Frugal Man Buys $52,000 Car – Why??

Here’s the new car, on its first real camping trip shortly after taking delivery.

As I type this, I’m jumping through the various hoops involved in buying a 2023 Tesla Model Y, a spectacularly expensive, large luxury “crossover” that is absolutely loaded to the gills with excess: all wheel drive, faster acceleration than a Lamborghini, enough space for seven people and enough computer gadgetry to function as a small Google data center.

Update: Looking for the ongoing tracker page? It’s here at “The Model Y Experiment

The total net cost of this thing to me after all the taxes and tax credits* will be about $52,000, which is just a stunning amount higher than the Honda van it is replacing. That old classic cost me $4500 when I bought it off of Craigslist twelve years ago, and it had served me dutifully until just last month, crisscrossing the mountains and deserts of this country and also helping to rebuild a considerable swath of houses in my neighborhood. 

I’m supposed to be a frugality-oriented financial blogger, and I’m also known for hating car culture – I think most people use cars about ten times more often than they need to, and most people drive cars they can’t afford. So why the hell am I buying a new one?

From those first three paragraphs, you can see I’m feeling plenty of self-mockery and ridicule over this new purchase. If you’re also a naturally frugal person, you can surely relate to the thoughts and you probably also agree with me that I’m off my rocker. 

And indeed, I’m still on-board with frugality and healthy self mockery. After all, it was this overall life philosophy that earned me an early retirement 18 years ago, which provides all of the glorious freedom I enjoy now. 

It was also the philosophy that allowed me to procrastinate on buying this expensive car for the last four years, even as countless people both close to me and out on the Internet egged me on and told me I should just loosen up and treat myself.

But there’s a classic slogan that applies to many areas of life, and it is something I like to dig up and ponder every now and then:

“What got you here,

Won’t get you where you’re going.”

How does that piece of wisdom apply to frugal living and enjoying a long life of early retirement?

A quick story from a recent run to the grocery store will explain:

I was standing there in the bakery aisle, hoping to restock with a loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread for the next day’s breakfast with some visiting friends. But since this was in a standard grocery store rather than the Costco where I usually shop, the damned stuff was priced at an eye-watering $6.99 per loaf (instead the $4.50 or so I’m accustomed to paying, and even at the bulk store this stuff is about double the price of normal bread).


Was my first response. 


Then I went through a whole mental battle of what I call Grocery Shopping With Your Middle Finger:

“Should I just boycott this bullshit?” 

“Hmm I wonder if any of the other competing brands are any good?”

“What else is a good substitute for bread for this breakfast?”

And then thankfully, after exhausting all other mental options, I settled on the correct one:


Because you are never going to wake up in the future and look at your bank account and think, shit, if only I had an extra $2.49 in there I would be a happier person.”

That night, I came home from the store and shared this funny tale with one of my guests. He understood perfectly because he too had earned his own retirement through a lifetime of grinding in tough jobs and disciplined frugality. And despite the fact that he has a net worth several times higher than mine, he admitted that he faces exactly the same mental battles over splurging on himself.

This same friend gives freely to charitable causes, has supported a local school for decades, and is always the first one to pull out the checkbook if a friend has hit hard times or is looking for a trusted business investor. 

But he still has trouble bringing himself to take an Uber to the airport instead of riding the bus which takes an hour longer.

We both realized that we were being too cheap with ourselves, and we needed to work on it. And we came up with a set of three ideas that should hopefully work together to help us have more fun with our life savings, while we are still alive:

  • the Minimum Spending Budget,
  • the Dedicated Money Wasting Account, 
  • and the Splurge Accountability Buddy.

Principle #1: The Minimum Spending Budget: 

Suppose you’ve done well over the years and amassed a pile of productive investments worth about two million dollars. Yes, this is a lot of money for most people, and that is the point: this hypothetical person truly has it made.

But as it turns out, most Mustachians I know with this level of wealth are still living very efficient lives, usually with a spending level of under $40,000 per year. On top of that, they typically live in a mortgage-free house and still have various forms of side income from a small business or two.

The 4% rule tells us that this person should be fairly safe spending up to about $80,000 per year from that cozy nest egg, even if they never earn any other money.

If this person wanted to be ridiculously conservative and set the spending rate at 3%, that still leaves about $60,000 of fun money every single year.. Plus, again, any side income, future inheritances, and social security income only add to the surplus.

Thus, a reasonable minimum spending level for this person might be $60,000 per year.

And in most cases, they know this, but still go right on living on $40k or less and claim they have everything they could ever want. 

But if you watch carefully you’ll still catch them firing up the middle finger at things like $6.99 Dave’s bread or the $14.00 Cabernet at the restaurant or driving around in a gas guzzler even when they would prefer to have a proper, modern electric car. 

And whenever these people do get extra money, their first instinct is to stash it away on top of the already-too-big pile.  In diagram form, their money flow looks like this:

Note that while this person is great at accumulating money through that big red arrow firing money back into the ‘stash, their “fun stuff” arrow appears quite flaccid and withered.

Which is a perfect segue to ….

Principle #2 – the Dedicated Money Wasting Account

Lifelong habits are hard to break, and it’s sometimes hard to “waste” your own hard-earned money on things that seem frivolous, even when you know intellectually that you have way more money than you’ll ever spend.

But have you ever noticed that if you are spending somebody else’s money, preferably an anonymous corporation, it feels different?  

For example, when you’re on a business trip and you just show up at the dining table to eat and drink and you never see the bill, you probably don’t fret about the prices, right?

The key is to make your own money feel like somebody else’s, and you can do it like this:

  • Re-brand your main bank account – henceforth it is the FREE FUN MONEY account. 
  • Set up an auto-deposit of your minimum spending budget that drops in each month (if you suspect that you might currently be too frugal, make this at least $1000 per month higher than your current spending level)
  • The only way you are allowed to use the money in this new account is to spend it on anything and everything, or give it away. It can be used for both necessities like groceries and your utility bill, but also your luxuries like travel and dining and generosity.

    But the key rule is this: You are not allowed to follow your old habit of sweeping out the surplus each month to buy more and more index funds as you’ve been doing your whole life.

    If the free fun money starts building up, which it probably will because you are way out of spending practice, it will stare you in the face and tell you to do a better job.

    And this can and should be FUN! Now you can get the best organic groceries even when the price seems exorbitant. Go out for dinner or order delivery whenever you like. Surprise your loved ones with concert tickets, join your friends on snowboarding or beach trips, or even pay for an entire group vacation, allowing people to go who couldn’t normally afford it so easily.

  • Technical Note: Some people have income or wealth levels are so high that it would be insane to spend at a 3% rate. For example, a $10M fortune would lead to a $25,000 monthly spending rate, which is obviously ridiculous.

    In this situation, you can still leave your dividends reinvesting but still give yourself a bigger, no-saving-allowed budget to get some practice being more relaxed and generous.  The real point here is to just stop sweating the details so you can have more fun.

Principle #3 – The Splurge Accountability Buddy

Many of us frugal people tend to stick together. And most of us have different versions of the same problem: we know logically that money is plentiful these days, but our emotions keep us stuck in our old ways of optimizing too much. 

But I find that when I team up with local friends who are actually trying to battle these same habits, we can question each other’s decisions, call out cheapness when we see it, and cheer on splurges when we know the other guy would enjoy it.

My super wealthy friend from above has become much better about treating himself (and his family) to quality goods for the home, amazing trips together, and just a general reduction in his stress over being “efficient with money”

My friend and HQ co-owner Carl (Mr. 1500 Days) has finally replaced his beaten-down minivan with a spiffy new Chevrolet Bolt electric car, and is loving that leap into the future.

And of course Mr. Money Mustache, after squeezing one final mountain road trip out of his 23-year-old Honda van, is finally allowing himself to get the Tesla he has been talking about for half a decade. 

An early spring Sunrise at our new “Friends Mountain Resort”

A recent life change (becoming a co-owner of a fixer-upper vacation rental compound in beautiful Salida Colorado) has reignited the travel fire in my heart and made me realize how much I do love getting out to distant places for visiting, mountain biking, gathering with groups of friends and my favorite activity of all: Carpentourism.

Running the Numbers: how ridiculously expensive is this car?

This is the perfect start to my experiment in spending more. Realistically, a $50,000 car is going to cost me about $10,000 more per year than my old van was burning.  With the biggest costs being these:

  • Foregoing roughly 8% annual investment returns on the 50 grand: $4000
  • Depreciation on the car: an average of $3000 per year over the first 10 years
  • Higher insurance premiums: $1000 more per year
  • Replacing those exorbitantly huge performance tires when they wear out, and probably things like repairing the all-glass roof someday when it meets Colorado’s pebble-strewn mountain roads: the remaining $2000 or so.

Since I personally had a spending deficit of several times more than $10k per year, I figure this is a solid first step. And, since the car’s primary purpose is things like epic camping trips, dream dates, and  long adventures around the country, it will definitely help me spend more on experiences, hotels, and go out to dinner a bit more often as well.

“This Privileged Rich Folk Talk is Making Me Sick, why don’t you give your money away to charity, or to me?”

In general, I agree: the world has problems and the richer you are, the more you should consider giving generously. 

But also, to be honest, the whiny people who constantly send complaints like this out to strangers on the Internet really need to get a life. It’s great to encourage philanthropy through positive examples, but completely unproductive to send negativity to shame people you don’t even know for not following your own personal value system. The world has seen more than enough of this.

On top of that, this one-sided thinking can be counterproductive. Both of my friends have given generously throughout their lifetimes. In my own case, I have donated over $500,000 to the best causes I could find during the years I’ve been writing this blog, but I was still refusing to let myself replace that 23-year-old van. 

And that overthinking was leading to even more of a scarcity mentality, as I compared my own meager spending to these bigger numbers of my donations, and found myself thinking things like, 

“Damn, I’m spending $100 on this dinner date which sounds like a lot, but I also spent ONE THOUSAND TIMES more on donations last year, which sounds like even more. Maybe I am spending too much and need to cut back on EVERYTHING!”

And then the fear side of my brain would illogically chime in: “Yeah and you’re going to make us run out of money and be poor forever! waaaah waaaah! Cut back and optimize and conserve!”

I think there is a happy medium here. 

Yes – be a super, duper responsible steward of your life savings. 

And yes, give generously with all your heart to charity. 

But yes, it’s also okay to set aside a portion of the money you’ve earned, for frivolous spending on yourself and those closest to you. You’re not a bad person for having a few nice things.

It’s okay to pay that extra hundred bucks to sit a bit closer to the front of the airplane instead of the back if it helps you enjoy your vacation and spend a joyful half hour walking FREE at your destination while the 49 rows of people behind you fuss infuriatingly with their shit in the overhead bins.

It’s okay to buy the frozen berries at Whole Foods even though they cost eight times more than Costco charges, if it spares you from making a second unpleasant trip through parking lot hell.

And as for me, I am calling it okay to, at last, double flip the Autopilot stalk in my new Tesla and lean back as it it shoots me gracefully through even the highest mountain passes, forever leaving the desperately underpowered wheezing and gear shifting and noise* of the gasoline era behind, forever.

Rest in Peace, Vanna – 1999-2023

—– Bonus details and links —-

* How to get rid of an old vehicle:

I ended up using an online car salvage service called Peddle*, at the recommendation of a friend. With about five minutes of entering the details of my old Honda, their system offered me $715, and then a towtruck came and took it the next day – and actually gave me the payment in cash, which I found kind of fun. I made a point of using all of that money for splurges like dinners out, in keeping with the theme of this article.

* I later signed this blog up for Peddle’s affiliate program so that link will benefit MMM if you use it.

* A useful tip for more effective splurging:

Try to find the truly negative aspects of your life and focus any additional spending on improving those things. But it’s a subtle art so you have to get it right if you want lasting results in happiness.

You don’t want to just reduce hardship or challenge like hiring someone to take care of every aspect of your house, because overcoming daily hardships and having significant accomplishments provides the very core of our life satisfaction.

You also don’t want to just upgrade the things that are already good in your life. For example, a friend of mine is a gourmet coffee expert, and he suggested that I upgrade my setup at home to include on-the-spot roasting, and fancy grinding and brewing equipment. But I already love the good quality coffee I buy off the shelf from Costco, so it would be counterproductive to invest time or money into changing this part of my life. 

But when you have something that causes you regular angst and stress, whether it’s a leaky roof that makes you dread rain, or a long commute that makes you dread the daily traffic jam, or a body that is giving you trouble due to not being in the best of shape – those types of things are probably a good target for improvement. 

In the case of my car situation, I had a Nissan Leaf which is wonderful to drive, but doesn’t have the range to travel anywhere outside of the Denver metro area. Then I had the van which is a clunky beast to drive, but is otherwise an amazing road tripper because I could bring along whatever and whoever I wanted. But the van was getting increasingly unreliable in several hard-to-fix ways which was making me nervous every time I thought about long distance travel. Which was causing me to avoid certain trips and miss positive lifetime experiences.

In other words, my lack of a reliable long-range car was a small but consistent source of negative stress.

Finally, Vanna gave me the gift of a final hot and smelly transmission failure on a mountain pass on the way home from my new project in Salida. It was just the nudge that I needed. And now I already feel excitement rather than dread at the prospect of all the road trips in the coming decades!

* Total cost of this Tesla:

  • Model Y plus options and Tesla fees: $53,630 
  • Subtract $7500 federal EV tax credit
  • Subtract $2000 Colorado EV tax credit
  • (Note: this is equivalent to a $44,150 list price if you are cross shopping with other cars)
  • Add back in $4674 of sales tax
  • Add in first 3 years of Colorado new-car registration fees: $3000
  • Net cost: about $52,000

Referral program: after I wrote this post, Tesla has re-started their referral program. So if you do happen to be in the market for any of the company’s products, we can both benefit from a small discount or some free supercharging miles or whatever if you use this code:- and thanks if you do!

New Tracker Page!

To go along with this article, I started a new page called “The Model Y Experiment” where I can share ongoing findings and Q&A about the ownership experience. I’ve driven and rented Teslas quite a bit in the past, so most of it will be pretty familiar. But as an owner I’ll get to verify the reliability and the quality of customer service, as well as any quirks and modifications and upgrades I do.

  • Yadi Z April 28, 2023, 7:33 am

    I remember discovering MMM more than 10 years ago while living in Canada, I have always been frugal, but have not been able to save enough or retire yet ( excuses excuses…), and I loved everything about him, his wife and child stories. Then he divorced and it really hurt ( for some reason I don’t understand), a couple of days ago I read the No car city and I got excited again about MMM, now a mere days later he is buying a Tesla. This looks to me like a mini Jeff Bezos in action. This post and some of his replies to comments sound like a FU I am rich and can do whatever I want( which is true). I’m sad

  • Mark Knapp April 28, 2023, 7:46 am

    Hi MMM,

    Congratulations! I have been thinking about the Model Y for the better part of a year now. I just wanted to get our AGI below the limit for the tax credit. We were able to do that with a cash balance pension and a heavy contribution for 2022. How were you able to get below the AGI limit to take advantage of the federal credit?


    • Mr. Money Mustache April 28, 2023, 7:51 am

      Oh, that part is easy: I just don’t earn anywhere close to $150k/year these days ;-)

      (doing most of my work for free comes at a price, but it’s worth it)

  • Opnieuwbegonnen/ Belia April 28, 2023, 7:53 am

    In the WEF Netherlands a Tesla 3 will cort you $66?000 Congratulations are in order.

  • Xachuous April 28, 2023, 8:05 am

    Nice. I make $250k/yr and I own a Sequoia because I love overlanding and I never wanted a van.

    Doing what’s MOST frugal isn’t a moral thing. Making reasonable decisions to maximize long term sustainable joy and fulfillment should be the aim.

    I will use this as inspiration to get some help fixing some pain points in my house from a contractor friend this year.

  • Justin April 28, 2023, 8:07 am

    Last year I traded my 2009 Honda Fit that I owned for 12 years for a new EV (IONIQ5) and haven’t looked back— I absolutely love driving electric. I almost exclusively charge it off of solar panels I have at-home, which really helps me with my eco-guilt.

    I too have struggled with my changing relationship towards cars. They were easy to hate when they spewed toxic greenhouse gases.

    You’ve always preached to spend where it brings us happiness (and where the externalities don’t infringe on the happiness of others) and taught how to avoid the hedonistic hamster wheel. Sure, you’ve ragged on the automobile more than the average man, but it’s never too late to make amends :)

    Just don’t become fat and lazy riding around in your new electric wheelchair.

  • Dru Peters April 28, 2023, 8:47 am

    This shift in perspective is necessary and welcome! Eat the bread, ride the bike, expand part time/entrepreneur activities, love your people, appreciate the beauty around you. Financial freedom allows for this and celebrating this achievement is 🔥!

  • Slnrd April 28, 2023, 9:03 am

    The numbers for a Tesla don’t work well and it’s a bridge to far for me for so many reasons.

    I’ve been driving Chevy & VW EVs since 2014. Bottom line is: a $35k EV with $11.5k off the top on a 3-year lease saves you HUGE money & you can buy the car at the end of your lease for about a $12k residual.

    Hell, why didn’t you just get a MBZ EOS? Seems there is a way you can justify that too, LOL

  • Leanne Pressly April 28, 2023, 9:05 am

    Welcome to Salida. Been here 20+ years. I’m sure I’ll run into you at the Ace someday. Reach out if you want to connect with local, like-minded friends or need any recommendations!

  • loki_the_bubba April 28, 2023, 9:45 am

    As a borderline mustachian, cars are one place I splurge. I have not bought myself a brand new car since 1986. But I buy nice used one. Primarily BMW over the years. Get them at the right price and you pay very little depreciation. Just a few weeks ago I switched to an MB E400 Wagon. Five years old and only 26k miles on it. Let the rich folk eat the early depreciation and I’ll take the middle years of the cars life.

  • Steve April 28, 2023, 10:11 am

    Having followed your blog for years, this post is both surprising and not. On the one hand, if one were to think your philosophy could be summed up as: Frugal Living is Superior, then they would shocked by this announcement of yours to be rather un-frugal with this purchase.
    I have always thought of your philosophy differently. I think I would sum it up as – How to Live Your Life to Efficiently Pursue Happiness.
    Many money habits of many people just make their lives more miserable. Thinking you will spend your way to happiness is often a fool’s game. However, living frugally for its own sake is also not the point. It just happens to turn out that frugality in times of scarcity (like early in your earning years) is a great match for maximizing happiness with the financial options available.
    Later in life, learning to spend – not in an out-of-control way, but judiciously – can be a more efficient pathway to life satisfaction. The key is that you must never reverse the order of these two parts of life. So much misery is experienced by people who spend (often unsuccessfully) to try to increase their happiness when they have little money, and then later when they still have little money, they are forced into an obligatory period of frugality just when their best working years are ending.
    So, is what you are doing frugal? No. And that’s okay. It’s different than you used to be, but at the same time, it’s who you have always been: someone looking for happiness and life satisfaction through efficient use of time and money. So good on you. (I’m not there yet, but I’ve contemplated how to make ‘the switch’ in the coming years and I appreciate your post.)

  • Sam April 28, 2023, 10:25 am

    Thank you for writing this! I continue to give to family and friends in need every month like clockwork. Yet I found myself a few days ago staring at my computer screen on the checkout page for buying myself takeout dinner. I felt anxiety for spending $17 to enjoy a meal for myself after spending $500 on a friend without a second thought. I have family who can relate and have this same type of issue you write about.

    As you say, there is a happy medium. There comes a time when efficient and frugal minded people need to “treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping” to quote a prominent Canadian psychologist.

  • John Wunderlin April 28, 2023, 10:40 am

    YES! Very happy for you. I’m a (mostly) FIRE’d follower who has been driving my Model 3 for 5 years with 90,000 miles now. I’d be seriously happy to answer any questions you run into if you need advice of an ‘old hand’.

  • Gary Grewal April 28, 2023, 10:49 am

    This made my day, MMM. Congratulations and well deserved!

    Not only because I want to say to you “It’s about time!” but you gave such a nice backstory and encouraging dialogue about spending when you’ve “made it”. Love the idea about the Dedicated Money Wasting Account, many of us have these but like you say, the excess gets swept into a savings/investment account and defeats the purpose.

    Buying $7 bread isn’t going to change your life, just like I tell my well-off friends who cringe at deciding to pay extra for avocado, it won’t change theirs!

    By the way, Carl bought that Bolt for his daughter I thought…maybe the two of you will mob around Colorado in twin Model Y’s one day?

  • Dave April 28, 2023, 11:18 am

    I’ve enjoyed your blog for years, MMM, and I’m so happy for you for getting a Tesla! This post does feel slightly over-rationalized, or maybe compartmentalized? I’d love a post that measures this decision against a broader set of changes in your life. Changes in your personal life, your family, and other things. From my perspective, you more than deserve this car–you’ve been insanely successful and influential to a wide audience. But I would love to know more about how this type of purchase fits in with your past twenty years. Many of us have learned from your individual decisions, but how has your perspective changed as you’ve gotten older and weighed your financial situation against your mortality?

  • Susan Srour April 28, 2023, 12:10 pm

    You should look into baking your own sourdough bread. I make my own using premium ingredients for a cost of around $1-$2 a loaf. If you buy a loaf of organic, artisan sourdough bread at a farmers market you’ll pay anywhere between $10-$15/loaf depending where you are located. Here in San Diego they’re around $12/loaf.

    It’s a fun and nerdy thing, lots of technical aspects to it. I think you’d enjoy it!!

  • stephballwojtyna April 28, 2023, 1:42 pm

    Really happy for you! Congratulations! I look forward to learning from your experiment. My husband and I are a few years out from FI. We have a 2013 Prius that has been very good to us. I’ve been Tesla-dreaming alongside you about a purchase (some far off day) when it’s time to retire the Prius. Eager to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly about your experience.

  • Alex April 28, 2023, 2:19 pm

    Congratulations on accepting being rich! I highly recommend getting a really nice road bike – maybe a canyon aeroad or ultimate with Ultegra di2 and dual sided power, plus super nice cycling clothes. The feeling of riding a really nice bike in a high end skinsuit is a lot like driving a Tesla. But way better because you’re riding a bike!

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2023, 8:21 am

      Thanks Alex, I’m glad you are enjoying biking so much and I agree it’s an amazing way to get around.

      I’m more of a sandals and cargo shorts and mountain bike person, but that doesn’t change my agreement with you that bikes are THE BOMB.

  • Frugal Bazooka April 28, 2023, 2:29 pm

    It’s interesting to see how hard MMM works to convince himself that it’s ok to buy stuff he wants to own. I think most of us shed the intense levels of frugality necessary to get our financial houses in order without too much guilt – after all we accomplished the goal the frugality was intended to accomplish. I’m not saying it was quick, and there are still remnants of the rice and beans mentality, but for the most part insane frugality was part of my youth and it did not follow me into my current mature state (lol). I know he’s sort of playing a character, but he doesn’t owe any of us an oath of poverty or even frugality. If he wants to live it up, he should live it up…period.
    Being able to enjoy our wealth is the gift we gave ourselves when we decided to buckle down and get our sh*t together…and MMM helped a lot of get that gift.
    For that I will always be thankful and hopefully he can spend freely and enjoy all the fruits of his labor without an ounce of guilt or regret.

  • Michael April 28, 2023, 2:38 pm

    I have been following you for 12 years and this is the worst article you’ve ever written and violates years of solid first principles reasoning.

    A “minimum spending budget”? Dude, get that out of there. You know as well as anyone that you can live happily on ANY amount of money large or small. You don’t need to splurge to be happy. Happiness derives from productivity, accomplishment, and interpersonal relationships.

    • Liz C April 29, 2023, 6:23 pm

      Happiness also depends on not feeling deprived for no reason.

      It’s one thing to be frugal to the point of deprivation when you are saving for an important goal, such as FIRE. But once you meet that goal? You don’t need to deprive yourself any more, as long as your spending remains well within your means.

      MMM is not getting a loan to buy a car he can’t afford. He is not going to skip meals to pay car expenses. He can afford this car, and has decided it is the best use of the money he currently has. [Whether you or i agree with his spending choices is irrelevant; he did his research and made the decision wisely.]

      At a certain point of wealth accumulation, your choice is to either spend or set up a wealth estate for your descendants.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2023, 11:27 am

      Hey Michael, thanks for reading and sorry to hear you missed the point of this one.

      And I know this is a challenge for me to improve the clarity of my writing, rather than a knock on you.

      This article is not about changing anything about frugal, joyful living. It’s about teaching people to feel abundance rather than scarcity and be more generous with themselves and others.

      If you have never encountered a rich person who behaves cheaply (which is different than being frugal), you might not know what I’m getting at.

      But I used cars in this example for a reason – many of us are driving gasoline cars “to save money”, despite the fact that we KNOW they cause more harm to everyone else, just so we can keep more money in a bank account we’ll never use. Many of these people would prefer to use a cleaner, nicer form of transportation, but we are forcing ourselves into a win/lose situation, for what?

      My proposal is to spend more money in win/win situations, if you truly have no shortage of money. But preserve the hardships and the healthy things in your life. Don’t give up camping and hiking to take up golfing at the Hilton just because it costs more.

  • Bruce Hansen April 28, 2023, 3:14 pm

    Lots of debate here about whether buying a car from Elon is a virtuous decision or not. If a car (or any product) fits your needs and does it at a competitive price, then it is doing a public service. It has made the world a better place by virtue of its existence, and market discipline has forced it to use resources (both natural and human) as efficiently as possible. Why should you care if or how much the manufacturer benefits? Buy the car and be happy!

    But there’s an obvious caveat here that no one has bothered to mention, which is that this post describes two purchases of electric cars by wealthy gentlemen which were for some reason subsidized by the government. So not only are we using taxpayer dollars to hand over money to people who clearly don’t need it, but we are also making Tesla NOT strictly subject to market discipline, so any claims of efficiency (including environmental) are suspect. MMM asserts the superiority of EVs over gas-powered cars; if that’s the case, then why do they continue to need subsidies?

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2023, 8:19 am

      I’m with you Bruce on these basic principles of “let the market do most of the decisions”

      On the subject of EV credits, the basic rationale is that new technologies sometimes need an initial market boost to become competitive with existing tech, and if there are large benefits to society (as there is with things like clean energy and electric cars that reduce pollution), sometimes it’s worth a bit of taxpayer money investment.

      In this exact case, the funny part is that the best EVs *don’t* need subsidies. Throughout the past two years, sales of Teslas grew massively and they outsold all other EVs (and most luxury gas cars as well), even with NO subsidies and even with their list price about $15,000 higher!

      Now, our slow-moving government has rolled in some awkward subsidies again, which will indeed boost demand and I think they are useful overall. But with Tesla being the only large-volume American manufacturer of EVs here in early 2023 (and also by far the best value on a performance-for-the-dollar basis), they are set to capture the majority of these credits.

      Over the next few years, Chevrolet and Ford will start boosting their own EV production volumes and at THAT point, the tax credit will probably resume its role as helping to level the playing field between things like a gasoline F-150 and the electric F-150 Lightning.

      In 5-10 years from now, most manufacturers will have figured out EV manufacturing and the inherently simpler nature of the product will mean they cost far LESS to produce than their current gas burners. At this point, I hope we drop the subsidies because they won’t be needed at all.

      • Three Wolf Moon May 13, 2023, 12:01 pm

        Interesting you mention the 5-10 year timeframe, because that’s when the EV tax credits put into place by the Inflation Reduction Act are set to expire (2032). I would like to give the US government credit for being as smart as Pete and doing this intentionally with the understanding that they wouldn’t be needed beyond that point, however as someone who used to work on developing budget proposals for a US government agency I know the timeframe has more to do with budget scoring than anything else.

  • Bob Reisner April 28, 2023, 3:56 pm

    Congratulations! I’ve been waiting for this day for quite sometime. It’s really good that you now understand that gathering a big pool of money isn’t just for score keeping. It’s for spending in some fashion or another. And if life gives you an extra portion of money, great!

    You are at a different stage in life …. you are no longer on the path to FIRE, you have arrived in style. You act responsibly with your wealth and live within your means. If you have surplus funds, it’s OK to buy some fun stuff that has limited economic value.

    Don’t be defensive. You are no longer the living example of how to get to FIRE. You are a living example of what successful FIRE looks like. No need to apologize for success.

  • Justin April 28, 2023, 6:32 pm

    Where did you get that roof spoiler for the Y?! Looks awesome!

  • Ken April 28, 2023, 8:10 pm

    Reading this totally absolved myself of the guilt I felt back in 2012 when I ordered a nearly-$100K Model S while living in one of the most expensive parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, and reading MMM. All other aspects of my spending are extremely frugal. Besides just being a very awesome product, my main justification was to buy the safest vehicle I could reasonably afford for the transportation of our (first) new born baby daughter. That purchase eventually gave me enough conviction to buy and hold TSLA stock for over a decade (and counting) resulting in incredible returns in the seven figures. Today, we have 3 kids and recently sold that Model S after 10 years and 165k miles and replaced it with a new ~$140k Model X. We also have a 5-year old 2018 Model 3 Performance as the 2nd vehicle.

  • Ricky April 28, 2023, 9:04 pm

    Extra kudos for waiting until AFTER the tranny went out on Vanna BEFORE getting a new car… Longtime reader, first time commenter and combined with all the other articles it is really a great long term lesson on delayed gratification, which is a wonderful tool that can make almost anyone born in America filthy rich! Thanks for yet another great article MMM!

  • Trev April 28, 2023, 11:08 pm

    First time commenting after reading off and on for a while, thanks! Not really on topic, but you did mention it, do you have any advise on how to start in carpentourism? I guess I have some skills at building and manual labor, but need to work on the friends who need help working on their places part. I’m on the other side of the country, but would be happy to give a hand if I’m out that way!

    • Debbie April 29, 2023, 4:09 pm

      Ahhh, what a nice offer. MMM followers are the nicest people.

  • FiGuy April 29, 2023, 5:44 am

    I’ve had the mentality to keep the a student budget (<$20k/yr) when starting my first job but gradually increase my lifestyle above inflation at a pace that I can still retire by 40 with kids. I'm gradually adding in the luxuries over time until catching up with my spendy peers in my 40s or 50s when I have less energy to jump through the extra hoops to save money that I did at 22.

  • MKE April 29, 2023, 7:01 am

    Pondering the last two MMM posts while walking my dog in the traffic-free early morning, I came upon a realization: it’s never gonna change. It’s not going to get better. At least not in the lifetime I have left.
    I will attend more government meetings. Citizens will beg city officials to slow down the cars. Neighbors will complain endlessly about reckless driving. The officials, elected and otherwise, will nod in agreement. Privately, they will express their wishes (really?) to implement traffic-calming..
    Then, when the time to act arrives, they will instead expand lanes, put in new lights where stop signs once sufficed. The local bank that barely uses its single drive-through will get a second approved. New developments will get outrageous amounts of parking. Officials will abandon their ideals of walkability. Bits and pieces of the apocalyptic North American suburban model will be foolishly grafted on to a hundred-year-old neighborhood. Quality of life will continue to decline. Neighbors walk less and talk less. Kids will ride and play less. Fatalities will go ignored. Noise pollution, salt pollution, smog all increase.
    MMM knows cars suck, but he can’t help himself. Municipalities knows cars suck, but they can’t help themselves.
    People who know better should do better, but they won’t.
    Family needs and business ties keep me here . Eventually, it’s off to the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, or somewhere sane. All locations have their own problems and challenges, but cars destroy life in a way that nothing else ever has.

  • Rimmi April 29, 2023, 7:02 am

    MMM, Many thanks for showing us we are not alone in struggling with spending money on ourselves and not efficiently. After so many years of efficiency to get to FIRE its nice to relax a little. I love my base RWD Model 3- although I couldnt ‘splurge’ the extra for a non white colour! Will follow the long range Model Y post closely, maybe my next car – interested why you chose this over say the base Model 3. Hope you enjoy, would be a great car.

  • Andy April 29, 2023, 7:11 am

    This week I visited the local snack house with some colleagues and while they just eat what they like, I seem to be one of the few that check the prices. I’m not gonna buy snack x that’s twice as expensive as snack y for the same amount of meat. Interestingly, the snack bar owner agreed, he also thought some of those prices were silly but the producer had to get their profit margins.

    It doesn’t make much sense as I could just buy the whole snackbar but ugh, it’s become a habbit.

    But these days, I am spending a bit more for myself. A massage from time to time for example, that’s pure me-time. Although there I’m also comparing the prices and five dollars more for a herb massage sounds silly 😅

    • Renee April 30, 2023, 8:17 am

      Thank you for checking prices. I have heard a whole bunch of different things that support price gouging and/or businesses having to charge that much to get by. I don’t know what the truth is 100%. I do think that as long as people are willing and able to pay high prices that those prices will NEVER COME DOWN. For those of us who might have given birth to MMM and therefore did not have his wisdom at a young age and are living on SS we thank those of you who have heard of MMM and have been living frugally. We thank you for your discipline and thoughtfulness.

  • Larry Roth April 29, 2023, 8:12 am

    Good for you! Nine years ago I got tired of nursing along a GM product that was costing me $2K a year to keep running and bought a new Kia. While I suffered from guilt for a while, I figured if I got eight years worth of repair-free driving, the car would be free. It’s a great car. I’ve only been out the maintenance and one battery, which I replaced out of caution rather than need as it can get cold here in Kansas City. After a lifetime of frugality it’s difficult to let go of my stash. Just a couple of weeks ago I was out with friends and ordered a $23 hamburger. It took me a few days to realize a $23 meal won’t break me.

  • Richard April 29, 2023, 9:01 am

    As someone who is a frugal EV owner (2012 Leaf $5K shipped from FL!) and a friend who owns a Model Y here are a few tips for Coloradans who like to camp an go on longer road trips.

    – 1) If you’re tempted to raise the car up for some better dirt road performance it’ll bugger up the ride – our friends did this ( $3k ) and perhaps the suspension needs more tweaking but reportedly it doesn’t ride well at all now.

    2) Be prepared to spend more time getting places on roadtrips – sure the charging network is the best in the business but our friends are typically a few hours behind us even in our aging Hybrid SUV that not driven over 75Mph.
    3) Camping mode is to heat the car and keep it warm if you’re sleeping inside it. They turned it on when we were tent camping – we were camping right! Lost some valuable range ….. were unsure if they could make it to the super charger but they were ok in the end.

    They unfortunately end up taking their old beat up 4Runner on most long and admittedly remote-ish trips so they have a second car option – just sucks to be sitting in that shi^& can for 6 hours while the Model Y is at home. They are fully into the EV thing with a Cybertruck on order too so not just some EV wannabes!

  • j jouritto April 29, 2023, 12:34 pm

    I hate to break it for you, but it’s called midlife crisis!

  • Bob April 29, 2023, 12:41 pm

    Great article. Buying an EV involves weighing a lot of factors. For me safety is paramount: https://twitter.com/i/status/1652319408201539586

  • Mashed Potatoes April 29, 2023, 3:32 pm

    My wife spurred a Model 3 purchase in 2018. I was lukewarm at the time. It is now the one object that I will try to keep till the day I die. Besides being fun to drive, it has resulted in:

    – $0 maintenance costs in 5 years
    – $0 gas expenses (Tesla included free lifetime supercharging and there is a 250kw super charger within 1 mile of our house, and a 150kw super charger within 5 miles). This saves us roughly $3,400 a year.
    – $0 annual smog checks
    – We got a federal tax credit of $7,500, a state tax credit of $2,500, and my work reimbursed employees $4,000 for ev purchases.

    The total cost of ownership has been remarkably low. With the free lifetime charging, I will replace the battery to keep the car going. But we have not had much range loss in 5 years. It started off with 310 miles a charge, and it is currently at 294 miles a charge.

  • David April 29, 2023, 3:56 pm

    Really happy to see this and hope it encourages other readers. There is a difference between being frugal and being cheap, and it’s too often lost on this community.

  • Debbie Bryan April 29, 2023, 4:01 pm

    Good for you, I’m happy for you. You will enjoy it, keep it for years and educate us along the way. It sounds like a win-win. Can it be a business right off?

  • Sandra April 29, 2023, 4:26 pm

    Great article. We are recently retired and struggling with the same issue… how do we finally loosen the purse strings without feeling anxious. A year ago we also bought a new car. Plus started upgrading flights … is the new challenge .. we say yes we are going to book biz … then book pre-econ… like we don’t deserve the comfort. Still some work to do… I think we are on the right track.

  • Ms Blaise April 29, 2023, 4:34 pm

    I love this. It’s like I can recommend MMM phase 1 to friends wanting to get on top of spending, and use it myself when I need to recalibrate. And this is MMM2.) when you have your stash, and need a new paradigm for the relationship with money. Wonderful thought model as always and really useful. Critically the consumption is considered and focused on specific areas for each person. Ignore the haters, this post is great!!!

  • Dan H. April 29, 2023, 4:36 pm

    Congratulations! I purchased the same car this March and love it. I have been interested in EV’s ever since your Nissan Leaf Article but I have also been super frugal driving old cars. My most recent was a 2013 Ford Cmax PHEV that I purchased for $4,800. I loved the car but it broke down and was in the shop for 12 weeks. I am a landlord and it was very inconvenient being without a car.

    The Tesla is my first new car ever! I justified it by saying it will be reliable transportation and safe for my family for many years. The used car market is priced very high right now. The federal and state tax credits bring down the price by about $10k. I will also use it mostly for business and will take depreciation and deduct most of the vehicle expenses.

    Enjoy the car! I will check out the dedicated model y page you set up.

  • Dharma Bum April 29, 2023, 4:46 pm

    That was some post.
    A bit of a drunken rant, almost.
    Hahahaha! That was one of the best rationalizations/justifications I’ve ever read.
    If I was a judge, I’d buy it.
    However, did you know that electric cars are also kind of bad for the environment?
    So, I had a bit of a Mr. Money Mustache moment myself today.
    A few weeks back, the wife and I were in a Canadian Tire store (MMM will know what I mean), and we wanted to buy a cheese grater.
    They had a nice Kitchen Aid brand one, but it was $40, and I said, uh-uh, no way. let’s find a cheaper one.
    Fast forward to today – we’re in a Wal Mart, and see the same grater for $22.49. Great! so we bought it. Saved $17.51.
    Then, we’re looking in a Homesense store (Canadian version of Homegoods), and we see the exact same grater, coincidentally, for $16.00.
    We bought it.
    Then went straight back to Walmart and returned the one we bought there.
    So, by waiting a few weeks, we got the same appliance for $24.00 less than we originally saw it priced at.
    Anyway, I’m still an asshole.
    I could have just cut up the cheese with the knives I already have.

  • Faith April 29, 2023, 4:48 pm

    Ooh, my only disappointment is that you chose to put money in E.M.’s pocket. Of course you can spend it on whatever you want. I just wish you had chosen a different brand. You fell of the pedestal. Not your fault. My expectations were too high. 😢

  • Heather April 29, 2023, 4:49 pm

    I am so glad you decided to treat yourself to that car. Well done, you deserve it. It’s OK to enjoy your money, you are already doing a fabulous job. Congrats!

  • LTFT April 29, 2023, 5:45 pm

    Long time first time. Buying a super expensive car really seems fine to me and perfectly in line with everything you’ve always advocated — if you have tons of money and you’re going to use this high quality item a lot for a long time in ways where it will perform better than cheaper options, well, sure, why not?

    But a minimum monthly spend and dedicated money wasting account make me shudder! Again, I don’t care that you’d spend more money — mostly surprised that you’re going out of your way to make it a core principal!

  • Liz C April 29, 2023, 6:10 pm

    This post speaks directly to me.

    Background: For 20+ years, I was in a comfortable but frugal marriage. Then, in 2011, I started The Divorce from H-dash-double-ell”, and 2 years later I was poor but happily free. I had to scramble to support myself and my kids … budgeting $2.50 a week for a single coffee was a splurge. In 2016 I finally got a good enough job that I could start saving, in 2019 I bought a duplex (live in half), in 2022 I got a 35% raise.

    I love my job, love my boss, and have no plans to stop working. I also have more money than I know how to spend. Between my stash, social security, rental income, and my passive side hustles, I’ll have plenty of money when I finally do retire.

    My mind is stuck in 2013, when I hardly had two dimes to rub together. Even with the few luxuries I allow myself, I still have money piling up. [And yes, I donate as my heart tells me.]

    One trick that helps is that once a year, I declare a Buy All the Things month. I keep lists through the year of things I would like to add to my life; if I haven’t bought them yet, I force myself in BAtT month. [Most are fairly small, like sewing tools or a couple of smart light bulbs.] I don’t regret these purchases, and they do add to my life.

    This will not work for someone able to spend freely … but like MMM, my first thought at the idea of $7.99 bread is NOOOO!!!!!! I’m not sure I could have made that purchase.

    • Minnesota Darrel April 30, 2023, 7:12 am

      I agree in the bread. I like my bread maker. It was one of my splurges.

    • Liz C May 1, 2023, 6:33 am

      Adding to my comment ….

      It’s interesting to see how many people are focusing on the car, and not the philosophy.

      MMM has the money to buy any car he wants. He made it to FIRE, he found ways post-retirement to increase his wealth, he does not need to save pennies any more. He did his homework, thought about the purchase for several years, ran the numbers, and finally, bought what he thinks is the best car **for him**.

      He is not telling us to buy that car! It fits his needs; it does not fit everybody’s needs.

      When I bought my duplex, I also moved from a wonderful New England colonial suburb to an upper Midwest city/ The suburb was a fantastic place to rear my kids (who walked or rode bikes to school), but didn’t work so well for a single empty nester. I now live in a very urban area, 2 miles from downtown and my office, in a neighborhood with 6 supermarkets within a mile, plus all the other amenities I feel I need. [Cafes, libraries, places to walk, 2 large art museums …]

      After 2 years of not driving my car, I got rid of it. I have not needed to drive since. MMM’s EV saga is interesting but has no bearing on my life. The major lesson, spend wisely in ways that bring you joy and don’t harm your goals, is MUCH more important.

  • Deseree April 29, 2023, 6:33 pm

    Congratulations! I am new to your blog because you were a guest on a podcast I listen to, and after binge-reading about 15 of your articles, I can say with full confidence: Well done, and well-deserved! I am genuinely happy for you!!!

  • Lan April 29, 2023, 6:53 pm

    Folks who miss your old style can read the old articles. People change. Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts and congrats on the new car.

  • James April 29, 2023, 7:50 pm

    Thanks for writing this. I have half a dozen rich friends, all self-made, >$10M each. Not a single one of them spends a penny without it being extremely calculated. They always talk about money like some game, and it never seems to occur to them not everything has to be an optimized business decision.

    They never offer to pay for anything or go out of their way to help others financially. When we go out and they want to “split the bill” I often just offer to pay because it’s easier and makes me happy.

    They’re good, kind people, but the lack of generosity and relaxed spending blows my mind. I’ve witnessed them not ask certain friends to join vacations because they know they wouldn’t be able to afford it. If I was in their shoes I would be paying off people’s mortgages and paying for friends to join every vacation. I wouldn’t let anyone in my orbit pay for anything that would cause them stress, and I wouldn’t wait for them to ask.

    I’ve confronted a few of them about this and they basically just respond, “nobody wants anything.” I just don’t get it.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2023, 12:38 pm


      To be honest, the amount of complaints and criticisms that have come in with this article have been a bit tough and surprising to me, even after 12 years and 500-odd blog posts which made me think I had seen everything.

      Your point is what I am getting at here. This article is not about becoming wasteful or selfish or giving up the principles of Mustachianism. I have not changed my core values a bit. But I DO see that we need to learn to relax when the time comes, and many people (like these friends you describe) have a much more serious version of the “Dave’s Bread Dilemma”.

      So I did my best to try to explain the idea of training ourselves to let go of certain habits that are not serving us, while keeping those that do.

      • James May 1, 2023, 10:58 pm

        For what it’s worth, the article reads just as on-brand to me as the others. I haven’t read many comments, but if some criticisms are about the Tesla because of Elon, just get an ELONSUX vanity plate and ride off into the sunset.

        Looking forward to more articles on the bread dilemma.

    • Liz C May 1, 2023, 6:21 am

      I read once that different income classes have different ideas on what to do if they receive a large windfall of money, say a million dollars.

      The poor help as many people in their social circle as possible, using up all the money.

      The middle class pays off debts, then blows the rest on fancy cars and expensive vacations and new furniture, using up all the money.

      The wealthy use the windfall as seed money to increase wealth, or set up a foundation to increase the wealth of others. They never touch the windfall, just the money it throws off.

      There are some huge psychological jumps between the three. I’m guessing your wealthy friends grew up in middle class homes, and might spend thousands on themselves (super luxury cruise to Antarctica?) while still thinking they “can’t afford” to pick up the tab for the table. It’s a big mind shift, and one I’m trying to make myself.

      • James May 1, 2023, 10:54 pm

        That’s pretty interesting, a few of them certainly fit that description. But the others actually grew up as poor to lower-middle class social nerds, and I think their inability to spend is multifactorial: 1) can’t break the habits of upbringing; 2) fear of people using them; 3) fear of breaking some sort of etiquette (if I pay, will they think they owe me? what’s too little/much?); etc. But they’re also uncomfortable with “transactions” that aren’t super duper ultra mega “optimized,” because that’s part of their identities.

        It’s all just super dumb and it really gets to me sometimes. It’s also hard to talk to them about it in depth because I don’t want them to think I want anything from them. Ironically, I just think it’s a wasteful way to live.

  • Star April 29, 2023, 7:58 pm

    As someone approaching early retirement, I think that if I have 52K to spend on a car in the future, it means that I will have delayed early retirement too long.

  • Jon D. April 29, 2023, 8:52 pm

    We went from buying a bread machine off craigslist, to paying $6.99 for a loaf and ordering a new TESLA…. Looking forward to the new Ferrari article in a couple months. Only kidding….

  • Alan Donegan April 29, 2023, 10:10 pm

    I think this is a fabulous article! The most important part for me is the quote “what I got you here, won’t get you there”

    One needs to worry about the $2.49 was building up to financial independence, but when you’ve got there, it doesn’t really matter! Great article with an important message that I have been trying to come to grips with too.

    Awesome writing MMM!


Leave a Reply

To keep things non-promotional, please use a real name or nickname
(not Blogger @ My Blog Name)

The most useful comments are those written with the goal of learning from or helping out other readers – after reading the whole article and all the earlier comments. Complaints and insults generally won’t make the cut here, but by all means write them on your own blog!


welcome new readers

Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets