249 comments

Pizza Delivery is for Millionaires

My son and I are having a beautiful Saturday night here at home. The sun is setting over the mountains outside my bedroom window and I’ve just finished baking a pizza which I am about to serve up for his dinner.

Although our day has been very simple, there has been an underlying magic within it that triggered an epiphany that I just had to write to you about. Because within this simple moment seems to be the secret to pretty much everything.

We woke up to a cloudless blue sky and were treated to summer-like warmth even though it’s November. I served up a French toast breakfast and then we ate together as we made plans for our day. We decided the first stage would be some computer work for him, while I went out to do some yard work and a bit of maintenance and cleanup on my construction van, to get it ready to lend to a friend.

Stage Two was our big walk downtown. Little MM wanted to get some shots of old buildings as part of an assignment for photography class, and I wanted to fix a minor leak in the roof of the MMM HQ Coworking building, so we decided to combine the errands. The walk was long and adventurous and we even stopped for some exorbitant ice cream cones on the way, courtesy of a gift card I received for helping someone last month.

We got it all done – Little MM got his 24 required shots, I fixed the roof and also ran into my co-owners Mr. and Mrs. 1500 who were setting up the building for a group breakfast tomorrow. So my boy and I strolled the 1.5 miles home through the sunny leafy autumn streets of Longmont and settled in for the night.

I popped one of my homemade pizzas into the oven. Because it was a big one, it was going to take at least 25 minutes to cook so I figured I’d use that time to shower off the day’s dust and sunscreen. But then I noticed my hair was starting to get a bit out of control so I gave myself a quick haircut before the shower.

And as I stepped out of my room, dressed in clean clothes and feeling sharp and healthy and arriving in the fancy kitchen I built last month just as the oven beeped to indicate the pizza was finished, I realized that this is the secret to wealth. Days like today. Monetary wealth for sure, but also every other kind of wealth.

We had just enjoyed an almost perfect day almost effortlessly, just by having the right habits in place.

We had a shitload of fun, socialized and exercised and advanced the projects that are important to us. But simultaneously, we spent very close to zero dollars, and left the world mostly unscathed as we finished our day.

The beeping of that oven full of homemade pizza was what really set off the epiphany in my head.

“Damn”, I realized, “even with all this excess money building up over the years, it didn’t even occur to me to order a pizza. It’s just automatic, and thus faster and cheaper and healthier, to make my own.”

Plus by avoiding the delivery I am saving my neighbors from one gas-powered car bringing an unnecessary extra serving of danger and pollution onto our street. It’s a three-way win with no losing involved.

Ordering a decent extra-large pizza including tax, tip and delivery: $20
Dad’s Homemade pizza: about $4
Difference: 500%

Sure, the difference here is only sixteen bucks, but I wanted to highlight the percentage difference instead. Because if you apply this philosophy of efficient, automatic habits all through your life, it really does tend to cut your costs so that your life becomes 2, 3, 4, or even 5 times less expensive.

So I thought to myself “WHY does anyone who is not even a millionaire yet, or even worse who has a mortgage or credit card debt, still do something as frivolous and easily avoided as ordering a pizza?*”

With that example drawn out in detail, let’s look at some of the other details of this day:

New kitchen in my latest frugal fixer-upper house in progress. Even the toaster is fancy!

My new kitchen which made that pizza cooking so enjoyable was built on a total budget of about $6000 including changing the floorplan, electrical, plumbing, cabinets, countertops and all the appliances.

This is less than half of what custom-ordered cabinets alone would have cost, and a full kitchen remodel of this type usually tops $25,000. But by getting assemble-it-myself cabinets from Ikea and my appliances from Craigslist and doing all of the work myself, I cut the cost by about 75%, while earning plenty of great physical exertion and satisfaction at the same time. Savings: about $20,000 or 80%

My son is in the public middle school rather than in the private school across town, which is where some of the other multimillionaire parents send their kids. If the private school were better for his needs, of course we could afford to send him there too. But we gave the local option a chance and it has turned out to be an incredible place for him. Savings: about $20,000 per year or roughly 100%

We chose walking as our means of transportation, and if we were in a rush we would have ridden our bikes. This habit of not driving doesn’t just save me gas and maintenance money, it also allows me to keep an older vehicle. I have a 1999 Honda van that is still in sparkling new condition.

She just reached drinking age, all cleaned up for her first can of Coors Light!

It stays new because I barely use it, because I have designed my life to be within an entirely muscle-powered radius. But this brand-new van is worth less than two grand and insurance is about twenty bucks a month. Maintenance is less than $10, registration is $5. Savings versus owning an “average” $35,000 American car and driving an average amount: about $600 per month or 90%.

We didn’t go “shopping” (100% savings), watched a movie at home instead of the theatre (100%), I cut my own hair for the something-hundredth time (100%), we advanced our health rather than chipping away at it (100%), and built this warm caring relationship with each other as well as with our friends (priceless).

And there were all sorts of other less tangible things working in the background too. I bought a commercial building and started this coworking space as a way to pass the time and spend time with old and new friends – the same reasons that someone might buy a vacation home in the mountains or at the beach.

But instead of costing me a few thousand dollars per month and requiring 100 miles of driving every time I visit, this building is just a pleasant walk from home and it generates thousands per month in cashflow and appreciation. It is great for the mental and physical health of all of our 75 members and growing, and we all save money by being a part of this community.

Mr. 1500 and I hosting a party at MMM-HQ for the first screening of the Playing with FIRE documentary, April 2019

The funny part of all this is that today was a completely normal day for us – most of my days are very similar to this one. The only unusual part was that I happened to take a step back and actually notice it. And that is really the point of this whole article:

We get used to our daily routine, and think of it as “normal”, even if it is completely ridiculous.

In recent months, I have just had my eyes re-opened as I have had more contact with people who are living more typical American lives than me. Their normal is different than mine, so when I visit I happen to notice the differences – more car trips and impulse purchases and pizza deliveries.

These people are not living lifestyles that appear exorbitant at all, and their houses aren’t packed with expensive things. But these little 5-to-1 differences just silently happen, quietly and consistently and add up to perhaps $100 per day, when compared with a more streamlined lifestyle.

And $100 every day becomes $36,500 every year, and if you invest that conservatively it will compound into about $520,000 every decade.

$520,000 per decade.
Just from the tiny mindset switch between
“hey lets order a pizza”
versus
“Hey, let’s throw a pizza into the oven.”

I really think this is important, and as this whole “FIRE Movement” thing grows, some people are getting soft and complaining that Mr. Money Mustache is “too extreme”, and so we should take a gentler and easy path and let our spending get sloppy if that is what’s right for us.

The thing is, this is usually just wrong. It’s laziness rather than practicality. Because Mr. Money Mustache is already plenty spendy, and plenty sloppy – well beyond the level required to live a happy life.

I can afford to live this way, because I’m old and wealthy now. If you are still young and poor, you should be spending less than me, not more.

So, pizza delivery is for millionaires, and it’s also time to put away those car-clown keys and get back on your bike. We’ve still got work to do.


* Of course, this is a perfect-world generalization. Real life has room for joyful exceptions and imperfections. But you have to know the reality of what you should be doing, before you can safely start making exceptions like ordering your pampered ass a pizza.

  • Bill Muffi November 24, 2019, 6:47 am

    All this discussion on Pizza!
    Have you guys seen the Netflix Documentery called The Game Changers.

    Reply
    • Dave November 25, 2019, 12:17 pm

      Mr money moustache man isn’t a vegetarian. He won’t be watching that

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache November 27, 2019, 8:08 am

        I’m just about to watch it actually, on the recommendation of a friend. I’m always open to having my mind changed!

        Currently my food philosophy is whole foods whenever possible, minimizing flour and sugar

        (remember that the pizza in this article is for my son, not me, and even then it’s because it is the only thing he will eat for dinner)

        And I try to stick with pasture-raised (expensive) eggs meats and skip the most environmentally harmful kinds (beef) when practical.

        As for the health pros and cons: I read both sides of the debate. There’s vegan activist Michael Greger on one side of it, but caveman lifestyle Mark Sisson on the other. I have lived like Mark for the last 5+ years, and as a result my health and body results are similar to his.

        I know you can get great results with vegetarian/vegan eating as well, but it takes some skill – you can’t just bust out a pack of bagels and wheat pasta and say “I’m healthy now because I’m a vegetarian!”

        Reply
        • Ghassan Al Mamar November 27, 2019, 9:51 am

          All the skills you need to being vegan is following Dr. Michael Greger’s app “DailyDozen” :)

          Reply
        • tjmando November 27, 2019, 10:39 am

          Hmm, vegan eating requires about as much esoteric skill as not dedicating your life to consumerism does. There’s nothing complicated: beans, lentils, tofu, spices, fresh veggies, rice, soups, salad, a gazillion obvious things. To not go vegan because of some lack of skill is reminiscent of the excuses people use to justify over spending. Thanks, as always, your blog MMM.

          Reply
  • TraceyVA November 24, 2019, 8:17 pm

    Great article! Homemade vs delivery pizza is metaphor about the spending habits of our country.

    When my kids were young in the late ’90s/early oo’s, Saturday was homemade pizza night. We made the dough in the bread machine while we were out during the day with our various activities. Upon returning home, each child was able to create their own healthy pizza with toppings of their choice and we’d watch a free movie from the library as a family. Most of our neighbors had pizza delivery multiple times per week or would go out to dinner and movie. We could never understand the expense. And my kids never felt deprived by our economical choices. My family is proof that frugality is not restrictive and pays off in later years.

    Fast forward to the summer of 2019 where someone in my work organization had two 7-11 Slurpees delivered to the office via DoorDash. They paid more for the delivery than the product. I see more of this type of behavior from younger workers who are throwing away good money on poor choices.

    Your message of being aware consumers is an important one, MMM. Hopefully, this generation will start paying attention.

    Reply
  • TheGreatFrugal November 25, 2019, 6:23 pm

    Back to the pizza—despite my mustachian proclivities I am often a pizza-ordering-in-er as I live in the best city for it (NYC). This post inspired a Trader Joe’s trip and now I am two pizzas richer for $10. To the point of opportunity cost—this was faster than the 30-45 minute wait for delivery.

    Thank you MM and the respondents for the inspiration, small and large, in this post.

    Reply
  • SC November 26, 2019, 5:29 am

    Pizza dough is one of those things that is crazy easy to make in a bread maker. In fact, when my child requests pizza, I sometimes give him the option of the local discount supermarket chain’s, or my own (time-wise, it takes about the same, if I go out and get it). He always says, yours! I mix up the dough in the machine and sometimes have it frozen anyway. But we do go through it, so the key is to have flour/yeast on hand.
    I use 600 grams of strong flour, 340ml of water, one packet of yeast (think it’s 7g), 1-1/2tsp of salt and then a big glug of olive oil. Put it on the dough setting and let the magic occur. Stretch that thing out onto the pan (oiled and floured) once it’s done. Then a bit of sauce (leftover bolognese is nice), a mozzarella ball (or other cheeses are good too) and some quick toppings (whatever’s in the fridge that looks interesting), in the oven for 12-15 min at about 400 F.
    I work full-time but it’s just easier to make meals yourself. And cheaper. Last night’s dinner was chicken pie, which was basically Sunday’s roast dinner chopped, with a quick white sauce made and covered with a bit of pastry. Went down a storm.
    I find chopping things after a day at the office relaxing. Also, put the kids to work. They love a good kitchen task. Teaching kids to cook is a life skill. My dad taught me to cook and it’s served me well. We all have to eat, so it’s important to know how to feed yourself and your family, imho. And doing it with less waste is a good thing.

    Reply
  • Katron November 26, 2019, 5:53 am

    Great story! Love those kinds of days. I have been mulling a question, would love your input. I am at a fork in the road:

    1. Stay at stressful job, where I am teathered to my phone day and night, but make pretty good money, no benefits though.

    2. Work at a job that promotes my health for 1/3 less of my earnings, no benefits.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 27, 2019, 8:02 am

      In situations like this, I always suggest going for the GOOD job, even if it earns less money. Because if you slave away in an unpleasant to earn more money, the only reason will be to be eventually quit. Then what will you do when you quit? Probably take up a low-stress and enjoyable job since you need to do something with your time anyway, right?

      Also, the earnings are probably not as different as they look on paper – because a lower stress job frees up more time to take care of yourself and optimize your life in other ways – including spending and entrepreneurship. And of course take care of your health, which should always come first, long before any job.

      So, good luck!

      Reply
  • Pablo November 26, 2019, 8:12 am

    Hey MMM, congrats on the awesome kitchen. What is the countertop material? I just finished a kitchen remodel done by myself and saved probably 20 to 30k. Plus I learned a bunch of new skills. I also remodeled my two bathrooms with amazing showers that I learned from you with your blog. I upgraded the material and went with travertine, since I did the labor my self. Total equity on both bath remodels, probably another 30 40k in my area of Nevada.
    thanks for your guidance and wisdom!

    Reply
  • MsCheng November 27, 2019, 12:32 am

    Okay after about two months of constant reading, i’m finally caught up! Thank you, mmm for such a valuable, fun, and insightful blog! Although i’m from a third world country of Cambodia where middleincome class earns an average of 500-1000$ per month, i still think ur philosophy of spend less on shit and save more is applicable anywhere!

    And although we have far lower wages, we also have as big of a heart! Whenever u need a guide for ur trip to Cambodia, just send me an email! I’d be glad to help!

    For the time being, i’ll stay a faithful reader!

    Reply
  • Amir Koz November 28, 2019, 8:04 am

    I make Pizza for my family once a week.
    In Israel, where I live, Family sized pizza cost about 50-65 ILS(about 14-18$)
    and 80-90 ILS for special chef-a-like pizza (22-25$)

    The cost of some of the products in here is much expensive then in the US, but in the end it’s still about 30-40 ILS (about 9-11$) for 2 large pizzas. (about 70-80% of a family sized pizza in here).

    So even here my family gets fresh, healty good food in less money

    Reply
  • Ms Blaise November 28, 2019, 10:13 pm

    I just watched the docs Playing with Fire that was recommended by MMM on twitter. Really good. The key takeaway was that the maths is easy but the psychology is hard: what is your life about if you dont fill it with paid “work”? etc.

    Reply
  • Shelley Murasko November 29, 2019, 5:08 pm

    Love this article! In the end, simpler is better usually wins. Simpler is usually healthier, cheaper, greener, more efficient. MMM’s example of a day well lived is something – eat at home – add a dose of hard work on a project -practice new DIY skills – walk/bike to family/friends – eat at home, relish the simple moments of joyful living . Also, timely reminder for the chaotic holiday season upon us.
    In my house growing up, Friday night was pizza night (ordered out), Saturday night was popcorn/game night, and Sunday night was homemade pizza night. Though for some this may seem like borderline abuse, my mom hated to cook, worked full time, and raised us on her teacher’s salary. Looking back, I think her weekend meal trifecta was pretty smart for someone who was tired and hated cooking…and left us with terrific memories. In my working mom/mother of two world, homemade pizza w Trader Joes crust works best, the back up is store brand loaded with extra ingredients….love to be able to personalize the pizzas, and this works well with friends over, too. When we want to get extra fancy, we bake the pizzas on the closed BBQ.

    Reply
  • Christina November 30, 2019, 8:09 am

    This post made me smile this morning. Thanks Pete.

    Reply
  • MKE November 30, 2019, 11:47 am

    Next time, I am going to try reading the comments section first, and then guess what the article was about. According the comments, this is about finding a pizza recipe.

    From what I read, it’s about: 1) Not driving 2) Not using a cell phone or computer 3) not watching TV

    Going a day (or three or ten) without a car, phone, computer, or TV will be wonderful. Limit your use of these soul-destroying devices. Unfortunately, they can be good in small quantities.

    Pizza has little to do with it, but it makes a good headline. Focus on the big stuff.

    Reply
  • Jesse December 6, 2019, 10:13 am

    I would love to learn some basic construction techniques taught by you. Also, I love reading your comments shitting on people that seem so lazy and disregard the simple instructions and time involved. Keep up the good work kind sir 👊🏽 and thank you for your continued teachings. I love riding my bikes :)

    Reply
  • partgypsy December 6, 2019, 4:16 pm

    Dang I’ve gotten out of the routine of making pizza because a) have to have dough made in advance, and b) have the mozz on hand. Now I’m more of a frozen home run pizza when on sale person. When I was making homemade pizza, I recommend the Wolfgang Puck recipe. You can substitute up to 50% whole wheat. So good! https://www.thespruceeats.com/wolfgang-pucks-pizza-dough-recipe-101614

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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

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

connect

welcome new readers

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

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

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets