Pizza Delivery is for Millionaires

My son and I are having a beautiful Saturday night here at home. The sun is setting over the mountains outside my bedroom window and I’ve just finished baking a pizza which I am about to serve up for his dinner.

Although our day has been very simple, there has been an underlying magic within it that triggered an epiphany that I just had to write to you about. Because within this simple moment seems to be the secret to pretty much everything.

We woke up to a cloudless blue sky and were treated to summer-like warmth even though it’s November. I served up a French toast breakfast and then we ate together as we made plans for our day. We decided the first stage would be some computer work for him, while I went out to do some yard work and a bit of maintenance and cleanup on my construction van, to get it ready to lend to a friend.

Stage Two was our big walk downtown. Little MM wanted to get some shots of old buildings as part of an assignment for photography class, and I wanted to fix a minor leak in the roof of the MMM HQ Coworking building, so we decided to combine the errands. The walk was long and adventurous and we even stopped for some exorbitant ice cream cones on the way, courtesy of a gift card I received for helping someone last month.

We got it all done – Little MM got his 24 required shots, I fixed the roof and also ran into my co-owners Mr. and Mrs. 1500 who were setting up the building for a group breakfast tomorrow. So my boy and I strolled the 1.5 miles home through the sunny leafy autumn streets of Longmont and settled in for the night.

I popped one of my homemade pizzas into the oven. Because it was a big one, it was going to take at least 25 minutes to cook so I figured I’d use that time to shower off the day’s dust and sunscreen. But then I noticed my hair was starting to get a bit out of control so I gave myself a quick haircut before the shower.

And as I stepped out of my room, dressed in clean clothes and feeling sharp and healthy and arriving in the fancy kitchen I built last month just as the oven beeped to indicate the pizza was finished, I realized that this is the secret to wealth. Days like today. Monetary wealth for sure, but also every other kind of wealth.

We had just enjoyed an almost perfect day almost effortlessly, just by having the right habits in place.

We had a shitload of fun, socialized and exercised and advanced the projects that are important to us. But simultaneously, we spent very close to zero dollars, and left the world mostly unscathed as we finished our day.

The beeping of that oven full of homemade pizza was what really set off the epiphany in my head.

“Damn”, I realized, “even with all this excess money building up over the years, it didn’t even occur to me to order a pizza. It’s just automatic, and thus faster and cheaper and healthier, to make my own.”

Plus by avoiding the delivery I am saving my neighbors from one gas-powered car bringing an unnecessary extra serving of danger and pollution onto our street. It’s a three-way win with no losing involved.

Ordering a decent extra-large pizza including tax, tip and delivery: $20
Dad’s Homemade pizza: about $4
Difference: 500%

Sure, the difference here is only sixteen bucks, but I wanted to highlight the percentage difference instead. Because if you apply this philosophy of efficient, automatic habits all through your life, it really does tend to cut your costs so that your life becomes 2, 3, 4, or even 5 times less expensive.

So I thought to myself “WHY does anyone who is not even a millionaire yet, or even worse who has a mortgage or credit card debt, still do something as frivolous and easily avoided as ordering a pizza?*”

With that example drawn out in detail, let’s look at some of the other details of this day:

New kitchen in my latest frugal fixer-upper house in progress. Even the toaster is fancy!

My new kitchen which made that pizza cooking so enjoyable was built on a total budget of about $6000 including changing the floorplan, electrical, plumbing, cabinets, countertops and all the appliances.

This is less than half of what custom-ordered cabinets alone would have cost, and a full kitchen remodel of this type usually tops $25,000. But by getting assemble-it-myself cabinets from Ikea and my appliances from Craigslist and doing all of the work myself, I cut the cost by about 75%, while earning plenty of great physical exertion and satisfaction at the same time. Savings: about $20,000 or 80%

My son is in the public middle school rather than in the private school across town, which is where some of the other multimillionaire parents send their kids. If the private school were better for his needs, of course we could afford to send him there too. But we gave the local option a chance and it has turned out to be an incredible place for him. Savings: about $20,000 per year or roughly 100%

We chose walking as our means of transportation, and if we were in a rush we would have ridden our bikes. This habit of not driving doesn’t just save me gas and maintenance money, it also allows me to keep an older vehicle. I have a 1999 Honda van that is still in sparkling new condition.

She just reached drinking age, all cleaned up for her first can of Coors Light!

It stays new because I barely use it, because I have designed my life to be within an entirely muscle-powered radius. But this brand-new van is worth less than two grand and insurance is about twenty bucks a month. Maintenance is less than $10, registration is $5. Savings versus owning an “average” $35,000 American car and driving an average amount: about $600 per month or 90%.

We didn’t go “shopping” (100% savings), watched a movie at home instead of the theatre (100%), I cut my own hair for the something-hundredth time (100%), we advanced our health rather than chipping away at it (100%), and built this warm caring relationship with each other as well as with our friends (priceless).

And there were all sorts of other less tangible things working in the background too. I bought a commercial building and started this coworking space as a way to pass the time and spend time with old and new friends – the same reasons that someone might buy a vacation home in the mountains or at the beach.

But instead of costing me a few thousand dollars per month and requiring 100 miles of driving every time I visit, this building is just a pleasant walk from home and it generates thousands per month in cashflow and appreciation. It is great for the mental and physical health of all of our 75 members and growing, and we all save money by being a part of this community.

Mr. 1500 and I hosting a party at MMM-HQ for the first screening of the Playing with FIRE documentary, April 2019

The funny part of all this is that today was a completely normal day for us – most of my days are very similar to this one. The only unusual part was that I happened to take a step back and actually notice it. And that is really the point of this whole article:

We get used to our daily routine, and think of it as “normal”, even if it is completely ridiculous.

In recent months, I have just had my eyes re-opened as I have had more contact with people who are living more typical American lives than me. Their normal is different than mine, so when I visit I happen to notice the differences – more car trips and impulse purchases and pizza deliveries.

These people are not living lifestyles that appear exorbitant at all, and their houses aren’t packed with expensive things. But these little 5-to-1 differences just silently happen, quietly and consistently and add up to perhaps $100 per day, when compared with a more streamlined lifestyle.

And $100 every day becomes $36,500 every year, and if you invest that conservatively it will compound into about $520,000 every decade.

$520,000 per decade.
Just from the tiny mindset switch between
“hey lets order a pizza”
“Hey, let’s throw a pizza into the oven.”

I really think this is important, and as this whole “FIRE Movement” thing grows, some people are getting soft and complaining that Mr. Money Mustache is “too extreme”, and so we should take a gentler and easy path and let our spending get sloppy if that is what’s right for us.

The thing is, this is usually just wrong. It’s laziness rather than practicality. Because Mr. Money Mustache is already plenty spendy, and plenty sloppy – well beyond the level required to live a happy life.

I can afford to live this way, because I’m old and wealthy now. If you are still young and poor, you should be spending less than me, not more.

So, pizza delivery is for millionaires, and it’s also time to put away those car-clown keys and get back on your bike. We’ve still got work to do.

* Of course, this is a perfect-world generalization. Real life has room for joyful exceptions and imperfections. But you have to know the reality of what you should be doing, before you can safely start making exceptions like ordering your pampered ass a pizza.

  • Marcia November 19, 2019, 12:23 pm

    The power of habit! Our good habits have helped us a lot, but some of our good habits we let slide a bit. Friday night used to be pizza night once or twice a month, then it got to be every week. I don’t make homemade pizza anymore – I had to go gluten free 2 years ago and haven’t attempted GF crust. In the end, I decided the $6.50 Costco GF pizza is just fine, though soon it won’t serve 4 (my older child is also 13 and in JH, so some days he could eat the whole thing). One good thing about kids is that just throwing together a meal (quesadillas and salad are the go to) is far easier than ordering in or going out.

    I would note though, there is a reason for your habits – and that mostly it comes down to 2 things: 1. you had those habits before you became a parent. 2. you are retired. Making changes when you are already a parent can be far harder because you are already pulled in several directions. On top of that, the typical family with 2 jobs and 1-3 young kids are pretty much fucking exhausted. Ordering a pizza is just so much easier. (I have an officemate in this position right now.) Plus: if you aren’t used to cooking, or have young babies, or picky eaters – the amount of head space it takes to shop, plan meals, cook, etc., is not trivial (especially on top of all the other things).

    I have personally seen friends make positive changes towards eating out less, doing their own home improvement – but it all happened once the kids were well into elementary school (thus, much less hands on work).

    Now my struggle is the 13 yo who suddenly wants takeout. I am not unilaterally opposed to takeout. I have enough food sensitivities that I’d prefer not, but I have no problem with 3-4 school fundraisers a year at a restaurant, or a treat now and then while on vacation. My most recent response this weekend was this: fine. If you want to go get your favorite sandwich, you can. Two rules: 1. you have to spend your own money. 2. You have to get there on your own two feet. OOOH he did not like that second rule. In the end, he negotiated a bike ride vs walking (1.5 miles each way, up a big hill) with his dad. I was fine, it was still human powered.

    (On a positive note, he knows how to make nachos. I just need to teach him how to make his favorite grilled cheese and bacon sandwich. Step 1: start buying bacon.)

    • Peter November 20, 2019, 2:45 pm

      Hi Marcia,

      I absolutely see your point that it is far harder to establish such habits when you are already totally stressed out. And I don’t have kids myself, so I can’t really tell from experience. But I think one common mistake is to try to make all changes at once.

      That’s what is happening every year at New Year when everybody makes their resolutions and signs up to the gym and promises to quit smoking and eat healthily, quit the booze and so on. That’s just too much at once and it is highly unlikely that this will succeed. Humans, unfortunately, have the tendency to just dump the whole project, if their discipline fails them a couple of times. And with so much change, that will definitely happen.

      Therefore, maybe the best thing is to go really slow on your behavior changes. Try to pick just a little new habit and wait until it becomes normal to you. And only then start with the next little thing. At least that is what the behavioral science says and that seems to work very well for me.

  • Peter November 19, 2019, 12:24 pm

    This is a great article and the reminders of what makes a rich life never get old.

    As to leaving “the world mostly unscathed as we finished our day” – hard to claim when you’re putting (presumably factory farmed) meat and dairy on your pizza.

  • Chuck Albacore November 19, 2019, 12:31 pm

    Um, isn’t FIRE all about cutting corners? You obviously don’t, since your pizzas are SQUARE.
    Use that photo as a response to “All MMM talks about is cutting things out of my spendy life!”
    Square pizza? What are you going to think up next, drinking out of cans sideways so it doesn’t squish your nose?
    I approve this message.

  • peter November 19, 2019, 12:33 pm

    We are looking to replace our 2004 Volvo XC90 that we paid 6k cash five years ago. The turbo is broken, and it is leaking a lot of oil. The repairs will be close to 2k, but it’s terrible on gas, Leaks in the rain and has many other issues, so we don’t think it’s worth it. We calculated the total cost of ownership for this vehicle is 525/mth. I don’t know how you get $20 per month insurance, but here in BC car insurance in about $200/mth. So we have been looking into getting a tesla model 3, which would be more ~600-700/month. We tried using car-share services, in which there are three different services here in Vancouver( Car2Go, Evo, Modo). Still, we spent over 700 in a month for our transportation need with two kids etc. and its more difficult, causing us significant time lost booking retrieving, returning. The Tesla is much safer has no carbon footprint I will never have to go to a gas station, never change the oil, the brakes never wear out, so service is minimal. Is Tesla the Mistachian choice? or am I missing something

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 19, 2019, 4:14 pm

      If you have to have a car and you can truly afford it, I’d go for a Tesla. It’s almost 2020 and it’s time to be done with the steam/horse/gasoline era.

      But if I were faced with $200 per month insurance, I’d give up personal car ownership altogether. Just keep a fleet of good bikes, an ebike, maybe an e-scooter around, and use Lyft/Uber/public transit in those rare cases you can’t use your own body for transportation. It is amazingly liberating!

      • peter November 21, 2019, 12:00 am

        we do! we have fleet of Norco’s! I built a gravel bike from used parts last year and use it all I can to get around the city and it make me happy every time a do!
        but after reading your article we changed our mind and decided to get a used Honda odyssey $9k instead of $45k tesla I make cabinets for a living so it will be good for hauling 4×8 sheets instead of waiting for a sunny day to use the roof rack. with two kids and a dog, it fits all our needs but your article really helped me rethink what would MMM do!

    • Dave November 25, 2019, 8:25 am

      Remember Tesla’s and electric cars still take huge resources in manufacturing batteries and the rest of car as well as drawing electricity produced from natural gas and coal. Bikes or electric bikes blow them away in efficiency

  • Kathy O November 19, 2019, 12:46 pm

    Thanks for the pizza recipe and inspiration.

    Your kitchen looks fantastic!

    Kathy O

  • Robert November 19, 2019, 1:00 pm

    Thank you for the Pizza recipe and the firm reminder of what being a financial badass is all about. We are presented with chances to spend money multiple times a day and only get to financial independence by being disciplined about these expenses every…single…day. We became financially independent and left work after fifteen or so years and people I meet still doubt the basics: A decade to a decade and a half of discipline. The math is the math

  • Jeremy Stone November 19, 2019, 1:00 pm

    When I was lucky enough to visit the old MMM home, MMM was making these pizzas for his son’s dinner and extras for later! As you might expect, he was very efficient with it! If anyone is looking for relatively inexpensive frozen pizzas with quality (again, relatively speaking) ingredients – try Home Run Inn frozen pizzas. About $7 or so. And very tasty.

  • KATE SCHWARZ November 19, 2019, 1:45 pm

    another low-cost option for those who can’t or won’t DIY haircuts is beautician/cosmetology schools, which usually offer haircuts without appointments for <$10. You'll support local students trying to earn their certifications/professional licenses. There are really only 1/2 dozen main styles each for women & men. Once you grasp this concept, there's no need to pay more.

    In a few hours, I'll walk <1 mile to my homeowners association annual meeting. My house is the furthest from the meeting's location, but I'll be THE ONLY ONE who walks b/c lazy Americans are addicted to gas/oil and their oversized, motorized wheelchairs that petroleum fuels. My neighbors will stare at me in horror, and question why I was outside for 20-30 mins in the 50 degree clear nighttime, never once considering enjoying the waning moonlight, or the rejuvenation of the lower-humidity air. They will complain about trash and traffic at the meeting, of course, to which they all heavily contribute. They'll order pizzas delivered from the poor quality, sugary-sauced pizza retailer in the shopping center that's <.5 mile from all our houses. Ugh.

  • Troy November 19, 2019, 1:50 pm

    If you thought the internet retirement police were bad, well you’ve got it coming, because you have unleashed the pineapple on pizza police! RUNN!

    My personal favorite :D

  • Theresa November 19, 2019, 1:58 pm

    One of the reasons this day was great was because it involved so much *leisure* which is something our culture has forgotten, and one of the main attractants of mustachianism. Have you read “Leisure, the Basis of Culture”? I’d be really interested in your take.

  • Adam Zaleski November 19, 2019, 2:15 pm

    I have a strong preference for crunchy crust over soft crust, so I rarely get delivery. We did buy a pizza stone, which helps get the crust more crunchy. I will typically buy a 4-pack of cheese pizzas from Costco for $9.99. I will experiment with my own toppings and then throw a little extra cheese on the very top.

  • ChAz November 19, 2019, 2:34 pm

    My husband has had restaurants and pizzerias for the last 16 years.
    We get “free” pizzas and other meals whenever we like.
    That has resulted in my kids getting tired of pizzas. But if I take the same ingredients and dough (homemade or from our restaurant) then they suddenly enjoy it more. Because it’s something they made.
    They are 15 and 17y.
    They enjoy takeaway and eating out with friends. But homemade pizzas and enchiladas are a big hit

  • Mr Money Australia November 19, 2019, 2:53 pm

    Ahh you have done it again MMM. You have inspired me all the way from USA to Australia. I’m going to go out and buy a bread maker now (second hand of course).

    I miss your ramblings on here and was so happy to hear from you again in this post. I hope you are well and living your best life. Take care and best regards to your little one.

  • Michele November 19, 2019, 3:02 pm

    Is that $5 car registration a typo??? I just received mine for my originally-owned 1998 Honda Accord and it is $156 — ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-SIX DOLLARS for a twenty-one-year-old car that I drive less than 3,000 miles per year!!! That’s California living for ya. Mortgage is paid off, bought the car with cash, but the property/vehicle/etc. taxes just keep going up every year . . . .

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 19, 2019, 3:55 pm

      That’s a monthly figure – about $60 per year for an old car here in cheap Colorado. Although that’s probably way too cheap, meaning we are subsidizing private car-clown driving with public tax money, which is very backwards from an economic perspective.

      I think the ideal solution would be that car registration is free (and income and property taxes would be lower), but every public road is an auto-billed toll road, billed at just a few cents per mile, whatever it takes to pay for the road and the underlying land. And it could scale up with the weight/size of the vehicle and with congestion and time of day pricing.

      • Michele November 20, 2019, 2:44 pm

        Ah, I completely missed the per month bit. And I like your proposed solution.

      • kz November 21, 2019, 3:07 pm

        There’s already plenty of congestion-based tolling in the US & abroad, via public-private partnership with this AUS company https://www.transurban.com/roads-and-projects In Singapore, every car is outfitted with a electronic toll tag, and there are arches over all the big roads, a lesson in modernization that NJ desperately needs to embrace.

    • Dave November 25, 2019, 10:00 am

      Price of living in the most socialist state in the USA

  • Rebekah November 19, 2019, 3:11 pm

    We make pizza almost every Friday night. Either from scratch, making dough in our bread machine and sauce from a can of tomato paste and herbs, or the lazy way, using convenience items from Trader Joe’s. This week we chose the lazy way: 3 bags of pizza dough ($1.29 each), one jar of pizza sauce ($1.99) one bag vegan mozzarella ($3.49), and various cheap veggies like a green bell pepper (.69) and mushrooms (1.79). Total came to $11.83, which made 3 very large pizzas and satisfied the appetites if two adults, two teenage boys, and a 10 year old. The dough and vegan cheese freeze beautifully, so we don’t have to run to the store at the last minute. Like U said, I prefer to make it from scratch at about half the cost, but this lazy version still beats the pants off delivery.

  • classical_liberal November 19, 2019, 3:53 pm

    It’s nice to read a couple of Back-to-Basics articles the last few months. JLF of ERE used to always say he lives a normal life at 25% of the cost. Hence gets $4 of value from every $1 he spends vs “normal” folks. In my opinion, too much of the current FIRE movement is upper 20% income earners, spending at median income levels. Not that this is necessarily bad, but it leaves everyone without high income high and dry for their social group connection. It’s, by far, the biggest stumbling block of push this movement to the next level.

  • Tom R November 19, 2019, 5:40 pm

    MMM, about 8 years ago my brother in law pointed me to your website. I poured through just about every article and many more than once. Loved your website, ideas, and philosophy on life :) My wife and I focused on paying off the townhome, reducing expenses and investing the surplus. Long story short, we both exited 20 year career jobs within the last year that added stress and reduced life. In our mid 40s we decided part time work was the best short term way forward for us. It’s been great…and I would really just like to say Thank you! Thank you for having the guts to create this website and share your ideas with the rest of us…life changing stuff really, thank you :)

  • Lyn November 19, 2019, 6:10 pm

    Would you consider writing an article about how to save money when you have a family member with a chronic health issue? We have a child who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (not caused by diet, it is an autoimmune disease). My employer insurance is getting worse and worse so we went with the very high deductible plan with the low monthly premium because all of the plans had high premiums and it felt like we has to pick the lesser of two evils. Diabetes requires so many supplies each month that the cost really adds up. We could have a very different lifestyle if we did not have these expenses. It is really hard to comparison shop with pharmacies, medical device supply companies, and doctors because there is no up front pricing and often they can’t even quite a price to me until after they run it through insurance. Anyway, just an idea for your next article! I am also curious about the legality of cash paying for medical stuff to get the better rate and not running it through my high deductible insurance. For example, at one point a one month supply of continuous glucose monitor sensors cost me $1000 but if I didn’t have insurance and paid cash it would be $350.

  • Paul November 19, 2019, 6:14 pm

    Ok, so here’s how you make a REALLY effing good pizza, like better than any restaurant, and for even cheaper.

    Admittedly, this takes a bit longer and some planning… This is more like a cheap way to have a really fancy dinner.

    Start off by making your own sourdough. It’s super easy. Basically just 1-to-1 flour to water in a jar for a couple weeks, and you’ve got sourdough starter. If you find a recipe that says it’s hard, find a different one. It’s quite easy to do. Google “Sourdough Starter-Along” and look for the Serious Eats one.

    This saves you the cost of buying yeast and tastes way better.

    Now, once you’ve got some sourdough starter, put about 3/4 cup of that into your pizza dough mix. My typical pizza dough is 4 1/2 cups flour, 1 3/4 cups water, some salt and some olive oil.

    Stir this all together with your hands until it is just mixed. I add the last 1/2 cup of flour slowly, until the dough stops aggressively sticking to my hands.

    Cover the dough tightly and let it sit for about 12 hours at room temp. Once that’s done cut the dough in half, put it in two covered containers, and refrigerate for about 24-36 hours.

    Take this out a couple hours before you plan to cook it and let it come up to about room temperature. Pre-heat your oven to as hot as it goes. Now carefully shape the dough, slap some ingredients on (drained and crushed canned whole roma tomatoes work really well, with a little salt, oregano, and garlic for cheap, good sauce).

    Put it in the oven for about 13 minutes (cook your two doughs separately).

    You’ll get 2 insanely great pizzas. Better than any restaurant, and costs just a few bucks.

  • Ryan Mercer November 19, 2019, 6:54 pm

    Yeah but I’ll enjoy that pizza I purchase out (carry out or deliver) a whole lot more than one I make myself because, you know, it’ll actually taste good. Every pizza I’ve tried to make at home, and most freezer pizzas, end up being nasty and go into the trash half-eaten because I’m not a chef.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 19, 2019, 9:50 pm

      Ryan, why are you even reading the Mr. Money Mustache blog if you are going to waste all of our time by posting self-defeating shit like this?

      • MKE November 30, 2019, 11:30 am

        People post “self-defeating shit” on the MMM comments all the time, yet Ryan is the one who gets blasted. mmmm….
        Let’s say there are dozens of posts full of “self-defeating shit” about how people can’t ride a bike, can’t walk, and generally have to make 100% of their trips by car. Do they get attacked? Of course not! Can’t ruffle feathers when it comes to our Almighty God the Car. An inconsequential thing like pizza is ripe for attack, though. It’s just an easy target no one will argue.
        Someone makes lame excuses for being a car addict, and they get kid gloves and tolerance. It’s not about “self-defeating shit,” it’s about choosing your subject.

    • Marcia November 22, 2019, 4:16 pm

      You just need to lower your standards, man. I’ve tried to “master” good pizza at home. My experience, like yours, is that it’s “meh”. I’ve gotten good enough that it’s “acceptable”, but it simply is not as good as what you’d get at a pizzeria. I don’t have that kind of oven and I’m not interested enough in figuring out how to make my pizza even better. So I have just gotten less picky. (On the flip side, most other things I make are better than restaurant versions.)

      • Married to a Swabian November 24, 2019, 4:52 am

        Marcia and Ryan, you guys work for Domino’s, right?

        Making a good pizza is not rocket science! When I was a Sr in high school, I worked part time making Chicago style deep dish pizzas at a family owned restaurant. The place seated less than 80 people and a one man kitchen. On a Fri or Sat night, we sometimes cranked out close to 100 pizzas!

        Those pizzas were pretty pricey back in the day and guess what…the sauce, mushrooms and peppers all came out of a can!

        For thin crust, just crank the oven up to about 425, go buy a pizza peel ( I made mine in the wood shop), make or buy a good crust and bake it directly on the oven rack. The reason homemade pizzas turn out “meh”, is because trying to bake a pizza on a fucking cookie sheet is a terrible idea. Soggy crust every time. Also, don’t overload the pizza, especially with tomatoes or other ingredients that contain water, if you like a good crispy crust.

        Now stop making excuses and start making pizza!

  • peter stock November 19, 2019, 8:31 pm

    Oh crap, commenters cannot add photos. Oh well, I’ll describe it.
    Pizza Tip #1. make it in a cold cast iron frying pan. you can assemble it all out at your leisure (and not some frantic skid into the oven) and then whip it into a super hot 500deg oven. the crust crisps up amazingly well. Cast Iron – and not even preheated – does the trick.

    Pizza Tip #2. do it on unglazed clay tiles on the top rack of a BBQ. this one does require sliding it onto the tiles, always a delicate process (as the dough can get soggy and collapse on itself. cornmeal as ballbearings helps.)

    but really, you cannot do a pizza for $4. a ball of that crappy dry “pizza” mozarella (at least up here in Canada) costs $4 alone. and store bought dough (Hey, I’m lazy and it usually turns out better than my home made stuff) is $2 and it makes 2 pizzas.
    OK maybe if you make small pizzas and make the dough yourself. but still. good ingredients get expensive.
    but it is still so way worth making your own, just for the quality of the final product.

  • Simplifibythebay November 19, 2019, 8:52 pm

    We do this too except that I buy the dough or a base from Trader Joe’s and then can customize half and half with toppings that both of my kids like. But I have gotten caught with Domino’s 2 for $6 each medium sized pizzas, especially when I am feeling lazy:).

  • Ms Blaise November 19, 2019, 9:21 pm

    I think its hilarious that the comments are mostly about the pizza. which is not really the point of the article……
    I’ve been amazed,now that I have a daughter at school, by the number of parents doing school drop off and pick up on BIKES. Bikes with the trailers that MMM talks about. We walk, but many parents bike to and from work and also include their kids. There is one dad who comes to ballet class with us and he has all three girls on his bike: one front, one back and one in the trailer. Classic. Especially in wellington which is HILLY and has seriously bad weather. I always want to ask them if they read MMM. We need a secret hand signal…..

    • Bob November 19, 2019, 10:42 pm

      Reminds me of Freemasons, lol. Why don’t you just ask them ;) will let you strike up an interesting discussion instead of throwing everyone weird gang signs ;)

  • Nicola November 19, 2019, 11:06 pm

    My own recent epiphany on the secret of happiness is to live somewhere you are happy to spend your time, not somewhere you are constantly trying to get away from! Where we used to live people spent 60+ hrs a week at work, and most weekends away, somewhere, anywhere. Living somewhere you are happy to be, with things you like to do in easy reach is a game changer. It saves us thousands of dollars a year. Probably more than any other thing we try to do.

  • Ann Stanley November 19, 2019, 11:44 pm

    Thought I’d give a shout out to this great little book from Melbourne.
    Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb, ‘The Art of Frugal Hedonism: a guide to spending less while enjoying everything more’.
    A lovely read!

  • Anonymous November 20, 2019, 2:30 am

    Thanks for the reminder to step back and notice the magic moments. I’m a stay at home mother and it is so crucial to appreciate life as we have prioritized for. Even though we are not FI yet, life is very enjoyable in the process if we can see the magic.

  • A Fan of MMM November 20, 2019, 3:56 am

    Hello dear Mr Money Mustache,

    Delighted to come upon your latest post which, like all your posts, prompts me to think about things I usually do not think about, and I appreciate that. I find some of the comments in your comments section… interesting. Your response to the “privilege police” I found hilarious.

    As for bread machines, blessings upon y’all who love their bread machines, and your bread machines, too, but I do not have a bread machine, nor, though I could easily afford to buy one, would I want one. I would not want the bother having to shop for a bread machine, then to having to figure out how it works, then to find a place to store it, and (uuuy) actually drag it out and actually use it.

    I make “pizza” at home by taking a big fat slice of good sour dough bread and then piling onto it whatever may be handy– good cheese, assorted veg, meat slices (sometimes), olives, herbs, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Technically, this is not pizza, it must be eaten with a knife and fork, but let us not quibble: It tastes the same; it has the same ingredients. It is ridiculously easy and fast to make, too.

    Whether it is cheap or not mainly depends on the price one pays for the cheese.

    It goes into the oven at something like 300 F, more or less, until the cheese melts– whoa, this did not require a degree from the Culinary Institute of America!

    It helps to have already roasted whatever vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, chiles, onions) etc earlier. Sometimes I roast large batches of assorted veggies and keep them in the freezer in small labeled bags. Why small bags? Easier to defrost. Why labels? Because otherwise the freezer devolves into the Big Box of Lumpy Little Bags of Mysteries.

    For being subjected to having eat what passes for “pizza” from the usual suspects dealing in pizza delivery, you would have to pay me, and my charge would be $700 per slice. No, $1,700. No, wait… $5,000.

    • Ms Blaise November 26, 2019, 2:15 am

      Your sourdough pizza sounds delicious. And your cooking instructions are similar to mins – cook until cheese melts and it smells cooked.

  • Michael Kelly November 20, 2019, 5:00 am

    I think this article so graciously explains the MMM philosophy. It is so simple yet effective. I have lived most of my life this way and it has paid off quite well. I am retired enjoying life and am still able to help out those family members who need that from time to time. I think I may have also gotten one of my nephews on board and so am looking forward to seeing his financial growth. No one can argue with what was put forth in this article. I too make a good homemade pizza.

  • B.C. FrugalWheels November 20, 2019, 7:18 am

    Ah, a much needed dose of facepunch goodness from the Stash! As this movement grows, I’ve too noticed this trend in the FIRE community – the crazy levels of spending and waste that are still called FIRE. Although I think there is flexibility in the movement, it can’t just be anything — otherwise the concept loses its meaning.

    But one of the worst I’ve noticed is a trend toward “you don’t have to be extreme, like clipping coupons or riding your bike everywhere, to still follow FIRE.” In so many countries riding a bicycle for transportation is the most natural thing in the world. A Finnish friend on Twitter shared a photo of a snow-covered school lined with little bicycles. Yet in America, the very idea is “extreme.” It’s ridiculous that people in a community being conscious of their spending and, one would hope, environmental impact, would call something as innocuous as riding a bicycle “extreme.” Somehow using a giant gas powered transport vehicle to move a single human is perfectly normal in this world. And don’t even get me started on leaf blowers…

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 20, 2019, 10:37 am

      Right – the two activities have different purposes. Clipping coupons is mostly about saving money, hopefully on food that you were already going to buy in the first place.

      Whereas biking (when used as a replacement for driving) is not really about saving money at all, even though it does save a shitload. It plays a much bigger role by drastically improving your entire life, and the lives of every other living thing on Earth. If you still have the gift of physical mobility, giving up gas-car driving and riding a bike is not optional.

      • Married to a Swabian November 24, 2019, 5:14 am

        Hey MMM, first off, I’m glad to see a new post that is engaging the Mustachian community again!

        We’re pretty dialed into the frugal lifestyle and live well below our means. The one area that I would love to do more is riding the bike. We live in the Detroit area and, as you can imagine, it’s ALL about the car (especially giant fucking pickups and SUVs) around here. We have third world roads with almost no bike lanes.

        I trained for and completed an Olympic aqua bike (triathlon minus the run) this year, so I logged around 800 miles in training on my road bike. I frequently loaded up the bike and drove to an area with less traffic and decent country roads, so as to not get killed while riding. Either everyone is Texting while driving, or think it funny to run a cyclist off the road, but around here, it seems that 1 in 10 drivers whiz by too close for comfort!

        I would welcome feedback as to how others deal with similar shit in areas that are plainly not bicycle friendly.

  • Rounding the Bend November 20, 2019, 9:16 am

    Hi MMM,

    How about a future post that describes your kitchen remodel? I’m interested in some of the details.

  • Josh November 20, 2019, 6:34 pm

    I think that the valuation of physical exertion is fundamental to a mustachian/healthy lifestyle, and it is a mentality that seems hard to come by within the general population. I did not come to value it until the last couple of years. I used to laugh at my dad for doing yard work by hand when others would use tractors, ATVs and backpack blowers for what he did (and still does) with a shovel and a rake.

  • Jenni November 20, 2019, 8:50 pm

    I love reading your posts because they encourage me that I am not on the wrong path when things feel so hard. We have been paying down our $90K+ loans (mostly student loans) for almost five years, and we are almost there. But with 4 kids, it can feel exhausting at times to keep on doing the frugal thing. I do tally up the costs of what we are doing, though, from time to time to encourage myself. Things like living in a smaller home, having only one car, lower grocery bill, not eating out, less spending on clothing and things in general, etc. I figured that our different way of living was saving us over $24K a year, and that’s after-tax. When we are done with our loans, we will have twice as much money as we normally do, but it can be easy to spend more just because you have it, so this is a good reminder to keep focused on what’s really important.

  • Jess November 20, 2019, 10:34 pm


    followed your writing for a while and big fan of your work.

    was in a severe car accident recently and with some time i’m now in a place to get a replacement car.

    i want to get a 2nd hand car, no frills, gets from point a to b.

    have limited time with schedule and mediocre knowledge about cars.

    how would you recommend finding solution asap (am currently in a rental which is obviously suboptimal)

    *have reviewed your post on 2nd hand cars as best option vs lease etc but don’t have time on my side to analyze extensively, although that is my penchant vice/virtue when time permits.


    ps know most posts were on pizza here – love home cooked meals and so glad people like u exist to validate how although an anomaly compared to colleagues and peers …i have zero desir to eat out and 110% desire to enjoy the simple beauty of cooking from scratch and sitting down to a glorious healthy happy meal.

    pps pineaple pizza is dope. was my go to in college

    as always many thanks for your comedy and bad ass writing/inspiration

  • Anonymous November 20, 2019, 11:31 pm

    It’s like I knew this but was completely bullshitting myself into thinking it was ok to order pizza. I’m going to give this pizza making business an honest try.

  • JeffD November 21, 2019, 1:31 am

    I see that many people took away from this article that once good habits are formed, they come naturally. My takeaway was slightly different from just about everybody. For me, the point was that living frugally can naturally and automatically lead to a richer life, rather than feeling like a cog in a machine with a prescribed script for how to live one’s life. By living frugally, you get to self actualize in ways that the vast majority of people in the US will never experience. I will be getting married this Friday to my girlfriend of nine years, and I find that living frugally has made us love each other more rather than less, compared to the way I was living “like everyone else” in past relationships.

  • Jay November 21, 2019, 4:14 am

    I made a pizza the other night.

    Pizza dough- $3
    Jar of sauce- $1.99
    Bag of mozzarella- $3.99
    Bag of pepperoni- $3.49
    Tax- 9%

    Pizza Hut delivery- One large one topping- $7.99, $2.99 delivery, $3 tip ($14 + tax)

    Cost to make $12.50 + tax + the time I could have been doing something more productive.

    $1.50 for convenience once every couple weeks.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 21, 2019, 1:01 pm

      Right, but if we are getting into nitpicking the numbers, you have to get your shopping game right.

      For a single large pizza:
      Pizza dough: (mostly comprised of about 300 grams of flour): $0.40
      1/3 of a 24 oz jar of sauce: $0.70
      about 2/3 pound of shredded cheese (1/8th of a 5 pound Costco bag: $1.25)
      a shitload of pepperoni (a tiny fraction of a 2 pound bag of the Costco thin sliced stuff): $1.00

      Total: under $4.

      Mr. Money Mustache is not pulling these numbers out of his ass – there’s a reason I actually retired at 30, and that reason is that the numbers are real.

  • Marie Jacobs November 21, 2019, 9:14 am

    When you have your health and are happy with how your life is set up it seems easy to go into your fully stocked kitchen to make food after a full day. When you wake up unhappy and exhausted it is easy to look at the same events and have the attitude to complain that you wanted to spend time with your kid but have to do yard work, clean the van, cut your hair and fix that darn roof leak while your kid has computer work, a big 24 picture assignment for school and little time to spend with you anyway. Add in that the kid only eats pizza while you prefer salad. If a kid also happens to spend several hours tap dancing on the parents last nerve by needing constant reminder and correction and it’s not really that surprising a parent complains they are too tired to shop for the supplies, come home and make dinner vs the ease of takeout and avoiding an argument over who gets their way for food. The real value of this lifestyle is not saving $16 on homemade pizza but in setting up your life with conscious healthy habits including optimism and planning ahead that gives you patience and energy to make win-win choices late in a tiring day because you also have the mental muscle to keep going when it’s hard. Planning ahead to have on hand what you need when you need it makes it easier to follow through with the choice you consciously made earlier instead of something that seems easier in a moment when you’re not thinking at all.

    My question would be why is someone who has credit card debt and high cholesterol or high blood pressure still surprised when they find themselves hungry but haven’t prearranged anything healthy ready to easily make and eat? It’s not like eating is a shocking and unexpected black swan event. But no food delivery at all until debt free millionaire status seems harsh, even if I personally pass that test and have no plans for food delivery any time soon.

  • Jared November 21, 2019, 9:36 am

    You talk a lot about your remodeling and construction projects. I know you’ve done a few posts in the past, but how would you recommend someone who’s currently working 40+ hours a week pick up some serious skills in this area? I’ve thought about volunteering for some organizations like Habitat for Humanity, but I’ve heard that sometimes the people teaching you don’t always know the right way to do things.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 21, 2019, 12:51 pm

      If you are a homeowner, you are already living in the ultimate classroom! Just spend your weekends working on the house, with YouTube and any people you meet as your teachers.

      If you are a renter, then yes volunteering with Habitat or with a handy friend who DOES own a house is also valuable.

  • SachaFiscal November 21, 2019, 1:18 pm

    This article provides some timely inspiration for me. I’ve been slowly descending into a world of takeout over the past few months. I used to be really good about the meal planning and grocery shopping and cooking at home. I started getting busy with some other activities and put them at a higher priority than cooking. I’ve gained about 10lbs because of it and I am probably not eating a very healthy assortment of foods. I really need to get back to cooking and the first step is a meal plan and a trip to the grocery store which I will do today!

  • Jen November 21, 2019, 1:44 pm

    This was so good!!! Of course it would be. What I really notice is how much we seem to have the need to be entertained. As if we are always needing stimulation in the form of movies, amusement parks, mini amusement parks inside of our malls, fancy bowling alleys, fancy golf ranges with bars . . there’s always something new and exciting and this is what many are teaching to the next generation. I’m wondering, rhetorical of course, how can we start finding the fun and shiny in every day life? And why do so many complain about global warming and climate change, yet they have big house, big remodels and sit in the Starbucks drive thru. What will it take for us to calm down??

  • Brian November 21, 2019, 2:53 pm

    “We’ve still got work to do.”

    That line has been haunting my thoughts for the past 24 hours. What a beautiful and simple call to action.

    I have also noticed that there has been a larger emphasis on spending more. I think a large part of it is because we frugal types don’t FEEL like we are depriving ourselves of anything. There is no pain for us.

    This message is dangerous though!

    For those that aren’t naturally frugal, and for those that just need a reminder to work out our frugality muscles need to remember what badassity looks like and what we claim to aspire to.

    Let’s go.

  • S.P.Riley November 21, 2019, 4:08 pm

    Something else you can do with homemade pizza dough is to make calzones. You just fold the dough in half like a quesadilla. We have two little boys and we have regular calzone parties with friends and their kids. Letting a 5 year old pour homemade tomato sauce (costco), sprinkle cheese (costco) and sausage (costco) on top of a pizza dough and then fold it in half is so much fun for them. They make sure they mark it so everyone knows whose is whose. They all prefer it to anything we could get delivered. And it’s so cheap, I can feed a 6 adults, 4 kids on two pizza doughs and some basic ingredients. Add some red wine and you’ve got a party.

    As a side note, the best investment I made in regards to dough and baking is getting an electronic scale. You just weigh everything, and it’s perfect every time. The scale is less than $20, I’ve been using the same one for 10 years.

    500g of flour
    325g of water
    10g of salt
    3g of active yeast

    I should also say I built my own wood oven in my back yard by hand, brick by brick. But it’s been used countless times by friends, family, neighbors and has pumped out many many delicious meals.

  • Tristan November 21, 2019, 5:06 pm

    The idea that having to make homemade pizza with cured meats, exotic fruits and vegetables, high quality fresh and disease-free cheese and crust is not fancy enough for a middle to low income earner is so bizarre by historical standards that it makes me laugh.

    When did we all decide that we had to live like fantastical monarchs in order to be happy?

    “Bring me fresh cheese! And cured meats from around the globe spiced with herbs from even farther afield! Bake a fresh bread crust! Cover it in sauce from tomatoes only picked at the peak of ripeness and spiced in the tradition of Italy! Oh, and don’t forget sliced pineapple from far off Hawaii! Bake it all together in a machine that makes fire with no spark!”

    “Yes your majesty, right away. Will you be coming down to the kitchen to eat it?”


  • Runrooster November 21, 2019, 6:38 pm

    I’ve forgotten how old miniMM is but the next step should be teaching him how to make his favorite meal. Or maybe everything but the baking part. I find that recipes I make at least once a month are easy. Less often and I lose the details- exact water consistency, bake time etc.

    For me, pizza is frozen not homemade, but bangain barta is on autopilot. (Actually pizza is a meal that bosses like to buy at work and I don’t need extra carbs outside of that.) I’ve been trying to resuscitate my peanut sauce recipe, once a weekly dish but haven’t made in years.

  • CapitalistRoader November 22, 2019, 8:25 am

    Do a search on “Low Carb Pork Rind Pizza Crust”. Click the link with that exact title. 1g Carbohydrate per slice. Thin & crispy heaven.

  • Jill Palmer November 22, 2019, 8:37 am

    Hi Mr. MMM-

    Really enjoyed this post. I had a great day like this with my children last weekend, and it perfectly describes what are really my favorite days with my kids.

    Would you consider doing a whole post on your kitchen remodel? I would love to see more and learn about how you changed layouts.

    Thank you!


  • Barrett F Sundberg November 22, 2019, 10:07 am

    Mouthwateringly excellent article, MMM. Loved the kitchen photo as well. It reminded of how your original posts made it clear that your thrift didn’t mean living a junky life, it could just be a thoughtfully excellent one. Thanks for the continued reinforcement.

  • Rosa November 22, 2019, 3:38 pm

    I found this article to be quite inspiring! Reading all the comments- I felt a little odd; It wasn’t about pizza at all!
    Far from a millionaire an I… I raised two very successful children on my own- extraordinarily proud to say my son is earning a million a year; my daughter just accepted a position in her company for over 50k a year.
    Both under 30 and not even a collage degree!
    Seldom do I say “if I could go back in time”-
    This article-your tips & tricks- if I’d only knew!
    Thank you kindly!

  • Dicey November 22, 2019, 8:09 pm

    HaHa – I just turned the oven on to preheat and laid out three small frozen whole grain pizza crusts (3/.99 at the 99 Cents Only Store) to defrost. I figured I’d kill a few minutes by poking around on the Forum, which led to this post. Love it!

  • Andreas November 23, 2019, 7:28 am

    Friend of mine loved to show up in the evening and ask me to go out for a burger or have something delivered. Whenever he drove off, I challenged myself to have my dinner on the table when he returned, which gave me something like 30-40 minutes to put a decent meal on the table with whatever I had at home. Needless to say, after a few month of practice and the study of a few well written cook books you have the stuff pat down, even without opening the freezer, just with stuff from the fridge.

    Noodles with italian sauces, goulash, soups, shashouka, fish, decent salads, half a roasted chicken, mussels in white wine, you name it, I ‘ll cook it. No corn starch, no emulgators, no hidden sugar, no chemistry to lengthen the shelf life of the food in question and you’re in complete control of what is in the meal.

    you have to plan and shop ahead.

    open a cookbook or browse the cooking section of th NY Times, you will settle on next days dinner pretty fast. Print out and keep the receipes you liked to built your own homestead cookbook that is perfectly matched to your taste.

    side effect:
    you can make larger portions of stuff and freeze it. Opening the fridge, putting the home made ragu bolognese marcella Hazan style in the microwave to thaw it and throwing the pasta into the cooking water will lead to a “start to plate dinner” in 10-12 minutes. Be assured, peope will lick their plates clean. The butterflied trout with seasonal vegetables and potatoes will take twice as long, 20 minutes. That’s the fastfood we should talk about.

    Plan the next day (or week) after you had dinner. Don ‘t do it when you come home from work stressed and worn out.

    When I tried to dine out less with my wife without making her feel that we are (or worse, I’am) denying ourself something, I asked her to buy a good cremant or a good bottle of wine for an upcoming dinner at home for a 1/4 or 1/3 of the price we would have spent on the dinner at the restaurant. This makes her feel she exchanges a nice treat today for an a nicer treat tomorrow. The funny thing is that she sets the table extra nice, gets out the good glasses and cutlery, lights the candles and makes the dining table look like it’s christmas and thanksgiving at once while I’m busy in the kitchen when we are doing this ;)

    Back to the pizza:
    when you’re trying to speed up things, make the dough one day ahead of time, store and let it raise in the freezer and then bake the pizza on a stone in the infrared grill if you have one. If the dough strays in the fridge for two days, it will be even tastier. It takes 2 minutes to bake a pizza and most people will be amazed when they see how fast the dough is rising and the cheese is getting brown. Most will start salivating, some will start drooling. Split the pizza in four, put the toppings on the next one, throw it in the grill. Repeat until everyone is not hungry anymore.

    Frugality doesn’t have to taste bitter.



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