Money and Confidence are Interchangeable

So, I’m assuming you are here reading this because you want to get yourself some more money.

And since this is Mr. Money Mustache and not a standard financial publication, you’re willing to think about the bigger picture:

Not necessarily “Maximum money at all costs so I can have a nice, spendy retirement!”

More like “A good, fun amount of money so I can walk outta this cubicle with confidence and never look back.”

Making that mental leap is a huge one. It takes you from a life of permanent pursuit of the unattainable, to one where you get to the “Enough” stage pretty quickly. This alone will change the course of your life for the better.

But what if there were an even bigger mental leap that we were leaving out? One that starts with the hard-nosed math of living off of your investments, but then puts it on a more flexible scale that allows you take shortcuts and attain the freedom you want, much sooner?

Well, there is such a shortcut of course, and there is even a story right from my own life that illustrates it.

The Unnecessary Fears of Teenager MMM

Since I was a kid, I’ve always had confidence issues. I was afraid to attend the birthday parties of other kids, if there were too many strangers around. I was afraid to try new foods or join any teams. It took me a long time to become outgoing enough to start meeting girls in high school.

I compensated for these things by trying to be really good at everything, in an attempt to alleviate feelings of worry. Insisting on A+ grades even on the most pointless of assignments, just because I felt that “winning” was a safe defense against bullshit workloads.

I engaged in slightly compulsive weight training with a gang of close friends (and probably fellow misfits) until we were all well-dressed two hundred pound muscleheads, safe from the risk of bullying and gleefully (but needily) soaking up the status rewards of having fancier outer appearances. We would have all claimed it was for fun reasons or health reasons, but there was plenty of teenage insecurity driving up those barbell plates at 5:30am as well.

Even as a young adult, my desire to build up a massive financial surplus was probably at least partly driven by a desire to protect myself from things that could go wrong – like unemployment or being stuck in a job that I no longer enjoyed.

I’m not ashamed to admit all of this, because you need to see your opponent clearly in order to beat it. I went through this journey of insecurity and came out in a good place – in the safety of a well-designed life with lots of advantages. But since then, as I have spent the subsequent thirteen years learning more about that life, and meeting new people with entirely different successful lives, I have come to realize something I wish I could have known earlier:

I had nothing to worry about in the first place.

It turns out I didn’t need all that money, because my needs and wants will never be more than I earn from my natural desire to do useful work. You don’t need to be a musclehead in order to have friends or meet attractive people or deter bullies – normal fitness is just fine and being friendly and open is much more attractive – whether your goal is finding love or running a powerful enterprise.

You don’t have to OVERACHIEVE at everything you do – you can be strategically great at things you truly enjoy, carve the rest of the unnecessary crap out of your life, and spend your days in a much healthier balance of work and play.

Many of us are focusing our energy on building up the wall of protective money and insurance policies around us to ever-greater heights, working one last year and funding one last insurance policy against an obscure risk, when really our deficit is not in money. It’s in confidence.

And thus, it turns out that Money and Confidence are Interchangeable.

Figure 1: With no confidence, you need a shit-ton of money to feel comfortable. Find a smarter balance.

Think about it: It took me seventeen years of school and ten years of work to become an expert software engineer, making a growing six-figure salary and collect about a million dollars* of investments by about age thirty.

But then, years after retirement I started a carpentry business just for fun, and within just a few weeks of spreading the word, I had enough business to easily pay the bills with very part time work. And most notably, I still do some paid carpentry, just because it’s an incredibly fun and satisfying way to spend a few hours with friends, fixing up a house on a sunny day.

So, would a sufficiently confident carpenter really need to do the engineering career and save that million, in order to live a satisfying life?

In 2011, I started this website to write about money. Even without the lottery-like success it has lucked into, I would have still ended up with a writing career in a popular subject that was loads of fun and could again have easily paid the bills through things like consulting, advising, speaking, or connecting with new friends for business opportunities. And I’ve enjoyed writing since I was ten years old – with enough confidence, I could have started writing about money decades earlier.

So maybe a confident younger money writer with lots of drive is also already set for a great life, even if he or she isn’t sitting on a lifetime of investments?

In 2017, I bought a small commercial building alongside some friends and converted half of it into a coworking space, and it easily filled up with members. Despite charging only a third of standard rates, the income from this business could also be plenty to fund a happy family’s lifestyle if we managed it well.

If I had the confidence earlier in life, I could have shortcut the intervening work and achieved almost exactly my current lifestyle decades ago: no war chest of investments required.

More important than these examples from my life, are examples from yours.

Every day, I get emails from people describing their plentiful savings and unpleasant jobs, and then a description of the golden handcuffs or fearful assumptions that keep them working in their jobs.

They wonder when, if ever, they’ll be able to quit. When really, the problem is not the money, it’s the confidence. With confidence, they could quit right now.

Confidence allows you to change your current life entirely and instantly, without the need to change anything – because you’re just rearranging the feelings in your mind.

Imagine for a moment that you’re Jill CTO or Joe Attorney, locked into a prestigious firm and a two point six million dollar Washington DC dream townhouse. You’ve got an entire department reporting to you, your ex-spouse to manage, two kids in private schools, a standardized and rigorous vacation plan to address both sets of inlaws,  and a comfortable, safe brand new Lexus Hybrid SUV that you use several times per day because although you agree with Mr. Money Mustache that more people should be riding bikes, it just doesn’t work with your lifestyle right now.

You’re a high achiever, no doubt about it. But what is all this achievement buying you in life happiness today? Are you selling off your current years of youth to The Firm, and putting off your happiness because in just another decade or so, once the kids are grown and things settle out, then you’ll give yourself permission to be happy?

If so, you may have confidence issues, just like the rest of us.

What if we could take all that complexity and ass-covering and self-protection in your current life, set it aside, and consider the following ideas.

In fact, let’s repeat all of this together in the first person so it sinks in for real:

A Recipe For Badass Confidence

  • I will always be able to get a job if I need one.
  • Billions of people are living far less expensive lives than mine, and yet many millions of these people are surely happier than me. What is their secret?
  • While I don’t control the entire world, I am in control of my response to everything I experience. And my response is the part that determines my happiness.
  • I am in control of my cost of living. Everything I do is a decision, and it’s made by me, not the world around me.
  • I can always learn new things. With proper dedication, I can gain any skill that I want or need. This means when I depend on other people, it’s just a positive choice we are both making. When others depend on me, they are acknowledging my strength and I will choose to pass some of it on to them.
  • My kids will be just fine. Just by giving them my love and support and being honest with them. They don’t need prestige and they don’t need the support of multimillionaire parents to prosper in life. Nobody does.
  • Exotic Travel (just like any other luxury) is not a necessity for a happy life. At a moment’s notice, I could choose to spend the rest of my life within driving distance of this spot, and still lead a completely blissful existence forever.
  • But on the other side of that same coin, I can always move. My current location is a mixture of chance and choice, but people move all the time and their lives are usually better for it.
  • I can always make friends. No matter where you drop me in the world, I could build up a loving support network of warm and caring relationships. Because people are the same everywhere – we all just want to be valued and given some warm attention.
  • I know that my real goal in life is happiness, and I will always have the right tools available to me to maximize my happiness. They’re everywhere, and they are free.
  • Millions of others have achieved this before me, with fewer advantages and in harder times. I have more than enough personal power to get this shit done, in spades.

That collection of points above, is my personal version of what Confidence means. But you’re welcome to use it, adapt it, even turn it into a t-shirt or tattoo for yourself. Confidence is the opposite of fear, and fear is the enemy that stands between most people and greater happiness.

And because it’s interchangeable with the need for money, that dozen or so bullet points can easily be worth millions of dollars.

The biggest bonus about this multimillion dollar recipe? If you haven’t followed it before, your initial results will come strikingly fast and fuel your desire to get yourself even more of it. Confidence is addictive, joyful, and self-reinforcing.

What To Do With This Amazing Power

You now have two complementary tools in your belt: Money, and Confidence. Both of them are useful. But it would be foolish to develop one exclusively, while completely ignoring the other.

Most people work too much on the money and use it to compensate for a lack of confidence. To get to the next stage in life, you will need to stop doing that.

The Freedom to live happily is your goal. Confidence is part of the price of admission.

*based on 2005 retirement date inflation adjusted to present-day dollars

  • Lily March 9, 2018, 12:34 pm

    Recently I asked a friend of mine what her first impression of me was when we met in highschool and she said “overachiever, the whole school thought so.”

    I was blown away, let me tell you, I’m 26 and I was blown away.

    I figured overachievers would be anyone but me (and my husband is a bit of a slacker too.) Did we get good grades? Yeah, I’m not crazy enough to get a C just to prove how cool I was. But overachiever???

    Then someone saw our budget of $300 and said the same word – “overachieving.” This could come off both good and bad or it could just come off as an observation which I believe was this case.

    Then I thought about it and reminded myself “we’re a work in progress.” You had to dedicate 10 years to making that 6 figure salary. Being an overachiever is fine just so you know where to STOP. I do want to be the Jill CTO someday but more just to say I was her than I want to stay her forever.

    • Bee Roberts March 10, 2018, 1:29 am

      That last sentence really spoke to me. I’m the same. You’ve got to be at the party to leave it.

      I spent 5 years of my life getting a PhD I don’t really need, but I had to prove it to myself. But then I grew up being taught that achievement = love. The consequence? Massive overachiever.

      On the other side I can see the benefit (I gained a lot of confidence through the process, and now it’s much easier to get the jobs I want), but in reality, totally unnecessary for happiness in life.

      Like you say, it’s knowing when to stop that’s key. Thanks for that :-)

      • Lily March 10, 2018, 11:18 am

        Thanks Bee! I actually got some other personal responses regarding my comment above yesterday. I thought it was just me feeling that way but it’s actually really common. (Just disclaimer that the responses I got were all from other females.)

        I still want to be at that “party” though. I can just leave early and say I went :)

        • Mixed Money Arts March 10, 2018, 12:34 pm

          Couldn’t agree more. I actually just went through this analysis not too long ago when I had to take the bar exam in California. If I failed, I would’ve lost my job, which isn’t a horrible thing! But I wanted to pass anyway so that I can “leave early” instead.

  • Olivia March 9, 2018, 12:45 pm

    Could confidence also be a synonym for risk-taking? Not in a bad way, but in a good way that allows for the chance to do whatever you want.

    If we’re confident that our next startup could work, we’d be willing to start it even though it might set us back in retirement. If we’re so confident that we’d get our promotion, we wouldn’t be afraid to march in and asked for exactly what we deserve. If we’re so confident in ourselves and our abilities, we wouldn’t be afraid to say #metoo.

    But riskiness is sometimes hard without the financial stability.

    • JoeHx March 9, 2018, 1:22 pm

      > Could confidence also be a synonym for risk-taking?

      Maybe. In you example, it might not be so much confidence that our next start will work, but rather that it doesn’t matter if it does or does not. We’re confident that if it does, great, and if it does not, they’ll always be more opportunities.

    • Vine March 9, 2018, 1:26 pm

      The less risky something feels, the more likely you are to take that risk. That feeling of confidence can come from having financial assets, or from experience, or from having social networks to fall back on, or plain ignorance/not giving a damn…

      It is easy to come up with your financial independence number. It’s almost impossible to quantify your confidence indepence. That’s probably why so many of us in the FI world focus on the money first.

      While this is a good reminder to not focus solely on the money side of the equation, I assume for most people the money will be easier to understand, track and set goals for. Once we reach a baseline level of financial stability we can then start to flex our confidence muscle.

    • Jeff March 12, 2018, 11:54 am

      Confidence might be a willingness to take action on calculated risks. The key word there is calculated.

    • Mark July 4, 2018, 3:59 pm

      It’s a synonym for Faith. And faith can be derived from a variety of sources.

  • Gwen March 9, 2018, 12:50 pm

    I don’t think I’ll tattoo this on my body, but I will definitely print it out and put it on the wall of our home office. This is an incredibly timely post as I quit my job in 20 days and strike out on my own. Worst case scenario is I get another job, but I’m confident I can build a lifestyle that works without the need for W2 employment. Thanks Pete for the boost!

    • J Savvy March 9, 2018, 1:08 pm

      Gwen – I thought of you and your story while reading this! Think it applies perfectly to your situation. You clearly have the confidence to venture out on your own path long before you reach any FIRE number, which is awesome.

      Perfect example of someone who has fallen in the “Relatively Feasible” box on that confidence chart.

    • Katie March 9, 2018, 1:34 pm

      Good luck Gwen! I was so scared when my DH first left W-2 to become self-employed. But it worked out so well I did it too!

    • FreedomGuy March 12, 2018, 10:12 pm

      Good for you. I’m also quitting in 20 days! And it took confidence to walk away from a guaranteed huge bonus for staying another year (bonus plus stock that would pad the nest egg by 10%. But a year is a long time and I’ve put this off long enough). Time away from family isn’t worth it. I’ll figure it out and so will Gwen (and everyone here). Thanks MMM.

    • Elise March 27, 2018, 7:09 pm

      Before I quit a job and industry I hated almost one year ago I got a Seneca quote tattooed on my arm “he who is brave is free”. It’s a daily reminder that we are in control of our own lives and happiness.

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance March 9, 2018, 12:55 pm

    I used to have very low self-esteem since I came from a modest (aka poor) family and didn’t did as well academically as many of my peers did. But there was no way out but to keep trying. I’m glad I ended at a place where I no longer feel as insecure as before.

    The lack of confidence still creeps in every once in a while. That’s when I compare myself to other people and don’t feel that I’m as good as them. Having lots of money certainly helps with confidence, but there’s always someone who’s richer and more successful than I am.

    I think that confidence comes from know that we are trying our very best to achieve our goals. Comparison can be motivational and detrimental at the same time.

    • Jason March 12, 2018, 12:28 pm

      I can relate Mrs. FAF. Part of my drive to FI was the feeling I had after being laid off. It crushed my confidence and motivated me to never “need” a paycheck again.

      This article is spot on. Believing in yourself opens so many doors. It allows you to take risks and stress less about things you can’t control. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around ways that I can take more risks lately. This post shows why taking calculated risks is both important and often times, it’s even optimal.

  • Elizabeth Riersgard March 9, 2018, 1:03 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I have been a longtime follower (and convert) to the MMM ways and I truly needed to hear this today in order to make the next steps in my life happen. Thank you for all you do!

  • Anna March 9, 2018, 1:04 pm

    I’m very glad to see you write about this!

    I quit my job when I felt confident enough about the future – not necessarily when my numbers added up in accordance with the Retirement Police Patrol. I have “enough” money in the bank, but more importantly I have skills and drive and I believe in good things coming my way!

  • John Applegate March 9, 2018, 1:05 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. If you’re never scared in life, you’re leaving a lot on the table – but you just have to take note of that catch in your chest, take a deep breath, and go for it. Of course, everything might go horribly and you could fail spectacularly, so you shouldn’t get *too* ahead of yourself. But we should all remember that, while not all changes are improvements, all improvements are necessarily changes.

    About a month ago, I let my employer know I was quitting my job to go hiking for 6 months. They immediately said they would hire me back as soon as I returned. Not only do I get a long period off to clear my head and reconnect with my naturally superfrugal nature, but I can do it with the knowledge that someone thinks I’m valuable enough to wait for. I now know not just that my current job would take me back, but that I am valuable enough that I should be able to find another job without a monumental effort, which is information worth far more than the 6 months of pay I’m sacrificing.

    • Victoria Van Essen March 12, 2018, 12:35 am

      Yes! I just gave notice to my employer in anticipation of traveling the world (more or less) indefinitely with my family. He insisted I was taking a leave of absence, not resigning. He promised my job back if I should choose to return. It’s a lovely feeling, even though I probably won’t take him up on it. ;)

    • Banana March 12, 2018, 7:58 am


      This is me… Without the job offer at the end.

      Be warned, the walk may change you. It changed me. I got back and just couldn’t bring myself to sign up for a full- time 5- d/ week, don’t-get-to-choose-who-I-work-with situation. So I did a few calculations, made a few financial rules for myself (things like: I can’t touch my retirement $ quite yet as it needs to appreciate a bit more and all my play money I want, I need to make before I spend it, avoid credit cards, avoid reoccurring bills to have total ability to ramp up and down spending, etc) and tada, a MASSIVE shift in attitude, post scripted with “oh well, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just get a real job then :-)”

      The end result is that I now have a number of small self-run occupations that I can shut/ slow down to go on adventures. My gardening business essentially makes it so others pay me to train for the hiking season (despite being the MOST over-educated gardener you’ve ever had :-). The gardening classes I teach happily force me to learn deeply about topics that benefit my own gardening practice.

      Other endeavours have other creative personal benefits. I also have full power to choose who I work for and I choose such wonderful amazing people that it’s a joy. My little businesses serve me as opposed to me serving them.

      The FI calculations are fiddling with math and lifestyle numbers – a quite rational process. The realization that you don’t need to put up with things that aren’t on your own terms is emotional for me. Just make sure you aren’t so busy in your lives that you don’t allow yourself that space for that emotional realization / evolution to occur.

      As you’re walking, whether on the trail or through life, keep in mind that the job offer you have waiting for you is but one of the options. You’re not walking towards a job. You’re walking within yourself the whole way, carrying your fears on your back, and getting to know yourself like never before. You’re also waking up as you walk, realizing with blistering emphasis : life is simple – all you need is to be warm, dry, safe, and fed – that makes for a great day as you drop into a deep sleep after walking 25 miles :-).

      And in town life, a few times I’ve felt the bite of panic as I’ve worried during a time of lower income. When that happens, I just go back to remembering being warm, dry, safe, and fed while the storms raged outside my tent walls. I am so grateful for these simple things that seem so plentiful in our society.

      Have a blast and roll in the dirt a bit, you hiker trash. And be reassured that the pain on your feet will subside after a couple of months of rest after your walk – but the rewiring inside won’t . You will be changed.

    • wynr March 14, 2018, 5:07 pm

      Love this reply!

      Go plant some apple trees my friend.

    • Dinah March 15, 2018, 4:19 pm

      Hi John,
      My husband and I took 6 months off to hike the PCT last summer and it was wonderful! We both are in health care so it was easy to have jobs lined up for our return. Personally I found it comforting to know I had a job waiting for me at the end as the transition from trail life to regular life can be a bit strange. But now it’s been 6 months since we stepped over the border into Canada and my feet are starting to get itchy. Enjoy yourself!

    • Louisa March 21, 2018, 6:24 am

      John, where are you going hiking? I’m curious, I love hiking.

  • freddy smidlap March 9, 2018, 1:06 pm

    i was just posting about all the “wrong” career moves of quitting a job before you had a replacement one. i did it a bunch of times for various reasons and everything came out fine due to confidence. freddysmidlap: honest, capable, fearless! that’s really what it says on my lindedin profile under my real name.

    • Cubert March 10, 2018, 10:19 am

      Good stuff, Freddy. Sometimes life surprises us with twists and turns. I remember when I got laid off years back – I was initially pretty worried. But that event allowed me to take a year off of full time employment to finish my MBA and learn how to cook. Oh, and I had more time to bench weights at the gym. ;-)

      • freddy smidlap March 11, 2018, 10:47 am

        exactly, cubert! we had a bunch of layoffs at my factory in the past 12 years and i always wanted to be included in one. i only got to change jobs and go from technical to the factory floor for a short time. i’ll bet you came back buff and ripped for the next round of employment, striking fear into the coworkers.

        • Cubert March 12, 2018, 5:29 am

          I actually came back at about 175 lbs. on a 6’0 skinny frame. And over time have observed the powers of a mostly vegetarian diet and cycling, in reducing me back down to 165. May the winds not blow too hard, or Cubert will be blown overboard, Matey!

  • Steven March 9, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Thanks for an excellent post that outlines a perspective I had not thought of before. This is very pertinent to me now as I am also three weeks away leaving a corporate job to start my own firm. I really appreciate your insights!

  • Budget On a Stick March 9, 2018, 1:11 pm

    Lately, my friends have commented to me that I am completely different from the person I was in college… confident.

    I laughed thinking nothing of it but now I think I get what happened… I have been checking the things off the ingredients for “Badass Confidence” and not knowing it.

    I know I live in an area where I could get a new job on a whim. The personal finance community has given me friends I never thought I would have, with a crazy variety of backgrounds.

    Most importantly, I have taken control of my life. I’m not letting debt hinder me or finances get the best of me.

  • Wes March 9, 2018, 1:14 pm

    Earlier this week I had a conversation with my boss that I had been nervously anticipating for a long time. I told her that I’m taking a year long leave of absence from my corporate job to spend time with my family (wife and three kids) and travel. My wife recently had the same with her boss.

    We have both questioned ourselves over and over as we considered whether it was crazy to forgo regular paychecks for freedom. Our friends and co-workers reactions have ranged from “that’s awesome” to “you’re committing career suicide!”.

    I’d be lying if our confidence hasn’t wavered at all during this process so this post comes at exactly the right time. Thanks for the confidence boost, off we go :)

  • Dr. MB March 9, 2018, 1:18 pm

    Money is a mental game. It is NOT all about dem spreadsheets. In fact, it might be inversely proportional to the need for spreadsheet calculations and one’s inner wealth consciousness when it comes to finances. Once you achieve enough (take your time to define that for yourself) all those fears simply melt away.

  • JoeHx March 9, 2018, 1:24 pm

    I find that confidence and a healthy level of apathy go hand-in-hand. I am more confident the less I care about what people think or how they’ll react. When I’m scared of what the boss will do if I ask for more money, I am less confident.

    You just got to find that healthy level so that you don’t become too arrogant.

  • Greg Richard March 9, 2018, 1:27 pm

    This is a good one. It helps explain lots of consumer excuses – got to sent my kids to the most expensive school because I’m afraid, got to wear new clothes or people will think less of me, have to live in the fancy neighborhood or risk having lower class neighbors, can’t let people see me on my bike in the rain or they’ll wonder if I’m crazy, can’t take well paying jobs that are “beneath me,” etc…

    Once you can find the confidence, you can very easily get past these hangups. And it feels much better. My wife has chided me for years because I go around town in my numerous pairs of scrubs shorts (I like to cut the legs off of my old surgical scrubs). It was initially an angry disdain/embarrassment but has softened over the years into a gentle teasing because I own the hell out of those scrub shorts.

  • Katie March 9, 2018, 1:33 pm

    This is probably my favorite article yet, and defines our lifestyle priorities.
    Most teenagers lack in the confidence department. It goes with the territory.

  • Kyle March 9, 2018, 1:46 pm

    You really hit the nail on the head for me. I believe all of the individual items in the Recipe in my head, but yet I don’t have the confidence to walk away from my “silver” handcuffs. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to actually take the next step.

    • wynr March 14, 2018, 5:15 pm

      Step 1. Write a resignation letter.
      Step 2. Give it to your boss, with two weeks notice.

      I took those steps mid 2016. I still do consulting for about 3-4 months a year, but now I can enjoy the engineering problem solving without worrying about the political BS.


  • Quitting Teaching March 9, 2018, 1:51 pm

    I know I will grow full of confidence as I see my early retirement panning out and I am seeing the end. My confidence will grow the closer and closer I get. Knowing that I am being forced to work as i have a mortgage and bills to pay and thereby locked in the debtors prison that is wage slavery is like living in a vice. There is no greater a confidence zapper than feeling trapped , like you have no say over your life and what you do each and every day. Financial independence for me means freedom, and i know that freedom will breed confidence…I may not quit teaching once I achieve FI but knowing that teaching isn’t CHOICE is the crucial difference

  • Thriftychemist March 9, 2018, 1:56 pm

    I saw this pop up just as I’ve been reading back through the archives, and it fits right in with the spirit and excitement you wrote with back then, plus the polish that comes from 7 years of writing. Awesome!

    I especially like how this fits in with the old theme of outrageous optimism. **Optimism focused inward is confidence** It lets you walk right into new, uncomfortable situations because you know you can make it work or change the circumstances until they work for you.

  • Jon March 9, 2018, 1:58 pm

    2 years ago, we were a 150k couple with a mortgage (on a townhouse full of useless junk), bank-owned gas-powered sofa, and a budget full of bloat.

    After scraping together the CONFIDENCE, we left Canada for Germany to pursue some post-grad studies. We sold our home (and all the junk inside of it), got rid of the car payment… all of the budget fat…gone.

    Our income has dropped from $150k to ~$50k. Our life is exponentially better. We’ve built a strong network of friends in the new location, and the distance has helped show us which of our relationships back home were really the most meaningful.

    A strong lesson in what really matters and how we don’t have to be afraid of jumping to a low income again someday.

    Now, with a massive income jump in the near-future, we can move forward with both elements – money AND confidence.

    • snowcanyon March 11, 2018, 1:28 am

      I must know- what is a gas-powered sofa?

      • snowcanyon March 11, 2018, 1:29 am

        A car? Or an actual sofa?

        • Angus March 11, 2018, 9:24 pm

        • Michael March 12, 2018, 8:59 am

          A car. It’s MMM’s common kenning for motor-vehicles, which we really need less than we think we do.

        • Vince March 12, 2018, 8:59 am

          I would guess a gas guzzling SUV–the kind you see advertised with those seats that are for “everyone” because they adjust 1,000,000 to Sunday.

    • Angus March 11, 2018, 9:17 pm

      Teach me the courage, wise one. Seriously though, congrats on the transition. That must have been difficult leaving everything you knew. But like you said, you had the confidence to do it. Gotta ask ya, did you really sell everything or did you stash some junk in a gracious friend’s garage or something? Also, in Germany don’t they drive diesel powered sofas or are they transitioning to electric bikes yet?

      • Jon March 18, 2018, 12:43 pm

        We sold everything – with the exception of a few boxes of important things stored in a family member’s basement.

        As for transportation here, it’s no secret the German’s love their cars. However, we live in Germany’s enviro and biking capital, so its quite easy to not own a vehicle (excellent public transit as well, but we rarely take it… its just that easy to bike).

        Electric bikes are very popular here, especially for senior citizens.

        • Jon March 18, 2018, 1:58 pm

          We also left some stuff with friends, but not the good stuff -> we don’t trust them.

  • Ted Bendixson March 9, 2018, 1:59 pm

    Yes! This is the article I’ve been wanting to read for quite some time. Thanks, MMM. For a time, I’ve had this nagging feeling of guilt about not taking some big fancypants software job and doing remote contract work instead. I figured I was preventing myself from getting the sort of income I’d need to retire early.

    Although retiring early is still a priority of mine, I would say it’s not the focus. I’ve already launched some semi-successful apps, made my first dollar of passive income from blogging, and I’ve got plenty of other ideas in the pipeline. I take contract work because I like the people I work with, and it gives me more spare time to get my side projects off the ground.

    For me, retirement will definitely happen, but I’m guessing it will be more of a gradual shifting of my ‘work portfolio’ away from contract work and toward my own products.

    • wynr March 14, 2018, 5:23 pm

      Dude, you nailed it!

      Making enough money, and having the confidence to do it in your own way puts you squarely into the “Sweet Zone.”


  • Stephen March 9, 2018, 2:11 pm

    Over the last year or so I’ve really rethought the 4% rule, and it’s closely related to this article. Every one of us would agree there is spending we can cut, and it’s not like your spending hits your exact average every year. That flexibility combined with the confidence that I always could (and likely always will) make an income that covers my expenses means there’s some credence to the idea of being much more aggressive than the 4% rule. Or at the very least ignoring those claiming the sky is falling and it was only applicable to people who retired in yesteryear.

    As Joey would say, it’s a moo point for me as I don’t plan on retiring when I hit FI, but it does lend confidence to the whole thing.

    • mable March 9, 2018, 3:41 pm

      The problem with having confidence that “I always could (and likely always will) make an income that covers my expenses” is that sometimes life happens. Like a husband who gets cancer at 28 and is debilitated for a decade and everything extra the wife makes goes to paying the deductibles that insurance doesn’t cover. Like the wife, at 35, finding out she was born with a heart defect that suddenly becomes a chronic problem and she can no longer work except for a very part time position where the employers, God bless them, work with her when she is too ill to show up. Like the wife, at 60 getting cancer that takes four years of treatment and leave her completely unable to work…All of which is to say, you may not always be able to make up that income, and the expenditures cannot be lowered because of medical bills. Then what? We were fortunate in that we planned for the worst, starting at 20 and 22, so we never went bankrupt or exceeded our savings, but we are not living a retirement of ease through circumstances that we did not create. We are above the pure survival level, but not the millionaires that we planned to be when we started being fierce in our savings and frugality.

      • Margaret March 9, 2018, 5:47 pm

        Oh man, I hear you. My husband and I are both dealing with medical issues that have stopped us from working, and our kids have medical issues. The whole financial equation changes when illness costs money in treatment AND knocks out the ability to work. Not the majority case of course. And definitely helps to have money-making optimized early on, and frugality down in other areas.

        • Lisa March 12, 2018, 8:05 am

          Although we don’t have any health issues that have rendered us unable to work, we have had two relatively major health scares that have landed my husband (breadwinner) in the hospital. He is a healthy man in his mid-40’s who does all the right things in terms of eating well and exercising. Sometimes, life happens, people. Those times have underscored the need to make money and save while you can. You don’t know what kind of curveballs life will throw at you. And while it seems that MMM has sailed through some calm waters in his life, which is wonderful, I don’t think that you can always plan for that to be your course in life. Being able to face rough times from a position of financial strength is important, and gaining both skills and money while you are young, unencumbered and healthy are what are necessary to do that…choose a career path which is financially fruitful and enjoyable to you, if you can, and that will make the accumulation phase of life a good part of your life, not one that you are racing to finish.

      • Stu March 10, 2018, 12:46 am

        Actually, you two sound more like an incredible example of exactly how confidence and grit are just as useful as a big money pile. Sure, you might wish you’d started out with a fortunate, but the determination and tenacity that you clearly possess have got you through some amazing times, and you will always have the confidence to know what you’ve managed to achieve purely from your own resources. My hat is raised to you both.

        • Margaret March 10, 2018, 11:20 am

          Thank you Stu, your encouraging words mean a lot!

      • Jeff March 12, 2018, 12:07 pm

        I retired at 48 with enough wealth to last me until I am 85. The way I look at it, if a life event occurs that drains my wealth, I retired late enough to have lived a full life, and early enough to be able to live a full life. After retiring, I see more clearly how people rush around for no net gain to their “real life”, and I am very happy that I have given myself a chance to live my life rather than keep myself busy without real purpose.

        • Dharma Bum March 13, 2018, 5:24 am

          I love seeing that some people really get it!

    • Garrett March 31, 2018, 3:56 pm

      *moot point.

  • Keith March 9, 2018, 2:26 pm

    Permanent pursuit of the unattainable. What an awesome description of the rat race. I can think of a dozen different ways you have described this before along with many other people’s descriptions . But this my favorite.

  • AJ Gretz March 9, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Thanks for this – it’s perfectly timed. Today we made the leap to becoming a one-car family (again), after purchasing an expensive lemon last year because we thought we needed it. Several thousand dollars and face punches later, we have been humbled, and we are ready take more control over our cost of living, even if it’s not as easy or comfortable.

  • Melisa March 9, 2018, 2:33 pm

    I find confidence and ‘feeling strong’ comes and goes. I had it a few years back when I threw caution to the wind and switched to contracting. And it’s worked out great! Now I’m wondering how to re-capture or gain that back. And where it went in the first place….

  • Divnomics March 9, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Amazing how a lack of confidence get you in overachiever mode and try to be the best instead of trying to be yourself. Been there, done that. Still going through the process of it all though.

    For me it was never the money, but an ambitious career path. So long as I had my successful job, everything is alright (on the outside). Still working, and although I like the work I don’t like the corporate environment anymore. FI has taught me that there is more to it that appearance and success.

    Interesting thought is that I recognise it now in so many others, coworkers/friends/family and am only hoping that everything I say to them might give them even a glimp in what’s out there.

    • Jeff March 12, 2018, 12:13 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I think this probably applies to a lot of people out there.

    • Dharma Bum March 13, 2018, 5:26 am

      The corporate environment is TOXIC. Get out while you can. It will kill you.

  • Mr. Freaky Frugal March 9, 2018, 2:53 pm

    MMM – Just wow! This post is destined to be a classic! Until you posted this today I hadn’t even thought about the relationship between confidence, money, and FI. How do you keep coming up with this stuff?

    I FIREd back in 2012 and I would have done it even sooner if I’d had the confidence you describe. Many of your earlier posts are what gave me just enough confidence to FIRE as early I did. I’m forever in your debt!

  • Steve March 9, 2018, 4:06 pm

    “So, would a sufficiently confident carpenter really need to do the engineering career and save that million, in order to live a satisfying life?” – This reminds me of people who say the key to happiness and financial security is to never retire. I think this is coming from the idea that creating a life you don’t want to retire from is just as good as early retirement. Would you change how you did things if you knew then what you know now?

    • Philo March 23, 2018, 4:18 pm

      “Would you change how you did things if you knew then what you know now?”

      Great comment! I’m curious what the answer is too.

  • Tulachin March 9, 2018, 4:37 pm

    What a coincidence that you write about this, when after going through your earlier posts in 2011-2012, I was wondering the same thing.

    I approached your blog from the first mindset you described, but those early articles made it clear that wasn’t the reason for this whole gig. And that left me wondering.

    I realized that we share some attitudes (c’mmon we’re both engineers and this post shows we had a similar reason for doing well in school), but I didn’t need the money to feel the same. I did waste a lot of my scholarahip money as a student on things, to the point that I got YNAB from a friend (he saved my ass), and through it I discovered your blog. But it wasn’t a HUGE leap to eat the same meals every day (like some guy named Jacob at ERE) or bike my way to class even on winters. I started drinking water only, and never felt it was a “sacrifice”, until I met other humans. I researched most of my Amazon purchases, optimized certain spending items, and barely went out (that’s just me, not a strictly financial decision).

    I felt I had ENOUGH even on a graduate assitantship that paid $1800/month in downtown Chicago. I even exaggerated my housing situation ($675/month, more than 50% of my paycheck). AND YET I was confident of my financial health (still living within my means and satisfied).

    With that, and the reading your articles, I was left wondering: Money indeed buys freedom, but you clearly don’t need it to feel free. AND THAT is probably the first step to actually becoming free.

    I know it’s not a contest, but I’m 27 lol. But without you, I would have not realized it this early!!!

    Glad you wrote this post right when the thought was circling my head :)

  • Eric The Bicyclist March 9, 2018, 4:47 pm

    Thanks for the words of wisdom, St. Pete! I see a small and pedantic way to improve the article that I’d like to share. In the paragraph:

    “That collection of points above, is my personal version of what Confidence means. But you’re welcome to use it, adapt it, even turn it into a t-shirt or tattoo for yourself. Confidence is the opposite of fear, and fear is the enemy that has stands between most people and greater happiness.”

    The word “has” is a typo. I hope this helps!

    Rock on, MMM!

  • Accidental FIRE March 9, 2018, 5:18 pm

    One of your bests posts Pete, hands down. I too have suffered from a lack of confidence for most of my life. To address it sometimes I’d get angry and go all Rambo on it and overcompensate. Other times I’d retreat and run away. It’s a constant battle to be honest. Overall I think as we get older the wisdom we accumulate helps make us more confident, but that progress can be slow and frustrating.

  • Dan March 9, 2018, 5:20 pm

    This one was pretty good. I wondered if you were a fly on the wall to my life. I have enough for the FI thing, but compromised. I took a job that is supposed to have less hours and more life for me. I haven’t started it yet and have my doubts as to whether I should have gone all the way to retirement.

    I guess if it doesn’t work out, I can pull up your article, look up the graph, see that I am in the box and just leave.

  • Eclipse on Fire March 9, 2018, 5:21 pm

    I think about the idea of walking out of the cubicle to do meaningful (to me
    ) work everyday. Unfortunately I need a bit more money to build the confidence it takes to say I can support my growing family even without the standard 9-5.
    I think I am 100% on board with walking away before we hit the 25x number. FI will come when it comes, but life is too short to not love what you do. Great post!

  • Dan D March 9, 2018, 5:25 pm

    No regrets, MMM. You did it right.
    That ten years of software engineering was the price of confidence… and it ain’t free.
    Good decisions ( a carpentry business, a writing career) can go bad. Good, strong people can be be pulled out and drowned in all sorts of riptides not of their making. The stash is your hedge, your jetty, your safe harbor. Only through a retrospectoscope could it seem like a waste of time to have built it. After all, the chore of building a jetty isn’t so bad when it is done purposefully and in the cause of personal freedom. A joy really. Young energy well spent. I think even Sisyphus could be happy with the right attitude and he rolled the rock for a heck of a lot longer than ten years.

    • scott March 9, 2018, 6:34 pm

      Yes, Dan D. You have a profound insight here. I love that MMM’s money and lifestyle examples are generally very easy for the rest of us to replicate (hence the incredible value of this blog). While not everyone is going to achieve a 75% savings rate and reach FI at 30, most of us should be able to drastically reduce our mandatory working career by adopting and following his principles on some scale. However, the anecdotes in this article about successful carpentry, blogging, and real estate businesses should be viewed with a degree of caution. Survivorship bias is potentially in play here. I am not sure that a strategy of substituting confidence for money has the same degree of replicability for us as readers. I don’t disagree with the Recipe for Badass Confidence and I think that the more people that can go out on their own and create value like MMM the better. But I think the reality is that this confidence + entrepreneurism formula has a much lower success rate than the full time job + high savings rate formula.

      • Lisa March 12, 2018, 8:11 am

        My thoughts, exactly…

      • Mary April 3, 2018, 12:25 pm

        I completely agree. A couple months ago I started reading this blog from the beginning (still have years to get through to be totally caught up) and I am accepting that a lot of what MMM does/says is not applicable to most people. Learning to live frugally and shaving off years of working – yes – but not the somehow creating three independent money streams that are each enough to support the family while letting the retirement money sit entirely untouched. MMM has a huge money reserve and incredible natural talent that just isn’t in a lot of us.

        Hence my goal is to get my investments to the x28 number plus pay off my mortgage in 15 years. But I won’t retire, I will just cut down to working roughly 1 day a week until I hit true retirement age. That would give me enough to live on so I can leave my nest egg untouched while also giving me the ability to ramp back up to full time if necessary. My one big fear is that there will be some health issue that wouldn’t let me go back to work.

    • CPT Obvious March 28, 2018, 10:26 pm

      “retrospectoscope” !! I love it.

      I think the key point MMM makes is that it’s a sliding scale. For example, I’m in the Army Reserves, and make about $15K doing that without blinking. My wife is an RN who enjoys working 2 days a week, and pulls in $15K. 100% Confidence in these income streams. We can thrive on about $30K. So, in theory, we’re already FI.

      Yet. . . I’m still working toward a $750K stash so I can try out my dream job (as a fruit farming, beekeeping, woodworking, old house flipping, professional musician) without staying in the Army OR making any money. So… if I build up my proficiency and skills, make some proof-of-concept sales, and/or commit to keeping one or both of our P/T jobs, it changes the math dramatically – I could quit tomorrow with $200K as an ample safety net, not 6 years from now with a small fortune designed to insulate from complete failure on all fronts.

      It’s nice to know that although I won’t be quitting my day job just yet (I like it for now) . . . it’s a real option.

      • Garrett March 31, 2018, 4:02 pm

        The fact that you make 30k by working and can survive on 30k does not mean you’re financially independent. Financial independence means that you can survive with the income produced from your assets, whether you work or not. If you and your wife stopped working, with no savings and investing.. you’d be screwed pretty quickly. There’d be no green employees available for your needs.

  • Alex M March 9, 2018, 5:27 pm

    I resigned from my job two weeks ago at the age of 34. Insecurity definitely has been an overarching factor as to why I stayed in the cubicle farm for as long as I did. I took pride in being able to humble brag (if appropriate) that I made 200k, etc. 3 years of this and for what? I was miserable.

    Handing in my resignation without a job lined up has been the most liberating feeling, since that day my entire outlook on life changed, like a switch was flipped.

    Thanks MMM, I have been a follower for 3 years now and I keep coming back to reign in the stupidity that overcomes me as temptation for acquiring bullshit starts whispering in my ear.

  • Chris Urbaniak March 9, 2018, 6:11 pm

    Well said, Pete.

    I love the point about not necessarily having to to work until your “FI number”. Most early retirees will make at least SOME money because of their confidence and skills!

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 10, 2018, 10:06 am

      Thanks Chris, but I can’t help but wonder – WHY are all these people coming here to the Mr. Money Mustache blog, then addressing their comments to some “Pete” character?

      This is not Pete’s blog, it’s Mr. Money Mustache’s blog. ;-)

      • NaN March 10, 2018, 10:56 am

        “Thanks Clark for lifting this extremely heavy car off my house.” nah. More like “THANKS SUPERMAN.”

      • Skippy March 10, 2018, 5:19 pm

        Pete’s that unassuming retired handyman in Boulder who looks suspiciously like you but with glasses and a bicycle instead of the green paper moustache and the power to give people ‘stachevision

  • Stop Ironing Shirts March 9, 2018, 6:49 pm

    This post was outstanding – confidence overcomes fear. The fear of being broke lives with a lot of us going after rediculoisly well funded early retirements. Thanks for continuing to write!

  • Ty Roberts March 9, 2018, 6:54 pm

    Relentlessly eliminate the BS from your life and soon you’ll have a live free of BS.

    Me and my fam don’t love where we live, but we stay because of my job. But I don’t like my job all that much, but I stay because it pays well. This is insanity, but it’s scary as hell to make a big change.

    If I had confidence I’d take a gap year, move to Hawaii, and find contentment and work on my side business. In a year, if things didn’t work out I could always come back to my current employer. High reward, low risk. But sooo hard to pull the trigger.

    • Lisa March 12, 2018, 5:10 pm

      I live in Hawaii. I’d rather live in Europe. But my spouse’s job is in Hawaii, and quite frankly, it is the best job he’s had in a 20 year military career. His job in Europe was soul-sucking. Living here is better for our marriage and our family. We’re just accepting what is and being grateful for it. Finding a happy balance when you are working is exceedingly difficult. There’s always a compromise.

      Pull the trigger; take the gap year. I can’t wait for ours.

    • Dharma Bum March 13, 2018, 5:37 am

      No it’s not.
      I did exactly that (not Hawaii though – Alaska, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Colorado, and Arizona instead).
      The trick is: just do it.
      (PS – I went back to my original employer. I became increasingly miserable for 6 years. I finally came to my senses and left permanently.)
      Your job is killing you. I can tell from the tone of your comment.
      You gotta get out while you can.
      Save yourself.

  • Mr. 1500 March 9, 2018, 8:16 pm

    Great one and I still struggle with this. I’m far better now than I used to be, but still have work to do on the confidence front. And it’s all pretty silly.

    Thinking back on life, every time I’ve worried or been insecure about a situation, it’s almost always worked out for the best. Building on that, I’ve found that confidence is a closely related cousin to optimism. Confident people are optimistic. Optimistic people are confident. Get those two right and you have a superpower.

    “It took me a long time to become outgoing enough to start meeting girls in high school.”

    I’m still not at this point though. Mindy asked me out! :)

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 10, 2018, 10:07 am

      Yeah, I STILL depended on the girls making some of the moves. But at least I was able to be flirtatious enough to entice them into doing it :-)

      • Ann March 11, 2018, 6:42 pm

        Girls love badass guys. They must have seen the potential!

        • Cubert March 12, 2018, 5:32 am

          I still scratch my head how I ever got Mrs. Cubert to agree to marry my not so badass self. Pete is the MAN. Ooops, sorry, I mean, Mr. Money Mustache is the MAN.

    • Steve March 17, 2018, 7:58 pm

      “It took me a long time to become outgoing enough to start meeting girls in high school.”

      Sounds like a ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ movie quote ;)

  • FruEfficientBadass March 9, 2018, 8:41 pm

    I fully agree this is a future MMM classic. Living in Sweden, I am pampered with a social security net that even more facilitate the potential transfer to a free life (e g no need for private medical insurance, nor college funds for your kids unless you want to send them fancy panceplace) and I, like Stephen above, am more and more hesitant to the 4% rule. Seeing the best practices of both MMM and other members of this community has encouraged me to pursue a more pragmatic/aggressive approach with only a few years to go (“Just a few more years” syndrome? :)). In compliance with this mind set, I today left my “golden hand cuffs” employment for a funnier/less paid job, leaving behind also the company car (three kids, no car, wishing for a FIRE community gold star). Anyheuw, this pursuit started in May 2015 as a direct consequence of finding this blog so I also wanted to say thank you Pete and all of you intelligent and well formulated commentators in this forum.

  • little helper March 9, 2018, 9:05 pm

    For selfish reasons I’m glad MrMM went through everything he did. If he hadn’t, this website would probably have been different. It was exactly what I needed when I found it. I was depressed and this website helped me turn my life around. Thank you Pete.

  • Jess 4D Frugal March 9, 2018, 10:04 pm

    Confidence is exactly what we will need when (and before) we hit FI. It is almost nerve wracking to think about the what-ifs. But with my overly cautious mindset, it is hard to have the confidence to pull that plug and know if something really happens, we could get jobs or find work (though I know we could). I struggle to determine when to call it quits in the ‘real working world’ instead of falling into the trap of ‘one more year’. Confidence and this article are exactly what I need right now. Thanks!

  • James March 9, 2018, 11:05 pm

    Confidence and Money are now Interchangeable? Ridiculous. Even measuring by a nebulous unequivocal metric like comfortability, this is total crap and reeks of self-help bathroom reading. Your advice here is paramount to T.Swift advising everyone to simply follow their dreams or lottery winners telling us all to start buying scratchers. Reality check, MMM, YOU didn’t follow this advice to achieve your “success”.

    We’re all glad you have a blog but you fill a very particular niche. To my mind, the applicable quality of your blogs is trending down and the majority of your pieces are useless. Writing is cheap and it pays cheaply for a reason. Anyone can do it, you just occupy a unique position and thus people are more willing to listen (read). Without the success you achieved (NOT by these methods described here) none of us would be here reading your stuff.

    Your Recipe: “millions of these people are surely happier than me.” Quantified by another nebulous term in “happiness”. Is this an abstraction or dogmatic doctrine?
    “I am in control of my response to everything…” Your philosophy is weak and self-tyrannical.
    Assumptions Galore
    Blind Deaf and Dumb Assumptions
    Ignores Travel Hacking entirely (a very relevant topic to people in the community) and presupposes your version of “a happy life”
    Ghettoization of Northern American Cities? None of this is historically factual. “better for it” how?
    Whatever . . .

    Is it strange that when you “depend on others” it’s a positive choice for both of you but other’s depending on you is them “acknowledging my strength”. Truthfully, depending on others is acknowledging your own dependence and it’s funny you should change the phrasing of the relationship immediately after the power shifts one sentence later.

    Forgive me if I reluctant to take your mental leap into mediocrity. Happiness is a guide not a goal; a heading not a destination. Maybe one of your good friends will be brave enough to tell you’re revising your past to validate a self-serving present. Maybe they’d warn you that trying to justify your achievements retroactively and independent of your war chest is probably a tell-tale sign you’ve been binging on premature enlightenment. Is the doubt creeping in?

    Optimism > Realism I guess, but that’s also why theres no one around who is real enough to tell it to you straight.

    • Jacob March 12, 2018, 8:30 am

      Cheer up bud.

    • Jeff March 12, 2018, 12:32 pm

      I think MMM is referring to rational confidence vs emotional confidence. These two types of confidence are as different as science and superstition. In fact, personally, I don’t count emotional confidence as a plus, but as a minus. Emotional confidence is what most people seem to have, and it stems from a belief in oneself outside the bounds of reality. Rational confidence is where all the real worth unfolds from.

      • James March 13, 2018, 5:02 pm

        I’d like to respond and note that your point is unsupported by anything in MMM’s blog. Unfortunately, only about 1/3 of my comments/replies are ever approved so I’m likely wasting my time (again). This contributes to the circle jerk echo chamber that this site seems to enjoy so much. I rarely find any dissenting opinions and this article is by no means an exception.

        My original reply was not approved so I will summarize by saying your point of view is entirely your own and I see no evidence for it anywhere. Furthermore, it doesn’t address anything that I said.

        • Mr. Money Mustache March 14, 2018, 9:28 am

          You’re right James – you will be wasting your time trying to add any future comments.

          Because dissenting comments are welcome, but when you come into a writer’s living room and spray around insults like, “this is total crap”, you get escorted to the door and not invited back in. Nobody cares about your opinion, if you’re going to be an asshole while you deliver it.

          The rules for my comments section are the same as a party at my house – the standards don’t loosen up just because we are protected by our keyboards and monitors.

          I suggest you try this philosophy on for size in ALL your online interactions from now on, and see if you notice any change in your life success and mindset.

          • Ms Blaise March 19, 2018, 4:41 pm

            I really like the idea of the blog operating like a party. Excellent. I shall adopt this rule in other areas of my life.

            • batljunk March 22, 2018, 11:06 am

              Totally! I like the positivity and it brings me back for more. Thanks MMM and Ms Blaise.

  • TomTrottier March 10, 2018, 1:54 am

    Fake it ’til you make it. By taking chances & being able to see & take new paths, you learn a lot about your abilities and desires.

    Few lives run smooth on a straight path. Failures must be an essential part of learning. But we must be open to the lessons.

  • Elmar March 10, 2018, 4:36 am

    The real kicker for me is that variantions of stoic believe systems have been around for thousands of years – valued by the most influential (and real) people of that time. Still we manage to get caught up in our little hamster wheel of consumption and fear.

  • Mrs. Moe March 10, 2018, 5:41 am

    I read this post at such a great time! You’re right, far less people are living on so much less and find happiness. Our one child is 15 and she’s used to 15 years of a certain standard of living (schools, activities, travel, etc.). In an effort to keep our daughter in the same school and in the same activities we’re concentrating on keeping the standard of living stable for now. But, when she launches (three and a half years) – we’re going to reduce our cost of living substantially, and retire in five years. It’s been such a fun project to research and focus on this change for us as we are less upset about our teenager who is naturally developing a life of her own. We can all be happy for each other (instead of begrudging the amount of time she isn’t spending with us of late). :) One of my workmates recently told me that I was being selfish considering we’d be downsizing substantially after Miss Moe heads to college because children like to come back to their familiar nest. It’s not the nest, but the birds in it!

    • Ms. W March 21, 2018, 4:22 pm

      Our daughter is a senior in highschool – graduating soon and off to college. We recently downsized from a large house to a two bedroom apt. My daughter loves it! I think we as parents put too much emphasis on maintaining the standard of living. Something that the next generation (at least my daughter) doesn’t care so much about. I wish we had done this sooner.

  • kindoflost March 10, 2018, 6:30 am

    Love it! Only complain is that probably the sweet zone box is too close to the none/none point (can you tell I am an engineer? haha). If I may add something, there is another sweet spot to find and work on: some of us will be better at building wealth and some at building confidence. Don’t get too distressed if you are not good at both, work on your strength, but keep in mind there is less competition on the confidence side. Keep them coming MMM!

  • Mark B March 10, 2018, 6:34 am

    I’m sure I’m not your typical reader. I’m in my early fifties and work in the electrical construction industry. I started reading MMM a few years ago and what it did for me is to help validate my frugal lifestyle,I wasn’t sure there were others like me out there . I find myself reading these articles and nodding my head in agreement,this one really hit home I quit a lousy job 18months ago and it immediately felt a huge weight off my shoulders. Fear had kept me paralyzed, no more I now have the confidence to make choices based on freedom not fear.

  • FIRECracker March 10, 2018, 6:38 am

    “Billions of people are living far less expensive lives than mine, and yet many millions of these people are surely happier than me.”

    One of the most important realizations we discovered while travelling. People adapt, they build connections, they create communities, all that becomes more valuable than money. You realized how little you need to be happy. It’s easy to get trapped in the mindset of “more , more, more” if you haven’t ventured outside your bubble.

    I’ve found that the longer you are retired, the more confident you become. But it’s hard to gain that confidence when you’re continuously indoctrinated in the cubical and can’t stop running the treadmill. My biggest fear, before retiring at 31, was running out of money and never working again. But in fact, it’s been easier to make money in retirement than I thought. Like you said, curious, diligent people will always find a way to make money and not run out of purpose. The fears are overblown, but I don’t blame those who are scared. It’s hard to gain confidence and let go when you’ve been in the rat race for so long. It feels like jumping off a cliff. But as it turns out, you had wings all along.

  • Mr. Financial Freedom Project March 10, 2018, 6:50 am

    An absolutely profound article, MMM! As a long-time reader dating back to the early days of the blog, I agree with many of the earlier posters that this is an absolute classic destined to inspire and empower for many years to come.

    As a natural-born perfectionist (I prefer “lover of excellence”), I too suffer from a desire to constantly overachieve. While this pays dividends in some areas, the dark side of perfectionism includes saying no to what could otherwise be fun activities which I don’t feel I have mastered or can put in a good showing.

    More to the point of the article, another dark side of perfectionism is a lack of risk-taking. I gutted out an incredibly demanding and soul-sucking job far longer than I should have due to a 401K match that constituted my own version of golden handcuffs.

    While my golden handcuffs story likely differs from some as I still left by age 30, staying as long as I did meant my family and I paid an extremely high price in our personal lives and relationships. For years, I feared that leaving meant extremely delaying or giving up on my dream of achieving FI as a single income family with just an average income.

    Overachieving tends to lend itself to an aversion of risk, as we perfectionists want to ensure a good outcome before taking the proverbial leap. I lacked the needed confidence to just up and take the FI plunge for years, and was on the ledge for so long that I got to know all the pigeons by name.

    As you point out, confidence = money. I undervalued the first part of that equation for far too long.

  • FullTimeFinance March 10, 2018, 7:17 am

    I use to struggle with job interviews because of lack of confidence. People wouldn’t hire me because they thought I didn’t know what I was doing because I was nervous. I got over that a few years back and now consistently get the new job. Confidence is the key


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