How to Make a Thousand Bucks an Hour

Another summer evening skate-n-scoot outing with Mini Me

It’s Back to School time here in Colorado, which means both my son and I will be hanging up the swim shorts and kayak paddles and getting back to more serious business for a while.

It has been a slow and endlessly sunny and leisurely summer, and a nice break for both of us, which has been very relaxing and a great time for bonding.

But relaxation has its limits. At some point all that Chilling Out fades its way into Complacency, and our natural Human nature starts to work against us, telling us to conserve energy and not really do much of anything. And laziness begets more laziness, and life actually becomes less fun.

You can see this effect in our activities. I’ve only completed two blog posts over the entire summer holidays, and together we have put out only two YouTube videos. Spending more time at home and less at the MMM Headquarters squat rack has caused me to lose at least five pounds of leg muscle that I had wanted to keep. Little MM has spent a lot less time practicing on the upright bass and putting out songs, and a lot more time playing video games and getting sucked into the “dank memes” and “Trove” channels on Reddit.

It has been a fun break, but as the freshly polished school buses awaken with the sunrise, it will be even more fun to get our own lives cranking into a higher gear as well. And if you’re reading this, it means I am off to a great start!

Complacency Is Expensive

This laziness was affecting my financial life, and your financial life too. I had let thousands of dollars of uninvested cash build up in my checking account, where it was sitting around earning nothing. My credit card bills had come in, been automatically paid, and filed themselves away without me even reviewing them for fraudulent transactions or wussypants spending on my part. And I had a growing mini-mountain of things I need to do regarding insurance, accounting, and legal stuff in both my personal and business domains.

And yet once I got my act together last week, I cleaned up the whole mess and set things straight in less than an hour.

It’s not Just Me, it’s You

When I talk to friends and family, I notice a common theme: they tend to set up certain “hassle” things once, and then ignore them as long as possible unless some absolute crisis comes along and forces them to make a change.

“Oh, I just do all my insurance stuff with Jim Schmidt’s Insurance office downtown, because my parents referred me to him when I first moved out for college.

Even better, his wife Jane runs a loan brokerage, so she handles all our family’s mortgage needs!”

On this surface, this sounds fun and folksy and like a nice way to do business. And that is exactly the way I like to live: keeping my business relationships as casual and fun as I can. But when it comes to money, complacency can come at a price, so at the bare minimum we should find out exactly what price we are paying.

For example, just recently a coworking member came to me and asked for some financial help. And as always, I suggested we start by looking at big recurring expenses. So we dug into the details of her insurance and other major bills streaming in from ol’ Jim and Jane, and found an interesting breakdown:

  • Required liability coverage on a 2010 Subaru Forester: $580 per year
  • Optional collision and comprehensive coverage ($500 deductible): $360 per year
  • Home insurance on a 2000 square foot house ($500 deductible): $1450 per year
  • Mortgage interest on a $300,000 loan at 4.85%:  $14,550 per year
  • Student Loan interest on an old $35,000 student loan at 5.5%: $1925 per year

Total: $18,865 per year.

It’s no wonder my friend was having financial stress – she had interest and insurance costs that were soaking up half of a reasonable annual budget before she could even buy her first bit of groceries or clothing.

So, right there we did a quick round of phone calls and online quotes, and streamlined a bit of the insurance coverage by increasing the deductibles. Within 90 minutes (she did most of the work while I had a beer and swept the floors of the HQ), we had the following new set of options:

  • Subaru liability coverage: $380 per year ($200 savings) through Geico
  • Removal of collision and comprehensive (in the unlikely event of a crash, they could afford to replace the car with less than two months of income) ($360 savings)
  • Home insurance on a 2000 square foot house ($5000 deductible): $650 per year ($800 savings) through Safeco
  • Refinanced mortgage to 3.375% through Credible.com*: $10,125 per year ($4,425 savings)
  • Refinanced Student Loan (also Credible) to 3.85%: $1347 per year ($578 savings)

New total expenses: $12,502 ($6363 per year in savings!!)

It is hard to even express the importance of what just happened here.  My friend just did two hours of work in total while drinking a glass of wine,  and dropped her annual expenses by over $500 per month, or six thousand dollars per year. And she will of course invest these savings, which will then compound to about to about $86,000 every ten years. 

Even if she has to do this annual round of phone calls and websites once per year to maintain the best rates on everything, she will be earning about $3150 per hour for this work. Hence the bold title of this article, which you can now see is very conservative.

The Optimization Council

The first Optimization Council meeting at MMM HQ

So you’re convinced. $3150 is enough to get you to pick up the phone, but how do know who to call? Who is going to be your coach if you don’t live near Longmont and thus can’t just join the HQ and have Mr. Money Mustache tell you what to do?

The great news is that all of this knowledge already exists, right in your own circle of friends. To extract it, you just need to gather them together and get them to talk about it.

Earlier this month, I floated exactly this idea with the members of my coworking space, proposing that we form a group with the witty name “The Optimization Council.”

The Council would meet every now and then to talk through life’s biggest expenses and opportunities, and harvest the wisdom of the group so we can all benefit from the best ideas in each category.

The response to this idea was overwhelmingly positive. So we called a first “test” meeting earlier this month and a small group of us talked through the first few categories, sharing not just names like “I use Schmidt Insurance”, but details like, “We have $250,000 coverage with a $1,000 deductible and our premium is $589 per year.”

The meeting was so lively that we quickly ran out of time, but resolved to meet again soon to figure out more things together. I served as the scribe using a shared google doc – here’s a snapshot of that to give you an idea of our topics:

So Yes. There is some thinking and work involved. But there’s also an opportunity to drastically improve your short term cashflow and long-term wealth, and break your friends out of their cautious shell to help them get the same benefits.

As we learned long ago in Protecting your Money Mustache from Spendy Friends, most people tend towards complacency, and following along with the group. Which leaves a big gaping void at the top of the pyramid where the leadership role waits unfilled.

If you are bold enough to climb into this spot (which really means just sending a few emails and Facebook messages, procuring a box or two of wine, and making a large tray of high-end nachos for your guests), you can all reap the rewards for decades to come.

And instead of avoiding this little chore like a hassle, dive into it like a gigantic shower of fun and wealth. After all, this is pretty much the core attitude of Mustachianism Itself.

In the comments: we can start our own Optimization Council right here. If you have found a good deal on any of the categories of life, feel free to share a quick summary of your location (state), and details of the company and product/service/price that you found is the best. To avoid spam filtering, please use names but not direct links.

A Note about Credible:

Watchful readers may have noticed I also mentioned this company on Twitter recently. After a few months of skepticism that the world needed yet another financial company, I was convinced by some conversations with the people running it and a Zoom video of the customer experience from a senior employee, with some very candid commentary on their design choices.

I like it because they import the lending models from their large supply of hooked-up finance companies, then run the rate comparisons on their own server rather than farming out your personal information to each separate lender. It saves you from filling out multiple applications when collecting rates, and also saves you from getting on everyone’s spam list (they don’t sell your contact information, which is a rare thing among loan search engines).

It was a hard model for them to get going, because the banks naturally want to have your information so they can spam you.  But now that they have a growing presence in the market, lenders are forced to come through Credible to get access to this pool of qualified people. After enough testing with people I knew, I found the experience is worth recommending.

So I also signed this blog up with their referral program  – please see my Affiliates philosophy if you are curious or skeptical about how any of that works!

With all that said, if you want to try it out, here are the links:

Mortgages and Refis

Student Loan Refis – $300 bonus with this link

  • Brennan August 22, 2019, 12:23 pm

    I have found that for car insurance, if you are a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder (Most are through indexes), you can get a steep discount on Geico insurance. Call and let them know you are a shareholder, and they should apply the discount.

    • KayaK August 22, 2019, 11:36 pm

      Wow! Gonna try that!

    • Rafael August 23, 2019, 8:09 am

      Hmm, that’s very interesting. I have usually found that owning shares in an ETF does not grant the same rights that owning an individual stock would. For example, you don’t get voting rights for all the companies you own through ETF’s – the financial services company does and exercises those rights in the interest of you.

      However, if Geico is willing to provide discounts for this form of second degree ownership then more power to you!

      • Vince August 24, 2019, 4:44 pm

        Berkshire Hathaway is like buying a mutual fund or an ETF, but it is neither. Berkshire Hathaway is the holding company for all those stocks you hear Warren Buffet buying into. There are two classes of shares traded in the stock market, and if you buy them, you are buying shares in a company, not a mutual fund. That should be how you would qualify for a Geico discount. The shares trade under BRKA for the class A shares and BRKB for the class B shares.

    • Emma August 23, 2019, 9:40 am

      It looks like Geico already took this discount off. I just called and they said they took it off because it was going to charge me taxes on the discount they gave me (which doesn’t make a lot of sense because I’d still get a discount, but just a reduced one.)

      • Denise August 23, 2019, 1:40 pm

        Call back bc I just called and it totally worked.

    • David August 23, 2019, 10:57 am

      I just called Geico and told them that I owned Berkshire through Vanguard Index funds and they applied the discount. My rate dropped 9%. Thank you!

      • brennan August 23, 2019, 12:58 pm

        Glad it worked for you! Quite the discount for a few minutes of time!

      • Doug September 10, 2019, 3:43 pm

        trying this tomorrow!!!

    • Corey August 23, 2019, 1:35 pm

      Wow this is great! Just saved me $120 a year because I have Berkshire Hathaway in an index fund and they took $400 more off because my credit score went up since the last time that I called them! I just saved $520 a year in 5 minutes!

      • Brennan August 23, 2019, 1:52 pm

        Invested and compounded over 10 years, that’s almost $10,000! Congrats on that win!

    • Jon August 23, 2019, 1:41 pm

      I also just called and got the rate dropped in about 5 minutes. It does reduce some of the other discounts already on the policy but still saved about $75/year. And they applied a refund on my previous payment. I own it through a Vanguard Index, which I told them, and it didn’t seem to matter. They have great customer service, and it was a very worthwhile phone call. Thanks for the tip Brennan!

    • Tim August 23, 2019, 2:13 pm

      I need to ask about this… simply because I hold BRK directly and I wasn’t aware of this…

    • Alex August 23, 2019, 2:28 pm

      Geico is also much cheaper if you opt to pay for 6 months at a time, rather than month-to-month.

    • Nice Jot August 23, 2019, 3:36 pm

      I have switched to root insurance from Geico cost dropped from 700 to 350 for six months . You have to down load the root app and drive around for approximately 2 weeks then you you get the quote with exactly same coverage . Switching to Root is also completed after few taps on the app.

    • Anonymous August 26, 2019, 2:27 pm

      Glad this worked for most people. I didn’t get any additional discounts from Geico,so I’m earning 0/ hour so far.

    • Gina August 26, 2019, 3:24 pm

      I just called and I wasn’t eligible for the discount because I’m under the old rate structure, whatever that means. However, the wait time was really short and the customer service was very good. It’s definitely worth giving it a try.

    • Dan August 26, 2019, 10:44 pm

      He’s right…it works. Called today & Geico applied savings. Anyone who owns an S&P 500 mutual fund qualifies.

    • Cubert August 27, 2019, 5:04 am

      If you happen to own a few rentals, it’s worth finding a reputable insurance broker to see if you can garner an even bigger discount — by bundling all your policies together. We have one shop for all our HO, auto, and umbrella.

      • MrMelmoth September 12, 2019, 6:21 pm

        Great suggestion. Who do you use for all your policies?

    • Ohio Teacher August 27, 2019, 6:19 pm

      Thanks! A quick call saved me about $25 every 6 months.

    • Arrgo August 29, 2019, 8:34 am

      Called Geico and they added it for me. Saves me $14.20 every 6 months. Note: You can only have 1 affiliate marketing discount on your account so you cant stack multiples in this category which just means you have multiple ways you can possibly qualify for it. Having a BJ’s club membership also qualifies. Thanks Brennan!

    • Debbie August 29, 2019, 4:14 pm

      Am I understanding correctly, that if I own Vanguard index funds, that I probably own Berkshire Hathaway, thus making me eligible for a discount with Geico? And I can just call and tell them that?

      • Udip September 12, 2019, 12:13 pm

        login to your Vanguard account and look for fund portfolios. I was bit confused too, so that is what I did, within 5 minutes received about $50+ discount.

    • Jack September 4, 2019, 12:59 pm

      I just called Geico and got the Berkshire discount applied and the additional discount for an increase in credit score. All told, about $100/year savings. Thanks for sharing!

    • BabyMoney September 9, 2019, 1:55 pm

      It worked for me, the discount was only a few dollars, they said because my rate was already so low, still worth it. Thanks for the tip!

      • John M Chludzinski September 11, 2019, 1:53 pm

        Just called this afternoon and the rep I spoke with said that the discount was no longer offered.

  • Mr FOB August 22, 2019, 12:36 pm

    I do the annual financial housekeeping as well, gaining me over €3000 an hour for that work. Highly recommended.
    As I am in The Netherlands, I am not sure if it makes much sense to name companies I use up here.

    • Anne August 22, 2019, 1:29 pm

      Please do, other Dutch Mustaches here as well! :-)

    • Hoedje August 22, 2019, 1:59 pm

      Please do!

      • Mr FOB August 23, 2019, 4:06 am

        Some of the companies I use annually: Pricewise for energy switch (easily €300 saved), Zorgkiezer for health insurance switch, Brand New Day for tax deferred investing (using “jaarruimte”, this brings me most money per hour), Youfone for mobile phone + internet (use annual or bi-annual offer, 2 year 1 Gb 150 min per month runs at €8 per month)

        • Floris August 23, 2019, 2:10 pm

          Awesome to read! Ditto for BrandNewDay. And use Simpel for phone, 7,5 for 2gb and 200min (during discount, but they probably have them all the time).
          Also called the bank 3 weeks ago for mortgage. Because of the higher valuations (bought house in 2015), I got below their % mortgage paid and got a reduced interest rate. It’s probably listed in your agreement but person on the phone was also very helpful/knowledgeable

          • Hague August 26, 2019, 8:21 am

            Good tip on the mortgage thing.
            I honestly did not know that on a fixed rate (Dutch) mortgage the rate could be altered during the fix rate period that the rate could be adjusted based on moving to a lower loan to value. This can be achieved either through early repayments or increasing value (woz). This is not advertised widely by the banks (unsurprisingly!) so every Dutch mortgage holder should be checking to see which risk bracket they’re in and whether they’ could reduce their interest rate.

    • Bjorn September 18, 2019, 12:16 am

      No only Dutch Mustachees, even Belgian ones! So please do share your Dutch findings, some might be useful for us too! As I live close to the Dutch border for instance, we often go shopping at Jumbo, which beats our prices on many articles!

      • WildFrugalFree October 1, 2019, 3:51 am

        Also here in Belgium (Mons)! Though most of my services are imported from the U.S. (phone, insurance).

  • Financially Fit Mom August 22, 2019, 12:58 pm

    Here in Idaho (BOY-SEE), Safeco is also a top winner with auto & home insurance. They beat the outstanding rates I had under my parents insurance when I was younger and I still make annual calls trying to find a company to beat them and no one has come close. I’ve played with various deductibles and options and Safeco has always come out ahead.

    City utilities hack – your sewer charge is based on your annual water usage and it’s measured in December. If you decrease water usage for any reason (number in household decreases, you moved and are fairly sure the previous owner/tenants used more water than you, etc), you can request an off-cycle measurement to get your bill adjusted.

    Best local hike? While Table Rock is quick and popular and comes with the challenging elevation gain, take the 30 minute drive up Bogus and check out the trek to Stack Rock. Study a map first because the parking is just one of the turnouts (not far from the lodge) and there isn’t a trailhead sign or anything. It’s definitely worth the extra effort to get there and can still be completed in a few hours of your day.

    Best bike ride? See how far you can pedal that bike up the same road! And then celebrate your achievement with a Black Cliffs from Boise Brewing or an Irish Stout from White Dog!

    • fielscopying September 2, 2019, 3:28 am

      Thanks for the tips! I just checked out Table rock last week. Will addstack rock to my list. I should be able to get there on my e-bike.

  • Righteous Dork August 22, 2019, 2:09 pm

    This post has really motivated me to do something with all our expenses. Complacency is just too damn expensive! You shouldn’t spend more time looking for the right phone case than you do on picking the right insurance options. Guilty as charged. This Credible site looks very promising. Any good site recommendations for finding reasonable life insurance?

    • TT August 26, 2019, 10:04 am

      OMG you hit me hard with that one.

    • Julia T August 28, 2019, 10:30 am

      I had luck with Policy Genius for life insurance (and home/auto, actually). It’s like a travelocity type service where they give you multiple offers. Very easy to work with and great customer service.

    • Ryan Bray September 4, 2019, 11:28 pm

      I used Quotacy . They themselves were a bit overzealous with their email after submitting my info for quotes and not coming back to it, but once I started and completed an application with a provider the emails stopped. Ended up going with Banner Life. Hopefully my dependents will never have to know how it is to work with them, but reviews seemed good. Their application process was 50/50 online and over phone, relatively smooth, allowed me to pay in yearly installments for a discount, and with my high-rewards credit card to shave off even more.

  • Lev August 22, 2019, 2:27 pm

    For those looking for a cheaper cell phone service:
    Try xFinity Mobile, if it is available in your area.
    1 GB of data shared between up to 5 devices is $12/month (+Taxes) if you have Comcast internet service (which is $19.99/month in my area). Unlimited phone calls and messaging included.
    It uses Verizon towers, so coverage is not an issue.

    Also when your internet provider jacks up the prices, first try to call them and ask to bring it down. If that doesn’t help, look for their pricing for new customers (“promotional pricing”) and change your internet service to your wife’s/children’s name with this lower price (don’t forget to stop your service with them!)

    • Trickypat August 22, 2019, 8:18 pm

      Wait, $12 a month?? How much is the additional cost per phone line? Taxes and fees?
      This just sounds too good to be true but makes me want to run and cancel my current expensive Verizon plan immediately.

      • Lev August 23, 2019, 8:24 am

        Yes, it is for real $12 a month with current internet with Comcast/Xfinity. With taxes and fees in Washington state we pay 17-18$ a month for our two lines. We rarely use more than 0.5GB of data given that their service allows you to access a bunch of WiFi hotspots all over (like Republic wireless and many other MVNO’s).
        If you do not have internet with them, the price is $12/month for up to 1 GB plus $10/a line. So for two devices it would be around $37 in our state with taxes

        • Seth August 23, 2019, 10:18 am

          Generally xfinity mobile might be okay for a consumer, but not for business use. In NW Indiana, xfinity mobile was on low priority to connect to cell phone towers. So if it was in a congested area, your calls with not go through because they give higher priority to Verizon Wireless customers.

          Also, if you use a hotspot, the hotspot speed allowed on xfinity mobile is so slow it is useless.

          Republic Wireless or Google Fi might be better on those fronts . . .

          • Emily August 24, 2019, 9:52 am

            I was one of the first to sign up for Xfinity Mobile and am also in NW Indiana. I have been absolutely thrilled with it, never a dropped call and excellent service. I haven’t been able to tell a difference from Verizon.

      • Erica August 23, 2019, 11:13 am

        It’s fantastic. I am on this plan and you can actually pay taxes only if you keep data usage under 100MB. My kid is now added, and has only resulted in an extra dollar or two in taxes per month. Husband just switched over yesterday.

        • Arrgo August 29, 2019, 7:32 am

          I got my Mom on it under my account about 2 years ago.(Just 1 phone for her, I still have a $30 / 2GB plan from Sprint for now as Im still using my current phone) Got a free phone and and turned off data since she doesnt really use it much. Only costs about $3 month for the taxes. Hard to beat!

      • Cofrog August 23, 2019, 2:43 pm

        We have two lines on Xfinity for approx 2 years now- we have ZERO complaints on the service. My 14 yr old son uses his phone a ton, and hasn’t complained once about coverage. If you can manage to use less than ` gig of data ( I think- something like that), it’s only $3 per month. My son can’t seem to do that, but my husband can by only using public wifi.

      • Linda August 30, 2019, 3:30 pm

        Yes, $12/mth for each 1GB data to $40 unlimited/mnth. I did this as well a few months ago (USA). Other good features: you can login to website and switch plan to unlimited if you are going to go over 4GB, then switch it again. No contracts. Also the international roaming is WAY better than ATT’s $10 per day for any activity at all. Xfinity international rate ranges by country but typical is 10 cents per min/ph, 10 cents per text, or 10 cents per MB data. My old ATT plan was like $75/mth plus $10 day for international roaming. Only requirement is that you are an Xfinity Internet customer. I unlocked my old iphone and was up and running. Service has been great.

        • Alexandre September 3, 2019, 9:05 am

          I have always been surprised by the price of mobile phone and internet in the US. I’m in France. I pay about 75 $ a month and for that got :
          – two mobile phone plans with 50 GB (yes, 50…), unlimited calls and texts including a lot of foreign countries (more than 100 I think)
          – internet (soon with fiber-based, it was installed in our neighbourhood this month) with unlimited download and upload
          -cable TV with about 30 channels, recording and replay

          Even if you don’t have the internet with this operator, the 50 GB plan (which is virtually unlimited, hard to use more the 50 GB in one month) is 22 $ taxes included (with unlimited calls and texts including more than 100 countries)

          • Mr. Money Mustache September 5, 2019, 11:50 am

            NICE! That is definitely a hopeful sign that prices here will continue to drop as well.

            It has only been about six years since ANY reasonable options were available widespread in the US. Before that, it was just $50–100/month plans with the Big Three, complete with the two year contract and optional “text messaging plans” where you could buy a “package” of 100 texts. Dark Ages and good riddance to those shitty plans and companies.

          • Ann January 6, 2020, 6:03 am

            We just got back from a semester in England. We paid 10 GBP (~$13) per line for 250 minutes of calls, unlimited texts and 8 GB of data with unlimited social media (on Voxi, a Vodofone spinoff). Makes going back to Ting really hard.

    • Renard August 23, 2019, 12:33 pm

      We use Ting mobile and you can go CDMA or GSM depending on your location. We have 5 phones, and average 1-2 G data and cost $80-90 / mo. Also, wanted to give a shout out to GEICO, this year (I now have 3 under 25 drivers) they beat USAA and are saving me $2000. USAA is great, but with young drivers in Florida, not so much.

    • Nice Joy August 23, 2019, 3:41 pm

      Verizon PREPAID.
      Phone 1 15 gb
      Phone 2 3 GB
      Phone 3 3 GB
      total bill 100 with tax.
      No confusing bills just one cost.
      I got Used i phones fror $ 200

      • Lephi August 26, 2019, 1:28 pm

        With Republic Wireless unlimited talk & text is $15/month +tax, and 4G data is $5 per GB if you need it. No contract or other fees, and if you pay yearly you get two months free, bringing your monthly base service down to $12.50.

    • Tony August 26, 2019, 1:50 pm

      Xfinity/Comcast has been so shady and screwed me so many times, I’d rather pay 10x this much just to never do business with them again.

      • Mr. Money Mustache August 26, 2019, 2:09 pm

        Yep. Not to mention the time they created and funded misleading ‘advocacy’ groups to interfere with TWO separate elections here in Longmont, Colorado. They did it to prevent the city from offering its own superior fiber-based gigabit internet access.


        Eventually, we got wise to it and voted against Comcast. Won the battle, build our own Gigabit network, and now it’s the best in the entire country.

        But it is important to keep reminding people of this and never forget, because evil companies only live on when we forget their past evil deeds.

        • Adam August 29, 2019, 10:30 am

          As someone from Philadelphia, it pains me to see Comcast’s name plastered around our city (they are headquartered here), especially knowing the political strings they pull, including the disinformation campaigns against public broadband in Longmont.

          Their customer service is subpar, and a few suburban areas I’ve lived had no other competitive option. I’ve been forced to buy Comcast internet. If only more cities adopt public broadband so we can avoid being bled out/price gauged by companies like Comcast for simple internet access.

          More cities need to follow Longmont’s lead!

  • Ryan August 22, 2019, 2:28 pm

    A big part of insurance optimization is knowing how much coverage to buy.

    Many home insurance companies quote outrageous rebuild costs so they can drive up the premiums, but it nonetheless makes me nervous to be under-insured in case of a total loss. Perhaps the optimization council can shed some light on getting reasonable rebuild costs for home insurance?

    The same can be true of liability coverage for rental properties, etc. Is there any way to know how much is needed to be fully protected?

    • Alistair T August 23, 2019, 5:19 am

      rebuild costs are very much “how long is a piece of string” but at an absolute max, it would be the cost of buying a house down the road instead. if it seems higher than that then run. It varies by area but building costs (using overpriced professionals) can be between $120 – $400 per pq ft… depending whats in them.. and if just your kitchen burned down it would be more than this, if its just your empty garage it might be less.

      • Ethan August 23, 2019, 1:44 pm

        For the worst case scenario, you also have to take into account the cost of potentially needing to demolish the existing structure and properly dispose of the materials before you can even begin to rebuild.

      • Brian August 26, 2019, 7:56 pm

        As a property damage appraiser I can say that it is not safe to assume that house rebuild costs are less than market values. The cost to rebuild your house as a one-off is far more expensive than it would have been if it was built in a new subdivision with 1000 other homes built at the same time. Or if you live in a remote area with a weak market value, the cost to rebuild your home is likely far more than the market value of your home. The remoteness makes construction costs higher and market values lower.

        So just saying, don’t base your insurance coverage just on the market value of your home. Ask a local builder what a realistic rebuild budget would be (don’t forget additional demolition, site work costs, etc that may be involved if your house were to burn down!)

        • Mr. Money Mustache August 30, 2019, 10:17 am

          Great points, Brian – except in the event of a house costing more to rebuild than one down the street, wouldn’t a logical owner just choose not to rebuild it? Sell the empty lot (even if you have to give it away free to an enterprising contractor), and move in nearby?

          Having gone through the cat-herding experience of managing the construction of a few houses from scratch, I can say it is something to be avoided whenever possible – buying something already built and then making tweaks as you see fit is far less stressful.

          • E August 30, 2019, 10:02 pm

            Most of the time if you dont rebuild on the same spot the policy will only pay out a partial amt /actual cash value. Its in the fine print.

    • Becky Blyth August 23, 2019, 2:26 pm

      Consider an umbrella insurance policy for liability stuff tied to rental properties, etc. You may have to up your auto limits, but it is worth it to protect yourself. We had both our auto and umbrella with Traveler’s, but learned that there are other options to do an umbrella individually. Switched car insurance to Root and got a stand alone umbrella policy from RLI. We saved almost a thousand dollars. Props to my hubby for finding a thread covering individual companies who do umbrella policies, an insurance broker told me it had to be tied to an auto policy with the same company, which isn’t quite true. Limits for umbrella policies start at $1M.

    • Sierra August 26, 2019, 11:09 am

      We had to use this part of our insurance after a house fire. Home was declared a complete loss. I found it turned out to be a good thing that we were (slightly) underinsured because they just paid us the insured amount in one big check. Otherwise we would have had to purchase items in certain categories and provide receipts for reimbursement. Tracking would have been a pain, but more than that we would have been forced to spend ALL the money in order to claim it. We found we didn’t need to replace everything we owned before and instead were able to use the money as we wanted (on a much lower mortgage in the end!)

      Now I make a reasonable guess of home prices in the area for the year to estimate our home’s value if we sold and reduce that by about 10%.

      Also, I’m willing to pay extra for a reputable company. I can’t imagine how terrible it would have been to fight with the insurance company about payment during that time.

    • Jess August 27, 2019, 4:44 pm

      As an insurance agent, I don’t find this to be true. It would be considered insurance fraud to falsify the reconstruction costs in order to receive more premium. One report to the insurance commissioner would put an agent or a carrier in HUGE trouble- there’s checks and balances for things like that.
      In our system, different counties have different price per square foot reconstruction costs- I’ve actually seen several that I thought it was a little low. They’re going to look at the total square footage of the home, and any upgrades/fancy stuff that would cost additional dollars to rebuild the home.
      The idea that the payout for the house is based on what it would cost to buy a new one down the road is also ridiculous- because insurance payouts for homes do not include pricing for the land. In our area, it’s very common for the reconstruction cost to be a fraction of what the home price is because the home price includes the land and the dwelling.
      For liability coverage on rental properties- it’s all about how much you’re willing to risk. In Washington state, according to the most recent stats, the average liability judgement was $400k. So if a judge awards a $400k judgement against you, and your liability limit is $300k, then guess where the extra $100k comes from? If you want to be fully protected, then you have to have enough insurance or be self insured enough for whatever claim comes against you- looking up the average liability judgement in your state might be a good place to start.
      Getting umbrella coverage is even better.

      • Ryan R September 1, 2019, 10:20 am

        Really interesting! If insurance companies or regulated that way, does that mean I should not even look at the rebuild cost when shopping? I mearly assumed that insurance companies were playing around with the rebuild costs, because I found quotes in which the rebuild costs varied by $100,000 for a $300,000 house.

  • Casey B in MD August 22, 2019, 2:39 pm

    I’m so glad you shared this story Mr Money Mustache. I’m genuinely happy to finally have an open relationship about money with a friend of mine for the first time in my life. And I’m happy to have convinced this friend to make some changes. He was getting fleeced on $200k+ invested with a “respectable” company (TIAA) to the tune of a 2% management fee and $1k/yr retainer. I finally convinced him to fire the guy and switch to Betterment. I estimate $80k savings over the next 10 years for him. It feels …amazing… to make somebody that much wealthier!

    • Gary Keim August 23, 2019, 12:18 pm

      I learned about TIAA the hard way. When I was 23 working on staff at a university, they put me into an annuity. Yes, I was a young dope… but it still wasn’t in my best interest. Avoid TIAA!

      • Daniel September 9, 2019, 2:00 pm

        As a 24 year old working as staff at a university with TIAA, I’m curious in your experience what was so terrible about them?

  • Philip August 22, 2019, 2:41 pm

    Here in the UK I use money saving expert. You should have a look and do something like that for the US.

    • Sandra August 22, 2019, 4:11 pm

      Also UK based and agree with this. I signed up to Money Saving Expert’s Cheap Energy Club which automatically checks the best gas and electricity deals for you based on your annual consumption, alerts you to the best deal and makes it easy to switch. I’ve already saved a tidy sum as a result.

    • Big Stu August 23, 2019, 5:54 am

      Got to agree with Philip

      Moneysavingexpert for advice and then MoneySupermarket, GoCompare and MoneySupermarket for actual price comparisons are amazing, but only UK Based.

      Being a frequent visitor to the US, I’m astounded by how underdeveloped Web services for Insurance, utility and financial products appear to be….and as a result price comparison sites don’t seem to have the same traction they do in the UK.

      Also, Mobile services are horribly expensive in the US, I pay $12.50 per month to three.co.uk for Unlimited minutes and texts, 4gb Data and free roaming to most of the civilized world !

      • Mr. Money Mustache August 23, 2019, 11:05 am

        If you think that mobile service is expensive in the US ($20/month plus data), you would be shocked at the prices in Canada! (often over $50 and with very punitive data and roaming charges)

        • Mr. Frugal Toque August 23, 2019, 12:27 pm

          We’re with Public Mobile at $25 (after taxes) per month.
          That gets one Gig, unlimited texting and calling within Canada, and no roaming fees (we tested this on a drive to the East coast and back).
          That’s not terrible or anything, but it’s a recent innovation as more players have entered the Canadian market.

          • Pete August 23, 2019, 3:39 pm

            There’s no roaming fees into the US at that rate?

            • Mr. Money Mustache August 23, 2019, 6:23 pm

              I think he meant no roaming fees within Canada (because that is still a thing too – some Canadian companies are localized to one region so you’d have to pay even to go on a road trip.

              Even crazier – some of them still even retain the 20-years-obsolete concept of “long-distance” calling, where you make calls within the country, but they cost more if the physical distance between your home address and the recipient’s home address is larger!)

          • Reade Barber August 25, 2019, 1:23 pm

            Public is probably the best, and it’s actually owned by TELUS so the network is the same except you don’t get 4G data (not really noticeable). Google FI would shake things up, but you’d need one of the established mobile operators to agree to some type of roaming agreement. That’s not going to happen unless the governement mandates it.

            • Philip September 10, 2019, 10:04 pm

              There are some smaller options that are pretty competitive. I’m with Koodo, and I pay $15/month for basic texting, and then I buy Canada-wide talking minutes every couple of months. It probably costs about $30/month?

              They also sell data add-ons as well, but I’ve rarely needed to use it when away from wireless so I’ve never bothered.

        • Nice Joy August 23, 2019, 3:46 pm

          Verizon PREPAID.
          Phone 1 15 gb
          Phone 2 3 GB
          Phone 3 3 GB
          total bill 100 with tax.
          No confusing bills just one cost.
          I got Used i phones fror $ 200

          how do you compare Google FI to this plan . It will cost you 170 with google FI

        • Matt November 5, 2019, 11:56 pm

          I pay $3 per month for my cellphone plan. I am in Canada but I bet there is something similar in the US. I use Fongo which is a VOIP based app which gives you a local phone number, voice mail and everything. The only difference is that you have to be within Wi-Fi range. Wi-Fi is almost everywhere these days; it’s really not a big deal. This is free for nation wide calling, and costs $12 per year for unlimited texting.

          I also have a pay-as-you-go plan for emergencies that I put $25 on, which I never use.. After a year the $25 expires and I have to put another $25.

          This is a total of $37 per year, or approximately $3 per month.

      • Matthew_t August 23, 2019, 4:30 pm

        Paying £25 per month for unlimited calls / texts / 100Gb data on a 24 month contract with a Samsung Galaxy S10e thrown in. Beat that!

        • Mr. Money Mustache August 23, 2019, 6:18 pm

          WOW – 100 GB of data? That is enough to run an entire household and forego the separate home internet access too, as long as you’re not too much into video streaming/downloading.

        • Ian August 31, 2019, 9:20 pm

          Beat that? $4 USD for a SIM card and unlimited data for 1 month throughout Vietnam this summer. Made finding insanely good $1 meals really easy any time, anywhere.

  • DuckReconMajor August 22, 2019, 2:49 pm

    This calls to mind, for those still in the grind, discussing salary/compensation with your coworkers and others in your industry/area as much as you can. Make friends and stay informed!

    • Joe August 23, 2019, 4:40 pm

      Can’t agree more with this sentiment. Strange how much of a stigma is around discussing these things.

  • stephen August 22, 2019, 2:57 pm

    Mint Mobile Promo – $10/Month with 8 GB/Month unlimited talk/text for 6 months then $20/month or $15/month for a 3GB plan. Can bring most unlocked phones.

    • Joshua August 22, 2019, 11:44 pm

      How did you find that deal; is it location specific? I live in Florida and the best offer I’m getting is 15/mo for 3Gb (still very good, imo).

      • Joshua August 23, 2019, 1:46 pm

        Found it; didn’t realize it was marketed as the $20/month for 3 months with a bonus free 3 months for being a new customer (shouldn’t read blogs at 1 am I guess).

        That said, it looks like you can add as many to your cart as you like, so I’m thinking of just buying up two years worth and be done with it. I’ll talk to their customer support to make sure I don’t get 4 sim cards…just in case they expire or something weird.

        • James August 28, 2019, 11:50 am

          You have to activate them within 45 days or they’ll expire!

  • The Millennial Minute August 22, 2019, 3:00 pm

    My top financial hack that I have found is from Mint Mobile. My name is Sam and I live in Phoenix, AZ and paying so much for a mobile phone plan is usually on my “on principle, not going to pay so much for it” list. However mint mobile lets you pay a three-month term, a six-month term, or even a 12-month term phone plan starting at just $15 a month. They give you tons of free trials and you can cancel at any time. I’ve gotten great service with it most places that I go!!! At a tenth of the price of a normal plan, you can’t argue it.


    • Mr. Money Mustache August 22, 2019, 3:04 pm

      That sounds all right, but just for reference the most premium, worldwide phone plan (Google Fi) is still only $20/month plus $15 for each additional member on the family plan.

      Any plans more expensive than that are just milking people based on their complacency – I’ve been with Fi for about 5 years now, used it seamlessly in quite a few countries, and it is just an incredibly good service.

      • Khesro August 22, 2019, 4:25 pm

        Is google fi available for canadian residents? I live in British Columbia and the telecommunication rates here are ridiculous. Please help I want to downsize this expense. Currently paying $168 month for 2 phones.

        • nicola August 23, 2019, 8:35 pm

          I am also in BC and on Public Mobile, it’s a lot less than that, and there’s no commitment to a contract or anything.

        • Andrew September 1, 2019, 2:40 pm

          I switched to Public Mobile in Vancouver last week because of this comment. Very Mustachian move, thanks for the tip! Bill less than half of what it was (now $22), a better network (Telus), and nice streamlined website and voicemail. Highly recommended! Sim card arrived through Amazon purchase next day.

        • Karl October 27, 2019, 8:19 pm

          I switched from Fido (old $35/month plan with 100MB data) to Chatr ($35 for 1GB data) – been good so far, uses same network (Rogers) limited to 3G though (same thing as most cheaper public mobile plans)

      • JP August 22, 2019, 4:39 pm

        I’d love to switch to Google Fi, but I don’t think WiFi calling and WiFi texting works on iPhones, does it? Since the cell service is poor in my house, and since my wife and I don’t want to switch phones, we’re “stuck” using Cricket for $60/mo.

        • DuckReconMajor August 23, 2019, 8:59 am

          I might be reading your comment wrong, but Google Fi isn’t on iPhone (without serious hacking) is it? If it was I would’ve switched long ago.

          • David August 23, 2019, 10:48 am

            Google Fi is available for iPhone now! There are some caveats, like the fact that it only uses T-Mobile’s network in the U.S., instead of intelligently switching between three carriers as it does with phones that are designed for Fi; voicemail and texts take a little initial setup, and WiFi calling does not work. All of these things are hardware limitations AFAIK, but if you can live with those limitations, you can absolutely use Fi with any more recent iPhone.

            • DuckReconMajor August 23, 2019, 1:35 pm

              Holy crap, thanks for the heads up!

      • Rafael August 23, 2019, 8:16 am

        I would love Google FI – especially for the international roaming features, but the problem is my workplace prohibits personnel from connecting to the wifi network. They don’t even tell us the password for guests. I end up using too much data (5-7gigs)

        So I have Verizon Prepaid, I get 15 gigs of data a month, unlimited texts and calls, all for $47.81 with all taxes and fees included.

        • Vicki August 24, 2019, 6:35 am

          Hi Rafael,
          Not sure if you have others who could join on a plan – but we use Total Wireless (a Verizon MVNO) and we get 100GB data (unlimited but slowed down after that) for $104 including tax for 4 phones. A one-line plan with 25GB is $47+ tax. You might want to check it out!

          • David August 27, 2019, 3:36 pm

            Yeah, I recommend Total Wireless as well. We live in a rural area and Verizon has the best network coverage nationwide. Our 3 line plan is $85 which includes 60 gb data.

            • Nice joy August 29, 2019, 4:28 pm

              Better than Verizon in terms of date. How is the coverage . Is roaming included/

      • Matt In Michigan August 23, 2019, 10:06 am

        I am a fan of Red Pocket, works with all 4 networks. However they don’t work internationally. So after a bit of research I ended up getting a Fi sim for our road trip from Michigan to Montreal last month. It worked flawlessly the entire drive (google maps). I would have kept service if we traveled more outside the states but we haven’t thus far, so I popped my Red Pocket sim back in when we got back. It’s a much better deal for me.

      • Nice Joy August 23, 2019, 3:48 pm

        Verizon PREPAID.
        Phone 1 15 gb
        Phone 2 3 GB
        Phone 3 3 GB
        total bill 100 with tax.
        No confusing bills just one cost.
        I got Used i phones fror $ 200

        how do you compare Google FI to this plan . It will cost you 170 with google FI

        • Jess August 23, 2019, 4:27 pm

          GoogleFi now caps your data charges at $100 (data used after 10GB is free).

      • stephen August 29, 2019, 12:06 pm

        Google does have the best worldwide plan but the additional data at $10/GB is what kills it for me. I unfortunately can’t be on wifi all the time unfortunately. Mint includes 8/GB month for $20/month (now $10/month on promo)

  • Al August 22, 2019, 3:02 pm

    One trick I learned recently – If you have Comcast or Charter internet, they include an unlimited talk and text phone cell phone service for FREE to your monthly internet bill. Comcast even gives you 100mb of data for free! They do make you pay $10/gb for data past that initial 100mb. However, if you turn your data off and only use Wifi, the only charge you will get at the end of the month is for taxes/fees (like the E911 fee). So, my monthly cell phone bill is now $2 per month! Hope this helps someone!

  • Josh August 22, 2019, 3:41 pm

    Credible.com aka Creative Labs is owned by Fox Corporation, same corporate entity that creates Fox News.
    Just FYI.

    • Jimmy August 23, 2019, 1:29 pm

      Ugh… too bad. I believe in voting with my pocketbook even if it occasionally costs me a bit more.

      • Heather Gregg August 26, 2019, 10:45 am

        The MMM group doesn’t seem to be too concerned with social consciousness I’ve found. But it tends to be a lot of straight white guys so they don’t need to worry so much about it.

        But thanks for finding that out, though, it is important to know what your money is supporting.

    • Johan September 8, 2019, 7:03 pm

      Thanks for the heads up. Any alternatives to Credible that is run by more social conscious company?

  • Jen August 22, 2019, 3:54 pm

    Ditto with the Xfinity Mobile recommendation. We keep mobile data turned off and our cell phone bill for 2 lines is just $2.55 per month. And since they use Verizon towers, perfect reception with all the free texting and calling you want.

  • Anonymous August 22, 2019, 5:16 pm

    We were able to save a significant amount of money when we shopped around for car insurance. We were with Geico and paid $208 per month (and this was the best rate because my husband had been in two accidents that were not his fault). We tried Root Insurance and now pay only $89 per month! We were very skeptical but decided to give it a try – it was amazing how easy it was. Hope this helps someone!

    • Becky Blyth August 23, 2019, 2:29 pm

      Ditto on Root! Just did the test drive and switched from Traveler’s, saved almost $900/year.

    • Gunnar August 23, 2019, 4:43 pm

      I’ve had Geico for a long time and is the absolute cheapest rate I can find. For two cars it’s $130. I’ll have to check into Root and see what they offer me.

      • Nice joy August 29, 2019, 4:31 pm

        I have switched from Geico and saved 50%

    • Curtis August 26, 2019, 1:34 pm

      I did the Root app and was very cautious about my driving during the trial period, ended up scoring in the highest tier for all of the things they measure, I’m 30 years old, and have a really good driving record (1 ticket, no accidents) and the rate quote from Root ended up being double my Geico rate.

      Not sure if it is a combination of the type of car/region I drive, but was pretty bummed I couldn’t take advantage of Root because it seemed like an awesome concept…

      Ideally I would get a pay-by-mile insurance since I drive ~2,500 miles/year, but AFAIK that’s not available yet in Texas…

      • Mr. Money Mustache August 26, 2019, 1:50 pm

        Double the Rate!! That is amazing, that car insurance rates can possibly even vary so widely, in a supposedly-competitive market.

        But, another reminder of why it’s worth it to shop around like crazy for insurance – a lumpy and inefficient market leaves lots of pockets of gold you can find and enjoy but you need to search for them.

    • Steve August 29, 2019, 1:41 pm

      I also just received a quote from Root that’s a lot less than my current Geico policy, but then I did some research online and found complaints that the rates increase every renewal period. I guess that’s fine as long as you pay attention to it, but you just may have to look at switching back after you’ve been with them for a year.

  • Bryanna August 22, 2019, 6:08 pm

    It’s great to see another article! I see a ton of complacency in healthcare costs, but believe that if MMM folks can understand investing, they can absolutely take a few minutes to understand healthcare. Below are a few easy ones, and The Healthcare Hustlers dives deeper into saving on healthcare.

    1. Ask for generic prescriptions and check out grocery store $4 generic programs.

    2. Shop around if you need something simple like imaging. Costs can vary by thousands for the same service.

    3. Don’t pay higher premiums for coverage you don’t actually need. Try to match coverage to expected healthcare utilization.

    4. Don’t talk about diagnostic needs during your annual physical. You’ll get billed for it.

    5. Go to the urgent care when you can. Only go to the ER for emergencies.

    Tons of other tips from The Healthcare Hustlers!

    • Alpool August 25, 2019, 1:46 pm

      In the healthcare arena, I’ve had great luck lowering our prescription costs by going through Blink Health. Getting drug prices is simple and transferring your prescription there is easy-peasy (click a button and they handle it). Several of my meds were cheaper to purchase outright than paying my insurance’s copay. Also, they now offer online prescribing and free delivery of some men’s health scrips (think ED and hair loss).

  • Married to a Swabian August 22, 2019, 7:28 pm

    We went through an insurance review last year and ended up saving over $500 per year on auto insurance by switching to Farm Bureau here in MI. We had been with State Farm for over 20 years: they were fairly priced for the first 15 years and did provide v good service and settlement when needed, but the premiums had started going through the roof. We were paying about $2200 / year for a 2007 Honda CRV and a 2013 Ford Fusion.
    One thing about insurance, though, is that you never really know what you’re buying until you need to file a claim….they are selling a promise.
    Another biggie for us was locking into a twenty year term life plan with ING for me when I was 40years old. $300k of life ins until you turn 60 for $317 / year is hard to beat. We found through an independent insurance broker in the Chicago area …. his name, no shit, is Jim Schmitt! ;)

    • Rafael August 23, 2019, 8:20 am

      That life insurance sounds cheap, but what’s even cheaper is not having life insurance at all. By 40 you likely have several hundred thousand dollars in 40k’s and other savings if not half a million or more. I would look at that as essentially your life insurance, and cut the annual cost.

    • Tony August 26, 2019, 2:07 pm

      Had State Farm as well and found Geico insurance for $50 less/month. My State Farm agent made me come into the office to cancel, and laid down the sales manipulation HARD. He kept asking, “You’re really going to Geico to save $50/month?!” I told him hell yeah, and that he wasn’t changing my mind unless he was going to pay the difference.

      I canceled, and he told my father (who was insured with him) that I was cheap. So, he canceled as well; now, we’re both saving a bunch of money and our experience has been 100x better!!

      • Mr. Money Mustache August 30, 2019, 10:24 am

        GREAT story Tony! And exactly why I don’t like working with traditional salesman/commission-based businesses.

        It’s especially funny that he was implying that $50 per month ($8650 every single decade after compounding) was anything less than a MASSIVE savings. Even ten bucks is worth switching monthly services over. Would you switch cell service if you currently pay $20 and identical service was available with a few clicks for half the price? Why not?

  • Becca Niederkrom August 22, 2019, 9:04 pm

    I am super motivated by this post! Just told my husband to head over here to read this so we can set aside an hour and do our review. It all adds up . . . and then compounds. =) Thanks MMM.

  • Nathalie August 22, 2019, 11:47 pm

    Hello fellow mustachians!
    I’m quite a mustachians myself, having no debts and being able to save even with the lowest of incomes, always finding new ways to improve my spending and valuing my time through better things than shopping ;) There is one thing tho: My stack is in a simple saving account… I know I know…Please don’t kill me! I want to change this, asap! And it’s why I wrote this comment. I live in Belgium, Europe, so I was wondering what the best investment Strategie is. You need to consider, that I’m brand new in that field. I’m looking for some tips or good reads on that topic, maybe a referral to a European mmm blog or something like that.
    Thank you for your help :)

    • Anne August 23, 2019, 4:03 pm

      I’m also in Belgium and would indeed love some ‘local’ tips, too.
      As for your investing question, might I suggest you take a look at the Bogleheads’ wiki page for BE – while still complex, it also touches upon some of the elements to take into consideration under Belgian & EU fiscal regulations etc.

    • Mathias August 30, 2019, 8:17 am


      I also live in Belgium.

      For me the ETF IWDA (from iShares) works well. Fiscal friendly (for the moment!)

      But I like to diversify: ETF, belgian old holdings, house, deposits, coöperations, saving accounts,…

      It takes some study to see the possibilities and there will always be evolution.

      Check the forum of spaargids.be (dutch) for a lot of information and start reading :)
      Also the forum of Tweakers.net has a very interesting(and very long) topic about FO, but there’s more focus on the regulations in the Netherlands.

      Have fun!

  • Jeff Allen August 23, 2019, 5:08 am

    On your list I noticed grocery delivery on your future topics. We do grocery pickup with a 6 dollar fee each pick up. This could be different in other states, but my grocery store has amazing digital coupons with pick up orders only. There has been deals for 20 percent off all produce, and 10 percent off all store brand items. Even with the fee we went from $60 on average per week to $45. Plus the convenience of just having my order complete when I arrive.

    • FrugalInSF August 26, 2019, 12:18 pm

      What grocery service do you use? I’ve tried a few but just curious what others have found.

  • Sam August 23, 2019, 5:26 am

    To all German readers:
    Just go to check24 or verivox. You will get the best quotes for internet, phone, electricity, loans, auto insurance and many more things.

    • JamsODonnell August 27, 2019, 2:04 am

      Yes. Also, sign up to the finanztip newsletter. Comes weekly. I’m not reading it as often these days, but when I first started optimizing years ago, it really helped to get this constant flow of ideas and advice.

  • Skillful Wealth August 23, 2019, 5:36 am

    On the mortgage refinance side, now is a great time to do it. With the inverted yield curve ten year treasuries yields are near historic lows. Mortgage rates tend to track the ups and downs of the 10-Yr Treasury yield. Also, I agree with the ‘optimization council’ statement of don’t be afraid to negotiate. Most banks will offer a discount if you establish a relationship such as direct deposit as well as further discounts if you move cash over to them. Try to go direct as mortgage brokers tend to have slight higher rates.

    • GailNYC September 8, 2019, 2:40 pm

      I recently looked into refinancing and discovered that what with closing costs, it wouldn’t save me anything. This was disappointing–I didn’t realize there would be closing costs on a refi. My mortgage rate is 4.25% and the lowest I could find now was 3.75%. Not enough of a difference to be worth it. (I own a co-op in NYC, in case you’re curious.)

  • jcwords August 23, 2019, 7:40 am

    The idea of an Optimization Council could be revolutionary. Imagine what would happen if people in every community got together a couple times a year to share the best, least wasteful ways of dealing with necessary bills and expenses. The good companies might be motivated to keep prices reasonable, and bad ones might be shamed into better practices. I like that idea.

  • Veera August 23, 2019, 7:51 am

    I check my insurance coverages every 6 months when it is up for renewal if I can shop for a cheaper one else where and recently moved from Statefarm to Proressive for a better coverage and save 500$ annually.
    Below is my latest coverage Coverages for Honda CRV 2015 (paid off :))
    Bodily Injury & Property Damage:
    $50,000 each person
    $100,000 each accident
    $50,000 each accident $139.34
    Medical Payments:
    $1,000 each person $7.00
    Other Than Collision: $500 deductible $29.00
    Collision: $500 deductible $145.00
    Increased Limits Transportation Expenses: $50 each day
    maximum 30 days $12.00
    Towing and Labor:
    $100 each disablement $2.00
    Customizing Equipment Coverage:
    (At the time of a claim, it will be the insured’s responsibility to show receipts to verify the existence and value of additional parts or equipment.) $0.00 $0.00
    Total rate for this vehicle: $334.34

    Recently I’ve been checking the IFTT applets and see options like for Comed in Illinois where you can have realtime pricing cut your eletrcity bill by adjusting your smart thermostats when there is a price rise.

    Duke energy doesn’t have that option but they do provide a graph of the electrcity consumption per day and I see that we pretty much peak at 6-9am and 6-8pm mostly for cooking(all our cooking is done in the morning excpet some light cooking at night). We consume an average of 20KW per day averaging 650-750KW monthly. I was monitoring how I can cut down on this portion. We mostly do our laundry at peak-off time.

    I recently got my car oil change done at a local Take5 since my dealer charged around 60-80 bucks. Got a 6 quarts oil pack at Costco for 28$ on sale and the oil change at Take5 was free.

    Phone service – I have used Project Fi for a while but the calls keep dropping so I moved to my wife’s ATT prepaid plan along with my brother in law and we pay 100$ for 3 lines and 6 gb per line.

    • East Coast August 23, 2019, 1:04 pm

      50/100/50 are pretty low limits for bodily injury and property damage, as is $1000 med pay. And what about Uninsured and Undersured Motorist coverage? Everyone should have that. The problem with buying the cheapest insurance is that the coverage may be terrible. And make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when comparing current insurance to cheaper options…. Finally, don’t forget Umbrella insurance which is relatively inexpensive and important if you have any assets……

  • Money Mountaineer August 23, 2019, 8:33 am

    L.O.V.E the idea of an Optimisation Council; or even Opti-Avengers?

    Just to extend the thought; I’d also be keen to establish such gatherings to focus on waste minimisation and general environmentalism. There are a million ways to reduce waste and environmental impact – many that most people would never think of – but once you know, you can make a better choice.

    We recently had a high profile TV documentary on plastic waste over here in the UK – and just as an example, pretty much a whole street gave up the use of those convenient, but stealth plastic, wet-wipes (baby-wipes) once they had the information that they almost all contain plastics.

    Knowledge is power; knowledge shared is power squared!

  • Ms. Must-stash August 23, 2019, 8:35 am

    I love the idea of an optimization council – outstanding! And I particularly like analyzing and talking about amortization schedules. (There, I admitted it! Thanks guys! :-) )

    Amortization is a tricky beast and I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know it better. When I try to talk to my friends about this, one of two primary responses seems to be – oh, well it’s a lower interest rate and my payments go down, so that’s a win. And yes, of course refinancing often does deliver savings, but there are two variables in play – the interest rate AND re-setting your current 30-year mortgage (where you may only have 20 years left and therefore be finally making a dent in the interest) to another 30 year term, thus increasing the length of the loan and therefore the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. The other main response is – well I’m re-financing to a shorter term, so I’m going to pay off the house sooner. In that situation, based on running lots of amortization schedules and comparing, I’ve found you can often very easily “DIY” the same results by simply adding principal payments to your existing loan, with negligible difference in the lifetime interest you pay.

    So, I highly recommend firing up an (advanced) amortization calculator and running the scenarios (analyze lifetime interest if you’re tempted to go to a lower rate on another 30 year, or analyze staying in your current loan and adding principal payments vs. refinancing into a lower interest rate 30/15/10 year loan) to make sure you have a true comparison. What I have determined in my own situation (7 years into a below 4% – specifically 3.87% – 30 year mortgage on which we have regularly paid some extra over the years) is that the best way to minimize the interest we pay over the life of the loan is to increase our monthly payments to accelerate the pay-off to about 10 years. When you compare this scenario with the payment schedules / lifetime interest offered by currently available refinancing options, even the lower rates we’re seeing now simply wouldn’t justify a refinance. Although, I’ll keep watching interest rates and running scenarios to see if this changes!

    • Elizabeth August 26, 2019, 3:48 pm

      That’s a REALLY good point. I hadn’t thought about the extra interest with a new schedule. Thanks for posting this!

    • GailNYC September 8, 2019, 2:42 pm

      I like this idea a lot! More worthwhile for me than doing a refi.

  • Lev August 23, 2019, 8:37 am

    Here is a trick with Progressive insurance.
    This company was cheapest for us in two different states. But you have to shop online and compare prices every six months, before your current insurance coverage expires.
    Funny part about Progressive is that even if you currently have an auto policy with them, their website allows you to calculate a new quote before your old policy expires (unlike Geico for example). So last time they’ve sent us their renewal rate (that always goes up), we went online and quoted new policy with same cars that was cheaper than previous policy we held. So we purchased it (pay in full to avoid up to $100 of “installment charges”) with start date being the last day of previous coverage

  • Alf August 23, 2019, 8:56 am

    I wonder whats the limit for refi on student loans. I’m interested on refinancing a 300K student loan at 5.75% over 30 years (current)
    Any helpful feedback?

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 23, 2019, 11:00 am

      Give it a try on the Credible website and let us know what you find!

      • Elizabeth P Vish September 3, 2019, 12:47 pm

        With that size of loan, you want to be careful to preserve any loan forgiveness / income based repayment plan options you have. That means you should think long and hard about refinancing anything that is a federal loan away from federal loan to a private loan.

        Not saying you shouldn’t do it, but if you were to become disabled or for another reason lose your income, having a little more flexibility on forebarance/change of payment size could mean the difference between being able to take care of your basic needs and stay current versus not stay current.

  • John August 23, 2019, 9:16 am

    This is a pretty comprehensive list

    • Nicola August 23, 2019, 8:50 pm

      I miss MSE and all the UK comparison sites so much. Here in BC Canada, you have to take government car insurance and there are very few price comparison options for anything.

  • FS August 23, 2019, 9:33 am

    Just saved 25% on my internet! $97.47 a year, tax free, with 12 minutes work. This article motivated me to finally make the call, which I’d been delaying for weeks despite having tons of free time, since I’m an early retiree (using the Mustachian methods!). An introductory promo had expired recently so my bill had gone way up, so I knew I needed to call and see what they could do for me.

    And it was fun, and I got to talk to a very nice guy and also hone my negotiation skills. This will be useful for much bigger negotiations in the future.

    Check out this book on negotiation, it could help you a lot with the stuff MMM is talking about here:https://www.amazon.com/Never-Split-Difference-Negotiating-Depended/dp/0062407805/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1QQ7I0LO29B8R&keywords=never+split+the+difference+by+chris+voss&qid=1566574389&s=gateway&sprefix=never+spli%2Caps%2C514&sr=8-1

  • Charles August 23, 2019, 12:23 pm

    Complacency costs big in college textbooks. Buying through the school bookstore is often 2-3 times as expensive as buying a good condition and used version on Amazon. And renting, getting from libraries, getting from students that have taken the class, and finding them for even cheaper online I think often comes out to over 1000$ an hour. 2 minutes on Amazon saved me over 100$ on textbooks.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 23, 2019, 6:43 pm

      Yeah, I can vouch for that – textbooks were an INSANE racket back in my day, and I am stunned to hear that paper textbooks still even EXIST after at least the year 2002!? Why would we want our information printed on single-use thick heavy slabs of tree?!

      I would definitely scan/download everything and just keep it on a tablet or laptop.

      • Dani August 28, 2019, 1:09 pm

        The unfortunate thing about college text books these days are most of the work you submit must be done online (even if you’re taking a traditional-butt-in-seat course) which require an access code. Thus making it essential to buy a brand new book (whether printed or online) that include the code to submit your work. When I first went to school 10 years ago it was much cheaper to buy used. Now that I’m back in school it’s no longer an option.

    • Michael August 28, 2019, 1:31 pm

      I also recommend bigwords for shopping for textbooks, they do a good job of aggregating many websites to get so you can find the best price.

      • Bee December 23, 2019, 7:31 am

        I’ve sent three of my children to college and handled the book situation because I knew they would impulse buy in the college bookstore instead of seeing what the online market has to say. Here’s what I learned: always look up the book on isbnsearch and jump from there to the used and rental options. I have rented most books from either knetbooks, campusbookrentals, or amazon. Sometimes Amazon does not win. Also, those codes that you mentioned can be purchased separate; I’m recalling a few times I purchased from cengage. Talk to the professor and be real upfront. Also, the college library is supposed to have a textbook for most classes in their reference for you to view as needed. Sometimes it’s a one hour access in the reference room.

    • Vlad August 28, 2019, 3:13 pm

      Curious but somewhat off-topic: I live in a smaller country, so one issue when I was a student was that my professors were also writing the textbooks, and they put out a new version with minor changes every year.

      The added material was required reading and always on the final exam in one form or another. We would grow our young mustaches by only buying one of the new textbooks, then copying the added part and distributing it among other students.

      But some professors would spread additions throughout the whole textbook, making it harder to copy. Others would allow you to use the textbook during the exam, and since the new edition has that formula you need that further increased the chance you would buy one.

      Not buying the textbook could be a lot of work…then again we were university students so it’s not like we had better things to do, like studying or something 😅

      • Mr. Money Mustache August 30, 2019, 10:27 am

        To put it plainly, those professors are CORRUPT ASSHOLES!

        If you’re teaching a course, you should do your best to make sure the students can get your course material for free. Anything worth teaching, is also worth sharing without charging for it.

        Yet another reason that I feel universities are long since obsolete as sources of knowledge and learning.

        • Mark Campos September 1, 2019, 11:54 pm

          Agreed on the above topic! However please don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Please don’t become another Bill Gates, Steve Jobs etc. proponent that school is of little value as they both continued their educations in college even if they did not graduate and had multi-million dollar companies to grow – gathered from their various documentaries….Society grows as more your people finish college and go on to be productive. Having said that college is a lot like buying a home purchase only what you can afford and need to pay and remember that you are purchasing a product like any other. Until you get the chance to start working in your field and then companies pay you for your knowledge for the first time and the tables are turned.

        • Rafael September 4, 2019, 11:14 am

          I wouldn’t say completely obsolete, but yes they have turned from Tax supported institutions of learning into semi required high cost capitalist money machines.

        • Jenn in Il September 19, 2019, 12:52 pm

          I always try and save my students money, but some colleges want you to direct to the bookstore and not offer alternatives. Best bet is to privately email the teacher.

  • Liz August 23, 2019, 12:28 pm

    Cheers Mustachians! I early retired a couple of years ago and since I have a bit of extra time on my hands I barter for a couple of services. I love hot yoga and I consult with them in exchange for free yoga (and mat and towel service!), and I recently started consulting for my daughter’s swim team. All in, these services would cost $395/month combined. Here’s the thing too, the consulting keeps me in touch with the parts of my old identity/career that I enjoyed – analyzing financials, thinking through problems, adding value, thinking creatively, etc. so I think that it keeps me healthy and sharp mentally. I do a couple of pure volunteer things where I also use those skills but the benefits to yoga and swim give me more instant gratification because I can see from month to month how much I’m helping.

    • LW August 23, 2019, 1:46 pm

      I did exactly this when my kids were younger and we had almost no disposable cash for kid-friendly lessons/activities. In exchange for music lessons, I wrote and designed some brochures for a local music school. And I did a newsletter for a wonderful, small children’s science museum. My daughter attended classes and events there for free in exchange. a win-win!

  • Andrew August 23, 2019, 12:43 pm

    Canada has some absurdly high mobile phone costs, but I’ve been using Public Mobile for over a year now and it’s been great. $30/month (no contracts) for unlimited provincial talk, unlimited international texting, and 500 MB data (I use mostly WiFi). It uses the Telus network so there’s very good coverage.

    The key benefit though is that you get to reduce your recurring expenses through referrals, loyalty, autopay, and community involvement. As a result of these discounts, I’m only paying $22/month for the above plan.

  • Sandra August 23, 2019, 1:55 pm

    All great ideas. I redo our budget every year and look for cost saving opportunities. In Canada, cell phones are expensive and I need long distance and data as I use it for my small business. The best deal I could find at the time was Freedom (crap coverage outside of Toronto, but doesn’t really impact me). I never run out of data, free US/Canada long distance, etc and it comes in at $50/month which is a steal. Last year, they changed the plan so I upgraded my phone and increased from 1 Gig data to 13.5 at faster speeds (which I really needed). I gave my husband my old phone because his was on the fritz. He switched over and discounted his plan to $15/month (no data, he doesn’t need it). All of this saved money.
    A few years ago we completely cut cable, only have Netflix now went from $40/mo to ~$10 (this has crept up again)
    Switched ISP to Teksavvy – cheapest internet and NO throttling, never have issues with 4 of us using at one time.
    After years of a land line that kept creeping up (at $60/month!!) we switched to VOIP for $10
    Grow a veg garden, lettuce/tomato/etc savings every summer
    Fewer restaurant meals, pick up instead to get 10% off for our favourite Japanese
    Hang our laundry – cut our hydro by 1/3
    So some of this is trying to optimize costs by calling around, others are changing behaviour.

    • Mike C September 4, 2019, 3:42 pm

      Another Canadian here. I was running VOIP about a decade ago on a no-name carrier, but quickly jumped ship when I discovered they were storing my website password in plain text. Fortunately, I found a better deal, where $4 / month at Ooma (basically enough to cover the 911 and regulatory compliance fees) covers all my land line needs. There’s some hardware to buy up front, and they try to up-sell their phone service and now smart home / security services, but I’m content on their basic tier, and have already recouped the initial hardware cost. They’ve even got an app that allows me to manage the landline and listen to my voicemail remotely without dialing in.

      Technically, I could do without the landline, but I find it convenient to use when I need to hand out my phone number to some company.

  • Colin GW Morris August 23, 2019, 2:00 pm

    Any Canadians want to establish some Optimization ideas?

    I wish I could add a lot to the discussion, but I frankly don’t think I’m getting the best deals out there – except I bottle my own wine, which is an amazing way to get wine that tastes like a $25 bottle, for $6.

    We have Freedom mobile, which may be worth checking out again, I’m currently with Rogers on 2GB plan that isn’t very cheap.

    For insurance, we are with Co-Operators, and I need to dig into the policy. It’s $100 a month! All your prices sound so good. I would love any help I can get. Single income, 4 children, running a business and studying part time! Grabbing it all by the horns.

    • Brian August 26, 2019, 8:06 pm

      TD Meloche Monnex has pretty steep discounts if you have any sort of university or college association (not really sure if/how they verify that!) My wife went to University of Waterloo and we pay about $1200/year for 2 cars and a camper trailer (including collision).

    • Mike C September 4, 2019, 3:53 pm

      If you’re on a Rogers 2GB plan, take a look into their new Infinite 10GB plan. It’s possible the new plan might cost the same as your former plan, but with more data and no overage charges. Additional lines only add a savings of $10 per line, but the data from all the lines is pooled, so 2 x 10GB lines gives a 20GB pool shared across both devices.

      It’s not as frugal as Freedom, but in my city the outer suburbs get spotty coverage from Freedom, and switch over to roaming often.

  • B.C. Kowalski August 23, 2019, 2:42 pm

    I was glad to read this, because I had a very non-complacent day. I bought a new toilet a while back, and my handier-than-I friend Ryan rode over on his electric powered bike this morning and we installed it together. I estimate we paid ourselves at least $100 per hour, since it would have been a tricky install based on some very old and poorly installed plumbing the house came with. Then I completed a few errands this afternoon on my human-powered bicycle.

    I suppose it’s not quite the “make a couple quick phone calls” type of optimization but I saved money, worked hard and learned something about home improvement. And everything involved bicycles! Now I get why people do this stuff – you feel so fucking cool when you’ve accomplished something like this!

  • ksmyth August 23, 2019, 3:51 pm

    For those who drive <4-5,000 miles/year, it's worth 15-30-60 minutes to investigate new pay-by-the-mile auto insurance policies (Allstate's is called MileWise) – could save you a tidy sum each year. I've also recently learned that there's a sweet spot of low-risk auto insurance when you're 40-60 years old; auto insurance tends to be more expensive when you're younger & older than that because younger & older folks pose more risk.

  • Ethan August 23, 2019, 3:59 pm

    As someone who just re-financed a mortgage (and saved quite a bit of money in the process), I would really like to know how your friend managed to do it in under 2 hours. It took me something like 8-12 hours over the course of a month to complete the whole process.

  • Daniel August 23, 2019, 4:10 pm

    Credible does not operate in NY (yet), so no luck here….

  • Married to a Swabian August 23, 2019, 6:14 pm

    The biggest financial optimization of all for us came from inspiration from MMM and my German wife. As with most people, housing was our biggest expense. We downsized to a smaller house as soon as our son graduated HS.
    Old House: cost $300k in 2014, 2100SF, $5900/ yr taxes, were paying $4500 / yr in interest, sold for $367k in 2018
    New House: cost $212k, 1200SF, $2700/yr taxes, paid cash – zero interest!

    So we’re saving $7700/yr just in taxes and interest alone. Plus new income tax laws only benefit itemizing mortgage interest deduction if you have a huge mortgage, so timing was perfect.

    All utilities, insurance and maintenance are cheaper on the new place, it’s totally private and cozy and we are 10 times happier here. McMansions suck big time! Rethink your housing situation Mustachians! ;)

  • Chris L August 23, 2019, 6:28 pm

    I used the Credible link to explore some mortgage refinancing options and the first screen of results I got were all from a lender that applied for bankruptcy in July 2019. That didn’t exactly inspire confidence…

  • Rohan August 23, 2019, 6:33 pm

    This is so true- I now try to optimise every recurring bill in our household. Ringing around for car insurance, switching all my bank accounts to get a better deal on a mortgage saved me $7,000 instantly- before you count the savings due to the lower interest. Granted it took longer than a few hours- and we have to get lawyers involved in NZ- it’s still an astronomical hourly rate.

  • Rosie August 24, 2019, 4:04 am

    Great advice! Ahead of having a decent space to host something like that, I might set up a local group on Facebook, for people in my area :)

    In the UK, does anyone have any recommendations for broadband? I’ve had talk talk for a few years now at £27.50 a month for line rental and fibre, but I feel like I could do better, and probably don’t need the fibre.

    Our current insurance is £6 a month for home insurance, and £27.53 for car insurance I don’t think we can do better than that – change my mind!

    • John Norris August 25, 2019, 1:31 pm

      EE broadband costs me £24.50 a month, incl 24×7 landline calls. Not fibre though. Found using USwitch.

      Car ins with LV= was £22.08 a month, found using Confused dot com.

      Mobile is Plusnet, £9 a month for 4Gb data, 1500 mins and unlimited txts.

      (multiply by $1.21:£1 to get US dollar amounts…)

  • Shelley Murasko August 24, 2019, 8:40 am

    Loving this post from San Diego, CA:
    Car insurance- Geico (100/mo 2 cars)
    Home insurance-Liberty mutual (850/yr)
    Cell phone-Republic Wireless (25)
    Internet-Cox (55/mo)
    Air travel-Southwest companion pass/reward miles
    Hotel-stay friends/family or VRBO
    Rental car-Turo or Priceline
    Life insurance-ladderlife.com
    Grocery-Free Walmart or Sprouts grocery pickup
    Health insurance-Kaiser HSA eligible
    Gas-Gas buddy app for cheapest in area or bike!

  • Dharma Bum August 24, 2019, 9:16 am

    Great advice in this post.
    The hardest part, however, is getting motivated to start the ball rolling.
    Once the momentum builds, you can clean up a ton of inefficiencies.
    Cheaper and better home & auto insurance.
    Cheaper and better life insurance.
    More advantageous cellphone plan, investment asset allocation and returns, entertainment (internet) package, credit cards, bank accounts, and all of that kind of stuff.
    It’s like doing a major house cleaning, decluttering, and reorganization.
    After you get it done, it’s like a breath of fresh air! A weight of inefficiency and extra costs lifted of your shoulders!
    Liberating and enlightening.

  • kissthesky August 25, 2019, 3:38 pm

    Check out Wawanesa car insurance if you are in California and have never been in an accident. It’s only for safe low risk drivers, but if you qualify it’s awesome. My car insurance is $14/mo and my coverage is really good.

  • Alison August 25, 2019, 3:57 pm

    I got a large discount at Geico by telling them I am a member of the Navy Federal credit union!
    Also I cut our cell bills down more than half by switching from AT&T to Ting!

  • JayP August 25, 2019, 4:16 pm

    Liberty Mutual and Safeco are owned by the same company and claims are mutually handled. Safeco has lower rates and I was told that they target lower risk individuals. I went with them for home and auto- with Geico the only drawback is the inability to get the home/auto bundle discount, which is significant! I had a recent claim and was very satisfied.

  • Mr. Money Case August 25, 2019, 4:27 pm

    So I have a car loan (I know, I had just graduated college and I didn’t start reading this blog and getting into the FI life until just recently). What are the benefits of auto refinancing, and are the fees outweighed by the money saved on interest in the long run? Credit score has gone up dramatically since I got the loan, so my interest rate would drop by at least 2% in the long run. I also plan on buying a house in about 6 months, will the blip on my credit from refinancing be gone by then?


    • Mr. Money Mustache August 26, 2019, 2:02 pm

      Hey Case – I’d suggest selling that car and getting a much less expensive one that you can afford with a month or two of surplus income ($5k is plenty to get a reliable car from Craigslist, see my “top cars for smart people” youtube video for a few recommendations).

      It also might be a bit early to buy a house – do you have at least a 20% downpayment already set aside? Unless you have access to something that allows you to borrow more than 80% without paying punitive mortgage insurance premiums.

  • Michael August 26, 2019, 6:46 am

    “The Optimization Council” sounds a lot like community, something native populations would call “normal”. The world most of us have been raised in might be called abnormal, spending all day away at work and commuting to and from the office. Or sitting behind a computer, connecting with others virtually, in place of personal connections.

    It might be a worthwhile exercise for the intelligent, and broad minded to see if the Westernized world really made progress moving away from nature. Take a look back at the native Americans for example. Would that life have been so bad? Waking up with the sun, living amidst the prairies, mountains , lakes and streams. Your days filled with time outdoors in nature and under the sun, providing food and making improvement to shelter would be your day’s work. Then gathering by a fire in the evening with the tribe, telling stories, or simply looking at the stars. No bills to pay, a lot less stress, ample time to spend with family and friends, no TV, or drugs, no need to set an alarm because you wake up with the sun or sleep in. No doubt there would be difficulties with that lifestyle, but I would argue it’s a thousand times better than the life of your average 9 to 5’r.

    We’re at a point in history where we might merge the two lifestyles and take the best of both.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 26, 2019, 1:57 pm

      Yup, that’s exactly why this blog exists: Financial Freedom Through Badassity. Keep the high-tech and high-efficiency clever aspects of our lives, but drop all the bullshit and simplify and spend more time doing physical, social, outdoor stuff.

      Assuming we don’t nuke or bake ourselves in the journey, I do think this is the eventual utopian destination of humanity. We’ll see if we can thread the needle on getting there.


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