127 comments

The Real Benefit of Being Rich

There have been a lot of big bills coming across my kitchen table recently. Property taxes, car registrations, income taxes, things for the school orchestra in which little MM plays the standup bass. Plus the usual credit card bills for all my spending on groceries and not-all-that-rare luxury indulgences. There’s nothing bad or unexpected in this pile of bills, but I still see it adding up to a tidy sum.

But this morning as I was looking at the latest one – a bill from the City of Longmont for all the various utilities, I noticed that the same familiar feeling crept across my chest that I had felt for all of these other expenses: a feeling of warmth and reassurance.

The utility bill had a little note on it that said “DON’T PAY – account is being paid by credit card.”

So I can be reassured that whenever the due date comes up, the right amount of money will be sucked out of my credit card account to pay for the electricity and gas and water and trash service. And then whenever that credit card bill is due, another automatic payment will suck the right amount of money out of my checking account, and I’ll remain debt free.

Isn’t this remarkable? I get to frolic around in this super comfortable house of mine, keeping it warm in winter and flipping on lights and stereos and pulling cold beers out of the fridge and hopping into a hot shower whenever I like. Hosting guests and sharing the fresh food and hot showers and cold beers with them too.

Music and movies stream in over the fiber optic internet connection, and my fleet of crisp and well maintained bikes flow in and out of the garage doors in the back without a second thought about how the bills will be paid. In fact, I don’t even know when a single one of my due dates hits during the month, and I also don’t keep track of when my dividends or payments come in from stock investments or my little one-owner business.

Everything is worry free, because I know there’s enough, and the very feeling of knowing that I have enough warms my heart and soul every single day. It is a feeling of liberation and freedom and a glider that keeps me soaring high above the bullshit of worry or having to sell out my free time for activities that aren’t really helping anyone. To me, this feeling is the very core of being a Rich Person.

But now that I’ve got you imagining a glossy and pampered douchebag, barking orders at my live-in assistant and personal stylists before I climb into a white-leather Lexus to roll down to the marina, I should mention a few additional details.

All this incredible luxury occurs within my small house on the train tracks, tucked into a less-than-gentrified neighborhood at the corner of a less-than-world-class city. When I sit at that kitchen table, I gaze out at a shitty pergola structure that really needs the first available appointment with my fire pit, which covers a sadly undersized side patio, which is currently the only outdoor living space on my postage stamp sized lot.

When I ride those wonderful bikes out of that tidy garage, I pedal past my 21-year-old Honda Odyssey, and I’m usually en route to Sam’s Club to pick up another backpack load of discount groceries, or to perform another few hours of dirty manual labor at my always-under-construction coworking space downtown. My flannel shirt may have holes in its sleeves from welding sparks and my jeans may have a ripped seam or two from performing squats without proper workout gear.

The two stories above are two different takes on the exact same life. As a high income professional, you might have shuddered at the second one. Riding a bike during Colorado’s unpredictable snowstorms or searing desert heat, eating at restaurants less than once a month, cutting your own hair, or standing atop a 32 foot ladder to reach the last patch of your house with a paintbrush are surely just the desperate acts of an extremely frugal man, who does them to save money because he needed to escape the corporate world, right?

But unfortunately for my uneasy high income critics, this is just not true. Because of my advancing age, natural growth of the stock market, and ongoing love for work including writing this blog, I can afford to not do any of these things. In fact, depending on how you measure it, last year I spent only about 5% of my income on myself. I could spend twenty times more and still not even have to go back and get a real job!

At the same time, I have a few acquaintances – perfectly wonderful and thoughtful people – who do spend twenty times more and are still struggling to pay the bills and work one last year to get ahead of the treadmill. And they compare themselves to their other CEO peers, noting with relief that at least they spend far less than those crazy spenders and thus are living sensible lives.

Who is the reasonable one here, and who is off with their heads in the clouds? Mr. Money Mustache, or Corporate Chief Christine?

The answer of course is that we are both floating in space. My lifestyle is less expensive, but it’s still way more than almost anyone gets to experience, even in the richest country in the world. A single man in a three bedroom house worth over $350,000, with a seven passenger racing sofa parked out back that can tow 1.5 tons of construction materials in his cargo trailer, both of which he only needs once or twice per month. Plane tickets and parties, nice clothes and Amazon deliveries. It is all stuff that my teenaged self could have never even imagined.

So I could spend more, but I could also spend less, and I could be just as happy at any of those levels. My spending level today is just the result of my own imperfect efforts to build the happiest life I can manage while wasting as little as I can without being overly inconvenienced. And hopefully so is yours.

The trick is in realizing you can always go further while also ending up happier in the process. In not being afraid to add challenge to your life, because the right kind of challenge is a win/win rather than a tradeoff. And to not worry about what experiences you might be missing, but being mindful of the beauty of whatever you are doing right now.

At almost every moment in time, there is always something you could be doing that costs absolutely nothing, but which also makes you absolutely happy.

Your lifetime wealth surplus depends on how often you choose to find these joyful moments.

And only when you go far enough so that your spending is only a small portion of your income, do you become rich. It is at this point that your incoming bills feel like a joy rather than a burden, and your children’s future educations feel like a playground rather than a minefield. Even lurking medical expenses or aging parents who may need your help or the inevitable blow-ups in the economy just become things you are prepared for, but not worried about.

Right now, if you have any sort of income at all, it is probably enough to make you feel rich. The only question is, what changes do you need to make to your life over the next few months to unlock this joyful feeling?

  • Mighty Investor April 16, 2019, 11:02 am

    I’ve been thinking the same thing a lot lately. It is really on the spending side that you get control of your financial life. And in our modern world, there is soooooo much we can do for free it is crazy. Thanks for reaffirming this perspective.

    Reply
    • Andrei Smith April 19, 2019, 6:12 pm

      That is one thing that is so striking to me in the 21st century. There are just so many things you can get into for a relatively low cash out-lay.

      On YouTube you have literally unlimited access to some of the greatest speeches, teachers, talks, and guide.

      At the library you can get just about any book ever published.

      We have a system of National Parks in the US that can blow your mind.

      That said, some of the more devious forms of entertainment can absolutely take over your life.

      With free entertainment come free addictions.

      It’s pretty useful to surround yourself with a community with varied hobbies so you don’t end up sitting by yourself playing video games or watching Netflix for 8 hours a day.

      Reply
      • Marc Guerra May 3, 2019, 7:45 am

        Great comment, you could probably write a few posts on free resources, most of which are under utilized.

        Reply
        • Gary B August 23, 2019, 12:05 pm

          Local Events – Finding local free events is a boon and there are often more available than you could possibly do. It costs a lot to publicize events, so sadly many great events that are already paid for [by your taxes, charities, corporate sponsorship (sneaky advertising), etc] are not known.

          Local Events Resources – Use google search “events near me” —https://www.cityspark.com/calendar/#!/ — https://www.festivals.com/search — each state/region has tourism bureaus or trade groups where I search “food vendors wanted YOUR STATE OR CITY”. Check local news station websites for community events sections. Visit the pushpin posting board at your coffee shop/library/laundromat etc. Finding the right collection of sources to search took a bit of time initially, but now check my bookmarks every couple weeks. I lightly recommend — http://www.evensi.us —since it pulls in events by some magic process from facebook, but it is also littered with a lot of junk events/advertising.

          Colleges / Universities – find the local colleges/universities to see what events are being hosted. Some are free, some entertainment is pretty good at a great price.

          Auctions – Two scores in one. You can get access to companies/businesses to see how they operate from the inside. Like a factory tour you were never allowed on. Plus, you get an idea of how much “valuable stuff” just isn’t that valuable. I’ve been inside a turbine power plant, the bowels of a sketchy flop hotel that was being razed, saw how fruits/vegetables/flowers get sold wholesale, saw where your hamburgers begin, and the sobering reality of what an “estate sale” is – your entire glorified life of stuff turned into fast paced garage sale fodder.

          Auction resources – Auctionzip.com, plus read up online what to expect from an auction. DON’T bid on any of the first few auctions, the pace/chant is too fast. You’re here for entertainment / curiosity, not spending.

          Meetup – meetup.com has the advantage of searching locally by interest area. Join a group if you like, since you’ll find like minded people with similar interests. If you’re not a group type person, scan the events groups are looking to attend and go independently of the group.

          Outdoors – zoom out on google maps and look for parks local to you. Find the local conservancy group, county park website, trails, lakes, preserves, etc. Meetup.com outdoors related groups provide great leads.

          Planning it all – There will be no central schedule for all these events scattered across all the websites and unfortunately there is no perfect way to get it all organized. I just cram every event into a special “events only” google calendar. It sorts them by time/date, showing overlaps of time, and allows maps as well. YMMV. You can plunk down $12 per family member to go the movies, or take a bit of searching and get local events for free, choice is yours… One more tip, I try to string 2 to 4 events back to back on the same day since I’m already doing some driving/packing a lunch/checking for good weather days.

          Reply
    • Daivd L May 3, 2019, 9:17 am

      And the ironic thing is the things you spend money on, are geared towards spending even more money: Airplane travel where you also have to buy drinks/pillows. Games where you then have microtransactions… the list goes on. It feels like you’re paying for the right to pay more. (If you choose that lifestyle…)

      Reply
  • Jimmy April 16, 2019, 11:03 am

    A friend of mine said something that resonated with me: a great aspect of having money is not having to think about money if you don’t want to.

    Reply
    • CB FI April 16, 2019, 4:59 pm

      +1 to this. I was taught as a kid that someone is “rich” when they no longer have to worry about money. Not even having to *think* about money is more broad.
      And I read this article wearing a shirt that is 15 years old. A plain grey polo that is well worn, a bit faded on the sides, and has several small holes in it. Still fits great and therefore still has some utility left for lounging.

      Reply
      • Andrei Smith April 19, 2019, 6:17 pm

        See- this is one thing I think about a lot. If you live in middle/upper-middle class in the USA the problem doesn’t seem to be running out of stuff. The problem seems to be hoarding too much stuff.

        My mum’s side of the family were holocaust survivors. As such, they had just an incredible knack for saving money. That said, they also kept just about anything that might ever have a use, however unlikely.

        I remember opening their cupboards and finding 50+ empty food containers stacked in neat little piles. Just in case they ever needed them as tupperwares.

        I personally can’t stand that type of clutter. The ultimate luxury is having a small number of things that serve you for every purpose.

        As such, I try and get rid of old worn out shirts, opting instead to keep a small number of nice ones that I can use regularly.

        Reply
        • Stacy May 8, 2019, 6:29 pm

          I feel the same way–space and tidyness is important to me. I would rather have less but have quality items that bring me happiness. …I do sometimes find these items at consignment and thrift shops. When that happens it’s even better!

          Reply
  • Penny Pinching Ninja April 16, 2019, 11:09 am

    I have always felt the same way about our bills being on auto pay and we rarely had the need to even look at them. Our financial life is so streamlined at this point that it has definitely taken a stressful burden off of our backs that I notice many of our friends and family have to deal with regularly.

    We feel rich in the fact that the bills get paid, while we are busy doing the things we love that usually do not involve spending money :-)

    Reply
    • Johnny Ro April 16, 2019, 5:13 pm

      I suppose am rich as well, per the lingo here. Let’s hope I do not run afoul of the US Healthcare system.

      I love autopay from credit card to the monthly vendors.

      For the bank to credit card, it autopays the minimum, in case I am not paying attention at before or at due date.

      I like to see what the credit cards are paying, and prefer o dispute anything using the credit bank than the savings bank. This is once every 1-3 years.

      This is part of my monthly financial look-see.

      Reply
      • Johnny Ro April 16, 2019, 5:18 pm

        I have no remaining pent-up demand for stuff, and I have a golden rule; all storage space should be clean, orderly and 2/3 full of things you know about and are intentionally keeping.

        I plateaued at a cheap life style, and have let the rising income accumulate.

        So, I share ideas with Marie Kondo and Mr MM. This is a very good site. Thanks

        Reply
  • vinyl1 April 16, 2019, 11:11 am

    I agree being rich is nice. As an affluent retiree, I drive an expensive luxury car, eat out whenever I feel like it, and dress well.

    I am spending about 40% of my income, but you can’t take it with you! I used to save $120K a year when I worked, but now I can only save $60K. I consider that ‘good enough’, and it doesn’t even count the untouched money piling up in my retirement accounts.

    Reply
    • Cubert May 3, 2019, 5:27 am

      I suppose the main thing is when you’ve reached an ability to retire early, you figure out a way to shed the need for prestige and FOMO. That’s my biggest barrier right now. Silly – I know.

      Good that you can be affluent because you’ve saved so much dough, but I think it’s less about being rich and more about power and control.

      Reply
      • Anonymous May 6, 2019, 3:23 am

        One idea for shedding the need for prestige is “voluntary hardship”

        eg. force yourself to walk/cycle rather than take car/train, or park somewhere further out. That way, when you do use your car you are instantly grateful that’s it’s any car, even an 11 year old Honda Civic*

        *yes, this is my car and I practice voluntary hardship via a combination of car/cycling/walking ;)

        Reply
  • Mark Baldridge April 16, 2019, 11:27 am

    I 100% agree. Currently my wife and I and our two children are living on ~$1200/mo while I’m in engineering school. We’re very happy and have a few close friends to spend time with. I have LOTS of hobby projects to keep me interested when not in school, and various work around our house as I’m the property manager (sort of) of our rented duplex. We’ve got ~$25k saved that we plan to live on until I graduate.

    I don’t have a job/internship/co-op lined up for the summer, and that’s okay! We’re going to chillax and have a bunch of family time and go camping and sailing!

    It’s not a fancy life by many people’s standards, but it feels luxurious to us and we’re very happy. And that’s what matters.

    Reply
  • Financially Fit Mom April 16, 2019, 11:37 am

    As I am not quite to your point of life (YET!), I have to laugh because just this morning I cancelled my automatic investment to Vanguard. Not because I don’t want to keep money flowing in, but because it makes me feel like I am taking action toward my goal when I log in every week and add more money. Yes, it’s an unnecessary step and it’s typically the same amount (I get geek status excited when I can add a little more than normal – like today!), but there is something about the manual effort that feels like a step toward my goal. It won’t be long until I can switch to auto pilot, but for now, that psychological fix of hitting submit week after week on Vanguard helps remind me why I’m not hitting submit on things like Amazon or travel sites or (sadly) Chautauqua registration.

    Reply
    • Morjax May 2, 2019, 1:23 pm

      I think there’s something to be said about putting the boring and exhausting stuff on autopilot, and saving the exiting and fun stuff to do manually :)

      Reply
    • BK Spiel May 5, 2019, 7:58 am

      I feel the same as you, Financially Fit Mom. We are new to the whole idea of getting off the hamster wheel (like, a year ago we decided to live ‘abnormal.’ Step one is paying off the idiotic consumer debt we piled up in our 20s. However, something that makes me immensely happy is going in, every single time we get a paycheck, and manually paying every single bill I have budgeted to pay with that check. We went through a couple of years after the 2008 crash where we couldn’t afford to pay 100% of our bills every month. So even though we don’t have much left over (yet,) we still have the ability to pay every bill on time, and I have a little extra to throw at debt every pay period. And it makes me happy every single time our account gets to zero, because I like knowing it all went where I told it to. It’s just so satisfying.

      Reply
      • Financially Fit Mom May 6, 2019, 5:40 pm

        Keep at it BK and remember that YET! I remember paydays being my high to pay off debt and soon the net worth hit zero (who would think someone could get so excited about ZERO?!) Then every dollar moved that net worth bar higher and higher and the higher it went the faster it got higher thanks to the compounding. Sure, I still have a ways to go, but it’s amazing seeing what just a few focused years can do!

        Reply
      • NWA-non August 21, 2019, 1:11 pm

        Yes! I get an insane amount of satisfaction in paying all our bills, manually. So much so, that I have the amount of each bill for each recurring item stored and plotted in graphs for the last 5 years. This actually makes us better understand if we are moving away from the average of our monthly expenses. Not that we have to know that but I prefer to know that.

        I like the control that I have over knowing how much each bill is and the peace of mind that it has been paid.

        I usually have to log in twice or thrice a month to pay all bills, and each time it takes less than 2-3 mins.

        Reply
        • Rich August 31, 2019, 6:01 am

          Whether manual or automatic, I love all of the commitment and inspiration I read here.

          I, too, used to love writing checks (checks!) to pay down my student loans, credit card debt, mortgage, etc. It was a thrill to see the balance owed shrink each month.

          Now, twenty years later, I’m with MMM in that I prefer to automate, but I still check that “net worth” pretty frequently. As Financially Fit Mom points out, it’s awesome to see compounding work for YOU rather than for your bank! And a huge relief to know that it’s “enough”.

          Reply
  • MarfaPosadnitsa April 16, 2019, 11:54 am

    Still sitting in the corporate chair – but love and respect every word in that post.

    Reply
  • Steveark April 16, 2019, 12:06 pm

    I’ve got some truly wealthy friends and many would consider me almost wealthy as well but what I’ve noticed is my confidence and comfort level is no different than the billionaire friend I walked around the track with this morning. She drove there in a six figure Porsche and I drove there in a $7,000 old Infiniti but we both sat in leather heated seats and both could go zero to sixty in an eye blink. We both never worry about being able to pay bills and both have everything we want. Being wealthy is as simple as not wanting more.

    Reply
    • Mighty Investor April 16, 2019, 4:47 pm

      Steve,

      I love A) that you are strolling the track with a billionaire, B) that it is no big deal and you don’t see much of a difference between the two of you, and C) that you drive a $7,000 Infiniti. I’m guessing you would be the more interesting conversationalist as well. ;)

      Reply
      • lurker April 18, 2019, 3:20 pm

        LOL it is remarkable how dull billionaires can be…..

        Reply
        • Andrei Smith April 19, 2019, 6:21 pm

          I’ve had the interesting opportunity to meet three or four billionaires in the last 7 years.

          All were white men that had made money in the growth of technology companies.

          That said, they varied in age and life experiences.

          While one was a “classic” old white guy billionaire (with ridiculous houses and garages full of un-driven luxury cars), another lived in a little condo and spent all day working.

          They all had interesting perspectives, and were sufficiently intelligent, but most had just taking a chance at the right place and the right time. Not really more or less interesting as a group than anyone else.

          Reply
    • Nuke April 19, 2019, 4:55 am

      “Being wealthy is as simple as not wanting more.” Wiser words were never spoken.

      Reply
  • Jose April 16, 2019, 12:30 pm

    Love this reminder of what true wealth is (love, health, happiness). Especially as we start thinking about summer vacations.

    Reply
  • F April 16, 2019, 1:05 pm

    Great post! Focusing on building skills gives me more pleasure than buying junk these days, and you helped point the way to that for me.

    Very true that we should appreciate the beauty of what we’re doing now, and that there’s always something free and awesome to do! Sometimes that awesome thing even produces money.

    Reply
  • bfraz April 16, 2019, 1:15 pm

    I’m on my sixth load of firewood this week, in my $800 pickup, in my ripped jeans that have paint on them… from being at the top of my own 32′ ladder. No one would believe I’m a millionaire, and I like it ALL this way.

    Reply
    • Johnny Ro April 16, 2019, 5:25 pm

      I am with you on frugality.

      Earlier this week I patched a pair of year old Costco blue jeans, ripped by the knee when hopping over the chainlink fence to dump cut up scrap wood on neighbors kindling pile (instead of put the uncut stuff out for trash). Used iron-on plastic, underneath. Good to go. Satisfying repair of a mild friendly pair of cheap pants.

      I will wear to work at the multinational company I work for. Deep casual wear in USA offices and I am not a big shot there. The pants will be clean though.

      Haha top that!!

      Reply
      • Fred Lee May 2, 2019, 9:27 am

        Unless you’re wearing a $3 Kirkland t-shirt with those patched Costco jeans of yours at your Fortune 50 job, you are living the opulent lifestyle and I’ve got you beat.

        Reply
        • Brotherbryan May 2, 2019, 12:56 pm

          Love it. I’m a lead in the anti-corporate dress here at my job as well.

          Reply
  • TJ April 16, 2019, 1:38 pm

    When I saw the title of this post, I thought “Wonder what he calls rich.”

    By your definition, I am. My bills are all on auto pay and my optional personal spending only accounts for less than 5% of income. Could use more of my income for personal spending and don’t have any desire to do so. At the end of the month, my job is to move money around a little or take the extra out and invest it. Like you, my lifestyle would not be considered luxurious by most, and it’s all I desire. So it’s a win in my book.

    I still have debt, that is comfortable to live with in my budget today and is tax advantaged so not in a mad dash to pay it off. I would not call myself financially independent, or rich, until it is paid. I hate making the interest payments but like having my cash cushion more. Could use my ROTH to pay most of it off, but could not build it back up so I wait.

    There are still things I reach for, and budget for them monthly. I could buy many of them today, which is very freeing, and I like saving up for them more.

    I remember reading a blog about a woman who told her co-workers she was financially independent and they looked at her like she was crazy since they knew what her life was like. Would guess I am in a similar situation. I have everything I want, with lots of extra.

    Believe Financially Independent is a phrase I would use over rich, and it works out the same. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  • Jeff April 16, 2019, 2:11 pm

    Great post. Curious, how do you automate deposits to your checking account to exactly cover your credit card bills? Do you have that linked to your investment accounts?

    Reply
  • Ethan April 16, 2019, 2:41 pm

    Great article, but why on earth are you still receiving so many paper bills? As an environmentally-conscious technology buff, why wouldn’t you sign up for e-billing whenever possible?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 17, 2019, 11:59 am

      Haha, good question Ethan! I have of course set EVERYTHING to paperless for at least the past 20 years.. but for some reason the city still sent me this bill. I find you have to tell the older organizations (including Vanguard) multiple times before they stop sending you envelopes.

      Related tip: if you ever get flyers or “money mailer” bullshit in your mailbox, look carefully in the corners and you will often find the name of the marketing company that sends out the packages. Almost all of them have an unsubscribe option, so I get after that vigilantly. Also check out dmachoice.org and optoutprescreen, wo reduce credit card offers and other stuff.

      Reply
      • GingerFi April 18, 2019, 11:15 pm

        Thank you for the tips on reducing this waste in my mailbox! I’m on it.

        Reply
      • Johan April 21, 2019, 7:14 pm

        Another good service to use for getting rid of junk mail is: https://www.catalogchoice.org/

        I love coming home and seeing an empty mailbox.

        Reply
      • NWA-anon August 21, 2019, 1:15 pm

        Or better still, stuff old newspaper or other non-identifiable papers in return envelopes and mail it back! The company pays for postage, they get back junk, you reduce junk, and the USPS makes money. Win-win all around.

        Reply
  • affirmative April 16, 2019, 2:56 pm

    Man, you’re just an awesome dude MMM. Changed my life. Seriously. Wish someone had taught me this perspective when I was 20 years younger…

    Reply
    • Andrei Smith April 19, 2019, 6:24 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. I was so blessed to start reading this blog at the age of 23 or so. Over the last five or six years MMM’s perspectives (and ERE’s) have profoundly affected my life’s trajectory.

      Wonder what landed me here in the first place…

      Reply
      • dude April 22, 2019, 6:23 am

        Yep, same here. I don’t guzzle the MMM kool-aid, but I for sure drank from the cup, and it’s made a huge difference in not only my net worth (which is soaring), but my perspective on a lot of things. Retiring next month at 54 with nary a care in the world. That’s freedom.

        Reply
      • Anna Turova April 29, 2019, 9:22 pm

        Excuse me, Andrei..
        What is ere’s?
        Thanks.
        A

        Reply
        • Al May 2, 2019, 9:05 am

          http://earlyretirementextreme.com/

          ERE = Early Retirement Extreme

          He is a little bit more extreme than MMM in some of the details but remember it is all about the attitude.

          Reply
          • dave May 25, 2019, 10:02 pm

            Some people find Jesus. I found Jacob. He literally changed my life, went from wanting to kill myself to loving life in a matter of months. MMM came later, when Jacob “unretired” from his blog to work in finance in Chicago, because it interested him more than anything.

            Reply
  • Chris April 16, 2019, 3:20 pm

    A solid post.

    My wife recently asked me to order what’s most important to me because we were having very wealthy friends over (they summer on the North Fork of Long Island and have a home in Sweden), and she was feeling insecure about our home. So I told her, “Retirement” is the thing I want after living at the level I like, which is spending about $8-10k/month. I don’t care about our home beyond it being habitable to a 21st Century standard.

    Knowing this, she said that she was going to work harder to get a promotion so we could pay off our mortgage faster and get me home. I figure I’ll be 48 and will teach college part-time and watch my grandkids part-time.

    Reply
  • Papa April 16, 2019, 4:19 pm

    We’re not there yet, but just knowing we’re on the path that will lead to that is freeing. Even just having FU money goes a long way to feeling free. Not tied to the same dead end job and not tied to toxic situations. True freedom to take a chance or do something more enjoyable in the day-to-day. That feeling is great as it is. I can’t wait until we get the full feeling.

    Reply
  • Anonymous April 16, 2019, 4:30 pm

    Thanks. This is exactly what I needed to hear today.

    Reply
  • Steve K April 16, 2019, 5:45 pm

    Whenever I see a beautiful sunset, I remind myself that Jeff Bezos, George Soros, and Warren Buffett’s money combined could not buy a better seat. God provides the view I’m enjoying for free! : )

    Reply
    • lurker April 18, 2019, 3:23 pm

      Amen brother!

      Reply
  • California peace April 16, 2019, 5:59 pm

    We are the same: automated bill pay, no expense is ever a crisis, small house that is more than enough, hummingbirds visit our permaculture-inspired urban backyard, more than enough. Abundance.

    Reply
  • Jenn April 16, 2019, 6:06 pm

    As a student, I’m far off the point that I can look at my bills with joy – but I think that there are also so many free opportunities and challenges that are open to me thanks to my position, and will bring me joy.

    I guess it’s all just a matter of finding the things you can be grateful for every day 😊

    Reply
  • Mr Shirts April 16, 2019, 9:08 pm

    This is good timing and a reminder – I am walking away from a $300k/yr job because I have enough. Wealth becomes measured in denominations other than money at some point. Time and relationships are the start

    Reply
    • BurninFIRE April 18, 2019, 7:48 am

      Thx for this reply!!! I too am in a high income earning job, and wrestling with “when” to walk away. I’ve hit my number, but keep getting bombarded with the lingering thoughts of; what if this happens? That leaves me continuing the grind, and thinking another 33k to the stash will provide that additional $100/month income (thus, alleviating the what if’s). I guess at some point, all of us need to take that plunge and LIVE OUR BEST LIFE!

      Reply
      • JSto May 7, 2019, 6:55 am

        I feel this as well – hard to walk away from a high earning position that I (for now) enjoy – so, I don’t sweat it. All opportunities pass, and this one will too, and when that happens I’m done – in the meantime working to create hobbies and activities that I enjoy enough take the place of the career…I can become easily complacent and bored, and want to avoid that “feeling”.

        Reply
    • Katie Camel April 18, 2019, 10:23 am

      This comment is probably my favorite among the responses to this post. You’re correct, as is MMM, that monetary wealth beyond a certain point is unnecessary because the truest wealth is in time and relationships and having the freedom to choose how to nurture those relationships or spend that time.

      Just yesterday I was feeling a little sad not having the financial resources of a few people I know, but then I realized all that I do have and that my jealousy was not necessarily about their monetary wealth, but their relationships. Funny how we don’t always recognize what’s really missing and how we attribute it to money.

      Lovely post, MMM! Thank you. :)

      Reply
      • tom April 24, 2019, 4:32 pm

        Love this line:

        Wealth becomes measured in denominations other than money at some point.

        Reply
  • Kiev April 16, 2019, 11:51 pm

    Hi Pete,

    I am wondering about the hot shower section of the article? Maybe one day I am visiting Longmont. Should I take a bedpan with me ;-)

    I did like you articels in the past as well:

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/09/18/is-it-convenient-would-i-enjoy-it-wrong-question/

    https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/02/what-is-stoicism-and-how-can-it-turn-your-life-to-solid-gold/

    Greetings from germany,

    Kiev

    Reply
  • Gwen April 17, 2019, 7:22 am

    You know you’re rich when you splurge on the finest of pre-shelled pistachios! You could’ve bought a bigger house, but then you would be paying to heat and cool extra space. You could’ve bought a smaller house, but then you wouldn’t have room to do all your hobbies like rock out with band mates in your basement. There’s value in finding the right sized space for you. I think a studio or a room in a shared apartment is too little for me, but I also didn’t need the fancy 3 bedroom house. For me, the right size is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a fire pit in the backyard and room for a garden and a hammock if I’m really lucky.

    Reply
  • Ben Kurtz April 17, 2019, 7:58 am

    Somebody once told me an old Hebrew proverb:

    ‘Who is rich? He who is happy with his portion.’

    Sounds like that advice is still true, two thousand years later.

    Reply
    • Married to a Swabian April 17, 2019, 6:49 pm

      Very cool. My wife just posted a very similar saying in German on our refrigerator:

      Zufrieden = Frieden

      Contentment = Peace

      So much to be thankful for already … less really is often more!

      Reply
      • Robin April 22, 2019, 10:38 am

        Well sure, you can’t have “Zufrieden” without the “frieden”.

        Reply
  • Chris B April 17, 2019, 9:14 am

    I sometimes get mixed signals on the various moves we can make for financial convenience. Automatic bill pay has certainly saved me some late fees, credit dings, stamps, and time. However it also makes me think less about the length of my hot showers, how I set the heat and AC, or the consequenses of holding the fridge door open while scanning for potential snacks. It is handy how Amazon, WalMart, and eBay save my billing info, but this also encourages impulse purchases. People who try a physical-cash-only financial diet tend to cut their spending dramatically.

    I suppose the solution is to enjoy the convenience of effortlessly paying for everything but also to never fail to review bills as they arrive. If one is doing things right, this becomes a ritual of gratitude and healthy self-challenge: “I am so lucky not to have to worry about bills, and look how much room I have to waste even less!”

    Reply
    • Anonymous April 23, 2019, 5:43 am

      Try watching some of YNABs YouTube videos (no need to actually purchase the software). Manually moving money around isn’t the best use of the limited cognitive resources you can devote to finances. There are higher value ways to think about how money is being spent through either budgets or financial tracking with periodic analysis.

      Reply
  • Alistair Twi April 17, 2019, 10:10 am

    In the UK we call it Direct Debit, where certain companies can be authorsied to take their bills from your account. you normally get a discount for using this as they have zero hassle and cost. Not every company can do this obviously and I think there is the automatic right to dispute an amount and take it back.. it’s really good for floating allong.

    but of course if you sign up for everything you stop noticing what your monthly outgoings really are…

    Reply
    • Neesy April 17, 2019, 12:15 pm

      In Australia, there’s often an extra fee for Direct Debit. So I prefer automated bank transfers.

      Reply
  • rxfish April 17, 2019, 12:20 pm

    I’m currently a student with no income and loads of debt (that I will be able to pay off quickly due to finding this blog and a high income I will soon have)….I feel rich everyday. I think anyone can feel rich if they change their perception. When I was meditating with some friends the other day I felt so at peace and absolutely happy and it really reaffirmed the concept that you don’t need to pay for happiness.

    Reply
  • Bill April 17, 2019, 1:18 pm

    Sound advice. I was having a conversation recently with a friend who is super-frugal and is recently retired. Like you he lives in a fancy but paid-for house. I, on the other hand, have always made more than him but continue to slave away in the corporate world. The reason is I have an unquenchable thirst for learning and new activities. My latest is flying light airplanes. Take a man’s wallet and he’ll be broke for a day. Teach him to fly and he’ll be broke for a lifetime. Anyway, I was talking to my friend, and he was beaming about having met his lifelong goal, after many years of planning and sacrifice. He has bought his freedom. I hung my head a bit and lamented that I keep such high-cost hobbies, always working toward some new paper to hang on the wall. He pointed out that his goals are not my goals, and vice versa. We are both chasing freedom. For me, flying is freedom. I’m willing to pay the price. And heck, working is fun, especially now that I’m mentoring the new guys rather than just grinding out code.

    Reply
    • Anonymous April 23, 2019, 5:47 am

      I have an annoyingly expensive hobby as well. I aim for the “pay 25% of what everyone else pays” goal MMM discusses. Really, I think I’m at more like 5% after some smart choices ammortized over the years.

      Reply
  • Kate April 17, 2019, 1:33 pm

    Another benefit of always having enough for your own expenses without worry is the flexibility to be generous. My husband just got a quarterly bonus, and while we will save most of it, it feels great to set aside a big chunk to just give away. We have no needs to fill, no debt to pay down, no expensive toys to buy, so the money is easy to give away, and brings us more joy that way.

    Reply
  • Ben April 17, 2019, 1:48 pm

    @MM, the bills that you have on autopay (utilities backed up by credit cards which are in turn backed up by checking account) vary from month to month…utilities, food, whatever your luxuries are. That means a variable amount of money is exiting your checking account each month. Which indicates you must keep more money in your checking account than what you actually need to account for this variation. Which suggests that money is not being optimized in some sort of high-interest account.

    Is that a correct interpretation of your system? Are you not annoyed with that lack of optimization? Does the small amount that is not being optimized (relative to your vast wealth), not concern you due to the vastness of your riches?

    I don’t know if I’m full in on ‘FIRE’, but I do try to save ~40-50% of my income. So, for someone in the accumulation phase of financial independence, this system wouldn’t be best right? Essentially leaving potential earnings on the table.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 17, 2019, 2:50 pm

      You got it, Andy! The more free time you have relative to your money (and the more you enjoy certain optimizations), the more attention you should pay to them.

      So in the case of the checking account, I leave a few thousand dollars in there, which might cost me $200 or so per year in foregone investment returns compared to having everything invested in stocks. In exchange I get to not think about how much is in my checking account, ever.

      I don’t optimize ANYTHING purely for money, and haven’t done so for at least the last five years or more.. because I realized that more money would not make me any happier. But I still work hard on stuff I find fun, and some of that does generate money or save it. It’s a confusing mix, but during the times I get it right, a fun one.

      Reply
    • Jenn May 7, 2019, 9:26 pm

      One thing you can do is set up those credit card auto-payments to come out of a high-yield savings account. Most credit cards allow this (aside from Chase and Citi as far as I know). Then the cash cushion to pay them seems a bit more worthwhile.

      Reply
  • BobJ April 18, 2019, 4:15 am

    “Baby Steps”.. THANKS MMM. I just purchased my lease car instead of buying a new one.
    On to the next item.

    Reply
  • Rytis April 18, 2019, 6:30 am

    For some reason, at my current stage in life, I just love tracking all the money leaving my account, and doing it manually. I get my paycheck, connect to the bank, distribute all savings, taxes, utilities, etc. I see the numbers, I feel in charge.

    But this could be because I am just starting my journey towards FI, and I love keeping and tracking a budget just for statistical purposes.

    Reply
  • Kris K April 18, 2019, 9:03 am

    I find life FAR more fulfilling and meaningful taking walks, gardening, raising chickens, cooking and sharing meals, than spending all day in an office. Wouldn’t give up our frugal life for anything! It allows my husband and I to truly share our lives. Even today, a weekday, we’re off to walk the dog to the library and support a local coffee house. Then coming home to make a pizza with a friend. Gotta go get the laundry from the line ;-)

    Reply
  • Luke Frisbee April 18, 2019, 3:55 pm

    So… You’re a Modern Thoreauvian?
    fell asleep reading him in college and did the “It’s a Wonderful life” thing. I leaned a little less to the needing to work for money, and more to the make sure you don’t turn a want into a need o you can have more time for yourself.

    Reply
  • Suvi April 19, 2019, 2:25 am

    This was highly appreciated!

    I absolutely notice that the more time I spend in my ok-but-not-that-fulfilling job, the more money I tend to spend also. Not because I can, but because even with all my knowledge and goodwill, having less time with family and creative hobbies leaves a slight hollowness that’s easy to fill with buying. Not stuff, but experiences: lunches, bar nights, weekend trips, the lot. And it’s not the spending that annoys me but the time that is forever gone. I’ve been meaning to go back working part-time for a while now, should really get into it already!

    Also the two descriptions of life were lovely. So often it seems like people want others to be “certain kind of folk”. Can be harder to fit in when it’ s really half this and half that, but luckily fitting in is not mandatory anyway.

    Reply
  • David April 19, 2019, 4:52 am

    It really is great knowing that all the bills are covered and you will survive no matter what. But for me having money is not so much about covering future costs as it it about unlocking potential. The idea that I could just travel to the other side of the world if I wanted, start a new company, send my kids to a great university, help a person in need, etc. It’s like having a superpower.

    Reply
  • Married to a Swabian April 19, 2019, 5:30 am

    I like this quote : “At almost every moment in time, there is always something you could be doing that costs absolutely nothing, but which also makes you absolutely happy.”
    For us, that something is spending time in nature: camping, hiking, just being outdoors. This is a win-win-win: costs very little, has a minimal environmental footprint and is great for health and wellbeing.
    Similarly, the Mustachian way of DIY for as many projects as possible is also a win-win-win: saves a ton of money, you actually learn or improve a skill (that may come in handy for side gigs post FI) and get a great sense of accomplishment when a job well done is complete!
    Who in their right mind would want to miss out on these opportunities?!

    Reply
  • Jim April 19, 2019, 1:57 pm

    I’m sadly giving up my $180000/per year government job in a few years. Mind you that job has allowed me to buy a luxury home and a nice second home in Costa Rica. And yet I don’t feel much different that the average joe that had to work in the private sector his entire life. I guess wealth is all relative

    Reply
  • fireby35 April 20, 2019, 7:53 am

    Unlocking the joy that is available here and now, in every moment, is the ultimate teaching.

    Great writing.

    Reply
  • Astrid April 20, 2019, 3:02 pm

    I have been following your blog for a long time, but this writing really sums it all up: you are very inspiring and authentic: thank you for everything you have inspired me with in getting a life that is more free everyday! Greetings from a girl from Holland who also cuts her own hair – there are great YouTube videos on that :)

    Reply
  • Cathleen Cooks Stuff April 21, 2019, 10:52 am

    Constantly (ok maybe a couple of times a month) I have a conversation about how incredibly wealthy we are compared to the past. I have lol 150 horses in my garage, servants to keep my food cold, wash my dishes, do my laundry, and heat water. Entertainment on demand. Travel across the globe in 1 day! I’m far richer as middle class than any King way back when.

    Reply
    • Big Ernie McCracken May 2, 2019, 12:38 pm

      This is an excellent approach and the same applies to drugs, medical advances, communications etc

      Reply
  • Liesbet April 21, 2019, 1:51 pm

    My husband and I are rich as well. But not financially. And we never will. But that’s OK. We sleep for free (house sitting or boondocking in our van) and our entertainment is free as well: hiking and biking in nature. An $80 annual National Park pass is all we need.

    We rarely go out for drinks and/or dinner (about once a month) and cut my husband’s hair. As a result of our nomadic lifestyle, we spend an average of $8,000 a person per year. We have NO bills. We work when we feel we need money, but we value our freedom more than a work environment. Therefore, we try to spend as little as possible, while still living a comfortable and enriching life. We both have college degrees. It’s all about priorities! It’s all about choices!

    Reply
  • Matt Gormley April 22, 2019, 11:49 pm

    Not chasing “more” for the sake of more has resonated with me. I have been guilty of trying to buy happiness, but I realized they didn’t make me happier. We’ve been fortunate to invest and plan for the future, but we’re really tackling owning our time today. We have all we need and almost everything we want (Two healthy kiddos, house, car, great neighbors and good health).
    We’ve learned to slow down a little bit, walk to the park, stay out till dark with the kids and let them crawl into bed dusty, tired and smiling. It’s been a process to get here, but I really appreciate your messages as they have helped us find more fun/quality as a family.
    Any suggestions on adding a shower to a half bath?

    Reply
  • Erhan Hancioglu April 23, 2019, 8:48 am

    As expected you water and electricity bills are low. I’m quite jealous of waste water rate you have. In Seattle we pay $120 just for waste water.

    But one thing I noticed that surprised me: your trash bin size. Why do you need a 96 gallon trash bin?

    We are family of 2 (+3 cats) and we cannot even fill our 20 gallon bin.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 24, 2019, 8:08 am

      Haha, I knew this bill would get some serious scrutiny!

      I am keeping the 96 gallon just for the renovations stage of my house, because it functions like a super frugal construction dumpster. My normal trash generation for just me and occasional guests would take about a year to fill that sucker. But then again, my desire to have a “nice” bathroom and kitchen makes me just as much of a trash generator as the next person, just a different form of trash.

      For example, crusty drippy 25-year-old plastic handled bathroom faucets, puffed up stained particleboard fake oak cabinets or the fogged up leaky original window panes. Not really recyclable, and also quite bulky even when you crush them up into the garbage can.

      Reply
    • Max Schneider April 27, 2019, 1:44 pm

      LOL, we have a nine gallon trash bin here in Germany (for four people) which gets emptied every fortnight…but otoh if everything recyclable gets recycled that doesn’t leave much unrecyclable trash anyway.

      Reply
      • Married to a Swabian April 28, 2019, 5:15 am

        Yes, it really is shameful, the amount of trash generated by the average family in the USA!
        We lived in Germany for a few years and managed just fine with those tiny bins. Everything does get recycled or composted, so there’s not much left for the garbage man. We would put ours out about once every three weeks.
        In the USA, most places give you a bin large enough to dispose of a ton and a half of crap plus a couple of dead bodies.
        IF we want to make a change in the US, the best way to do it would be to raise the cost of trash pick up and place burden of reducing packaging / recycling on retailers and supermarkets as well as manufacturers.

        Reply
        • Vince May 2, 2019, 6:10 pm

          The amount of trash could be cut back by composting the dead bodies.

          Reply
  • Pedro April 23, 2019, 7:20 pm

    I took the proverbial first step today.

    I believe being rich is a matter of perspective. Raised in poverty, I feel rich now that I get to drive a 2004 used car, eating 3 times a day and sleeping on a soft mattress instead of a hard floor.

    Thank you for the post!

    Reply
  • Rob from Montreal April 24, 2019, 9:09 am

    What a post! Just touches so many aspects of fire.

    Pete, you are a huge inspiration to me and my gf. Modest home, two old well running cars, 8 bikes, 4 pairs of skis, two pairs of snowshoes, two kayaks, 1 canoe, 3 sets of dumbells, a pull up bar, hockey twice a week in winter for 5 bucks a shot, crossfit at my gym with lifetime friends for 5 bucks is what makes me feel rich and oh yeah, never ever having to worry about paying a bill!!!!!

    Reply
  • Minimal Millionaire Mom April 24, 2019, 9:48 am

    Contentment and gratitude will make your life much more happy than money ever will.

    The irony is that once you are content and grateful you will naturally spend less, leaving you with more money…that you realize won’t buy you more happiness.

    Reply
  • strummin April 25, 2019, 10:31 pm

    This post reminds me of a quote that I carry with me “Have the courage to realize the greatness that is your life”. Even if you have to drive to work ;)

    Reply
  • Deanna April 28, 2019, 7:08 pm

    So many rich people in the comments!

    I make $13 + tips at a mom and pop shop. I really like the family that owns it and even though the retail work is kind of boring and not really challenging, it’s one of my favorite retail jobs I’ve ever had.

    I rent a room in an apartment for $400/mo and manage to save almost $1000 every month. I have no car but splurge on Uber, food, shows, food, and craft supplies I don’t need :/ I’m working on it though (food twice because I love food).

    Since most people at my societal level are living pay check to pay check, I feel pretty good about things atm!

    Reply
    • SMS May 2, 2019, 12:33 pm

      You should feel good about it, Deanna, that’s a very high savings rate!

      Reply

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