How to Tell if You’re a Complainypants

When I read an article about an olympic athlete who can swim further and faster than I can even run, I don’t immediately find his blog and write a complaint that he is training too hard and failed to take into account time for commuting, chronic illnesses, or TV watching in his lifestyle.

When I was a teenager sitting in the Mac’s Convenience store reading bodybuilding magazines that described the mindset and methods that allowed Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lee Haney to each win seven consecutive Mr. Olympia titles, I didn’t write to those Muscular Mustachians about why I couldn’t accomplish those things either.

When I read newspaper articles about the Fifty Billion Dollars that Warren Buffett has earned for his company by being the world’s greatest investor for fifty straight years,  I don’t jump into the comments section along with the General Wussypopulace and complain that Warren has led an evil life and doesn’t understand the plight of the common man.

And when I read Early Retirement Extreme, where Jacob has for several years described the mindset and techniques that  allow him to live a very fulfilling life on about $7,000 per year, I don’t angrily write him a comment about how he has failed to include certain mandatory expenses in American life and is therefore misleading his audience.

And when their asses are saved by Superman, the people of Metropolis and the surrounding region don’t get mad at him and say, “Well, fine, Superman, it was easy for you to freeze that lake with your breath and then fly it over to the burning oil refinery where it melted to cause rain to extinguish the fire. But what about all us regular firemen, we have warm breath and are stuck with standard firefighting equipment – we’re going to post complaints on your blog!?”

No, when I hear about someone who is doing something better than me, even if the details of his choices or genetic abilities differ slightly from my own strategy,   I bow the fuck down and respect his innovation and acknowledge that I have so far failed to achieve his level of badassity. Then I secretly try to learn from his success.

Because of this tendency to want to learn from people who have unusual skills, rather than try to talk them back down to my own level, I am going to postulate that I am NOT too much of a Complainypants. I already know that there are millions of people out there who are better than me in every measurable way. And I hope to continue to learn from them. And this ability to learn from (rather than become frustrated with) people who are good at various things, brings an extra dollop satisfaction to my life every day. Many of the non-complainers in the audience surely feel the same way.

So why, the fuck, do people like to write to Mr. Money Mustache EVERY DAY and tell him that he has failed to take into account certain things in his lifestyle or retirement strategy, and thus is writing this blog on fraudulent pretenses??

No, I haven’t failed to take anything into account! Yes, I am fully covered for inflation, education, health, fun, shelter, retirement, old age, and everything else that is easily foreseeable in a standard middle-class life. And yes, situations change, and I’m fully covered for changing situations as well – because of the exact same thing that covered me for the things above – ADAPTABILITY. If your life situation changes, you can change your strategy. That’s called “solving a puzzle with your mind”, which happens to be the most fun and useful thing you can do with your mind anyway.

So why, the fuck, is everybody afraid of unknown situations and change? If anything, people should be afraid of lack of change. I’ve solved the relatively simple puzzle of reaching Early Retirement in a capitalist system so early that I actually have a shortage of puzzles right now. I’m struggling, just a tiny bit, with a lack of challenge in life, and as a result I’m sitting here on a sunny weekday morning in my basement office with no shirt on like a lazy slob, typing to you, procrastinating on doing the second half of my workout. I should be out accomplishing something bigger right now. There’s not enough change in my life, not enough puzzles to solve, and I am about to get off my ass and find some new ones to tackle*.

So, to get back to the point of this article – if you read all this and chuckled and said, “Heh, heh… Yeah! Listen to Mr. Money Mustache, tellin’ it like it is again! I’m gonna go solve a few of my own puzzles right fuckin’ now so I can wake up tomorrow even further ahead”, then congratulations, you are a Mustachian,  not a Complainypants.

If, on the other hand, you read the paragraphs, and stuck out your lower lip and said, “Oh, listen to that self-aggrandizing thirtysomething who has led a privileged life and doesn’t understand real hardship like I do, because of the following reasons I have it harder than him”, then guess what – you are still a Complainypants. Keep working on it, sucka.

A Complainypants looks only at results – seeing the external trappings or the successes of a particular role model’s life, and justifies why he can’t have those things. And then makes himself unhappy because of not having those results.

Instead, the Complainypants needs to think about the reward of puzzle-solving. It’s not the results that make you happy, it’s the using of your own mind and skills to advance your own cause. You won’t get any further telling me that I have failed to account for your particular life’s situation in my blog.

You will get further by figuring out how to solve the situation for yourself, and then writing in a comment telling us how you solved it in an innovative way, so we can all be awed by how you have out-badassed Mr. Money Mustache!!!

So let’s hear it.




*Luckily, the Foreclosure Project starting in just over two weeks will be one of those.


  • Becky O August 7, 2013, 3:50 pm

    In just the short time I have begun reading MMM’s blog, I have not only traded in my AT&T iPhone plan for a Republic Wireless plan (19.99 unlimited every day all day, yo!), but today I also traded in my 2011 Dodge Caliber for a 2005 Prius! Yes. I did.

    I have also upped the deductibles on our car insurance. I changed all of our lightbulbs to CFLs. I stopped using the clothes dryer.

    My husband hears the word “mustache” quite frequently these days, and he is pretty excited about all of the new mustachian developments around our place!

    Complainypants? I think not. Mustachian? Getting better all the time!

    • Kira August 13, 2014, 2:00 pm

      BeckyO, I’d love to hear what other changes you’ve made now that a year has passed! I’m a new reader and am already seeing the benefits, but I love the play-by-plays from other readers.

  • Daniel Martins October 9, 2013, 6:27 am

    I just found your blog. So, first of all, congrats on the awsome and badass information that you share with us.

    In Portugal we have an annedocte that depicts very well the concept of a complainypants:

    A portuguese guy and a spanish guy are sited on the side of a road.
    A guy passes by driving a Lamborghini.
    The spanish says: – I’ll have a lambo too someday.
    The portuguese replies: – someday that lucky bastard will still have to walk like me.

  • Vana October 16, 2013, 8:14 pm

    Ok here goes. Since I started reading ur blog I have:

    – changed all my lightbulbs to LED
    – searching for a toddler bike trailer to take my 2 kids together n a cargo trailer for my groceries. (A bike trailer train for errands and groceries).
    – already have a brand new 2002 vehicle that I’ve only fueled up once this month.
    – saved $100 on my grocery bill this month by eliminating paper goods).
    – saved $31 canceling my gym membership starting this month.
    – saved $75 on a crossfit membership by convincing my hubby that u r a genius!
    – saved $180 a month on cable for as long as possible.
    – came up with what we r going to do in 10 yrs for retirement. I worked out the financials for the last 10 yrs and i would have been a millionaire by now had I lived the frugal life.
    – oh yes and starting my investment accounts w Vanguard.
    Thanks again!

  • JPP January 12, 2014, 1:13 am

    Loved this post! People whine and complain way too much these days. Why can’t we just feel good about other people’s accomplishments and try to learn from them instead of being bitter and coming up with excuses. Grow up people. If you want something in life, go get it.

  • Justin March 11, 2014, 2:50 pm

    Great reference to Arnold (His mentality and goal setting are something I’ve modeled my life after as well), again your writing and articles struck a cord with me. Thank you MMM I can say now that I’m a Mustachian!

  • Lisa April 10, 2014, 10:00 am

    This is going to be an obvious comment but here goes. The reasons you are encountering such resistance and hostility from The Complainers are mainly due to envy and laziness. Some people cannot handle other people’s successes yet they are too lazy to implement positive changes in their own lives. That kind of mentality is exactly why they are “disadvantaged” and “down on their luck.” It’s a typical victim mentality and narrow-minded idiocy. They don’t have any master plan because they are too dimwitted to create one.

    Screw ’em all.

  • Alex May 10, 2014, 4:58 pm

    This is what I’m fucking talking about.

    I used to weigh 235 lbs and now about to hit 175 lbs. I’ve stopped drinking alcohol (saving money here too), I’ve stopped eating junk food, I started powerlifting, and I don’t succumb to my mind’s wants. I too often hear, oh well I can’t eat like you do I need to drink or I need these snacks.

    Really? I used to be a daily drinker and daily fast food lover. Guess what else? I was fat and unhealthy. I made the changes in my life necessary to lose the weight and I’m closer to a 6 pack then I’ve ever been before (minus the shiny ones you find in a fridge).

    I have goals to hit ridiculously heavy weights at relatively low body weights. Therefore I do what the average WON’T do not what they CAN’T do.

    Now slowly but surely getting this mindset with my finances.

  • Amazing Alice May 18, 2014, 8:20 pm

    The way I see it Mr awesome MM, if you have complypants lurking around, you must be highly successful and awesome, otherwise no one would take any notice!!! I myself have followed through with nearly every buisness venture/ idea I have had. Some have been highly successful and some have failed. It’s all an amazing learning experience. Pony up people!!! Quit whining and listen to Mr MM!!!

  • Vicki B June 16, 2014, 6:56 pm

    I used to be a complainypants self employed lawyer with a good income but a rubbish life. I gave it all up and now I spend a lot of time producing – self sufficiency has saved so much money, no more commuting and no more increasing debt (which go figure, great income but still more debt every year I worked). I love being productive and healthy, money used to control me but not anymore. Your blog is awesome and has provided heaps of great ideas. Thanks MMM!!

  • Rollie October 27, 2014, 6:53 pm

    I think this was the post that first introduced me to MMM. Started reading the blog in order from the beginning, and today arrived back here at this post again. I daresay: a classic.

  • Jen November 30, 2014, 10:28 pm

    I love your advice, but I have to say your comparisons are flawed. Warren Buffet, superman, etc. don’t point out where the average American is flawed and claim that others could get to where they are if they made changes. That’s where you are going to get the complaints and objections. I’m not saying these people aren’t using excuses, I’m just pointing out that you don’t “complain” that these people are doing it wrong or their logic because they’re not making the claims that others could follow suite. Honestly, this article came off as a bit of a temper tantrum to me. You give great advice and have great ideas, but there are going to be complainers….get over it.

  • Sonya August 23, 2015, 9:45 pm

    Yeah! I wrote my first blog post on my first blog ever about how I live in a school bus with my hubby and 2 kids and why it’s not easy but it’s worth it, and shared it with my Facebook friends and the first thing I get is a comment from a complainypants about how horrible I am… I was bewildered. I love your take on those peeps and it makes sense to me cuz the said compainlypants is such that!
    maybe it’s easier for people to not have to say it to your face… but I say…
    write on!

  • Suhaila October 5, 2015, 11:13 am

    This post touches on a subject we (hub&myself) this weekend. People are resistant to change and will find any excuse to discredit the advice given instead of using the advice in a way that will work for them. If I can’t use your advice exactly then I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and not change anything even if it means knowing that I’m putting myself into even more debt or putting off having any real savings.

    I know this because I found your blog maybe a year or so before and was put off by your extreme (to me) choices and I discarded the advice and kept doing my stupid ways until I was ready to change and came across your blog again.

    And even when I was willing to change my hub would justify our situation by saying everyone at work (we are in the Los angeles area) has a ton of debt (did it twice while at two different jobs.) Once was before I laid down the law and once was after. Both times he’s lucky I didn’t whack him for that line of thinking. Even in my worst mindset that kind of logic didn’t fly.

    Now at work he tells me people just accept that they’ll go into more debt and not do a thing about it. Like they’ll complain about the debt but not try to change anything because they feel they deserve this lifestyle due to hard work and advancement but don’t factor in whether they can afford it. Or worse that they can’t let anything go or sacrifice anything so again no change happens. It’s weird.

    I personally think our evolution or base programming is the main cause. If we aren’t dead then what we are doing is “successful” and to change it may cause us to die so we will defend our ways to the death!! Worked for cavemen, not so much for anything else today. And this goes for diet/exercise/other bad habits we have. We confuse them for being the cause of our continued survival and so we must keep doing them even though they’re killing us or keeping us stressed out and not living an actual good life. Base programming or lizard brain is dumb but it is very influential and so very hard to change through logic and higher level thinking.

    Keep up the good fight. Just because today they’re complainypants doesn’t mean that they will stay that way. You may have just planted the seed of doubt into their subconscious that will grow into them being ready to listen in the future and make change. It happened to me! The truth is unmistakable but it sometimes takes background processing for it to cut through the layers of excuse and bs for it to turn into a different mindset and action!

  • Roger February 19, 2016, 4:00 am

    It’s all about engineering principles really- Integration, elimination, organisation, optimisation. The Toyota quality system applied to time and financial ‘ wastes’ please , please read up on the Toyota quality system , especially the ‘ wastes’ concept. Superb blog, love it.

  • steve poling June 26, 2016, 6:27 am

    There is a passage in Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian, where the hero is confronted with yet another life-threatening problem. He responds by thinking, “I’ve got to science the shit out of this.” This came to mind when you capitalized the word ADAPTABILITY and proceeded to talk about solving puzzles. The Martian is a chronicle of the astronaut’s survival through puzzle solving. It is fiction, but it shows us the real life you are getting at in this essay. Thank you.

  • Jon From SF June 26, 2016, 11:53 am

    As a project manager my main motto is, “A plan that can’t change isn’t a credible plan”. We can’t account for unexpected change but we can adapt the plan for success.

    Thanks for this awesome site! I have been on the path to solid early retirement and through reading this I have realized that I am overshooting due to taking advice from advisers that benefit from me overshooting. My eyes are open and early retirement is SO close now! Thanks!

  • Zach H August 7, 2016, 12:53 pm

    @MMM: I know this is a very old post, but I am a very new reader to the blog (started at the beginning after finding your blog by searching for $50k+ non-office job ideas), and this is the latest article I’ve read. Historically, I’ve been a borderline complainypants who has been living a mostly mustachian life since going off to college. I’ve NEVER paid for cable (in fact, I thought the $9/month for Netflix was high, but I’ll take that luxury to unwind after work occasionally), I’ve NEVER had a financed car, I’ve always loved DIY/insourcing, and I’ve never really felt that I spent frivolously. In fact, consumerism has always baffled me. However, somehow after 5 years of working as an engineer (mechanical, so lower salary than your software degree, but still better than a lot of folks are doing), I have no savings other than my meager 401k contributions! After my recent divorce, I decided now was the time to make all of the other changes needed to get my life on track. (Putting lawyer retainers on a credit card and incurring my first ever balance I wasn’t able to pay right away terrified me). Reading your blog really kicked my ass into taking charge of my fate and actually LOOKING at where my money is going, considering all of the easy MSN article topics (cable, car payments, credit card balances, etc) have never been a problem for me. I’m selling my house as it has appreciated $50k since my ex and I bought it in still-stagnant 2011. I’m using my half of the equity to put 20% down on a smaller, cheaper fixer-upper house which I plan to slowly renovate. This alone saves me $500 per month on mortgage payments. Also, while switching utilities, I discovered that the electricity and internet providers I’ve been with for 5 years have been RIPPING ME THE FUCK OFF. There’s another $150, probably more a month, considering I’m also taking your advice on hanging clothes to dry (it truly is ridiculous that I use an electric dryer when it is currently 100 degrees here in Arlington, TX). Putting my clothes on a rack outside would be faster than the dryer! There are many more changes, but the length of my comment is beginning to rival your post itself. Thank you for putting your common sense, in-your-face financial and life advice out here to motivate us whiners into growing some big ol’ mustachio’d balls already!

  • Erin September 2, 2016, 8:28 am

    I think your advice and ideas are rock solid. I’ve been reading your blog every day since I found it. There are some things you suggest, though, that are just going to be impossible for some people, and that is ok. Example, I cannot shorten my commute. I am self-employed and work in a different city every day and bring heavy equipment with me for my job. My husband teaches at a school 25 miles from our house that os sort of in a seedy city where we don’t want to live. We need two cars! And we both must drive, sadly. But I agree and promise to never finance a car again!!!! Thank you very much for all your thoughtful and helpful blog posts. Those complainers are just pessimistic haters!

  • Felipe September 14, 2016, 6:05 am

    My current challenge is building patience as I save and plant enough seeds (investments) to live off the cash flow while finishing my Computer Science degree, along with continually optimizing my company’s 401k.

  • Be September 27, 2016, 2:07 pm

    When you mentioned lack of change it reminded me of a Nick Cave song Jesus of the Moon. “Cause people often talk about being scared of change, But for me I’m more afraid of things staying the same, Cause the game is never won by standing in any one place for too long”. If nothing ever changed life would be unbearable! Sometimes the only thing that gets me through is knowing that everything, bad and good, will eventually change.
    Anyway, I’m a problem solving, puzzle oriented person who likes to learn from the success (and mistakes) of others so I’m right along side you there. I hope my comments have never come off as complaining but, if so, I apologize and shall punch myself in the face accordingly.

  • Jeff P October 18, 2018, 6:00 am

    MMM, my first post here, I’m 52 and well on my way to what those in my business consider an early retirement in a couple of years, but clearly short of the incredible mindset you and many of your readers are pursuing…… Simply amazing what can be done with a shift in perspective that you are providing. Though I wish there had been someone like you, and a forum for me to learn these ideas many years ago, I am certainly benefiting greatly, starting from your first blog. For me, more than a specific example you have provided, it’s a holistic shift in thinking: away from making up excuses why I can’t do something and towards one that I can find a way if I just try, take a challenge, and get out of my too comfortable lifestyle molded from 40+ years of the media and consumers telling me what the good life is supposed to be. Thank you so much for your years of putting yourself out there helping mold the ideas that it’s okay and even cool to pave my own way, that frugality is not to be embarrassed of, and screw all those may sayers out there!

  • sadiesortsitout January 19, 2022, 4:20 pm

    I appreciate what I’ve learned from you, but this post makes no sense. Your prose style is to make broad, bombastic statements, describe yourself as the most badass person around, and throw in quite a lot of insults. I have no doubt you mean most of it in good fun (and it can be fun to read), but I couldn’t be less surprised you get pushback from people who are living lives distinctly different from your own and don’t appreciate the tone you take in describing their lives and problems.

    I think it’s possible to offer people the chance to learn from your successes and invite them to apply some of your unusual methods to their own problems without name-calling or belittling them, and still have fun. The self-aggrandizing and name calling is something I endure rather than enjoy.

    My training is in behavior change and I can tell you that kindness and humility get better results than talking down to people every time.


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