Mr. Money Mustache — Living Beautifully on $25-27K Per Year (#221)

Photo credit: Mrs. Money Mustache
Photo credit: Mrs. Money Mustache

“You’re not supposed to optimize for money; you’re supposed to optimize for happiness.” — Mr. Money Mustache (AKA Pete Adeney)

Mr. Money Mustache (@mrmoneymustache — Pete Adeney in real life) grew up in Canada in a family of mostly eccentric musicians. He graduated with a degree in computer engineering in the 1990s and worked in various tech companies before retiring at age 30. Pete, his wife, and their now eleven-year-old son live near Boulder, Colorado, and have not had real jobs since 2005.

This begs the question of “How?” In essence, they accomplished this early retirement by optimizing all aspects of their lifestyle for maximal fun at minimal expense, and by using basic index-fund investing. Their average annual expenses total a mere $25-27,000, and they do not feel in want of anything.

Since 2005, all three of them have explored a free-form life of interesting projects, side-businesses, and adventures.

In 2011, Pete started writing the Mr. Money Mustache blog about his philosophy, which has grown to reach about 23 million different people (and 300 million page views) since its founding. It has become a worldwide cult phenomenon, with a self-organizing community and incredible news coverage. This episode explores his story, philosophies, and routines.


Listen to the interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#221: Mr. Money Mustache — Living Beautifully on $25-27K Per Year

Want to hear another podcast about earning and saving wealth? In this episode with Ramit Sethi, we dig into the nitty-gritty tools, software, and experiments he’s used to turn a college side project into a multi-million-dollar business with 30+ employees.

Ep 33: Ramit Sethi on Persuasion, Negotiation, and Turning a Blog Into a Multi-Million-Dollar Business

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Mr. Money Mustache (AKA Pete Adeney):

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Show Notes

  • Pete describes a typical trip to the grocery store. [06:28]
  • What are the average annual expenses for Pete’s family of three? [07:52]
  • When was the moment Pete realized he had such a devoted fan base? [08:39]
  • Is Pete a cult leader? [11:17]
  • If so, what are the tenets of Mustachianism? [12:30]
  • Pete talks about retiring at age 30. [13:49]
  • The math behind why you only need twenty-five times your annual spending to retire forever. [14:51]
  • Why most people who retire early still work — by choice. [17:28]
  • What misconceptions about Pete’s message are most common among critics and the media? [18:42]
  • What did Pete have for breakfast? [21:08]
  • Optimizing happiness on a personal level vs. succumbing to what society says will make you happy. [22:04]
  • Why spend more on a car than you would for investing in your future? [24:33]
  • Influential and recommended books. [28:19]
  • Is there a difference between Pete Adeney and Mr. Money Mustache? [35:05]
  • As a native Canadian, why does Pete choose to live in the United States? [36:54]
  • Pete responds to the New Yorker profile about him. [39:15]
  • Some thoughts on the math behind saving time and deciding which resources are worth consuming. [40:50]
  • When his expenses remain stable, what happens to the surplus money Pete saves? [44:53]
  • On removing negatives vs. adding positives: what are the questions Pete asks himself when making a purchasing decision? [46:33]
  • A recent happiness-boosting expenditure. [49:01]
  • We agree with Kevin Kelly about the rewards of manual labor. [50:54]
  • How does deciding to become a parent influence the math behind personal consumption? [55:03]
  • Pete and his wife pay their son for each mile he rides his bike (with interest on what he decides not to spend). [57:24]
  • Recommended resources for investing and personal finance. [59:49]
  • Who comes to mind when Pete hears the word “successful?” [1:11:38]
  • What are some of the luxuries Pete’s family enjoys — and which had the most positive impact on their lives? [1:15:16]
  • Favorite documentaries and movies. [1:17:36]
  • If Pete gave a TED Talk on something for which he’s not known, what would the topic be? [1:18:43]
  • What does Pete’s exercise regimen look like? [1:20:01]
  • Bad frugal/financial advice heard most often. [1:23:01]
  • Favorite failure? [1:25:31]
  • Without donating or investing it, how would Pete selfishly spend $100,000? [1:32:35]
  • What would Pete’s billboard say? [1:34:45]
  • Pete’s biggest challenge at the moment. [1:36:12]
  • In the last few years, is there anything Pete has significantly changed his mind about? [1:40:43]
  • Parting thoughts and a request to try voluntary hardship. [1:42:03]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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93 Replies to “Mr. Money Mustache — Living Beautifully on $25-27K Per Year (#221)”

  1. Hi Tim,

    One of the strangest things we do as humans – through our monkey minds – is to figure that having money is the only way to raise our quality of life. Not true.

    Money is 1 means of exchange out of a billion to infinite means of exchange.

    Pete is wise. Knows how to be happy first, then, all abundance flows out of that happiness. Polar opposite to folks who think “How much money does it take to live my dreams?”

    First, be happy. Make your prime goal to have fun. That fun energy allows in prospering ideas, prospering folks, prospering circumstances and all types of sweetness, and in some cases, money.

    I’m living in a mansion in Doha, Qatar for the month. Rent-free. In the wealthiest country on earth. House sitting here, watching 4 cats.

    We’ve house sat in: Fiji, Bali, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and have Thailand and Malaysia sits coming up.

    We fly on budget airlines and house sit most of the time so we can live our dreams, have fun, see the world and boost our savings. And since I have ample income streams set up through my blog I can spend on stuff too without worrying much but in truth, outside of travel expenses, food expenses and business investments, I am really happy just seeing the world and its wonders without spending much dough at all.

    Power message here Tim and Money Mustache.

    Thanks guys.


  2. Finally…thanks for doing this interview.Pete is onto something here and changing perspectives on what really matters, what comfort means, and the importance of living well. Thanks, Tim!

  3. I can personally attest to the fact that you CAN live very well on $25-27K. I am doing it now!

    A bit less than four years ago I quit a successful, high-paying software sales job and moved to Sai Gon Vietnam to be with my Vietnamese girlfriend and to start a slower, more humane life that can be had in this part of the world. I teach English and make about $25K a year.

    On $25K my wife stays home with our 4 month old son. We have live-in nanny, rent a nice 2 bedroom home in what is considered the “Beverly Hills” of Sai Gon (We just bought a Townhome that is we will move to when it’s finished.) and own a car (which is a rarity here).

    We also travel often to other part of Vietnam. We just got back from a beach resort in Ho Tran that included 3 nights in a beachfront room steps from the water ans another 3 night a whole 100 yards from the sand. We have fresh grilled seafood weekly for about 5 dollars (2 people) and pay $10/month for out cellphones including unlimited data.

    My work life is also wonderful. I work 4 1/2 hours a day, have a 3 hour lunch and get 2 1/2 months off during the summer – Paid!

    If you’re willing to change your perspective on what’s possible, are willing put your perceptions and biases aside and take a bit of a gamble (which really isn’t a gamble) you too can have this life or whatever life you want to have. It IS possible and EASY…Cheers!

  4. Hey Tim,

    I’m a big fan of the Mr Money Mustache philosophy, and took a lot away from his blog when I discovered it a few years ago. I’ve always considered myself to be really, really frugal, especially having spent the last 5 years baselining in really cheap countries.

    However, I’d also consider myself incredibly lucky, in that I never went into debt, learned how to invest early on, and landed a 6 figure job a few years out of college (I now run my own business).

    But I’m not even *remotely* close to saving $750,000 in index funds, which is what I’d need to retire based on the 25x yearly expenditure number, and my living expenses are as low as they can go unless I move back to Chiang Mai or Bali and live in a hut for a while. That’s assuming $2500 a month budget, which includes rent (by western standards a laughably low budget). Sure, I could get it down to $1500 (and I often do when I stay in one place), but I wouldn’t call it a super duper fun long-term option. There’s always the looming pressure of trying not to spend too much.

    Assuming one started their professional life at 20 (I started at 25), and assuming this person landed a 6 figure income in their first job (I wouldn’t consider this common), *and* assuming they saved something north of $50,0000-$60,0000 per year (a modest ~$4500 a month, and I’m avoiding doing that actual math for compound yearly interest), you could do this by the time you were 30.

    I quit caffeine a few days ago, so if I’m off in left field here I’d love to know that this is much more accessible than it seems for the average person, who probably isn’t going to make $100k a year or sell a company in their lifetime. I can’t save more money than I’m saving, which means I have to make a lot more (which is the long-term plan).

    1. Check out MMM’s post titled “The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement.”

      I think it helps get to the core of your question.

    2. This calculation, however, assumes that you are never actually spending those 750 000 and only live on dividents…. many other calculations are possible. On a lower income, one could, for example, work full time until 40, save money between 20 and 40 and then reduce hours to 50% while subsidising income from savings if necessary. If just some of the now newly available time generates “some” income, touching the savings might not even be necessary – but if it is, so what? It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing solution and there doesn’t need to be anything left when you die. Why not just gradually consume it?

      1. If you look at drawdown studies, you’ll find that the long-term survivability of a portfolio drops dramatically with even a 1% increase in withdrawal rate—and that’s why it’s very risky to try to calculate a drawdown rate that includes winding down your capital.

    3. I started my professional life at 26, with $40k in student loan debt and a $29,500/yr job. Found MMM when I was 32, $230,000 in debt (house) and thought i was doing ok saving 15% into my 401k and a $48k/yr job. Now i’m 38, just started making 6 figures this year (busted my ass and utilized employee’s in-house free training to learn project management), save 60% of my pay and am 5 years away from hitting my $1mil mark for early retirement. Long story short: Yes it’s possible, even for the f-ups like myself.

    1. You’ve got it backwards. For the vast majority of people, it’s a prerequisite to start living this lifestyle before you have “saved a lot of money.”

    2. My thoughts exactly. Step one to this process is make a lot of money in a high paying corporate job and then quit…not really applicable to everybody.

  5. Thank you so much for doing this interview with Pete. He is a true inspiration for a generation of early retirees and early retiree wannabees.

    It is refreshing to see someone follow their passions in life, and live it true to themselves.

  6. A great use of my time this morning. I’ve grown to trust you Tim. I may not have heard of someone prior to your podcast but the time is always a worthy investment. This show was terrific. I’m focused on keeping my monthly nut to a bare minimum as my company grows. Far less stressful and at 56 I’ve finally seen the wisdom in living in happiness. Friends, family, and the joy of building something are my happy place. I appreciate hearing the stories of younger people that have figured this stuff out so early. This show rocked. Oh and by the way, COME TO NASHVILLE! A couple of us are running Tools of Titan’s groups!

  7. First of all, LOVED the interaction between you two. It’s like when you’re a fan of Superman and Batman at the same time, and then the two finally meet — strange but cool.

    Second, as I listened to Pete talk about optimizing for happiness all I could think of was that happiness itself is very subjective. For some, happiness is living a frugal lifestyle in exchange for freedom of time for decades. For others, happiness is running a business they believe in or non-profit they feel makes the world a better place. For others it’s living a luxury lifestyle — likely the exact opposite of the lifestyle MMM advocates.

    In the end, it’s up to each person to decide what makes him/her happy and work to pursue that. Pete has one path that works for thousands, but there are many other paths for many other types of people.

    Tim, is there some way you can podcast “the definitive guide to happiness for everyone”? That would solve a lot of the world’s issues and if anyone can crack that nut, you can. 😉

  8. Tim – Could you please consider using a podcast stream app with the ability to adjust play speed?

    Some of these are getting long almost 2 hours and I want to hear the entire episode in 1. Therefore, 2x playspeed would be ideal. Math. Maybe I’m just missing something. Alternate solutions anyone?

    1. You should check out Overcast. It includes an intelligent speed control that speeds up the play without hardly noticing, by adaptively removing dead moments.

    2. I agree with having 2x be baked into the audioplayer.

      In the meantime, my alternate solution is to download the episode. Most music players on computers/phones can play at 2x speed.

  9. Thanks so much for finally making this podcast happen Tim. I have read it all time and time again but it’s a nice fresh perspective to hear it discussed. Looking forward to sharing this with my friends and network.

  10. I am in heaven. Long time fan and follower of MMM. Thanks for even further mainstreaming his POV, eclectic passions, and dry humor.

  11. Ironically, I wondered yesterday if you’d ever interviewed MMM. Looking forward to it. Thanks for doing what you do, Tim. It’s great!

  12. Building your own house is the best. You learn so much about society and the world we live in. Systems engineering. Start now you will not regret it

    1. Brilliant Advice!

      10 Years ago a wise old man advised me to this and it has been one the most fulfilling, challenging, learning experiences of my life.

  13. Alas, it does not “beg the question.” Granted, everyone now misuses this phrase, so it is coming to be recognized as meaning “raises the question,” but “beg the question” is a term from formal logic that refers to a circular argument. As the New York Times wrote a couple of years ago, “it means ‘to use an argument that assumes as proved the very thing one is trying to prove.'”

    So just write “raises the question,” and make logic professors, language experts, and grammar geeks across the country love you even more than the no doubt already do.

  14. Great Interview – though the headline was a little misleading. If the costs of living as such (mortgage or rent) are not factored in 27 000 is actually more than what most people would have to live on (probably not most listeners to the Tim Ferriss podcast though). So it’s not at all about a frugal life (which is what Pete says himself), but more about how the wealthy could stop thinking about getting even more wealthy and could just start enjoying life. The situation of someone who only “makes” that income a year is not comparable, first of all because of the costs for housing have to be deducted, but then also because if you still have to work for your money, you have less time to cycle and walk around to your errands. 🙂

    So…. great podcast, but I would still really like to hear from someone who does not define success or high performance with economic wealth and can really live frugally. Some people have talents and skills that cannot easily be monetised, but they can be immensely successful in their pursuit of perfecting them.

  15. Did i miss the part when he explained how he reached his capital goal so fast to live on Dividends?

    According to his formula, to reach 25K dividend returns you need something around 700K which is still a huge amount.

    Just by saving, cutting my expenses, be careful with groceries, using a bike,…it would take me 46 years to reach 560K saving 1K per month.

    I get you have to save in an index fund and benefit from compound interest but even using a compound calculator it would take me 25 years to reach 700K at a 5% return initial investment of 40K

    1. He mentioned that both he and his wife were software engineers working in Silicon Valley. Their combined salaries could approach $300k/year. With a high savings rate, reaching $750k within less than a decade would be feasible. (My wife and I did the same during that 20s to 30s decade, working as engineers.)

      1. Thanks, so that applies to a small portion of people with high income.

        Still wise advises that I will follow but being 40 and having only 50K in IF and being able to save only 1K per month at most i doubt i will ever make it to financial freedom before retirement.

        They never talked about inflation and increase in cost of living which seems inevitable with time though, his capital will depreciate with time, what about this factor?

      2. If you read his blog he talks about how. Both he and his wife were software engineers but never earned more than 100K each (close to it but not more)

      3. Making reasonable assumptions about the tax bracket, the savings rate (assuming they were living on ~25k/year) and investment growth rate, it’d still be quite easy to accumulate $750k in less than 10 years.

  16. Hands down the best Podcast episode I’ve ever heard. This is pure magic. Thanks Tim for interviewing Mr. Money Mustache. Long overdue!

  17. Hello Tim, and everyone else,

    I have a dilemma. It’s not related with thus podcast but I don’t know where else should I ask. I hope someone can brighten my mind a bit.

    I live in UK, earn £8/hour. Been offered few little jobs at £15/hour. Now should I leverage and get someone to do it for £10 or do it myself. Probably this is a stupid question to most of you but I’m trying to get smarter with my life.

    All thoughts and ideas will be much appreciated.

    Thank you


  18. Tim!

    Thank you for continuing to pursue quality people who bring quality content to your blog! Your work is consistent and remarkably not douchy considering the level of recognition you’ve attained! So, thank you, for being a level headed person who also just happens to be somewhat famous.

    I hope you have found a way to travel the states more this year, you and your dog are welcome to join three strangers in my Toyota Avalon for a 10 day moving adventure down the west coast and inland! Enticed? Who wouldn’t be? (Many people). Anyways keep up your content, be encouraged that normal people are living better lives as a direct result of the work you do.

  19. Damit Ferriss! another cult to join… there are only so many hours in the day.

    Seriously though that was amaze-balls… like a full on amaze-balls pit for swimming in, thank you for the introduction.

  20. So glad you interviewed MMM – while I am nowhere near Mustachian levels of efficiency, I’m so grateful that Pete introduced me to a new way of thinking about money and happiness. I’ve implemented more than a few of his techniques, and have plans for more.

    If you’ll be exploring your homeland this year, make sure you take a trip to New Mexico. You can have a hell of a cheat day down here, in addition to the natural beauty and culture we have to offer.

  21. My favorite lesson from this episode was the value of building things. If you happen to venture through Minnesota during your excursions this year, consider swooping by the St. John’s Pottery, Collegeville, MN for 3pm tea any weekday around their Japanese tea table. It’s about an hour drive north from Minneapolis. The founding potter, Richard Bresnahan, taught me in “Environmental Art and Architecture” class in college and our textbook was “How Buildings Learn” by Stewart Brand. Bresnahan and a team of students built his astounding home from trees that they cut and milled on site. Most of his floor tile was made from clay that he dug locally, cut into tile fired in his 87 foot long wood kiln, which is the largest in North America. If you consider visiting, consider snagging a copy of, “Body of Clay, Soul of Fire” which is essentially his biography.

    Dr. Tyson loves wine. You could probably arrange to get featured on his show, “StarTalk” on National Geographic Channel if you simply arranged to swoop by his office in NYC with a nice bottle next time you’re in town. It’s a casual, interview show that Neil proudly describes as the first science based talk show in history.

    1. I worked at a ballroom dance studio for 5.5 years and earned a max of $27,000 in a year — and there were years I earned less. Plus, it was in Seattle, which is one of the most expensive cities to live in. I was able to live on that much AND save several thousand each year. I grew up in a low-income family, so I’m used to being… cheap! I’m still adjusting to how much many of the people around me are used to spending. I find it odd.

      I left teaching at the studio and now have my own business that’s a few months old. I’m making even less, but can still get by okay as I grow it. It’s not that challenging, unless you’re used to frivolous spending.

  22. The piece on building a home reminded me of The Shelter Institute and this quote from John Taylor Gatto –

    “I want to give you a yardstick, a gold standard, by which to measure good schooling. The Shelter Institute in Bath, Maine will teach you how to build a three thousand square-foot, multi-level Cape Cod home in three weeks’ time, whatever your age. If you stay another week, it will show you how to make your own posts and beams; you’ll actually cut them out and set them up. You’ll learn wiring, plumbing, insulation, the works. Twenty thousand people have learned how to build a house there for about the cost of one month’s tuition in public school”

  23. Woah. Perhaps the most impactful re-frame of simple important that principles I have ever experienced in 90 minutes…

    1. Profound question to add to the front part of the brain-action synapse. And, an example of how this episode turns things upside down….

      “is this removing a negative from my life?”

  24. Hey Tim…

    Great interview and interviewee.

    I was of course delighted when Pete mentioned my book. He was too modest to mention he wrote the forward for it. I still spiritually owe him!

    Thanks for the link in your show notes!

  25. It’s really strange. When you’re in the shit, it’s hard to appreciate that you can live easily without a lot of money. But when you’re doing well, you can realize what’s really important. Living on 25k when you have 700k in the bank has a very different stress level than living on 25k with nothing in the bank. Now I just need to get to 700k… :-/

    1. I haven’t been quite there, but I see the truth in your words. The distinction I draw around Pete’s philosophy is that spending money (after a certain point) will not make you happier, but having money likely will make you happier. This nuance is the reason why the journey towards early retirement entails much of the same joy as the destination. Even if you don’t have $700k, if you have living expenses of $25k and you have $50k invested then you enjoy both the joy of voluntarily rejecting consumerism and the peace of having 2+ years of living expenses saved up. Hopefully that can sustain people towards the third leg of the stool at $700k, which is total autonomy over how you spend your time for the rest of your life. But obviously income in excess of your living expenses is needed to start. Good luck in your journey!

  26. I loved this episode. I honestly am happy with what I earn (it’s more than $27 though). But people keep telling me I need more. I’m familiar with that – basically pressure. Yet I find it so odd.

    You want to know when I felt the happiest last year? When I almost continiously was learning for a new job in my spare time.

  27. I immediately thought of Ramit’s episode when I listened to this and then was somewhat surprised to find it linked on the blog because their advice seems so contrary.

    If you’re unfamiliar, Ramit would argue against being frugal by foregoing a $4 latte if that’s what makes you happy. His solution is to make more money. While he is willing to give you some of the basics for free, all the free materials point you toward purchasing a $2,500+ course (the point of which, from what I can gather, is to help you develop your own arsenal of free material pointing to your own $2,500+ online course).

    If I’m being cynical (or wise) I would venture to guess that MMM’s advice is wiser, especially given that it’s not geared toward getting you to buy something from him (even though he does apparently profit from the blog).

    1. This is exactly what I was thinking!!! I immediately thought of Ramit too. Like you, believe that MMM has the better way, the way that will definitely improve anyone’s life. If you save, you are assured of improvement. If you shell out $2500 for Ramit’s course, you are assured of nothing. Save big, read all the free advice on Ramit, Patel, Flynn and others…pay for none of it, use your own common sense and build a little side hustle (cheaply). Loved you sum up of the two!

  28. The belief that we need money to be happier is popularised by people who require economic growth: people with a lot of power and a desire to hold on to it by leveraging other people’s motivated labour.

    There are countless “studies”/anecdotes on happiness that show that it isn’t correlated with money beyond a certain basic amount. After all, a lot of people in the West now live in conditions comparable to Roman emperors.

    An even more important question is, is the end goal happiness? Happiness is a transient emotion that h depends as much on our expectations as it does on reality.

    Meaning and impact are better “goals”, at least for me.

    1. Sorry, didn’t realize already made comment (was thinking email subject)You should hook these guys up, as you know, Scott Adams is an idea machine, some percentage of them are good. He has blogged thought experiments on designing affordable towns a half dozen times in the past few years. These guys should talk about this, Scott has put a lot of thought into reducing the cost of living.

      Thank you for all the creation you inspire. Both me and my sons love Tools of Titans. You’re doing good work, Best Regards,


  29. I always enjoy your interviews Tim, but this one with MMM was great. I admire both of your ideas and the missions you have to positively change people’s lives. Keep up the good work, and thanks for putting this out there!

  30. I’ve heard this again and again and it is so true! The over all idea of spending less and saving more. We too often think we need so much more than we do. Sometimes wanting and buying all these things is just a way to mask what we are feeling or going through. Great blog! Thank you!

  31. Tim and Pete, great podcast.

    Tim, you said you’d like to travel the US this year with the pooch. We’d love to have you visit for a weekend in the Idaho backcountry.


  32. I actually feel like I have a tribe out there! I haven’t had a car for almost 2 years. I’m kinda famous for walking everywhere. Thanks for finding yet conducting another gem of an interview!

  33. Tim, Just a quick note to say how much I am enjoying your podcasts. You have really interesting guests and you ask smart and engaging questions! Keep going!

  34. Glad to see some Canadian representation in your recent interviews 😉 Have you decided in which cities you’re going to do live podcast taping? It would be great if you included 1 or 2 from Canada (my vote for Ottawa or Toronto).

  35. Hey Tim,

    I would greatly appreciate hearing a financial fiduciary speak about Wealthfront and other retirement options. I’m finally reading Tony Robbins’ “Money Master the Game” and would love for a fiduciary to speak different options for people that are self employed. It looks like Tony is coming out with a second financial book, it would be awesome if he came back on the podcast too!

    Thank you for sharing your passions! I’m in the best shape of my life with the support of the tools you’ve shared, including gymnastic bodies and the ketogenic diet. I look forward to getting in the best financial shape of my life too.

    Warmest Aloha,


  36. Hi, Tim.

    I discovered your podcast in December last year, and was immediately hooked. I’ve blasted through as many episodes as my schedule and attention span allow, and have already gleaned valuable changes in the few months following my first episode (Jason Silva).

    I’m 32 and have been living happily on 16-20K for several years in the mountains of West Virginia, employed previously as a rock climbing guide and now as a freelance writer and photographer. I’ve been able to explore the US extensively living out of a van on months-long climbing trips, and have traveled to Thailand, Costa Rica, and Patagonia in the last three years. Although I do not have significant retirement savings and am paying off student loan debt, I am absolutely content with my life and am psyched each and every day to be able to live in a minimal way that feels totally complete (complete with high-quality food and outdoor gear). This episode reaffirmed my lifestyle choices and motivated me to stay on my path to increase my income while retaining my minimalist lifestyle and spending habits.

    One thing that caught my ear was your plan to explore the US more this year. As someone who’s traveled the US extensively in pursuit of adventure, I commend you on this decision. I had been through some of our most remote forests and stood on the summit of the Grand Teton before leaving the country for the first time at the age of 30 to go rock climbing in Thailand. The US has a great wealth of diverse landscapes to traverse, and it would take many lifetimes to become intimate with all of it.

    I’d like to personally invite you to come sample the spectacular outdoor recreation opportunities in my home state of West Virginia. From the class V whitewater of the Gauley River to the world class rock climbing in the New River Gorge; from immersion in the Dolly Sods wilderness to shredding mountain bike trails in Canaan Valley, we’ve got some epic Appalachian experiences. I’d consider it one hell of an honor to guide you on a few of these experiences and share what we have to offer. If you’re game for some East coast goods, let me know!

  37. I have been reading MMM for some time now. I am not sure how you keep your budget under $25000. When looking up the cost of health insurance the prices are generally at least $1000/mth

  38. Thanks guys for a great show! Two of my heroes talking to each other. Learned alot.

    However, let’s science the shit out of the Paleo thing for a second.

    TL;DR – Paleo works for temporary weight loss. But it’s terrible for long-term health. A whole foods plant based (WFPB) diet is a much more Mustachian option, is great for weight management and peak athletic performance, and is sustainable over the long term.


    * The majority of our Western lifestyle diseases are caused by diet – including the top killers such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, etc.

    * WFPB has been proven to prevent, and in some cases reverse, many of these diseases.

    * Doctors happen to be the #3 leading cause of death in the US. Not being sick is a proven strategy for avoiding contact with doctors and associated risk of death.

    * WFPB is the only sustainable choice for our planet long term. Animal agriculture contributes over 50% of greenhouse emissions today. Making meat from plants wastes over 90% of the environmental inputs (water, energy, land, etc). We grow enough food on the planet to feed 12 billion people, but then we feed it to livestock.

    * Many top athletes report improved performance from a WFPB diet.

    * Adopting WFPB means choosing personal empowerment over the ‘safe’ default option. Trusting science and logic over the propaganda and disinformation pushed by entrenched industry (same tactics as tobacco and climate change deniers – c.f. the movie “Merchants of Doubt”).

    * The science has been clear for decades. Just as with tobacco, industry doesn’t need to win with facts. They just need to delay the inevitable long enough to squeeze some more cash out of the meat grinder.

    * Incidentally, WFPB is also a cheaper option. So it ties in well with financial independence.

    * More than anything, learning about this lets people feel empowered to take back control of their health and their lives – which is exactly what I think 4hrWW and MMM are all about.



  39. I took the recommendation for “The little book that beats the market”. Halfway through I realized the mood-swinging “Mr. Market” could very well be close friends with Mr. Trump!

  40. Favorite quote was actually on the Mr. MM blog:

    Producers Have More Fun Than Consumers

    Which would you rather be: a dedicated fan celebrating your favorite band by lining up for $100 concert tickets, or a member of an amazing band, feeling the love of thousands of people as you share the grooves that you and some of your closest friends create together? If you’re not that into music, try the same trick on professional sports, founding a great company, writing, art, carpentry or gardening. Creativity sits right at the top of that pyramid, which means the rewards are high. Bonus: producing stuff earns you money, while consuming it costs you money.

  41. Awesome. Two of my favorite public people from our generation. Between Tim Tim and MMM, what else do you need to know?

    Wish you had gotten a bit deeper (as a long-time MMM reader), maybe in-person is better for that? I’d nom for follow-on.


  42. Tim, just finished listening to this one (I’m a little behind the curve). If you haven’t considered it already, and are still looking for your manual labor fix, you should consider volunteering a day with Habitat for Humanity. The barrier to entry is low, the commitment is low. You can see physical progress on the houses you’re working on, and in my opinion it may be exactly what you’re looking for. Just my two cents,

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Nothing to start but I think it’s on the order of 100s of thousands now-a-days. One of his issues is how to give that money to charity or other causes he supports. It was mentioned in an interview with him.

  43. In general I like a lot of MMM’s principles and approach to life, but I have a question: If he built a new room at his house, renovated the current house, purchased a new Prius this year, owns multiple electric bikes, travels, etc etc, it is somewhat misleading to say he ‘lives’ on $25k per year. He is spending way more than $25k, but explains it off as ‘business expenses’, or ‘my house will definitely go up in value, so the addition is an investment, not an expense’. He is getting personal enjoyment from this spending, and it should be counted as such.

  44. Joe Dominguez, co-author of Your Money or Your Life, speaker of Transforming Your Relationship with Money seminars, and in the documentary Escape from Affluenza was the man. He also achieved financial independence at an early age in 1969. Probably the original creator of the FIRE’d community (Financially Independent, Retired Early).

  45. Thanks for a great interview. I just started thinking about the early retirement and incorporating MMM methods. I got laid off from my 18-year old job with an excellent package. I am really excited to have some time off. I’ve been looking like a happy goofball:-) hiking with my dog and not having to answer to anyone!

    But, I need to get back to the corporate job for to pay off the house. Also, I have a good skill set (like teaching yoga and pilates, writing, etc.) and hoping to re-build my wellness business at the same time. However, thinking about working for the company makes me a bit nauseous….

  46. Awesome as always, I’ve just got round to listening to this. I’ve been reading MMM for about a year now, thoroughly devoured everything he has written, but it’s great to have little refreshers which aim to take things from the very beginning. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the first principles, focusing too much on the detail, and something like this can revitalise why you started this all in the first place.

  47. Hey. I love this episode! I’ve been building my savings by using Craigslist to arrange a work exchange clause in my lease. I live on a goat farm, work a full time job, and save more then half my income on 30k. I’d love to hear an episode with mark Boyle. A Brit whose defined financial freedom by living entirely without money.

    I’ve been training on the western slope with coach kirk at snow shadow gymnastics. Its been a game changer on fitness for me. Thanks Tim for the great introduction!

  48. @ approximately 20:30… How is it “easy to make money?” I’m 35 years old, college educated, and never made more than $30k per year. I feel like a slave. It is easy to make money if you know the right people, let’s be honest.

    1. That sounds like a knowledge/skill gap. I made $6500 in profit just selling on eBay 2 years ago and another $3500 last year with a lot less work than the previous year. You should feel like a slave. Your time can be a lot more productive.

  49. In addition to my last comment, making $30k per year building houses and doing construction is not zen. It is easy for technophiles to say it is a zen because they have income from other sources and can basically do it as a leisurely activity. Doing it for 15 years now, my body hurts everyday. That is the imbalance in our society… the people who do real work make little and the people who are are good with computers, or have charisma/salesmanship make substantially more. How is it “easy to make money.” It is not easy for all of us.

  50. This one has really changed the way I think about budgeting and has sent my life on a new path because of it.

    It has led me to explain Finance to more people and to help more people understand the importance of understanding how much you spend.

    I appreciate you taking the time to interview MMM



  51. Have listened to almost 100 of Tim’s podcast and found myself unexpectedly liking this one as one of the best, probably after Jamie Foxx, Derek Sivers and Seth Godin. Chock-a-block with honest to goodness, actionable advice. Seriously great and thank you for the goodness Tim.

  52. Bike to work every day… I would absolutely love to, but I live in Florida where it’s 85 degrees by 8 am and still in the 90s through 9 pm

  53. My favorite comment – the billboard “Just Walk”. Short and sweet. I am always looking for ways to bypass my chatty, paranoid brain. So I start walking today.

    My grandmother gave me another phrase – “just get busy”. I have been using it for years.

  54. My favorite part of the episode is where Mr. Money Mustache talks to Tim about erecting a small building and Tim doesn’t realize that he’s the charity case MMM is talking about. Such a great interview all around though. Thanks Tim for doing it and giving the financial independence movement such a platform.

  55. Hi Tim,
    I would greatly appreciate hearing a financial fiduciary speak about Wealth front and other retirement options. I’m finally reading Tony Robbins’ “Money Master the Game” and would love for a fiduciary to speak different options for people that are self employed. It looks like Tony is coming out with a second financial book, it would be awesome if he came back on the podcast too! Thanks for Sharing.

  56. Really appreciated this session. Yoink@FinCon. #goals

    Looking forward to listening to the Kevin Kelly episode. Used to subscribe to Wired maybe 15 years ago… might’ve been the first time read about Musk… following sale of PayPal and him discussing future ventures and was all wide eyed and bushy tailed thinking, “Wow, he’s gonna change the world.”

    Sharing way too much, but with regards to Mr. Mustache’s comment re: interest in a new type of community… once recently dreamt of a neighborhood where everyone has their homes, etc.. but each has a little garden and there are versions which come with a chicken coop for individuals who want to do that. In addition, there’s a larger communal garden and gathering area where people can celebrate the holidays and provides the added bonus of getting to know your neighbors, if you want to. Instead of going downtown on the 4th, watch fireworks in the community area. Staying in for New Year? Celebrate in the community area.

    As far as the garden and chicken coop, you can have the option to maintain them on your own…. if you just want to reap the benefits, subscribe to a service… kind of like a lawn person, pool person… etc.

    There was probably more to it, but all I remember.

  57. Back in 2017, when I first listened to this podcast, I had no clue about money. This interview inspired me to read the Mr. Money Mustache blog where Pete told me “you make x amount, have a new car, and get a cocktail on the weekend… you can’t afford that”. Pete then introduced me to Jim Collins, and I learned about investing. So 3 years later, I’m now debt free, have a bit of FU money, and in two weeks, I’ll be able to start investing in my first Vanguard index fund. There are many stories like this in my life where I can trace a significant life change or a new way of thinking back to a Tim Ferris podcast. Thank you, Tim!