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Hello, I’m Not Mr. Money Mustache

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I recently had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with a group of writers who focus on real estate investing and entrepreneurship. At dinner, I shared that I wrote about early retirement planning. I revealed that, at the time, I was a few weeks away from my own early retirement at the age of 41.

After talking for a few more minutes, one of the people at the dinner said, “That’s interesting, but I just prefer to go out and earn more money than to have to live on $25,000 per year.” Others nodded in agreement.

I found this statement extremely interesting. My family’s annual spending is about double the $25,000 casually mentioned in conversation. Besides, I never told anyone at the table what my living expenses were. We had just met.

It quickly clicked inside my head that the assumption behind the $25,000/year budget was a reference to the popular early retirement blogger Mr. Money Mustache. He publicly shares that the annual spending for his family of three is in that range.

Then it hit me. Even at a table of financially literate investors, educators, and generally smart people there were misconceptions about what it takes to achieve financial independence and retire early (FIRE). 

Reaching Outside the “Cult”

Mr. Money Mustache is by far the most popular and well known voice in the FIRE space. He has been featured everywhere from the Washington Post to the New Yorker. He credits his success in part to creating a cult.

I admit I chose a clickbait title for this article. I also chose a colorful cheerful picture as a contrast against the ominous black and white photo of a pair of fists on Mr. Money Mustache’s introduction page.

However, this post is not in any way meant to be an attack on Mr. Money Mustache. If anything, it is the opposite. In the process of creating a cult-like following, he has changed the lives of many for the better by sharing his irreverent way of looking at the world.  I count myself among them.

However, when you create a cult there is by definition an “us vs. them” component. You are either in or you are out. This is unfortunate.

Many people could benefit from the principles espoused by Mr. Money Mustache. They range from those early in their careers looking to build a solid financial foundation, to the overworked, discontented, burnt out professional, to the person approaching retirement with far too little saved. Many of those who are not “in the cult” will miss these key lessons because they are turned off by the messaging.

I would like to deconstruct three concepts that tend to turn people off to Mr. Money Mustache specifically and the idea of FIRE in general. My goal is to expose solid underlying principles that have changed my financial situation and bettered my life. They could do the same for yours.

The Budget and Extreme Frugality

Many people equate Mr. Money Mustache with FIRE. As a consequence, they associate FIRE with extreme frugality. Mr. Money Mustache’s publicly shared household spending is just above the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a family of three.

The Mr. Money Mustache blog comments and forum feature robust arguments. Some people attack while other defend the validity of his numbers. Others simply don’t believe that someone who makes so much spends that little.

This misses the point of sharing the budget and the bigger underlying principle. Very few people pay attention to their own personal spending. This is how the vast majority of Americans, from minimum wage earners to highly paid professionals, lock themselves into a similar narrative. Most follow the same script of going to a job for 40+ hours/week until age 60-70. Then they retire.

This is reflected by the average American savings rate fluctuating between 3-5%. Before anyone claims that most people simply can’t save, you may find this article from the site Financial Samurai interesting. He analyzed savings rates and opined that even “the top 10% to top 1% of income earners save roughly 12%, which I find surprisingly low. It’s only the top 1% who saves an impressive figure at roughly 38%.”

What you earn doesn’t matter if you continue to spend all or most of what you make. This brings everything back to the importance of the annual budget. 

Your Budget Matters

Unless you learn by observing the example of others, there is no need to concern yourself with Mr. Money Mustache’s budget or level of frugality. It is not a contest to be most frugal.

However, you do need to know what you spend. It is a simple truth, though it is not obvious to most, that you choose how much you spend. It does not need to be tied to what you earn. Many times we spend with little intentionality.

Another simple, but not obvious, truth is that you determine how much money you need to retire by how much you want to spend in retirement. This stands in stark contrast to conventional wisdom that says the income you need in retirement is an arbitrary percentage of the income you had in your working years.

The simple acts of learning to disassociate spending from earning, being intentional with spending decisions, and tracking your spending can allow you to save far more during your working years. Your lower spending then provides the double benefit of needing a far smaller portfolio to be able to retire.

Name Calling and Value Judgements

The personal finance space has long been dominated by “gurus”. Each has their own set of rules and strong opinions. See Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” and strong stance on credit cards as another example.

Mr. Money Mustache amplifies this pattern. He created his “cult” by clearly sharing his values and criticizing those that are in opposition, inviting readers to take sides.

He states that the most important thing you can do to improve your finances and your life is “ride a bike.” Those that don’t share his opinion are “car clowns.”

His criticism of pet owners drew well over 500 comments of people who felt the need to respond. He attacks popular destinations people like to visit with the article “Money Mustache vs. Tourist Trap.”

What Are Your Values?

While people eagerly line up to agree or disagree with Mr. Money Mustache, or other “gurus”, I fear they again often miss the more important message. None of us need to worry about the values and opinions of any guru. We don’t have to follow all of their rules.

Instead, we should mimic what they have done by intentionally determining our own values. Then we should build our lives in alignment with our values, including how we spend our time and money.

I originally read FIRE blogs and felt that to find happiness I needed to be ultra-frugal to retire as quickly as possible. In the process I made myself very unhappy and created unnecessary stress in my life by trying to live up to someone else’s standards.

My wife and I ultimately realized that we needed to develop a retirement plan that reflected our needs and wants. This included building an ample security cushion and enabling a life of abundance consistent with our values, allowing access to the activities we love to do and the people that we want to spend time with.

Internet Retirement Police

Since retiring as an engineer, Mr. Money Mustache has developed a massively successful blog. In addition to his blog, both he and his wife have started a variety of other business ventures.

This has drawn criticism from people who are quick to point out that he is not really retired, since he continues to do work and bring in money. He fired back with the article “Mr. Money Mustache vs. the Internet Retirement Police”.

This again builds the us vs. them mentality of a cult. While people “outside the cult” waste time arguing over why someone else is not really retired, they miss the much bigger point. 

Traditional Retirement Is Not Working

The National Institute on Retirement Security reports that “62 percent of working households age 55-64 have retirement savings less than one times their annual income, which is far below what they will need to maintain their standard of living in retirement.”

Compare this to Mr. Money Mustache and the FIRE community in general. Their definition of financial independence is having investments equal to 25 times annual expenses. Mr. Money Mustache and his wife accomplished this by their early 30’s. Instead of nitpicking about whether or not he is really retired, doesn’t it make sense to try to learn from those with such unconventional results?

Aside from financial concerns, a traditional retirement where you stop work completely can be associated with increased incidence of depression and other health conditions.

The American Psychological Association reports, “Research by psychologists and others has found that working or volunteering during retirement can help stave off depression, as well as dementia and hypertension.” However they also note that “this is not true for everyone as only those people who are truly engaged in their post-retirement activities reap the psychological benefits.”

Redefine Retirement

This reinforces the importance of letting go of our traditional notions of what retirement is or should be. Many people spend their best years slaving away at a job to achieve a secure traditional retirement that never comes. Others are successful financially, only to discover the retirement they have been waiting for is not what they had been expecting.

Mr. Money Mustache models a totally different way of life that focuses on building wealth rapidly and then using financial freedom to pursue whatever it is that you are passionate about for the rest of your life, regardless of whether or not you make money in the process. Maybe we should stop caring whether he is “really retired” and start caring about how to redefine retirement to build better lives for ourselves.

My Personal Mission

I have been helped by a variety of influences on my path to early retirement. Darrow’s work on this blog drew me in to get detailed and nuanced understanding of issues surrounding retirement planning that I did not find elsewhere. I also enjoyed his non-dogmatic approach that avoided politicizing issues, pushing personal opinions, or passing judgements on others.

As I become a regular contributor here, I vow to continue to bring those same qualities as we continue to help readers to save more, invest better, and retire sooner.

However, there is no denying the impact of Mr. Money Mustache and other “extreme” voices on my life. They changed the way I looked at retirement specifically and life in general. This is an equal part of my own personal success story, enabling me to retire early.

My goal is to challenge readers of this blog to question conventional wisdom, challenge your assumptions, and learn to think differently. This is every bit as important as understanding technical issues in successful retirement planning, particularly for those of you looking to retire early.

[Contributing Editor Chris Mamula used principles of traditional retirement planning, combined with creative lifestyle design, to retire from a career as a physical therapist at age 41. After poor experiences with the financial industry early in his professional life, he educated himself on investing and tax planning. Now he draws on his experience to write about wealth building, DIY investing, financial planning, early retirement, and lifestyle design at Can I Retire Yet? You can reach him at chris@caniretireyet.com.]

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Comments

  1. Very, very nice analysis! I look forward to your future posts.

    Count me in as an MMM disciple. I retired at 52 which is not all that early compared to others on the interweb. But I owe a great debt to MMM for making me realize it was even possible. I just wish I’d found him when I was 30 instead of almost 50.

    • I retired at 59 and agree with your comment and this post wholeheartedly. I took quite a few “face punches” from MMM. I read several blogs from the FIRE community and learn from them all – but it was MMM who I just happened to land on first because I read an article in a newspaper where he had been interviewed.

      • Chris Mamula says:

        Mark,

        I think many of us found MMM first, or at least among our first couple of FIRE blogs, simply b/c he has received such massive exposure and built such a massive audience. Like you, I enjoy his writing and have found it useful, but have talked to many people who are turned off by the style, which is what prompted this post.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Thanks for the kind words Mr. Freaky Frugal. I think 52 is pretty impressive in a world where 65-70 is normal. That is an extra decade+ of your life that you have managed to reclaim. Congrats to you!

  2. Thank you for this article. This site for me is more realistic than the MMM site. I do not want to go miles to a grocery store on my bicycle! I prefer to grow my own veggies on my own paid for plot of ground. And yeah, I like driving my Jeep and riding my motorcycle. And I like vacations! And I like dividends to pay for it all!

    I retired at 56, one year ago and love it! It is amazing how many people assume I was either fired and/or am very poor due to not working. I try to tell people the secret is live on less than what you earn, save, invest, and never carry credit card debt and they too could reach FIRE. Sadly they look at me as if I have two heads.

    Another thing is people are constantly asking what do I do all day. It is sad to me that people cannot imagine a life without the grind of a job.

    Keep up the good posts! I will keep referring people to this site!

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Thanks for the kind words Janice. As for as who is more realistic, I think that the message here and the message at MMM is more similar than different. It is just that different styles and tones will appeal to different people. The most important thing in my mind is that we are reaching a wide audience with solid information and motivation to help people better their financial lives, and as a result their entire lives.

  3. Emma Gray says:

    I love it that I can add comments again! I’ve also enjoyed reading MMM’s blog. I don’t follow his extremes but he does provide valuable insights. That said I really appreciate Chris’s post here and I agree completely with it.

    I retired last year at 61 (not so early compared to people like you but…). Life after retirement is good but also fraught with dealing with such a major change. Perhaps that’s something else to write about. I considered becoming a junior tax person at H&R Block. After all, I like things-financial and it would be fun and interesting to help people. Or, become a part-time work-at-home person in a variety of industries. I haven’t because I envision myself jumping right back into the “comfort” of the rat race where I suck myself in to advancement and notable successes. Instead I bought a fixer upper that I’m working steadily (if slowly and with plenty of mistakes I’m learning from). It keeps me busy and thinking, and I enjoy seeing the progress I’ve made. In a way it’s a job in that I may very well sell the house in a couple of years (assuming the market holds) and buy another one. We’ll see.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Thanks for the feedback Emma. The comments are something that Darrow and I discussed at length and agree that it is important to engage the audience. It is just a ton of work to run a blog of this size, and comments are one thing that eats time. My role in addition to adding new regular content is to take on some of these tasks to free up Darrow to do other things so that we can continue to grow the blog and provide other materials and products.

      Also love your suggestion about addressing the challenges of staying engaged, but not falling back into old habits in retirement. Stay tuned, that post is already in the pipeline.

  4. So true! So many people are quick to dismiss others’ experiences instead of learning from them. I’ve been reading financial gurus since I first became interested in personal finance (I no longer wanted to work full-time and had to figure out a way to make it financially feasible) and I can sincerely say I’ve learned something from all of them. My husband refuses to countenance any advice from someone who calls himself MMM, but I like MMM and find him amusing. I think of him when I get in my car to drive to the gym, for example! How he would laugh at me! But I’m still getting exercise and doing it my way! I think you have to get past the silly names and gimmicks and realize that these people have a passion that they are sharing with you and you can learn from it. I could never become a “follower” of anyone; if you take the “personal” out of “personal finance” you sort of miss the whole point.
    To me, you’re retired when you are working because you want to, no longer because you need to.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Agree Beatriz that there is much to be learned from many different sources and viewpoints. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to put together my own philosophy and get over the idea that I could just follow any guru, but once I did my financial and personal life improved exponentially.

  5. Is this site taking comments again? When did that happen? To me, the most valuable part of these blogs is in the discussion and sharing of ideas. The author is totally correct in noting that most financial bloggers (and almost all the ER bloggers) are intentionally polarizing and divisive. You’re either “in” or you’re “out”… and it’s easy to get declared “out” by merely asking a question… at which time you will never be allowed back “in”.

    It’s a shame that bloggers have made fame and fortune by writing about concepts as simple as budgeting and frugality. Everyone used to just “know” that stuff, and it points to a failure of our educational systems.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Today! See response to Beatriz above.

      In fairness Larry, we do have to try to be a bit edgy as bloggers, to get any traction competing against multi-billion dollar companies in the financial industry, and I admitted in the post to using MMM in my title to do so. However, once we draw people in, I think it is important to not turn them off to this message. As you point out, most personal finance and even advanced retirement planning is simple math and common sense. However, as the stats I cited show, most people don’t get this and there is a huge market for people like MMM who can break through and bring this message to a large audience who needs this information.

      • I don’t know why bloggers would imagine that they are “competing” with anyone. The message can be given in a civil and professional manner such as is done on this site. I don’t follow bloggers with a chip on their shoulder like MMM or his ilk.

        • Chris Mamula says:

          I agree that it is not a personal competition to retire the fastest, save the most, etc. However, as a writer/blogger who is trying to educate and influence others, it is very frustrating if no one reads your work. My comment about competing is that we (individual bloggers) ARE competing with big money corporations who can simply buy attention with advertising dollars, paid content, etc, while we have to draw attention organically, which requires some edginess or finding other ways to draw in readers. We can provide the best information, but if no one finds and reads it then it was time and effort wasted.

          I’m glad you appreciate the tone of this site, and it will be our ongoing effort to do the best job to keep it as is. Thanks for your feedback!

    • Sorry, I take exception to the budgeting and finances comment on how everyone just “knew” that stuff and the educational system is failing us. That is BS line if I ever heard one. In the past if you made all your bills and saved a little you were golden. Few people needed to understand the stock market, 401Ks, bonds, small caps, dividends, etc. and a smaller part of the population as a whole invested in anything but a savings account. Many had the benefits of a pension and most expected family to support them if they ran out of money before they died, which was often pretty soon after they stopped working so they weren’t expected to actually forecast and fund a 30-40 year retirement. Schools teach everyone what they need to know on how to budget in 7 and 8th grade in most state curriculums, math classes teach the ideas of compound interest, but much like you won’t remember how many lines there are in a sonnet or what the quadratic equation is unless you still like poetry or math, most kids couldn’t be bothered to apply that knowledge out in the real world any more effectively even though it directly impacts them. People haven’t changed, they just haven’t caught up to the new realities they are facing.

      • Chris Mamula says:

        Agree and disagree getagrip.

        You are absolutely right that our financial world is far more complex today than it was a generation or two ago when most people could rely on pensions and social security to provide a secure retirement without having the personal responsibility to plan for retirement on their own. With that responsibility there are far more options to build a life that you want and not be beholden to an employer and a pension, but people have to learn to think differently and educate themselves to what options are available and how to utilize the available tools.

        To Larry’s point, look at the fact that people don’t save even though society has become far more productive and technology has improved so much. Most people simply find different ways to find their newfound wealth on bigger homes, unneeded and honestly unwanted “stuff”, etc. A lot of this stuff is common sense that most people simply don’t get. Look at the points I made in the post about disassociating income and spending and basing retirement needs on personal spending wants rather than on income. It really isn’t rocket science, yet very few people get this as is evidenced by statistics.

      • Gary Saelens says:

        Agree and disagree get a grip.
        After working in the finance business for 35 years, I agree with Chris. The earlier generations “knew” this stuff. The current working generations do struggle with this and I don’t know that schools have ever had the time to properly address financial literacy. I was able to learn a simple lesson from my father who had an 8th grade education. The simple lesson was to live below your means and invest the rest. Dad was financially independent at 49. I became financially independent at 55. I was fortunate to have father teach me personal financial management, but it is never too late to learn with the aid of blogs like this one and MMM’s.

      • getagrip, you’re wrong. I think the last bit of formal financial education that my public school ever gave me, was how to make change for a dollar. Which they haven’t done for at least 20 years now. There has never been any education in the schools about budgeting or basic finance. In these days of average people not knowing how to save, or why it’s important to save, or why spending beyond your means is bad, the schools desperately need to teach these things. But they don’t.

  6. As a MMM reader I found your analysis fit mine as to how to approach obtaining my own financial independence. I am “retired” at 58 where our income producing investments in real estate provide enough to pay expenses with a cushion left over. When we reached that point I left computer engineering and started building furniture and cabinets and things for people for the joy of building things with my hands that serve people and earning a bit of pocket money for golf and such.
    I am so much happier working for clients on my own schedule than being stressed out attempting to meet “the man’s” insane schedules with frequent 60 hour work weeks. It is not necessary to go MMM frugal and give up the car and such – it is only necessary to know your expenses and build a portfolio of investments to cover that. It IS necessary to be frugal on some level to build said portfolio with a direct correlation to speed of portfolio build related to level of frugality. More frugality equals quicker retirement which MMM proved mathematically in some of his blogs. It happens my wife and I were (are) naturally frugal, without giving up living a reasonably comfortable life. As a previous comment said, I just wish I had started thinking and acting on this a lot sooner!

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Agree 100% John and don’t know that I have anything to add other than congrats on figuring out a financially and personally successful retirement plan. Grateful to have you as a reader here!

  7. Molly Sturdevant says:

    Excellent post! Finding your way to and in retirement takes many steps over time, and our individual sources of education and motivation are dynamic. I’m grateful for the internet’s making them so available during this evolution!

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Thanks Molly. Happy to share my perspectives and hope you’ll continue to join the conversation.

  8. I think the most significant control we must master is the savings rate. If you’re starting out deep in debt, this can correspond to your debt service rate as you are escaping debt slavery. Since it is a “rate” we can tweak income and/or expenses. Of the two, expenses give us the most immediate benefit for effort expended. Longer term, look at the income side. And–retirement police notwithstanding–financial independence means you get to choose to work on what you want to do.

    BTW, i count myself as a follower of both Dave Ramsey and MMM. I just don’t follow closely enough to satisfy the cultists.

  9. Great analysis and I agree. I am 51, and I am financially and almost-emotionally ready to retire. My biggest concern is health insurance, especially since I have three children (youngest in middle school). I’ve read many articles & blogs about options, but just can’t find a source of detailed info. Does it really cost $25K a year?!? My gosh…

    • I am the same age and good health insurance is the only thing keeping me coming to work every day. That’s another thing that the bloggers conveniently gloss over – that they get coverage through a spouse. So their “throwing off the shackles of oppression” party line isn’t as pure as they want us to think.

    • Hab, yes it may cost you $25k a year. And it’s going up by double percent every year. If you can manage your finances to show less than 400% of Federal Poverty Level you may be eligible for subsidies under the ACA (aka Obamacare). Check out this post and comments thread for some insights: http://rootofgood.com/affordable-care-act-coverage-subsidies-pitfalls/

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Hab, Larry, YT, and Steve,

      I agree that healthcare is the biggest financial challenge. I’ve written about our approach here. I cited the same article mentioned by YT in that article. https://www.caniretireyet.com/flexible-health-insurance-early-retirement/

      In response to Larry specifically, I am on my spouse’s medical insurance now, which we will re-evaluate annually. I think this goes back to the black and white, retired/non-retired dichotomy vs. expanding your thinking on what retirement means. I’ll gladly trade our former stressful two full-time income lifestyle for a one spouse part-time work and other spouse hobby/passion business lifestyle to make some income to take stress off of our investment portfolio. Our current schedule includes no commutes, daily midday walks, skiing a couple days a week, way more time with our daughter, gourmet quality home cooked meals nightly shared as a family, and having our weekends completely free b/c we get stuff (housework, yardwork, laundry, etc) done in our downtime during the week. If that makes me not really retired, then I’m guilty as charged.

      • Nobody accused you of being “not really retired”. But obviously it’s easier to design a RE plan around (say) $25K of expenses, compared to perhaps double that if one needs to buy their own health insurance.

        • Chris Mamula says:

          No doubt medical insurance is a massive challenge in the US and we will do our best to continue to write about changes in the marketplace and options to make the best of a bad situation.

    • Could not agree more. Health Insurance is keeping me in the rat race, and is often glossed over when discussing the ability to retire early. Don’t forget long term care insurance as well. Have contemplated moving to Canada with my wife’s relatives for their health care (they are very happy with it BTW).

  10. Chris, great article.

    “Mr. Money Mustache models a totally different way of life that focuses on building wealth rapidly and then using financial freedom to pursue whatever it is that you are passionate about for the rest of your life, regardless of whether or not you make money in the process. Maybe we should stop caring whether he is “really retired” and start caring about how to redefine retirement to build better lives for ourselves.”

    A million times, yes.

    We reached 25x our annual expenses some time in January of last year, which technically makes us finally independent. However, we continue to work.

    Our net worth, combined with becoming debt free, has provided me with the option and courage to leave full time employment that was crushing my soul. I landed a part time job that I actually enjoy most of the time and I’m making a much higher hourly rate.

    Now, previous employers continue to contact me to fill in as needed, again, at a higher rate than they were paying me before. I take those hours as I see fit.

    Ironically, I currently work less hours while making a similar income. But more importantly, I gained a perspective that makes me feel like I’m in control now. That was a game changer for me in regards to quality of life.

    For us, this journey is not necessarily about early retirement, although that is a fine choice. It’s about providing yourself with options. It’s about gaining the freedom to explore other avenues if you no longer enjoy the path you are going down.

    Not so long ago, I was completely consumed with thoughts of retiring as early as possible. Now I’m thinking this “part time” gig isn’t so bad. I have, as Jim Collins puts it, “FU money” to thank for that.

    BTW Chris, I am also a therapist in his 40s. Let me know if it would be OK to contact you to trade war stories some time 🙂

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Ha! Agree with this comment a million times.

      It is very ironic that life gets so much easier when you are able to approach it from a position of power, vs. truly needing to rely on an employer for a paycheck. I am amazed at how many amazing opportunities have fallen to me and continue to fall to me just as a result of operating from that position of power. Using this to power to create the work that you love and want to do is I think what we should be striving for, rather than worrying so much about retiring. Admittedly, it took me quite a while to figure that out though, and it is not easy to see from the other side.

      Absolutely reach out to me. My contact info can be found here: https://www.caniretireyet.com/contact/

  11. Hi,

    You would do well to understand how the federal govt calculates the savings rate. And maybe do an article on that alone. For example, investing in a mutual fund is not savings. But the taxes you pay on any capital gains or dividends it throws off would reduce your personal savings rate.

    • Can you link to an article or web page explaining the methodology?

      • Chris,

        It’s not weeds though. To the Federal Govt, saving is not investing. I can have a positive net worth that is growing and a negative savings rate.

        I do agree though we need to be saving, investing and growing net worth by living on less than we make and paying off debt..

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Scott,

      I would have to look into the methodology of where that data comes. I think the bigger issue is to not get lost in the weeds of the technical analysis and simply taking the bigger picture message that we (as a society) need to save more. If you look at individual savings rates being so low, Social Security being underfunded, and pensions failing left and right, the common denominator is that we are not saving enough, regardless of how exactly we calculate it.

  12. Great article Chris – we just recorded a podcast (soon to be out) that touches on this topic. MMM and feeding your family on $25-30K can be a good path for some people, but is likely unrealistic or undesirable for many. As you know we fully support people creating their own plan at NewRetirement 🙂

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Steve,

      Agree and disagree. I think that if you cut out mortgage and car payments, eliminate the need for life and disability insurance, eliminate the need to save for retirement and kid’s education, cut out work commutes and other costs associated with working (clothes, professional dues, etc.), then $25-30K can actually be a reasonable baseline lifestyle for a couple without living in “extreme frugality”. I think it is hard for people to see that without tracking where their money is going, which is why I emphasized that first in the article.

      Sounds like an interesting podcast. Feel free to link it in the comments and I’ll check it out.

  13. Chris, I have enjoyed this site for the last few years and always found Darrow’s opinions and advice to be genuine and in the readers best interest. After reading this post it looks like you will be following Darrow’s lead. I retired over 3 years ago at age 57. I often find that most others have a total misconception of why I retired early and what early retirement has done for me. I recently caught up with two old friends who both make well into the six figures. They both complained of never having any time or money. I have both and never even made 1/3 of what they do. My lifestyle would never satisfy them and I have no interest in living their type of life. Everyone must decide what is best for them and not worry or criticize others for their choices. Early retirement will never be a realistic goal for the majority. Finding true happiness with or without money should be everyone’s goal.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Wow Russell. First off thanks for the kind words to me and the high praise of the blog. I have been a long time reader before coming on board as a contributor and I hope to live up to those expectations.

      I agree with your sentiments 100% and kudos for having the insight to figure out that which, as I stated in the post, is very simple but not easy or obvious for most.

    • Well said Russell

  14. I guess I’m not a member of the “cult”. I have 2 dogs AND a car. I also live pretty well on over $25000/a year; but not much over. Oh I still managed to retire at 48.

    Everyone’s got to decide what works for them.

  15. The aggressive tone MMM takes is definitely part of his shtick. Whether it’s an affected persona, or if he just happens to naturally be on the extreme end of judginess etc., who knows. Either way it obviously works for him given that he makes, like, $400k a year from his blog.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Agree that it works Steve and as noted in another comment above, we bloggers have to have some edginess and we have to be willing to share personal stories to get noticed and connect to peoeple as we are playing on an uneven playing field competing against multi-billion dollar financial institutions that put out most of the mainstream financial information.

  16. MMM has a persona that works for him I guess. While I find so much of his advice valuable and thought provoking, the “face punch”, “clowns” and demeaning word choices and tone are too polarizing for my taste. Even though his writing style doesn’t resonate with me, he is a master at stirring up the masses to think about finances. The most grating to me are the comments from his followers that continue the polarization and the “we are the only ones who know how to do this.”

    Darrow, you are a breathe of fresh air in the world of retirement blogging.

  17. Mark Gutfreund says:

    I think it is unfortunate that MMM is so much of a provocateur, routinely denouncing anyone that owns an F150, because it takes away from all of the good ideas that he does have. But by the very fact he is so well known, people tend to think of him as the very model of someone who retired early. I think there are several ways to frame “frugality”. One way would be like Thoreau did; his philosophy of life was based on simplicity. He felt that was the best path to happiness. He was not using frugality in the sense of “spending less money” so he could “retire early. That might be a natural consequence of his lifestyle, but it was not his primary goal. I think MMT fits into this category, though his “simplicity’ is probably a bit more extravagant than Thoreau’s. The other way is to use frugality as a means to an end: spend less now so you have more later and be free to do whatever you may want. I would place Jim Dahle, The White Coat Investor, in this camp. He did a lot of things in his younger days to get him where he is now: went to a public college, paid for medical school by doing time in the military, and “living like a resident” when he first went into practice. As he reveals in his blog, he now has a new car, a boat, and a larger home. I think most people who are trying for early financial independence fit into this camp. Frugality is a means to an end and not an end itself. I don’t believe there is anything “wrong” with either approach. For myself, I am certainly no Thoreau and I don’t ride a bicycle anywhere, but I am probably closer to that end of the spectrum. Thank you for this article. As more people read blogs and books about FI, the public will become more aware that MMM’s way is not the only one.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Great insights Mark. WCI was another source that was very influential on my personal financial education, with a different approach and message than MMM. As noted in a comment above, I think that if you get past the tone and messaging that there are probably more similarities than differences between MMM, WCI and this blog. The more voices the better, as different people will relate to different messages, and it is important that people find these concepts, however they arrive there.

  18. Chris Mamula says:

    Judy B,

    Kind of touched on this sentiment in the comment above. I think it is important to not throw out the baby with the bathwater, as MMM provides some very important and powerful lessons that we all can learn from.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  19. HI Great article: you pointed out something that is so important, that I am aware of yet, but yet good to be reminded of: it is now what you make, it is what you spend. if you spend 99% of what you make,you can never throttle back your schedule, because you have spent everything & saved nothing for retirement.

    If however you save 30% or 40% of your income, you have much more flexibility in life. I enjoy my work. But it is nice not to have to worry about finances for retirement. So if that means I do not have extravagant trips to Paris, well so be it. Scrape, scrape, scrape to save, and pretty soon, it adds up to a good chunk of change.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      It is simple, but not always easy. It can definitely be hard to see how to get started saving, but it is almost always worth the effort.

      • Here’s a second-order challenge that doesn’t get a lot of attention. I have retired and I can afford that extravagant trip to Paris, but my mind-set won’t let me after years of not being indulgent with my spending. Are there any sources of useful advice on resetting the spending horizons after retirement?

        • Chris Mamula says:

          Jon,
          Darrow and I will both continue to write about preparing to retire and the retirement decision, but will also share our different perspectives about the positive aspects and the challenges of living on the other side of that decision.

          I appreciate the suggestion and we value this reader feedback to know what you all are interested in reading about.

  20. Kevin Knox says:

    Great article Chris. I have so much respect for Darrow’s unique voice that I wasn’t sure I was going to like him sharing the space but you’ve more than earned my respect.

    When I left the full-time working world in 2002 all there was for ER resources were Gillete Edmunds’ well-intentioned but wildly-optimistic “How to Retire Early and Live Well,” the über-frugal Dominguz/Robin “Your Money or Your Life,” and Paul and Vicki Terhorst’s “Cashing in On The American Dream.” A little later came the grand-daddy of ER finance sites, John P. Greaney’s still-great Retire Early ( http://www.retireearlyhomepage.com).

    MMM and Jacob’s Early Retirement Extreme are relative newcomers and yeah, provocative and even combative click bait is the rule. It wasn’t until Ernie Zalinski’s “The Joy of Not Working” in 2003 andBob Clyatt’s landmark “Work Less, Live More” in 2007 that I started to see a more mature understanding that lifetime semi-retirement is a far better option for most people than saving like mad followed by abruptly pulling the plug on work that one may very well love doing while discarding work-based friendships that often prove irreplaceable in retirement.

    I’m glad MMM, J.Collins and the other agent provocateurs are out there but just wish that this blog, Jonathan Clements, Scott Burns and the Bogleheads site received as much attention on the internet.

    I’ll join the chorus in saying how nice it is to have the option to comment back, and the thoughtful, insightful nature of the dialogue here is a nice tribute to Darrow’s (and of late your) balanced approach to these complex topics.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Thanks for the kind words Kevin. It sounds like you are even more of a student of this space than me, as I stumbled through many voices, theories, and ideas as well before realizing I needed to develop my own.

      Agree that the comments is what makes a blog dynamic and gives us a chance to interact with readers and give readers a forum to interact with each other. Glad to have your voice be a part of it. Thanks again Kevin.

    • Kevin, before online blogging was popular (and very helpful to me!), my gurus WERE Jonathan Clements, Scott Burns, and the Bogleheads forum. In particular, I owe my secure financial position to Scott Burns, whom I discovered in the later 1980s when he wrote for the Dallas Morning News. He is now retired in Santa Fe, but he is still my guru as I peruse his old columns. I did an early life pre-retirement due to having two children and being a stay at home Mom, but through aggressive savings and increasing my teacher salary through National Board certification and taking on other school responsibilities, I will be able to retire at 63 (not in my 50s, but for me a miracle) with solid financial resources to allow me to delay SS until 70 and still enjoy a rich active retirement. Had these awesome financial blogs been available back in the 80s and 90s, I predict I would have been able to retire in my late 50s (although I absolutely love teaching middle schoolers and they give me a lot of energy.)

      • Another Scott Burns fan…I never saved as much as I should have but read his columns.

        I could retire early I think but doubt I will…instead I think I’ll go to part time status in a few years.

  21. Very nice presentation of your thoughts on MMM. I initially really enjoyed his work and sense of purpose in his writing. However, over time, I became turned off by the obvious arrogance. I have always been more interested in humility.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Mark. MMM definitely, for better or worse, is very provocative. I think it is a net positive, as he has changed the lives of many, including mine, for the better. However, this message of financial independence and the control it gives people back over their lives is bigger than any one person and I hope to help a different set of people who may be turned off by his style to get the key points, which are very powerful.

  22. Good stuff Chris. I look forward to hearing more from you here. I too found MMM as my entry into this community. I had no idea there were so many like minded folks out there. Having spent the last few years reading a lot of what is available, including this blog and your previous home, and it has occurred to me that part of the issue is with the word “retirement”. Retire and retirement are concepts that are steeped in social understanding to the point where people who are not prepared for the way the FIRE community uses them, will be, at least, a little put off by their use. To be truthful, we are not really talking about “retirement” in the way that the term has traditionally been used and the way that most folks understand them.

    Your notion to redefine the term is moving the needle in the right direction. We are really talking less about ‘retirement’ than we are about emancipation. It’s more about the freedom to pursue the life you want, instead of the life that you feel has been forced upon you. In some cases, perhaps in most cases, that will still mean some sort of profession, trade or employment that adds fulfillment to ones life, but it will be by choice and not out of necessity.

    Thanks for your insights. I appreciate your ability to illustrate really important concepts in such a way that your readers do not feel that it is an “us vs. them” sort of thing. Many roads can lead to happiness, and that is the most important thing to understand.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Olster,

      I agree that there are a lot of deeply held beliefs around the word retirement, and I would like to change the conversation around that. I think it is important to help people realize that we can structure our lives in many different ways that make more sense than the traditional work–>retire model.

      Thanks for the kind words and thanks for following me over.

  23. Hi Y’all,

    Two years ago I reached FI and intentionally retired at the age of 57.

    I stumbled upon MMM years ago and have corresponded with him at least once. I like his direct no nonsense approach; however, I do not embrace the full-on “badassity” of frugality that he promotes. Too Spartan, but we did sell our two luxury cars before I retired and drive a paid-for Japanese economic model today. I can thank MMM for giving us the courage to downsize to one vehicle, but no bicycles so far.

    On the importance of budgeting, after 18 months of COBRA, the high cost of ACA heath care has taken us by surprise (2X our planned retirement health care budget). As a solution, I work an enjoyable part-time job at local RTP universities to help make ends meet. I have decent health insurance today (e.g., what MMM calls “wealth insurance”…good one, Pete!) rather than doing without or something else. I agree, Scott. Budgets do matter and there is more than one way to skin a cat to ensure a sustainable early retirement. I can still be retired and agree to flexible part-time work on my terms.

    I always read this blog’s posts and appreciate the thoughtful content and retirement tool reviews. Thank you!

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Congrats on your retirement McKonica.

      Health care is definitely the biggest financial challenge to early retirement. Has your part-time work had any negative impact on ACA subsidies? I like the idea of working on something that you enjoy in retirement and think it is important. However, I think the whole idea of tying subsidies to earned income makes mixing the ACA and working part-time very complicated for early retirees. In many ways it incentivizes a more traditional retirement with no (or very little) work. Curious to hear how that is working for you, as we’re still hanging on to my wife’s insurance through an employer for that reason as well as security with all the political back and forth around the ACA.

  24. Hab, I retired @ 8 years ago from corporate america and had to go into the open market to purchase healthcare for my wife & I. Before Obamacare, monthly premium was around $600/month for a $5k annual deductible. When Obamacare was passed, they killed my old healthcare plan and I had to pick Obamacare. Today, without subsidies, an Obamacare silver plan in North Carolina for a “healthy” married couple(64 & 63) with a $14k annual family deductible runs $2658/month. By the time you pay annual premium + deductible + copays, you’re probably looking at roughly $33k after tax income. If you want to game your income, you may qualify for subsidy this year but that will probably end next year since the republicans are trying to end that. Net – yes you should be worried about healthcare costs for a young family and you better have a good plan in place before you jump into early retirement.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Ray,
      Agree that is the biggest financial challenge to an early retiree. See comment directly above.

  25. I read many blog then take what I read and see if it follows my ideas about saving, investing and retire young. I retired last year at 52. But only after my investments would provide me with the same lifestyle as when I worked. If I had to work longer to get the results, I would of continued to work. I don’t understand the idea of retirement and then not having enough to do what you want for hobbies or vacations. Also, to many these days are so concerned about retirement that they are willing to go to extreme frugal so they can retire. What’s the point. I also plan on going back to work this year part time because I enjoyed working. Can’t understand why so many hate their jobs.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Cliff,

      I share your approach of learning from many, take what fits, and toss the rest. As to why so many hate work and are so eager to retire, I agree and disagree with what you’re saying there. That is actually the topic of a post that I’ll be publishing in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

  26. What a lovely article! This dog loving, tourist trap traveler that aims to retire early appreciate the balance approach! I absolutely admire MMM and gave me the kick in the butt to enter into FIRE planning but it was definitely adapted to enjoying the now as well (which for my family means spending more money and working til around 50). The key is finding your priorities and comfort zone!

  27. Great article, Chris. MMM has taken on mythical status in the FIRE world. He’d even agree that the face punchin’ persona is just that. Having given him his much deserved accolades…my money ( pun intended ) is on “Straight Arrow” Darrow…the founder of this very site. His battle tested data and humble, helpful approach is tough to beat.

  28. Chris Mamula says:

    🙂 Thanks for the kind words. Just remember that there is much to be learned from many sources.

  29. Awesome post Chris! I’m really looking forward to your writing on this blog. I agree with you as well, it’s 100% best to stay away from politicizing these issues. Hell, politics anywhere on the internet in this day and age is just a bad idea. But so many of the tenants of personal finance are only one degree away from politics, and I see a lot of personal finance bloggers drifting into that area. They have every right to do so, but it just creates an opportunity for the intolerance and toxicity to breed.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Agree completely. What originally drew me to Darrow’s writing on this site and what I will strive to continue to do is to address issues with political implications in an objective and pragmatic manner. You can not ignore these issues as they are central to our planning. However, it does no good to whine and complain about things like taxes, health care, and interest rates that you can control. Instead, of complaining about our cards, we will continue to explore ways to play the hands we were dealt while following the rules of the game.

  30. Two quick thoughts: 1- outstanding article. I hope your click bait gets tons of new traffic. Readers interested in the FIRE community need to see a myriad of perspectives. While I give hats off to MMM, there is no way I could live on his budget and be happy. And that’s exactly the point. To him and others like the Mad FIentist and ESI money, budgets should be about what bring you joy. As your article articulated- so many lemmings are mindlessly following the masses, never taking time to question whether or not spending is making them happier. 2- I love that you can add comments. What a fascinating group of POVs. So interesting that some are apologetic about retiring “not early enough.” Thanks for setting them straight with genuine reaffirmation that every year early is a win. I’m hoping your time stamps are not indicative of your hours responding to comments (I see 11:30 am to 4:00 am). Or, if they are, that responding brings you fulfillment. Else, comments might be removed again.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      1.) Thanks for the positive feedback.
      2.) Thanks for the concern. I believe the timestamps are on Mountain Time. I’m on EST, where I was answering some comments this AM before heading out and hitting the slopes for a couple of hours. Life is good. Comments are back. 😉

  31. The idea of a financial plan is not a lot different from an eating plan, often referred to as a diet. If someone loses weight, people don’t ask how they did it, they ask what diet they followed. With retirement it is pretty much the same. Whose plan did you follow? People are looking for the diet or the blog or the book that will allow them to retire, when what they really need to do is gather as much information as they can then figure out what works best for them. The reason so many people can’t retire isn’t that they haven’t found the right blog or the right book, it’s because they haven’t tried.

    My wife and I are retiring this year at 60. When people ask us how, we tell them that we have spent the last 40 years doing all the things that others our age have been finding excuses for. And as you state, knowing how much we spend is essential.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Agree and disagree Tom. I think many people don’t try b/c there traditionally have been so few people modeling this lifestyle. Hopefully with the proliferation of viewpoints now available on the internet, people will be able to find one (or several) that resonate with them. I know I personally was impacted by voices like MMM and even more radical voices like Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme. However, I then had to take the lessons and viewpoints that they share and incorporate it with more moderate and nuanced ideas and then pick and choose from among them to find what worked for me personally.

      Agree that many people simply don’t try. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of people who are trying, but they are working with bad information and a poor framework that limits progress. These are the people I think we can help, and we don’t want to turn them off with the messaging.

  32. Nice post…. its all about understanding and frankly moderation of views. Different approaches work for different people and cult like you must do it this way does not really help.

  33. Thanks Chris for a thoughtful article. This blog has been one of my “go to” sites for a long time. We even have a class B RV like Darrow! It’s too bad we have to pick sides or put someone else down in our pursuit of financial independence advise. In a multitude of counselors there is wisdom. We can gain insight from people without having to agree with everything they say or even the way they choose to express it. Take what you can use and leave the rest. I eat chicken but I don’t swallow the bones! MMM has inspired me to look at retirement from his unique point of view and I’m thankful for it. People like Darrow or Wes Moss, or Scott Burns happen to be more my style and viewpoint, that’s all.
    Looking forward to hearing more from you too!

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Thanks for reading and sharing the positive feedback, and avoid those chicken bones! 🙂

  34. MMM simply gives hope to so many that you can live on $30,000 a year.

    MMM has some good ideas so why do I have to accept them all? I can simply pick and choose which ideas work for me.

    Glad to have the comment section back!

  35. I love the open dialogue presented by this site as well as MMM and so many others. I think the focus on the FIRE community and all of the different financial independence voices really highlight to living your values, your OWN values, regardless of whether or not you have a dog, an F150, 25 x you income in savings or if you live on a certain $$ amount per year.
    PS – love my dog.

  36. Agree with your article completely! MMM or any other guru, I read them up not because I will follow everything they do, but after reading, if I can take away even one positive impact on my financial life, it is worth my time! When it comes to savings, I am no where near the top 1%, but save almost 60% of my take home pay! I could have had a net worth twice as I have now, but learning personal finance took its toll and half my net worth is all in cash.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Learning is a lifelong process of continued gradual improvements. Keep reading, learning and most important acting on your new knowledge. Best of luck.

  37. Comments!! Nice work Chris. It just feels like a different place around here when you can engage.

    I think you did a nice analysis in this article. Whether it’s Dave Ramsey, Mr. Money Mustache, or any other strong personality, people get defensive and antagonistic QUICKLY instead of learning the lesson behind the initial punch line. MMM writes in a way that’s authentic to his life, and that’s what blogs are all about. And apparently a lot of people resonate with that!

    I think whether it’s reading a blog, a book, or having a conversation, we could all learn to look for what we can learn from people – especially the ones who press our buttons!

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I agree that we need to step outside of our personal comfort zones more often and be willing to challenge our limiting beliefs. Tim Ferriss often repeats a saying along the lines of: Those of us that are offended easily, probably need to be offended more often. There is definitely something to being willing to make yourself uncomfortable that allows you to be exposed to new and different viewpoints that can help you learn and grow.

  38. Hello Chris,

    Your article is well-written and reasonable, and no doubt your contributions will be a great addition to Darrow’s already solid work. I look forward to your future contributions.

    I will, however, take issue just a little bit with your singling out of MMM as a “cult” figure in the world of FIRE. I cannot claim to be someone who retired early; my wife and I just entered retirement 6 months ago at 65.5. From my perspective, the entire FIRE universe itself is a “cult,” for the simple reason that the early retirement movement espouses certain principles as the primary means of achieving its desirable goals. It also has the appearance of being available only to a certain chosen few; namely, those whose salaries and life circumstances allow them to save to the level necessary while still maintaining a functioning middle-class lifestyle, and who can grasp the principles of investing. Your opening graphic is quite telling in this regard, as it pictures people who are well-dressed, mostly young, and present the image of someone doing quite well in this economy and in our society in general. I’ve always found it interesting that those who have chosen to spread the cult of FIRE invariably come from occupations that are well-compensated, are themselves highly educated, and whose life circumstances are limited to themselves, perhaps a partner, maybe one child, and who continue to earn additional income through writing, speaking, travelling, etc.

    I am sure there will be some exceptions to this portrayal, and I freely admit it’s a generalization I have made based on reading a number of these FIRE blogs, but I don’t think anyone has done any credible research to gather data on the demographics of FIRE enthusiasts and writers. I hope in the future you might decide to take up this topic, and attempt to help those people who make the median US household income of $59,039 (US Census Bureau data 2017) achieve the same dream of financial independence before 45. This topic, I think, is the elephant in the FIRE room, and I have always wished that those who write FIRE blogs would address this topic more directly. Thanks for your consideration, and my apologies for taking a slightly critical approach.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Tom,

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I can see where you get that perception if you read the most popular first generation FIRE blogs, which are typically written by white males, with engineering, computer, or finance backgrounds, 0-1 kids, and an index fund investing philosophy. However, this community is much larger and more diverse than that, if you look around.

      First off, just read the wide variety of people that weighed in above you in these comments. From a blogger perspective, as the first generation of FIRE bloggers message has spread, they spawned a second generation who want to share their more diverse stories. For an example, look at the comment that precedes yours from my friend Chad Carson. He and I share very similar life stories, but our paths to FI could not be more different. I followed that more traditional path while he has never held a “real job” and he used leveraged real estate as his business and investing medium to get to FI.

      There are many other examples. The blog Millionaire Educator is written by a school teacher who writes about achieving FI in his late 40’s despite having a late start and working as a public school teacher. The blog Root of Good is written by a former engineer, but he has a family with I believe 3 or maybe 4 kids. The blog Mad Money Monster is written by a woman who got started on the path to FI as a single mom and shares her many personal and financial mistakes.

      Everyone has their own story, and one of my goals is to share them in an effort to make people see that the path to FI is way more achievable than most people realize. However different people will have to pull different levers and apply their own unique strengths rather than following a standard path of get a high paying job, set a high savings rate, use index funds in tax deferred investments, wash/rinse/repeat/retire.

  39. I agree in that you need to set you own personal agenda in regards to savings, spending and what that will look like once you achieve F.I.R.E 🙂 … I am basically F.I. now but R.E. seeing I live in an overseas context, like the work and holiday money it gets me and helps with deepening the cushion … I am building up … So yes learn from others, do a side gig if you like it and use some critical thinking skills when deciding which way your ship will sail! Michael CPO, From the Far Side of the Planet

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Congrats Michael. Love the idea of learning to think critically and developing your own path.

  40. Im 61, planning to retire this year and my wife just retired at 58-we hit FI last year. It is great that the comments are open here and that there is receptivity to a variety of perspectives. Im sure I would have received, or no doubt will receive more, proverbial face punches from MMM so I’d like to add these challenges to what is written and some beliefs I have seen espoused :
    -“Traditional Retirement is Not Working”. For my generation, Traditional Retirement was a pension and so Traditional Retirement is NOT AVAILABLE. We haven’t adjusted well to defined contribution plans and that is what is not working.
    -I think the FIRE community is great, but how far do we want the fire to spread? Do we want every 35-year old working on their hobbies to earn a few bucks? I know it wont happen but there also does need to be perhaps more education and savings automation. There is more to the story than FIRE vs the traditional advice community.
    -An investment plan is not a retirement plan. There is more to securing your retirement than investments and index funds.
    -Not all financial planners are a waste of money and have nothing to offer. (I am not one but I am a client of a good one.) I made this point to Darrow earlier and he agreed.

    Keep up the good work, the quality of comments indicates this is off to a good start.

    • Chris Mamula says:

      Point 1. I don’t know that defined contribution can’t work, but there is little dispute that the system is not working. Hopefully people will realize the need to educate themselves and then change behaviors. This is where I think blogs like this provide a very important service.
      Point 2. Agree that there is more to the story and that is what we want to share. One of the themes that I would like to expand upon is the idea of redefining retirement. I do believe that having an army of people who are FI, but not looking to retire in a traditional sense would be a great thing for our individual communities and our country as a whole. Imagine the good that can be done by people working on things they are passionate about rather than being chained to jobs they have to go to because they need the money or health insurance benefits.
      Point 3. I agree 150%.
      Point 4. I agree, but do believe that good financial planners are a minority. The traditional models have major flaws. Being paid by commissions on products sold opens the door to a lot of bad advice for those that most need it. An assets under management agreement can be useful for those with enough wealth accumulated to have an advisor willing to take you, but it is still very expensive for those paying 1% or even .5% annually and it still has inherent conflicts of interest. This is a topic I am very passionate about and am sure I will write more about in the future. I tend to follow Jim Dahle of the White Coat Investor in not sugar coating what the industry is, but also trying to find and help out the “good guys” who are genuinely helping people.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment and I hope you’ll continue to contribute to a positive conversation here.