Man Sells Motorbike, Experiences Bliss

It’s the weekend, and the MMM family is deep into our annual Summertime in Canada tradition. That makes it an ideal time to run a little side story from my Ottawa* friend Mr. Frugal Toque.

He and his lovely supportive wife are now approaching their own financial independence milestone, just 8 years after us. It shows that you don’t have to copy Mr. Money Mustache exactly, to have a successful financial life. But he’s a quick study, as you’ll see from the wisdom exuded in this article.

Stuff Holds You Down

by Mr. Frugal Toque


It seems almost cliche, doesn’t it?
Here comes another lecture about how you have too much stuff and how it’s holding you back from growing into the person you could be.
But I have to speak up because I’m still reading stuff like the following:

“MMM, it feels good to spend a little money on frivolous things.”
“I don’t outspend my income, so what if I have a ‘do whatever’ column in there?”
“Stop sucking all the fun out of my life. I deserve this.”

You know, I kind of get it.
I see that 64Gig USB thumb drive with a foot print of a penny and I buy it and I feel this endorphin rush. Woo! I own something shiny and new!

Then this voice whispers in my ear: Come, let the Consumerism flow through you. Let it permeate every vein in your body, then your journey to the Clown side will be complete.

Sure, it feels good – for a little while. Sure, you’re staying inside your budget. I’ll even assume that, like me, you’re a relatively decent person and that you, in some sense, deserve a 64Gig USB drive, a new pair of heels or whatever strikes your fancy.

But now I ask you to look in your garage, your attic or your basement; wherever it is that you store all the previous results of your Clown purchasing habits. Perhaps you have even achieved Super Clown Status and you’ve had to rent space in a self-storage facility of the type that is currently cropping up all over North America to appease the purchasing habits of the middle class. Think about that for a moment: the population has massive credit card debt but doesn’t even have room for all the stuff it’s buying.

What is that stuff doing for you? It’s rusting, falling apart, cracking, drying out or otherwise deteriorating. It’s an asset, but it’s declining in value instead of earning you more money and funding your retirement.

You need to store that stuff, don’t you? Is it taking up too much space, forcing you rent storage? Do you feel the clutter, closing you in, shortening your breath?

If you want to shorten your commute or take a better job somewhere else, you have to take all that with you don’t you? Do you feel the harness around your body, tying you to your purchases of days gone by, slowing you down, holding you back?

What if there’s a fire or a flood? Don’t you have to insure all that stuff? Do you sense the leak in your cash flow, lengthening your working years and setting back your retirement?

Stuff holds you down. You should be able to feel that now.

Until a few days ago, I owned a motorcycle. It was an absolutely beautiful, perfectly tuned piece of modern engineering. When I drove down the street, it sounded like an intensely powerful, gasoline-powered sewing machine. I’ve been told that it could do 240 kilometres per hour, though I’ve never been there myself. It was a gift, believe it or not, from Mrs. Toque – an engagement present, in fact, so take that “Tradition of Buying Jewelry.” Mrs. Toque very much enjoyed being the Official Passenger.

The bike, however, was also expensive. Insurance in Canada is unpleasantly high, over $100 per month for the months I could actually ride it. Because it sat around all winter, there was always something that had to be fixed come spring. On top of that, once family life set in and I began bicycle commuting, there were few chances to ride the motorcycle.

On days with terrible weather or days when family travel was necessary, the economical car is now the mode of transportation. On solo days, it’s the bicycle. Doing the math, I was riding the motorcycle once a week during the summer and it was costing me in excess of $40 per ride.

So, last year, the bike sat in the garage. I didn’t insure, didn’t license it, didn’t ride it. But I didn’t sell it, either.

Did I mention it was beautiful and, more importantly, a gift from the woman I love? I’m sure I did. Emotions can slow down rational decisions. In some sense, that’s what this blog is about: letting science, logic, statistics and financial rationality take precedence over preconceptions and emotions.

One week ago, we made the decision. I got the motorcycle running and posted an ad on the local Kijiji and Craiglist sites. Within 24 hours, I had about a dozen replies. (As an aside, why do people still offer trades when I say “no trades, please”? One guy offered a crossbow …) Of the people who wrote to me, it was the second one who showed up, tested the bike out and opted to buy it.

There was a funny feeling as I counted out the cash and signed the ownership transfer papers. It got funnier as I helped the guy and his friends push the motorbike up the ramp into their pickup truck.

Yes, I was sad. So was Mrs. Toque.

But I also felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. I didn’t have to worry any more about the thing in my garage getting older and perhaps breaking a seal or rusting away a bolt. Gone from my mind was the burden of gasoline going stale. Out of my circle of concern were the maintenance and insurance issues.

That’s why I’ve written this. I want to convey to you, the few people who are still piercing themselves in the rump on the pointy edge of the “Buying things makes me happy” picket fence, that all that stuff you’re buying is not a source of happiness.

In the end, that stuff is a burden you want to avoid. It’s going to make you less happy, less mobile and later in reaching retirement. It’s going to impinge on your freedom.

I invite you to examine your possessions. Do they really improve your life, or do they sit there, silently mocking your Clownish behaviour while holding you back from becoming the individual you could be?


MMM note: I too have many of my joyful memories of youth mixed up with motorcycles. A 1982 Yamaha DT125 dirt bike before I was of street-legal age (bought on a minimum wage income), then a classic 1983 Kawasaki GPZ550 throughout high school.. and finally a 2001 Honda VFR800 up until 2008. Although they were ideal adventure companions for a young guy growing up, the freedom and simplicity of having only leg-powered bikes right now suits me even better.

*Ottawa: So you live here and want to have a huge meetup with all the other local Mustachians, preferably in a friendly environment while watching the sunset with food and drink? Fine, bust out your calendar: Saturday, July 20th at 6:00PM, location to be announced, but probably somewhere central yet convenient to all modes of transport. More details to come in a post.

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  • Sonofczar July 6, 2013, 6:13 am

    Yes, I too live in Canada and miss my beloved motorcycle. But I too realized a long time ago that it wasn’t worth all the costs associated with a short driving season. Especially after you have a family, you notice that some things you own just aren’t worth it anymore.

    • Free Money Minute July 12, 2013, 5:30 am

      A family really changes your perspective. The first time you have a 20-30 pound munchkin grab your leg and tell you “I love you dada” is when you can easily give up that bike as you instantly know what is now important.

      • eric July 25, 2013, 7:32 pm

        I rode dirt bikes since around 4th or 5th grade, owning three of them until college. Rode the last one on the road (after adding turn signals) in my senior year of high school.

        So a few years ago I hear guys talking about bikes, and checked my license. I still had the “M” on my license. I figured I wouldn’t ride it much, so I hemmed and hawed for a few years. Finally pulled the trigger when I found one (2002 Suzuki SV650) in mint condition for $3500.

        Rode it 500-1000 miles both of the first two years, and less and less ever since. An idiotic minivan driver (hint hint) did a U-turn across a double yellow lined road and hit me. Luckily I did not fall. Huge hassle getting her to pay for damages.

        Insurance is only around $100-150 per year in NYS for old married guys, and I pay around $20 for inspection each year. Probably ought to sell it now that it’s out of my system.

        Life is dull w/o a few toys and hobbies (such as the blogger’s foray into 2.4ghz antennas). Spending fairly small amounts on a hobby greatly enriches one’s life, and you meet new people that way (which has helped my career too – more contacts).
        And if you buy a used motorcycle or boat and take care of them, you can often sell them 2 years later for around what you paid (as I did when I owned a HobieCat).

        • Rather be fishing August 8, 2015, 9:32 pm

          I agree Eric, that is my biggest problem with MMM, some things I rather work an extra 30 years to have. You can buy some happiness…

  • UK Money Motivator July 6, 2013, 6:13 am

    I am in the process of doing a full service on my Suzuki Bandit 650 S. Ready to sell it within the month.

    It used to be (relatively!) practical: It got me between two cities (halving my commute time to 30 mins each way). I have now moved so I am a mile away from work and ride a bicycle in all weathers.

    So the bike is being sold. But it took me a year to do it. Like Mr Toque’s, it has been sat in the garage, looking shiny, sleek and sexy. But depreciating constantly… so now I am selling it and adding the cash to my stash. If I ‘NEED’ a bike again, I’ll buy one. Until then, the money is appreciating in my investments, rather than depreciating in metal and plastic.

    Stories like Mr Toque’s reinforce the changes I am slowly making in my life. Stuff holds you down, physically and emotionally. I once moved countries, and only took the stuff that would fit into a car, and that was damn liberating!

  • Miser Mom July 6, 2013, 6:22 am

    Ah, the modern day version of E.M. Forster’s “My Wood”. This essay made a big impression on me back when I was in high school.


    • Mr. Frugal Toque July 6, 2013, 7:01 am

      Wow. I thought I was being over the top, but no one can go over the top with allusion and metaphor like an Englishman born over a century ago. I guess any property – even a piece of land – can hold you down if you get possessive enough about it.

      • greg July 7, 2013, 9:24 am

        “can hold you down if you get possessive enough about it”

        “What if there’s a fire or a flood? Don’t you have to insure all that stuff?”

        So, just out of curiosity, what are your views on deliberately allowing lifestyle inflation **after** reaching a solid FI target for providing for basics, knowing full-well that the rest is icing on the cake?

        What about having conveniences that one is perfectly OK doing away with if conditions allow? House wiped out? No problem!

        • Mr. Frugal Toque July 7, 2013, 7:07 pm

          There’s what I could do, and what I would want to do.
          What I’m finding, as I move to a more frugal existence, is that the journey is changing me. I’m discovering that I don’t want expensive things anymore.
          Well, the library has an infinite number of books. My time camping with my family is more important than an all inclusive FancyPants vacation. I don’t want the annoyance of owning expensive vehicles I don’t use.
          By the time I reach retirement, I expect that the desire to buy a $10k motorbike and zip around on it will be gone entirely. It’ll just be the four of us on bicycles, hauling our camping equipment and borrowed books in trailers behind us.

          • Giddings Plaza FI July 10, 2013, 12:34 pm

            You are right on, Mr. Toque! Even though I live a lifestyle my friends and peers consider frugal, I feel like I live in luxury. Not only do I have everything I need, but I also have the luxury of not having to care for / insure / clean / repair all the extra crap my friends have.

    • Joe Bleaux July 9, 2013, 12:29 am

      Of course, the *real* solution, as Forster mentions at the end, is to support your local Bolshevik / Communist party (tongue firmly planted in cheek).

      In my line of work (US Foreign Service) we move every few years, providing us each time a new chance to unload crap we haven’t used during the previous few years. Fortunately, yard sales occur frequently in the expat community.

      On the other hand, in every new country, there’s new prettier crap from a completely different culture to buy…

    • Giddings Plaza FI July 10, 2013, 12:37 pm

      Another great writer on getting rid of Stuff and getting to what matter in life in Thoreau. http://giddingsplaza.com/2013/05/30/thoreau-knew-a-lot-of-this-175-years-ago/

  • Kenneth July 6, 2013, 6:51 am

    “But I’ll miss all the Stuff!” – Bernadette Peters, upon learning that her boyfriend Steve Martin just lost eveything, in the movie The Jerk.

  • Chris Fuller July 6, 2013, 6:57 am

    You’re telling me that you passed through Hamilton, and didn’t let ME, a random fan you don’t know whom is his path to financial independence, buy you lunch? This is sacrilege…I might have to consider unsubscribing from your blog.

    I totally relate with holding onto things because they are from someone you love, I have a few sentimental objects. I have managed to get rid of most, but some are very hard to let go of (especially when it can sit as decoration on a shelf, since I am not backpacking around the world…yet).

    Though, a motorcycle is something I’ve always had a little fantasy about. I love riding my leg powered bicycle, and I figured a motorcycle would give me the enjoyment of a bicycle. After reading this article, my chances of ever getting one are slim, but I still think riding one would be an experience worth having. Maybe a friend will let me take one for a test drive.

    Also, in case you were worried…I’ll stay subscribed. The blog is awesome. :-)

  • rjack (Mr. Asset Allocation) July 6, 2013, 6:59 am

    My wife and I are starting to go through our entire house to look for stuff we can get rid of, so that we can downsize in a couple of years. OMG, we have accumulated a lot of stuff in our 29 years of marriage.

    Sometimes I feel a little sad when I get rid of stuff, but usually a week or month later I feel better without it. It’s just stuff and there are many more important things in life (friends, family, experiences, learning, interesting work) than keeping things we no longer need.

    • Fred Haddad July 6, 2013, 1:52 pm

      I do the “get rid of stuff” deal every November, in preparation of selling it during the Christmas season on ebay. I think it feels GOOD to watch the money rolling-in. It might only be $1000 but that’s better than letting stuff sit & deteriorate.

      One thing I don’t do is sell stuff I haven’t used. My addiction is books & videogames, which fill-up three bookshelves. I always make sure to read or play each item at least once before dumping it on ebay. If it’s especially good, like a collection of Isaac Asimov stories, then I keep it, but in almost every case I’ve found the object to be boring, so I get rid of it.

      • Maria September 9, 2014, 7:57 am

        Just be careful if it’s a motorcycle that you are getting “one last use in” before you sell it!!

        No one told me in my 2 years of motorcycle ownership that there is a superstition that once you decide to sell a bike – thou shall not ride!

        The day I had people coming to see it, I took my last hurrah – and subsequently my first real wreck.

        I texted the potential buyers to cancel as I convalesced (always helmeted & jacketed, but I still got good road rash and bruises). After a good look at the bike a couple weeks later, I was still able to sell it, but at about $300 less than I originally asked for.

        Of course after this, plenty of people told me about this superstition I had never known about before, so I’m just passing along the lesson!!

    • GamingYourFinances July 6, 2013, 7:09 pm

      We’re in the process of a purge as well. So far $1200 of stuff sold on Craigslist. That money is going toward a trip to Japan this year. So it’s very motivating to just rid of things we no longer need!!!

    • Pretired Nick July 8, 2013, 2:37 pm

      Weird thing is we’ve been doing this for a couple years now and we STILL keep finding more crap to get rid of. And we’re not crazy spenders. Where does it all come from??

  • Executioner July 6, 2013, 7:03 am

    This reminds me of the old adage: “The second-happiest day in a man’s life is when he buys his first boat. His happiest day is the day he sells it.”

    • Alan July 6, 2013, 6:22 pm

      I’ve heard is said that one can achieve the same effect as sailing and owning a yacht by standing under a cold shower in full in oilskins while ripping up twenty pound notes.

      I day I sold my boat my wallet gave a great sigh of relief.

      • Madison July 6, 2013, 7:33 pm

        Thats from a Patrick McManus short outdoor humor piece. Can’t remember which one exactly.

  • Simple Economist July 6, 2013, 7:05 am

    I too own a motor powered relic of a past life. My wife and I both have scooters that we used daily for several years. Since we had our first little one and I’ve primarily switched to biking (still commute via scoot when it’s raining hard) we now have an expensive little machine just resting in the driveway. We are planning to sell it and this article was just the nudge I needed to fix it up and list it.

  • AJDZee July 6, 2013, 8:18 am

    MMM, do you plan on stopping off in T.O on your way back and have a mustachian meet up……… or are you going to make me drive all the way to Ottawa? haha

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 6, 2013, 8:33 am

      We can meet in Hamilton in August if you like. Don’t drive here, as Mrs. Money Mustache has been practicing her face punches! :-)

      • AJDZee July 6, 2013, 9:50 am

        That sounds terrifying! Hamilton it is! haha Just throw out a time and place :)

      • kiwano July 6, 2013, 10:08 am

        If it’s on a weekend, there’s a good chance I’d sail over for that.

      • Chris Fuller July 7, 2013, 8:21 am

        I’m already there.

      • Kenoryn July 7, 2013, 9:23 am

        Hmm, Hamilton is slightly closer to me here in Peterborough than Ottawa… but Peterborough would make a good happy medium meeting place, right? ;)

      • J. Martin July 8, 2013, 12:58 pm

        Depending on the day, of course, I’d make the trip from TO to Hamilton. Maybe a carpool would be in order…

      • Gerard July 9, 2013, 9:59 am

        I’d be in for a Hamilton meet-up… maybe I could go birding on the same trip and be more mustachian about it. And/or I’m up for carpooling — if you’ve got the car, I’ve got the gas money.

  • Captainawesome July 6, 2013, 9:00 am

    Sold my bike, a suzuki sv650 before I left california in 09. It was fun, it gave me a thrill, especially riding around the winding roads in the bay area, and I could ride year round without a problem. I miss that feeling even today, despite knowing it won’t get me rich. But there’s something to be said about cleansing yourself of all that extra stuff. I’ve recently made it my goal to sell everything I haven’t used in over a year, and so far that’s 3/4 of my garage. I really can’t wait to get rid of the rest. I’m pretty sure I just found my old helmets, jackets and gloves

  • Goldeneer July 6, 2013, 9:18 am

    Looking forward to meeting you and other Mustachians in Ottawa!

    I have a motorcycle that I have taken off insurance this year but just can’t let it go yet. I know it won’t be realistic to ride it now that I have a family and don’t use it to commute. I’m in denial that I won’t have a realistic chance to take it often on long trips in the next 5 years. This will be one of the harder objects to get rid of as it will be an emotional decision for me.

  • Mike Long July 6, 2013, 10:53 am

    I’ll be the dissenter here I suppose…is my situation any different? Maybe, maybe not. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

    In my garage sits a 1990 Kawasaki KLR 650. I picked it up for $950. My insurance for it is $6.78 per month. (Yes, under 7 bucks a month for insurance). I live in an area where I can ride it year-round, so I do. It gets 53mpg and with the attached luggage, can hold a week’s worth of groceries.

    When something breaks (though these bikes have a reputation as being tanks – used by the military for over 2 decades – it is a 23 year old motorcycle after all), parts both new and used are cheap and plentiful on Ebay and elsewhere (this bike was made unchanged from 1987-2007, and with only minor changes from 2008-present).

    Working on the bike is something of a zen experience for me. After a difficult day of work, I can go into the garage and tend to it, which generally relaxes my mind and brings a smile to my face.

    It’s my hobby, my relaxation, and my muse. It was cheap to buy, maintain and operate. I have very few extraneous possessions (or hobbies for that matter) in my life, and this particular one doesn’t feel overly life-sucking to me.

    I’ve had a number of bikes in the past – new and used – and I do agree that the vast majority of the time, these things are in fact life, time and money suckers. But I do believe there is a way to minimize or eliminate most of that, leaving the best parts intact.

    I feel as though I’ve done so in this instance.

    • ael July 6, 2013, 12:43 pm

      My well phrased comment went into the ether, but I agree. Someday I may write these thoughts again after I figure out how to lock the touch pad against the thumb.

    • TallMike July 6, 2013, 1:03 pm

      I think your situation is quite different for the reasons you give: lower cost, year-round use, and pleasure in, not worry over, the maintenance. I think an analog to this would be considering MMM’s air compressor, which is a useful tool to him, versus the many compressors that sit in garages to work twice a year.

      The issue isn’t stuff in and of itself, but how often you use it and whether it brings you peace, joy, etc. in quantities comparable to the additional time you would have in applying the equivalent $ amount to your financial independence.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque July 6, 2013, 1:39 pm

      If my situation were like yours, I would definitely have kept the bike.
      My insurance company, however, has no $7/month option. The last time I checked, it was something like $800 per year. This is in spite of the fact that I had no collision, am the only driver in our house and I already pay over $1200 for the primary vehicle – a 5 year old Nissan Versa. Yeah, insurance companies have it rigged pretty badly around here.
      How could I pay over $100/month for insurance when I only had time to ride it once a week?
      I did enjoy some of the maintenance, mind you, tightening or changing a chain, oil changes, lamps, plugs and the like. Motorcycle repair is much more relaxing on account of the fact that you have a backup vehicle – usually.
      But, in the end, you can see the economic reasons for the differences in our decisions.

    • RobDiesel July 8, 2013, 10:54 am

      You’re not the only dissenter. I’ve had bikes since I was… 13. I think. In Los Angeles, I rode year-round and many times didn’t even own a car. That saved me a fortune when I was young and had to pay insane car insurance rates.

      Lane splitting in California will shrink commuting times by half, so there’s less gas spent idling. The time that IS spent idling is in a small engine vs the larger/heavier cars, so there are savings in that too.

      When I moved to Denver, I stuck with bikes and kept the Volvo in the garage. Even if I flogged my ZX9R it would get 45mpg, and the KLR got the same when flogged too. Insurance was about $100/year, so that wasn’t an issue.

      There are places unlike Denver and Los Angeles where year-round riding and insurance will make it cost prohibitive. That’s a shame.

      I still suspect that by not buying the latest and greatest, you can still use a motorcycle for very inexpensive commuting. A KLR 650 is dirt cheap. They are the same from basically their inception to 2008/2009 when they came out with a new body style.
      The Kawasaki EX500 is another one that will last a lifetime with mere fork seals and oil changes.

      With cars getting better and better mileage, I think bikes may become toys to a larger degree (save for lane splitting in California). If I get 45mpg on the bike, or get it in the Jetta TDi with A/C and music playing, guess which one I’ll take?! :D

      BUT, again, if all things are equal, there is a huge amount of joy and feeling of freedom to straddle the bike and feel the wind over your shoulders.

    • Art Guy July 9, 2013, 1:21 pm

      Yep. I had the same experience with 2 older bikes over the last 20 years. Had an old BMW r75/5 for about 15 years, and then sold it and bought a Kawi ZRX. Both were cheap to keep & insure, but still, didnt really ride that much. Let the ZRX go about a year ago after having 2 drivers on cell phones run red lites right as I was ready to cross, and that was enough. Enjoyed them but also happy not to have the extra stuff now. I recently sold 1 of my 4 bikes too, so I am getting leaner! (yeah, I know what do I need 4 bikes for!). So far so good on biking to work., going on 2 months. Less bugs in the the teeth compared to my motorbikes!

    • Julie Sunday July 31, 2013, 9:45 am

      I totally agree, living in Austin my Honda Metropolitan is absolutely essential to my cost-saving. I bought a used one for $750 when I moved here and sold it for $500 a few years later when I upgraded to a new Metro for about $2300 cash. I get 100 MPG and my commute to work is 8 minutes, about 2.5 miles. Yes, I could bike, but it’s hot as balls here most of the year and I don’t like being sweaty at work. I spend literally $3.50 on gas every 2 or 3 weeks, and I drive my car (honda fit) primarily on weekends and usually only when something/someone needs to be hauled that can’t go on the scooter. Insurance, with Geico, is $100/year. My boyfriend has a Triumph Bonneville and we share the car; between the two of us, having the motos makes the cost of the car (which after 4 years of ownership has less than 30k miles on it despite 2 xcountry road trips) low and increases the length of time we will own it. For Canada and the northern US, motos may not make sense but in the South they are brilliant.

    • T Schmidt December 12, 2013, 11:39 am

      Hmm, see I keep mine because it is just so much better on gas. I have a 2008 SV650S that gets 58MPG average for me, is fun to ride and I can ride year round here in Charlotte. I hadn’t actually been riding it much until I started reading this blog! I then realized that I may as well get it to pay for itself and rode it to my GFs house, a 56 mile round trip (she needs to move!). So now I am trying to ride it whenever it isn’t possible to bike and I just need to transport myself. So I see it as a win for me at this point.

    • Vik February 1, 2015, 6:43 pm

      I’ve got a KLR650 as well. I’ve been riding motos since I was 17yrs old…long before I got my auto license. I ride year round and love it. I’m in BC Canada so my insurance is high at $700/yr.

      Doesn’t matter. I’m never selling my motorcycle at least not unless I’m buying another one or I’m too old to ride.

      If selling a motorcycle gives you bliss – awesome. That’s not me. It would make me sad. I had a 5yr stretch with no moto. Sure I saved $$ in that period, but I wasn’t as happy.

      My estimate is that owning a moto means I’ll have to work 1 extra year until FI. I’m okay with that.

      OTOH I haven’t had cable for 2 decades now.

      You have to make your own choices to be happy as well as financially responsible.

      — Vik

    • Pat OBryan September 4, 2019, 7:53 pm

      Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a great read by Robert Pirsig

  • Frugal in DC July 6, 2013, 10:58 am

    I have a very vivid image seared in my brain. It’s the piles of stuff we gave away or tossed after we downsized from a too-big house several years ago. I remember standing in front of all that stuff and thinking Never Again. Not only are McMansions black holes for money and time, they encourage overconsumption because hey, after all you have plenty of storage room.

    Our current normal-sized house fortunately doesn’t have the storage space to accumulate stuff. As I type this, the kids are going through old clothes and school things in their rooms to see what no longer fits and what can be donated.

  • Leslie July 6, 2013, 11:34 am

    Best thing we ever did was downsize from a 3,000 square foot house to one half the size. I admit I wish the closets were bigger but when the house was built in 1958 few people owned 50-100 pairs of shoes. They had 2 pairs, one for work and one for the rest of their activities. As consumer goods became more available at lower costs, the houses also got much bigger. Being close enough to walk to work has also been a great boost to happiness. The weird thing is that some of our friends think we downsized because of financial problems but it was more about having less stuff. Stuff can own you more than you own it.

    • squeakywheel July 6, 2013, 4:00 pm

      Hi Leslie, funny that my story is so similar to yours! Downsized a couple of years ago from 3100 sq ft to 1300 sq ft (family of four). Friends think “those poor things, they must be having financial problems”. The truth is, we now own our home outright and are planning on retiring very soon. The amount of stuff we got rid of was truly mind-boggling…and I haven’t missed ANY of it. EVER. Even all of my beloved kitchen stuff was apparently duplicative, because I got rid of 50% of it, I still cook all the time, and I haven’t missed anything.

      • anonymouse July 6, 2013, 6:37 pm

        I find the mentality of your friends to be completely counterintuitive if you think about it… “Oh, they have expensive things, they must have so much money”. Well, no, if you think about it, when you buy things you spend money, and if you buy expensive things, it’s that much money that you have anymore, and buying lots of expensive stuff would be a sure path to not having any money left, or, thanks to the magic of consumer credit, actually having less than no money left. Meanwhile, not buying expensive stuff means you get to keep your money. It really sounds like people have their cause and effect the wrong way around, or else it’s not actually being rich that they are after, but something more nebulous like the respectability that comes with being rich, which they try to gain by pretending to be rich, which is easiest to do by buying expensive stuff.

    • SQZ July 7, 2013, 8:56 am

      EXACTLY!! Back then (1958….) people weren’t mass consuming “stuff” so they didn’t need the huge houses! My first home was a small bungalow – 3 bedrooms and 1 full bath. And yes, small closets. One-car garage (yes, folks often had just ONE family car!!) The older couple I bought it from raised their FAMILY in that home – 3 kids!!! And it was just fine for them. Which is probably why so many of the older folks were good savers – they didn’t buy so much “crap” – because they just didn’t have the room for it! I’m 100% for the smaller home – smaller utilities, insurance, less to furnish, paint, etc. It’s really a no-brainer when you think about it! I think a family can be just as happy in a smaller home as a McMansion. I’m more for the coziness than the vast empty-looking rooms, anyways.

      • Kenoryn July 7, 2013, 9:30 am

        My house is from 1890 and has NO closets – not a one. I’ve converted the one ‘bedroom’ which is too small to hold a modern bed into my bedroom closet/tool storage room, and am in the process of adding a coat closet to the front entryway. Obviously, no garage either. Certainly makes you reflect on the way our lifestyles have changed, and forces me to think pretty hard about accumulating any stuff of any kind.

      • brkr12002 July 7, 2013, 11:01 am

        I’m getting ready for my retirement. The problem I am having is finding a house SMALL enough for my needs. I currently live in a 670 sq ft condo and that is already too big. Mainly just interested in finally having a garage for my hobbies and a garden in the backyard, could care less about a big house. Single and don’t plan to get married and feel like I have everything I need. Want a house, because the condo HOA dues stink and it would drop my annual outlay on shelter by about $2000 per year. Man I wish they made 500 sq ft homes with a 2 car garage.

        • Walt July 8, 2013, 6:02 am

          Around here you can buy a 3 or 4 unit apartment building for not much more than a 4 bedroom house. Maybe buy one, ,live in the smallest unit, and build a garage?

        • Amanda July 9, 2013, 7:15 am

          I recently bought a house with a full apartment/mother-in-law suite attached. The main house is 975 sq ft, the apartment is 500 sq ft, and it has a 2 car garage. I live in the main house with a roommate and will probably rent out the apartment. Eventually, I’ll switch and live in the apartment while renting the main house. It was a rare find and I am thrilled to have it (moved in last week). While house hunting, I also kept an eye out for garages that could have an apartment built above.

      • Curtis@PayOffMyRentals July 8, 2013, 7:34 am

        We live in a cute 895 sq ft, 2 bedroom house with a one car garage built in 1942. We bought it after a remodel and paid it off in 19 months. We love it! Easy to clean, cheap to maintain, furnish and keep heated and cooled. This is by choice as we own 6 other houses all but two of them larger.

        Simple is liberating.

    • Ms. Must-stash July 8, 2013, 7:27 am

      Love this! We plan to skip the downsizing step by just staying in our first house (townhouse of ~1800 sq. ft including the basement, which we have turned into an awesome playroom). I love how we need to be much more disciplined with getting rid of stuff / not acquiring it in the first place because of our smaller house – and we have also gotten really good at creating efficient storage in a small space. We have some friends who moved into an enormous McMansion about 5 years ago and still have a room full of boxes in the basement that they’ve never even unpacked!

  • Done by Forty July 6, 2013, 11:34 am

    I completely agree that we need to get rid of a lot of stuff. We’re selling our 2nd car (a Jeep) this month but still have two 125cc Yamaha scooters. We were planning on keeping both as they have a low cost of ownership, but still, they do cost money…

    Maybe it’s time to reconsider.

  • Debt Blag July 6, 2013, 11:51 am

    This is so true. I have never understood why so many people treat a budget as a suggested amount — which is to say that if they find themselves under it, they feel compelled to spend. I’ve said before that I treat it like a hard ceiling with a ceiling fan on it; it’s most important to stay under it, of course, but the farther away I am from it, the better

    • Mr. Frugal Toque July 6, 2013, 1:40 pm

      The imagery works a lot better if the blades of the ceiling fan are serrated.
      Just saying.
      Whirrrrrrrr – zzzzzfffffff.
      “That haircut was a warning, sir.”

  • Ree Klein July 6, 2013, 12:16 pm

    This hits home. My partner is what I lovingly refer to as an otter…otters love to play and toys make playing more fun. Who doesn’t love to play? We have pretty different ideas when it comes to the purpose of money but over the years we’ve grown closer.

    One way he has moved closer to my way of thinking is that he’s begun to sell a large workshop full of toys: multiple motorcycles, multiple boats, toy hauler, dune buggy, jet skiis…the list goes on.

    While he has struggled with letting them go…he’s admitted the relief he feels for exactly the same reasons you mention. The burden of insuring, registering, storing and maintaining all of those toys.

    We’ll be building a small shop in our back yard to house the tools. Once that happens, he can kiss goodbye the $1,000/month he spends to keep the shop. How’s that for change!

  • Snow White July 6, 2013, 12:29 pm

    To follow what Leslie and Frugal in DC said; we also sold our big house and are happily living in a home that is less than half the size of the big house. We used to have a cleaning service and now we can easily keep our home clean ourselves. We looked around one day and figured out that we actually only used a fraction of our home and we made the decision to downsize and have not regretted it for a second. The large houses are a burden in terms of buying, insuring, furnishing, cleaning and of course heating and cooling. I can honestly say that I have rarely (if ever) regretted getting rid of something but I often regret purchases.

  • TallMike July 6, 2013, 1:04 pm

    Always a fan of FT’s comments and glad to see another full post from him. Please keep bringing him back.

  • GamingYourFinances July 6, 2013, 1:50 pm

    Oh man! Can I relate to this post!!! I also had a 2001 Honda VFR. It was an amazing touring bike. My wife and I rode it everywhere, even out to Boston and back for over a week.

    But you’re right Mr. Frugal Toque, it ends up being a money pit. A financial ball and chain, dragging you down. It was probably $200/trip with insurance, gas, depreciation etc

    I sold it last year and put this money against the mortgage.

    It was a relief when all said and done.

    These things we own sometimes end up owning us, it’s crazy, but it’s a relief when they’re gone.

  • Tutone July 6, 2013, 2:29 pm

    Many years ago my parents gave me a pickup truck. It was an old beater Mazda with a camper shell. Having a third car for two drivers was nice. If either car ever broke down we always had a spare. I could go to Home Depot or the furniture store or wherever and not worry about how I would get my purchase home. And the truck was free! Life was good…

    But then I started doing the math. Insurance was about $500 / year. Occasional maintenance was probably another $1000 / year. I actually drove the truck probably 6 times a year, which worked out to be about $250 a trip! After owning the truck for about 5 years I finally came to my senses and sold it. I could rent a pickup truck or pay for delivery for the rare occasions I actually needed a truck, and keep the $1500 / year in my pocket!

    Since that epiphany about 7 years ago I’ve actually rented a truck twice. Deciding to sell that truck has put me over $10,000 closer to retirement — ((7 * 1500) – (2*100)) for mathematically inclined.

    I’m looking for my next asset sale with a comparable ROI. Any ideas???

    • Mr. Frugal Toque July 6, 2013, 2:59 pm

      I’ve had that pickup truck argument many times.
      Let’s weigh your brand new, $45 000 pickup truck, its insurance, and its gas cost as your commuter vehicle.
      On the other side of the scales, let’s put my $12 000 Nissan Versa, its much lower insurance and gas.
      How many *hundreds* of delivery charges from Home Depot would I have to be hit with before those scales balanced out?
      And remember, when they deliver, you sit at home and wait and a forklift puts the skid directly into your garage while you’re busy with another part of the job.

      • Jamesqf July 6, 2013, 4:40 pm

        OK, but in a different set of scales put my $1700* 1988 Toyota. Gas is 25+ mpg, registration & insurance (as 2nd vehicle) come to about $200/yr, and the hauling is not just stuff from home depot, but firewood from the mountains, hay & feed to the friends’ ranch, me & critters to places where you really do need a high-clearance 4WD.

        You see the problem here? Both you and the owner of that new $45K pickup are paying way too much for your vehicles, ’cause my truck and primary vehicle (’00 Honda Insight – 70+ mpg) together cost less to buy and run than your low-end Nissan.

        *After subtracting what I got for the previous pickup which I couldn’t get to pass the local smog check.

      • Marcia July 7, 2013, 7:40 am

        My brother just told me this as we were visiting. Indeed a truck to haul stuff sometimes. And I DON’T BORROW PEOPLE’S THINGS.

      • Ms. Must-stash July 8, 2013, 7:39 am

        I have similar discussions with people who tell me that now that we have a child and drive to the beach once a year, we “need” an SUV. I remind them that it would be quite easy and enormously cheaper to rent an SUV for a week if we really needed the extra space for this one trip. (Or of course we could always put a storage pod on top of the Accord, or a small trailer, etc.) They are invariably surprised because people really aren’t trained to think this way!

  • NearlyFI July 6, 2013, 11:16 pm

    This is pretty exciting to hear about so many on this path of liberation. I have just recently come to this blog and have come to the realization that while I save 41% (gyad I love numbers) of my after tax income, I could do SO much better. I find I am reluctant to part with things as the chatter in my head tells me I might need it later, or it is a hassle connecting with buyers, or I’m feeling sentimental about it, or I took some effort to acquire it! Sooo many excuses.

    My inspiration at the moment is coming from my 14-year-old daughter who asked to switch her bedroom with another room in the house and spent the weekend massively and ruthlessly throwing out (or donating) instead of moving it to the new room! With her work and my own, we have enough for a great yard sale (cha-ching!) and will donate what doesn’t sell (double cha-ching!).

  • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) July 7, 2013, 4:37 am

    So true. My husband and I sold almost everything we owned and moved to the Caribbean. It’s been a completely life changing experience!

  • TravelBug July 7, 2013, 4:49 am

    Great post, and really valid for most of the population. My situation is a bit different when it comes to motorcycles, although I agree in principal with every word stated in the post.

    I sold my car and decided to be a two-wheel commuter all year long, in the crappy Seattle drizzle. When I’m not on my bicycle, I use the motorcycle, a KLR650 that I’m now selling for $200 more than what I bought it for. I get 48mpg on that bike, but the bike I’m looking at getting now gets 75mpg and is easier to maintain. I also owned a Honda Shadow VT750 that saved me well over $1,000 in gas in ONE summer alone, as my boyfriend lived 250 miles away at the time and I was commuting way too much (and no bus to his tiny town). I sold that bike for only $200 less than what I purchased it for to the owner of my jiu jitsu gym, but also got free gym access/classes for 6 months from the guy (I had been paying $65/month for that before I became a Mustachian). I have handy friends who help with any maintenance and repairs, or I do it myself when I can.

    In 2 years and over 10,000 miles of riding through 10 countries, I’ve spent only $450 in parts and labor. Insurance is extremely cheap, between $7-$13/month. I’ve saved so much money by replacing my car with a motorcycle and never want to own a car again!

    Of course, I don’t have kids, which makes it a bit easier :D

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 7, 2013, 7:20 am

      Wow, that is a very badass story, Ms. Travel.

      It is true – with used motorcycles being so cheap to buy and experiencing negligible depreciation and fuel costs, these things can make great commuting tools. Scooters make you win for similar reasons: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/08/19/guest-posting-get-rich-with-scooters/

      I guess it’s all in the details: I did the least Mustachian version of motorcycling for my final one: a $10,000 sportbike that I bought brand-new with cash I should have been investing instead, when I didn’t really need ANY motorcycle because I lived less than 9 miles from work and already had bikes and a car.

      The back tires for that thing cost $150 each and only last about 6,000 miles! And due to its performance orientation, it only got 45MPG, barely more than my 5-passenger Scion does now. Sure, it was fun to drive in the canyons, but if I’m so dull that I can’t figure out any other way to have fun besides driving a machine like that, I need to punch myself in the face. Which I did.

      • Jamesqf July 7, 2013, 11:05 am

        You hit on one of the reasons I sold my last motorcycle: after I bought the Insight, there was no point to riding a bike to save on gas, ’cause the it gets better mpg than any bike I’d ever owned.

        Plus I can take the dogs with me :-)

      • Mike Long July 8, 2013, 11:31 am

        Sounds like Travel Bug may be referencing Honda’s new line of 8 motorcycles (and 1 scooter) – all of which get better than 63mpg, with the CBR250R getting upwards of 75mpg in real world use – and it will run at freeway speeds too.

        The CBR250R came out in 2011, and fine used examples can already be found for $3,000 or less. At 75mpg, Honda’s legendary reliability, and very low maintenance (22hp motors don’t chew through tires like true sportbikes do), the operating cost per mile is off the chart low.


        Depending on where you live, these bikes could possibly tip the equation back in favor of motorcycles again, now that cars like the Insight, Prius and VW TDI’s have mostly caught up to sportbike and cruiser gas mileage.

        • TravelBug July 9, 2013, 5:19 am

          Close, Mike! I was thinking the CRF230L or the 250L. I’ve finally learned big bikes are a waste :D

        • Jamesqf July 9, 2013, 11:30 am

          Wouldn’t say those bikes have quite caught up yet, as I average over 70 mpg in the Insight (real-world driving, over 110K miles now). And still don’t let me take the dogs along.

          • Aleks July 9, 2013, 11:09 pm

            My Honda Metropolitan is rated at 117 MPG. In the time I’ve owned it, I’ve driven about 150 miles, and spent about $5 on gas.

    • Janson July 7, 2013, 4:11 pm

      Like Travelbug, I dropped the car about 11 years ago and have used a motorcycle since. With three 40 liter bags on my Honda 599 I can carry three cases of wine and the cheese to go with it, plus my girlfriend! While I commute by bicycle and generally prefer cycling when possible, all the damn highways get in the way of self-powering myself everywhere. Besides, it’s easier to carry 2×4’s on a motorcycle than on a bicycle.

      I got my the most recent motorcycle seven years ago from a guy who bought it as a matching gift for his wife (he got himself a CB900F which looks identical but, in my experience, has terrible weight distribution). After dropping the motorcycle at stop lights (no drag marks) on both sides in under 500 miles she refused to ride again. And because most motorcyclists seems to care more about cosmetics than function, he had to sell it to me for 40% less than new, though it was only a few months old. It’s been a treasure, and I’m sure it will get me retired sooner than my other alternatives – and it’s been a blast to have too.

  • reader from the rockies July 7, 2013, 7:51 am

    I once joined a country club at someone’s recommendation. Terrible decision as you can imagine. It is amazing how much each game of golf costs. What a waste. I could not stomach the monthly bills. I finally decided to simply get out. No longer getting those monthly bills was such a relief. That was an expensive lesson but at least i learned it. I guess most of us have some costly lessons to learn somewhere along the way.

    The interesting part was my decision to join when I felt a little voice telling me this was a bad choice. Listening to your intuition is usually a good idea.

  • Ralph Corderoy July 7, 2013, 8:20 am

    Paul Graham’s post on “stuff” is worth a read as back-up to this. ”I have too much stuff. Most people in America do. In fact, the poorer people are, the more stuff they seem to have. Hardly anyone is so poor that they can’t afford a front yard full of old cars…” — http://www.paulgraham.com/stuff.html

  • Yabusame July 7, 2013, 2:07 pm

    I’ve been trying to sell my motorbike for 2 months now. Not one caller as yet, and its the lowest priced of its type and year on ebay. Will lower the price £200 and relist it again next week. Only time can tell when I hit the sweet spot where I get a good price and the new owner gets a good deal.

    • CincyCat July 8, 2013, 12:56 pm

      You might try pricing it with a “99” at the end of the number. For example, instead of $1000, price it at $999. Psychologically, it looks like a lower number to a buyer, and it is more likely to show up in searches if someone puts a filter such as “<$1000" in their search criteria.

    • Krishanu August 26, 2013, 7:38 am

      I sold my motorcycle last week, after having it out on Craigslist for over 2 months. I was pretty firm on the price and in no hurry to sell. I had numerous inquiries, but only 4 potentially serious buyers. Three of them wanted me to lowball so much, it took an effort on my part not to lose cool! In the end, the guy who bought it didn’t even try to negotiate anything on the list price. It was one of the smoothest transaction I’ve ever had!

      CincyCat’s suggestion is a valid one; you might have luck trying that out.

      Of course, every market is different. My suggestion would be to check out KBB and Nada prices, and if your vehicle is in prime condition, have the price set at the top of the range. Explain in your ad why you *know* that your motorcycle is worth that much.

  • AlexK July 8, 2013, 12:14 am

    I just bought a 2002 Ford F250 4×4 longbed 7.3l diesel pickup, upgrading from a Toyota Tacoma. I use my truck to buy and sell things on craigslist for profit and it has paid for itself 20x over. The new truck gets the same highway mpg as the Tacoma and is capable of hauling 3x more.

    Last week I bought a 25′ travel trailer for $5500 which my wife and I will use at Burning Man and then sell for at least $7000. We did it last year too, made $500 on our Casita trailer after a month of fun in it. I get the whole idea of less possessions and a simpler life but what if buying useless stuff adds to the stache? There has to be a special MMM waiver for that kind of Clown buying, right? Or am I just making excuses?

    • Mr. Frugal Toque July 8, 2013, 8:59 am

      That doesn’t sound like Clown buying.
      Those are clearly Profitable Ventures.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 8, 2013, 8:51 pm

      Definitely valid, Alex! Being in the “carry trade” of excessive stuff is different than being a consumer of it. Just as owning a highly profitable self-storage facility to generate income is wise, while being a customer of such a facility is tragic.

      As for the truck – I’m sure you got it cheap, but wouldn’t it be nice if they made the same truck with a 2.5L diesel (and manual transmission) instead of a 7.3L? Curse the sparsity of good work trucks in this country!

  • Patrick July 8, 2013, 5:02 am

    Add me to the list of the motorbike selling brigade. I used it to go visit my son a couple of times a week, 10 miles away but with crazy hills. A regular bike wasn’t an option, I’d get there after his bed-time, so I built myself an electric bike.

    It’s overpowered so I can still get my speed thrills, and is cheaper to run than a pedal bike as electricity costs less than food per mile. Plus I service and maintain it myself :)

  • Mr. 1500 July 8, 2013, 6:34 am

    “It was a gift, believe it or not, from Mrs. Toque – an engagement present, in fact, so take that “Tradition of Buying Jewelry.” Mrs. Toque very much enjoyed being the Official Passenger.”

    All frugality stuff aside, Mr. Frugal Toque may just have found the best woman on earth.

    I get it though. I actually sold my Yamaha YZF 600R a couple years ago. I loved riding that thing, but the cost per mile was outrageous when I considered that I only rode it about 1000 miles per year. I just couldn’t justify the expense.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque July 9, 2013, 11:54 am

      Indeed, Mrs. Toque is quite awesome.
      For her, it was even worse however. While I could take the motorcycle for very, very occasional jaunts or commutes, the only way she could get a ride on it is if we hired a babysitter while we went out for the night.

  • mattbkk July 8, 2013, 8:15 am

    Dude, that bike is way too purple. I think you’re better off without it.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque July 8, 2013, 12:48 pm

      Oddly enough, even though I have issues with the colour purple, the purpleness of the vehicle never bothered me. I even have a matching leather jacket with similar colour proportions. Mrs. Toque wears a helmet to go with it.

  • Insourcelife July 8, 2013, 8:46 am

    A couple of comments here echo my own view on motorcycles: if you love them AND if you are frugal there is a way to reconcile both. OF COURSE, if you have a newer model sport bike they will depreciate, require expensive maintenance including $300 tires every 4-6K miles and carry high insurance premiums. Overall, they will provide the highest level of performance you can buy. But if you get an older model you can have 80% of the performance at 10-20% of the cost. In real life street riding you probably won’t even miss the performance advantages at all. I think MMM would refer to this as living on the trailing edge of luxury.

    I am not into sport bikes, but I do love standard bikes and have a 1985 Honda Nighthawk 650 which I bought with 8K miles for $1,200. After riding it for 4 years I can sell it for more than that simply because I spent a bit of time cleaning it up and tuning it to run properly, all of it DIY of course. It qualifies for antique plates so there are no yearly registration fees or taxes. Insurance is about $90 a year. It gets 50+ mpg and requires very little maintenance – no valve adjustments, no chain lubing since it’s shaft drive, and it has a bulletproof air cooled engine. It’s a pleasure to work on since everything is easily accessible… and you will never EVER see a Check Engine Light since there isn’t one! I just replaced the tires after 14K miles and the new ones were $120 for the set. Parts are cheap and readily available on eBay and the dealer still carries most of the stuff that you would ever need if no other place has them. After riding different modern bikes I can honestly say that I prefer the ride of my antique bike. And if I need to take my mind off things, I don’t even have to ride it – I can grab a cold on, go to the garage and find something to clean or “fix” on the bike.

    It is also nice to have reliable backup transportation in case my car needs some maintenance done, which I can now do myself without the fear of being stranded if a DIY goes wrong or I discover that some part is needed while half of the car is disassembled. Bike gives me the ability to order that part online vs. running out to the dealer and paying 3-5 times as much. This has happened, by the way, and the money saved is substantial.

    As a side note, the bike, the riding gear, the accessories were all “free”. After getting the Nighthawk, I got into buying other bikes, fixing/cleaning them and then re-selling for a bit of profit. Doing this just once a year more than covers all the costs of owning an older motorcycle and is an entertaining hobby all in itself.

  • Joe July 8, 2013, 10:13 am

    We live in a small condo with no garage storage so that forces us to live pretty lean. Our place is full. We can’t buy anymore knick knacks.
    I usually just sell anything that I haven’t use in a year or so. I sold my snowboards, bikes, guitars, and all kind of stuff over the years.
    I still have my snowboard boots though. I guess I’m just deluding myself taht I’ll hit the slope again. I should sell that too…

  • Chris Hildebrand July 8, 2013, 10:58 am

    I had the very same experience when selling my motorcycle last fall, after us having been together for 2 years. I think vehicles are a particularly strong encumbrance to personal freedom, because of the constant attention they require. I spent a lot of time trying to find storage, cheap parts, better gear, etc, etc. Life is easier without.

  • Sue July 8, 2013, 11:01 am

    I love this stuff! I am a total geek when it comes to budgets and spreadsheets and reading all of this has so motivated me to get back on track. I love my job, but would love even more working because I want to and not because I have to.

  • Trevor July 8, 2013, 11:51 am

    Very much enjoyed MFT’s article and can relate to the emotional attachment to an item. Before you rid of, take a photo (which MFT had).
    In the end, it’s only stuff and getting rid of it actually makes you more free.
    Glad to see there will be MMM gathering in Ottawa.
    Look forward in seeing you and everyone else there.
    Thank you for all the inspiration.

  • Mosaleah July 8, 2013, 6:08 pm

    After allowing my car to sit on the street for weeks at a stretch without driving it while I walked and biked everywhere for the past year, whilst piling up street-sweeping parking tickets, paying insurance, inspection and registration fees…I finally broke down and sold the car. After a good scrubbing, waxing and paint touch-up, I listed it on Friday afternoon and cashed the buyer’s check three days later. Sweet release!

  • David July 9, 2013, 11:06 am

    This is a tough one for me when it comes to vehicles. I have three bicycles that I ride for daily transportation, shopping, fun, etc. My mountain bike is torn down for an overhaul and light restoration, and I’ve got others that are in pieces or do occasional loaner duty, etc. Some of these I’m going to get rid of. I love riding bicycles, and working on them, too.

    It’s the cars that I have a little bit of ambivalence about. Cars have been my biggest passion since about the time I learned to talk. Despite using bicycles as primary transportation (I live in Chicago), I still have three cars. Car #1 is a 2004 Accord, my late grandfather’s car that I bought for my budget rather than its market value, so I’m still about $5000 ahead of current value despite putting 20k miles on it. This is the Beige, reliable car that gets used for road trips and other things that I can’t do on a bicycle. Car #2 is an early-’90s Nissan sport sedan that was a high-school graduation present from my grandparents, my first car, my only new car, and my main car for ~12 years. It is currently on stands in the garage getting new rod bearings and a variety of other things. I have a lot of emotional attachment to this car, and miss driving it, as it’s tons of fun. Hasn’t been registered in 5 years, so only cost is storage. Car #3 is a Fiat convertible that my late dad and I got together as a project car when I was 14, and which was eventually formally given to me many years ago. It is registered (antique vehicle tags, cheap) and insured, and driven April – October, but the need for a restoration has caught up to it. I have a huge emotional attachment to this car, even though a nicer Spider (or a cheap Miata) would be a car I could spend more time driving and less time working on.

    I love everything about cars (except living a life that requires relying on them, which I am so glad to be rid of!), so these constitute a hobby – my education was centered on them, my career has been centered on them, I like driving them, and I like working on them. But the older I get, the more I seem to like using them more and working on them less. And Cars #2 and #3 have their own garage, which costs me extra beyond rent every month. I’ve always justified it because I’ve always done my own maintenance on repair on my cars, and I need a decent place to work on them. And not keeping cars on the street is huge for peace of mind. But I am always aware of the costs. Cars #2 and #3 aren’t worth a lot, but cost me nothing to buy since they were gifts. I think of getting rid of the Fiat and putting the Nissan in the garage at home, saving me the cost of the other garage. But I can’t bring myself to actually get rid of it.

  • Brooklyn Money July 9, 2013, 12:19 pm

    I don’t have a lot of stuff. I spend my money on experiences — eating dinner out with my friends and traveling and pursuing my favorite activities and sports. I find it’s more difficult to cut down on those things than if I were say loading up on shoes/clothes.

  • Victor July 9, 2013, 12:35 pm

    I told the wife: please give me no gifts, gimme money so i can buy stocks and bonds.

    while i’m also a prepper, i think i don’t need every knife or firearm in the world. Much to the contrary. I try to keep things under control, the less I have to take,less clutter, the less money spent, the happier i get…

    you inspire me to keep things under control on my journey to independence. I keep 50% of my income, try to be self reliant, frugal and thrifty et al.

    keep going the good work.

  • AJ July 10, 2013, 11:46 am

    Thank you for this post. My wife and I just took a job in a new city and we’re deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. I have a beautiful Fender Bass that I’ve been hanging on to and playing a couple of times a year, but this article is helping me find the resolve to sell it in order to buy some weight lifting equipment that I will use way more often.

    The hard part for me is that getting rid of the instrument forces me to acknowledge that my life has changed. My friends and I no longer rock out in the garage and small clubs as we once did, because we have wives and careers and children. Your article is helpful to me because sentimentality is SO powerful and often leads to poor financial decisions (or at least, underutilizing assets for greater financial gain). I needed a good dose of rational reasoning.

  • MJ July 10, 2013, 2:45 pm

    I agree so many people are spending money without even thinking. However, at what point do you guys enjoy your money? My husband does have a point when he says, scrounge now so I can be dead and enjoy it then?

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 10, 2013, 4:34 pm

      You enjoy your money every time you walk into the grocery store and put amazing nutritious stuff into the cart, knowing you can pay for it with your own, real, non-indebted earnings. And in this example, every time you walk into the $170,000 house that keeps you warm and dry every night, which you’ll soon own without any debt.

      Just to make things more extreme, I threw in a fairly new 5-passenger car, good red wine whenever you want it, and even vacations from this vacation of a lifestyle. And, of course, the luxury goes up from there, as I mentioned in the post you can spend even more as your wealth continues to accumulate.

      How much more luxury do you need to be happy?

      As for “scrounge now so I can be dead”… is he saying that 5-15 years is too long to wait to enjoy a whole lifetime of freedom from working for a living?

    • Mr. Frugal Toque July 11, 2013, 7:45 am

      Just to add to what MMM has already said, one of the things I meant to do while writing this article is to change the associations we have between money and happiness.
      For most people the association is something like this:
      Money -> Consumer Goods -> Happiness.
      The problem is that the second step, converting Consumer Goods to Happiness, doesn’t actually work or – even if it does work – is very temporary. The motorcycle was an example of a Consumer Good that was making me unhappy instead of happy.
      Instead, I offer this association in its place.
      Money -> Retirement Savings -> Freedom -> Happiness
      I know that association works. People with freedom to do whatever they want really are happier than people who *must* work at full time jobs because they are unable to make ends meet in unnecessarily Consumer-based lifestyles.

  • Eric Shun July 10, 2013, 4:57 pm

    Wow! That Yamaha DT125 brings back memories! I bought the same bike new in 1977 for $750 at thirteen years of age. I borrowed the money from my father and paid him back $10 per week from my paper route, lawn mowing, and odd job earnings. I rode that bike all over the dirt trails of northeastern MA and southeastern NH. All the kinds in my neighborhood had dirt bikes. I put it on the road when I got my motorcycle license at age 16 and rode it back and forth to high school junior year. A year later, I traded it to another kid for $350 and a brand new Schwinn ten-speed. Believe it or not, more than thirty years later, I’m still peddling the ten-speed!

  • Eric Shun July 10, 2013, 5:34 pm

    My 75-year old father just sold is 2002 Harley Night Train. Purchased new in ’02 for $17,500; sold the other day for $7500, with just 2500 miles on the odometer. That bike cost him $4 per mile to ride!!!

    • Mr. Frugal Toque July 11, 2013, 7:49 am

      When you do that calculation, however, you have to count more than the depreciation.
      He must have put gas in the bike, possibly winterized it, replaced belts, chains, lights, plugs and wires. Some of that work was probably done by a mechanic. It also had to be insured.
      Ultimately, it was adding up all of those numbers that led me to sell my bike.

    • Insourcelife July 12, 2013, 8:29 am

      @Eric. Yes, $4 per mile is a lot but given your father’s age I would be interested to find out if he actually regrets it? Did it make him happy to be on that bike for those 2,500 miles, to have it in the garage for 13 years? Is your father happy with his finances with a funded worry-free retirement? There is certainly a possibility that paying $4 per mile to have a bike of your dreams is perfectly fine in some situations.

  • lemmiwinks July 10, 2013, 5:56 pm

    MMM is down on motorcycles, but that’s because he’s only owned them as toys. Our (shared between my wife and I) motorcycle is a replacement 2nd car and ideally causes the car to be left in the garage. It’s cheap to own, run and maintain (done myself) and the fact that it’s more fun to ride than drive doesn’t cost a cent.

    Having said that, I normally ride a bicycle. If it’s raining the motorcycle is my fallback.

    • RobDiesel July 12, 2013, 6:06 am

      That’s how I’ve always used them. I’ve also had the luck of living in Los Angeles and DEnver, where they can be ridden year-round so for me it was a matter of getting 50mpg in a $1000 vehicle, vs getting 25mpg in a 4000 vehicle. :D

      • lemmiwinks July 14, 2013, 8:03 pm

        Oh yeah, forgot that – living in Australia we take it for granted that you will be riding year round. Also our current bike is 225cc and costs about $200 to register and insure (cheap for Australia).

  • Willis Montgomery III July 12, 2013, 8:42 am

    Just sold my motorbike this morning after riding it about 450 miles a year for 8 years. Not only did it feel good clearing out of the shed, but the cash is now earning 7%. Furthermore, I had been considering a bigger shed because all our bicycles didn’t quite fit with the motorbike in there. No need for a bigger shed now.
    Motorbikes are pretty cool, but I discovered over the last 8 years that if I’m on two wheels, it’s the bicycle as it saves me from having to go to the gym and paying for the membership (added some free weights and yoga at home too). Life is pretty busy, so I’ve had to take advantage of every bicycle transportation mile I can to get enough regular exercise. The miles I commute on the bike are too precious to give up. Disclosure: I am long on bicycle commuting.

  • Frank Hinde July 17, 2013, 10:58 am

    Really thinking about retiring in the next 1 to 3 years. We have everything paid off and I think enough money.

    My one weakness is an airplane I built back in 2006. Its worth about $90k and its fixed costs (insurance and hangar rent) is $3500 annually. I have done everything you can in flying and I think its time to go.

    I currently have a deposit check being sent to me right now so hopefully it will be gone in the next month.. prior to having to spend anymore cash.

    Once this is sold then all we have are two old but economical cars.. Ahh the freedom..:)

    • frank August 5, 2013, 12:30 pm

      Well the first buyer for airplane pulled out but I have a second buyer and the airplane flys away this coming Sunday assuming the fires in Southern Oregon allow visual flying down to its new home.

      I have decided to retire at the end of April 2014.. This is step #1..:)

  • stagleton July 19, 2013, 5:10 am

    I’m lucky I learned an important motorcycle lesson at an early age. At 18 I bought a GSXR 750 on ebay from a guy in Colorado with all the money I had saved working summers. The bike was a race bike and needed to be transitioned back to street use which took about a third the money I would earn that summer. For better or for worse I crashed the bike (almost losing a leg) just as I started engineering school in the Fall. I was hurt and had to hobble to classes on my crutches (about 2 miles) but I got most of my money back through insurance. Since then I became aware of a ratio between fun:cost and trying to get the highest ratio. I bought a motorcycle on craigslist for $450 that wasn’t running and rebuilt the engine. Free education (except parts and a manual), 60 mpg once finished, and it was still super fun to ride….but now it’s sitting around at my parents house. I need to sell it too like Mr. Toque, but I also have emotional attachment to it now….

  • Eric SHun July 19, 2013, 4:42 pm

    Oh well, I just bought my first street bike today. I had been considering a scooter, but couldn’t find any good used ones, and new ones were as costly a a decent used motorcycle. I researched used bikes and prices, and settled on a 2009 Kawasaki Ninja 500, w/ just 3000 miles. NADA (for what it’s worth) prices the bike at $3100 – $4000. I got it for $1700! And it’s mint! I found a desperate seller who talked too much. Insurance for one year is $70. I only plan to do a little bit of weekend beachside cruising and commute the 2-mile round trip to work (4 miles if I go home for lunch!). And I’ll ride it year round in sunny Florida. It is thrilling to ride!

  • Mark July 28, 2013, 11:03 am

    “The things you own end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden


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