Meet Mr. Money Mustache

“What do you mean you retired at 30?”

This is a blog about money. We’re going to cover a lot of ground and make plenty of amusing side trips into lifestyle and culture issues, but when it boils down to it, we are talking about money, and the freedom it can give you. Freedom from worry, and freedom from most forms of bullshit. And the best way to illustrate such freedom is to have an opinionated but wise role model guide you through your daily life from this point onwards. That role model is ME, Mr. Money Mustache.

I’m going to teach you a radical new way to think about and enjoy money that will get you off of your current debt-powered treadmill and into a lifestyle that is completely unimaginable to most people where I live, which happens to be in the United States, ground zero for self-imposed treadmills.

Once you are off the mill, you’ll feel like Neo did when he unplugged the suction cups from his pale naked body in The Matrix and looked around at the other imprisoned humans. “Holy Shit!”, you will say. “I’ve been living in this ridiculous slave world and never noticed.. and everyone else still is! WAKE UP DRONE PEOPLE!!!“.

You will suddenly be able to fly freely through the world, free from having to work for a living, able to start living life as you choose, doing exotic things like spending time raising your young children, taking a 3-week vacation each month, or just enjoying understated shows of leisure like sweeping your driveway in pajamas at 11am on a sunny Thursday morning.

Let’s talk about YOU first. If you are one of the 99% of working people I hear and read about every day, you are in a bad place right now. Young folks today seem to live somewhere on a Spectrum of Financial Idiocy.

” I am…

  1. Retired, and my money situation is perfect
  2. Still working, saving max in 401k, no loans on cars or credit cards, paying regular mortgage payments
  3. Same as above but add one or more car loans
  4. Same as above but not quite able to max out 401k plans due to life’s little expenses
  5. Same as above but have a few credit cards that I’m making payments on
  6. Can’t always make all my payments, got some bad marks on my credit score.. I’d be screwed if I lose my job now
  7. Everything has collapsed – losing my house and possessions, can’t find work, debt is more than I can pay off in a lifetime, why is the world so cruel to me!?

So your goal is to move up this spectrum. Everyone can do it. But most people think they can’t because they’re still stuck in the Matrix.

They blame “the economy” or other bullshit external factors, when really the only problem is they aren’t listening hard enough to Mr. Money Mustache. Become a regular reader of this blog and you’ll move up fast.

See you at #1.

Next Post:
  • scottphillips May 25, 2011, 6:45 am

    Hey Mister MM,Turned on to your site through EER.at 0300am this mourning an like what Im reading,will be stoping by every day,Im a over the road trucker that’s living in my truck by choice,no bill’s saving ton’s of money;just invested 10 grand in vanguard 500 index,hope I made right choice,27 thousand in e.fund,10% of pay to 401k,just drped from 20% 10 grand in it,should I drp.even more an invest the difference myself?45 years old,would like to have enough saves an out of this ratrace by 50,any ideas? thx.

    • MMM May 25, 2011, 8:39 pm

      Hi Scott, thanks for the comment. Sounds like you are on a great road already, saving so much.

      If you’re only 5 years away from a nice early retirement, you might want to keep at least some of your money in non-stock investments, since while the stock market has provided great returns over the long run, you never know when it will turn around and give you the shaft with a short-term crash or a 10-year period of moving sideways, like we’ve just experienced. Like bond funds, or a mixed stock-bond fund such as Vanguard’s VBINX. That way, your plan at retirement will be to cash out just a year or less worth of living expenses at a time, and leave the rest invested to compound.

      Another good strategy that protects you against an unpredictable market is this: leaving the door open to more work in the future if you need it. If your investments do well, fine, no need to do extra work. If there is a bear market and you don’t want to sell stocks while they’re low, go a bit frugal for the year and take on a little side work to boost income temporarily. Of course, if you have enough of a safety margin you have saved up in advance, you can guarantee that you never have to work, but I like to feel empowered by working occasionally even if I don’t need the money.

      • kiko lora July 27, 2013, 10:55 am

        Mr. MoneyMustache, Hello. I was drawn by the article about BikingTo Save. I recently moved down the hill to Fruita, CO. Since then I’ve parked my 2000 F150 & picked up a ’92 Klien (Handmade in Longmont!) For 80 bucks worth of old camping gear, & she’s become my mode of transport except when I need to go in Grand Junkshow for something heavy. Otherwise biking on the “townie” or Adultrike to the grocery/market, (I can even carry a 6 gallon water jug; Fruita’s flat). I figure I saved nearly $400.00 my first month of eliminating my previous commuting by truck. As an added bonus, at 43, I’ve lost body fat, legs and lungs feel stronger, fired up about fitness again. I’m currently in the 3-4 range, no car payment but assistance to Mom, and working hard to get to # 2. I save roughly 55% of my monthly income, and am looking to tweak it to 70% I want to keep working, but at a 6 month on 6 month off pace, which I can do in my field. I’ve added this blog to my roll, will be an avid reader and probably blabber. I will look further, but will likely have questions about saving vs. paying off debt faster.Thanks MMM, Cheers.

      • RetiredToWin Alex April 18, 2015, 11:13 am

        Definitely, a side gig is a very powerful backup strategy to have in case one’s main income stream from investments gets a little “wobbly” temporarily. My wife’s present consulting side gig is doing a great job of backstopping her dividend income stream (which is at present somewhat worrisome) without making her feel like she has actually gone back to a job.

        On the other hand, my own backup strategy is — as MMM mentions above — to “have enough of a safety margin saved up in advance.” And having driven my basic living expenses down to just $15,000 a year has widened that safety margin for me even further. So, instead of having to think about having to go back to a job I can think about what post to write next for my blog. And where to go hiking after I’m done writing for the day. :D

    • Anton Grantham January 30, 2014, 2:26 pm

      Mr.Money Mustache

      You are dead on. However, most people have poor values, so regardless of your instructions, most Americans will remain broke because they value things of no value.

      Humans do not understand that happiness is superficial. For instance if you buy a new car, you will only be happy for a few months, then you are back at square one. But you still have a major problem, a lingering car payment that will suck you dry of your, would be, nest egg.

      Joy is the only feeling with substance, it is something that comes with a “Free” mentality, meaning, no worries about anything, but knowledge of the truth along with acting in the truth.

      Material things are miss understood. They are merely obstacles that stay on the forefront of your mind about how you are going to maintain or sustain them.

      Most Americans are angry because they spend the majority of their adult life chasing after something that does not exist. That is joy through “stuff” to empress someone who could care less of whether you drop dead today or tomorrow.

      I am not wealthy yet, but I understand that in order to become rich, you must become rich. You must become like a rich person. You must change who you are and what you stand for. Otherwise, you will be shaving your Mustache.

    • Nathan March 6, 2014, 7:04 pm

      Hey MMM,

      I’ve been a regular reader of your blog for about a year now. Although my wife and I don’t make as much as you and Mrs. Money Mustache, we’re still well on our way to early retirement.

      Current assets @ age 24 (almost 25):

      $50k in Roth IRAs.
      $10k in 401(k) and maxing it out this year.
      $20k in savings (going to use for a down payment on a rental house).

      My wife and I’s mortgage is $68k @ 3.5%. We earn about $85k/year total and spend $25k. The biggest thing we are working on is to increase income sources from other places. I’ve started a blog for beginning investors that’s starting to get some decent traffic and my wife is starting a photography business.

      Thanks for the inspiration to leave the rat race early! Most people just assume that it’s not even a possibility.

      • AdventurousZ May 5, 2014, 9:43 pm

        I just want to applaud you! My jaw hit the floor when I saw all that you had saved by 24. I am 27 and think I’m savvy but I am just getting to a good place. I find that when you have your nose to the grindstone it is easy to forget to look up and pat yourself on the back for all that you have accomplished. Bravo!

  • No Debt MBA May 25, 2011, 6:51 am

    So I’ve been a 2 on your scale for the last several years but now I’m headed to a top business school with a big six-figure price tag. I’ll drop at least one rung because I won’t be working full time any more but I’m trying to minimize slippage and graduate without debt. Cool stuff, I love your writing style and funny pictures. GW would have been a lot cooler had he sported a ‘stache.

  • George May 26, 2011, 10:07 pm

    I guess I’m at a 2, heading towards a 1.5 (no mortgage) within the next year and a bit, then aiming for a 1. Nice way to set out the progression!

  • ermine May 27, 2011, 6:25 am

    There’s a big hole between 1 and 2 – being debt and mortgage-free is still a long way from being retired!

    • MMM May 27, 2011, 2:27 pm

      I guess there could be a few years between those two steps. But not for me – I retired BEFORE finishing paying off my mortgage. Finally got around to that last step earlier this month ;-)

      • theFIREstarter December 9, 2013, 3:26 pm

        Guessing most of the people here (I hope) are already at #2 and steaming their way towards #1!

        With the low interest rate mortgages that have been around the last few years, I would imagine many people are hitting #1 and retiring before they actually paid off their mortgage actually.

    • SK July 1, 2013, 2:18 pm

      I agree – I am debt-free, mortgage-free and own a rental home. I am not even close to retiring at the level I would be comfortable at. I’m in my late 30s, my husband and I earn a combined total of 200K. We are approaching our peak earning years in our professions and have no incentive to stop now. Many people are in our position. After long periods in graduate school, we are now finally earning good money. We paid off our house in just 3 years, got rid of all debt and are saving all we can in retirement accounts, buying stock and another rental property. For many of us, there is a huge asset-accumulation faze between being mortgage-free and being retired.

  • Laura May 31, 2011, 9:19 am

    Great site Mr Mustache…I suppose we’re at #2 and working to get to #1 ;)

  • Geek June 14, 2011, 9:25 am

    2 – except … after some quick calculations at below market returns for indexes, etc, I am contributing not the max to my 401k. I AM contributing to get my full match, and I am contributing more than 16500 to retirement total, but if I want to retire early I need to access my money before my 401k timer goes off.

    • MMM June 14, 2011, 9:29 am

      Yeah, great point – if your 401K is already conservatively projected to be more than you’ll need from age 59.5 onwards (which happens pretty early for savers who start in their 20s or early 30s), you can slow or stop your contributions to that and work on the Early Retirement fund instead. I need to do an article called “Are you contributing too much to your 401(k)?”

      Update! I ended up writing that article a few months later, and here it is: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/11/11/how-much-is-too-much-in-your-401k/

      • No Debt MBA June 14, 2011, 9:48 am

        You can always roll over you 401k to an IRA and convert to a roth IRA at which point it’s easy to withdraw after 5 years. Similarly you can contribute to a roth 401k instead of a traditional 401k if your workplace offers it.

        • MMM June 14, 2011, 10:25 pm

          Good point! You can withdraw principal only from a Roth Ira with no penalty after it has been open 5 years. However, at what point do you pay income tax on the 401k when converting it to Roth?

          • No Debt MBA June 15, 2011, 6:44 am

            You’d pay income tax in the year you convert from a traditional rollover IRA to a Roth IRA. So ideally this would be after you’d retired since your income, and thus the taxes you would pay, would be lower.

            You’d probably convert about a year’s worth of expenses (after tax) each year for several years to minimize the tax penalties and to line up income for five years down the road.

      • Insourcelife August 2, 2013, 1:43 pm

        We are at number 2 and working on paying off our mortgage in the next couple of years. For some reason I find it terrifying to STOP maxing out my 401K even though I’ve projected that what I have in there now will produce the income stream needed to live comfortably after I turn 60 even at our current expense level minus things like daycare, one car etc. The main problem for me is the loss of tax advantages now that we are making good income. Dumping that much money into tax advantaged accounts though makes it harder to build up the pre-60 fund, so it’s a bit of a catch 22 here.

  • Ginger July 14, 2011, 12:55 pm

    I’m at 4, quite a way to go to get to #1 but I am only 26 so middle sounds fine for me, But I have no car loans just student loans.

  • Brave New Life September 23, 2011, 4:20 pm

    I really like your vision of working outside in pajamas at 11AM on a Thursday.

    When I recently switched jobs I took a month and a half off to relax and practice my early retirement. I loved going out and doing exactly that, and I’d see guys come home for lunch and just look at me thinking “poor guy, he must have been laid off – but WHY is he smiling?!?”

    I also loved going to the park with my kids for hours during the day, and getting the same looks and questions from all the stay at home moms.

  • carrie October 11, 2011, 1:25 pm

    we’re between 5 & 6. i managed to find a job after 5 months being unemployed. (i wasn’t even “on unemployment” because i’ve only had intermittent jobs, and they needed to do research. got the job a week before i was approved for unemployment compensation.

    we have a ridiculous amount of debt ($70,000 on credit cards alone, and more on student loans) that last month before i was hired, we almost didn’t make our mortgage, but we sold as many savings bonds as we could find (husband was buying them a few years ago because his work encouraged him to buy them, and he didn’t realise they made no sense to someone with so much debt to hold on to something with such a small APR when credit cards are 1000%+ higher)

    so other than that one close call with the mortgage, we’ve managed to make the payments (but i don’t think my husband is paying all that much into his 401k. i could be mistaken, but doesn’t it not make much sense to put away for retirement when the money could be better put toward reducing the credit card debt?)

    i knew i didn’t want to commute very far (and that was one of the factors that caused me to take so long in finding a job.) i commute 3 miles each way 4 days a week for a 5-hour a day job. not too shabby, eh? :-) (back in 2007, i was commuting via train for 1.5 hours round-trip to a job that paid slightly less, and was a 4-hour a day shift. i definitely moved up in all aspects with this new gig. saving myself an entire day of commuting/working, staying in the same state. now i just need to condition myself to be able to bike 6 miles a day in slightly hilly terrain, and i’ll be set.)

    i’m definitely going to subscribe. thanks!

  • Lee Lau October 12, 2011, 9:42 pm

    How refreshing! There’s more of us early retirees out there than one might imagine. I checked out of the rat race at 33. My parents warned me that biking and skiing all the time might get boring but so far, so good. LOL’ed at the “sweeping your driveway in pajamas at 11am on a sunny Thursday morning” vignette

  • Justin October 27, 2011, 11:56 am

    I’m @ 7. Yay me.

  • chae November 28, 2011, 11:17 am

    #6 for me. cruising along with a wife and young kid. perpetually worried about losing the unsatisfying yet well-paying job. not whining, just sayin’.

  • Derek November 30, 2011, 7:22 pm

    Use to be around #2, but now I’m off the scale. No debt/mortgage payments, money in the bank, no job (by choice). Cheap person all around, works at best a few months a year and travels the rest in low cost of living countries. And happy.

    27 years old.

  • Carri January 7, 2012, 7:26 am

    Thanks for posting your monetary underwear out in the sphere. I appreciate your candor and love your speech.
    I’m not where I want to be, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. I love that you have a lot of money but it appears? not a lot of stuff? I want to declutter/refresh and hit renew.
    New year, new possibilities. Not the same ole me, just a me that’s learning and growing.
    Thanks for your voice.

  • Jeff January 7, 2012, 10:55 am

    Just found your blog today and it’s been like discovering I’m not the last member of an unknown tribe. I’m at #2 on your scale, and have had desires to get to #1, but as you said, not a lot of people share that view. I also share your view that humans had much more varied lives in the past and our programmed lives now are not normal to us. In my line of work, I sometimes spend long amounts of time in very remote places, where I am essentially “self employed.” Like you, I find that I work hard, sometimes with very odd hours, but overall it’s extremely satisfying. Now I just need to get to #1 and enjoy that all the time. Not so easy with a wife and three growing kids, but I’m hoping to pick up some more pointers from your site. Thanks for your efforts.

  • Artiste Girl January 21, 2012, 9:32 am

    I’m sort of a wierd mix of a number 2 and number 5. i’m self employed as a fine artist, so i love what i do and will never completely retire. i make abou 45-50k a year. truck’s paid off as are ol student loans.
    my Bf of 17 years and I just paid off our house in Sept.(16 years early).
    I seem to need to keep one credit card for the irregular income/biz expenses that come up. but no other debt. we don’t have kids and travel 4 weeks out of the year. i have a sep ira, that i rolled from a 401k from my last job 8 years ago, but can’t seem to have enough cash flow to add more to it. it weathered the storm and has increased a wee bit. any advice?

  • Mrs. T February 13, 2012, 9:46 pm

    Thank you so much for doing this blog. I am a teacher and totally at a loss with everything. I thought that working so hard for my education would benefit me. Instead I feel stuck like a slave. I love my job and have lots of time off but I want to be like you. I am going to try all these things. I have had to file for b/k this year so I can only go up. Right???? We don’t know what to do with our house that we can’t afford. I guess our last stop will be to foreclosure and then to a rental to save money. I hope the best for you. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to….retirement. At this point I never thought I would ever be able to say that I could retire someday before I am 80!!! ;)

  • Sara February 26, 2012, 8:58 pm

    Interesting scale. I had been at 2 but recently dropped to 3. When I bought my new car, rather than pay all cash, I decided to finance a portion at 2.14% and throw the balance at my 5% mortgage. So it actually was a better move to take out an auto loan than not, which strangely enough, pushes me down your scale. I look forward to following your blog. (I came here from GRS.)

    • Mr. Money Mustache February 26, 2012, 9:18 pm

      Welcome Sara! That’s an interesting point – your move was definitely wiser than paying cash for the new car. But if you read further through the blog, you might eventually become convinced not to buy a new car at all, and then you can move back up the scale :-).

  • Kelle March 17, 2012, 10:12 pm

    I just found your site today after torturing myself for a few hours with retirement calculators. I got so frustrated and searched “retirement calculator bullshit”, and that lead me to you :) I am 53 and recently divorced from a spouse who made just over 100K per year, the best health insurance, and a quickly growing 401K. I had been a massage therapist when we met, then gave up working so we could take a position in Bolivia for a while. I did not attend high school (mom took me out NOT my choice) but got a GED, so I always wanted to go back to school. I did at 41. I ended up getting a masters degree (loved school). In the divorce I got 1/2 the 401K, now at 170K, and the house and mortgage. I knew a divorce suspected a divorce was on the horizon, so I paid extra for years towards the mortgage. The house is worth about 200K, and I still over 104K. I had a job making about 40K. Subsequently I have moved out of the house and now rent it. I have a new job making about 80K. But I bought a new car, better gas milage though. I thought I was doing pretty well. But I am not where I want to be, which is where you are! Thanks so much for challenging us! One of my favorite comedian acts is Bill Hicks telling people in advertising to kill themselves, check it out! I am a behaviorist, and I see how the principals of behavior are used to get us to consume more. But with you and people like you getting the word out, I feel hopeful :) Thanks!!!

  • CanuckExpat March 18, 2012, 12:29 pm

    Well I just stumbled across this site and have been loving the writing and ideas. I’m working my way through the posts starting at this first one and felt like I had to comment. Already doing pretty well, but the site has been inspirational, and stopped me from buying some crap. We are probably at #2 on your scale, or maybe #1.5 if you can count one of us being a grad student as partially retired :)

  • Shiznik April 2, 2012, 7:49 am

    Ahh….the post that started it all. I like to come back from time to time and read this one :D

  • Another planner April 8, 2012, 9:49 am

    Thanks, this is a great blog, been following it for a while now – it endorses most that I believe in. I’m between #1 and 2 – have a perfect money situation without mortgage and could have retired years ago as a result of the typical tings: hard work & well-paying jobs, rigorous saving & investment habits, accumulation of income-generating assets, hate of debt plus marrying a guy with similar values.

    But haven’t just mustered the courage to (semi)retire – yet. Somewhat nervous about leaving work, and particularly of the potental effect (of being retired/semi-retired) on our four kids (i.e., turning lazy) but simultanaeously dreaming about retirement… However, in a couple of years (I’m 43 now) will semi-retire, likely move to the countryside and work/keep myself active with homestead gardening, lots of exercise, volunteer work, managing the investments, and occasional consultancy. Could consider a small business as well.

  • Ed June 20, 2012, 1:36 pm

    I found you thru Mark Sisson’s Blog. Please notify me when you have new posts. I’m starting from the first and reading them all.

  • MJ October 3, 2012, 3:59 pm

    I’m new here.

    What are some good resources for a middle school aged person who is interested in investing and dreams of great wealth?

    Have you ever experienced any life situations that created an unexpected hole in your plan? Big medical bills, being fired when you still needed the money? Or, has your life been on the relatively smooth and comfortable path? I did read that you have, and use, an O.Gun, but there are some events in life where that is just not going to be enough. I’d like to know how you got out of sticky situations…..or did your OG keep you out of them? You are not like those folks with all the perfect parenting advice who are childless, are you?

    I’m sincere in my questions, I hope you’ll answer them. Your latest post is a gem for life, not just financial matters. Everyone should have a loaded OG!

  • Steve Totty October 29, 2012, 7:12 am

    My friend turned me on to this site and I must say, with my current housing, job, financial, relationship, and family situation, I am already intrigued. I will read more!

  • Rich Uncle EL March 19, 2013, 7:27 am

    Wake up Drone people, ha ha. I feel the same way, everytime I talk to somebody they are full of excuses why they want this and that but can not save 3 grand or more a year for retirement. Come on you sad excuses for spine strong, mind smart people. I want to retire soon and I have made it a plan to achieve it.

  • cv April 5, 2013, 8:03 pm

    Dear Mr. MMM-

    Thank you for all the useful info on your site. I am a single professional girl who just started living on half her paycheck at age 35, is this too late? I’m also torn between renting and buying with a relative small mortgage as i am gifted a substantial down payment. Would appreciate your advise. Thank you kindly.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 6, 2013, 8:42 pm

      Howdy CV. It’s never too late to get the finances in order, so congratulations!

      As for buy vs. rent, that all depends on the numbers – price of house, property tax rate, rental rate, etc. Also, on your feelings about home ownership – I am a committed homebody myself, so owning and being able to work on my own place is a top priority for me. Others feel quite differently.

  • Birgit Platschka April 28, 2013, 2:58 am

    Hallo Mr. M,
    Yesterday I somehow stumbled upon your website and am loving what I have read so far.
    Two years ago my husband and I moved to Austria ( from S.Africa ). We live in a tiny village and love it. The upshot is that when you live away from the hype, life in all forms is cheaper.
    We had enough capital to buy a house and second hand ( 9 yrs) car outright. ( It sounds extravagant, but property is really inexpensive here, and ours was run down )
    Which is the point I want to make. When you don’t owe anything, suddenly you can survive on much much less.
    Like any immigrants, starting afresh takes a bit of time and money is still sporadic in its appearance. BUT that’s okay. Living the simple life is a revelation and the future is exiting…
    I look forward to perusing your blog.
    Thank you for having it in the first place.

  • DebtBaby May 24, 2013, 2:35 pm

    I think I fall somewhere between 5 and 6. I can make my payments on everything, but our savings is abysmal right now. If my husband and I both lost our jobs tomorrow we would be SOL. Though it is disheartening to think that it could all crumble tomorrow, I am going to remind myself that this will change. Thankfully, I have youth on my side and hope to turn that around sooner rather than later.

  • JMK June 14, 2013, 7:03 am

    We’re currently at #2. Just the mortgage left and should be paid off in ~3yrs. We max out his RRSP contribution limit 18% which he puts into my spousal RRSP. It gets him down one tax bracket to the one I’m in, and it’s gradually increasing my account to match his which got a giant boost ~5yrs ago from a layoff severance package. We both max out our new TFSA (tax free savings accounts) each year, and then all the rest of the excess goes to wacking down the mortgage as fast as possible.

    I agree with one of the posters above that there really needs to be a category between 1 and 2. Once the mortgage is paid off we’ll continue with the savings for a few more years to finish building our savings – basically putting in the years indicated on your early retirement savings % vs yrs to retirement chart. In addition to our regular savings that will fund our normal daily living, we’ building a totally separate $100k travel fund. There’s no way I want the annual fluctuations in investment returns or inflation to determine if/where we travel. If returns on our investments are temporarily down, we’ll adjust something on our regular budget, but the travel budget remains sacred.

    • Rhonda July 23, 2016, 6:47 pm

      I love to return to the first articles to remind me how others are saving so I can kind of gauge where I’m at. I love that you dedicate monies to travel! I LOVE that you are Canadian & speak in terms of Canadian investments (I know MMM is CDN too)…so thank you for the post!!

  • Elena June 16, 2013, 11:37 pm

    Hey MMM,

    this just looks like an amazing community you built here! I feel right at home and it’s such a great feeling to know there are like-minded people around! I am somewhere between a 3 and 5, sort of. I have been hustling to pay back my student loans for the past 4 years – and only 9.5 months left until I am FINALLY free of bad debt! Can’t wait! :)

    I am currently throwing around 50% of my income towards my student loans (at 4% interest) and around another 5% towards a Rainy Day Fund to avoid (new) credit card debt and have some flexibility.

    I am 30, am in a committed relationship, have no kids yet, no car, no mortgage (because we still rent), and also very little employer-matched retirement fund. I am in Germany, so as far as I know, all the money that goes into an employee-fund will be strictly off-limits until sometime in my 60s. I don’t plan on waiting that long :)

    Any thoughts on what to tackle first once I pay that final debt installment in April 2014? Max out the employer match? Start investing in stocks / funds? Buy a small house to rent out? I saw that some other people from Europe are commenting, so any ideas are welcome :)

    I am very much looking forward to reading my way up through the posts! Thanks MMM!!

    • Wes Ley June 21, 2013, 9:50 am

      You sound quite optimistic about funds being safe in Germany, which I find quite surprising even if you disregard the rumors about Deutschebank’s leverage as Anglo propaganda. Most Germans are behind the curve about the deflationary depression, and think that Angela Bruening or the more explicit socialists will fix everything, somehow. They won’t.

      First thing to tackle: the childlessness :-)

  • Nina July 3, 2013, 3:39 pm

    I’m at no. 2 and I slashed ten years off my mortgage by paying additionally to the principal.
    Hope to kill it and have a “burn the mortgage party”, even if it takes longer than your road to early retirement.
    I look forward to reaching 1.5 with absolutely no kind of debt.

  • Ivan July 4, 2013, 9:42 am

    Love your “WAKE UP DRONE PEOPLE!!!” comment! I think that’s exactly what a lot of us have been led to believe by mass media: that this consume-until-you’re-in-debt-and-then-some way of life is normal.

    Debt has its place. If someone borrows money to run a business that makes more money than they owe, that’s smart debt. If someone maxes out their credit card to buy the latest iWhatever gadget knowing they can’t make the payment later, that’s not-so-smart debt.

    It doesn’t have to be this way, and it’s time for some of us to wake up.

  • Kipp July 24, 2013, 9:22 am

    Looks like I would be at # 4
    Saving in a 457 to get match and then the reset into ROTH IRA’s, although those are not at max currently. Waiting to get a house closed on then I will look at increasing these amounts, but more so after all of my debt is paid.
    I am at age 26 and I have a plan to be completely debt free in 10 years (1 car loan, spouse’s student loans [I had mine paid off 1 year out of college], and the future mortgage). However, I am hoping to be more aggressive than my current financial plan.

    Once that is done I am looking to be much more aggressive in retirement savings, mainly in ROTH for the flexibility if we want to retire early… but the 457 gives a great option to pull some cash out when leaving my employer and not paying an early penalty!

  • Meghan July 28, 2013, 8:09 pm

    Hi MMM,

    I absolutely admire you! My husband and I are doing okay. We are at No.2 and our rental properties are at about half the value that we need them to be at to retire.

    Our goal is to be semi-retired in 2020 and take a “gap year” to travel. We have delayed our gratification and lived fairly frugally whilst buying property.

    I’ll most likely get a part-time job when we get back (I’ll only be 45), but I’d like my husband (who will be 57) to be able to fully retire.

    We have creative and adventurous ideas that are being hindered by us both working fulltime in meaningless jobs.

    I love your posts (have read all of them now)!!

  • stephen December 30, 2013, 9:01 am

    This is so much better than all the negativity on most message boards. You read those and you have to believe there is no light at the end of the tunnel. 60 years old, wife is 51 and on January 10, 2014 we will solidly move up to #1. Not 100% sure about the perfect part but after years of living the mustachian life style it is good enough.

    • Mr. Money Mustache December 30, 2013, 9:57 am

      Congratulations Stephen! I am honored that you have checked in here, eleven days from your official retirement date. Let us know how it goes!

  • DB Dawg January 25, 2014, 5:27 am

    Cool stuff! Just stumbled in, but great to see this kind of inspiration out there. Good advice for everyone from 18 – 80.

    Currently 2) on your Richter scale and about to be 50. One quick comment about mortgage debt… I would argue for those disapplined, keeping a 3% mortgage is smarter and investing the difference is a better strategy today unless you just want the piece of mind.

    Here are a few challenges I would like to hear some experienced people address:

    1) Retiring early and healthy for me means a chance to do things and many of these things cost $$. I get life is a balance and proper planning is step 1, but would like to hear how some of you are taking advantage of opportunities in the early years, yet keeping enough hay in the barn for the later years?

    2) In the context of 1), it would seem to me the expense curve would be the highest in the early years and then perhaps start arching down in your mid 70’s – 80’s. Obviously, there are exceptions to this, but realistically are we not going to want to spend more $ while we are younger than when we are 80?

    3) Taking into account 1) & 2), even if the math seems to work, if you think you have 40 yrs of life ahead of you, that seems to present allot of potential risks to drop a profession, especially a lucrative one, that will be tough to replace if you have determined you may have missed. Curious to hear how some higher earners ($300K +) made the early leap, yet indulged some for working hard all those years before.

    Personally, I’m frugal by nature and have followed the “Millionaire Next Store” approach since I started working after college, but I would be lying to you if I didn’t say I want to enjoy some of the good things ($) while I am young & healthy

  • LA February 12, 2014, 8:19 am

    This site & blog is awesome. There aren’t enough words to communicate the motivation that comes with it. I am single, about to be 50. And have my 30 years in. I am happy to be a solid 2. I’ve been on the ‘path’ for a long time, and looking forward to moving to a 1. I forget sometimes, that there are a lot of others out there with similar concerns, and I appreciate the ‘sharing’ opportunity you provide. I love sitting down for a good read that usually enlightens me and sends me off studying and researching cool new ideas that may or may not speed my journey.

  • Roy Stacey March 15, 2014, 12:01 pm

    Greetings MMM-

    Enjoy reading your blog & articles. I am a grey bread. Retired at 60 because I could, and wanted it. Yes, saving your dough is how you get there be it 30, 40, 50, 60. I really liked my work life. Not all can say that, unfortunately.

    I guess the wife & I rate a #1 on your scale. Everything paid for, more money than we need, and we live pretty simple at 62 now. Just back from a great vacation south to defrost from the midwest winter here in Wisconsin.

    Keep up the great site, have fun, and never let people push you around, like the KISS whatever dude.

  • Amazing Alice May 13, 2014, 5:55 am

    Hi Mister MM I love the site!!! Amaze Ballz :) I have a question. I am sitting at a number 2/ nearly a one. I am asset rich, cash poor. I have one loan left to pay which is a business loan of $30,000. Do I power on and pay that off or do I start saving? Or both. I have very little savings, but own my house, and eveyrhingn else.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 13, 2014, 7:02 am

      Hi Alice, As with all financial decisions, this one depends on the numbers. What is the interest rate? If it’s above about 4-5%, I’d pay it off and THEN begin investing. It won’t take you long, and the improvement of your cashflow after that will help you run your business even better and be more relaxed.

  • Jason May 14, 2014, 10:04 pm

    I am…
    Younger twenties guy who used to be rather stupid with my financials. Luckily, taking charge and doing things quite differently from the past, I have set myself in a much better position, and continue to grow financially secure with time. Aside from a lot of my friends, I have taken the reigns on my funds and turned down a much wiser path. I’ll see you at #1 some day my friend! Great Blog!
    Later Days

  • GTArea May 20, 2014, 3:52 pm

    Hmmm… not sure where I fit in on that list. I’m married with 3 kids owning a house. We were both working and because we were both working, we needed two cars to juggle the kids and daycare. Our jobs were both demanding and we weren’t keeping up.

    When my youngest turned two, I cried uncle. We looked at the finances and realized, that my job just covered the cars. We live in a neighborhood that doesn’t require a car. My husband could take the train into work instead of taking his car, but we couldn’t afford train and car. So we decided the best thing for our sanity and finances was for me to leave my job and get rid of the cars.

    We don’t have credit card debt but we have a hefty debt on our line of credit. We’ve always been good about paying off credit cards every month but health issues with my family in London and deaths in the family happening repeatedly have added up over years. Shuttling continents and covering funerals hasn’t been easy. I’m hoping that’s all done now. We’ve been chipping away at our debt and doing needed work on the house slowly. Front door. Windows. Roof. Repairs. Tree removal. That sort of thing. Still. It’s slow going. The stress levels in our home since I quit have improved immensely. Our finances aren’t improved since I quit but they aren’t worse. We don’t have surprise car maintenance and repair surprises. Mostly, it means we eat fresh food that didn’t come from a box or a restaurant and we get exercise and as a family are happier. I make a little extra income while the kids are at school, but nothing like what I used to make. We have a little put away for retirement, but not nearly enough. It’s frustrating. We’ve gone over where most of the debt came from and it’s been trips back to London to cover family obligations. Wish that money had been spent on something fun.

  • SF Living June 9, 2014, 1:35 pm

    Hi there, I’m really inspired by this site, and curious: where does student loan debt rank on this list? I don’t have a car payment or credit debt, but I have plenty of student debt. Thanks!

  • Andreas June 26, 2014, 11:25 am

    Hello MMM, I just want to thank you for your great BLOG – and add a commentary: I’ve just finished the book “The snowball” by Alice Schroeder, which is is a brilliantly written biography of Warren Buffett – great to read, gripping and fun. What I found especially striking is that Warren Buffett is characterized in this book as a highly frugal person – as a non-simple man with simple tastes. Being frugal must have been an important factor for him to become the richest man in the world. May he might even qualify as a Mustachian :-)
    Best Regards from Germany, Andreas

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 26, 2014, 3:13 pm

      Hi Andreas,

      Yeah, I read that book too and really enjoyed it. Very useful in understanding the man, whose ideas remain incredibly useful no matter how much the world has changed in the 0.8 centuries he has been kicking.

  • sickduck22 July 30, 2014, 9:57 am

    I know I’m late to the party, but can you tell me how you are retired yet still working?

    I thought maybe I had the definition of “retirement” wrong in my head, but I googled, and found:

    “Retirement is the point where a person stops employment completely.”

    If you are still working you’re not retired. Unless, of course, you have a new definition of the word, in which case, please, share some information with us! I may be retired and not even know it..

  • missj August 15, 2014, 9:23 pm

    I guess right now I am a #4.

    I am disappointed, I thought I would be higher. At least a 3 (I have a car payment) but since I don’t max out 401-K I am just a lowly 4….

    no student loans though! and no credit cards! And I DO contribute to 403(b) and Roth IRA, just not the max…..

  • Joe W August 21, 2014, 1:55 pm

    I’m a solid 6. **heavy sigh**
    48 years old, 35K in various types of debt — credit cards, auto, student loans, back taxes — which just seems to grow each year. Been in debt since the age of 18 when I went away to college. Not a homeowner. My own fault of course, have made countless bad financial decisions. Making about $72K at a job I hate. Trying to pay off debt, trying to save. Feel a bit trapped, but I’m hopeful there’s a way out, know it will take a lot of hard work on my part. Hoping to learn and earn my way to financial freedom someday. I’ve subscribed, hoping to make it to a 1 someday.

  • MikeG September 9, 2014, 4:33 am

    I’m a definite 6. School loans that I can’t afford to pay. Medical bills out the wazoo. No degree and an average job making 28k/year. Only good news is I work in an ER and enjoy it. Bad news is I have a wife that likes to spend money. Looks like I have some reading to do.

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 9, 2014, 4:28 pm

      Yeah, welcome Mike! Maybe your wife will be a reader someday too. $28k income and in debt is no time to spend money on anything other than potatoes and the most innovative living situation you can invent for yourself (like trading weekend labor for a free basement apartment in somebody’s nice house), but the future is still bright now that you are here.

  • EMML September 9, 2014, 7:38 pm

    I’ve read all the posts to date, and now I’m circling back to the beginning. I’m still not sure where I fit in the scheme of things. Somewhere between 1, 2 & 4, I suppose. I went back to school for a year to get a better job, and now I kind of wish that I just saved my money. I’m in a pretty extreme sandwich generation situation right now, and can’t fathom working full-time again while my mom is still alive. However, the part-time jobs in my chosen field are pretty much nonexistent. Our money situation is fine, even though my husband only makes $43k/year. I still don’t know exactly how little we spend, but the easiness of living on this amount is why I’m here. It’s so nice not working right now, but I also wish I were working so that I could save all my money and make this a permanent retirement even sooner. I may not be very good at making a lot of money, but I’m pretty good at saving it. I think reading this blog will help me become even better at it, as I realize that I have a long way to go to achieve badassity.

  • JeffA September 15, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Hey Mr. Money Mustache,
    I live in Colorado too! I’m 29 with a mortgage sitting at a balance of $160k right now, and make $68k a year, no debt besides the mortgage. I used to save so much of my income, but after getting married I paid off my wife’s student loans with the savings and now we’re paying for her MBA. I’m anxious at the moment because right after she’s done with her Master’s we plan on having our first child (and may have 2 or 3). I feel trapped, like I’ll never be able to do something similar to what you’ve done. Do you think there’s hope for me?


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