286 comments

Exposed! Mr. Money Mustache’s 2019 Bachelor Spending!

Purchases like this really blow my budget.

These days, I do a fair amount of informal financial coaching for both old friends and newer acquaintances. 

It’s a pretty amazing experience, almost as if I were a real doctor – people let down their guard and talk about the details of their financial lives, without the usual hangups and secrecy that tend to plague our society when it comes to the subject of money.  

Often, even taking this first step is a huge leap towards creating a more wealthy and prosperous life. Money conversations are not something we should reserve only for our paid professional advisers. We should speak about it openly with our friends and family, and support each other in a lifelong quest to make the most of our lives.

Through these hundreds of little sessions, I have started seeing a pretty consistent pattern:

  1. People who struggle with money see the whole subject as a swirling, confusing mess. Income and spending, debt and retirement accounts are everywhere. They describe the situation in a long, meandering paragraph. 
  2. People who are good with money have this stuff more mentally sorted. They can quickly list their income, their assets and debts, and most importantly they know how much money they spend each year.
  3. People who have been good with money for a long time have moved even further. They might not track it very closely, but they still maintain a growing surplus – because living well within their means is just a natural habit, which means there is no conceivable way they can run out of money in their lifetimes. People in this category sometimes need to be coached away from the habit of being too “cheap”, and towards making the most of the opportunity of a lifetime.

As an MMM reader, you are headed straight for Option #3 above.

But you may have to move through #1 and #2 to get there, which means sorting things out and tracking your spending. 

Tracking Your Spending is Fun, Useful, and Easy (Yes, really!)

I can already hear your collective groan as I give you this prescription, but adding up your past year’s spending is one of the most useful things you can do with a Saturday morning, and here’s why:

  • You can see where your money is going to waste and where you can make really easy improvements that completely change the course of your life
  • You will get the courage to switch jobs, houses, cars, and other life decisions as your fuzzy swirling financial paralysis transforms to a crystal clear understanding of money – one of life’s most useful and fun tools.
  • You can immediately see how much money you will need to retire. (just take your annual spending and multiply it by 25 as recommended by the 4% rule)

I’ll show you my spending if you show me yours.

Road Trippin’ in a Tesla. I keep this cost low by bartering carpentry or business help with Tesla-owning friends, or renting them on Turo.

Now for the fun part. I like to think that I live in “Category 3” of that list above – most of my major life expenses (housing, cars, health, food, clothing) are lower than average, because I have simple tastes and I love optimizing things.

Meanwhile, I have several sources of income which add up to many times more than my living expenses (stock index funds, real estate investments, this website, and side hustles like carpentry and operating the MMM HQ coworking space.) 

So I haven’t been tracking my spending for a while. But a couple of years ago I went through a major life change – the former Mrs. MM and I split up and moved to separate households in the same neighborhood.

With the old routines shaken up, and new things like hosting more parties, outfitting a new home and increased friend/family/long-distance-relationship travel, how has my bachelor spending been transformed?

It’s time to find out.

How Do You Track Your Spending?

My expenses are really easy to track: I funnel all my spending through a rewards credit card, which saves me about $2000 each year. (in 2019 I used the two highest-paying cards from Capital One which you can find here.)

Meanwhile, I hook up a third party financial app to automatically monitor these transactions, alert me to any unusual activity, and – the best part – automatically categorize and add everything up for me. I’ve been using one called Truebill for a couple of years*, and it has the simplest interface of anything I’ve tried – you get results like this:

Recent screenshots from my own Truebill account. (Sorry about all that cash sitting around earning nothing, I will put those little green employees to work ASAP!)

Truebill is great for tracking and improving spending, and you can also track with Personal Capital, which I have used for the last five years or so mostly for keeping tabs on all my net worth (see my 2013 article on that).

BUT you can also all this quite easily with no apps at all, just by downloading the full list of your 2019 transactions from your bank and opening it up as a spreadsheet. In Capital One (which I also use for my checking account), I just clicked on each account and there is a link for “Download Transactions” right at the top of my transactions list.

For me, it was extra easy because I used the same bank for both checking and credit cards, so everything shows up on a single login screen like this – kudos for Capital One for doing this so well since most banks have pretty bad websites:

Lots of useful stuff on my capital one home screen (don’t worry, balances and account numbers, etc. have been modified for public sharing)

So whether you use an app or a conventional spreadsheet, tracking your spending is quite useful, to know where you are now.

But the biggest message to take home from the result this:

These are not your “living expenses.” This is your current level of spending, something that is entirely under your control.

There is always a trick for everything, and you get to decide how many of these tricks to apply.

For my part, I try to use only the tricks that save me money and make my life better in some way. For example, I do my own carpentry and I use my own legs for transportation, because these are a win/win for me. But I do pay an accountant to do my taxes for me. Your own choices may be completely different, but it’s important and empowering to use that word – choices.

Special Notes Before I Share This

Many fun and even “fancy” things in life don’t have to show up as expenses – like parties at the MMM HQ, which is actually a business rather than an expense.

The table below will shock some, offend others, and hopefully inspire you to at least consider a few new things. But because of my unique life situation, I have made a few unusual choices. I’ll explain them in advance so the table will make more sense.

Do I really have zero medical expenses?

Yes, and I have for my whole life – this is a probably combination of dumb luck (genetics) and hopefully-smart luck (I made a guess that 1-8 hours of outdoor physical work, bikes, barbells and salads every day would be good for my health and so far it seems to be working.) But I know this is not a lifelong guarantee, because there are no guarantees.

What about kid related expenses?

My little 13-year-old is pretty low-maintenance these days: he develops stuff on the computer, plays the bass and rides scooters with friends. When we are together, we do these same things along with hikes and bike rides and the odd road trip. Other kids are into more expensive activities and that is wonderful if they enjoy it and you can afford it. This table includes the half of his food and necessities that I pay for, but does not include any money that changes hands between Former Mrs. MM and myself over these final four years of our co-parenting project. However, I am infinitely grateful for how happy and cooperative our arrangement has become, and suffice it to say that nobody needs to feel sorry for either of us in the financial sense either.

How can you even sleep, with no house insurance and no health insurance?

This really depends on your personality type – and mine may be unusual in this regard. I simply don’t worry much about things like theft, accidents, fires, disasters or anything else. I certainly know they are possible, but my mind thinks in statistics and probabilities rather than emotions or fears. In other words, I’m a bit of a robot. And the robot in me says, “On average you will make a profit and you can afford any worst-case consequences, so why buy insurance?”

For people in situations where losing a material possession would be a big deal, insurance may be appropriate. But I also still like the old-school advice of “don’t buy stuff that you can’t afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.”

But this will all be covered in more detail in an upcoming article about health insurance, including an interesting new option I am just about to try this year.

What Else Are You Hiding From Us?

My businesses pay for some stuff (blog-related trips, this computer, tools, etc.) that happens to be fun for me too – this may prevent me from spending personal money on other fun stuff.

Charitable donations, which now total over $300,000 (see previous article), are also not part of what I consider spending. To me, these are a reallocation of a good part of this website’s income to causes that need it more than me. But I probably wouldn’t be brave or badass enough to give away much money, if I were only earning the bare minimum needed to cover my lifestyle spending in the chart below.

And I don’t include income taxes in my spending, because if someone really lived on a level of retirement income to cover even twice this level of spending they would pay no tax. In my situation, I do earn more than I spend, and pay plenty of tax on it. But much like the charitable donations described in the last article, I think of income tax as just another way of contributing a small portion of this super-lucky surplus back to society.

It’s really not a big deal – and I find that statement to be true in all areas of life: as you get older and your material desires drop away, fewer and fewer things seem like a big deal.

Okay, let’s get into it!

MMM’s 2019 Bachelor Life Spending
(all figures are for the full year)

CategorySpendingComments
Housing
Mortgage + Insurance0Bought the current house ($315k) with cash, and I have been self-insured on houses for the last 5 years or so. Not for everyone but it feels right for me.
Property Taxes$1735My current place is a 3Br/2Ba home in an “up and coming” (i.e. working class) central area. Downside: pickup trucks everywhere. Upside: cheap to buy, and located on creek and bike path. Walk/ride everywhere!
Maintenance and Renovation$4699Renovated my kitchen (IKEA), plus assorted painting + lights
Utilities – City$1227Electric + Water + Trash service. Average electric = $24/month including electric car charging.
Utilities – Heat$353Natural Gas service (incl. hot water)
Household Items $294Things like lamps, picture frames, vegetable peelers, wine glasses at places like Target.
Total Housing$8308
Food
Groceries$4615Mostly fresh, organic higher-end stuff. For one active man and 1/2 time of a growing teen boy. Costco/Sam’s whenever possible, plus Whole Foods for more specialized items, and because it’s within walking distance.
Restaurants$910Many more nights out in this new life – expensive but fun.
Beer/Wine/etc$203
Total “Food$5728
Medical Care
Health Insurance$0I decided to self-insure for 2019 as an experiment (because the US coverage mandate was removed), to see if I found it stressful/scary. Article on this to come!
Medical Bills$0Had a truly fortunate year again – capping 45 years with just about zero medical costs so far. Will not take this for granted!
Dentist$0Confession: I have only been ONCE in the last 25 years. Complacent because I’ve never had a cavity. Teeth are fine and clean. Am I pushing my luck?
Automotive
Gasoline$22.621999 Honda Odyssey – used mainly for construction hauling. I do lend it frequently to friends, but they return it full of gas. But I walk and bike for all of my in-town transportation.
Maintenance$0She had a perfect year (although with low mileage, car breakages are rare)
Car Registration$545For van, cargo trailer, and Nissan Leaf shared with former Mrs. MM
Insurance$397Mainly for the Leaf because it includes comprehensive (long story) – this is my half of the shared policy cost. Still using Geico and it’s great.
Automotive Total$965
Travel Total$3702Plane tickets, car rentals, airport transport. Interestingly, most accommodation was “free” due to staying with friends, credit card points and AirBnb Referrals.
Entertainment$400Plays, Books, Netflix, Google Play movie rentals, even a couple Oculus VR video games.
Mobile Phone$300I’m still on Google Fi. It’s $20 per month+data, a solid value for lower data users – I like the free international coverage.
Internet$600This is expensive because we buy Longmont’s gigabit fiber internet, but well worth it for a household of blogger/video gamer/youtubers.
Total$21,470Hey, not bad!
Total “Barebones” $13,068My real (still luxurious) living expenses without the travel and $5000 kitchen renovation. Still includes restaurants, booze, cars, gadgets from Amazon, and living in a 3 bedroom detached house!
……………………….……………

So, What Now?

Well, this was a pleasant surprise. I had felt like I was living a total billionaire’s life in 2019, because it has been so packed with interesting people and places and experiences. I always buy whatever I want – after considering whether it will really make me happier – and this leads to a feeling of almost dizzy abundance. But I guess abundance just isn’t that expensive.

2020 is shaping up to be an even bigger year of personal growth and better friendships and hard work. I’m drawing up the plans for an exorbitant second-story deck off of my bedroom. The Tesla Model Y comes out in just a few months, and I am in love with it.

It could get expensive.

Stay tuned and I will let you know how it goes!

In the Comments: do you track your own annual spending? If so, how did you do last year? If not, what is your reason?

*About Truebill: I heard from Haroon Mokharzada as he was just founding the company, and was impressed with his background of seeming to be on the “good guys” team. So I have been a casual user ever since, just to follow their progress. The Truebill service/app is now good enough that I can see it being useful for many people – not just for tracking spending. And they have a sizable development team and a large and growing base of happy users. Nice job y’all!

Affiliate notice: While I have no financial relationship with Truebill, this blog may get a commission for other recommendations within this page, including Personal Capital, Airbnb and the credit card recommendations. And many thanks if you do use them!

  • Lauren January 30, 2020, 3:15 am

    Hey Pete,

    Really liked this article. I’m in the UK so there are some aspects that I probably don’t fully appreciate eg. healthcare. However, I found it particularly useful to have an overview of someone else’s spending.

    I currently use a spreadsheet to track my progress. I’m a way away from FI. But I totally get the three stages. I went so frugal at one point I was walking the dogs in trainers because I didn’t want to shell out for wellies. And I was cycling 80 miles a week to school in freezing temperatures on the bike my parents bought me when I was 15 (which was over a decade and some ago (late bloomer)). Learning to spend on things that add value in my life and to the lives of others has been a challenge. So that’s why I started the spreadsheet, I’ve structured it so that I save 45% of my salary, and dedicate a certain amount of spending on other things that allow me to grow spiritually, help me relax, be generous etc. I used to skimp on these things. I was turning into a bit of a Scrooge, but because they were ‘non essential’ I felt I couldn’t justify the spend. I think a part of that is that I only make minimum wage at the moment (17k a year). When I finish school I hope to not only increase my saving rate but also my ability to have funds to be more generous.

    Thanks for all the life hacks, and I’m going to check out that app. Sounds so much less of a faff than the spreadsheet.

    Reply
  • Rebecca Saguin January 30, 2020, 5:21 am

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been tracking my spending since 2008 and my husbands since 2013. I use a spreadsheet and love it. We definitely splurged in 2019 and in 2020 we are reeling it back in. I also started a financial blog. Not as great as yours but hopefully someone will read it and it will help them make changes with their spending. Love your blog. Very encouraging. Keep it up!

    Reply
  • sam January 30, 2020, 7:09 am

    At 71 (almost 72), I do not track my expenses. I just keep track of the surplus (savings) each month. I do not walk or bike but only average 6,000 miles a year on my car. That my seem high but there is 50 weekly round trip (wife has to get her hair fixed, lol) and our doctor visits are 100 mile round trips (several times a year).

    Reply
  • Mike Spangler January 30, 2020, 9:47 am

    $19,000 spending last year for me, for my first year of retirement. That includes Obamacare, a crown, and new glasses.

    Medically, I hope you get checked for high blood pressure and for glaucoma, and an occasional blood test. There are things with no outward symptoms that can be serious later. On the other hand, I went through that same period of my life with no medical inputs but one round of penicillin for a strep throat. But my jobs back then required an annual physical, so other than the throat it didn’t (directly) cost me anything.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache January 30, 2020, 6:48 pm

      That’s one thing I should have mentioned – although I’m a big fan of the annual physical exam, I also make a point of keeping tabs on any DIY-friendly measurements more frequently. Like blood pressure measurements with one of those Omron gadgets, heart rate, extra detailed blood tests through WellnessFx, and tracking weight and bodyfat percentage pretty regularly.

      I do have real doctors as friends so I’m not flying totally blind. My understanding from them is that if you feel great, blood pressure and blood work is ideal, look lean/healthy and do all the right things like weight training and outdoor cardio, and keep your stress levels low, the odds are so overwhelmingly in your favor that you really have nothing to worry about.

      Reply
  • Christina January 30, 2020, 10:03 am

    I’m impressed with your zero cost on the medical and dental. I’m a fellow Canadian—living in BC—so you know the cost of my provincial medical coverage up to this point has been quite affordable and now it’s about to disappear completely into the back end of things. As of Jan 1st there are no more monthly premiums to pay.

    I have a few years on you and I have to say that once I hit my mid-40s things started to break down a little and I definitely noticed the “medical” line item in my budget increased. There’s something to be said for prevention. I would seriously consider the value of regular medical, dental and optical check ups to potentially nip things in the bud. Some issues could end up being far more costly if you choose to be reactive instead of proactive.

    Still…colo(u)r me impressed! Many high fives.

    Reply
  • Brian January 30, 2020, 10:28 am

    Regarding there are no guarantees on medical expenses, I fit the mold of healthy, active, and outdoorsy. Very fit for the the 47-years-young that I am. But earlier this month I learned that I have a “damaged” carotid artery. No idea how or when that happened, but after a night in the hospital and several follow-up appointments, and more treatment to come, I spent more on medical care this month than I have in the last decade+. I never would have guessed that would happen to me – not now anyway. But it does kind of hit home on unexpected medical expense planning for when I’m 60, or 70, or older.

    Reply
  • Mike January 30, 2020, 1:22 pm

    Fellow Canadian here. What app or software can we use to easily track spending. I have looked at creating macros in excel but would like to have something that is a little easier..

    Reply
  • Anonymous January 30, 2020, 1:34 pm

    Hey, where does ‘recreational’ substances go? I didn’t see it listed.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache January 30, 2020, 4:51 pm

      Marijuana is free in Colorado because anyone who wants it just grows some alongside the tomatoes in the vegetable garden.

      Reply
  • DuckReconMajor January 30, 2020, 1:40 pm

    Inspired by this article and the comments, I went to the dentist for the first time in almost a decade! (same as MMM, insurance changed and never got around to getting back).

    I thought parts of my teeth were just stained, nope it was plaque! They look so clean now!

    I got very lucky too, my teeth themselves were in great shape, just had some gum inflammation and of course they were covered in plaque.

    Reply
  • Malbec January 30, 2020, 4:20 pm

    I track using YNAB which I really like and has been the first tool that helped me to sort and understand clearly how much I am spending and how much I am saving.
    Have you used it?

    Reply
  • Rytis January 31, 2020, 2:46 am

    I’m late to the comment party, but this article inspired me to aggregate my 2019 spending. Since I programmed myself a budget tracker and I meticulously log every expense there, it was just a matter of writing a simple SQL query. I love owning my own data!

    I had 43 categories and I tried to aggregate everything to bigger categories for ya’ll and I ended up with 22. Here’s my spending for anyone who’s interested. All amounts in euro. Also it would be lovely if we could do tables in comments. I’ll comment on my categories below the list.

    Savings – €15500.00
    Apartment Improvement – €9494.92
    Car – €3041.60
    Electronics – €2886.72
    Rent – €2400.00
    Entertainment – €1978.44
    Groceries – €1264.30
    Healthcare – €1240.31
    Utilities – €1184.14
    Clothing/shoes – €1127.58
    Eating out – €957.51
    Business – €859.80
    Snacks – €653.85
    Sport – €533.10
    Other – €493.23
    Holidays – €492.28
    Mandatory State Health Insurance – €429.00
    Steam games – €276.44
    Cellphone – €212.66
    Internet – €150.16
    Gifts – €46.20
    Ride sharing/scooters/uber – €37.10
    Total – €45259.34
    Total w/o savings – €29759.34
    Total w/o home improvements – €17864.42

    Still extremely spendy. I have a few comments after seeing the numbers. Out of 3k for the car, fuel was only €371, the rest is financing and insurance. But it was a new car with 0 miles that I bought for €10k and I plan to keep for a long time, so this cost will go down. I live in a city center, so I barely even use it.

    Electronics spending was a huge surprise for me, so modified the query to check out what went wrong here. Here’s what:
    Valve Index – €1100
    Apple Watch – €567
    Wacom Drawing Tablet – €567
    New Monitor and SSD – €452.88
    Kindle – €190.28
    Arduino – €67.38
    etc…

    Very lavish, but most will not be recurring.

    Rent is the money I send to support my grandmother who left me the apartment, real number would be multiplied by 3.
    Groceries include pretty much general expenses like food, cleaners, etc. I send €100 to my girlfriend every month for my food and she takes care of the rest. Yes my home food budget is below €100 a month.
    Sport is basically gym membership and protein.

    This comment is probably getting too long now, so I’ll stop right here, but if anyone has any questions or comments, please post them below! I L-O-V-E discussing budgets to a freakish amount!

    Reply
  • Bryan January 31, 2020, 6:25 am

    I have learned so much from you and hold you in the highest regard. That being said; please go to the dentist at least once a year. Get your teeth professionally cleaned and a quick X-Ray. No biggie, 100 bucks probably. Medical; you’re young so OK. But once you hit 50, again get some basic lab work, colon cancer screening and prostate screening. Your son will thank you when he is 30 and his dad is still there to celebrate his birthday.

    Reply
  • Knight February 3, 2020, 2:28 pm

    So after reading every article at the beginning of last year, my wife and I decided we had enough with our debt and I want to retire by the time i’m 50. We paid off $7,000 worth of credit card debt, we now have $5500 toward the obnoxious car payment as well. We ended last year with a total income of $53,000 and a total outflow of $37,000 (the savings each month went toward debt). This was a first for us to actually have months left over in green instead of putting more on our Credit Cards. Now i use our reward card and pay it off every month. I’ve earned nearly $250 in cash back since last May. Problem areas for us (I would love for you to help us with a case study) (May-Dec): Groceries $5300, dining out $3500, travel (gas, etc) $1700, holidays $4300. We have discussed some new strategies that we are going to utilize this year to push us forward faster. Any tips, comments, concerns, etc are much appreciated.

    Reply
  • REIT Dude February 3, 2020, 6:11 pm

    I assume that you can self-insure but going without health insurance sounds genuinely terrifying to me. I tend to follow a somewhat Mustachian blueprint for my own life but I definitely spend lavishly on my medical insurance. My thinking is that if I end up getting some kind of terrible illness I don’t even want money to be on my mental radar.

    Reply
  • Chris February 4, 2020, 1:36 am

    Any spending on clothes/shoes etc? I mean I’m pretty frugal when it comes to refreshing my wardrobe but even I have to renew some items every year, just from general wear and tear.

    Reply
  • Dane Ferna February 4, 2020, 7:58 am

    Dear MMM,

    What do you do about SHOES???

    I have a 13 year old and a 9 year old who seem to need shoes ALL the time. And the larger the feet, the more expensive the shoe. And I try to buy good yet least expensive shoes because they walk and bike to school and also play outside and at park a significant amount of time during the week. Any life hacks you can share in this department please!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache February 4, 2020, 6:33 pm

      Those are part of the Amazon spending for me.. but you have a good point – you might be stuck with 1-2 pairs of $50-80 shoes per kid per year, depending on the styles involved.

      However, the worst case of $320/year is less than what most people spend each MONTH on unnecessary car payments (effectively depreciation on the choice of owning an overly new car). So if you win on the big things, necessities like shoes are easy to pay for.

      Reply
  • Lynne February 4, 2020, 9:43 am

    Anyone considering solar needs to find out what it costs to remove and replace them when your roof needs replacing. It can be terribly expensive. And unless you install solar using tons of rebates and tax credits, it may not ever become a positive ROI.

    Reply
  • Lesa February 5, 2020, 3:15 am

    Good overview! Tnx for the good work, i have been reading you for 5yrs now. Some unfortunate decisions made my financial situation worse then i wanted it to be, but – in January i, through some side hustle and saving, managed to pay of cca 20k USD of my last consumer debt in about 1.5yrs of saving
    Now just 75k USD mortage left, this is next.
    I am in Easter Europe:
    Salary 2450 USD take home (salary similar to country prime minister :)
    Mortage 450 USD
    Alimony 250 USD
    Utilities 200 USD
    Food and mics 500 USD
    Car and all expenses provided by company
    Rest is saved, some add expensed for my daughter but cca 900 USD per month is geting saved in goal to get rid of mortgage and find some less soul sucking job :)

    Reply
  • Wess Stewart February 7, 2020, 7:30 am

    $600/year for fiber internet? I’m jealous! Where I live, the “entry level” is 100mbps, and it costs right at $99/month. And it’s not like it’s not a civilized area…it’s a town with a major university. Perhaps one day I’ll get out of here, but I doubt it. lol.

    I’m recently “unsupervised” (as some may call it) as well…it’s turning out to be pretty fantastic. Got hit with pretty much all of the debts though, and digging my way out of it has been a mess. But I do like the idea of making adjustments that save money and make things easier. Gonna keep working on that. :)

    Reply
  • Hector February 7, 2020, 5:22 pm

    First comment ever, but been following website for a year. I did keep track of my annual spending in 2019 (always do, I’m an accountant) and I think it was not that bad since it’s a household of 4 (wife and 2 baby boys). It was $33,250 for the whole year, without taking in consideration Mortgage and Car Lease payment (ooops sorry). I prefer a car lease for tax purposes, but that’s another story. What I was mostly shocked was your electric and water spending. Mine is an average of $370 per month, way more than you.

    Reply
  • Classical_liberal February 7, 2020, 11:49 pm

    Ha! I’ve been reading this blog for seven years and finally the day has come… I spent less than MMM last year! Came in just under 18K. Eat it consumer suck’a :)

    FYI, MMM I noticed on the capital one screen shot you still have their Money Market account. They ungraded savings options and now offer “Performance Savings” that has a slightly higher rate with no minimum balance. Call them to switch it and make yourself a few bucks in 2020, a big spender like you could use the extra interest.

    Reply
  • David February 9, 2020, 12:16 pm

    Frugality runs deep here in New England. As a Yankee I’ve always assumed it’s a virtue, and I admire all you do to help others live simply and more ecologically. In your own words, though, money is a tool. Is it really best for those of us who can afford more not to wield that tool well? Can we agree to start paying a fair, even high price to support what we believe in? Not buy unnecessary stuff, but spend where it matters. Why are you buying food at Costco rather than helping a local farmer make a go of it, or cheap cabinets at Ikea rather than from reclaimed wood with a local craftsman? The environmental costs and damage to the community may be hidden, but they’re real. Charity is one thing, but I’ve spent a lot of time around non-profits, and I’d trade a hundred of them for one hard-working local organic farmer. Cut back on entertainment rather than support actors, musicians, and artists? Buy the cheapest beer and wine rather than support artisan producers and family farms? Even health insurance, broken as it is, infuriating for the profiteering, is a social contract that the well make to take care of the sick. We sink or swim together. Once we can afford to make a difference in our communities, why not shift gears and spend what we have to lift up our friends and neighbors?

    Reply
    • NN February 12, 2020, 6:44 am

      Thanks for this comment! Couldn’t agree more with all you said! Maybe just to add to it, I think we should also be willing to sacrifice a tiny bit of our returns on our investments and focus more on environmentally and socially responsible investment! And before anyone points out the obvious, I do realize that most of the screened ETFs are far from perfect but at least companies like Exxon are not putting my money to work for the them.

      Reply
  • Pete February 10, 2020, 1:29 pm

    Hey man, just discovered your website and I think you have a lot of good info.

    Just remember that the “worst case scenario” for not having homeowners insurance isn’t losing the building and all your possessions to a fire or something. It’s someone tripping and breaking their neck on your property and suing you for damages. No insurance for that and you could be back to square one saving your first dollar again.

    Take it from a 15 year trial attorney. Get some liability insurance on that property.

    Reply
  • Peter Koch February 11, 2020, 3:04 am

    IMO there’s a huge difference between groceries/food (survival need) and beer/wine (luxuries). I would roll out those $203 to entertainment.

    Reply
  • LisaC February 11, 2020, 9:06 am

    This is how I see it: You’re not pushing your luck with with the Dental insurance. Some people simply never get cavities and have healthy gums. Just be sure to floss daily. I also don’t get cavities, never go to the Dentist and I have never purchased a dental plan and I’m 50.

    If you don’t mind replacing the full cost of your properties in the case of a total loss, then go for it.

    No Health Insurance is probably a bad idea. If you get something like leukemia/lymphoma or various other malignancies (carcinomas, melanomas, sarcomas) and need complicated therapy, your costs will run into the millions. Take my word for it. I’m a doctor. And the thing about is that these maladies can’t be prevented by exercise and a good diet and they will hit you when you least expect it. Additionally, you would not be eligible for an organ transplant (if you would want one) without insurance. In all honesty, you’re just being a miser in that respect.

    Reply
  • Rob from Montreal February 11, 2020, 2:54 pm

    Bro, no dentist for almost 25 years? You’re lucky, hope your flossing those choppers :). My gf and I fired in 2018 and 2019 with your help, thanks for giving it to us strait!! Best of luck in 2020.

    Reply
  • KNNYC February 11, 2020, 4:11 pm

    Wow, just my monthly maintenance (not including mortgage) for my one bedroom Brooklyn apartment puts me at over $15,000. So FIRE isn’t in the cards for me anytime soon. But, I’ve decided to get MMM level aggressive about saving more this year (while still having plenty of fun and good food) and hoping to put away 40K on top of my my maxed 401K.

    Reply
  • John D February 13, 2020, 12:54 pm

    I have to ask, how do you spend zero on bike maintenance? I am a avid biker. At the very least you should be spending money on tires, tube, brake pads, and chains yearly. Every so often you are going to need new cables, chainrings, or a cassette. Now if you are making this stuff yourself please let me know how so I can stop wasting money. :-)

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache February 13, 2020, 5:43 pm

      Haha, good question John. It’s not zero – I went through a few tubes, a new patch kit, a new chain, some nicer pedals. It’s all part of my generous Amazon budget. (although to be fair, my hardcore bike mechanic friends get more than enough stuff free stuff from adopting and trading around Parts Bikes so that in theory a handy person can ride for free)

      Reply
  • David February 15, 2020, 7:24 am

    In the past I used spreadsheets to handle my money. Strange accounting errors, and the lack of flexibility led me to search something much more effective. I refuse to share my personal monetary information to suspicious third parties, and so I ended up using GnuCash, a free and open source accounting software. Now I have a much more accurate accounting, and a lot of options to visualize my income, expenses, and sort it all by categories. It clearly helps to see what can be improved, and if there’s any lie I am telling myself (as in, did I really spend almost nothing on X subject for example).

    I’ve been working for less than a year now, have finished my studies. I estimate expenses of about 12k per year, which could probably be lowered, especially with all the stuff I needed to buy as I moved in. Beside, most stuff I bought are tools or everyday stuff that do improve my life and should stay in good condition for a while.

    To a roaring decade !

    Reply

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