182 comments

How I Sold This Website for $9 Million

Dearest Readers,

I’ve been waiting to tell you this with considerable excitement for a whole year, but the sales contract prevented me from doing so until this moment. And as of April 1st, 2019, I’m officially free to reveal that:

Mr. Money Mustache has been sold!

Yep. I’m not sure if it’s the age-old truism that “Everybody has their price”, or the fact that I got bored after eight years of writing it and just ran out of things to say, but over time I have come to realize that it was time to pass this golden opportunity on to someone else.

The highest bidder in this case was Shamrock Financial Trust*, a financial products company in the Isle of Man, UK that specializes in special premium investments that beat the market while dodging the taxman.

I was unsure of exactly why Shamrock would be willing to pay so much for my collection of five hundred articles mostly about spending less money and investing in index funds. But when you put six zeroes after a number on a check, it is amazing how quickly uncertainty and questions can vanish!

From my understanding, a site like MMM has a certain value just from its ranking in the search engines, and ongoing traffic of several million page views per month and about 33 million unique visitors over its lifetime. But still, those are just numbers on the page and don’t seem real because I haven’t been taking full advantage of the opportunity.

But, the Shamrock leadership team has assured me that the site will take on a vibrant new life, with a team of professional writers churning out fresh content on the daily, and an SEO-optimized stream of monetized offers that deliver maximum value-added solutions to all stakeholders.

And I just thought I’d reach out to see if we could jump on a call to catch up on the bleeding edge of some big data, to see if there’s any Corporate Synergy in our Core Competencies.

Fuck! Don’t you hate corporate bullshit and business buzzwords? Me too.

(thanks to reader Ron Cameron in the comments below for mentioning this incredibly appropriate Weird Al / Crosby Stills and Nash song. It is SO good!)

It was both fun and sickening for me to type that cheerful little story, but hopefully you realized from the title alone that it is April Fool’s Day, and I thought I should play along with a preposterous headline of my own.

In reality, of course I have no desire to sell this website, because doing so would violate some of the core math of early retirement happiness:

  • It would subtract something from my life that brings me true happiness (the ability to be in touch with you, which in turn brings more friends and lots of challenge and a sense of meaning into my life)
  • while adding more money, which would make absolutely no improvement to my life because I am not feeling any pain due to a shortage of money.

And that’s the real reason I figured this lame April Fool’s prank also contained a life lesson that was worth sharing as a blog article. Because I am still hearing from people every day who are selling out their own lives for their careers.

So many people are using a successful working career and earning loads of money as an excuse for not facing the realities of life.

Although this is certainly not a gender-specific problem, as a 44-year-old man living in a wealthy area I am surrounded by peers who are afflicted by this disease of Success-itis.

People who are rockstars in the corporate sphere and at the peak of their careers, who have become so addicted to the activity that they can’t see they are just chiseled Kuhl-clad rodents jogging in the latest trail runners on a gilded hamster wheel.

Career success is a very sneaky thing, much like a layered salad of Superfood Greens that gradually devolves into a dessert of Creme Brulee enhanced with crystals of Crack Cocaine as you dig deeper. It starts out with all sorts of self-actualization and personal growth, but as you begin dining you are also hooked up to intravenous feeds of ego stoking and copious income. So even as the worthwhile parts fade, you grow more and more addicted to the superficial rewards.

Of course, the standard American tradition is to spend all of this money as soon as you get it, locking in a lifestyle that is so bloated and inefficient that you “need” to keep earning the enormous bucks to “support your family.”

It becomes very easy to justify career-itis as a noble and selfless thing, rather than the lame indulgence it really is, when you are simultaneously addicted to corporate accomplishment, and bad at managing the veritable shitload of money it generates. If you are making a multiple six figure salary in your 40s and still not even financially independent, please grow up and learn a bit about money beyond just buying yourself nice stuff. It should be embarrassing to be still dependent on a paycheck while sitting in such a privileged position.

But even for those of us who get the money part solved, with investments large enough to see us through several prosperous lifetimes, the career addiction still remains strong. The fact that people still end up on redeye flights, missing their kids’ school performances and barking out buzzwords at underlings during endless conference calls even with tens of millions in the bank, should serve as a real warning of how addictive this disease can really be.

So for this April First, I would like to issue a little reminder, for overly successful men and women of my overly rich country:

A successful career is a fine way to learn some life skills and earn some money. But if you’re still doing it at 40 years old, you are probably sucking at something else.

And if you’re still in the office at 50, you’d better be changing the world and not just a cog in a machine that is doing something you don’t believe in.

Since career-itis is an addiction to success, the easiest way to break free is to give yourself permission to suck for a while.

If you are a Successful Career Man and you want to start a family, there is going to be a 20-year period where you are either a half-assed worker, or a half-assed Dad, or both. But you can’t be amazing at both. And that is totally okay.

Because a good life is one that is well-rounded and nuanced. It’s not about PERFORMANCE at all costs. It’s about being okay with trying new things and making mistakes, and growing as a human in exchange for that.

Your kids don’t care if you make $75,000 or $75 million per year, because either of those numbers is more than enough to have all possible doors to happiness open to them.

So my challenge to you is not to work the longest and most fruitful career possible, but rather to move on to new and bigger challenges as soon as you are strong enough to do so. 

Complacency and doubling down on your existing half-satisfying job is a form of weakness. Moving on and trying new things is a sign and source of flexibility and strength. And mental flexibility and strength are the biggest allies you’ll ever find in the long journey through life.

Thus, of course I did not sell this website, and of course I’m going to keep occasionally writing things for it, on my own schedule and nobody else’s, while struggling and fighting and learning in all the other areas of life.

It won’t be perfect, but it will be interesting and fulfilling and awesome. I wish you the same in your badass and ever-changing life!


* This is a fictional name that I picked because it contained the word Sham, plus a real financial company from the Isle of Man sent around some bogus legal threats to a few bloggers several years ago so I thought it would be nice to combine the ideas. 

  • Samantha Cook April 1, 2019, 1:28 pm

    Hahaha! I love your April Fool posts, MMM! This one ranks right up there with the one about how your spending swelled to 253,000. Excellent message, too. I really hadn’t thought of my job in quite those terms before – how once we feel confident enough it’s time to break ties and go out and do something more challenging. Scary but -wow. The thing we probably ought to be doing in life all along.

    Reply
  • Paris April 1, 2019, 1:30 pm

    Phew! That was a good one. And the second half is totally on point, and a great reminder.

    Reply
  • Amanda April 1, 2019, 1:40 pm

    OMG…. I fell for this for a few minutes and was so sad until I remembered what day it was. For a brief moment I was plotting how to go save myself a copy of the “Shockingly Simple Math” post.

    Then I read the second half of your article it’s exactly what I needed to read right now. I’ve been feeling trapped and been struggling with feelings of inadequacy in my job lately with trying to balance it with life. Your advice “give yourself permission to suck for a while” is the best advice I’ve heard in a while. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Steve April 1, 2019, 1:43 pm

    I was talking back at your email, wondering if you could really be such a sellout! Haha! You got me. :) Nice one.

    Reply
  • Mike April 1, 2019, 1:47 pm

    Pedantry: The Isle of Man is not Part of the UK, but is a “Crown Dependency”.

    I, for one, welcome our new Corporate Overlords.

    Reply
  • Mustcho April 1, 2019, 1:48 pm

    Is this post saying we shouldn’t be working at 40? I’m in the midst of leaving a high paying job (200K/year) I despise to find a better balance in life. This decision means I will be working at 40, hopefully with a better balance.

    I’d rather have my kids see me in a career I enjoy and not be around 100% of the time than stick it out another 5 years at a job that’s killing me.

    Reply
  • Andy April 1, 2019, 1:52 pm

    The prospect of selling this fine website, April Fool or not reminds me of the Daniel Plainview (the original Mustacian?) deal scene in There Will Be Blood

    https://youtu.be/UdddIJd3bLc

    “then what would I do with myself?”

    Reply
  • Anthula D'Imperio April 1, 2019, 2:03 pm

    I was mad for a minute, then it just didn’t jive! You stinker.

    Reply
  • stevio April 1, 2019, 2:04 pm

    The best April Fool I’ve read…and I believed it for a moment. But, the best part was the moral in the blog. I am a hamster, but your articles show me a way out! Thanks for that.

    Reply
  • Bernz JP April 1, 2019, 2:05 pm

    I got fooled again!. Why do I get easily fooled? I was thinking, Rockstar Finance was sold last week and now this? Damn it!

    Reply
  • Cindy April 1, 2019, 2:08 pm

    hah! you got me! I thought… what????? and then the other shoe fell… LOL!! better than the year that three daughters came to me with tales of woe (one was pregnant, one was fired, one was engaged) but I only got caught by the first one…

    keep it coming!
    cindy in Wyoming

    Reply
  • Mr RIP April 1, 2019, 2:12 pm

    This is THE post I was looking for.

    “If you are making a multiple six figure salary in your 40s and still not even financially independent, please grow up and learn a bit about money beyond just buying yourself nice stuff. It should be embarrassing to be still dependent on a paycheck while sitting in such a privileged position”

    And I’m in my (early) 40s, making multiple 6 figures salary (but only since 6 years) and not (yet, but close) FI.

    That resonated a lot with me.

    Thanks Pete, a big hug!

    Reply
  • David April 1, 2019, 2:14 pm

    Hey so I’ll trade you a basket of blueberry muffins for your website. Or cookies if you prefer. You might have all the money you need for happiness, but do you have all the baked goods you need? *hat tip*

    Reply
  • Daryl April 1, 2019, 2:33 pm

    You have always set such a good example that I sold my blog (JumpToConsulting) today too. But I only got $5 million — did I get screwed? Check it out, and thanks for the inspiration for today’s post :-)

    Reply
  • Jay April 1, 2019, 2:41 pm

    The first few paragraphs I actually thought this post was true because when I googled Shamrock Financial Trust, a company named Shamrock Financial actually showed up which confirmed (in my head) that this post was true.

    Then about five paragraphs in, I was like, hold up…

    LOL

    My BS meter was on high alert today too. Well done MM. Well done…

    Reply
  • Angela Barker April 1, 2019, 2:44 pm

    I was getting more and more PISSED OFF as I read it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Catriona April 1, 2019, 2:46 pm

    Your superfood salad/creme brulee/crack cocaine metaphor just made me think of Joey in friends with the trifle/shepherds pie: ‘what’s not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Beef, GOOD!’
    I know that wasn’t the point you were making, but hey.

    Reply
  • Joe the plumber April 1, 2019, 2:46 pm

    Ironic that they are called shamrock financial trust, but they didn’t bother to take advantage of the low corporate tax rates in Ireland.

    Reply
  • Mister DS April 1, 2019, 2:47 pm

    Wow! That quickly switched from a funny joke to some seriously profound shit! This really has me thinking… For that I say thank you!

    Reply
  • Millionaire Immigrant April 1, 2019, 2:51 pm

    I was late for the prank but just in time to get the wisdom that followed. Lately, I have been thankful that I am not doing as well as I would have liked in my career. Otherwise, I might get stuck in “success-itise” forever. But now, I am not too far from breaking free. Thanks that my “career” sucks.

    Reply
  • dharma bum April 1, 2019, 2:52 pm

    Ha Ha!
    You had me for a few seconds, as I flushed with panic upon reading that headline!
    I know…I’m a little slow…but halfway into the first sentence I realized that it was April 1st.
    Whew.
    But, you STILL GOT ME!
    To one of your points, I just met with our accountant this morning to review the documents for the 2018 personal income tax filing.
    He facetiously asked me (with an envious little smirk on his face) if “life is good”, knowing that I retired 15 months ago.
    I told him it was GREAT, and I asked if he’s retiring soon (the dude is 66 years old).
    He told me that for the past 30 years, all he’s fantasized about is retiring, and now that it’s upon him, he says “he just can’t bring himself to do it”.
    Why?
    His career is is life, his identity, his ego, his self esteem, his meaning, his power, his importance, his purpose, his being.
    He ADMITTED this to me!
    He is scared shitless.
    This guy does NOT need the money.
    So, he says, he’ll start to “wind things down” over the next several years.
    Sheesh.
    He’ll die slumped over a ledger book (virtual, of course), for sure.
    Poor soul.

    Reply
  • Juli April 1, 2019, 3:00 pm

    Well, you wouldn’t be the first personal finance blogger to sell out for the big bucks, but I am glad that we still have your wit and wisdom to look forward to reading.

    Reply
  • Bill April 1, 2019, 3:09 pm

    But Mr. Money, I really need to buy an airplane to take me around to little airports all over Texas to eat unhealthy food!

    Reply
  • Mr.CBB April 1, 2019, 3:14 pm

    You Got me. I was like DAMN…. I’d be running for the hills and not looking back. Clearly I’ve had a rough start to April after my long shift at work. Well done sir.

    Reply
  • Mark Ferguson April 1, 2019, 3:32 pm

    I was so excited because you could finally buy your Lamborghini and stop worrying about all this frugal stuff!

    Reply
  • Ryan Lowe April 1, 2019, 3:57 pm

    YOU GOT ME!!! My wife and I were so sad for about 3 minutes, and then so happy to “have you back” in our lives haha.

    Reply
  • Mr. Nomad Numbers April 1, 2019, 4:20 pm

    This is another solid article Pete. I particularly love this sentence: “A successful career is a fine way to learn some life skills and earn some money. But if you’re still doing it at 40 years old, you are probably sucking at something else.”. Lot of people I know keep thinking they are ruling the word in their forty as they reach the peak of their career where in fact they lost it all to corporation.

    We left the rat race in our 30s to become full time slow travelers and could not be even happier since then. And since we had the chance to meet you at one of the Chautauqua we wanted to thank you for your being so inspirational to us!

    Reply
  • Jason J Marchi April 1, 2019, 4:34 pm

    You completely HAD me!!! I was so happy for you and then I read intently to figure out how I can turn 500 website posts into $9 million in eight years because I could certainly use the money — for my own retirement and to help others generously, as I have always done to my own financial detriment. You can’t take it with you, and how much DOES any one person really need? Just enough to pay the bills and have a modest home and modest comforts — JUST LIKE Jimmy Carter, who lives modestly — like EVERYONE should, in opinion, without pretentious show-off nonsense. I have a LOT of my own ideas about investing — as culled from my own experiences in the stock market that I have depended on for over 30 years since I’ve NEVER been able to earn big bucks, and the thoughts of Warren Buffett. Well, I’m happy you did not really sell, but I wish you HAD made $9 million gross on selling something you created. I’d LOVE to see that happen with one of my books being made into a movie! Happy rest of 2019!

    Reply
  • Janina April 1, 2019, 5:49 pm

    This was good, but you got me! I have been a loyal “mustachian” since the beginning and am usually keen to the April fools posts. I was sick to my stomach thinking you were leaving us in the hands of some corporate investment firm, which was washed away with a sense of relief and a laugh at the satire!

    Reply
  • Al April 1, 2019, 6:18 pm

    fell for it till I saw your f-bomb!

    Reply
  • Dave April 1, 2019, 6:34 pm

    Had me fooled. I was thinking hey wheres my cut of the 9 mill. I contributed a few excellent comments to the blog. And I’m Canadian. That has to be worth something

    Reply
  • Leslie Trotter April 1, 2019, 6:37 pm

    Great line- “A successful career is a fine way to learn some life skills and earn some money. But if you’re still doing it at 40 years old, you are probably sucking at something else.”
    Worth writing down!
    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Young FIRE Knight April 1, 2019, 6:38 pm

    This is a message I wish many of my friends would hear. Despite being in our twenties, many of them make boatloads of money, yet blow it all on dumb stuff. While there is still time for them to change, it seems they are headed for that path you have described.

    Reply
  • Dave April 1, 2019, 7:12 pm

    When I read big data I was like ok I’m outta here

    Reply
  • Anonymous April 1, 2019, 7:18 pm

    The shock was profound…
    Followed by relief! LOL
    Fair play, you got me! :)

    Reply
  • Katherine April 1, 2019, 8:16 pm

    Thank you for alarming me on April 1st again. Why do I fall for it every year?
    My boyfriend and I just sold our houses last fall and bought a 19″ trailer and a truck to tow it with. 48 years old and free. Not FIRE free, just free to live where we want, work if we want and find our little piece of land to homestead on in glorious Montana. Thank you sincerely MMM for starting me down this path to the dream.

    Reply
  • Chris April 1, 2019, 8:31 pm

    Day-yum!! This post was pure art. I just retired at 43, so I guess I kinda failed by your metric of retiring by 40. I’ll try harder next time:)

    Reply
  • Megan April 1, 2019, 9:22 pm

    It is 2 April here in China where I currently am for work travel. All the same this is a well-timed article and really resonates with me. I am not quite at that point yet but I absolutely feel like I am half-assing at my career and half-assing at home life. On one hand I do completely understand how hard it can be to walk away from the highest paid years in my career, and I relate to the One More Year people. On the other hand I feel burnout knocking strongly on my door. I feel like when I ran a marathon and hit “the wall” hard around mile 18. I think I’ll be limping across the finish line but I will make it!

    Reply
  • James M April 1, 2019, 9:43 pm

    The second part of your post on “Success-itus” deserves a post all on it’s own. I’d hate for future readers of this blog to skip over this post entirely as an old April Fools joke.

    Also, I know plenty of people who are suffering from this ailment just as you describe, earning $150K or $300K a year, and who have several million or more in assets. If they ever read this they might think “Oh, he’s talking about people earning $75 million a year and with tens of millions in the bank…phew! that’s not really me”. Perhaps you should consider revising your choice of figures?

    Otherwise another brilliant, insightful article!

    Reply
  • isip April 1, 2019, 10:03 pm

    Hey Pete,

    At first I was like, no way but damn I am going to miss ol’ MMM! Then I got it. Then I keep reading this truly insightful post that hit me on many levels about playing it “safe” and avoiding reality. Thank you for challenging our fears of change and new possibilities. Your writing is inspiring and personally frightening at the same time. You speak truth with relevance and substance. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Tonja Steiner April 1, 2019, 10:49 pm

    You get me everytime!!!

    Reply
  • Anonymous April 1, 2019, 10:50 pm

    I totally didn’t get the joke until the end. What’s super funny is I have the app as I just started reading your articles 6 months ago and decided to read tonight.

    Actual TEARS welled up lol, and I’m not even a super fan! I’m just enjoying your philosophy and was so sad. I can’t even believe my own reaction.

    I had to comment in case you read these, just to let you know how much you move random strangers a couple of states away. I do appreciate your articles even when they scare the crap out of me. (This one and others!)

    “If you are making a multiple six figure salary in your 40s and still not even financially independent, please grow up and learn a bit about money beyond just buying yourself nice stuff. ”

    I’m at six figures (just barely) and still struggling to figure it all out. HCOL area not helping. Working through it with your insight.

    Thank you for all that you do to inspire; even those of us in our 40s with six figure incomes who aren’t financially independent. Your work is appreciated.

    Reply
  • Erin April 2, 2019, 12:41 am

    Only read the first half of the article this morning as I was rushing to my corporate job for the day:-/ Lost complete respect for MMM. Glad I finished the article just now. Will sleep better tonight knowing this was a joke. Awesome creativity in messaging. Resonates big time.

    Reply
  • Anonymous April 2, 2019, 2:52 am

    Please don’t sell your website! Your articles are so meaningful and gives us hope

    Reply
  • Nehal April 2, 2019, 3:47 am

    Thank you for this post. This is definitely a wake up call, as your other articles. I am 38, searching my next IT job, and looking at your perfect description of career-itis. I feel fortunate to have seen your blog few years back (5+ years), thanks to the internet and technological advances and good souls like yourselves to share their journey selflessly. I am convinced 100% that I should start taking concrete steps towards financial independence, but it is hard to convince the family.

    I won’t give up, although on my own accord, to try and achieve this sooner or later. Gosh, it’s been 5 years I am aware of such a movement and haven’t done much yet! I must be April fooling myself all along that “I’ll do it someday”!

    Reply
  • Jess April 2, 2019, 5:01 am

    I am so glad I wasn’t drinking when reading the beginning of this. At first I thought the world was coming to an end with such a post from MMM! Relieved it was just an April fool’s joke haha. I completely relate to this. Each year as the pay goes up it seems harder and harder to imagine walking away from it all. Here’s hoping we do – even if only gradually at first and move on to more passionate pastures. Also love the sporadicness of your emails. I know most bloggers ramble on about consistency is key, but yours emails are like presents out of the blue with no expectation on when they will appear. Great :)

    Reply
  • The Frug April 2, 2019, 8:08 am

    Epic post. It’s definitely important to give yourself permission to suck for a while! If you can do that, improve your health, and become a bigger part of your family’s life then that’s a win for everybody. Also, every corporate buzzword in that Weird Al Yankovic video also appeared in the book ” Bad Blood, Secrets and lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” Highly recommended.

    Reply
  • Jay McConnell April 2, 2019, 8:17 am

    You totally got me! I was thinking, “Well, good for him. Can’t blame him.” Then, when you started citing that corporate crap, I read it twice, and thought “OMG, what happened to Money Mustache? Had he lost his mind?”. Haha. Cheers!

    Reply
  • Jackie April 2, 2019, 8:57 am

    This totally got me, especially since I read it on April 2nd. Well played! I loved the article too. It came at a time when I am evaluating new job opportunities with closer alignment to my values. Thank you for another thought-provoking post.

    Reply
  • gary fischer April 2, 2019, 9:05 am

    I was not fooled. Every time I see/hear those buzzwords, I’m reminded of a class I took many years ago where a list of them was reviewed during the first morning, and they were called faux pas words. If you said one during the rest of the class, you’d called out and be fined. We were offered a one-time chance to buy insurance so you could not be fined if you said one. My boss spewed almost all of the faux pas words all the time, so my teammates and I pitched in a few dollars each to buy the insurance for him. He kept shaking his head, saying no need to do that, but we insisted. Halfway into that first day’s afternoon, he was the #1 faux pas word offender, and thanked us for buying the insurance for him. The 3 day class would have cost him hundreds of dollars. We achieved synergy!

    Reply

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