Frugality: the New Fanciness

This is my fancy, homemade “construction radio”. Booming bass, workplace toughness, extra plugs, 25 foot cord. Made almost entirely of stuff I got for free. Bonus: people tend to get a good laugh out of it.

I grew up in a pretty low-key family, financially speaking. We always had plenty of money for groceries and my parents never went into debt, but if you were one of the Joneses* living down the street from us, you’d be hard-pressed to notice any flashy spending.

This upbringing occurred in a pretty small town (we only got our second stoplight around the time I reached high school), and there wasn’t a lot of wealth to be flaunted around there. The closest thing to riches was a very attractive girl in my class named Kim who got to drive her parents’ brand new 1992 Mercury Cougar from the nicely-outfitted family farm to the high school every day.

This town was located in another country called “Canada”, and we were known at the time for being less wealthy and flashy than our neighbours to the South. Hearty lumberjacks with big beards and plaid shirts were part of our iconography, even if my own area was a bit more clean-shaven.

And finally, all of this happened in the 1980s and 1990s, at a time when all of us had simpler and less flashy lives. The very first cell phones – the ones that were tethered with a coiled cord to a base unit as big as a car battery – were only things to ogle curiously and were priced at $1999 on the last page of the Radio Shack catalog.

Even in university I was barely aware of wealth. We Engineers are notorious for our lack of cash-flaunting (and status-detecting) skills, so I thought of all of us as equals. There were a few rare kids that had expensive mountain bikes or laptop computers at the time, but for the most part, we all paid our own tuition with money from crappy jobs working at Subway or Costco if you were lucky, and lived in cheap basement apartments.

So for most of my early life, I wasn’t even aware that money was something that could be flaunted to others. I thought it was a tool for buying your groceries, or if your parents really did well, a back yard swimming pool.

I think I experienced my first flaunting experience just after I had graduated and started working full-time in the software field. Some friends and I went on a summer trip to “Sherkston Beach”, a low-budget Canadian version of what they call “Spring Break” here in the US.

Beers in hand, we walked along the shore to join the party. I noticed that a long line of very clean and shiny cars had been parked along the beach, and each was playing some sort of boo-tss-boo-tsss dancy music from an upgraded stereo system. The owners of the cars, invariably tanned and bare chested dudes with expensive sunglasses, frosted hair tips and their little muscles carefully flexed, were busily walking around their cars, tending to this or that, setting up beer coolers or polishing volleyballs or otherwise keeping themselves busy.

“What is going on here?”, I wondered at first. “Why are their cars so clean? Why are they so well-groomed on a camping trip?.

“Oh… I think I get it … they are attempting to show off their wealth for the benefit of all the fine ladies around here.”

The whole scene seemed a bit amusing and evolution-driven, like the complex bird mating dances in Madagascar that David Attenborough likes to teach you about:

At the time, I was finally working an “adult” software engineering job so I was probably making more money than any of the dancing bird boys. I even had a nicer car, since I had not yet learned of the folly of this type of purchase. I remember my car, dusty and parked over next to my tent, getting a bit of positive attention from men and women alike… and I admit it felt pretty nice at the time.

When I got older and moved to the USA, however, everything stepped up a few notches. I saw parking lots just casually filled with cars fancier than anything I had seen in my entire childhood. I learned about neighborhoods where people engage in passionate gossip about each other’s wealth, and even enforce gardening and house painting standards upon each other to “preserve the property values.”

I heard about “Golf Club Memberships”, a bizarre concept where you pay thousands of dollars in advance, for the privilege of paying hundreds of additional dollars each time you play golf at certain courses.

And I learned that people consider it prestigious to spend money on these expensive things, even while they consider it a hardship to lead a life that does not include the expensive things.

When newcomers stumble across the Mr. Money Mustache blog, they are immediately excited by the idea of early retirement and a lifetime of freedom. But then they are immediately dismayed when they realize that to earn this freedom, they will need to spend much less money than they earn, for several years.

“Dammit!”, they say. “I want the reward, but I really don’t want that hardship and struggle that it takes to get there. I will be viewed as a lesser person among my peers if I dare to embrace such frugality!”

Well guess what? You can now drop your fears of looking like a loser, because things have changed. If you haven’t heard the word, here it is:

Frugality is the New Fanciness.

Let me explain, for those still not convinced.

In the olden days, times were much tougher. Most of us struggled to keep food on the table and to keep the water from leaking through our roofs. The economic system was simple, based on slips of paper in bank vaults and file folders, and gold coins. The credit system was in its infancy so the average Joe couldn’t just go out and borrow money to buy whatever he wanted.

In these conditions, it took real skill to get ahead. A man had to really master the system to pull himself up out of material scarcity. This meant studying financial concepts, understanding the emotions of fellow humans in order to rise into a position of leadership, and even conquering his own fear and lethargy to avoid the temptation to sit at home and do nothing all day.

Only after mastering these tasks, could someone start a successful business or earn a promotion to the top of an existing one, and only at that point would he have enough cash to buy a flashy house, or expensive artwork, or jewelry, or whatever else the status symbols of the day were.

So when the successful olden-days businessman walked down the street with these trappings of success, it could reasonably be deduced that he was actually somewhat badass.

Of course, if he later passed on his wealth to children who would then flaunt the wealth without having earned it, the next generation could grow up with the option of fake flaunting. But for a moment, let’s suppose that at least sometimes, the wealth being flaunted in the streets in early 20th century America was self-made.

Because of this, showing your wealth was a sign of status, as it was proof that you had taken a more difficult path and succeeded.

Now let’s fast forward to the present day. Everything is fucking amazing – we all have touchscreen computers in our pockets that can listen to our voices and speak back, while accessing the sum total of humanity’s knowledge instantaneously through invisible radio waves. We have cars that can shoot us across the country in climate-controlled comfort, yet they’re cheap enough for teenagers to buy them on minimum wage.

And most significantly, credit is so widely available that anyone with a heartbeat can sign up for tens of thousands of dollars in debt. You can buy anything you want, even if you have no money at all. People buy houses with an 80% mortgage, and then get a second mortgage for the other 20%, and cars are bought with zero dollars down as well. And almost every single person does this.

In this environment, the easy path is to do what everyone else is doing. You see an ad for the iPad, or the Ford Expedition Extradouche Signature Edition, and you are excited by the power and the sleekness. You’ve got no money, but thanks to the advertising and peer pressure you’ve got plenty of desire. So you swipe a card or sign some paperwork, and now you too have the fancy stuff.

These days, it’s totally normal for even the most indebted people to go out to enjoy acres of Sushi and lakes of Sake on Friday nights, laughing and having a grand old time without the smallest thought about the deepening grave of debt they are digging. It doesn’t even strike them as a problem that they don’t own their own houses and even their cars are borrowed.

“This is socialization, it’s important!”, they rationalize. “And besides, sushi is extremely yummy!”

You too want to participate. You drive yourself to the restaurant in your own borrowed car and live “the good life”.

It can be pleasant to indulge in these things, and it sure is easy. But there’s another path available: the more difficult yet far better one.

Certain rare people live in the same society, and work the same jobs as the folks described above. But they’re a little bit better at math, and they can think a little bit further into the future. They see that money is useful for spending, but even more useful as a tool for earning more money.

So they train themselves to master finance, and hard work, and self discipline. And they figure out how to have just as much fun as the big spenders, while being sure to do it in a way that allows them to save at least 50-75% of their income.  It has already been proven that these people can meet or exceed the happiness levels of the more spendy group. The only difference is that they are able to spend less.

To top it all off, research comes in that the spenders are in fact consuming too much of the world’s resources. Oil reserves, Ice caps, and Ecosystems are taking a huge hit. The spenders refuse to believe this, latching on to any information that justifies the continuance of their lifestyles. The companies that provide their consumables are only too happy to furnish this information. Only those with the ability to understand scientific research are able to see through the haze.

In this situation, which group is more badass, more skilled, and thus more worthy of social status? The spenders, or the savers?

See? Frugality is, quite obviously, the new Fanciness.

The only reason to maintain a non-frugal lifestyle in the face of all this evidence, is if you’re too stubborn and stupid to accept it. Will you continue to fight against frugality, to show the world how stubborn and stupid you are? Or will you wise the hell right up right now and start showing your better side?

The only thing that has been missing for the rich world’s Fancy Frugal people, has been a support community. When you’re living a life that is so different from your neighbors, it can be hard to remain confident that you’re doing the right thing, no matter how right it seems in your own heart.

But now the times are ‘a’ changin’. The Mustachian Nation has been born. Look around at the comments on these articles and in the Forum. These are real people, tens of thousands of them, who have collected here on a less-than-one-year-old website that does no advertising or promotion. These people were already out there, and they are growing in number every day as more people see the light.

A great thing about frugality is that it still allows you to show off in a hilarious and social way. In the olden days, the executives at the golf resort felt camaraderie as they showed off their Rolexes and BMWs and thousand-dollar titanium drivers.  It wasn’t the actual nature of these products that made the situation fun, it was the fact that they felt close to each other as they joked about their latest purchases.

When Mustachians gather, they show off the way they have modified their 30-year-old work trucks to work harder than brand new ones while burning less fuel. They bring their home-made radios to the campsite and share tales and tips of how it was made using entirely leftover materials. They discuss strategies on how to feed a family with peak nutrition and deliciousness, for less than $1 per person per meal.

And unlike those who compete to consume more, these people actually have something to be proud of – they are blazing the necessary path towards a sustainable life for everyone. Eventually, all humans will have to learn to live on what the planet can regenerate each year. When you use more than that, you’re stealing resources from your own kids, and from the rest of the people you share the globe with. You don’t have to feel guilty about this.. you just have to feel good when you stop doing it.

This appreciation for our badassity is still rare, but it’s growing. If you adopt a frugal lifestyle, you may occasionally have to endure some misguided shit from clueless consumers around you. I took lots of it from the MSN readers back in January, although nobody has hassled me in real life so far. But you will also find you start getting some envying looks and respect from other people for your frugality skills.  Eventually, just like the BMW-financing 21-year-old gets respect at Spring Break today, you will in due time become a hero in your own community for doing what’s right.

But ironically, the same skills that will get you there, mean that you won’t give a shit what they are thinking.

Onwards, my Fancy Frugal Friends!

*we really did live two doors down from the Jones family. But they didn’t buy much of anything either.

  • Weston March 7, 2012, 5:58 am

    It’s a blog. You can’t write a classic every time. This my friend is a classic. A posting for the hall of fame.

    • Matt G March 7, 2012, 7:28 am

      I’ll 2nd that. How does he do it?

      • RetiredToWin Alex April 8, 2015, 11:52 am

        Where personal finance writing is concerned, MMM Pete has the key talents of laser-sharp vision and a true gift of gab that makes his articles not just tremendously illuminating but also great fun to read. And this one certainly reflects those talents.

        Also, frugality ala Mustache is a total winner concept to write about. In my own life and writing, I think of it as “frugality without sacrifice.” Not only do you not have to give up anything by being frugal (if you are smart about how you do it), but being frugal actually ends up benefiting you financially AND psychologically. What a concept!

    • Chris March 7, 2012, 1:00 pm

      Agreed… this one is just brilliant. Badass to the core.

      • AGil March 7, 2012, 3:36 pm

        I was just thinking 1/2 way through reading this fine article that it should be labeled a bad-ass classic.

        • Mr. Money Mustache March 7, 2012, 4:37 pm

          Oh, please… go on.. ;-)

          The nice thing about this type of article is that it’s the easiest to write. There’s no research required, no 700 page books to be read.. you just tell some tales from your childhood and rant a little bit.

          But still, thanks very much for bestowing it the honorable title of “classic”. Because of your award, I’ll be sure to crib from this one for the hypothetical future MMM book.

          • Mayank March 7, 2012, 9:02 pm

            The best analysis of the current consumerism craze, that I’ve read on any PF blog till now.

            Great work MMM!

          • Zany Caswell March 8, 2012, 2:52 pm

            A MMM book would be interesting, but I doubt many of your followers would pay for it if the content was all still free online!

            • Mr. Money Mustache March 8, 2012, 3:18 pm

              True, true. If I made a book someday in the distant future, it would be new writing, based on everything we learned together from the blogging up to that point. Same basic ideas, but more organized and concise (there are already more than 650 pages worth of blog material written if you were to put it into a book right now. Too big! And lots of it not worth publishing since some things are just notes on current events.)

            • gypsydan December 17, 2015, 1:27 pm

              You seldom know the vast extent such a powerful grass-roots movement can reach…It was Jacob’s ERE book I found on Amazon, not his blog, which first sucked me right into this community and over night rewired my neural pathways. This blog, and its many proverbial self-directed face punches has been clutch to keeping on track. MMM, keep on keepin’ on…the rising army of Mustachios is a force to be reckoned with

    • Steve July 3, 2016, 3:13 pm

      Yes, he can. Every blog post by MMM IS a classic. Very few human beings have it all. MMM does. Frank L. Wright, Einstein, Shakespeare, Lincoln, for examples, each had it all in their careers. MMM can write with love, sentimentality, rigor, humor, toughness and offbeatness about the most boring subject around, frugal living. The idea that you can be happier and build wealth by frugal living is not new or original. It has been written and published many times during the entire 20th century (The Richest Man in Babylon book comes to my mind, showing the identical ideas that MMM writes about).

      So, it’s not what MMM says, it’s how he writes it. The evidence is in the number of followers each and every second, hour, day, week and month, month after month, year after year that come and stay. Many people have tried writing about personal finance. Just go to any bookstore or Amazon and look for personal finance books. MMM writes better than all of the books combined, I KID YOU NOT, as I have read many financial related books. It’s quite simple. Every word, every phrase, paragraph in every one of MMM’s posts has a job, and MMM knows how to start and finish an article. He could write for scientific peer-reviewed research or for the popular press. He is for all practical purposes a 21 century poet, the likes of Mark Trane or Will Rogers. He is pure genius, and humble too boot! The bottom line is that his readers cannot help but read his articles because his writing is captivating, charming, alluring and also fulfill a fantasy the MMM readers want—to be able to quit working at a young age.

    • Gringo in Rio January 26, 2017, 5:17 am

      Starting from the bottom up here in 2017, and when I got to post I had the same exact thought. I love that your comment Weston was #1, and I love that MMM is the leader he is.

      • Great Scott March 4, 2021, 11:42 am

        And here I am in 2021 starting from the beginning as well. Hope you made it all the way through!

        • Moreicarus July 20, 2022, 6:40 am

          And here I am in 2022 reading from the beginning. I can’t stop!

  • Knince March 7, 2012, 6:03 am

    Thank you, MMM, for calling it what it is. Frugality is no longer an isolated occurrence… it is now a movement! It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my frugality anymore thanks to the new Mustachian community.

    You rock!

  • Jeh March 7, 2012, 6:08 am

    Another great post, MMM. It reminded me of another post I’d love to see some day:

    “They discuss strategies on how to feed a family with peak nutrition and deliciousness, for less than $1 per person per meal.”

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 7, 2012, 6:19 am

      I’m working on that dollar-a-meal stuff right now for Maximum Mustache March. We’ve had some successes so far, and some delicious failures where we went way over budget. But it’s all in the recipes and eating habits you build. I’m going to seek help from the MMM chefs in the forum before starting the article.

      • October MacBain March 7, 2012, 8:25 am

        And when you do, please show some love for us vegans (and vegetarians). Dairy and meat discounts mean nothing to us, since we don’t buy them anyway. We hardly touch the center aisles, buy no meat, eggs, or dairy, and still manage to spend about $100 a week or more.

        • Jimbo March 7, 2012, 8:35 am

          If you are not buying meat, dairy or eggs and spend over 100$ a week or more, you are doing it wrong.

          • October MacBain March 7, 2012, 8:52 am


            • Geek March 7, 2012, 9:27 am

              For Vegan, try post punk kitchen (http://www.theppk.com/). Their book the Veganomicon is great too
              Ultra recommend from the website:
              -Channa Masala (I add a bit more cinnamon, don’t use agave)
              -Chickpea cutlets (but gluten ain’t cheap)
              -Spicy Tempeh roll
              -Quinoa, white bean and kale stew
              Favorites from the book:
              Black bean soup
              Black bean burgers (gluten again)
              Spicy tempeh triangle thingies… forget what they’re called :)

              My meals are probably more than $1/day even in vegetarian months, but I use organic beans (I’m meat-lite).

            • October MacBain March 7, 2012, 2:00 pm

              We have The Veganomicon, Vegan With A Vengeance, and the three little books from the same authors for Pies, Cookies, and Cupcakes.

              We cook almost exclusively from the recipes in Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengeance. They are delicious, but in our area some ingredients are hard to find. We sometimes (once a month or so) have to drive half an hour to a good healthfood store because the healthfood and grocery stores in our area don’t carry certain things.

              We have gotten better as our pantry has become stocked with staples we never had before we started cooking all our meals, but there’s still quite a lot of fresh fruits and veggies we buy every week. We live in Michigan, where nothing grows in the winter (no farmer’s market). When our leftovers are gone, the shopping bill goes up.

            • Lennier December 5, 2015, 5:39 am

            • Clint March 7, 2012, 3:36 pm

              When people talk about $100 a week (or less) in groceries, are they talking just food? I’ve got a family of three and we struggle to spend $150 or less a week on “groceries.” But by groceries, I’m throwing in just about everything I buy at the grocery store or Wal-Mart–paper goods, otc meds, cosmetics, cleaning supplies.

            • Rachel March 9, 2012, 8:32 am

              Yes, usually they’re talking just food. I tend to include paper products because I can’t be bothered to separate them, but if I included OTC meds, that would really skew things.

        • Heidi March 7, 2012, 9:33 am

          In our house we joke about eating eggs and dairy being a superpower. Even the high-quality products are so cheap there is no challenge for the super-thrifty. The last time I ate 4 oz of cheese I didn’t eat for the rest of the day I was so full and satisfied. The real challenge for cost, nutrition, and fullness is having to eat vegan every day. And we can’t eat gluten. This sounds complainy-pants but I get really sick of people saying how easy it is and doing it for like 5 days–anyone can do anything for 5 days. The challenge is figuring out how to feed a family affordably year-round.

        • Shanna March 7, 2012, 9:45 am

          I have been wondering how people spend so little per week.

          We are also organic as possible, 95% vegan, plant based, almost no processed food at all-even the fake “health” food- and I wondered what a price range is for a family of 6. Fresh produce is always first meal/snack choice regardless of cost. We have 2 treats at order-from-the-counter restaurants a weekend.

          So could I say

          Adults (3 meals/day x 7)- 2 eat outs =38
          Kids (3 meals/day x 4 kids x 7) – 2 eat outs = 82
          Kids snacks (2 a day x 4 x 7) x $.50 = 28

          would make $148 dollars a week (give or take buying bulk items)?

          Most produce happens to be local where I live and still is 3 dollars for one bunch of swiss chard (this is where Costco saves us, as we will actually eat 2 lbs of bok choy in a week) I am looking into growing some of the easier, hardier things in the yard if the cost is comparable.

          Just wondering what others with this eating style spend without growing.

          • October MacBain March 7, 2012, 2:04 pm

            Costco… the nearest Costco to me is over 50 miles away and takes over an hour to get to one way. We visited, checked the grocery prices, did the math, and figured out we would not save anything by making that drive even once a month and paying their membership fee.

            • Shanna March 7, 2012, 4:14 pm

              I was interrupted so I saw your post after mine. I have been wanting the Chandra cookbooks but don’t want to spend the money! I guess I could get the used copies but I love to support an author I like with my pocketbook.

              I often wonder how people in the middle of the country or in the south fair with vegan diets. I happen to live 30 miles from Seattle so it’s like falling off a log over here. Even Fred Meyer has all sorts of wierd ingredients if I need them.

              My neighbor has just clued me in to a CSA type thing that will actually deliver the organic produce from a local farm to my door in the middle of the night (to save gas I guess?) starting at $25 a box. Much better than having to pick up the box at a designated drop point at a certain time.

      • Kenneth March 7, 2012, 11:26 am

        MMM, loved the post, classic as others have called it. Regarding nutrition, you need to watch the movie Forks over Knives (available on Netflix, 2011 movie). They give a lot of hard data about why we might want to move to a plant based diet, and eschew meat and dairy entirely. DW and I are about 95 percent there. One factor is that the feed we use to raise farm animals such as cows and pigs would be enough to feed 14 billion people, thus it is very ineffficient to use our farming resources to make beef and pork, similar to the crying shame of growing corn to pour in our gas tanks as ethanol. The most important factor that you will learn is that animal based products translate to a high incidence of cancer in a population – plant based diet populations have low to no incidence of cancer.

        • Mr. Money Mustache March 7, 2012, 11:31 am

          Thanks Kenneth! I have been meaning to watch Forks over Knives for a while.. I think I’ll try to persuade Mrs. M. to watch it with me tonight after the youngster is asleep.

          • Kevin Meyers March 7, 2012, 1:04 pm

            • Kenneth March 8, 2012, 8:05 am

              Kevin, what a terrific blog post regarding Forks over Knives. The author disagrees with a lot of the glossy science, but overall not with the implications of improving your health with a plant based diet. Look at what Bill Clinton had done in the past year or two, and look at Alicia Silverstone. Hard to argue with results. Like I say, we are 95 percent there. We’re going to Red Lobster in a couple of weeks for a birthday, for example. But mostly, we eat fruits, vegetables, brown rice, potatoes, whole grain bread. We feel great. I’ve lost 70 pounds in two years by eating better and working out 5 days a week. Again, hard to argue with results..

            • CNM March 8, 2012, 1:58 pm

              I have found that diets are extremely personal. I have never felt well on a vegetarian or vegan diet. I felt the best- and was the most muscular, energetic and ripped!- on a high protein, high vegetable, low grain, low sugar diet. There really seems to be little conclusive science on any type of diet because there are so many variables.

            • Oh Yonghao August 18, 2014, 10:45 am

              I find that most of these “diets” that claim weight loss include moderate exercise. I’ve looked into carb cycling, and various other diets and they all boil down to the same thing: eat fewer calories than you expend. Working out 5 days a week while keeping calories down will have you lose weight.

              Myself, I’ve lost 12 pounds in the last month mostly by eating less. No breakfast, small lunch, salad + protein for dinner. Total calories are around 1400, then subtract metabolism and commute to work on bike.

      • Kimmie March 7, 2012, 3:08 pm

        We spend $300 a month on food/toiletries for our family of four and we eat VERY well. We have fresh fruit and veggies to eat each day (always an apple or orange to take in our lunch as well as fruit/veggies to have for afternoon snacks) and the majority of everything we eat (including bread, tortillas, yogurt, etc…) we make from scratch. We make what meat consumption we do eat stretch (I will just add in 1 chicken breast (instead of 2-3 chicken breasts) and LOTS of veggies when I make up stir fry, chow mein, soup, etc.. .

        I stock up on staple items (unbleached flour, sugar, dried beans, etc… when they have case lot sales in our local area). We also purchase a 25 lb. bag of steel cut oats for $20.44 and I just figured up last weekend that our daily (mon-fri) breakfast of steel cut oats costs us .32 (we cook up one cup of oats for our family of four)….you throw in 1/4 cup of raisins for .18 and it means our family eats a hearty breakfast for about 50 cents. Not only is it heart healthy, it is pennies compared to what most people spend for breakfast.

        (here is a link to our favorite smoothie that is an inexpensive way to eat your daily fruits/veggies and there is also a recipe in the link for Minestrone soup that is a vegetarian recipe:

        Part of my passion of being frugal, is I love to figure up how frugal our meals are, AND my favorite of all….to show people just how GOOD you can eat, when you are frugal…we eat better than the majority of our friends who AREN’T frugal. I love the JOY that comes from living simply, but living WELL!

        • TLV March 7, 2012, 4:37 pm

          A cup of oats to make breakfast for a family of 4? I eat that much by myself most days. Maybe I need to try adding raisins.

          • TLV March 7, 2012, 5:40 pm

            Nevermind that – I didn’t realize that steel cut oats are twice as dense as rolled.

      • MyCF March 8, 2012, 10:36 am

        Looking forward to this one! I am a horrible cook, and worse at making cheap meals.

    • Kristi March 7, 2012, 7:07 am

      I agree. I would love to hear about how your dollar-a-meal stuff is going. This is an area I am always looking for new inspiration on. Thanks for a great post!

    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple March 7, 2012, 7:57 am

      You might want to try this site:


      Though with anything, your mileage varies by location.

    • Emmers March 7, 2012, 9:54 am

      I haven’t read the whole thing (post+comments) through yet, but BoingBoing just had a thing on Frugal Food the other day:


      Seems potentially useful! Lots of it is just basic Mustachianism (brew your own coffee instead of Starbucks, etc) but still — a good starting place.

  • Mike Key March 7, 2012, 6:09 am

    Excellent post, I’m sending this to as many people as I know!

  • Physics March 7, 2012, 6:09 am

    Brilliant. I think this outlook is probably still ahead of it’s time, but I do think we will get there, as a society, out of necessity if anything else. Our burgeoning community here is a great start, and gives us a fantastic forum to continue to develop our frugal techniques.

    I have a bunch of good scrap wood (cherry and walnut) down in the my basement, I’m gonna go build something!

  • Brandan March 7, 2012, 6:10 am

    Any chance we can get more info on the construction radio? I’d like to know what was used to build it and what are the capabilities are. (iPod/iPhone integration, aux, CD, AM/FM, etc…)

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 7, 2012, 6:32 am

      Oh, thanks for asking! :-) It’s really just an angled box made of some leftover 1/2″ furniture-grade plywood.

      The speaker fronts came from a pair of really nice(expensive) “Sonance” all-weather speakers that a construction customer gave me for free when cleaning out her house. But I took off the stock backs and screwed them into the new wood box. They also came with also tough waterproof front grilles that click over those speakers which I took off for the picture.

      The amplifier is the little Pylepro PCA-2 ($38) from amazon that I recycled from my previous construction radio. The music source is an older Sansa Fuze MP3 player with 12 gigs of storage onboard, good for about 200 CDs worth of music.

      The input is just a 1/8″ headphone jack poking out into that little nook on the top, where there is also a USB power source to power the Sansa. So you can plug in ipods and iphones too.

      I also have an adapter so I can plug in an electric guitar or bass or even the output of a mixer – for road shows!

      The main reason I felt compelled to make this construction radio is that the ones already on the market had much crappier sound. I wanted something that was closer to home stereo quality. Plus I just thought it would be funny to start showing up everywhere with this big wooden radio.

      • Matt July 31, 2016, 6:49 pm

        That thing is freaking awesome. I’m surprised it took so long to get through the comments section before one came up about it!

  • lurker March 7, 2012, 6:22 am

    “no one has messed with you in real life” that’s priceless. judging by the picture you posted with terrible Tim Ferriss they would have to have some kind of death wish to take you on….though affable Canadian you may be. besides, bikers are NOT to be messed with.
    agree this was another great post.

  • Jimbo March 7, 2012, 6:23 am

    Ok… maybe, just maybe, this post had me teared up a bit. :-P

    I mean wow! Here, you preach to the choir, so it’s normal we agree. But I cannot imagine somebody reading this and not agreeing.

    The resource savings is really what drives me… You put it in words beautifully.

    Well done, MMM!

  • Dragline March 7, 2012, 6:26 am

    To everything there is a season, and the new season of frugality is just dawning.

    “People will come MMM. They’ll come to MMM for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up at your website not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. For it is money they have and peace they lack. The memories and stories of frugal beginnings and ancestors will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come MMM. The one constant through all the years, MMM, has been frugality and self-reliance. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But the old ideas of frugality and self-reliance have marked the time. The values are part of our past, MMM. They remind of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will keep coming MMM. People will most definitely keep coming.”

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 7, 2012, 6:38 am

      Wow, that’s a beauty Dragline! .. I had to look it up to figure out that you were basing the speech on the one from Field of Dreams, but I of course think yours is better.

    • Kathy P. March 7, 2012, 7:59 am

      If you ‘stache it, they will come?

    • JagsFan March 7, 2012, 8:37 am

      Greatest comment I’ve ever seen! (And of course, it has to be read using the voice of James Earl Jones)

      • Dragline March 7, 2012, 9:54 am

        You know I have that voice. But my children think I am Darth Vader. Or Thulsa Doom. ;-)

      • AA June 19, 2013, 12:54 pm

        I saw an episode of Evening at the Improv with James Earl Jones, and he told a story of how, right after the movie came out and noone knew who he was yet, he’d get on a CB radio and freak truckers out.

        He’d use that Darth Vader voice, and then when the truckers pulled into the stop he’d use a fake voice and tell them he’d seen a UFO. :)

    • shedinator March 7, 2012, 8:50 am

      You said your finger was a gun!
      (sorry, couldn’t resist)

  • gestalt162 March 7, 2012, 6:55 am

    Excellent article MMM, a new classic.

    And +1 for Sherkston Shores. Growing up in Buffalo, my friends and I went there several times, and always had a good time, even though we were a couple years under the legal drinking age (even in Canada). Way better than most of the American beaches in Western NY.

  • rjack March 7, 2012, 7:00 am

    MMM – Your article brought back many memories for me.

    I’m older than you (52) and I my parents where children during the depression. The depression experiences seemed to have strengthened their frugality muscles in many ways:

    1) My Mom used to reuse tea bags and was always looking for sales to save money.

    2) My Dad was the ultimate DIY. He built a enclosed porch, additional bathroom, did his own car maintenance, and took vacation to paint the house.

    3) Neither parent owned a credit card other than a Sear’s Charge Card.

    4) My Mom’s #1 advice to me when I left for college was “Never live beyond your means.”

    I didn’t appreciate their frugality at the time. In fact, I remember being jealous of the other kids in the neighborhood that had parents that spent more money on fancy vacations, clothes, etcs.

    Both my parents are gone now and everyday I wish I could go back in time and thank them for the way they raised me. I try to celebrate my parents teachings by living my life in a frugal way and passing on the same lessons to my sons.

  • KO March 7, 2012, 8:00 am

    Awesome post!!! Frugalness IS the new fanciness! We’ve been training some friends to actively save their money and our evenings together have become a game of how much fun we can have on the least amount of money possible (ie; make supper completely from scratch, drink homebrewed beer and wine, and play clue by candlelight – what is fancier than a candlelit evening?!?). Can’t wait until the day when everyone is on board…in the meantime I will continue to enjoy my “fancy” status ;)

    • Frank July 4, 2013, 6:52 am

      homebrew – I’ve been doing that for the last 20 years – went to a pub meeting a few nights ago – others had their $4 beers, I abstained – as I had had a couple of my 20c home brews before I came – happy mind and happy bank balance !

  • Jill March 7, 2012, 8:02 am

    I love this! I have thought about this often, that buying stuff nowadays really doesn’t show status at all. All it tells the world is “I was able to get a really big loan.” I have friends where I know what they do for a living and I know they can’t really afford the things they do and I don’t envy them, I pity them because they often seem stressed out.

  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple March 7, 2012, 8:05 am

    You brought back good memories. I grew up not too far from Canada (NW Pennsylvania). Close enough that I decided to take French in HS (oh, how much more useful Spanish would be right now.) And my upbringing was like yours. We had “middle class” and “poor” (me) and “really poor”, but no real rich people in my small town. My school had about 100 students per grade, and drew kids from a 15 mile radius.

    When my parents divorced, I moved to the “big” high school (same size, but in town), and there the “rich” kids had parents who took them to Florida on vacation on spring break (and TOOK THEM OUT OF SCHOOL! Because we didn’t really have spring break).

    I am still amazed. I live in So Cal, and everywhere I drive and park…luxury cars. BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Jag, more SUVs than you can shake a stick at. I go home and the parking lots are full of…cars. Mostly domestic, but the Toyotas and Hondas are becoming more prominent. And they are old cars too.

    My bosses are about 10-15 older than me (mid-50’s) and very financially secure. We are the ones who most often are sitting in the tiny lunchroom at work with our packed sandwiches, pasta, or rice. So, I have some people to model myself after. I have coworkers who lament on never being able to afford a house, yet they drive big pickups and eat out every day.

    I actually had some interaction with rich kids in college. One little snot (a C student whose dad was a doctor – he had a car) made this comment to me before graduation: “Doesn’t it suck that we’re all starting off at $40,000 a year, and you have to go into the Navy and get paid half that?” To which I said “well, no. I agreed to go into the Navy to get my college partially paid for. I’m lucky to even be here, and happy to serve in exchange for my degree.”

  • Stephen March 7, 2012, 8:24 am

    The hardest part is the peer pressure, but my skin is getting tougher.

    It used to be that having enough food to become overweight was hard, and it was prestigious to be fat. Now everyone knows better, unless they’re lying to themselves. There will always be financially wasteful people, but as time goes by, frugality will gain more and more respect.

  • Guitarist March 7, 2012, 8:36 am

    I don’t like to make blanket statements but in this case I will (if you are a part of this group but the following doesn’t apply to you, don’t get bent out of shape. I understand that this doesn’t apply to you). I honestly feel like the boomer generation, in general, is a big part of our current predicament. The greatest generation grew up during the depression, they had to learn to save, to fix, to get by with less. From the depression they fight in WWII. They sacrificed but did not complain. They were doing their duty for their nation and the world. They then come home and are finally able to live the American dream. Decent jobs, a robust economy, a home in the ‘burbs.
    They then spawn a generation that did not feel the same sacrifice (they did fight through Vietnam and were treated like shit for it, for that our nation owes them an apology and then some), but in terms of struggling to get by day to day they didn’t have to feel the pain. They took the wealth their parents created and lived the high life on it. Soon, the country started adding debt to keep this high life going, raiding SS funds so that nobody would have to feel the strain of war at home or worry about paying it back until those in charge were well out of office (cowards).
    They stood up this consumerist, throw away, culture and even now, when more and more people see that it isn’t sustainable, they want it to contiue (my take is for their SS and retirement in general, selfish indeed). I think Gen X saw through it, but didn’t actually have to face the reprecussions during childhood/early adulthood. The 70’s were pretty bad, but not horrible. There were still jobs available out of high school and college. Debt hadn’t become as rampant as it is now, education was cheaper.
    Gen Y seemed to be yet another generation poised to achieve more then ever before. Growing economy, college for “everyone,” death of the Soviet Empire, growing up in the relative peace of the 90’s. Then it all changed about 10 years ago and the world was thrown upside down.
    Failing economy
    Rampant debt
    Rising education costs
    Jobs drying up

    Not to compare today with the 30’s, but gen Y is having to learn to do with less. I read this is the first generation, ever, where people believe they will be worse off then their parents. In my opinion, we are being forced to deal with less, to embrace and relearn the frugal ways of our grand and great grand parents. It isn’t nearly as bad (I don’t feel bad for us, driving new cars, waving around smart phones and carrying tablets) but those that learn how live debt free and frugal will be well off, those that carry debt out the wazoo are going to have a rude awakening.

    • rjack March 7, 2012, 8:53 am

      I am a Baby Boomer and it saddens me to agree with your analysis.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque March 7, 2012, 9:23 am

      “I read this is the first generation, ever, where people believe they will be worse off then their parents.”

      Which is utterly ridiculous.

      Do you know how many people in my family have had cancer – and are *not* dead from it? The computer I’m typing on would have put to shame the most powerful machine in the world when my father was my age. We have access to so much cheap clothing that we let it pile up in our closets in a way that our parents would have found gluttonous.

      And yet, still, “we have it worse off than our parents.”

      Hedonistic acclimatization. It appears to me to be nothing more than observing your parents living the high life after years of working and wondering why we can’t have it that way the day we get out of college.

      • Emmers March 7, 2012, 10:19 am

        Yeah, some of it’s that (people wanting to live like their parents right off the bat)…some of it’s just the timing, with the job market the way it is. If the upturn continues, you’ll probably see less of it.

        To play off of your “so much cheap clothing” comment (it is so true!!), don’t forget that lots of our manufacturing jobs have been outsourced, so you can’t just graduate, get your union card, and head over to the mill anymore. Instead, you go to work in retail or food service, and pray you don’t get assigned to a 38-hour workweek so the company isn’t required to give you health benefits.

        (This is the USA, not Canada, so mileage might vary based on that.)

    • Dragline March 7, 2012, 10:00 am

      You must be a scholar of the “Fourth Turning” young sir, and other such works by Strauss & Howe. And if you are not, go read it. it’s prescient.

      As Mark Twain is reputed to have said, “History does not repeat — but it rhymes.”

      And so the season of frugality comes to us again, and through it, a kind of renewal..

    • Matt March 7, 2012, 11:35 am

      I think there’s a certain degree of hardship necessary to maximize human potential. The Great Depression, WWII: those were hardships felt on a national level, yet it seems to be generally accepted that society came out stronger. As you said, a generation or two of relative easy followed, and things started to go south.

      I often think about this in light of socialism versus free market debates… If you make society “too easy”, then it seems to bring about a “dumbing down” of society overall. People have everything they need and want, so have no incentive to learn or better themselves. OTOH, I think if society is “too hard”, then you breed desperation, which can lead to behaviors that aren’t conducive to a peaceful, prosperous populace.

      As much as I’m tempted to view Utopia as a place where every single person can magically indulge themselves endlessly, I really don’t think that idea is compatible with human nature. We still need the carrot and the stick. Hopefully the stick has a light and forgiving touch, and the carrots are plainly visible and obtainable—but never given away freely.

    • Kathy P. March 7, 2012, 5:02 pm

      “It isn’t nearly as bad (I don’t feel bad for us, driving new cars, waving around smart phones and carrying tablets) but those that learn how live debt free and frugal will be well off, those that carry debt out the wazoo are going to have a rude awakening.”

      Isn’t this true of every generation? Why should Gen. Y – the Millennials – be any different?

      As you said, they’re driving new cars, own smart phones and iPads so it’s pretty funny (and a little pathetic) to hear them complaining about how bad they have it. As Mr. MM said about the middle class: “Wahhhh…”

      When I was in high school (early 70s) you couldn’t have a car on school grounds until you were a senior, and the few kids that had wheels drove beaters that they bought with their own money from a part-time job. This, by the way, was in a pretty wealthy white suburb with lots of doctors and lawyers’ kids. Today, that same high school has had to create big student parking lots because Gen Y expects – and gets – the Bank of Mom & Dad to buy a them a *new* vehicle for their 16th birthday.

      So if poor Gen Y has to learn to do with less – even though they’ve been showered with nearly everything their little hearts desire – oh well, welcome to the real world. They’re the most indulged, self-centered generation in American history. And if they carry debt out the wazoo, which they probably will because that’s how their helicopter parents bought them all that crap – then like all people of all generations – they’ll have to live with the consequences.

      BTW, with Apple releasing yet another iThingy today, I guarantee you the vast majority of people sleeping on sidewalks to be the first to own one *will not* be boomers.

      • guitarist86 March 8, 2012, 9:00 pm

        Spoken like a true Boomer ;-)
        The Boomers probably won’t be up late/early enough to pick up the new iPad, but I can assure you, they will be out throwing money into the pits they call boats… or sports cars… or motorcycles… or chartered trips.
        I thought I was clear that I wasn’t trying to blanket the entire boomer generation, which in turn, means I don’t think every Gen Y’er is going to save the planet from the last 50+ years of “slash and burn.” However, things will come to a head and it won’t be the boomers worrying about how to turn us around.
        When I say they are the first generation to look out and see themselves getting less then their parents, it isn’t about having things. It is about prosperity. You can wave these gadgets in our faces and say we shouldn’t complain but all that does is remind me of the Roman Empire. Throw everyone in a Colosseum and watch men tear each other to pieces, everyone was entertained, right? That didn’t mean the Roman Empire was better off then the Roman Republic.
        If a sizable portion of a generation can’t start their careers out of school, what does that do to their lifetime career capabilities? What does it do for their own retirement savings? What does that do to tax revenues?
        And to call Gen Y a bunch of spoiled “me, me, me” kids, well, to that I say: who raised them?

    • Margaret June 2, 2013, 4:38 am

      About 24 years ago I was sitting in a Social Studies (I think) class when our teacher was talking about the economy and had mentioned back then that he thought we would probably be the first generation that was worse off than our parents. How true those words were. Our household has gone through a lot in last few years, layoffs, loss of business income, etc…but what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger and wiser!

      Margaret @ Live Like No One Else

  • Amanda March 7, 2012, 8:47 am

    I want to send this to everyone I know.

  • Jessica aka The Frugal Townie March 7, 2012, 8:53 am

    Great article!!! One of your best, and I’ve read them all. :)

  • DaveRB40 March 7, 2012, 9:08 am

    Excellent post… once again some classic stuff… There is a lot of truth in the idea of frugality becoming “fashionable/popular” This of course should be of some concern…. I mean think for a minute if the North American masses were to all adopt the mustachian lifestyle tomorrow… It would send the economy into a downward spiral that would make the 2008 crisis look like lost change in the economic couch. We NEED “a bunch of stupid people” to keep the economic wheels turning… Someone needs to buy the big houses, TV’s for every room, brand new fancy cars every couple years, speed boats, iPads, high end name brand clothes, AND borrow the money for all of it…. paying the interest to the banks… slaving away at a soul crushing job to service the perpetual burden of debt they have created for themselves. Do you think the fat cats of the olden days were sitting in their golf carts on the hill side, looking at all the working stiffs in the valley below thinking… “… We need to spread the knowledge and wisdom about success that we have acquired to the lowly people down there so that they too can enjoy this exclusive golf club…”? ( I think not) So, Shhh… keep it quiet, don’t tell anyone else about this Blog, or your interest in living the debt free/frugal/simple/happy lifestyle. Just keep it to yourself, work hard, eliminate your debt, save your money, be happy and thrive off the futile labor and stupidity of the masses.

    I jest of course… Bring on the revolution!

  • Mr. Frugal Toque March 7, 2012, 9:11 am

    Inhale this post deeply, unwary visitors.
    And while the vapours soak into your lungs,
    Discard your cashmere sweaters,
    Shed your fancy pants,
    Denounce the dancing bird boy.
    Now exhale.
    The itchiness you feel as your breath crosses your upper lip,
    Will be the bristles of your new ‘stache.

    • McGonigle April 28, 2014, 10:55 am

      Gold star for this comment! Well done sir, from one ‘Stache to another.

  • Gerard March 7, 2012, 9:22 am

    This is really good stuff, MMM. Because we focus on your message, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that you can *write*. Every now and then I apply my linguist brain to pulling apart one of your posts, and you do some pretty sophisticated stuff.

    One way you can tell that Frugal is the new Fancy is that there are now so many pretend Frugal people, just like there are pretend Fancy people. They’re saving 5% on cruises! They’re clipping coupons to buy processed food for less! They’re sharing recipes for pretend Big Mac sauce, and leads on knock-off designer products!

  • Dollar D March 7, 2012, 9:25 am

    I think it’s funny how “frugal” has become a 4-letter word in our society. People seem to equate money with fun, so if you’re not spending money you aren’t having fun.

    “I could never live like that” is a common response. I just think to myself “then you’ll probably never have the freedom I’m working towards”!

  • JaneMD March 7, 2012, 9:40 am

    I think everyone remembers the study that happiness tops off around 70-75K.

    In MM world, you probably live on 30K and save at least the other 40K and still feel pretty darn happy.

    If you really want to choke, read this article http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-29/wall-street-bonus-withdrawal-means-trading-aspen-for-cheap-chex.html. I swear they posted that one just to get people to write how much they hated the subjects.

  • KzooMatt March 7, 2012, 9:45 am

    While I really enjoyed this post, and whole heartedly agree with most of it, I do find it somewhat ironic that this goes up the day after the $40 light bulb post. Was that an intentional juxtaposition of thoughts or am I the only one that found it amusing? For example, you send this article to a friend who says, “Yes, you are correct. I must change my ways. I’ll check out this MMM fellow to see what else he has to say”. The first new article they will see is about “light snobs” who want to install crazy-expensive bulbs all over their house. Makes me chuckle a little bit – and think about how no message that’s remotely complex can really be boiled to down to a sound bite (or tweet).

    And there-in lies what I find to be the beauty of MMM – agree or disagree, it makes me think. Keep up the good work sir!

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 7, 2012, 9:53 am

      You’re right in a way: MMM is not a perfectly frugal man, and my family still lives a pretty decadent lifestyle. My main point in this blog is that we still spend less than half of what most families in the middle class income bracket spend.

      But, you’ll note that in the light bulb article, I specified that the bulbs are still too expensive to justify buying on a price-only basis. And while CFLs are the lowest cost choice available today, LEDs are still a better choice than burning incandescents in high-use fixtures.

      Part of reducing America’s gigantic energy footprint will come from new technologies that allow us to continue a modern lifestyle with lower emissions. LED bulbs will surely be a part of that in the future, as will solar electric panels. So I like to try to teach people about these technologies.

      • Russell March 7, 2012, 10:38 am

        I’m a grad student just up the road from you at Colorado State, and I’m studying the physics of solar photovoltaics. Come visit me sometime and I can teach you all you want to know about solar electricity!

    • Emmers March 7, 2012, 5:04 pm

      Many things (like LEDs or CFLs) are only “too expensive” if you are thinking short-term.

      Now, if you’re struggling to make ends meet, it doesn’t *matter* that that $40 lightbulb will save you $300 in energy bills over 10 years. You still can’t afford it.

      But if you *can* afford it, it absolutely *is* the best choice, hands down. Thinking long-term is one of the best ways to frugality. It doesn’t matter if things are twice as expensive now, if they last three times as long.

      (For an excellent explanation of why some people are unable to take advantage of these types of cost savings, please read the following: http://wiki.lspace.org/wiki/Sam_Vimes_Theory_of_Economic_Injustice )

      • Frank July 4, 2013, 6:50 am

        I’ve been watching LEDs for the last few years – the chairman of my building committee was raring to spend $95k on LED lights to replace our CFLs in corridors, etc. – he wasn’t happy to hear my explanation that it would save us about $700 a year in electricity – in other words, payback – never …

        early supplies of LEDs made in China had a high failure rate, and companies guaranteeing them for ten years could conveniently cease to exist next year – so your guarantee becomes worthless …

        price point is falling – but $/lumen-life I think it’ll be a while before LEDs beat the good old 4 foot fluoro for area lighting

        many calculations showing LEDs save money over ten years are based on assumptions that LEDs will last ten years – most models haven’t been around that long yet so they are just hopeful projections, not something you can take to the bank

        other problems with LEDs is the delicate electronics in the base suffer from heat (seen the fins?), so they are typically not recommended for use in recessed cowls – which a lot of them have been installed in.

        So my call – not yet ready for primetime area lighting

        What I am impressed with is the wonderful infinite ever-changing-colours strip lighting replacing neon tubes – they look great – but won’t light up a room …

    • mike March 7, 2012, 10:56 pm

      Its not the $40 bulb that’s expensive…

  • Val March 7, 2012, 9:50 am

    Love this article!
    I have read ALL your posts, and yet have only commented on a few. I believe commenters are only the tip of the Mustachian Nation iceberg. You probably have hundreds or thousands of other “silent readers” like me that are also enjoying this blog and changing their lives one post at a time :-).

  • Emmers March 7, 2012, 9:52 am

    Right on, MMM! I think I may have inherited something of a Great Depression bug from my grandmother, who grew up during it, but I do think that lots of the spending in modern society is completely unnecessary. The items themselves — cell phones, computers, cars — aren’t inherently luxuries, but some items within those categories *are.*

    For example, we recently purchased a laptop to supplement our desktop (which we can’t take with us when we travel), and the total cost was something like $300. (Netbook, Linux, huge thumb drive, carrying case.) If it were our only computer, maybe we’d have gotten something more expensive (e.g. something with an optical drive) but it works just fine for our needs.

    If everyone (who isn’t already doing this) looked seriously at their expenses, they could probably trim a *lot* of fat.

  • Paul O. March 7, 2012, 10:03 am

    This is why I come here.

  • markCB March 7, 2012, 10:36 am

    Genius! Genius! Genius!

  • Dark Sector March 7, 2012, 11:04 am

    The entire American public has become enslaved by consumerism. Four generations of free market commerce have convinced us to believe that happiness is consumption. The result is that we’re only happy when buying stuff. It wasn’t hard for advertisers to do this because it’s also human nature. We have to spend all our money and more than our own money to keep up the stream of purchases, which side effect the only happiness supply we think subconsciously we’ve got. Moustachianism is all about recognizing the deception of the parasitic consumer mogul charlatans and then expunging all of its effects from your life. It is a false and ignominious happiness, because it stymies, by many means and in many aspects, self actualization.

  • Matt March 7, 2012, 12:13 pm

    I hate to be the cynical one, but… as much as I’d like to see frugality become a lasting “trend”, and adopted on a significant level (like our Great Depression ancestors), I just don’t see it happening. Frugality is in direct conflict with the goals of “The Man”. “The Man” here is the enormous consumer economy propped up by deficit spending (at the individual and state level). If everyone practiced MMM-style frugality, it would hurt these big, well-oiled machines. And I know there’s a big debate about whether or not an MMM/ERE lifestyle is good for the socio-economic system at large—but I’m not even talking about that here. What I’m saying is that there’s too much inertia, too much money, too many powerful people invested in keeping this consumerist machine running. For every MMM, I wildly speculate there’s at least 10 advertising execs and 50 million dollars trying to promote this unsustainable credit-fueled consumerist lifestyle. Not to mention, constant research looking for more effective and numerous ways of delivering this propaganda to you.

    I mean, I think of Apple as the ultimate symbol of what the USA (and probably first world in general) has become. The stock market loves AAPL. I know so many people that love Apple, and can’t wait to get the next gadget they release. And yet, who really *needs* Apple products? I’m sure there are plenty of places where their products are useful and necessary… but by and large, my casual observation is that most people that own Apple products really just want expensive high-tech toys.

    I know a lot of genuine, well-meaning people to whom this consumerist mentality is effectively religion; they can’t imagine life any other way, nor do they want to. These people aren’t even status-obsessed or trying to keep up with the Joneses—they see Apple products and luxury cars and resort vacations and country club memberships and everything else; and they believe they should buy these things. And they think it is perfectly rational to say, “as long as I can afford the payments, why not?” And I haven’t found the right words to suggest that this kind of lifestyle is really just a disguise for adding shackles of wage slavedom. And who am I to tell them how to live their life anyway? i don’t want to compromise a relationship, which fortunately still has room enough for enjoying each others’ company without spending money. But I can’t imagine that the people I know are all that unique. No one told me about ERE/MMM, I stumbled across it when I started down the introspective path of wondering, “Is there a better way to live than by working too many hours of my youth at a job I don’t love?” But, as with religion, many people will never venture such a thought on their own. And why would they, when the “church” of consumerism has so effectively inserted its dogma and propaganda into every facet of our lives? Unless you consciously choose to avoid it, you’re constantly bombarded by advertising’s “consumerism makes you happy and is good for you and your country” message.

    • Lennier December 5, 2015, 6:07 am

      True, but all those advertising execs? They can’t [i]make[/i] us spend money.
      At least not yet. That’s why they’re spending so much money on psych studies these days.

  • Dan March 7, 2012, 12:37 pm

    Mostly agree, but with one cautionary statement: we don’t necessarily need to restrict ourselves now to only what we can generate through renewable resources, as MMM alludes to with “When you use more than that, you’re stealing resources from your own kids.”

    It isn’t necessarily robbing our great-grandchildren when we burn nonrenewable oil, for example, because we cannot ignore that due to technological progress, our great-grandchildren are likely to be extraordinarily wealthy, with access to all sorts of cheap energy and resources that we cannot even reasonably contemplate now (asteroid mining, cheap fission, proliferation of virtual reality indistinguishable for true life, who knows).

    Sure, we should all be more frugal now. But we should not require everyone to consume under a certain resource burn level (whether that is through things like Kyoto accords or what have you), because the true work to support future humanity is indeed left to those future generations who will be able to far more readily afford the costs of those restrictions.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 7, 2012, 4:48 pm

      Meh.. I say we might as well start living below the renewal rate right now. Just because MOST of our consumption is totally wasted as it is. We don’t have to suffer in order to meet that goal.

      I’m still with you on the “future is bright” theme, but I find that much of our consumption is having irreversible effects.

      When you cause the extinction of a species, for example, you’ll never get it back. We’re losing about three species PER HOUR right now just so we can drive around to stores buy stuff every weekend.

      Similarly, I don’t see a problem with using up most of the oil, because technology can easily develop alternatives. But I do see a problem with drastically increased C02 concentrations in the atmosphere that comes as a side effect of continuing to burn oil so quickly.

      • Dan March 7, 2012, 5:51 pm

        Disagree, we absolutely will suffer as a humanity if we cut down our resource consumption (to say nothing of the devastation to growth if we forced it below renewable levels). Only the richest billion spend lavishly; we have so far to go in schools built, clean water pumped, and processing power burned to help out the global poor.

        Sadly, species destruction (whether from global warming or habitat elimination) is a freight train that wouldn’t noticeably slow for 100+ years even if half of humanity died right now. However, better those endangered frogs than dooming the sick kids in Africa to having to continue to carry their water and scratch out math on blackboards.

        The poorest humanity needs rapid industrialization via proliferation of fossil-fuel power plants. Arguably, only by getting our species through the industrialization hump the most quickly, can we really make a long-term difference to stewardship of planetary resources. We cannot forget that what brings the poorest nations up to speed the quickest is the richest countries buying Happy Meal toys.

        I’m not saying we should all keep buying those toys no matter what. I am saying though that we should remember what the effects are of our “go green” efforts are. Often, saving a tree or whale means you just left a few humans sicker – an unfortunate but true notion I think most crusaders miss.

        • Jimbo March 7, 2012, 6:18 pm

          Let me answer to this : ‘saving a tree or whale means you just left a few humans sicker’ by stating the obvious : No. It does not equate to that. Not in the slightest.

          Thank you.

          • Dan March 7, 2012, 6:32 pm

            Any dollar spent on more environmentally friendly practices or more green (and thus usually more expensive) services is a dollar that could have been spent on meds for the global poor. Every time we contemplate spending $x billion on a carbon sequestration scheme or whatever is $x billion less available to help those dying right now for lack of ten cent medicines.

            Sure, we should consider being more green. But let’s make sure we’ve considered the opportunities costs of our actions. Could mean more suffering humans. Maybe we decide that’s OK, but we have to at least do the math first.

          • Dan March 7, 2012, 6:36 pm

            Of course, contrast this with Americans deciding to use less power, as MMM often encourages and I certainly support. This decision is an easy and quick one we should all make, if for no other reason that is frees up power that can instead be used by the poorest at the same net C02 emissions amounts. Of any potential decision, reduction of consumption (when carried out with a mind for how to take at least some of the savings to help our less fortunate brethren) is a home run.

            • pka March 7, 2012, 9:56 pm

              From years of working in international development I can safely assure you that Americans buying less crap will NOT increase suffering in developing countries. In fact green policies that raise the cost of consumer goods by making them recyclable (e waste comes to mind) directly benefits the impoverished who currently recycle old computer monitors, laptops etc. Do the right thing- buy less, live lighter- don’t consume for the sake of the “poor”.

        • Kathy P. March 8, 2012, 5:57 am


          We will suffer as a humanity if we cut *down* our resource consumption????

          We’re already in ecological overshoot, using the equivalent of 1.5 planet’s worth of resources to supply our needs and wants. If current population and consumption trends continue, by 2030 we’ll need 2 Earths to support us. In order for 3rd world populations to live like Americans do, we’d need 3 or 4 planet Earths! If we simply continue like we are, humanity – along with all other biodiversity on the planet – is doomed.

          Ecological overshoot – resource depletion which is well and truly underway – will result in resource wars, famine, mass migrations of refugees, and disease as 3rd world populations struggle to survive in countries which have been picked clean in order to manufacture crap like Happy Meal toys.

          Sick kids in Africa haven’t got a chance in your scorched earth scenario, much less the frogs.

        • Mr. Money Mustache March 8, 2012, 6:53 am

          There goes Dan, wreaking havoc in comments section again :-)

          You should preface that type of remark by saying, “the most extreme libertarian economic view of this is:”, rather than portraying the answer as a clear-cut one.

          For example, my own radical vision is totally different: get the richest billion people to VOLUNTARILY cut their own consumption (both through personal changes and voting differently), but continue to produce the same amount of output because we like working so much. The difference is that more of our energy and output would be going to technological advancement and social change. For Africa, we don’t need factories making happy meal toys, we need birth control, medical schools, and factories that allow them to make solar panels and water components for themselves and others. More importantly they need fewer dictators, since the continued poverty is driven mostly by incompetence and corruption from the top.

          We’re already over the hump of industrialization: it brought us technology that allows us to live cleanly using the direct energy of the sun. We can stop burning stuff now, and maybe we can even figure out how to grind the traditional notion of “growth” to a halt. (Technological and productivity growth is fine, but not population and consumption growth).

          At the core, people have to be motivated by a different thing than STUFF, as this post explains. Human nature can easily accommodate that change.. we just have a cultural programming and marketing issue. Hence the Mr. Money Mustache blog.

        • Emmers March 8, 2012, 7:38 am

          “The poorest humanity needs rapid industrialization via proliferation of fossil-fuel power plants.”

          Why not via proliferation of windmills made *by* the people themselves, out of local scrap metal?

          • Dan March 8, 2012, 7:48 am

            Hey I’m totally down with voluntary reduction, by the richest, in our resource consumption – as long as we do it in a economically smart way and still share some of our savings with the poor (of whom many are busy with making all our crap for us).

            It’s posts like Emmers’ (who very Don Quixote- or Marie Antoinette-like suggests we can just have windmills instead) and pka’s (who says it’s better for us to do in the US what the less developed world would beg to do, namely reclaim metals from consumer electronics) and others propounding locovorism that makes me point out that it’s not just as easy as saying we can grow and buy local and switch to solar. Both of those things have great costs to the global poor because they take up more resources that are probably better spent on faster proliferation of gas-powered irrigation etc. Of course dicatators are a problem, but we have so far to go to help the existing poor that contemplating future generations (whether humans or frogs) seems somewhat less critical.

            So, sure, voluntarily consumption reduction, pared with mitigating extra voluntary charitable donations!

            • Jimbo March 8, 2012, 7:56 am

              Ok, two things:

              1) You can give 100% if the income you make over the next 25 years to the poor, and the impact will be close to nothing… So why not have government action? Too much efficiency?

              2) How’s that Ron Paul campaign going?

            • Dan March 8, 2012, 8:05 am

              Getting off topic so on MMM’s previous behest months ago, this is my last comment on this thread.

              Jimbo, saying that no one person can ever make a difference is totally inane. Just as MMM says Mustachianist Financial Independence is made ten bucks at a time, so too are the global poor helped by ten bucks at a time.

              Whether government should be involved in taking from some to give to others is a whole other topic. We focused here on what we should all voluntarily do, not what we should be forced to do.

              Although you do raise a good point – why do pro-progressive-tax American voters believe that the richest Americans’ money should be given to less rich Americans? Why do bottom 50% asset Americans deserve that forced redistribution more than the poorest global citizens?

              All further responses in this vein should probably go to the forums :)

            • IAmNotABartender February 19, 2015, 11:19 pm

              DW and I like Heifer International.

          • Dan March 8, 2012, 7:55 am

            PS I loved the post and greatly enjoy the blog; I think MMM is totally badass. Just trying to help the MMM movement avoid forgetting about today’s poor, who aren’t magically helped by us telling them we’ll make our own stuff and they can just skip fossil fuels and go to windmills. Every dollar counts to these developing economies – any encouragement to them to skip nonrenewable (usually cheapest) power plants will come at a cost to them of sicker kids longer. Only the richest few billion are past the industrialization bump; humanity as a whole still has a whole lot more basic development to come.

        • Executioner March 13, 2012, 6:27 am

          STRONGLY disagree, Dan. There are seven BILLION people on the planet. While some of them are truly suffering, our species as a whole needs no special help. To choose to support our exploding overpopulation through further environmental destruction and unsustainable nonrenewable resource development is folly. Those “endangered frogs” have just as much right to this planet as our species does.

          • Dan March 13, 2012, 9:20 am

            Executioner, I’d like to see you say that to the face of an African or Bangaledeshi mother with a starving infant. See how much she agrees that a frog is as important as her dying kid.

            • Mr. Money Mustache March 13, 2012, 11:46 am

              Hell, you couldn’t even say it to the face of an American mother with credit card debt. See how much she agrees that reducing C02 emissions is more important than keeping the gas prices low.

              When economists try to come up with policies to help the world, they are aware that every decision has victims and beneficiaries. It’s all about balance, and we’re only disagreeing here about where we think the greatest good could be done. Let’s make a whole article about it some day.

        • Ruth November 18, 2014, 8:44 pm

          Bravo, Dan! I second everything you just said.

        • Lennier December 5, 2015, 6:17 am

          I initially thought this was superb satire, but after reading the comments further down the thread, now I’m not so sure…

  • Christine Wilson March 7, 2012, 12:42 pm

    To add to your article: I think many people confuse frugality with deprivation. Instead blind consumerism is a certain type of deprivation of experience and value. When it becomes easy to buy a product it can create a throw away society where we only value things for that initial rush. Creating things yourself, learning instead of buying – these things are allow you to grow and be content.

  • Kevin Meyers March 7, 2012, 1:06 pm

    A great article to wash out the iPad frenzy that is enveloping the rest of the internet! Just read a great new book called “Shiny Objects” that strikes many of the same notes as this post.

  • The Money Monk March 7, 2012, 2:20 pm

    This truly is a badass article. Well done, MMM.

  • October MacBain March 7, 2012, 2:20 pm

    MMM, I just watched a documentary called Collapse, featuring Michael Ruppert, “a police officer turned independent reporter who predicted the current financial crisis” (IMDB). In it, he talks about some pretty scary things that he believes are coming down the line very soon. A lot of what he says is eye-opening, and some (especially in the latter part of the movie) pretty Mustachian.

    I’d like to know your thoughts about it if you have time to watch it.

    And Forks Over Knives is very good, too.

  • herbert salisbury March 7, 2012, 2:27 pm

    another frugal meal favorite: when pork shoulders are on sale, make pulled pork in a slow cooker. don’t go all apeshit on the bbq sauce, though. you can make lean, yummy and healthy pulled pork burritos for days, for well under a dollar each.

  • herbert salisbury March 7, 2012, 2:36 pm

    on frugalism:

    Alexander says:
    My time is worth waaay more than the small amount saved to make that worthwhile for me.
    Herbert says:
    the hidden goal of the frugalist may be to lower the value of your time

  • Kimmie March 7, 2012, 2:41 pm

    Truly a MASTERPIECE article you have written today!! (it ranks at the top of badassity!)

    WOW, WOW, WOW! Loved every word, can relate to everything you are talking about here and I am PROUD to be part of a frugal community of people!

    I happily drive my 20 year old car as my neighbors are buying a brand new car every 2-3 years, all on payments, We happily take trips every weekend to go hiking in the mountains, on family picnics, etc…. as our neighbors who have fancy toys are so busy working to pay for all of their “Stuff” and then they turn around and complain when school is starting up in the fall, that they were too busy to get out with their family that summer.

    You are truly an INSPIRATION to me and my hubby and I LOVE coming by your blog everyday to read, learn from, laugh and enjoy all of the great information that you so willingly share with us!

    Have a great day MMM….YOU da Best!!

  • Shanna March 7, 2012, 3:16 pm

    I was just pondering this subject the other day after reading your light bulb post (thanks for that, I got a headache at the hardware store after 45 minutes trying to decipher LED packaging across brands and gave up).

    When I was young people who wanted to save money really worked at not using electricity etc. (all familys I knew) I find it hard to think of a person younger than myself with a thought like this in their mind. From what I have observed of “poor” young people they just spend and use with the assumption that somehow someone will pay for it (mommy and daddy, government).

  • Christine Wilson March 7, 2012, 3:25 pm

    $1 per person per meal – Are you finding that you need to eat less meat to attain this goal?

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 7, 2012, 4:53 pm

      Definitely! I can easily wolf down $6 worth of organic chicken or salmon in a sitting, so if I want to meet my goal I’ll have to eat mostly non-meat meals.

      (I’ve already been doing this for years – I eat meat fairly rarely – but this month I’m putting a bit more math into the meal planning.).

    • Dancedancekj March 7, 2012, 8:09 pm

      While the $1 a meal goal is admirable, I’m more of an advocate for a paleo-style diet for myself. While I still eat carbohydrates, the vegetarian/vegan diet definitely makes me put on more weight and I experience more swings in energy levels and hunger with a carbohydrate heavy diet. I think there should be a happy medium, in which you can lower meal costs but still keep in substantial amounts of protein and polyunsaturated fats for satiation and to reduce the insulin dump after a carb-heavy meal.

    • LadyMaier March 9, 2012, 8:25 pm

      Fabulous article! One for the Mustache Manifesto.

      I find the $1-a-day meal hard to wrap my head around, while at the same time I do admire the quest. I personally just don’t see it happening without sacrificing something….like my health.

      I do try to get as much bang for my buck as I can in terms of food, and I’m not a food snob buying exotic things every week. I make our bread, get some major staples from Costco (honey, brown rice, natural peanut butter, nuts), and we do the rest of our grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, which has great stuff and great prices! But for our family of four, we’re still spending around $110-$120 a week for groceries, and I’m not even buying ALL organic, although some of it is.

      I just fear that there’s a point of diminishing returns when it comes to saving money vs. eating good healthy food, with emphasis on the healthy part. One can still find bargains and keep costs low without sacrificing quality. I believe MMM is doing it right: switch to more veggies and grains, less meat (which is damned expensive), but that dollar-a-day-meals website posted above I found dubious. Ramen spaghetti?!?! REALLY?!? It might cost a buck (or less), but I would think it would be worth the extra $.50 or $1 to feed everyone good whole wheat pasta. Being financially independent is important, but not without your health. The point to me seems to avoid excess, while still getting the best you can for as little money as possible. I can cut cable, cell phone service, change out my light bulbs, and use a drying rack in lieu of an electric dryer – no problem. But I’m not about to feed my family Ramen as some sort of “staple” just to save a few bucks.

      Perhaps this line of thinking is non-Mustachian, but for me it’s an area of the budget that I like to allow a little more for. I’m all for using my dollars on food as efficiently as possible, but I won’t cut out the good stuff that I think we should be eating in favor of the cheapest things I can find.

      I’m curious to see how your March experiment goes. Thankfully, MMM seems to be focused on healthy eating, and I think if anyone can pull off HEALTHY $1 meals, it’s him!

      • Mr. Money Mustache March 9, 2012, 9:43 pm

        Wow, I haven’t checked out that site yet, but ramen spaghetti sounds like a bizarre and pointless attempt at saving money. I mean, standard spaghetti is so incredibly cheap, and even whole wheat stuff can be found practically free (on a per-serving basis) if you shop around. I’ve switched to making spaghetti with rice pasta myself, since the lady can’t eat wheat, but again, it’s still a cheap food.

      • Heidi March 10, 2012, 7:56 am

        What’s the point of Ramen!!! No nutrition and it isn’t filling anyway! That’s not even cutting even, that’s a loss the instant you spend energy putting it in a cart. I’d be farther ahead eating a carrot.

        I know we haven’t found the balance where we can spend the lowest amount getting the most nutrition so I am looking forward to any suggestions the MMM’s offer! We were able to add a few things from the Costco article.

  • Julie @ Freedom 48 March 7, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Love it! Such a great perspective.
    It’s nice to know that we are, in fact, fancy ass folks!

  • lurker March 8, 2012, 6:17 am

    locavore is the only way to go. where is the food coming from and how far is it traveling to get where you are in the winter….?
    if we stay in our bioregions our diets will change dramatically, I would think.

    • Dancedancekj March 9, 2012, 1:41 am

      Locavoreism IMO would only work in a very small percentage of the population. I’d prefer not to eat local 100% of the year. Summer and fall might be OK, but I would rather not be eating meat and corn and a couple withered apples all winter. While I’m not advocating eating apples flown in from Chile and Tilapia from Honduras, the diet gets pretty bleak and unrealistic when one lives anywhere except perhaps California. You could also grow food in places like Arizona, but it would mean plenty of external costs regarding water and fertilizer being shipped in and so on.

      • Gerard July 26, 2012, 6:27 pm

        I agree that a 100% locavore diet would be pushing it. The monetary and environmental cost of shipping a teaspoon of cinnamon to me here in frosty Canada is offset by the fact that it makes (potentially local) cheap oatmeal a viable meal option.
        But, but… local food can be a lot more viable — more variety, longer season — than you suggest. People used to know how to extend their local food season: picking the best locally-adapted plant varieties, growing things that mature in different seasons, crop rotation, root cellars, canning, pickling, jamming, salting, fermenting, sprouting, drying, foraging, hunting, fishing, cold frames, cloches, greenhouses. In fact, where I live now, people have only become wealthy enough to buy imported food in the last few decades, so old people still know how to do all that stuff! Also, we have freezers. :-)

  • Baughman March 8, 2012, 9:42 am

    Here’s a killer lentil & rice recipe, which may be my favorite meal, which ought to be considered for the $1/meal/person recipe book. I plagiarized the text from my wife’s email to her friend, with my unsophisticated comments in parenthesis. Speaking of frugal recipes, our electric pressure cooker opened up the world of quick and easy beans to us. Well worth the investment.

    Okay, I only have how I cook this in the pressure cooker…but I’m sure it works for stovetop…just cook until lentils and carrots are tender and ready I’m sure? (I’ve never cooked lentils on the stovetop…so I don’t know the proper term, but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Also, I always double this too b/c well….we like to eat. When I made it for you too I think I tripled it so there would be enough to go around.

    1/2 c. rice
    1 c. lentils
    2 c. sliced carrots
    3 c. chicken broth (we use a cube or two of chicken bullion instead)
    1/2 tsp. basil (we use a cube of frozen stuff)
    1 clove garlic (we use the stuff that comes in a jar)
    1 T. olive oil
    grated parmesan cheese to taste

    Place in pressure cooker and cook for 10 min. on high pressure.

  • Lee Lau March 8, 2012, 10:23 am


    Sorry for shouting. This was a very good piece

    Been cheap for a long long long time. So refreshing to see others buy into that ethic too. Not that one needs validation but one of the best things about the whole MMM ethos is the accumulation of collective wisdom and reinforcing behaviour.

  • et March 8, 2012, 10:34 am

    I wonder if you see any evidence of this:
    “Eventually, all humans will have to learn to live on what the planet can regenerate each year.”?

    While it’s true we would have to learn in order to survive, I really don’t see very much learning happening. At least not on scale big enough to make a difference.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 8, 2012, 10:53 am

      We’re already making a difference, brother. At the current level of readership and growth rate (20% per month), the entire rich world of 1 billion people will be Mustachians in about 54.5 months. We just have to keep up the good work until then :-)

      While my exponential-growth-for-five-years example is silly, the idea of social changes spreading is not, now that the Internet exists. Humans are remakably flexible in their belief systems (Greek Gods, Aztec sacrifices, and surely some more recent examples as well ;-)). Interesting changes may very well sneak up and slap us in the face, within our own lifetimes.

  • KC March 8, 2012, 12:03 pm

    Great post!

    I was just at dividendgrowthinvestor and your post today complements the post there. It brings up rules to follow in dividend investing. But I like the simple graph take from Your Money or Your Life at the beginning of the post. It shows “The Crossover Point” at which you can retire when your investment income meets your expenses.

    How does one get to this point earlier? Fancy frugality!

    I’m working on it…

  • Dan March 8, 2012, 3:27 pm

    I actually liked AJ Kesslers blog post. He made me laugh, especially the some of the readers comments about bullshit kids….I find being frugal useful to a point, but i like my expensive hobbies too, so as long as i can save and invest at least 50-60% of my net pay every month, have all my bills paid and have no debt, i dont really give a shit about how badly i fuck up the other 40% as long as it meets my needs and some wants. “Rotating the bike tires to make them last longer” is not worth my time. I enjoy driving a v-8 gas guzzling behemoth suv 10 minutes to work and eating nonbiodegradable food at mcdicks. yes, i also like packing lunches and riding my bike to work in the summer. I enjoy dabbling in both worlds. I guess that makes me normal.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 8, 2012, 4:45 pm

      I liked it too – that’s why we’re friendly arch-rivals instead of bitter ones. My main criticism of his idea is that he says I had to live a “cheap as fuck” life to achieve early retirement. I didn’t – I spent a ridiculous amount, and still arrived here. Sounds like you are doing the same thing. Most people in upper-middle incomes can do the same thing.

      For lower incomes, sure, you might have to rotate your bike tires, and you definitely can’t drive an SUV, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be any less happy than the big spenders.

      By defining a life of spending $30-40k per year, as Mrs. M. and I did when saving for retirement, as being “cheap as fuck”, I believe he is sending a dangerous message by making everyone think they have to spend even more to be happy.

      Frugal is not cheap, and saving 50% or more of your income is not a lifestyle sacrifice – it’s just good math. And insisting that you have to spend anywhere close to the US average spending to reach peak productivity and happiness – that is just plain self-sabotage.

      • Emmers March 12, 2012, 9:38 am

        “Frugal is not cheap.” That’s a lesson I had to learn through trial and error. I used to buy $2 sandals at the A&N every summer. They’d wear out halfway through the season, and I’d buy another pair of $2 sandals.

        Eventually, I sucked it up and bought a pair of Tevas for $60. 13 years later, I still wear them all summer. And I spend less (none) on duct tape to hold them together!

  • Dan March 8, 2012, 7:07 pm

    Absolutely. Although when you gross $85,000 like i do, plus my fiance who makes the same, theres just no excuse to not retire early-ish, unless you live in toronto or vancouver. I wont retire for 20 years, just because i want my pension mostly funded. If it still exists by then….

  • Kurt March 8, 2012, 9:26 pm

    Great blog and some interesting viewpoints. BUT I can’t buy into living in a (recyclable) cardboard box or on a commune (Google it) to save the planet. I’ve lived on the cheap for most of my life because I had to. As my wife and I raised two kids, worked multiple jobs and went to school at night to get a better job, we went without…alot. So now the kids are grown, married, graduated from college, etc., and I’m fed up with owning cheap shit. What I found is going cheap can be expensive over the long run. And while you may think you’re saving money buying inexpensive clothing, furniture, cars, or whatever, you’ll need to replace these items more often than if you buy a quality product once and keep it for a long time and take care of it. I know, where’s the fun in that? A friend once said “only rich people can afford cheap furniture”. Genius! So go ahead and convince yourself that buying that pressboard dresser at AKEA is a great idea, but it’ll be “landfill”, or a “GoodWill” donation in a year or two…and still end up as landfill. Unfortunately, I know from experience. “Green” ? Don’t think so.
    So here’s the point… I’ve found over the years that by purchasing a high quality “whatever”, ONCE, I’ve actually saved money over the long run. Less maintenance, replacements, breakdowns….Amazing. This may not be truly badass enough for some, but over time, my ‘stache has done just fine thank you. And you can do so without looking like you’re from a page out of the past decade (century?)…or a Starsky and Hutch re-run. So now, by being educated consumers, paying a little more for fewer higher tech/quality items/services from responsible producers, we’ve found we can have it both ways….all the while saving over 50% of my income. Frugally cool.

    • Marcia March 9, 2012, 11:51 am

      Even better if you can buy the quality stuff used.

      • Frank July 4, 2013, 6:04 am

        yep – some of my favourite kitchen items are top-quality German or Swiss-made – that I picked up at garage sales for about 1/10th of the new price.

        ‘you get what you pay for’ is an advertisers fallback when they’ve got nothing else to promote a product – I’ve bought cheap leather shoes that lasted 25 years, and very expensive shoes that broke in less than a year – so durability is not necessarily associated with price.

        recently we spent time with a guy who grew up poor with coal-miner father – he took us to a luxury waterside restaurant with valet parking – I could see he enjoyed every bit of the luxury experience while I (who grew up relatively rich with doctor father) was freaking out about the expense. I took away that we may seek the opposite of what didn’t satisfy us about out childhood – he may have had love but no money, I felt I had money but little love.

        I say there’s two types of restaurant goers – those who enjoy the surroundings, if the food was bad they’ll still say they

    • Emmers March 12, 2012, 9:43 am

      “At the time of Men at Arms, Samuel Vimes earned thirty-eight dollars a month as a Captain of the Watch, plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots, the sort that would last years and years, cost fifty dollars. This was beyond his pocket and the most he could hope for was an affordable pair of boots costing ten dollars, which might with luck last a year or so before he would need to resort to makeshift cardboard insoles so as to prolong the moment of shelling out another ten dollars.

      Therefore over a period of ten years, he might have paid out a hundred dollars on boots, twice as much as the man who could afford fifty dollars up front ten years before. And he would still have wet feet.

      Without any special rancour, Vimes stretched this theory to explain why Sybil Ramkin lived twice as comfortably as he did by spending about half as much every month. ”

      — Sam Vimes “Boots” Theory of Economic Injustice, Terry Pratchett

      • Kurt March 14, 2012, 9:28 pm

        I must say, Mr. Vimes was brilliant in his revelation!

  • Blarde March 9, 2012, 7:15 am

    “If you adopt a frugal lifestyle, you may occasionally have to endure some misguided shit from clueless consumers around you. I took lots of it from the MSN readers back in January, although nobody has hassled me in real life so far.”

    Hey, I’m one of those MMM subscribers who found this blog through MSN! Within a couple days of finding it, I read every post from the start, and have kept current since then. Even my girlfriend now subscribes (guess that means she’s a “keeper”) after I talked about MMM a few times – and she loves it!

    So, as a reader from MSN, I thank you. It is like having my very own personal trainer in finance!

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 9, 2012, 8:32 am

      Thanks Blarde! I definitely didn’t mean to make fun of MSN readers in general – just the ones that took the time to post the excellent negative comments about a concept they knew nothing about :-)


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