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.

  • Jimmy Tudor April 29, 2023, 10:30 pm

    “completely unproductive to send negativity to shame people you don’t even know for not following your own personal value system.”

    Did I come to the wrong blog?? But seriously. My dad and uncle could use this advice. Live like the poorest paupers while sitting on a lifetime’s worth of hard well-paying work, solid investments and recently, a substantial inheritance.

  • Paul April 29, 2023, 10:34 pm

    I smashed my frugality mode to get a Model Y. First new car I’ve ever owned, and despite costing more than all my earlier cars put together it’s still a great buy.
    Decumulation is a thing we Mustachians need to seriously get our heads around. Leaving behind a big stash for our estate just risks letting other folks go nuts in far less measured ways. Best to spend/distribute it while we still have some judgement as to where it goes.

  • Mark Montgomery April 29, 2023, 10:45 pm

    This is a delayed April fools joke, or someone hacked your account? I’ve only been reading your blog for a few months—I’ve been truly inspired—but now I’m a little confounded:

    “It’s okay to pay that extra hundred bucks to sit in 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.”

    “Scott, if you are driving more than once or twice a week (especially if you ever head out to the mountains), sell that Corolla and get the Tesla NOW!!!
    Have you ever driven one? I find it hard to imagine still using a gas car for a family with a baby in your situation. There’s no downside, other than money – a constraint which we have been lucky to graduate from.”

  • Frank April 29, 2023, 11:00 pm

    Former Tesla owner here, who really loved that car (despite disliking cars in general) – I even more enjoy currently living in a big city (without a car) with great public transportation for when I don’t ride my bike…😀

  • Libby April 30, 2023, 12:05 am

    Wohoo! Well done, enjoy :) And thanks for the article. Really useful to have sensible guidance on this type of things (when I get to that stage)

  • Heather April 30, 2023, 3:16 am

    I’m so happy to hear that you bought your car. Well done – you’ve worked hard and you deserve it. It’s great that you are able to enjoy your money now. Congratulations!

  • Heather April 30, 2023, 3:22 am

    I am very happy that you bought yourself this car. Well done, you’ve worked hard and you deserve it. It’s good to see you enjoying your money. Congratulations!

  • George Choy April 30, 2023, 3:23 am

    Hi Peter
    One of the 5 regrets of the dying is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

    I get the feeling that one of the main reasons you put off buying this Tesla is because you were trying to live the life that you felt readers of your blog expected of you…not what you truly desired.

    I’m only 3 years older than you, but I often reflect and ask myself what do I want to achieve in my life?

    What is important to me?

    Family and friendships are at the top of my list, and it appears that is one of your passions too.

    I feel that once you’ve become financially free, then it is time to loosen the purse strings to do (or buy) some of those things you’ve been putting off.

    It is ok to enjoy yourself.


  • Amelie April 30, 2023, 3:35 am

    Me: reads “their “fun stuff” arrow appears quite flaccid and withered.”
    Me: hahahaha
    Mustachians: Grow up

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2023, 11:40 am

      Haha, thanks Amelie I’m glad at least one person noticed that attempt at a joke! :-)

  • Dave April 30, 2023, 3:41 am

    When my sister was 16 and studying for her first big set of exams, she refused to take any time off. As her older brother, worried that she would make herself ill, I remember working through the logic of this with her by continually asking “why?”. It resulted in the following chain of responses: to get good grades, to go to a good university, to get a good job, to earn lots of money, so I can enjoy myself. I pointed out that if she delayed enjoying herself until then, she will have completely forgotten how to do it, and would it not make more sense to enjoy herself at least a little as she continued on that journey? This seemed to resonate with her, she started taking occasional evenings off to join her friends, still got very (very!) good grades, and many years later is now a doctor continuing to enjoy herself.

    I mention this story because I believe the same applies to those of us still acquiring our nest egg. I have been a long time reader of this blog, believe I am saving plenty into my retirement fund, and think the logic of this post applies equally to those of us still in the acquisition stage. Yes, treating yourself to large indulgences such as a new car will impact your likely retirement age, but if you’ve done the math, are content with your monthly saving rate, then there’s nothing wrong with going for the best option your remaining budget will afford you.

    Having just bought myself a new(ish) car after wrestling with my inner MM for almost a year, this post really resonated with me. Glad you’re human too 😊.

  • cd April 30, 2023, 3:53 am

    I’m curious why you didn’t consider a used Model Y. I imagine there is signficant discount for a 1 year old car

    • Jim K April 30, 2023, 10:04 pm

      There is a $7,500 federal tax credit on a new model Y right now. (assuming he qualifies)

  • Rachel W April 30, 2023, 4:59 am

    What a great post! I am still in money accumulation phase, but I literally had an argument with my spouse about potentially flying business class when we do hit financial independence/our financial goals. I wish I had read this article first and not felt irrationally opposed to something that would drastically improve travel for my spouse who gets physically uncomfortable on long flights

  • Sarah Sherman April 30, 2023, 6:13 am

    This is so lovely to read – followed mustachianism for years (badly though as had life time of debt when I started and three young kids to bring up when I discovered the concept and I’m still learning) I’m so pleased for MMM he’s finally gone and done something he’s wanted for years while teaching the rest of us how it’s done. Good for him.

  • Momof5 April 30, 2023, 6:34 am

    I appreciate your introspection, Mr. Money Mustache! I feel like I’m constantly assessing and reassessing my relationship with money. It’s so easy for money to grip our hearts in an unhealthy way. We’re Catholic and have 5 kids and obviously have a responsibility to provide for them and so need to save for them and our futures, but we frequently talk about how we’re using our money and does it line up with our faith and values. I don’t think you subscribe to the same set of beliefs, but I’ll hope you’ll permit me to share this short parable which immediately came to mind upon reading your post because I think it gets at the heart of it.

    13 One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12: 13-21)

    I think all of us, whether or not we believe in God have to take stock on whether or not we own our money or our money owns us and whether how we use our money is for the good of society overall.

    I don’t advocate for owning a Tesla one way or the other, but It seems like you really deliberated over this decision for a long time and used your money for an intention to better society as whole (while also improving your own quality of life, which is also not a bad thing, especially in moderation!).

  • Minnesota Darrel April 30, 2023, 7:09 am

    “why don’t you give your money away to charity, or to me?”

    I would counter that you are giving money to people with the advice and guidance you offer. I may not always take it, but it has helped improve my financial standing and approach.

  • Doug April 30, 2023, 8:01 am

    Great post, and I’ve been similarly transitioning my thinking in ways very similar to those you outlined. The book “Die With Zero” has been having a moment, and it is great, and extremely similar in many ways to the thinking you outlined here. I think its a natural transition to move from “how to I amass enough money to become free?” to “how to do I make the most of my life with this money?” which, as I’ve seen you write before, tends to continue growing even faster than expected after financial independence. I hope this makes for a fabulous second phase of your writing. Thanks for sharing – rather than hiding – your well reasoned splurge!

  • Renee April 30, 2023, 8:08 am

    This makes me sad because I didn’t know about MMM when I was 20 53 years ago and now I live in struggle and discipline on my quickly dwindling 403B and SS. I sure as heck have passed MMM to my 31 YO daughter and it seems to be sinking in to her. WHAT do you think of these $6 loaves of bread? (I buy $2 loaves of Wonder bread at Walmart) Is this price gouging and corporate greed? Is yes, what can we do about it?

  • Daniel April 30, 2023, 8:29 am

    Great post and comments as usual. I had two conflicting reactions on this. “Way to go – CONGRATS!!!” and “What happened to MMM??? This goes against everything he has posted so far.”

    So how can this be? As we age we realize it’s never black and white. There is a huge range of gray (and having two opposite thoughts about the same situation is probably useful).

    About me: we have lived frugally most of our lives with one big exception – kids’ education. Drove a two door Honda Civic hatchback for 14 years including when the kids were little. Kids went to public schools for grades 1-8. But we paid for expensive private schools for high school, and now paying for top notch colleges. Out of pockets expenses are $80K – $120K -$130K -$130K -$80K for 5 college years (they overlap for 3 years so we got a “discount”). Two years paid for, three more to go. Our most expensive car was $30K in 2017, and we live in a $400K (2022 value) typical suburban home in the Midwest. We bought the house in 1999 and paid it off in 2012, which allowed us to save for college. Our net worth is very close to $3MM now.

  • fireby35 April 30, 2023, 8:49 am

    Funny conincidence, I’m far enough along on my mustachian journey that I just decided, “No more salvage title cars that blow a transmission in the mountains!” I bought my first new car ever. I agree completely that once you cross the threshold to having lots of money and a relatively frugal life then there must be a shift in thinking.

    I had been saying I lost my Mustachian card after buying this new car and living in this new mindset (after 10 years of MMM saving!). But, now I’m going to know I’m just living the Mustachian end game of abundance :)

  • Alex April 30, 2023, 8:54 am

    To the haters and the virtue signalling commenters: get a life. MMM, enjoy your new ride and the adventures that come with it!

  • Will April 30, 2023, 11:11 am

    I enjoyed this post. I feel like it shows personal growth and sets a good example. I think anyone who’s been following the blog for a decade or so has made some great financial progress by being frugal and investing in the spirit the blog recommends. Now that the snowball is rolling and picking up steam, what are we supposed to do in the next phase? I felt like this post laid a great road map and I would like to see more content like it.

    One area I’ve noticed my spending increase is on clothing. I read recently that there are 28 million slaves in the world and the majority work producing clothes. So, now that I have some more disposable income and the investments are rolling, why not buy the ethically manufactured shirt/shoes/etc for 2x the price? With shoes at least, it could be more frugal in the long run.

    Another area is travel. It’s a lot less frugal than staying at home and watching tv, but also a lot more enriching.

    I’ve done the food upgrades and I agree it is hard to buy the scratch made or organic items over the cheaper stuff. The thing I tell myself though is, hey if you think eating healthy is expensive, wait until you get the bill for not eating healthy.

    Good job. Glad you’re enjoying the Tesla and loosening up the purse strings a bit. I don’t believe the goal of any of us should be to be the richest person in the graveyard.

  • Rhaman April 30, 2023, 11:18 am

    How long have you been in therapy? Such anguish, emotional turmoil and psychological hemorrhaging must have been an obstacle to just buying a car, any car, because of the cost, and without treatment, from what I got, you would have gone for a 10 year old something that met your needs “for the right price.” BTW, I’m a fellow patient that in a case of ordinary coincidence, I suffered similar experiences while acquiring a new EV, the 2022 EV of the year. Thanks for going electric!

  • Dawn from UK April 30, 2023, 11:29 am

    So agree here and I’ve just started doing this myself. I’ve been FI 4 years and I’ve now opened an account purely for this. Maybe for cosmetic surgery, maybe for something that I really want but don’t know what it is yet. But its money for something outrageous that I wouldn’t do whilst in accumulation phase. Love MMM

  • Ryan April 30, 2023, 12:17 pm

    I had to do a double-take to make sure this wasn’t a belated post from April 1. What’s this? MMM spending $52k on a brand new luxury car? Didn’t your most recent post discuss how you’re planning to move to the City of the Future that’s designed around no need for cars at all? I thought luxury was just another weakness!

    And what’s more, paying $7 for a loaf of bread and thinking the extra $2.49 doesn’t matter? That sounds a lot like the justification of the daily latte (scourge of so many earlier posts). I thought that A Millionaire Is Made Ten Bucks at a Time. And besides, who buys bread when it’s ridiculously easy and satisfying to bake your own? Some might even say that bread is a dubious inclusion on the high-protein breakfast plate. Yaddayaddayadda….

    I get it. And I know you do too given the self-effacing tone and good-natured humor you use. You can afford all this and should have some fun with your accumulated riches. It wasn’t until near the end of the article that I really understood you. When you explained your need for a car that can out-range the Leaf and haul extra people/things coupled with your van troubles, then it all made sense. I think that’s why they call “burying the lede.”

    But I have to believe that for many of your readers like myself, who are still on the path to early retirement/FIRE, this post felt like opposite day or a belated April Fool’s Day post (like the Top 4 SUVs for a Growing Family post from 2014). And for those folks who are just beginning to sprout a few hairs in their ‘Stache, the Treat Yo’self / Cuz Want To message may not be so helpful or inspiring. I just hope this isn’t among the first MMM posts that new readers might encounter.

    I do hope you’re pleased with the new car once you get it. And the mountain retreat sounds awesome. Looking forward to hearing more about that in the future, too.

  • Jon April 30, 2023, 1:53 pm

    Just so you are aware, the Tesla Model Y is in no way a luxury car. It has the build quality of an 80’s Honda Civic at best. I have owned mine since March of 2020. I have put over 40000 miles on it. We all get a little blind when we are excited about a new car, but rest assured this car doesn’t come close to any modern luxury car. The Model S and the Model X both of which I have driven for weeks when my car was in for service and much closer to luxury vehicles, but still don’t come close to the classic luxury brands, Mercedes, Audi, BMW when it comes to comfort, ride and amenities. Once you’ve had it for a little while, you’ll see. It is still a decent car and fun to drive, charging is annoying at times, but you get used to it. Not polluting your neighborhood with exhaust is also a great feature. Congratulations on your new car.

  • Tom Ganski April 30, 2023, 2:06 pm

    Here’s my justification for buying a Tesla Y – two cars for one.

    I bought my Y two made a half years ago at 62 years old. It now has 63k miles on it.

    I followed Tesla for years waiting for a model with decent range at a decent price. The Y came out at $52k about the time my Nissan Murano gave out. With my trade in, I got my Y for just under $50 k enabling me to keep a lifetime promise to myself never to pay more for a car than my first house cost at $56 k.

    One of the things I read about Tesla was that the battery and the chassis were expected to last 500000. That would cover about 20 to 25 years of driving which would take me to 87. Judging by my parents, I should be done driving by then. If I bought the typical ICE car at any price, I would have to replace it in that timeframe. So I figured I bought two cars for the price of one.

    I named the car on my Tesla app “Tom’s Last Car.”

  • Lee April 30, 2023, 2:34 pm

    Looking forward to hearing more about the vacation rental compound. Sounds interesting. Also I really liked this look into some of the “not spending enough” problems of early retirement.

  • Sparky April 30, 2023, 3:26 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this a bit myself as my stash got bigger than planned since I happened to work a few extra years during the pandemic because work from home was so chill and because our child making journey took a bit longer than we thought it would.

    One of my concerns, which may not apply to you since your son is older now, is making sure I show my daughter how fantastic of a life can be had with such a small amount of money. Since I lucked my way into such a high paying gig, I know there’s a good chance she will make less than I did and I want to set and example and teach her the skills to be happy with any amount of money. Some of the most sufferable people I know were the kids of people who did extremely well financially who then just made an average income but their perception of what is normal or needed to be happy is extremely skewed.

    So as I look to where I can splurge more I want to make sure I’m not getting some super small incremental gain in fanciness at the risk of preventing my daughter’s frugality muscle from getting ripped. Have you had this dilemma?

  • Corwin April 30, 2023, 3:44 pm

    I’ve had a big shift in thinking about cars the last couple years, and this article strongly aligns with that shift.

    Previously of course I would claim that buying any new car was a completely ridiculous waste of money, for nearly anyone. Particularly if you considered the environmental impact.

    But now that I’ve owned an EV for the last year and a half (a Kia Niro, which I love and got the $7500 credit for, and might be one of the most mustachian EVs you can get), I shout to the rooftops every chance I get that anyone who can reasonably afford an EV at all should get one ASAP.

    ESPECIALLY if they are FI and can easily afford it. Rich folks really need to help this industry scale up ASAP.

    And ESPECIALLY if they have kids. Not having to ever take my kids to a gas station or blast a bunch of exhaust in their lungs is priceless.

    Then I tell people to sign up for renewable power through their electric utility if they can, which MMM has been doing for years as well. Here in Austin, it only adds a few dollars to our electric bill (thanks west Texas wind turbines!), and I love saying that we use only renewable energy to drive ourselves around.

  • JAG April 30, 2023, 4:08 pm

    “It’s […] completely unproductive to send negativity to shame people you don’t even know for not following your own personal value system.”

    But I thought that’s what this website was all about? Car clowns, consumer sucka, etc.

  • Frank April 30, 2023, 7:13 pm

    Former Tesla owner here, who really loved that car (despite disliking cars in general) – I even more enjoy currently living in a big city (without a car) with great public transportation for when I don’t ride my bike…😀

  • Jim K April 30, 2023, 9:58 pm

    Congratulations. I pulled the trigger in 2021 on a Model Y Long Range. It was a year before I officially retired. I felt a bit of guilt but have gotten over it. Like yourself I was driving a vehicle from 2000. An RX300 that has served me well. I taught my kids mom to drive on it and last year taught my oldest daughter to drive on it. I’ve kept it since she can now use it to get to work and I don’t have to shuttle her around. (I’ve also learned how to pull out a dent, buff it out, and will repaint that area.) I live in CA and have 6 free chargers within a mile of my house. (It was 8 but 2 are broken) Even though I have a charging outlet in my home I find the idea of saving on electric costs at home still tempting. Since I’m retired I can go at various times and see if one is available and plug it in and go for a walk or such. Because of the weight of the vehicle you will find it goes through tires faster but not having other traditional maintenance is something I enjoy. I’m looking forward to your review and thoughts somewhere down the line.

  • Felix May 1, 2023, 12:29 am

    I thought the beauty of the mini van was that you could use it for carpentery and related work? Perhaps that’s what the tow hitch on the Tesla is for and you’ll be using a trailer? I would be interested to see how that turns out.

    • Chris B May 1, 2023, 8:29 pm

      Welcome to the world of trying to keep the carpet clean and worrying about little scratches, right? I would have a hard time tossing a bag of concrete into the trunk of a $52k luxury SUV.

  • Matt May 1, 2023, 5:50 am

    We know it is the end of a 13 year bull market when MMM says it is time to start spending more money on stuff we don’t technically need.

  • Katie May 1, 2023, 7:59 am

    Yeah for Salida! I’m a long time reader but don’t comment much. I grew up in Salida and it is a quirky, wonderful place. Enjoy the area! A nice hike is up to Browns Creek Waterfall.

  • TK May 1, 2023, 9:15 am

    I didn’t know there was a Frugality Disorder support group. I too bought a Tesla 6 years ago despite my spending disability because I needed Autopilot. Tesla was the only car back then with LKAS. (Mine also came with Fake Self Driving in some unspecified future). Be warned though. Tesla is expensive and takes long time to repair. Mine is in the shop as we speak, and it’ll cost me $10k for slipping on a crumbled mountain road.

  • Luke May 1, 2023, 10:04 am

    Maybe I’m missing the subtleties, but this whole article gives the feeling of “yeah, so consumer luxuries actually do probably create happiness, I’m tired of denying myself, why do the charities get everything and not me? You should reserve some of your budget for frivolous spending.”. With a lot of convoluted rationalization on top. And the comments here are a 50/50 split of “yeah! Treat yourself ! You deserve it, I want to buy a bunch of luxury stuff but have been denying myself, thanks for writing this!” and “WTF dude?”

    Something just feels off – midlife malaise at play? Not that MMM has to “toe the company line” in the name of consistency if he’s truly having doubts about it all, but if so maybe be a little more honesty/uncertainty – “I might be making a mistake here and getting sucked into consumerism, we’ll see.” Previous posts advocated a lot of soul-searching before spending, but the bread example hints of a dark side to all the handwringing. I don’t know. No external situation alone can bring peace, according to the buddhists – so I guess that would include both mustachian and spendypants lifestyles.

    Curious the view from the hedonic treadmill in a few years :)

  • Michelle May 1, 2023, 10:54 am

    A second MMM blog post in less than a month? Bonus for us!
    But wait, is this a late April fool’s post like when he said he sold the web site? Or maybe it’s a final exam question like the professor who asked where would hurricanes form if the earth spun the other way on its axis and everyone’s head exploded just thinking about it?
    But no, he’s serious! The person who wrote ‘Luxury is a drug’ and ‘Muscle over motor’ has bought a f-ing Tesla and is trying to justify it to his readers by ironic self-mocking, a three step process with flashy diagrams, and a trite phrase.
    But this is not a blog about money, its about lifestyle and optimization. While the rest of us are still reading about being frugal, riding bikes, and not getting to-go coffee every day, MMM has graduated to spending hundreds of dollars more on first class tickets so as not to be inconvenienced with people and their shit or spending 5 times what he could on produce to avoid the hassle of a parking lot. How stoic.
    But that is minor compared to the dopamine filling his brain with sub-optimal thinking about buying a frickin Tesla just because he can afford to. He has wanted a Tesla for 5 years and has been so good about delaying gratification that he has prolonged the dopamine associated with the purchase; but is it something he wants, or is it the right tool his people and lumber hauling needs? I am guessing a used minivan would be the latter. I am also wondering how he will deal with the inevitable hedonistic adaptation that comes with such a purchase when owning a Tesla becomes mundane. What is the next dopamine infused purchase? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
    I think that your Splurge Accountablilty Buddy should be outside of your ‘bubble’. If folks on this web site or outside your NoCO peer group think it’s a good idea, then maybe it could be. Is it in line with all the other things you have been preaching for the past 12 years? That should be a litmus test it should pass too. This whole post seems like a justification for changing your mindset to be a spendypants consumer instead of a mustachian badass. But only on a few things when you really want to.

  • Raphael May 1, 2023, 12:26 pm

    Great article indeed, enjoy the car! Out of curiosity, suppose you foresee a specific large expense, or set of expenses, in a couple of years (e.g. wanting to pay for kids’ overpriced college), how would you relate the minimum spending budget principle to that? Would you reduce the size of the stash by the expected big purchase amount off when calculating the 3%?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 1, 2023, 1:22 pm

      That’s an interesting question Raphael, I like it. Yeah, I think the most “accurate” way would be to pretend that money is already lopped off of your net worth and then go on spending accordingly.

      Another way would be just proceed as normal, then consider the overpriced college as part of your Free Fun Money in the years that you are forking over the tuition.

      Depending on the numbers, this second approach could lead to you being a bit “cheaper” with yourself on everything else during that period, so you would have to decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

  • Nicolas May 1, 2023, 4:40 pm

    I feel that the MMM experiment was to show that, in the modern world, one can live a great life while not spending a lot of money at all. Investing the difference between a crazy lifestyle and a slightly less ridiculous lifestyle allowed MMM to become a millionaire many times over thanks to the power of compound interest. Now that he has built this crazy money machine that just compounds like there’s no tomorrow, I think it’s ok for him to stop focusing on the price tag of everything he buys – the very behavior that made him rich in the first place. Bravo MMM.

  • Diana Welsch May 1, 2023, 4:59 pm

    52k sounds cheap for a car. Is it a good dog carry car?

  • Dale May 1, 2023, 5:20 pm

    I enjoyed your post and find my own thought process to be quite similar. I currently own my 4th EV and am patiently awaiting a buyback on one that is being repurchased via the Lemon Law. In the meantime, I bought a Tesla Model 3. Once the buyback is complete, I plan to sell my MB diesel SUV and buy another Tesla (Model Y). Your post/confession helped me to decide that indeed life is short, and we should satisfy our relatively modest “wants” versus generally settling for less. I am an economist, and I can almost always come up with arguments that lead me to sub-optimal decisions so far as “want versus need” decisions. Before I retired my latest research topic was “The Insidious Involuntary
    Tax”. Thanks for the stimulus.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 1, 2023, 6:07 pm

      Intriguing story Dale – which model of EV turned out to be a lemon?

  • Chris B May 1, 2023, 8:25 pm


  • James May 1, 2023, 10:29 pm


    Just read all the comments and I can’t believe how the trolls came out on this one. It’s needs to be balanced out a little!

    I think it’s great you are making this purchase. I know you are a savvy businessman and I didn’t see it anywhere so I have to ask, is this is a business expense? If so, are you calculating the tax benefits from section 179 on bonus depreciation of the new Tesla as you are clearly going to be using it for business purposes (blogging about it, commuting to your rental property, hauling construction materials, etc). I would think that offset would be worth even more than the EV tax credit. Unless I am missing something?

    I will admit that your post have always been about aspiring me to spend less. My family’s budget each year is around $300,000+/- but it’s a fraction of our net worth and take home pay. Without your posts I am sure we would be spending double, granted, about 25% is charitable donations, one thing I do really enjoy.

    We may or may not have also found a free bread machine and now make our own bread. Saving money wasn’t the main goal, but all of the challenges related to having a more difficult life have actually made it better.

    Finances aside, I have really embraced discomforts and one of my favorite sayings to myself in my head is “do you want a bedpan to go with that?”.. I hope to be just as badass as you one day.

    And for the trolls:

    1) if you are so worried about the environment, shut off your computer and the rest of the power in your house, enjoy that subsistence living and all that money you save.

    2) The reason I spend so much money each year is because of the private air flights to hang out with my best friend Elon Musk. Generally very short flights with horrible fuel efficiency. Hoping Tesla comes out with a battery powered plane and a yacht.

    I could use both ;)

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 2, 2023, 1:35 pm

      Haha, nice points and thanks James!

      Regarding the tax deductions and business use: I’ve looked into this in the past (with the Leaf) and did not find there was much value in my particular tax situation. So I bought the car just under my own name and the only deduction will be the same as with my old van: having my LLC reimburse me the IRS standard rate for any business mileage I put onto the car.

      But I’ll still check with my accountant to see if things could be done any better. And to any tax accountants reading this right now: what do YOU think I should do? About 80% of my mileage is going to be fairly business-related stuff, like driving to my construction projects and blog-related destinations and retreats and such.

  • Bob May 2, 2023, 7:30 am

    If you really wanted one, why didn’t you wait a little and buy a used one? Wasn’t your advice to never buy new? Let some other sucker take the initial depreciation and “overpriced service to maintain warranty burden.”

  • Sarah May 2, 2023, 9:18 am

    Question about Principle #2/Cash Flow –

    The first diagram is me exactly. I’m a locums doc, so I get these large/irregular paychecks that dump into my checking account, I spend on fixed/variable expenses out of here, and occasionally scoop out a surplus into “giant retirement stash.” Spot on. And I’m reluctant to spend/”splurge” because I feel like it’s ultimately taking away from that big red stash arrow.

    Logistically, how do I become a second diagram person? Because my income is so irregular, and my savings goals are kind of a moving target (don’t know how much I can put in my solo 401k until year-end, eg), how do I accomplish this? Do I get a second checking account that my income goes into, then divvy up save/spend out of there? But how to allocate? Do I allocate a $ amount to save/spend per paycheck, or % of each paycheck, or instead of per paycheck do it on a monthly or quarterly basis, or…help.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 2, 2023, 1:29 pm

      Great question Sarah! In fact, I originally had a different version of that second diagram that suggested you get a second checking account for the lifestyle spending, but didn’t want to go overboard and confuse people with complexity. But in your specific situation:

      1) Only worry about this stuff if you feel you have a “frugality/cheapness” problem in the first place. If you’re already feeling generous and abundant with your current life, just ignore this article.
      2) If you do want to make a change, create a second checking account for your new lifestyle spending. I would suggest also moving all of your true expenses (rent, insurance, whatever) to also get pulled out of this account so it represents your true spending budget.
      3) Keep your sizeable but irregular income all going to your existing, old checking account.
      4) Set up a monthly auto transfer of your desired budget ($5000 or whatever) from your old account to the new one.
      5) from now on, you are allowed to hack around and save/invest out of the old one, but you MUST SPEND OR DONATE everything that goes into the new one.

      And of course, tweak as necessary. The real key as noted in the article is just training ourselves out of the penny pinching instinct.

  • Brendan May 2, 2023, 11:37 am

    That’s a sweet Tesla! I wonder though, does it come equipped with a catheter and a bedpan?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 2, 2023, 1:24 pm

      It sort of does!

      In the sense that by default, the climate control comes on automatically before you even enter the car and tries to pamper you with Unnecessarily Perfect Temperature (heat in winter, A/C in summer) without even asking you.

      Thankfully you can disable this setting and have the system run in “Fan Only” mode, saving lots of energy and also giving your body a fighting chance to adapt to the climate you actually LIVE IN, which is a good start.

      You’re right though – it’s an unnecessarily luxurious car. In the future there will be 300+ mile electric cars (minivans) that are less fancy, and if I ever need to make a purchasing decision at that point, I’ll probably choose one of those.

  • Lucero May 2, 2023, 12:28 pm

    You briefly mentioned dinner dates… Curious if you think being single has pulled you to spending more than you would have otherwise. Fancy Teslas certainly make a different impression on the ladies than a Nissan Leaf.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 2, 2023, 1:21 pm

      Haha, this is a fun question!

      So first of all, YES – being a non-married person since 2018, I have done a lot more traditional dating type stuff than I would have as a married man. Then again, married people hopefully still go out to dinner and take vacations together, so it’s not that much of a difference.

      One thing I have been truly glad about however is that I had the financial basics in place long ago (a nice low base cost of living and plenty of financial cushion), which means I can do stuff that my parents never would have let themselves do because they were too frugal and/or couldn’t afford it: spontaneous flights to fun places, dream dates of all sorts, and just generally feeling relaxed about money.

      Regarding the actual car: I would argue the opposite: I would *PREFER* a lady who thinks a Nissan Leaf is sexier than a Tesla in most cases. Because the Leaf is frugal, practical, and still a great fast comfortable quiet car with great handling.

      If I end up dating someone who only picked me because of the more expensive car, that’s a huge negative because that relationship would be based on material bling rather than brainy and sensible decision making – and the latter is the only kind of relationship I want for the long run.

      With all that said, I only bought the Tesla because it is the LEAST expensive, electric car with reasonable interior space and long-enough range (and fast charging network) for the places I want to easily be able to drive to. If I could swap the battery in the Leaf for one with 330 miles of range and complete access to the Supercharger network, I would have done that in a blink.

  • Laurel May 2, 2023, 5:38 pm

    All this talk of cars is great but look at the mess our economy is in. Guess we retired too soon. The market is down and we’re worried that we’ll have to go back to work.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 3, 2023, 12:36 pm

      This is an interesting perspective, what evidence do you have for it?

      The US stock index has been roughly flat for the past two years although the stocks continue to pay dividends.

      And in fact the index is within just 13% of its all time euphoric high set early last year – a time when interest rates were only 3%! (Stock values naturally fall as interest rates rise)

      On top of that, unemployment is at an 60-year-low and the US economy is at an all-time high at the moment.

      Go back to work if you enjoy working, but if you’re worried about our economy, you might want to start reading a different source of financial news!

  • Dr. Zed May 2, 2023, 9:14 pm

    Disappointed you chose a Tesla – I no longer consider them after I became more aware what Musk is really about. It’s not about the abrasiveness but the persistent amplification of some really bad people who would do away with democracy in a hot minute if they could – and have already shown that they have no issue scapegoating minorities. Total no-go for me, at that point the product no longer matters.

    • geno July 9, 2023, 8:35 pm

      Relax snowflake!


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