimming pool when she saw me walking across the lawn.

“Oh yeah, please do use the pool! You’ll help get my cost per use down because it’s still way up there in crazy territory”, she joked.

Moments like these are why I love being part of this family. The self-deprecating Spock-like humour where we can make fun of our own flaws and indulgences, while simultaneously enjoying them just as much.

But it also sparked an interesting conversation, because I knew they had been running this pool since the early 2000s, raised their two now-adult water loving boys in the house, and hosted gatherings for family and friends throughout every summer. And it wasn’t an exorbitant pool. Surely this was one of the more affordable indulgences, right?

“Has the cost per swim really been that high?”, I asked.

“Every jump into that pool has cost almost twenty bucks, if you average it out.” she replied.

“Wow, how could that be true?!” I mused.

So I did some rough calculations like those you see in the box below, which you can totally skip right over* if you just want the final answer.

The pool originally cost $30,000

But that money could have been invested instead, which would have compounded at 7% for these 18 years.

$30k compounded at 7% (30×1.07^18) is an amazing $101,300!

Electricity at 10 kwh/day x $0.20 at for 100 days per season is $200 per season or $3600 total
Chlorine and other chemicals: $600 per season add to $10,800
Maintenance like vacuums, nets, a new liner: $800 per season $14,400

We’re already at $130,000

Not even counting the hundreds of hours that went into scooping out bugs, spiders, mice, and even raccoons, and potentially higher home insurance premiums and water bills (in my region a 25,000 gallon pool costs $125 in water to fill – once!)

And how many swims were enjoyed in the pool? If every family member swam every day for every season, you’d still only end up at 18 years x 100 days x 4 people = 7200 swims.

$130 grand divided by 7200 is $18.oo


So the final number is about 18 bucks per person per swim, just as my sister claimed.

Looking forward to a refreshing dip with Mom and Dad and the kids? That’s $72 bucks that you ended up burning, by the time all the chips fell.

I know this is a strange way to think about a swimming pool. But this is a Mr. Money Mustache article, and this site is all about different ways to think about your life decisions.

Most people just say something like, “Well, we’ve already got it so we might as well enjoy it, right?”

The problem is that they also apply this to other purchases, even those they haven’t made yet. The richer our tastes become, the more likely we are to buy ourselves little upgrades “just because it would be nice”, or “just in case”,  or because Joe Jones next door or a magazine article mentioned the idea.

“Okay Mr. Money Mustache, What Are You Taking Away From Me This Time?”

Don’t worry, I’m not necessarily going to strip you of your dreams of that swimming pool, or anything else. But I do want you to start thinking about these costs in a much more visceral and explicit way, so you can really make sure you are not fooling yourself. For example, let’s step through a few more common blunders. Note that these are real numbers that I can back up with a spreadsheet, but I’m just presenting the end results here so as to keep you awake:

  • “We had a great time visiting the Smiths in their ski house last weekend – LET’S GET ONE OURSELVES!” – sure, as long as you are ready to devote your financial life to the activity and the activity is worth $890.00 per night you actually spend there. But if this number sounds like anything other than chump change, you and your friends might want to just share an Airbnb for your ski weekends, or even better, take up local mountain biking instead of far-away skiing.
  • “I like these two houses equally, but one of them has a much bigger yard which is better for Junior to play in. They’re the same price and the bigger yard is just ten miles down the road!” – okay, but make sure that Junior’s time in the extra yard space is worth $150 per hour.
  • “I’m thinking of springing for the $9000 long-range battery in my upcoming Tesla Model 3 order” – this one strikes straight at my own heart, because I crave a long range Model 3 myself. But even for a serious roadtripper, this works out to $125 per hour of charging time that you manage to avoid. Aren’t you willing to take a few minutes occasionally to walk around and admire your beautiful car if you get paid $125 per hour after tax for it? If you are, standard range will do.
  • “I live in an area with snowy winters, so I need all-wheel-drive” since we already learned that all-wheel-drive does not make you safer, the only time it actually helps you is when it prevents you from being stuck. But this could work out to between $50 and $500 per time the AWD actually gets you out of a bind. Aren’t you willing to shovel your driveway a bit more thoroughly (or work from home on the worst days) for $500 a pop?
  • “We’d love to have an extra bedroom as a way of accommodating Grandma’s Annual Visit” Sure, but if you spend $90,000 extra on a slightly larger house and use that guest room 20 nights per year, it’s about $210 per night that you use it. 
  • “I live in Chicago and we just love to spend weekends on the Boat.” Even if you go all-in and give up all your weekend activities on the land to maximize your time down at the marina, those nights in that little wedge-shaped cabin bed will average out to about $500 per night. Or more if you opt for a bigger boat or more time with the motor on.
  • “We love to explore and be free for a few months each year, so we’re getting an RV and towing the car…” But a three month, 15,000 mile RV trip works out to about $200 per night that you sleep in that vehicle – why not pick up a fairly new Prius and a good tent and hit the road, and treat yourself to beautiful rental accommodation whenever you want it along the way?

We could go on and on with these examples, but the real thing to understand is that making commitments usually comes with a bigger cost than you expect. There are a shitload of dollars at stake, but also a substantial portion of your focus and mental energy which will go into furnishing, maintaining, insuring, and cleaning these pleasant weekend distractions.

“But How Can I do It Better While Keeping My Life Fun?”

As a Mustachian, you have way more options open to you than you realize. But to take advantage of them, you need to stop doing what other people are doing, and live differently.

At the most frugal level, you can just cut yourself off cold turkey. From now on, just start doing all leisure within biking distance of home, and preparing all of your own food – no exceptions. You can still organize and host parties, however.

If you’re in a stressful debt situation right now and want to be out of it, you should just do this right now as a mental reset and watch the incredible results on your wealth. Most people who hit this reset button end up between $20,000 and $100,000 further ahead within just the first year, with many happy stories to share about it, so if you’re in need of a quick life boost, do this instead of dilly-dallying around with my rich person suggestions below.

But if you’re a debt free person with higher income and just want to accelerate your path to financial freedom, you can still dabble in the spendier life and keep up with your peers, by simply shuffling the luxury deck a little bit differently. A few principles that can still cut your budget by 75%:

  • Prioritize the healthy stuff first: It’s the weekend and you are ready to celebrate. But first, what’s on your to-do list? Are you fully caught up on your workouts, grocery shopping, and various nonsense with the incoming mail? If not, budget a full day for that rather than packing up the car for a road trip. How’s your yard looking? Have you fixed that door that doesn’t latch correctly? And OH YEAH let’s do one giant batch of your favorite dish and freeze it in portions so you’ll have easy lunches and dinners for many days to come. Well, look at that, your whole weekend is booked after all and you’ll feel better for it.
  • Muscle over Motor: If you like being on the slopes, learn to mountain bike. If you like being on the water, try a big, cushy sea kayak complete with cupholders for your sunrise coffee or sunset beer. Invite your fit and funloving friends and start exploring waterways everywhere. Or if you want a night out on the town, choose somewhere close and grab your bike rather than somewhere far and looking for your car keys or your Uber app.
  • Rent Instead of Buying: With Airbnb or even plain old hotels, you can still have weekend getaways when you truly deserve and can afford them, and yet the cost per use is much lower. The numbers will still look big, and that’s a good thing because you will be reminded that it is always expensive to leave your already-perfectly-good-home and go out to do even fancier things. When you’re living large, it’s best to joyfully acknowledge it rather than pretending it’s normal.
  • Make Special Arrangements: If you like cottages, make yourself useful to a friend who owns a cottage, by always being the one to bring the food or the wine, or donating your time to help with the maintenance or renovations. I helped build a cottage for my inlaws in Canada a few years back, and have enjoyed the fruits of our combined labor ever since – at no cost to the MMM family. Similarly, if you like boats, volunteer as part of the crew on a real yacht. If you like houses, specialize in building or renovating them, or hosting paying guests in the unused portions. If you like cars, become a car expert rather than just a car consumer.

The Final Word:

If you’re already eating and sleeping well, chances are that you already have all the basic ingredients for a happy life.  So as you go on to start adding some spices to the dish as all of us do, just be sure you look at the price tag. The advantage you’ll gain will last a lifetime.

Epilogue: Just this year, after her boys had grown up and flown from the nest and all the fun had been had, my sister filled in the pool and is in the process of replacing it with trees , a super-cool natural pond, and other landscaping instead. A bold move that few people would be rational enough to take – live long and prosper, Sister.

Extra Credit: Here are a few of the cost-per-use calculations I made for this article. Share some of your own in the comments!

Mountain house: $24,000 per year mortgage and/or capital cost, furnishings, utilities and maintenance divided by 30 nights per year. Plus $90 in car costs per roundtrip drive for a weekend.

Bigger yard: 1 hour per week of activities that really could not have been done in a smaller yard or an outdoor park, compared to 100 miles of extra driving ($50) and 3.5 hours of your time ($100) spent doing that driving.

Tesla Battery Upgrade: The only time you use the longer range is on roadtrips over 230 miles. If you do a 600-mile trip once every month, you have to make two extra 30-minute charging stops per month. Figure the $9000 battery costs you about $1500 in extra capital cost and depreciation per year, or $125 per month. However, if you are a Tesla fan like me and you want the company to make more profit to continue their mission, you may still opt for the extra options since you have nothing better to do with that money anyway.

All wheel drive car: if the car costs $5000 more up-front plus an extra $200 per year in fuel and maintenance, you could estimate it as about $500 per year more expensive to own. Then, how many times do you truly get stuck in a front-wheel drive car with really good dedicated snow tires on winter rims? (because snow tires always come before buying AWD!)

Grandma’s bedroom: a $30k more expensive house might consume about 2% of that extra cost in maintenance and taxes annually ($300), plus 5% annually in financing/capital costs ($1800), for a total of $2100 per year. Strangely enough, this extra bedroom works out to be one of the cheaper indulgences in this list, especially if you can use that room as an office too, or rent it out occasionally.

Boat: It costs about $15,000 per year to own, dock, store, transport, maintain, depreciate, and fuel a 26-foot motorboat with a little sleeper cabin in the front. If you spend each of the sixteen weekends of Chicago’s warm seasons exclusively in the boat, you’ve still done only about 32 days there, which yields the surprisingly high cost of almost $500 per night.

RV: Even a relatively small $50,000 RV depreciates about $0.50 per mile and burns fuel and oil and tires at another fifty cents. And that’s before you even pay for supplies, maintenance and nightly parking fees! Large RV travel is even dumber, financially speaking – note that the fanciest tour-bus-sized RVs you see cost about $500,000! The physics are simply against you if you are trying to travel in your own personal rolling building. Although stationary living in a not-too-expensive RV or trailer can be a highly Mustachian choice.

* I let you skip that one just so you would keep reading and see my point. But now that you see it, hopefully you also see that you do need to look at the numbers in life and figure this stuff for yourself, because it’s a way bigger deal than you might think!

  • Smart Money MD July 25, 2018, 11:06 am

    Killjoy! ;-)

    Thanks for doing some of the calculations. Gives me some rough data on how a pool is totally a luxury item that most of us can do without. One of the other issues is that most home pools are built for fun, enjoyment, and dipping in. If you wanted to set it up as a Mustachian exercise facility, you’d have to size it up to get length for lap swimming!


    • Jon July 26, 2018, 1:45 pm

      You can actually get a “lap” pool that just cycles the water as you swim if you are just looking for exercise. My sister-in-laws parents have one apparently. Of course, they are multi-millionaires, so they could just build a full size pool if they really wanted too! Granted they would have to cut down a bunch of beautiful pine to do it.

      • MyFrugalChicago July 27, 2018, 6:58 pm

        “lap pools” tend to cost 20-30k depending on features.

        A membership at the local very fancy gym with a pool is $600 a year. It would take a pretty long time for the lap pool to save money over a gym.

        • Kathleen Coco August 8, 2018, 5:40 pm

          If you were to join the Y with your approximately $600, you’d get great camaraderie and get to send kids to camp too. Bargain of the century. Doing good while sucking up hedonistic pleasure exercising, or dancing the zumba, you can treat yourself to a whirlpool tub or sauna afterward and they clean the place for you. Invest in your community.

    • Jon July 26, 2018, 1:49 pm

      I went ahead and looked it up. One of these guys is about $22k+. Pricey, but if you are big into swimming and don’t live close to a pool and don’t need the money, pretty nice!


    • Mikka July 29, 2018, 6:29 pm

      I have a 55,000L pool that gets about 3 swims a year from my 11 year old son (my wife who is not a swimmer flat out refuses to even dip her toes in it) – our cost per swim would be well into the hundreds of dollars.

      The funny thing is that we live 5 mins from the ocean which is my preferred venue for swimming and within a 10min drive of 3 Olympic size swimming pools where the cost of a swim is about $5.

    • Centsible Indian July 31, 2018, 12:11 pm

      I almost bought a house with pool thinking our kids would enjoy it. So glad I didn’t. Eye opening numbers..

    • Cubert July 31, 2018, 12:34 pm

      Right on, Doc. The real “killjoys” are the years spent paying off exorbitant nonsense in a miserable cubicle job.

      The Cubert family opted to invest in an Airbnb vacation condo to club a smart investment with a paid-for getaway in northern Michigan (far enough away from mosquito infested Canada). =)

      Contrast that with our not-so-mustachian alley neighbor, who opted to install a fancy pool, which they use less than 10 times a year. If the chants of “Marco … Polo!!!” wafting into our yard aren’t bad enough (when it’s past our kiddo’s bedtime no less) they block the alley with guest traffic. We live four blocks from clean city lakes (free).

    • Sign August 8, 2018, 10:37 pm

      pls, Intex Pool on AMAZON with a Crystal Clear Saltwater/Sand Filter – no chemicals, saves you thousands…winds up being really low maintenance, low electricity, etc. We run filter 4 hrs per day, tops…sand and pool salt at the beginning of the summer, done.

      There is a far cheaper way to get the same enjoyment.

    • Isaac August 22, 2018, 2:35 pm

      Honestly utilizing the natural “pool”. We spend summertime at the local creek or pond fishing and swimming. Grandma takes the kids to the pool with the slides on occasion but we just use nature. Lap pool? swim in the river. Diving? Find local cliffs at the lake. Many of them are easy to get to. 24 hour access? Lake.

    • Alicia Anderson September 22, 2018, 10:56 am

      This logic doesn’t make sense to me. If the pool costs 30K, that’s the loss. I’ve never figured out what that amount spent on something would be if I’d invested and IF the market had given me a 7% return, etc. to figure out how much something cost me. If I spend 20$ on a dress, then that’s what it cost me. 10 years later, I don’t think the dress cost me 500$ because that’s how much the 20$ would have grown to (maybe) had I invested it.

      • Mr. Money Mustache September 22, 2018, 3:31 pm

        Ahh, but that’s part of the point of this whole blog, Alicia – to encourage people to start thinking of money this way, because that’s how it really works. And you need to understand money if you want a good chance at earning your own financial independence.

        Here’s one of my earliest, shortest articles that explains the idea a bit more.


      • DrMatt October 16, 2018, 9:06 pm

        I believe that MMM is describing what some have termed opportunity cost. It’s certainly a different way to think about an item’s price.

  • Brad July 25, 2018, 11:07 am

    Great post. I did a calculation like this about 12 years ago for cable TV, for which we were paying about $35/month, but only watching a grand total of less than 10 hours per year of television. I tallied up the numbers and realized we were spending close to $70/hour to watch television. I showed it to my girlfriend and we agreed on the spot to cancel cable.

    • Bill July 25, 2018, 11:56 am

      That’s good to know, because I’ve been cable-free for 10 years, but occasionally go watch a game at a bar. Unless I spend more than 70 bucks on beer, I come out ahead.

      • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance July 25, 2018, 12:22 pm

        We have never had cable in our lives. Ever! We have a Sharp Roku TV and Amazon Prime which we got mainly for my mother-in-law when she was staying with us in DC. Other than that, free stuff on the internet wins big time. My favorite is YouTube!

        From the list above, I think a grandma’s suite is not too bad since you can rent it out and lower your mortgage payment/housing expenses. Other items like Tesla or RV are beyond me since we can’t afford them. >_<

    • Darell Dickey July 25, 2018, 3:48 pm

      Yay! I’ve used “over the air-free” TV for… ever. My neighbor pays $150 month due to all of his special sports channels and such. I can’t even imagine. Just like a buffet, if you don’t eat it all, you are wasting your money. So the only way to not waste money by paying for monthly TV is to…. sit on the couch and watch more TV?

      I’ve got better things to do! Like sit on the couch and drink great beer with friends!

  • Adam July 25, 2018, 11:10 am

    We’ve found ways to combine some of these options — like riding our bikes a few miles to the local waterfront park and renting a canoe for the day for $20. Still vastly cheaper than owning a canoe and paddles and PFDs (even off craigslist) for the few times a summer we get on the river.

    To the grandma point, we’re seriously considering popping a dormer in the back of our house to add another bathroom and reasonable closet space; this little 1921 craftsman bungalow is great, but we’d like to be more effective hosts when in-laws or friends are in town. We know going in that we’ll likely never recoup the expense, but going from 1092 square feet to 1200 square feet will be worth it to us for the quality of that extra space. Nice to see it’s relatively MMM-approved as “one of the cheaper indulgences”!

    • Audra July 26, 2018, 7:13 am

      You might find that Air BnB in your new and improved space would pay for the renovation costs. We live in a small town in the Midwest and have been shocked at the Air BnB demand. Right now we’re hosting an intern ranger for one of our local parks. He’s either at work or hanging out in his room most of the time, and after hosting him for 6 weeks we’ll have enough to replace the flooring in our guest room and bathroom :).

      • Adam July 27, 2018, 7:53 am

        It’s a good idea! I’ve thought about it. Our neighbor across the street lost her white-collar career a few years ago, but between her AirBNB unit and a lower-paying walkable job she handily covers her living expenses. We’re walking distance to a DC Metro station so we could probably command a reasonable sum. If only my wife weren’t leery of strangers in our day-to-day living space…

        • Gerard July 31, 2018, 8:54 am

          Adam, I guess it’s a reasonable leeriness. But I was surprised at how many potential layers of security airbnb lets you choose from. One place I had to show airbnb a scan of my passport! So you could presumably choose your level of required security… maybe lose a couple of potential customers, but feel safer.

  • Just Stop Spending Seth July 25, 2018, 11:12 am

    A reasonable way to think about optimization.

  • patrick July 25, 2018, 11:13 am

    We rented a campervan this summer for three weeks to tour the Mountain West. It was a bit extravagant…but it wasn’t as extravagant as buying an $80K Sprinter van would have been. Thanks for the article!

  • Brendan Benson July 25, 2018, 11:14 am

    Aren’t you leaving out the fact that the pool adds value to the home? Sure, it’s an illiquid asset, but if she later decides to downsize and move to a smaller, pool-less home, she should be able to command a premium sale price for selling a home with a pool.

    • Andrew July 25, 2018, 11:22 am

      The realtors I speak with in California say it is neutral for home value.
      Many people do understand that it adds ongoing cost.
      Many potential buyers are excluded as they have worries (e.g. safety) about a pool.

    • Jeff Bain July 25, 2018, 11:42 am

      Actually, Pools rarely command any premium for house sales apparently. Possibly due to how much extra work is involved in ownership & the fact that only some percentage of people are interested in having a pool in the first place it tends to be neutral for ownership value. When it comes to home upgrades as investments bathrooms & kitchens still tend to be king as important rooms that everyone uses.

    • Jwheeland July 25, 2018, 11:48 am

      Sounds like it’s actually a liquid asset – otherwise, it would just be an empty pool. :)

    • Sar July 25, 2018, 8:01 pm

      Aside from the other commenters about neutral value, I didn’t see the change in homeowners insurance for the pool which is significant.

    • Brian July 26, 2018, 11:27 pm

      You all obviously don’t live in Florida. Pools here absolutely command a higher value on homes, typically 20-40k for a standard inground pool. They usually are worth more than they cost because adding them is a pain.

      • Cam July 29, 2018, 1:47 pm

        I might argue that a pool is the standard in such a place as opposed to a value-adder; IOW not having a pool is a value detractor. Much like in many fancy-pants neighborhoods…..

        …..But yeah, we’re house shopping (dreaming) now and I want a pool (well at least I thought I did), but these folks advertising their $60k pool and trying to get every penny of it back are delusional imo.

    • MAD Wealth August 9, 2018, 8:55 am

      One overlooked area is your property tax bill can be significantly higher after you install a pool. Now this usually only applies to an in ground pool so check your local rules. Let’s say the pool causes your property taxes to rise 20%, and you forfeit an 8% return. In a higher tax state this can be significant.

      Annual Property Tax Before Pool: $10k
      Annual Property Tax After Pool: $12k

      Year 1 – $2,160
      Year 2 – $4,492
      Year 3 – $7,012
      Year 4 – $9,733
      Year 5 – $12,671

  • Mike Z July 25, 2018, 11:14 am

    I bought a house with a pool and it was clearly a financial mistake for all the reasons you mentioned.

    That said, there is one very important technology I need to mention. Variable speed pool pumps. Due to the pump affinity laws, a variable speed pump can save a ton of energy. I used to use about 500kWh a month to run my pump and now I”m down to about 150kWh a month due to being able to run my pump at much lower RPM for longer. Running at 3000 RPM uses about 1000 watts, whereas 600 RPM uses less than 60 watts. It’s a major energy saver pool owners need to know about.

  • Justin July 25, 2018, 11:14 am

    I immediately called BS at $20 per dip but holy crap that’s about right. If you’re frugal maybe cut those numbers in half, but still, holy crap. We “rent” a pool. City pools in Raleigh sell a 15 punch pass for the cost of 12 swims so it works out to $3/swim or half that for kids. And they have an indoor water park that accepts the swim punch passes! So much win and I NEVER have to scoop dead floating carcasses out of any pools.

    Even better is going at 10 am on a weekday when everyone else is working or in school. We literally pay $3 to get a private olympic size swimming pool for as long as we want with six (!!) lifeguards to keep us safe.

    The only downside is there are no city pools extremely close. It’s a 10 minute drive to several different ones so not too bad though.

    • The Vigilante July 26, 2018, 12:56 pm

      “So much win and I NEVER have to scoop dead floating carcasses out of any pools.”

      Well then what the heck are you paying for?

  • Wade E. July 25, 2018, 11:17 am

    I did a more rudimentary pool calculation with my son one day when he was talking about wanting us to get a pool in the backyard. For the math, we arrived at an assumption of a $60,000 all-in cost for an in-ground pool (probably too low of an estimate). It costs us $6 for him, my daughter and I to go to the the city pool together. So he practiced his math and found that it would take 10,000 family trips to the city pool for the building of an in-ground pool to break even with the city pool option (without factoring in rate of return on the potential invested dollars, opportunity cost, etc). The city pool is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, so we just called it an even 100 days of potential use. So he figured out that it would take 100 years of swimming in our backyard pool for it to breakeven with the city pool option. He then said, “Dad, it would be STUPID to build a pool!!!!!” Lesson learned, but we did have to have a conversation around the fact that people with pools aren’t stupid (at least all of them anyway), among other things. But this was a very helpful lesson for my son, and helped him sharpen some of his math and critical thinking skills over the summer!

    • LS July 26, 2018, 7:23 am

      What an awesome lesson for your son. And probably way more emotionally positive for him than just “no.”

  • Andrew July 25, 2018, 11:21 am

    I agree with almost everything here… the exceptions are the two car related ones:

    * Tesla model 3 long range battery.
    You are correct that the extra charging time is minimal, and that it only matters for road trips.
    However there are a few things not taken account of here.
    1) Getting the larger battery gets you the full $7500 tax credit, getting the smaller battery likely doesn’t. So the extra cost is not $9k right now but more like $1.5k or $5k depending on timing. You get back that $7500 within one year, while the benefits are spread over 20. You might be able to buy a long range now and sell in a year for what you paid for it (after federal and state rebate). You can’t do this with the low range battery.
    2) As a Tesla driver for 5 years, I can assure you that the savings of the bigger battery are primarily in saving long detours, not in supercharging time. Going from the Bay Area to Tahoe there is no difference… just an extra 10 minutes of charging at a supercharger while you were going to stop for a meal anyway. However for other journeys like Grand Canyon or Death Valley the larger battery let’s you skip a 60 mile detour and skip an hour of driving. Also from Longmont driving to Silerthorne in a snowstorm efficiency is really bad, and you want to keep an extra 50 miles of range spare in case the road is closed and you need to turn around. With the current supercharger network I wouldn’t attempt this with the short range battery.
    Instances such as the above are rarer than the instances stated in the analysis but do save more time, or make drives possible that you shouldn’t be attempting otherwise.

    * AWD:
    For a Tesla AWD is more efficient, not less :) … of course that doesn’t matter much when the fuel is so cheap.
    What concerns me about not having AWD is that when you do get stuck you need to get out of the car and dig in what happens to be a really dangerous situation (you are standing next to a car in weather and road conditions where cars cannot control their travel).
    I haven’t done the analysis of injuries and deaths caused by people being out of their cars in dangerous sitations, but would love to see the results of such analysis.

    • Sam July 25, 2018, 11:29 am

      I’ll just say that I live in Upstate NY, one of the snowiest regions of the country and drive a rear wheel drive vehicle, and my wife drives a front wheel drive vehicle. I run snow tires on each of them an have never gotten stuck in traffic ever.

      • Chris July 25, 2018, 12:15 pm

        I do have the numbers and analysis of traffic related deaths by weather. I can assure you that more people die in clear, dry, sunny conditions than any other, and AWD is a convenience. Share your state with me and I can point you at the related reports, or try googling “YourState SHSP”

        • Chris July 25, 2018, 12:16 pm

          Actually nevermind, here is the index page for all states: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/shsp/other_resources.cfm

        • Betty Dotson October 4, 2018, 6:12 am

          I need 4 wheel-drive to get up my driveway in winter! Going out of my driveway, I need 4 wheel drive to get up the hills on either side of my driveway! I live in the country & will wait at least 2 days for the highway dept to get anywhere near our back roads to scrape them.

          I’m not moving, though. I live next door to my grandbabies!

      • Kenoryn July 25, 2018, 7:59 pm

        I live in Canada and while I haven’t gotten stuck in traffic (only in my driveway) I have seen this happen to others, and usually whoever’s around helps push the car out (I’ve hopped out and pushed the car in front of me at an intersection) but.. if you drive a manual car, you can use the ol’ rocking trick which works in many situations without having to get out of the car. I think everyone who drives in wintery weather should drive a manual car.

    • Phil July 25, 2018, 12:12 pm

      The Tesla Model 3 actually has a lower EPA rating for the AWD versions (116 MPGe) compared to the RWD version (130 MPGe)

      Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2018/07/16/tesla-model-3-long-range-all-wheel-drive-performance-editions-get-official-epa-ratings/

    • EfficiencyNerd July 25, 2018, 12:25 pm

      I like your comments on the longer battery allowing you to not go out of your way as often, I hadn’t thought of that before. Although that will hopefully become less of an issue as Superchargers become more prevalent.

      Also with regards to AWD being more efficient, my understanding is that this is only the case with the Model S and X; in the Model 3, the rear-wheel version has better range. I discovered this recently when reading an article about the EPA ratings – Tesla specifically asked them to lower the rating on the rear-wheel drive version to 310 miles from ~334, but kept the official rating of 310 miles as-is for the AWD version. It seems Tesla didn’t want the more expensive AWD to also say it had less range; but it is in fact less efficient.

    • Charlie July 26, 2018, 7:13 am

      You make an interesting point about the US Federal EV Tax Credit lowering the cost of the long range model. However, in six months time, that incentive is halved, and it will be quartered in a year. So, I think MMM is right to work off of the raw cost, especially in the context of this article – that conveniences cost more than you intuitively think.

      And in that light, your second point doesn’t hold a lot of weight. If you really are in the habit of taking long, extraordinary drives more than once a month or you have even longer and more extraordinary drives than most, then *maybe* that extra cost ($20, $73, $99, or $125 per month for the full, halved, quartered, and no rebate following MMM’s math) is worth it.

      However, the most important thing is to be very cautious of a qualitative argument like convenience or enjoyment without understanding exactly how much that convenience or enjoyment will cost you in the long run.

      • Mr. Money Mustache July 26, 2018, 3:34 pm

        Hmm.. that is an interesting point about the rebates. I was wondering why Tesla priced the upgrade SO high (9000 for just 25kWh of extra battery is $360 per kWh, a very high markup from the $180 or and dropping that the packs costs Tesla to make). But if the rebates are funding some of the cost, it makes sense that the car company would set prices accordingly.

        Since they do change their pricing and battery pack options pretty regularly, maybe these prices will drop or compress in the coming years.

        • Zach July 27, 2018, 10:01 am

          The shorter range is still eligible for a full tax credit. It takes a car. There is no EV on the market (even ones with smaller batteries) that are not eligible for the full credit. https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml

          • Brett October 1, 2018, 12:44 pm

            The full $7,500 credit for Tesla expires at the end of this year. Then for the first quarter of 2019, that halves to $3,750, and then it halves again for all cars sold in the second quarter. The short range Tesla Model 3 isn’t available for purchase yet and won’t be until next year sometime. So the shorter range unfortunately is not eligible for a full tax credit :/

    • Darell Dickey July 26, 2018, 10:27 am

      Another thing missed is that AWD is a $4k option on the model 3, not $5k.

    • Justin G. C July 31, 2018, 1:36 pm

      A larger battery is cold weather insurance. Living in Milwaukee my range drops significantly every winter. I have taken road trips during the winter and only then did I learn about range anxiety.

      I have a Model S 90D, meaning I got the longest range I could when I bought. On a road trip from Florida back to Milwaukee in January, I saw how my range between charges dropped as I went north. I went from getting over 200 miles between charges (I drive with a lead foot so I know the 250 mile 80% range is only a wish for my driving style) to getting closer to 175 miles per 80% charge.

    • Tom August 8, 2018, 5:51 am

      Putting aside the tax credit argument, I believe you’re proving his point; there are really only a few times it makes sense to put out the extra $9,000 for the battery, when you’re probably going to use that car to commute 50 miles per day or less the other 360 days a year in relatively good driving conditions.

    • Dr. McFrugal August 8, 2018, 1:09 pm

      As a fellow Tesla Model 3 owner with a long range battery, I fully agree with your assessment. The difference is only $1,500 and saving time is invaluable.

    • Brett October 1, 2018, 12:53 pm

      Andrew’s post is on point! To add, not every Tesla or electric car owner has charging infrastructure at their home. Personally, I still rent for increased job mobility (I know, not the most cost effective way to live but working on it..), and with the long range battery I only need to go to a public charger a couple times a week instead of every day or two.

  • Jason July 25, 2018, 11:21 am

    When we were shopping for a house a few years ago, I added an estimated cost to fill in the pool for any house that had one. Having one was just not practical for us. We could join the local pool club for a few hundred dollars and enjoy bigger and nicer pools without any of the setup, cleaning or extra taxes and insurance. Time spent maintaining a pool is nowhere near my list of wants.

    I love to consider the cost per use of any purchase. It really helps put each expense in perspective.

    • Marcia Yudkin July 25, 2018, 1:01 pm

      (In response to Jason) But how much will it cost you to get to the health club and back each time instead of swimming in your own backyard?

      Last year I signed up at the YMCA for three months in the fall for, effectively, nothing, because my Medicare plan reimburses me for such healthy expenses. However, I was spending so much on gas to get to the YMCA and back 4 times a week (14 miles each way) that I decided that even with the rebate from my Medicare plan, this was not cost-effective. I work at home, so these were car trips that I wouldn’t have made if not for going to the Y.

      So this year I’m just swimming in the summer because we can ride our bikes 1/4 mile to the lake near our house.

      And please don’t tell me I should have ridden my bike the 14 miles and back to the Y because I would rather stay alive. I would have had to ride on a very dangerous road that I don’t believe is safe even for expert riders, which I am not!

  • Anonymous July 25, 2018, 11:24 am

    It would be great to have an article about a generic algorithm to determine per use cost for anything. I love that you always consider the opportunity cost, which is something I always forget about. Maybe a flowchart is in order?

  • Ross Williams July 25, 2018, 11:32 am

    In theory at least, the pool should have added value to the home. That value also appreciated. Your sister just spent a bunch more money taking the pool out, how much will that have cost her in 18 years and will the house be worth more or less as a result?

    But the larger problem with this kind of calculation is that you need to do it for EVERY purchase in order to put the cost in perspective. If you assume every dollar you spend will appreciate at 7% per year then a $3 purchase 18 years ago was actually $10.13 less you have today.

    The second problem is that if you spend that $10.13 today, it will have cost you about $33 18 years from now. If your goal is to die rich, don’t spend money at all. But if your goal is a rich life, then spending money well is the goal, not saving it. That pool is not only a place for the family to take a dip. It may also be a place that lets your kids entertain their friends under your watchful eyes, instead of enjoying sex, drugs and rock and roll in the basement of the friends house. If you are going to live your life counting pennies, make sure you count them all.

    • Stephen July 25, 2018, 1:02 pm

      Respectfully, I think you’re a bit off here, Ross.

      “In theory at least, the pool should have added value to the home. That value also appreciated. Your sister just spent a bunch more money taking the pool out, how much will that have cost her in 18 years and will the house be worth more or less as a result?”

      I live in Iowa, and I see homes with pools go up for sale in my town sometimes. There’s always a note that they’ll pay to fill in the pool. I had a friend that had to do just that. In a lot of areas (I’d imagine Canada might be one of them) it’s at best neutral, at worst a big negative. Assuming it adds no value, then at that point she’s paying to fill in a pool and not changing the value of her house.

      At that point she’s spending ~$5k to avoid $1,600/year in ongoing expenses. This can be especially wise if she’s A) looking to stay for 4+ years B) She places more value on increased yard space vs pool and C) if any big expenses like a new liner were due.

      “But the larger problem with this kind of calculation is that you need to do it for EVERY purchase in order to put the cost in perspective. If you assume every dollar you spend will appreciate at 7% per year then a $3 purchase 18 years ago was actually $10.13 less you have today.”

      You DO need to do these types of calculations all the time but that doesn’t mean you don’t spend any money and die an old miser. It just forces you to be honest with yourself and only buy things that you can both afford and truly want.

      • Marty J July 25, 2018, 2:13 pm

        No, I agree there is something wrong with the calculations here. If a one time cost 18 years ago computes to a huge loss today. Then the chemicals purchased 17 years ago should also be huge today, not just multiplied. Each year should be amortized. That $30,000 pool probably cost over $200,000 by this calculation. (And if it stayed with the house for another 100 years, it would be the equivalent of hundreds of millions.)

        It is just wrong to think that any expense in the past is the same as a huge loss today.

        • Phil July 25, 2018, 4:00 pm

          “It is just wrong to think that any expense in the past is the same as a huge loss today.”

          Is it though? Any money that was spent in the past is money that was not invested and allowed to grow.

          I’ve spent a lot of money on stupid stuff during the course of my life. If I had saved and invested the money instead, I would have a much higher net worth now.

    • Michael July 25, 2018, 4:52 pm

      “It may also be a place that lets your kids entertain their friends under your watchful eyes, instead of enjoying sex, drugs and rock and roll in the basement of the friends house”
      So the benefits of not putting in a pool are more than financial.
      Thanks Dad for not putting in a pool!

    • TO_Ont July 26, 2018, 5:39 am

      It doesn’t mean don’t spend any money. It means when you spend money be realistic about the choice you’re making, and only spend it if you really want it. A lot of times the answer will be ‘yes, I do want this enough to spend that money’.

      If you have a reasonable idea of how much things really cost, then you can make sure you spend most of your money on things you really enjoy, that really will make your life more fun.

    • John July 26, 2018, 11:34 am

      “In theory at least, the pool should have added value to the home.”

      Pools add less to the value of a home than you think, and are actually a negative for many buyers.

      “If you assume every dollar you spend will appreciate at 7% per year then a $3 purchase 18 years ago was actually $10.13 less you have today. ”

      That is precisely right, and something MMM advocates. The same calculus applied to a pool should be applied to a cup of Starbucks coffee.

      “But if your goal is a rich life, then spending money well is the goal, not saving it.”

      MMM doesn’t argue for accumulating wealth for wealth’s sake, especially at the expense of living well. He’s highlighting two major points:
      (1) It’s important to understand the true costs of the things we buy. Too many people fritter away their money not understanding the impact it’s having on their long term wealth. The math in this article is meant to highlight the true costs of things like pools and vacation houses.
      (2) It’s also important to understand how much joy things actually bring you. Does a pool or a boat or a vacation house actually bring you joy, or is it an endless series of headaches? If they do bring you joy, is it enough to justify the cost, or could you find the same joy less expensively elsewhere?

      Mustacianism isn’t prescriptive. It doesn’t declare by fiat that pools are too expensive and therefor verboten for all true Mustacians. If you decide that $20 a dip is a good value, then by all means get a pool and I’m sure MMM would support you in your decision.

  • Max Thunder July 25, 2018, 11:32 am

    A pool can also be had for just a couple thousand bucks: an above-ground pool. Where I live, not many people have in-ground pools since the price difference is so high and many people don’t want something as permanent as an in-ground pool.

    • Max Thunder July 25, 2018, 11:34 am

      To be clear, my point is just that it doesn’t *have* to cost $20 per dip :)

      We similarly got rid of a spa that came with the house, we figured it was cheaper to visit thermal baths a few times a year than to use the spa a few times a year, and having one less thing to take care of has immense value in itself.

    • Ann Swimmer July 25, 2018, 12:54 pm

      You can bring down the cost of any pool by switching to a sand filter (which you clean by back-washing, there’s no disposable filter to replace) and a saltwater system (which creates a form of chlorine from inexpensive pool salt and requires less frequent chemical testing). We have an above-ground pool with this system and I calculated that the first four years of operation cost us $2200.00 including electricity and the initial setup costs involved in leveling the yard and putting down sand and tarps. This is for a 4ft x 15ft round pool. I didn’t include water costs because where we live in the Midwest, we pay a flat fee for water (we’re very lucky). We’re on our fifth year now, so the per-year costs are actually lower now.

  • Mr. Financial Freedom Project July 25, 2018, 11:35 am

    If this line of thinking was taught as core curriculum in every school across the country, we’d be a better nation for it.

    I’ve never owned a house with a pool, so I’ve never had to do the cost calculations. But I know they’re expensive, and even without doing said calculations I’d never own one myself. Simply not worth it.

    I’m the type who needs to feel that I’m getting value out of my spending, which is why I refuse to pay for cable TV. I’d feel like I had to watch hours upon hours simply to get my money’s worth, and I have far better things to do with my time. Our over-the-air antenna provides us with 30+ channels for free, which allow us to watch all the major channels, our favorite sports teams, and 24/7 westerns.

    I’m glad to see camping made the list. The wife and I enjoy car camping in the back of our Pontiac Vibe hatchback, which is really a Toyota Matrix in disguise. Saves us about $100-$120/night when road tripping. Hotels carry an awfully high cost for just 10 hours of sleep!

  • Gwen July 25, 2018, 11:41 am

    You can also see if local groups have equipment to borrow for free. Some Seattle area libraries have kayaks that you can borrow for free! Then you don’t even need to spend on the initial purchase :)

  • Mighty Investor July 25, 2018, 11:44 am

    Yep. This is the type of thinking to get you to financial Independence in a hurry. My family goes to Croatia every year, and we have even thought of buying property over there. But, by renting at 70 euros per night the same villa each year in the same spot, and splitting that by the three different family members who are paying, there is absolutely no way it makes any financial sense to ever buy a place over there. Plus, we know right where the grocery store is et cetera; so we are only going out to eat if we feel like it and not just because we are on vacation and don’t know how to keep ourselves fed.

    Great article. Nice to see you getting back to your roots talking about the nuts and bolts of financial Independence!

    • Kiev July 26, 2018, 1:37 am

      You should not forget the responsibilities accompanying new stuff in entering your life. A lot of stuff needs more attention than a single payment or a periodic payment. If you take a car as an example you have responsibilities to switch tires (summer/ winter) and in general, clean it, get it checked from time to time, exchange parts etc. If you do not need the car frequently you can get rid of all responsibilities by selling the car. We do have alternatives in Germany such as car sharing and renting. It depends how much you really need it, if an own car, car sharing or rental is the best solution for you. The less you use it the cheaper it will get.

      • Mighty Investor July 26, 2018, 11:36 am

        I totally agree. Your comment highlights the handy intersection between FI and minimalism. They work together like hand and glove. Plus, minimalism (in moderation!) leads to a more zen, joyful life in any case…..;)

        Whereas Mr. Money Mustache stresses self-reliance and FI, I personally lean more towards minimalism and FI. Either combo will get you there. Of course, some genius out there is probably implementing the trifecta, but I’m just not that big into wood, hammers, and nails personally……..

        • Kiev July 27, 2018, 3:00 am

          I do really like Minimalism. But I also like creating stuff and being independent. Not only in financial matters. I do have investments such as rental objects. But I have learned that any item really needs attention and consumes time. So I try to figure out if a new item or investment is worth my time and effort. Even if it brings joy into my life. I did learn to be happy with things, without the need to own them.

      • Beekay August 1, 2018, 5:02 pm

        When someone gave Henry David Thoreau a wooden sculpture and he realized he would have to polish it every so often, he threw it away because it cost too much :) (of his time).

        When someone told him the fare to travel by train to the next town, he said he would walk because that only cost him X number of hours, whereas working Y number of hours to earn the train fare cost more in terms of time.

  • Caroline July 25, 2018, 11:44 am

    I couldn’t agree more! Even if we did install a pool a few years ago:(
    I bought a cottage a few years back (The Canadian dream!) and when I added up how much it was costing us compared to the amount of times we went , it was cheaper for me to rent one for a few weeks per year than own it (and a much nicer one I may add). I sold it two years ago and glad I did. Just the extra work alone was not really worth it. It is an emotional purchase and I wasn’t attached to the building!

    • Brendan July 25, 2018, 12:06 pm

      Good point. I was reading a finance blog a few months ago and the author brought up a great point about renting your lifestyle instead of owning it (as far as boats, vacation/second homes, etc) so that you can easily pull back on discretionary expenses if finances get tight.

      • Circular Economy July 25, 2018, 12:14 pm

        Do you remember what blog or have a link?

        (We have a car, a 10yo Honda Fit that works great for everyday use, but we have started renting cars for road trips. More room for luggage, more room for the three kids, less wear and tear on our regular vehicle.)

      • Caroline July 26, 2018, 6:55 am

        And you also don’t have to worry about the maintenance! Going to the cottage was sometimes a chore:(
        Plus , because you own it, sometimes you feel like you HAVE to go.
        Renting can have its own issues but overall a better option for many of us

        • pachipres August 22, 2018, 3:22 pm

          But then you don’t have the option of just heading to the cottage on weekends or during a hot spell.

    • sue tucker July 29, 2018, 10:23 pm

      We had a family cottage and my mother always said ”It was a home away from home with twice the work and half the conveniences.”

  • JP July 25, 2018, 11:45 am

    Love it. If you look at every decision like this, you easily realize what is worth it and what isn’t. 2 years ago we bought our dream lake/mountain home that we rent for 10+ weeks a year for 4K/week. Mortgage and expenses total $36K. We stay there 2 weeks in the summer and every other weekend from Sept to June. That show vacation house for free wasn’t kidding! Instead of owning a boat, we rent one for a few weekends a year when we have family up. Our transmission recently died in a Jeep GC we have had for 8 years. Instead of trading up, we bought a transmission with 40k miles on it for $2000 and we are back in action. My wife is home with the kid, working on a passion project, because daycare costs are preposterous and our rental properties allow us to live for free and profit enough to live off of. A post from a while ago where you mentioned being able to go for a hike on a random week day with your family encouraged me to take Tuesdays off completely, work less than 30 hours a week and manage my business more effectively. All decisions we make differently because of this blog. Thanks Triple M!

  • Mike July 25, 2018, 11:46 am

    Your point is valid, but the numbers on the pool example ignore that putting in a pool adds value to the house. There’s some debate over whether it’s worth dollar-for-dollar what you put in, but if we say it is, then factoring a conservative estimate of 3.7% for the annual increase in value of the house cuts out $57,695 from your calculated opportunity cost. You’d also need to consider what they might have done for exercise or entertainment if they didn’t have the pool (e.g., gym memberships, swim clubs, etc.), and the probably incalculable benefits of exercise and family enjoyment. It also assumes a very expensive to build and maintain concrete pool, but that’s more an issue with pool selection than the overall financial choice (saltwater vinyl pool with solar heating would have been much cheaper, both up-front and over time).

    This calculation is much easier when the thing you’re purchasing is one-time or depreciates in value, like a car or boat, but with assets that appreciate it may not work out. For instance, a vacation home that both appreciates in value and can be rented when you’re not there is probably not a money loser in the long run, or at least not as bad as these simple calculations would make it look.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 25, 2018, 12:51 pm

      Ahh, but I’ve heard that pools DON’T add any value to a house in most markets, because they are a turnoff to such a big percentage of buyers (myself included!).

      Still, your point about appreciating things is still well taken. A house with an extra bedroom will indeed sell for more on average (which is why I only counted the ongoing costs). And a vacation house will on average keep up with inflation as well. But expanding your personal house is still usually one of the worst investments. A better one is investing in things that generate ongoing cash flow AND appreciate – like rental houses, or stocks.

      • Adam July 26, 2018, 11:38 am

        OK, so if pools don’t add value to a house, wouldn’t buying an existing home with a pool SIGNIFICANTLY reduce your average cost per swim? Because under that assumption, you’ve paid $0 for the pool.

        The other assumption I’d say is missing is what fills the hours of swimming if you don’t have a pool? Under your scenario, all hours would be filled with $0 activities. Safe to say, even under the Mustachian lifestyle, some of those hours would cost a family money (even if it’s just gas money and a town pool membership).

        Not trying to nitpick. I love the blog, thanks for continuing to post.

        • Mr. Money Mustache July 26, 2018, 3:09 pm

          Yup, you got it – getting a pool for free definitely reduces your costs (although they would still be rather high – and my calculations here neglected homeowner insurance and understated maintenance, I have learned).

          I’d suggest that the freed up hours could EARN you money – as you could spend that time renovating the house and creating more value than you spend on materials. Then you recapture those dollars when you eventually move.

          • Jon August 6, 2018, 8:53 am

            I guess every pool owner must have different experiences. We bought a house with a pool (so I’m counting that as my fully-depreciated “free” pool). And it’s giant at about 35K gallons.

            Our costs are much lower than what you listed and I think you over-estimated maintenance. We average less than $5 per day in chemicals and electricity. I put in 1 gallon of bleach each day for chlorine and a box of Borax a few times a year when the pH needs adjusted. That’s it for chemicals. Nothing from a fancy pool store ever goes in my pool. Electricity would drop even further if I had a nice variable speed pump, but the current single-speed one is still functional at 10+ years old. So I’m around $600 per year in electricity + chemicals.

            We just replaced the liner for the 1st time in the 30 years of the pool’s life at only $5800. I have no vacuum. Nets and other items are cheap, so I’m looking at only $200 per year average in this category.

            So with 5 kids (I know….not very Mustachian) swimming almost daily and typically 2-3 times per day mid-summer, I’m confident my costs are 10X lower than suggested. I would even suggest that our number when including friends who come over to swim also is really only about $1 per swim.

            Also, I compared my homeowners quote and didn’t see much difference there to impact that calculation. Maybe $50 annual difference there spread over 100+ days of swimming.

        • Kyle July 26, 2018, 3:51 pm

          I’ll add my 2 cents being a previous owner of a house with a pool that was already installed. The pool was a big buying feature for us admittedly. And it did bring us many hours of joy and fun for the roughly 5 years we owned the house. BUT, the maintenance cost of the pool every year was probably in the thousands by my own estimate. Everything from daily chemical test and additions (some of those chemicals are rather expensive), to pool liner replacements, pool pumps, filters, the added electrical cost (which itself is hundreds of dollars per year) and a host of other maintenance items. One of the reasons we originally bought the house became one of the reasons why we chose to move. I’ve been asked by multiple people if I miss the pool and I can say confidently, not a single bit. This article hit home with me. It’s much more fun knowing someone who has a pool ( :

    • TO_Ont July 26, 2018, 6:51 am

      Maybe it depends where you live, but around here a pool doesn’t add value to a house. Homes with pools are harder to sell and stay for longer on the market. In some cases the price even has to go down as people factor in the cost of filling in the pool.

      Most people don’t actually want a pool, don’t want the upkeep, the safety issues, the lost yard space. And they definitely aren’t willing to pay extra for it.

      • TO_Ont July 26, 2018, 7:38 am

        People want to have a friend with a pool. But most people don’t want to have a pool _themselves_.

        Around here real estate people advise people to be really sure they’re going to want to live in the house for a long time before considering a pool, because a pool makes your house more difficult to sell.

  • Olivia July 25, 2018, 11:51 am

    Wow, that’s pretty eye opening. I’ve always had a pool in my list of things I needed for a house, but at $20 a swim, that’s super expensive. I probably won’t lounge by the pool everyday so it might just be cheaper to get a water park year long pass.

    I suppose I could get a $5k or so jacuzzi though, I’d probably use it much more often and it’d cost maybe $2-$3 per use? I’ll need to do the math!

    • LS July 26, 2018, 7:37 am

      You can get a nice above ground pool for $5k or so. We have a huge one that the former owners put in for $7k. A $30k pool is probably in ground and pretty luxurious.

      Also, if you purchase a house with a pool, you don’t wind up paying anywhere near sticker price for it (since sellers and seller agents know that a pool is a turn off to many buyers, they don’t significantly bump up the list price simply because there is a pool). In other words, we did not pay fair market value for our house plus an additional $7k. The former owners took a loss, and we benefit. We’re responsible for the ongoing maintenance/utilities, of course, but for me it’s totally worth it and our cost per use is probably much more reasonable. (I haven’t done the math, to be honest.)

      Oh and one last thing, for me it curbs my desire to spend a few grand at a resort each year and it gives me an excuse to host parties with homecooked food, as opposed to more costly entertainment off property, like if we met our family at a water park for the day or met another couple at a restaurant for dinner.

      This isn’t meant to negate the concept of the article – paying for a $30k pool sounds crazy to me!! My point is, if you decide you really want a pool, you can make it happen in a much more affordable way.

    • Robin July 26, 2018, 3:18 pm

      Well, based on the comments here it seems like if you really want a pool (and would use it) the smart thing to do is to buy a home with a pool already installed. If pools are truly neutral value when selling, then that holds true for the buyer as well (in most areas in the US). This way the original owner already bore the lost opportunity cost associated with the original investment. You’d just have a use it enough to make the ongoing maintenance worth it.

  • Mr Crazy Kicks July 25, 2018, 11:53 am

    Agreed, a pool is an extra luxury with recurring costs, but that cost per swim can come down quite a bit.

    When we picked up our house on a short sale, it came with an above ground pool built into the deck. Rather than paying to put in a pool, we would have had significant upfront costs to remove it and repair the existing deck which is built around it.

    Rather than eliminating the pool, which I use everyday in the summer, we’ve set about optimizing the costs. Most of the chemicals for a pool are sold at inflated prices. You can get the same stuff for a fraction of the cost in your laundry aisle. Also, when you keep the chemical levels correct you can run the filter much less than 10 hours a day, I get away with only 3 hours.

    I’ve calculated we spend about $50/month or ~$250/year for all pool related costs including electricity, chemicals, and repairs. If you’d like some tips for saving your sister some money, I wrote up a post about how I’m optimizing our pool maintenance costs here: http://www.mrcrazykicks.com/how-to-save-money-on-your-pool/

    • Brendan July 25, 2018, 3:33 pm

      I’d say you’re the exception and not the rule, but good on you for optimizing your pool. I live in a neighborhood full of families with kids, and quite a few of these homes have pools. I work from home, so I have a rough idea of how often my neighbors use their pools, and it’s only slightly better than the treadmill in the garage.

    • Graham July 31, 2018, 1:36 pm

      I’ve been using the 3B method of keeping my pool going for several years now and got to say it’s one of the best things I have done. No need for fancy expensive pool chemicals from the pool stores when I can do the same thing at over half the cost from my local grocery store. My friends with pools can’t believe that I just use Bleach to keep my chlorine up and I can’t believe the money they are sinking into pool chemicals. I have slowly been able to convert a few but there are still some that are resisting.

      • Mr. Money Mustache August 3, 2018, 10:54 am

        Thanks Graham, I had never heard of that method, but I’m surprised that bleach would be a cheaper source of chlorine ions than liquid chlorine from the pool shop (?) – as a teen I used to lug home a 20 liter jug from the hardware store that cost about $20 to fill. Nowadays, the saltwater pool trend seems to be a much better way to go. If you’re a professional pool operator, that is :-)

  • Brendan July 25, 2018, 11:54 am

    Vegas trail running mustachian without his own pool! Yet, after taking into account the cost of running the pumps, changing filters, treating for mineral buildup, constantly adding water (evaporation), chemical treatments, and higher insurance rates, the well-run community pools are a far better option, and the backyard hose is always refreshing in a pinch. Nothing against pool owners, but if you’re like me and trying to get out of the “I need to sell my labor for money” phase of life, pools are just another money pit.

  • Angela July 25, 2018, 11:58 am

    We would LOVE to have an extra bedroom for guests, as we do get them often enough. However, we currently have a renter in that room, which is a WAY better deal than an empty room for when people come to visit. Maybe it’s just our group of friends, but no one seems to have an issue crashing on the couch or on an air mattress. Plus, the roommate watches our pets for free when we travel, which is worth a whole heck of a lot more :)

  • Matthew Novacek July 25, 2018, 11:58 am

    “a $30k more expensive house”

    Unlike many of the others on the list, wouldn’t you expect capital appreciation on this?

    • Matthew Novacek July 25, 2018, 11:59 am

      Though you’d probably also want to account for extra utilities (at least here in Texas you should).

    • Marcia July 25, 2018, 12:56 pm

      But how much?

      Honestly, I’d forgotten to mention this in my comment below, but our house is 2BR. When we were in escrow, my MIL asked “but where will WE sleep when we visit!” I said “on the sofa bed in the living room, or at a hotel”. The extra bedroom back then would have been $100,000 extra. You can pay for a lot of hotel rooms for that.

      Yes, it’s hard when she visits (alone now) – she’s game to share a room with the boys sometimes. We recently changed up our sleeping arrangements and the boys have the big room. Next time, we can bunk with our kids using our camping cots, and she can have the “master” (aka small bedroom).

  • Bill July 25, 2018, 11:58 am

    In keeping with muscle over motor, a sailboat is a reasonable option. They can usually be had for cheap if you put a little work into it, and obviously the wind is free. They do have ongoing costs of course, especially slip fees if you keep it on the water. It’s all what you prioritize of course, but our boat was 13k about 4 years ago, and in Texas we can use it year-round, and probably get out 2-3 times a month.

    • Kari August 2, 2018, 11:51 am

      Second that on the sailboat. We have owned two; the first one was a 30-foot boat (a Pearson 30, Bill) that we got for $3,500. We co-owned with a friend so split all maintenance costs; dropped our own anchor for a mooring buoy off our house, and my husband did all motor maintenance himself (we ran the motor about 20 hours/year). I sewed new canvas/did repairs, including minor sail repair, when needed. I think that cost us about $800/year, and we had a sweet guest cabin when friends visited, since our very small house couldn’t accommodate guests very well.

      Now we have moved away from the Chesapeake and are back in the Midwest. We have a 20% share in a 22 ft sailboat. We bought in for under $500, we all chip in for mostly DIY maintenance, and it’s moored off the lake house of one of the co-owners. Stored free in the winter as well.

      Wind power is a lovely way to be on the water!

  • Circular Economy July 25, 2018, 12:00 pm

    Bless you for this perfectly timed post.

    My BIL just bought a McMansion and guest house on six acres in a distant rural area of a county south of us. It has a beautiful pool with a water slide, grotto and Jacuzzi spa, with an “infinity pool” design overlooking a beautiful reservoir.

    He is a bachelor with lots of debt and a child support obligation but he has such grand plans for having folks come use the pool.

    The house is also suitable for many guests but he mostly lives there by himself with maybe a girlfriend sometimes. The master suite alone is the size of our living room and kitchen!

    It’s a grand lifestyle, but thank you for reminding me that it all comes at a price:

    * the pool must be maintained — how much for a pool guy to drive miles out there or how long before lack of maintenance makes the pool more trouble than fun

    * the house and guest house must be maintained — he’s busy and would never hire a housekeeper, so grime and mold will accumulate quickly

    * the six acres only need to be maintained if you want the plantings to survive in the desert heat.

    Our lives aren’t perfect, but neither are we overextended financially or domestically. We live close together and happily. We have enough storage for our constantly weeded stuff (yes too many books tho) and we can care for most of it ourselves.

  • Juan July 25, 2018, 12:03 pm

    I know pools are really expensive, but that ~$20 per jump REALLY puts it into perspective!

    Last weekend I went to the pool with my wife and daughter, it was $10 for the three of us. To satisfy swimming cravings, we also go to a near by lake at times. Worst case scenario, we pay $7 per parking. And we haven’t even accounted for the mental space and energy of caring for the pool.

    Decisions like adding a pool to the house, combined with all the above, explain perfectly why the complainypants argue it’s impossible to save and get ahead on a middle class salary. When in reality, it’s not hard at all for the mustachians . It’s like two completely separate universes.

  • Mike July 25, 2018, 12:04 pm

    I agree its worth costing things out but when you’re retired you do need some other stuff to do. We are 17 years retired and I’m 51. Our property (in Spain) which we rent has a 10×4.5m pool. First pool we have ever had and I didn’t realise in advance what the costs would be. However, assuming we pay 100eur more per month on our rent than a house without a pool, chemicals 500eur per year, water 200eur, electricity 200eur. I swim all year except Jan/Feb. Wife swims 6 months per year. 5 Days a week. 6eur per swim ($7USD). No too bad, and maybe it saves us in healthcare costs.

    We also have trials motorcycles which is a whole other story. All motorsports are expensive. Trials is one the cheapest. OK, you have to cost things out but also you have to have some fun. I would be bored shitless with the ‘free’ hobbies. Hiking and cycling are great, but where we live in the mountains I don’t have the energy to do that every day.

    Things change when you are retired. You have to prioritise but you also have do interesting things without constantly stressing the cost. You only live once!!

  • Jerry July 25, 2018, 12:06 pm

    A relatives pool, to put it mildly, recently sprung a leak. Instead of fixing they agreed the work and maintenance are just not worth it. They instead made room for a larger deck. Pools are nice to have until it’s yours to maintain. No thanks! That cost breakdown you did helps reinforce that decision for sure.

  • Paula July 25, 2018, 12:07 pm

    Yay! Dead raccoons!

    The other thing your sister could have done with that pool, especially in Canada, would have been to turn it into a walapini greenhouse…and grown some vegetables throughout the winter in it.

  • Chris July 25, 2018, 12:07 pm

    Before we found MMM we have 1.5 acres an hour away from work, and a 25 ft sail boat at the local yacht club. Our first serious move in the right direction was selling the boat. The second was moving to a new house bikeable to work. The new house came with a normal sized pool, built in 1980. The pool was at a decision point: rebuild or fill in.

    I rebuilt it. Replaced the liner, replaced the poured concrete deck, rebuilt a stone retaining wall, did all the attendant landscaping and planting. Even with a load of sweat equity, it cost us about $25,000.

    This has become a classic case of a sunk cost fallacy and an affirmation of the “Never improve a property in the year you buy it” mantra. We now run a pool pump for 5 months straight, buy chemicals, and worry about water treatment when we go on vacation. We fish out dead critters on the regular (bunnies, squirrels, and chipmunks), and have a tiny backyard without a veggie garden thanks to the massive footprint of the pool.

    Every spring I swear I’m going to fill it in, and never do, after all we have so much “invested” in it. (Insert heated conversation between marriage partners here.)

    I don’t even swim. The kids use it once a week. My wife sits in a deck chair and reads while they splash around. We could do this for under $2 a visit at the community pool which is… get this, less than 2 miles away, attached to my office… which I can swim in for free.

    • Kayote July 26, 2018, 10:13 am

      Are you offering to take the kids to the community pool? If so, then you have a better leg to stand on.

      Having to coordinate and haul kids to the pool can be unpleasant. It’s a lot harder to keep track of them with so many other people around. One wants to stop the other wants to keep going–harder to balance at the pool, at home you just send one in. Usually they’ll want snacks, can you pack the right ones? Do you have enough books, and ones you turn out to want to read?

      Financial isn’t the only cost involved. There’s a lot of other stressors.

      I’m not saying the pool makes sense. I’m just saying that bringing kids to a community pool is not equivalent to letting them play in a pool attached to your house.

  • Dr. MB July 25, 2018, 12:07 pm

    MMM, you are a kindred fellow Canadian. I used to think this was all just common sense but after reading many blogs I see that it is not! If people start thinking about things as their total costs including the clutter and hassle factors- they would limit themselves more.

    I really really enjoy my limits. It makes like so much simpler.

  • Dr. MB July 25, 2018, 12:08 pm

    MMM, you are a kindred fellow Canadian. I used to think this was all just common sense but after reading many blogs I see that it is not! If people start thinking about things as their total costs including the clutter and hassle factors- they would limit themselves more.

    I really really enjoy my limits. It makes life so much simpler.

  • Accidental FIRE July 25, 2018, 12:08 pm

    I grew up in Baltimore and no one could afford an in-ground pool but there were some above ground pools here and there. As kids we would swim free, it was called “pool hopping” then. We just jumped fences and got into their pool :)

    More seriously, love the numbers. For many things, unless it’s a full lifestyle and commitment it’s better do rent, borrow, or do on the cheap in some way.

  • Simple Money Man July 25, 2018, 12:09 pm

    Eye opening. It’s good to work backwards. Find out what’s free and select from there. And try to optimize that even more as well (e.g., we go to the library when we are out on the road anyway running errands instead of making a special trip and check out a bunch of things at once).

  • Joey D. July 25, 2018, 12:10 pm

    My in laws often joke about all of us going on a $500 boat ride during our Northeast summers – majority of the cost being the pricey docking fee at the marina. I’m super happy they own it, and not me.

    After getting off the boat, we travel a short distance to their vacation home that, thankfully, they own. And my wife and I always bring the food and wine.

  • afox July 25, 2018, 12:11 pm

    I dare someone to compute the per use cost of hot tubs and say something about their cost. I say I dare because hot tubs are more common among this tribe!

    • Phil July 25, 2018, 4:07 pm

    • strummin July 25, 2018, 11:25 pm

      I spend almost every other winter night in my hot tub and in the summer i use it as a pool! Dipping pool that is. Cost is 5,900 3 years ago, unsure of the increase in kilowat hours but its well worth it! I am glad my wife talked me out of a pool, as it only costs 10$ to use a very nice community pool just a few miles away, and for cooling off the tub works great!
      Anyways, we have AWD Subaru, love that car but if i could donit over i would have bought the tub and not the car…..as for RVs, hahahaha, cheers mustachians

  • Lily July 25, 2018, 12:18 pm

    “The advantage you’ll gain will last a lifetime.”

    Gosh that’s beautifully said. The spices is what makes life good and if your feet is on firm footing, then spices are a-ok. Everybody treats frugality like a race to the bottom. I did the same, I think I was a rep for the bottom. Try doing the math and seeing the numbers is 75% of the time eye opening for me. Then I decide if that spice is worth it.

    All ingredients for a damn fine life!

  • Paige July 25, 2018, 12:30 pm

    Regarding your mountain house calculations… We inherited a wonderful, luxury mountain house in Colorado, but as the estate funds dropped we thought we might have to sell it. Instead, the brothers let me run it via Evolve (VRBO type organization where THEY take the calls I do not want to field) and we have not only been able to cover taxes, insurance and repairs, but have made some money! Better yet, I block it out for a month every year for my vacation at 8000 feet. So don’t always say no to that extra home if you are willing to make it work for you!! However, your point is making me reconsider the idea of a lake house closer to home……

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 25, 2018, 12:41 pm

      Renting out your vacation home is a great step in the right direction. But you should also do the math on how much that thing is worth if it were to be sold. For example, if you could net $300,000 and invest it, the ongoing returns on that plus the savings on upkeep could easily top $20,000 per year. For that kind of money, you can easily rent any place for a month anywhere and have plenty left over.

    • Kiev July 27, 2018, 3:18 am

      I am living in Europe and do have a vacation home in car distance in a foreign country as well.
      A vacation home is luxury. You will get more return in capital with a real investment. If the vacation home is not very close to the place where you life, you are dependent on people to look after the house. Cleaning, repairing is much more complicated if you cannot do it yourself. This is really annoying and in contrast to the mustachian approach to get independent. Since I do love the house and I want to spend months in retirement in it, selling is no option.

  • Sean July 25, 2018, 12:31 pm

    With all due respect, MMM, where are you finding places to invest in Canada at a continuous 7% over the past 18 years????
    Have you gone off the deep end? (har har)
    Seriously, I’ve been trying; mutual funds, stocks…in the last 10 years, ROI’s have been lukewarm at best (pool metaphor, like it?)
    One problem I see with economic policy in this country is that interest rates are SO low that people who do save and I’m one of them, are penalized because the single largest expenditure of their life ( a house) appreciates at a far greater rate than MOST investments. The result? indentured slavery for those who bought into million dollar fixer uppers, and now these folks are jacking rents up to cover their absurd mortgages. The prime rate can’t be raised, otherwise the country would go belly up because there would be mass foreclosures.
    So…. what Canadian investments are you investing in?
    18 years ago, TFSA’s didn’t exist, so don’t forget to include the capital gains tax….

    • Mr. Frugal Toque July 25, 2018, 2:38 pm

      Okay, you asked him, but here I am living in Canada and he isn’t, so maybe I should field this one.
      For the longest time, I was invested in RBC’s Canadian Index Fund. Even with its 0.69% MER, it returned 7.6%/a for the last ten years.
      Now, I just use Vanguard Index funds, because they do basically the same thing with a lower MER. (7.7% since inception)
      The “economic policy” in this country hasn’t hurt the country’s growth and actually has been used as an example for every other country that got nuked during that “sub prime” problem a decade ago.
      I really don’t know where you’re getting the idea something is wrong with investing in Canada. Are you just tuning into some Channel N* somewhere and not checking? The investments are doing just fine in our country.
      (Channel N, as any reader of The Magic of Thinking Big will tell you, is where you hear all the Negative News from pessimistic type people).

      • Sean July 29, 2018, 10:26 pm

        Thanks for the tip! No, I’m the most pessimistic optimist around. Those look like 2 good funds, albeit extremely volitile (-9.2% ,+32%, -33.8,%
        Let’s put this in perspective though; I initially put money away to save for a down payment on a house (I live and work in Vancouver, I was born here.) when I got my “real job” 13 years ago.
        Even at 7%, ROI is not close to enough to match the rate that real estate has increased. Now, I’m not crying in my cornflakes here, it’s a big province, and I can move, but our economic policy did hurt those who were saving by bringing in the 40 year amortization period and 0% down mortgages (now gone, thankfully). The law of supply and demand dictates that with more demand (more people were now able to “get in the market”) and the same supply, prices would rise. They did. Astronomically. It was not good economic policy in that now interest rates can’t be raised because it would bankrupt all those people who bought in a 5% down on a 2.5% mortgage. If that rate was 6 or 7%, there would be less competition, and money invested would get some decent return.

    • TNuke July 29, 2018, 11:05 am

      From June 2000 to June 2018, the annual SP500 return, with dividends renivested, was 5.531%. The differences between that and 7% over 18 years, taking into account compounding, is huge. So MMM is way off in his calculation. (If you count taxes, he is even more way off.)

      • Mr. Frugal Toque July 30, 2018, 7:23 pm

        Sure, we could pick a bad time-slice of the market (which includes the dot com bust and the sub prime market crash) but we could also pick a slightly different interval – Aug 1, 2003 to July 30, 2018 – and get 7.3%, even though we included the sub-prime market crash in that interval.
        We should take long term averages, not select little 18 year ranges for our prospective multi-decade retirements.

  • The Naked Kayaker July 25, 2018, 12:31 pm

    Woohoo for sea kayaks! I got a bit nervous when I saw the kayaking photo in the email notification, worried that you would tell me to stop my “expensive” hobby. So I’m glad to hear you’re pro “cushy sea kayak”. Like mountain biking, it’s a bit expensive to get into, but once you have the gear, there are essentially no maintenance/recurring costs. Happy paddling!

  • Nathan July 25, 2018, 12:36 pm

    I think my non-mustacian parents would have heart attacks if they read this post and realized how much they’re spending. At least they’re thinking about selling their 80+ acres of land as a means to retire…

  • Laurie July 25, 2018, 12:36 pm

    We belong to our neighborhood pool. Still pay for it monthly but we can quit anytime. I guess it’s like renting. We’re still paying for the privilege but have no upkeep to deal with. Sounds like it’s time for some math though to crunch the true numbers.

  • freddy smidlap July 25, 2018, 12:38 pm

    we renovated our bathtub room about 8 years ago. it really did need it (the plaster was busted up with lathe showing everywhere but mrs. me mentioned “our tub is too small to take a decent bath.” who the hell am i to argue and we had a free iron clawfoot tub a friend had given us just sitting around. renovation was about 6k and 8 years later maybe 10 baths have been taken at around 600 a throw. of course we shower in it so it’s not really that but the 600 sounds more dramatic for the joke around the house….and now on the internet.

  • A San Francisco Yankee July 25, 2018, 12:41 pm

    I am often thinking of utility and reducing my per swim/hottub/workout cost of my gym membership.

    On the flip side, my motto is: “If its good for your health, its in the budget.”

  • Deano July 25, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The Tesla numbers really hit home for me. I had waited for the upgraded batteries, but after seeing the math calculate out for me, I think I’ll stick to the basic battery. I was excited to see you then started talking about AWD, but see that you weren’t applying that to the Tesla :(

    What are your thoughts on the AWD model 3? Do you feel it’s worth it?


    • Mr. Money Mustache July 25, 2018, 1:00 pm

      Although the model 3’s AWD option is apparently only $4000 in the latest price menu(?), I would still not get it myself unless I were driving frequently in deep snow. So, most of the continental US should stick with the base version.

      Why not go for a lighter, more eco-friendly (less materials to build it), more efficient car that is also less costly to buy?

      • Deano July 25, 2018, 1:54 pm

        “Why not go for a lighter, more eco-friendly (less materials to build it), more efficient car that is also less costly to buy?”

        I’m not sure if you asking why not go for the base Tesla or go for another car manufacturer. As for purchasing another, non Tesla, EV, it doesn’t fit my character. What I mean by that is other car companies have had the opportunity to create a nice looking EV and have failed to do so for many years. Many have bowed down to big oil -(think GM and ‘Who killed the Electric Car’) and setting them back decades. Tesla, to me, represents the future and I’d love to be able to contribute to that.

      • Lutorm August 16, 2018, 6:54 pm

        Any Tesla is a luxury item, IMHO. Unless you drive absurd distances, I don’t think you’ll never make the premium back in lower fuel costs compared to buying gas. If you care about the environment, don’t forget that manufacturing a car requires a fantastic amount of energy and other resources. I don’t know how long you’d have to use a Tesla to make up for that compared to not replacing your existing, working car, but I bet that’s also quite a long time.

    • Karl Fisch July 25, 2018, 4:36 pm


      Also take into consideration the tax credit it you are in the U.S. and it applies to you (comment thread about that above). It’s looking like that by the time the base battery is available, the tax credit will be cut in half ($7500 for the rest of 2018, then $3750 for the first 6 months of 2019, then $1875 for the remainder of 2019). There are other advantages of the long-range battery as well (easier trip planning, faster charging, peace of mind, earlier-gratfication :-) that are important for some folks.

      Having said that, the base battery is going to be a good option as well. Full disclosure: I’ve had a long-range Tesla Model 3 for about 6 weeks now, so am not unbiased. It’s still way too much to spend on a car ($38,500 after the Federal and Colorado incentives), but we made the decision to do it to support the mission as well. In our defense, it did replace a 1995 Honda Civic :-)

      We also bought a used 2013 Chevy Volt about a year and half ago. So far we’ve driven it a little over 11,000 miles and have only used 11 gallons of gas (most of that it made us use to burn up the original tank it came with – it doesn’t like the gas to sit forever).

  • Marcia July 25, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Ahhh, awesome post! This really speaks to me, because I honestly think about many things this way. Constantly. Much to the chagrin of many people around me.

    The pool: we don’t have one, but we belong to the YMCA. When we are “on it”, we use it a lot. I like to swim laps 1-2x a week. We also like to take our kids to the pool for open family swim, and the younger one might start their lessons soon. I cannot help but calculate the cost per use when we go – because on a good month, it might be 8 family visits (x4) and 8 individual visits – 40 visits makes each visit approximately $2.50. Not so bad. On the bad months (like when we are on vacation?) Oh buddy, this is a $100 swim, $25 each!

    It’s no secret that my house is small (1140 sf, 2bed, 1 ba no garage). I was VERY CLOSE earlier this year to starting the process of adding a bathroom and maybe a bedroom. Very close. But then I got to talking to a contractor working on a second story across the street. The costs of materials (like plywood) have tripled in the last 5 years. Hmm…maybe one toilet is just fine. I wouldn’t mind another bathroom, but I certainly don’t need a $75,000 bathroom.

    Just this week I had two convos with friends about cars – my coworker thinks I need to buy a minivan or SUV (my family hates road trips. Mostly because: a road trip in a Matrix kind of sucks. It’s cramped. Even with the box on top, camping is super hard.) My thought: the Matrix isn’t dead. With 133k miles, it’s just a baby. My other friend owns a minivan and large SUV and are headed off camping with the kids. I loaned them our camping cots (man, those things are a god send when you are over 40, just saying). She was talking about getting a pop up trailer. I mentioned that I totally want one … BUT, you can’t tow anything with a Matrix. So then, you are buying a bigger car AND a pop up camper, getting worse daily gas mileage – all to go camping 2x a year.

    So here I was on my way into work, trying to figure out what to DO for the weekend before school starts, when there is no school and no camp on Monday/ Tuesday. Oooh…Legoland is only $1500! (ha ha, I jest at the “only”, have to admit I don’t much feel like spending that when we just pre-paid for braces for the 12 year old). Then this post popped up on my e-mail. I think I’ll try to convince the family to go camping instead. There’s a nice little spot up north 2 hours at $30/night, right on the beach.

    Finally, on your health comment. I think that’s a big one. I spend the bulk of my Saturdays and Sundays on health. I run up the mountain on Saturdays. Do the grocery shopping. Cook and meal prep. Husband does the laundry. He’s recently started finding little house and outdoor projects, that he really wants to do as a family (aka, get the kids off devices). Our yard looks like crap and a visit to our families reminded us of that. (I told him to not be too harsh on himself because his family members don’t have a kindergartner). So he’s been power washing walls, staining indoor cabinets. We feel like we are finally out of the young kid fog – at 6 and 12, they can actually help accomplish things.

  • KG July 25, 2018, 1:09 pm

    I am wondering about the cabin calculation. If you look at the mountain cabin as a store of wealth instead of just a cost wouldn’t that make the calculations very different? Unlike a boat or RV wouldn’t a tiny house or cabin in a desirable location come down to the lost earnings potential of the money + the cost of maintaining the property? It definitely wouldn’t be as inexpensive as staying home and never going anywhere but still a decent tradeoff for a get away from the day to day.

  • Joey Graziano July 25, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Frugal alternatives are powerful!

    With my personal life, I’ve created a series of systems that dictated my behavior.

    As mentioned by the creator of the Dilbert Comic, Author Scott Adams, “losing ten pounds is a goal (that most people can’t maintain), whereas learning to eat right is a system that substitutes knowledge for willpower.”

    With regards to savings, if your habits subconsciously include frugal activities instead of expensive activities, money will naturally stick around your bank account as a consequence. On the other hand, you only have so much willpower. If your daily activities don’t require you to rely on willpower alone, you will have less of a chance to spend money. Every individual has different circumstances, but I am trying to stack the deck in our favor here. The less temptations available, the less of a chance you have of messing up the budget. Tweaking your lifestyle and creating systems of frugality are key to making a hyper saving frugal life not seem like such an extreme sacrifice.

    Example A1:
    For instance, If you can learn to enjoy reading a free book from the library for a date night with your partner, the amount of resources you need are minimal and most things you need won’t cost you a penny.
    Walk to the park (Free).
    use the existing Peanut Butter and Jelly in the refrigerator as a meal (Small cost).
    Download the ebook from your local library on your kindle (Free).
    Don’t own an ebook? Walk to the library and rent the physical book (Free).
    While on your walk, take the scenic route and indulge in a good conversation. You know, a conversation, the thing we used to do with another human being for hours back in the day. No Social media or texting (Free).

    Example B1:
    Now here is an example of Fees you are going to encounter on a typical date night:
    Two movie tickets (Fee).
    Snacks and drinks at the theaters (Fee).
    Dinner + Tip (Fee).
    The amount of fuel that is burned driving to the theater (Fee).

    Just for fun, add up the items in these two examples. I bet the costs of Example B1 would come close to your daily wage of working 8 hours for most people. However, Example A1 tricks your body into a little exercise and probably won’t cost much at all.

    “The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    • Linda July 26, 2018, 2:51 pm

      Perfect, perfect, perfect!…what a great observation Joey…. “if your habits subconsciously include frugal activities instead of expensive activities, money will naturally stick around your bank account as a consequence.” I’m already frugal and example A1 is to me a much more satisfying way to live, but this makes me think harder about really knuckling down and looking hard at everything I choose to do and their financial consequences.

    • TO_Ont July 27, 2018, 5:27 am

      I guess I have an advantage in this frugality game, because your first option sounds like a lovely day, and your second sounds a bit depressing even if it were free.

    • Debra July 27, 2018, 11:16 am

      I love the Teddy Roosevelt quote. I am afraid we are headed down the rabbit hole because our culture is going in a completely different direction.

    • Kevin July 29, 2018, 11:12 pm

      i think these are very astute observations. an example from my own life: living at my parents there was always an abundance of junk food readily available in the house, so i ate lots of junk food. when i moved away and started doing my own grocery shopping, all of a sudden chips, cookies, etc. were cut out. don’t buy them, and they’re not sitting in your cupboard staring you in the face the first time you feel a pang of hunger. problem solved just by removing the stimulus.


Leave a Reply

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

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


welcome new readers

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

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

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets